Category Archives: Philosophy

Commented on a Story on Mysticism and Rain

I commented on a report that tribesmen in northern Mindanao are doing mystical rituals to “appease nature” and prevent rainstorms.

My comment: “It is better drainage systems, stronger structures, and effective communication, that the provinces need to better deal with rainstorms. These tribesmen should throw away their mystic beliefs, and instead embrace reason, science and capitalism.”

Besides my writing for TOS and other publications, I’ve been doing a lot of commenting lately on websites. I think more pro-freedom people should go out of their way—within the context of their life (time, priorities, etc)—to firmly and politely advocate for reason and capitalism.

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Ayn Rand on Self-Determination of Nations

“The right of “the self-determination of nations” applies only to free societies or to societies seeking to establish freedom; it does not apply to dictatorships. Just as an individual’s right of free action does not include the “right” to commit crimes (that is, to violate the rights of others), so the right of a nation to determine its own form of government does not include the right to establish a slave society (that is, to legalize the enslavement of some men by others). There is no such thing as “the right to enslave.” A nation can do it, just as a man can become a criminal—but neither can do it by right.

“It does not matter, in this context, whether a nation was enslaved by force, like Soviet Russia, or by vote, like Nazi Germany. Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual). Whether a slave society was conquered or chose to be enslaved, it can claim no national rights and no recognition of such “rights” by civilized countries—just as a mob of gangsters cannot demand a recognition of its “rights” and a legal equality with an industrial concern or a university, on the ground that the gangsters choseby unanimous vote to engage in that particular kind of group activity.

“Dictatorship nations are outlaws. Any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany and, today, has the right to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba or any other slave pen. Whether a free nation chooses to do so or not is a matter of its own self-interest, not of respect for the non-existent “rights” of gang rulers. It is not a free nation’s duty to liberate other nations at the price of self-sacrifice, but a free nation has the right to do it, when and if it so chooses.”

HT: The Ayn Rand Lexicon

In addition, and this bears an underscore:

“This right, however, is conditional. Just as the suppression of crimes does not give a policeman the right to engage in criminal activities, so the invasion and destruction of a dictratorship does not give the invader the right to establish another variant of a slave society in the conquered country.”

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My Interview with John David Lewis

 

First published in American Thinker on September 22, 2011.

Nothing Less Than VictoryDr. John David Lewis is a visiting associate professor in the philosophy, politics, and economics program at Duke University, a contributing editor to The Objective Standard, and the author of the book Nothing Less Than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History (Princeton University Press).

Joshua Lipana: First off, what was it that made you decide to write Nothing Less Than Victory?

John David Lewis: When I began university teaching in 2001, I was looking for courses that could tie the ancient world to the modern, in order to bring out similarities and differences.  I also wanted good reason to have my students read classical texts.  A comparative course — “Warfare Ancient and Modern” — fit the bill.  I decided to spend time on several events in history rather than trying to do a shallow survey.  So we read Thucydides on the Peloponnesian War, Froissart on the Hundred Years War, Churchill on WWII, and the like.

The book grew out of the class.  In the wake of the 9/11 attacks I realized that the single most important factor — the will to fight in America’s enemies, and the ideology fueling it — was precisely what was being evaded by our leaders, and in the media and the universities.  So I decided to write up several of these events, with a view to understanding why the attacks began, and how they were ended.

My original approach was strategic, thinking that I could find a pattern of attacks and responses that could explain how wars could be ended and long-term peace established.  I almost immediately realized that the real action was in the ideas — especially moral ideas — that fueled aggressors and defenders.  So I changed my approach to one that focused on policy and the ideas behind a nation’s goals.  How to end the ideological, social, and political support for a war became the central question that a defender must answer.  Strategy and tactics must be designed to end that support.

JL: In chapter one (“To Look Without Flinching”), you describe the Persian desire to conquer the Greeks as “motivated not primarily by strategic concerns — calculations of relative power, for instance, or the need for material resources or taxes — but rather by the ideology of magnificent dominance, and that this ideology, not strategy, would dictate the size, organization, and use of military forces.”  It’s funny, because the Persians seem to be singing this tune again in Iran.  Do you see any parallels between the Iranians of today and their ancestors?

