About theartfuldilettante

The Artful Dilettante is a native of Pittsburgh, PA, and a graduate of Penn State University. He is a lover of liberty and a lifelong and passionate student of the same. He is voracious reader of books on the Enlightenment and the American colonial and revolutionary periods. He is a student of libertarian and Objectivist philosophies. He collects revolutionary war and period currency, books, and newspapers. He is married and the father of one teenage son. He is kind, witty, generous to a fault, and unjustifiably proud of himself. He is the life of the party and an unparalleled raconteur.

Hatred of Western Civilization: Why Terrorists Attacked America

Originally published on September 20th, 2001–To the students of Ashland University: university teachers have wide latitude in their choice and presentation of subjects. In America university courses have been presented about Black Hair, Oprah Winfrey, and the Social Life of Snails. I see no reason why I should not offer a statement in this class, followed by discussion, about the momentous events of yesterday.

On September 11, 2001 America was attacked. What happened in New York was not a criminal act. It was an act of war. It is wrong to call it criminal activity, or to treat it as a criminal matter. It is wrong to consider it as a matter in which the people responsible must be arrested, brought before a judge and tried. This is war. The attackers must be destroyed.

Why is it not a criminal act? First, the scale of the slaughter is far beyond criminal activity. The number of people killed may rise to 5 or 10 times the number killed at Pearl Harbor. Second, it had no “criminal” motive: i.e., robbery, or passion against an individual. But most important, the resources required to carry out the attack, especially training given the pilots, were on the scale of that available only to governments.

The moral, political, economic, and religious support necessary for these attacks have been provided over the past 25 years by specific governments in the Middle East. Those governments wish to destroy the Great Satan: America, freedom, achievement, trade, values, reason. This is a war against America, her core values, and the prosperity that has followed from our pursuit of those values. The enemy is first and foremost any government who supports the active opponents of those values. This is the material fact that we must face.

The particular people involved in the particular acts of war of Sep 11 are not the reason for retaliation. The purpose is not to “punish” those who have started this war. Punishment is not a concept that applies here. We did not punish the pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor-we destroyed the government of Japan, and imposed a constitutional government that has benefited everyone (most of all the Japanese) ever since.

We must not fall into agnosticism over this issue. The governments and leaders who have supported terrorism for years are well-known. The precision with which they are known is more than sufficient to place blame. We know who they are, and no further research is needed. Every such government must be removed from power, now, as a matter of our own personal, and immediate, physical safety. This should be the purpose, and the only purpose, of our response to this attack.

So the first question is, how do we seize the initiative in this war, to make us, and freedom, safe again? Note that the question is not how to bring “disenfranchised peoples” back into the world community, and neither is it to correct the alleged cultural deformities that are supposed to have lead terrorists to kill us. The issue is not how to resolve the Middle East problem, or to find a homeland for one group or another. We hold no such responsibilities to our enemies or their children.

I repeat. The first question is how to protect ourselves, and, coincidently, others who value freedom, from such attacks. Our self-protection must be our first, and only, motive. It is an end in itself.

I will be specific here. What is needed is an all-out immediate attack, nuclear if necessary, on targets chosen by the US. 24 hours notice should then be given to the governments of Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Libya, that they are to resign their political positions now or face more of the same tomorrow. Arafat must be told that the leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Islamic Jihad are to be turned over to us now, or he faces annihilation, in the form decided on by us.

If destruction follows it is their fault, not ours. They started it. They evidently wish it. If babies are killed it is because they hide behind them. We didn’t start this war-they did, by arming, training, protecting and sanctioning the attackers who killed innocent Americans.

Further, the US should not ask permission of anyone about this. In my opinion it is actually vital that such permissions not be asked. Our actions must be unilateral. EVERY government, friend and foe, must know that an attack on America will be followed by retaliation: inevitably, always, everywhere, regardless of what they think.

Our retaliation must take on the status of natural justice, as a law of nature, inescapable across time and space. Throw a stone into the air and it falls. A flash of lightning is followed by thunder. Touch a hot stove and you get burned. Touch an American, and fire falls out of the sky onto you and anyone who breathes the same air as you. It must become political suicide for any government to offer aid to an open enemy of the US. It is time for them to become afraid.

