Welcome to the Fall 2016 issue of The Objective Standard.
In the midst of the nightmare known as the 2016 U.S. presidential race, I hope you’ll find this issue of the journal a welcome reprieve. Instead of focusing on political problems over which we have no control, the articles herein focus on fundamental ideas and causal connections by means of which we can make a difference—in our own lives, in the culture at large, and, ultimately, at the political level. These include: philosophic ideas that underlie and give rise to political realities, positive or negative; historic events and movements that led to cultural deterioration, and what we can do to change course for the better; and conceptual clarifications that can help us, and others, to fight the good fight and live the great life.
First up is “Reclaiming Spirituality for Lovers of Life,” in which I discuss how religion and other false philosophies have corrupted people’s conceptions of spirituality, clarify the meaning of crucial terms in the field, and call for a general reclamation of such terminology insofar as it pertains to requirements of human flourishing.
Next up is “The Greeks and America’s Founding Fathers, Part 1: The Greek Frame,” by Timothy Sandefur, which begins a three-part series examining the ways in which ancient Greek philosophers and statesmen influenced the founders. This essay is packed with illuminating identifications and rich connections that likely will surprise even the geekiest history buffs.
In “The Roots of Capitalism and Statism in the West,” which is a chapter from his book Ending Big Government: The Essential Case for Capitalism and Freedom, Michael Dahlen surveys the complex history of political freedom and force. The essay progresses from the dawn of reason and secular politics in ancient Greece and Rome, to the faith-addled Dark and Middle Ages, to the rebirth of reason in the Renaissance, to the Enlightenment and the emergence of capitalism, to the counter-enlightenment and the rise of totalitarianism, to the ongoing conflict between freedom and force today.
Next, in “Liberal Education and the Quest for Truth, Freedom, and Greatness,” C. Bradley Thompson reflects on his thirty-five years in the liberal arts, first as a student and now as a professor. He discusses the nature and importance of liberal education, the extent to which it has been jettisoned from American universities, and the values that will be lost if liberal education is not revived and continued.
In “The Socialist Holocaust and its American Deniers,” Andrew Bernstein examines the essence of socialist theory and practice, and recounts the mass murders committed under various forms of this ideology, from Soviet socialism to Cambodian communism to National Socialism. He then shows that professors in American universities—faced with mountains of data and rivers of blood to the contrary—nevertheless continue claiming that socialism is noble in theory, good in practice, not as murderous as its detractors claim, and, in any event, more humane than capitalism. The evasions Bernstein exposes are jaw dropping.
Finally, in “Liberal Right vs. Regressive Left and Religious ‘Right,’” after examining the objective meanings and widespread misuses of the terms “liberal” and “right,” I make the case that advocates of civilized society should adopt the term “liberal right” to name the pro-reason, pro-rights, pro-freedom position in the cultural-political landscape.
The books reviewed in this issue are Defending Free Speech, edited by Steve Simpson (reviewed by Jim Brown); The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization, by Arthur Herman (reviewed by Jon Hersey); Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera, by Ron Schick; and Liberated Parents, Liberated Children: Your Guide to a Happier Family, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (both reviewed by Daniel Wahl).
Because of the lengthy feature articles in this issue, we have not included the section “From TOS Blog,” as we normally do. So be sure to visit the blog for the latest articles there.
Also, if you haven’t already, join us on Facebook and Twitter for a steady stream of interesting links and engaging conversation. And let your friends know about the journal for people of reason. For a limited time, subscribers receive a complimentary copy of our ebook, Objectivism: Ayn Rand’s Philosophy for Living and Loving Life.
I hope you enjoy the issue! —Craig Biddle