JDL: Yes.  There are deep cultural issues involved here.  Islam itself was grafted onto Persian culture, which had deep affinities for ancient Zoroastrianism.  The Persian king, for instance, saw the world as divided between the areas under his rule (the world of light, of truth, and of order) versus the world not yet under his rule (the world of darkness, lies, and war).  This is very similar to many Islamists today, who see the world of Islam in conflict with the world outside of Islam.

For other parallels, see my article “Notes on the Near Eastern Legacy of Islam” in Capitalism Magazine, June 4, 2006.

JL: In chapter three (“I Will Have My Opponent”), which is written brilliantly and is my favorite chapter, you chronicle how the Roman general Scipio defeated the brilliant Hannibal and Carthage in the Second Punic War.  You also contrast him and his style with that of another prominent Roman, Fabius, and his now-immortalized “Fabian Strategy of Delay.”  What do you think is the biggest lesson from Scipio’s victory that America and its allies should consider?

JDL: There may be a time to hold back from engaging with the enemy — for instance, if one is caught unawares and must regroup and rearm — but to end a war permanently, one must ultimately confront the political and cultural center of an aggressor.  Fabius’ strategy may have saved the Republic from defeat — by preventing massive losses in pitched battles, and thus preventing the secession of many Italian cities from alliance with Rome — but his plan could not win the war.

JL: In the same chapter, you say, “The Romans argued about how to fight back, not whether to do so.”  Although I think this spirit is still strong in America, it seems that other places are on shaky ground.  Do you think Europe and some of America’s allies still have this resolve in the face of a seemingly unyielding enemy?

JDL: I don’t know.  I am pessimistic overall.  I think the American people could defend themselves if, in the face of another attack, their leaders properly defined the enemy and set out a plan to actually win.  But we are in dire trouble if we sit here waiting for another horrific attack and then depend on leaders of the sort we have today to take us to war.

JL: Thanks so much for your time, Dr. Lewis.  And thank you also for writing such an excellent book.

JDL: Thank you for speaking to me, and for your interest in my book.  Never, ever surrender.  Accept nothing less than victory!

***

Dr. Lewis E-mailed me—and I am boasting—that this was one of his best interviews.

Dr. John David Lewis passed away on January 3, 2012. He was a brilliant and benevolent man. He was always so full of life, as if I could see him smiling through an E-mail. John, thank you, Nothing Less Than Victory, always.

See tributes:

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Sam Harris Versus the Self-Made Man

By Joshua Lipana

(In light of the most recent attack by Sam Harris on economic freedom, I am posting here my commentary, first published in American Thinker, that takes on an older of op-ed of his in the Huffington Post with the same collectivist spirit.)

Sam Harris recently published an article in The Huffington Post entitled “A New Year’s Resolution for the Rich” in it, he says:

“…devotees of self-reliance rail against those who would receive entitlements of various sorts — health care, education, etc. — while feeling unselfconsciously entitled to their relative good fortune.”

In the article, Harris makes no distinction between those who work and earn what they have, and those who rely on hand-outs or the expropriated wealth of others. Those who have worked hard for their money, regardless of how much, have the moral right to keep it. Harris decries those who praise the virtue of self-reliance because they feel entitled and enjoy the products of their mind. Hard-work means nothing to Harris; the moocher and the producer are moral equals.

He continues and states:

“…no one is responsible for his intelligence, range of talents, or ability to do productive work.”

The student who studies hard to get a scholarship, the athlete who trains without cease to better his performance, and the industrialist who masters nature to create the materials that make skyscrapers possible. These are the people who Harris claims are not responsible for their achievements. In one sentence, Harris was able to spit on the face of everyone in the world who has worked tirelessly to achieve their dreams.

Harris has continuously claimed to be an advocate of reason when it is precisely man using his rational faculty to enjoy life that he sets himself against.

In the last paragraph, Harris asks the readers the question: “…what’s to stop the wealthiest Americans from sponsoring a 21st Century Renaissance?” The answer is, you are Mr. Harris, you and your ideas.

(P.S: If you think the quotes I quoted were too evil and that it must be out of context, I advise you to read the entire article of Sam Harris in The Huffington Post.)


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“Fact and Value” from Dr. Leonard Peikoff

This is a long article. I advise Objectivists and other people interested in Objectivism to read this. The article is called Fact and Value by Dr. Leonard Peikoff.

I wholeheartedly agree and endorse Dr. Peikoff’s article.

http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=objectivism_fv

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