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From the Editor, Summer 2016

From The Objective Standard, Vol. 11, No. 2.

Welcome to the Summer 2016 issue of The Objective Standard.

First, my apology for the visually unpleasant cover. We wanted an image that reflects the situation, and this one fit the bill.

As you likely have noticed, conservatives are trying to blame Republicans for the political ascent of Donald Trump. But as I argue in “How Conservatives Begat Trump, and What to Do About It,” they are wrong in doing so. Of course Republicans who have supported Trump are partly responsible for his ascent. But the fundamental responsibility for this nightmare lies with conservatives—particularly conservative leaders. Why? Hint: Their culpability began in 1957, shortly after the publication of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. The article shows why conservatives are to blame for Trump, and indicates what advocates of freedom must do to put America back on the road toward liberty.

On a related theme, in “Why Religious Conservatives Should Embrace Secular Rights” I argue that even if conservatives want to maintain belief in the notion that rights somehow come from “God,” they nevertheless should embrace Ayn Rand’s secular theory of rights, on the grounds that an evidence-free argument for rights is profoundly inferior to an evidence-based argument for rights.

Next up, in “‘Ayn Rand Said’ Is Not an Argument” I address a problem that I often see and suspect you do too: people treating Ayn Rand, rather than reality, as the final “authority” on moral, political, or other important matters. I’ve wanted to write something on this subject for a while, and a number of bizarre reactions to my endorsement of Ted Cruz for president inspired me to write it now.

On a more positive note, in “Three Great Modern Poets” Timothy Sandefur masterfully examines and explicates several poems by A. E. Stallings, Stephen Kampa, and Richard Wilbur. If you enjoy poetry—and even if you haven’t in the past—I encourage you to read this essay. I’ll be surprised if you don’t find it delightful. Let me know what you think.

In my interview with Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels and founder of the Center for Industrial Progress, Epstein discusses his general approach to, and his specific methods for, success in changing people’s minds and improving the world. He also offers novel and profoundly practical advice for anyone who wants to succeed in the realm of intellectual activism as he has. If you want to improve your world, you need to read this interview with the master of that mission.

Next is my interview with the legendary Robin Field, in which he tells how he got into the performing arts, how he became interested in philosophy, and how Ayn Rand literally saved his life. Field also discusses how he came to integrate philosophy with the performing arts; where you can find wonderful hidden treasures in his hour-long oratorio Reason in Rhyme, which you can now watch on TOS’s website (search “Robin Field”); what he’s up to today, including work on a musical version of Cyrano de Bergerac; where you can hear his readings of books from Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn to Leonard Peikoff’s The Dim Hypothesis to Quent Cordair’s Genesis; and much more. It’s a rich interview.

In “TOS and the Division of Labor” I discuss TOS’s mission, achievements, goals, and business model; and I explain why we need financial support over and above subscription revenues in order to do what we do. I hope you will take time to read this important letter and consider contributing to our relentless fight for your values.

The books reviewed in this issue are Ending Big Government: The Essential Case for Capitalism and Freedom by Michael Dahlen (reviewed by Jim Brown); Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport (reviewed by Daniel Wahl); Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool (reviewed by Daniel Wahl); The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, 2nd ed., by Jesse Schell (reviewed by Daniel Wahl); and The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection by Michael Ruhlman (reviewed by Daniel Wahl).

Finally, our section From TOS Blog includes:

If you’ve not done so already, be sure to 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 automatically receive a complimentary copy of our ebook, Objectivism: Ayn Rand’s Philosophy for Living and Loving Life. For details, visit our website.)

Enjoy the issue, and have a wonderful summer! —Craig Biddle

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