After we are safe from state-sponsored terrorism, and after the world understands that American soil cannot be violated without massive destruction of anyone even remotely connected with it, then the exact investigations can be made of who in particular manned this particular attack. But the agnosticism involved in the idea that we must study the wreckage for months to determine who is responsible is mind-crippling. It is also a massive evasion. International terrorism has been supported for years by a series of governments. It is long past the time that they be made to pay for their actions.

Now, given these material requirements for our survival, we must face the intellectual nature of this war. The fact is that the Islamic Jihad is only one part of a concerted attack on western values, principally our capacity for reason and our desire to live. Our enemies are not only foreign-they live amongst us. To understand this we must understand what our attackers actually want, and who they are.

The attackers hate the West because the West brings prosperity.

Make no mistake, it is not that they want the prosperity that has been supposedly denied to them. This argument is a Marxist construct, designed to support the view that the economic oppression of the Middle East caused the present crisis. This argument is itself an attack on the US. In fact the Arab states are swimming in oil revenues, produced by the western oil industry, and their leaders are among the richest people on earth. Let them work to establish a pro-achievement business climate, and start businesses to employ their people. Let them give their own wealth away, if they think that is the answer. But they do not value prosperity.

They have the same attitude towards freedom. There has never been a revolution in a Middle-Eastern country in favor of a constitutional republic that protects the rights of its citizens. If the people lack freedom it is because their government recognizes no individual rights. Let their governments establish these principles rather than military coups. And, I’ll add, if many people there do want freedom, what better can we do for them than to remove the source of their slavery? Their interests are identical with ours: the destruction of their governments, and the establishment of rights-protecting constitutional republics.

But the killers are not of this mind. What they rather want is for the West to lose its freedoms, and its values. They want Israel to be driven into the sea in order to allow warring tribes to return to what was, before Israel, a desert wasteland. They want the towers of New York to fall, to be replaced by muck and Dark Ages incantations. They destroyed 2000 year-old statues in Afghanistan in order to destroy the value that is art. Nihilism, the desire to destroy, is why the enemies of freedom fly planes into buildings and blow themselves up with dynamite.

At root, their desire for religious rapture in a paradise attained by mass destruction is a desire to lose the most important value of all, their own lives. Their hatred of the West is not based on jealousy but on hatred of the good because it is good. Their claim that Western culture is evil is based on their view that freedom, productiveness, achievement, reason and happiness are evil. What they want instead is the nothing, das Nichts, that is death. This is why they fly with gay abandon into the inferno-to attain a zero, for their victims and themselves.

Of course they recognize, on some level, that the material products of the West are good, since they use the products of freedom in order to destroy the products of freedom. But this shows only that they use these products-they do not value them, and they do not value those who produce them. They much prefer nothing.

They are not alone in this preference.

Their use of values to destroy values is a method that has been accepted by a series of anti-capitalists, anti-reason thugs across the globe. The Unabomber used transcontinental industries, computerized delivery services, and communication systems to build and deliver his bombs, and to publish his anti-industrial manifesto. An anti-industrial environmental protester used a mobile phone while sitting in a Redwood tree in California. An anti-capitalist protester in England co-ordinated his troops with digital text pagers. The Arab countries nationalized American and English oil industries after they had been produced, and use the money to destroy the values that made the revenues possible. And now hijackers steal transcontinental jets and turn them into missiles, in order to destroy the values and the people that produced the jet.

These people use the same method because they have the same goal: to reduce our present civilization to the level of pre-civilization, as an end in itself.

Observe how they agree. The present life expectancy in Afghanistan is 42-almost to the prehistoric ideal of the anti-technology “deep ecologists.” A motto of one environmentalist group, I remind you, is “Back to the Pleistocene.” Afghanistan has no technology-the ideal of the Unabomber. It has no businesses-the ideal of the anti-capitalists. It has rejected reason-the ideal of anti-reason professors. In these terms Afghanistan is not lacking in development-it is at the pinnacle of human aspirations.

Morally there is no difference between an environmentalist who bans DDT at the price of millions of malaria deaths, the Unabomber who selects his victims personally, the anarchist who smashes store windows and dreams of smashing structural steel, and a terrorist who rides a passenger plane into the World Trade Center. Each glories in destruction for its own sake, and each advocates death as the epitome of that destruction. It is no accident that they are all defined in terms of “anti-something.” Nothing is the aim, and the goal, of all of them. They are brothers-in-arms. Now you see the scope of the battle that America faces.

