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Found 6 results

  1. This is a brief history of the philosophy and culture of liberalism. It describes a life-style and civilization which lifts human beings far above that of animals, chimpanzees, hominids, and even tribalist hunter-gatherers. Liberalism features man at his best. Liberals are clear-thinking and rational men: natural, sound, healthy, happy, uplifted, and heroic. Liberalism is a fundamental category of philosophy and life-style -- something broad and general. It constitutes a definitive concept -- beyond which one can not venture or improve -- like life, happiness, greatness, transcendence, virtue, beauty, pleasure, thought, reality, existence, and the universe. Liberalism's subsidiary concepts are also ultimate and final: rationality, egoism, and liberty. In the story of mankind, first come bonobos, then semi-human Homo habilis, then primitive man Homo erectus, then highly advanced Neanderthals, then truly intelligent and impressive Cro-Magnons -- who used their 100 IQs to exterminate their brutish competitors, and invent sophisticated arrow technology, and make art such as those Venus statues and cave paintings. By 9000 BC the Ice Age ended and humans immediately converted from hunter-gatherers to rancher-farmers. After domesticating multitudinous plants and animals, by 3300 BC human beings further cultivated them with irrigation on their new private property, backed by their revolutionary social institution called government. By 1700 BC men had well-established written laws, and well-developed literature and art, and easy personal transportation using horses, and elaborate international trade using sophisticated great ships. All of this constituted impressive advances in humans' quality of life; but none of it constituted philosophical or cultural liberalism. Finally, by about 600 BC, the ancient Greeks created the indescribably magnificent phenomenon of Western liberalism. They invented rationality or "Greek reason" or syllogistic logic -- or pure thought or epistemology. This is usually described as "the discovery of science and philosophy." But along with the stunning and wondrous epistemology of reason -- naturally and inevitably and inherently -- came the ethics of individualism, and the politics of freedom. All of this can be fairly, accurately, and usefully denominated as the thought-system and life-style of Western liberalism -- of liberal philosophy and culture, especially as exemplified by Aristotle, Epicurus, and Zeno the Stoic. These three theorists, ironically, were labelled by their intellectual opponents as "dogmatic." This was not because these scientifically-minded, open-debaters claimed to know everything based on faith, but because the claimed to know something based on evidence and analysis. By the 100s BC in Greece, the general ideology of liberalism was well-established in the middle and upper classes. Then the Romans conquered the Greeks and within a century made liberalism their own. They even advanced the noble ideas and ideals a bit, with such thinkers as Cicero, Lucretius, Virgil, Horace, and Aurelius. But skepticism of reason ascended rapidly by the 200s AD, and with it came the decline of the greatest country in human history. The new phenomenon of monotheism began to dominate in the 300s AD, especially Christianity or "Plato for the masses." By the middle of the 400s the philosophy and culture of liberalism was dead, and so was Rome. A long, terrible Dark Age ensued. This irrational, illiberal nightmare of Western civilization lasted for a millenia. The wretched and depraved philosophy of Jesus ruined everything. But a bit of reason and hope came back into the world in the 1100s of northwest Europe with the mini-Renaissance. High-quality Greek thinkers were gradually reintroduced. Then came the 1300s and the Italian Renaissance. By the 1500s a whole European-wide Renaissance began with France's conquest of northern Italy. The French brought their reborn art and philosophy to everyone in the West. The beautiful general philosophy of liberalism ascended still higher while the ghastly evils of fundamentalist skepticism, Platonism, monotheism, and Christianity declined. The classical liberal era was brought about by radical and heroic innovators like Francis Bacon, John Locke, Voltaire, Adam Smith, and Thomas Jefferson. The late 1700s Enlightenment and Age of Reason in Britain, France, Holland, and America featured liberalism at its height. But it was gradually and massively undermined by the irrational, nonsensical philosophers Bishop Berkeley, David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, and Friedrich Hegel. After the 1790s the French Revolution went astray and embraced ideological dogmatism and self-sacrifice to the cause. It also converted itself into an early version of modern communism; as well as the false, evil, and illiberal ideologies of right-wing conservatism and left-wing progressivism. In the art world this was manifested by the slightly but definitely irrational Romantic movement of 1800-1850. Paintings started to turn ugly again. Socialism and communism fairly quickly went into high gear after Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto of 1848. Religion also somewhat revived in the late 1800s. These two monstrous ideologies backed the moral ideal of self-destruction, or the "Judeo-Christian ethic," or, even better, the "religio-socialist ethic." The fin de siecle 1890s was the giddy, despairing, hopeless, lost, end of a noble era in the West -- a dynamic, heroic, rational, liberal era. A practical, real-world, irrational, illiberal, dystopia was achieved in the mid 1900s with Stalin, Hitler, and