So what do we do about this? Intellectually what we must do is state an idea: that western civilization is moral because it is good. We have a right to exist, and a right to defend ourselves. The purpose and motive of western civilization is life, the exact opposite of the death-worship seen in nihilists of all stripes. Ours is the morality of life and theirs the morality of death.

Once this statement is made, and the basic rights of each person to engage in such work and to trade with others is made clear, then the way will be cleared to respond to the killers of Sep 11. The essence here is to protect those of us who value life, by granting their own wish to those who do not.

At the dawn of the twenty-first century American stands at a cross-roads. The choice we have was created, in part, by our past errors. If, when the Lockerbie airline bomber killed so many in the early 1980’s, America had presented an ultimatum to Libya backed by force, instead of begging for co-operation, it is doubtful that any government would have allowed itself to be associated with training the Sep 11 killers. The attack, and the present war, might have been avoided.

If, when a professor maintained that reason was a mere western prejudice, his students had dropped his classes and demanded his resignation, then the very idea that life, reason and freedom should negotiate with death, mysticism and slavery would be exposed and rejected.

If, when you are offered so-called “music” by anti-capitalist, anti-reason bums who chant of killing cops and blowing up buildings, you refuse to buy those albums, and you speak out against them, the so-called “artists” will receive neither stardom nor fortune. They will slither back under the rocks they crawled out of, and music companies will change their programming.

To straighten out the political and intellectual mess we face today we must re-affirm our commitment to reason and freedom, and their purpose, life, by protecting ourselves from killers, foreign and domestic, physical and intellectual. And we must do it because we are good.

John David Lewis

First published in Capitalism Magazine on September 20, 2001.

China’s Dark Turn Away From Capitalism and Freedom

“I’m more anti-China than you!”

That’s a new theme of this election.

Joe Biden says, “We will never again be at the mercy of China!” Donald Trump replies, “China would own our country if Joe Biden got elected!”

It’s strange to hear competition, because just a few administrations ago, presidents were eager to celebrate China. “A future of greater trade and growth and human dignity is possible!” said George W. Bush. Bill Clinton praised China’s “positive change” and “great progress.”

What changed? That’s the subject of my new video, “China’s Dark Turn.”

Presidents Clinton and Bush were excited about China because its dictators had finally opened up China’s economy. They got rid of price controls, broke up collective farms, allowed foreign investment, and privatized state-run business. China, suddenly, prospered.

“People were so happy to finally see China being set on this path,” says Melissa Chen, who reports on China for the Spectator. The reforms “lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty for the very first time.”

Then, three years ago, Xi Jinping got himself named president for life.

He cracked down on speech, even jokes. After someone noted his resemblance to Winnie the Pooh, all mentions of the character were deleted from China’s internet.

I had thought the internet couldn’t be censored. Bill Clinton said it would be like “trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.”

“The Chinese figured out how to nail Jell-O to the wall,” says Chen. “They built an almost perfectly walled-in internet.”

China does this by employing a million censors. They block Google, Facebook, Twitter and most Western news media. A few computer-savvy Chinese citizens use forbidden apps to get around the censorship, but most don’t get to see the same internet that we see.

People caught accessing banned sites are punished. Police may barge into your home, threaten your family or just restrict your choices.

“You can’t make doctor’s appointments,” explains Chen. “You can’t travel… they’ll block you from buying a train ticket or a plane ticket.”

Life is far worse for religious minorities such as the Muslim Uighurs. The government is waging cultural genocide against them.

About a million Uighurs are locked up in “reeducation” camps, “sometimes for years,” says Chen. “Their family never hears back from them.”

China won’t allow reporters near the camps, but drone footage shows rows of blindfolded people with their heads shaved and their hands tied behind their backs.

Radio Free Asia adds that China’s “reeducation” methods even include having Chinese men replace the Uighur men in families. They “come in and live with a family (and) sleep in the same bed as the wife,” says Chen.

In short, today’s China is, once again, a vicious communist dictatorship.

So, I’m amazed to watch American protesters and hear them say, “America is the world’s biggest problem.”

Even a recent New York Times editorial board member wrote that it was difficult to know whether the United States is “better, worse, or the same” as China.

That equivalence is “bonkers,” replies Chen. “There should be no doubt about the moral equivalence between the two countries.”

For one thing, we Americans are free to criticize our government.

“You can hold up a sign at a protest, saying, ‘Screw Donald Trump; the United States sucks!’” explains Chen. “You cannot do anything remotely similar in China.”

People in Hong Kong tried. Millions attended protests, often waving American flags. Chen says it shows they “have a hankering for American values. They crave this freedom that we take for granted.”

Now they, too, have been silenced by China’s government.

The American protesters who carry “democratic socialism” banners and wave Communist flags (Soviet Communists used to call people like them “useful idiots”) should know what people in Hong Kong know: Socialism leads to real government oppression.

“Why would Americans want this?” asks Chen. “Why would they be waving these Communist flags, wanting socialism?”

Presidents Clinton and Bush were excited about China because its dictators had finally opened up China’s economy. They got rid of price controls, broke up collective farms, allowed foreign investment, and privatized state-run business. China, suddenly, prospered.

“People were so happy to finally see China being set on this path,” says Melissa Chen, who reports on China for the Spectator. The reforms “lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty for the very first time.”

Then, three years ago, Xi Jinping got himself named president for life.

He cracked down on speech, even jokes. After someone noted his resemblance to Winnie the Pooh, all mentions of the character were deleted from China’s internet.

I had thought the internet couldn’t be censored. Bill Clinton said it would be like “trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.”

“The Chinese figured out how to nail Jell-O to the wall,” says Chen. “They built an almost perfectly walled-in internet.”

China does this by employing a million censors. They block Google, Facebook, Twitter and most Western news media. A few computer-savvy Chinese citizens use forbidden apps to get around the censorship, but most don’t get to see the same internet that we see.

People caught accessing banned sites are punished. Police may barge into your home, threaten your family or just restrict your choices.

“You can’t make doctor’s appointments,” explains Chen. “You can’t travel… they’ll block you from buying a train ticket or a plane ticket.”

Life is far worse for religious minorities such as the Muslim Uighurs. The government is waging cultural genocide against them.

About a million Uighurs are locked up in “reeducation” camps, “sometimes for years,” says Chen. “Their family never hears back from them.”

China won’t allow reporters near the camps, but drone footage shows rows of blindfolded people with their heads shaved and their hands tied behind their backs.

Radio Free Asia adds that China’s “reeducation” methods even include having Chinese men replace the Uighur men in families. They “come in and live with a family (and) sleep in the same bed as the wife,” says Chen.

In short, today’s China is, once again, a vicious communist dictatorship.

So, I’m amazed to watch American protesters and hear them say, “America is the world’s biggest problem.”

Even a recent New York Times editorial board member wrote that it was difficult to know whether the United States is “better, worse, or the same” as China.

That equivalence is “bonkers,” replies Chen. “There should be no doubt about the moral equivalence between the two countries.”

For one thing, we Americans are free to criticize our government.

“You can hold up a sign at a protest, saying, ‘Screw Donald Trump; the United States sucks!’” explains Chen. “You cannot do anything remotely similar in China.”

People in Hong Kong tried. Millions attended protests, often waving American flags. Chen says it shows they “have a hankering for American values. They crave this freedom that we take for granted.”

Now they, too, have been silenced by China’s government.

The American protesters who carry “democratic socialism” banners and wave Communist flags (Soviet Communists used to call people like them “useful idiots”) should know what people in Hong Kong know: Socialism leads to real government oppression.

“Why would Americans want this?” asks Chen. “Why would they be waving these Communist flags, wanting socialism?”

John Stossel, Capitalism Magazine

The Virtuous Circle of Profits and People

During the pandemic, anti-business activists are doubling their efforts to advocate against the alleged evils of capitalism: greedy corporations exploiting the situation to enrich their shareholders while millions are suffering from COVID-19 and over a million have died of it. The activists accuse corporations of “putting profits before people” and increasing inequality in the world.

Take the case of Pfizer, the American pharmaceutical giant, and frontrunner in developing a vaccine against COVID-19. Its success, and size, has drawn the ire of People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of activist organizations, spearheaded by the NGO Oxfam. The PVA has called on all vaccine developers to sign a pledge to give up their patents on COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, to make these available and more affordable in poor countries. The PVA is urging Big Pharma to “put people before profits” to help reduce global inequality.