Mao. Later in the 1900s there was Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Ayatollah Khomeini, and countless other despots. Illiberalism reached a hellish trough around 1985. Then came Ronald Reagan in America, Margaret Thatcher in Britain, Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia, and Deng Xiaoping in China. These four political semi-revolutionaries, in four leading nations, used their governments to change world culture in a liberal direction. These liberal leaders emerged on the world scence because theory always proceeds practice, and the theory of liberalism began to rise again -- at least intellectually, and in certain recherché circles -- around the early 1900s. It began anew with Austrian economic thinkers like Ludwig von Mises, Henry Hazlitt, and Friedrich Hayek. In addition to the dry, mechanical realm of economics, they addressed the fields of politics and sociology -- and even ethics and epistemology. They filled in many of the gaps, and corrected many of the weaknesses and failures, of Locke, Smith, and company. The Austrians also attacked the communism, socialism, and progressivism of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson, among others. And they taught the fiery intellectual novelist Ayn Rand. Rand converted from fiction to philosophy from the late 1950s to the late 1970s. She was by far the most liberal thinker in the history of man. She created the philosophy of Objectivism. Ayn Rand advanced human knowledge about as much as Bacon, Locke, Voltaire, Smith, and Jefferson combined. Sadly, however, Rand undercut her liberal ideology with a heavy atmosphere and subtext of cultism and religiosity in her propaganda movement. This was understandable, considering how revolutionary and hated her philosophy was, but hardly rational. However Rand died in 1982 and a highly rational and non-religious organization organized around her discoveries emerged in 1989. This brought the world Objectivism as a thought-system, not a belief-system; and Objectivism as a rational, benevolent, effective philosophy -- not an irrational, malicious, weird cult. There are currently three separate but related avant-garde liberal ideological movements: Austrian economics, libertarian politics, and Objectivist philosophy. All three are tiny but, based on historical intellectual standards, seemingly growing solidly. Pure liberalism -- a pure, clean, complete comprehension that reason was 100% right in epistemology, individualism was 100% right in ethics, and freedom was 100% right in politics -- began in the early 21st century. Randroid illiberalism began to die out. A New Enlightenment is about to begin.
  2. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/jeb-bush-actively-explore-possibility-running-president/story?id=27633330 Another low-grade destroyer of liberty, America, and the world. Jeb Bush is like Mitt Romney and John McCain -- another Republican who has essentially zero belief in libertarianism. We have at least some hope with Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee.
  3. Today marks the dolorous 25th anniversary of the bloody crackdown and heartless massacre of Tiananmen Square by the loathsome, evil, Chinese dictators. It was a truly black day for world freedom. The idealistic, noble, and very brave, student-led protest was basically advocating overall reform, less corruption, democracy, and liberty. But it was called a pro-"democracy" demonstration from the start, and now it's almost exclusively remembered as being part of a pro-"democracy" movement. Well, democracy has advanced only slightly in the past quarter-century. Only to a scattered, inconsistent, and minor extent do the Chinese people actually get to elect their leaders, and decide who will rule them based on a majority vote. But freedom has advanced substantially. So too justice, and even impartial, objective rule of law. It's rather sad and odd that neither the Chinese nor the world publicly note it much. This problem -- and grave philosophical error -- began a long time ago. Indeed, in 1989 the Peking protesters occupying the central Square built a statue explicitly called "The Goddess of Democracy" to symbolize their protest. They did not build a "Goddess of Individual Liberty." The difference is telling -- and overwhelming. The sloppy language and poor thinking of the demonstrators and everyone else -- then and now -- is a true disaster for all. This business of government reformers incoherently stammering: "I want democracy -- you know: majority rule plus individual liberty," is very confusing to everybody. It renders the all-important battle royal for freedom and individual rights exceedingly difficult. Indeed, it mainly serves to advance the trivial notion and minor goal of a nation getting to choose its political leaders. As for the chance the newly-empowered people of China in 1989 might have used their new "democracy" to advance welfare-statist bureaucracy and tyranny far more than the economic capitalism and personal libertarianism recently advanced by the communist Chinese dictators -- well, no-one cares to consider that. Best to close our eyes to reality, and pretend that embarrassing issue doesn't exist. In the end, post-Tiananmen China has advanced fairly far down the only road that matters: not towards slimy, worthless democracy, but towards all-important freedom. When it comes to government, politics, and the law, the only things which matter are liberty, justice, and individual rights. Put more simply, the only thing which counts is individual liberty. And the Chinese people -- altho' still grossly and unconscionably deprived -- have a lot more of this today than they did 25 years ago.