What the anti-business, global-equality activists of the PVA fail to recognize is the crucial role of business in society. They are also mistaken about the alleged conflict between “profits” and “people” and the alleged immorality of economic inequality. It is their demands of the pharmaceutical companies that are immoral: if complied with, they would destroy profits and harm people.

Business plays a crucial role in society as the producer and trader of the material values on which our lives depend. Without competing private businesses and if left to the government, the development, production, and market distribution of vaccines, diagnostics (see my post on the South-Korean biotech company Seegene’s COVID-19 test here), and treatments for COVID-19 would take much longer and have less chance of success. (It is not hard to find examples of centrally planned economies like the former Soviet Union and East Germany failing to produce material values that people in freer economies take for granted).

It’s mistaken to think that pursuing profits harms people. Profit-seeking by business does not harm but rather benefits people, beyond its owners.

The opportunity to make profits spurs companies to invest in developing products with high potential demand. If such demand materializes, the companies earn a profit—which they can invest in further product development. If the companies sustain profitability, the value of their shares increases, allowing them to perpetuate a virtuous circle of developing better products and earning higher profits.

Such a strong performance also allows companies’ owners to invest their increased wealth in other projects and companies. This expands the virtuous circle of better (higher-quality, lower-priced) products that not only yields profits for the owners but benefits consumers as well as workers through the creation of more job opportunities.

Sustained profitability and share price appreciation, such as achieved by Pfizer and the South-Korean Seegene, do create economic inequality. Companies that create products—such as life-saving diagnostics, vaccines, and treatments—that others value and are willing to pay for, will make their owners wealthier.  But economic inequality based on the production of material values does not make anyone worse off. On the contrary, the wealth of business owners benefits consumers in the form of better, less expensive products, workers in the form of more job opportunities, and suppliers in the form of more business.

Making profits on a sustained, long-term basis is only possible by creating valuable products that people are willing to pay more for than what it costs companies to produce them. To achieve such a feat, companies must invest in research and development to come up with better products at a lower cost than their competitors. Pfizer, for example, has invested at least $1.5 billion to develop its COVID-19 vaccine. It has refused to take any government funding for it, although it has agreed to sell $2 billion worth of the vaccine to the U.S. government as part of President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed.

Pfizer and other vaccine developers investing their own money deserve to profit from their vaccines. The vaccines and the patents protecting them are the property of these companies. Trying to cajole them to give up their patents for free to poor countries is immoral. Not only would giving up their patents constitute self-sacrifice of the companies’ owners; it would also harm the intended recipients of the sacrifice, the people getting the vaccine for free.

Who would have the financial resources, or an incentive, to develop vaccines, treatments, or diagnostics when the next pandemic comes along, or cures for existing diseases? Pharmaceutical companies should not be made to sacrifice their deserved profits. They should be thanked for what they do. Profits benefit people.If you found value from this article please share it on social media.

BY JAANA WOICESHYN | NOV 17, 2020 | Capitalism Magazine

Ayn Rand on Emotions

Just as the pleasure-pain mechanism of man’s body is an automatic indicator of his body’s welfare or injury, a barometer of its basic alternative, life or death—so the emotional mechanism of man’s consciousness is geared to perform the same function, as a barometer that registers the same alternative by means of two basic emotions: joy or suffering. Emotions are the automatic results of man’s value judgments integrated by his subconscious; emotions are estimates of that which furthers man’s values or threatens them, that which is for him or against him—lightning calculators giving him the sum of his profit or loss.

But while the standard of value operating the physical pleasure-pain mechanism of man’s body is automatic and innate, determined by the nature of his body—the standard of value operating his emotional mechanism, is not. Since man has no automatic knowledge, he can have no automatic values; since he has no innate ideas, he can have no innate value judgments.

Man is born with an emotional mechanism, just as he is born with a cognitive mechanism; but, at birth, both are “tabula rasa.” It is man’s cognitive faculty, his mind, that determines the content of both. Man’s emotional mechanism is like an electronic computer, which his mind has to program—and the programming consists of the values his mind chooses.

But since the work of man’s mind is not automatic, his values, like all his premises, are the product either of his thinking or of his evasions: man chooses his values by a conscious process of thought—or accepts them by default, by subconscious associations, on faith, on someone’s authority, by some form of social osmosis or blind imitation. Emotions are produced by man’s premises, held consciously or subconsciously, explicitly or implicitly.