  4. Republicans like Senators Rand Paul (from Kentucky), Ted Cruz (from Texas), and Mike Lee (from Utah), etc. seem to be secret libertarians, or at least semi-libertarians. At the least, they're quietly more pro-freedom than most Americans and Republicans. And yet....their beliefs and political goals are fairly well-known by those who pay attention. Establishment Republicans like Congressmen Peter King (from New York City suburbs, in Long Island) seem to genuinely revile, and bitterly personally oppose, the pro-liberty folks like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2014/05/17/peter_king_im_thinking_of_running_for_president_to_stop_rand_paul_and_ted_cruz.html
  5. I used to post regularly on the FARK.com forums, and I remembered the website as being somewhat left-leaning but overall very libertarian-oriented. A fairly large percentage of the posters self-identified as libertarian at the time (2005-2008), and the site was particularly enthusiastic about Ron Paul's candidacy in 2008. I checked the forum today for the first time since 2009, and I was surprised to find hundreds of leftist comments stomping on libertarian caricatures with very few posters defending: http://www.fark.com/comments/7869485/This-just-in-The-more-you-personally-rely-on-US-government-to-take-care-of-everything-in-your-life-more-likely-you-are-to-be-a-raging-libertarian A disappointing number of commenters fell into the lazy, cut-and-paste "libertarians who use roads are hypocrites" attack pattern to which other posters gleefully piled on. The FARK I remember was full of intelligent, technically inclined people who were skeptical of expanding government and human nature generally - very constrained in their outlook. I hope this massive shift isn't indicative of an overall trend in the U.S. toward progressive/socialist ideology, Obama cult-of-personality, and tolerance for the ever-expanding administrative state. At a minimum, it looks like libertarianism isn't the "cool kid" in the technical/online community anymore. Oh well.
  6. A progressive writer for Slate by the name of Matt Yglesias (formerly associated with the Center for American Progress, and apparently a big deal in that community) posted a statement to his Twitter account yesterday that I found interesting. Though I don’t follow Yglesias on Twitter and had not heard of him before, the post came to my attention when it was retweeted by a buffoonish progressive blogger I do follow for the sole purpose of publicly shaming him in what can be best analogized as a regular pheasant hunt on the grounds of my digital estate. Yglesias’s tweet, most likely written in response to the National Spelling Bee coverage, was as follows: “English’s inordinately difficult spelling makes for entertaining contests, but it’s horrible for social mobility. Reform is needed.” Presumably, Yglesias’s argument goes something like this: poor people don’t have the same opportunities to learn spelling as the other classes; therefore, English spelling rules function as barriers to social blending and must be overhauled. Putting aside the obvious practical concerns surrounding such an action (philosopher kings don't concern themselves with such matters), Yglesias’s view of English as a top-down control mechanism – a tinker’s tool for producing desirable social outcomes – runs counter to what Hayekians might point to as the emergent nature of language. We don't know if Yglesias would recommend the creation of such a body, but there is no Central Authority that controls spelling or vocabulary for all of society. Language is, and has been for centuries, shaped by each one of us, through usage, every day. Literally anyone can invent a word or adopt a new spelling at any time, and if enough people use it, it becomes a part of our shared means of communication - a part of our culture and social norms. It’s indicative of the core temperamental differences between libertarians and progressives that my take on spelling is the polar opposite of Yglesias’s. Whereas Yglesias sees spelling as a tool of oppression beating down the poor, I view it as a great equalizing opportunity *for anyone willing to put in the effort.* Spelling is nothing more than a system of rules and exceptions learned through experience, memorization, and practice. Unlike in the past, when books were true rarities affordable only by the elite, the entirety of the English language is now directly accessible to anyone with a library, book store, or computer. With a simple grammar book and a bit of practice, there is nothing preventing the poorest of the poor from learning to express themselves every bit as eloquently as the richest of the rich. Compare the written word to mansions, luxury cars, finely tailored clothing, and other social status symbols long beyond the grasp of all but the super wealthy. Or compare it to exclusionary factors not so easily changed, such as accent, mannerisms, or physical appearance. If language is a barrier for the lower classes, what a cheap and accessible barrier it is, and once you've climbed over that initial hurdle, nobody can rightly tell the prince from the pauper on the other side.