–Ayn Rand, excerpted from “The Virtue of Selfishness”

Your subconscious is like a computer—more complex a computer than men can build—and its main function is the integration of your ideas. Who programs it? Your conscious mind. If you default, if you don’t reach any firm convictions, your subconscious is programmed by chance—and you deliver yourself into the power of ideas you do not know you have accepted. But one way or the other, your computer gives you print-outs, daily and hourly, in the form of emotionswhich are lightning-like estimates of the things around you, calculated according to your values.

–Ayn Rand, from “Philosophy, Who Needs It”

An emotion is an automatic response, an automatic effect of man’s value premises. An effect, not a cause. There is no necessary clash, no dichotomy between man’s reason and his emotions—provided he observes their proper relationship. A rational man knows—or makes it a point to discover—the source of his emotions, the basic premises from which they come; if his premises are wrong, he corrects them. He never acts on emotions for which he cannot account, the meaning of which he does not understand. In appraising a situation, he knows why he reacts as he does and whether he is right. He has no inner conflicts, his mind and his emotions are integrated, his consciousness is in perfect harmony. His emotions are not his enemies, they are his means of enjoying life. But they are not his guide; the guide is his mind. This relationship cannot be reversed, however. If a man takes his emotions as the cause and his mind as their passive effect, if he is guided by his emotions and uses his mind only to rationalize or justify them somehow—then he is acting immorally, he is condemning himself to misery, failure, defeat, and he will achieve nothing but destruction—his own and that of others.

–Ayn Rand, Playboy Interview, March 1964

An emotion as such tells you nothing about reality, beyond the fact that something makes you feel something. Without a ruthlessly honest commitment to introspection—to the conceptual identification of your inner states—you will not discover what you feel, what arouses the feeling, and whether your feeling is an appropriate response to the facts of reality, or a mistaken response, or a vicious illusion produced by years of self-deception . . . .

In the field of introspection, the two guiding questions are: “What do I feel?” and “Why do I feel it?”

–Ayn Rand, from “Philosophy, Who Needs It”

Emotions are not tools of cognition . . . one must differentiate between one’s thoughts and one’s emotions with full clarity and precision. One does not have to be omniscient in order to possess knowledge; one merely has to know that which one does know, and distinguish it from that which one feels. Nor does one need a full system of philosophical epistemology in order to distinguish one’s own considered judgment from one’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.

–Ayn Rand, from “For the New Intellectual”

Why the Democrats Lost and Will Continue to Lose Elections

Why, Democrats have been asking, do so many poor white people vote for a Republican Party that doesn’t care about or do anything for them? The most common reply is: Democrats are snobby coastal elites who talk down to them. Classic example courtesy of former President Barack Obama, who said of voters in the Rust Belt: “They get bitter. They cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment, as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Democrats know their arrogance pisses off the working-class whites they need to win national elections. Yet they persist.

Every day sees some op-ed Ivy-educated columnist opining that voting for Donald Trump means you’re a Klansman and another Democratic National Committee-fed talking head pontificating about the masklessness at the president’s rallies with the bloated tone of a Roman tribune announcing stunning news that no one had ever heard before.

Now the Democrats are at it again, setting the stage for yet another surprise loss. Because, yes, they just lost again. When you expect a “blue wave”; when you’re running against a president who lost hundreds of thousands of citizens and tens of millions of jobs the year of the election ; when you expected to pick up tons of seats in the House and take back the Senate and none of that happens and you just barely win the presidency in a squeaker, you basically got your butt kicked.

Humility is in order. But it’s not on the menu.

“You chose hope and unity, decency, science and, yes, truth … you ushered in a new day for America,” Vice President-elect Kamala Harris told attendees at her victory party. And the 73 million Americans who voted for Trump? By inference, they must have voted for hopelessness and division, indecency, superstition and, yes, lies.

Biden had a similar message in his last pre-election closer. “This is our opportunity to leave the dark, angry politics of the last four years behind us,” Biden said. “To choose hope over fear, unity over division, science over fiction. I believe it’s time to unite the country, to come together as a nation.” Biden won. But 73 million people voted for those “dark, angry politics of the last four years.” Those voters thought Trump offered them more hope than Biden. They didn’t want to unify under the Democrats.

We all have to live together in one country until there’s a second Civil War. We don’t have to think the same or look the same. But in order to function as a society, we do have to understand one another. Liberals do not get Republicans or understand where they’re coming from. They don’t even care. Until that attitude changes, Democrats will keep losing elections they ought to have won and will find it impossible to achieve tolerance from half the populace, much less consensus.

I’m a leftist. But I called the 2016 election for Trump early that year, not because I’m smart but because I’m from Dayton, Ohio. I watched my hometown devolve from an industrial powerhouse into a Rust Belt hellscape that eventually became ground zero for hopelessness and urban decay in the national opioid epidemic. International competition was inevitable. But deindustrialization powered by job-killing free-trade agreements like NAFTA and the World Trade Organization was federal policy dreamed up by Republicans and enacted into legislation by Democrats like former President Bill Clinton — and that’s how American politicians killed places like Dayton in the industrial Midwest and across the country.

My blood boiled when Democrats admitted that NAFTA would kill American jobs but, hey, new jobs in Mexico would open new markets for American goods. Such an idiotic argument. After the factories closed in America, who would sell stuff to Mexico? China. But my rage paled next to those of men and women who lost six-figure salaries and wound up working as Walmart greeters — all because Democrats like Clinton were funded by contributions from corporations that wanted to sell to American consumers without hiring American workers in order to fatten their profits.

Years passed. More factories shut down. The long-term unemployed went on disability. Those who could find jobs worked for tiny fractions of their previous pay. Tax revenues shrunk. Infrastructure crumbled. Cities entered their death spirals.

No one cared except the people who lived there.

Deindustrialization never became a political issue. Republicans and Democrats agreed that free trade was a good thing. The New York-based press ignored the rot and the misery in the country’s heartland. Only two politicians on the national scene acknowledged it: Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. After the Democrats kneecapped Sanders, that left Trump as the only candidate who understood that the part of America that let working people send their kids to college had been pretty great but no longer was. He didn’t offer a credible reindustrialization policy. As president, he didn’t do much beyond provoke a trade war with China to address the issue. But he acknowledged the Rust Belt, and for the people who lived there so long, ignored and dismissed and derided, that was enough.

Democrats still don’t get it.

Ted Rall, UNZ

Keep a Close Eye on Your Priorities

The beginning of the holiday season can be stressful – especially nowadays. Which makes it even more important to carve out quiet moments to stand back and take a look at what’s important (and not so important) in your life. This sort of self-reflection should really be a daily ritual, especially after experiencing a difficulty that forces us to restructure what means the most to us. It doesn’t happen automatically, and usually takes conscious effort.

I got to thinking about this because a friend of mine, an active, energetic man in his 80s, was recently involved in a car collision. He was slightly injured and more than a little shaken, and his car was totally demolished. Suddenly without transportation, he lost much of his cherished independence. Family and friends helped out, but he deeply missed his daily routine.

After a few weeks of isolation and boredom, he realized that he had to recommit to his priorities. He had to ask himself if it was still important to live as he had, and if so, then what was he going to do about it. By the time he got over the initial trauma, he had made the crucial decision to confront the situation, find a new car, and bring his favorite pleasures back into his life.

There are issues uniquely associated with aging, such as deciding at what point you’re not able to do all the things you used to take for granted. But crisis doesn’t have to be a negative event. I’ve written about how people choose to retire and then experience an emotional upheaval because they don’t know what to do with their days. A similar example might be that of a newly graduated college student who experiences a crisis about “where to go from here.”

The man in my example knows that he wants to live his life independently. He wants to avoid assisted living and he wants to drive. Because he’s basically healthy and alert, the issue of knowing what to do is simple common sense. But practical choices must be made. Should he live as a shut-in, skulking around with the blinds closed and feeling sorry for himself? Or should he demand more, reestablish his routines and drive back out into the world? His overall goal of independence was unchanged by the temporary upheaval, and by refocusing his priorities, he figured out how he wanted to spend his day-to-day existence. Then all he had to do was to make it happen.

This applies just as well to our hypothetical college graduate. School provided structure and routine. It determined how days were spent. Suddenly (as the graduate hears over and over again), “You have your whole life ahead of you!” But, lacking that structure and routine, tomorrow and next year can become difficult to face.

My point is this: Making decisions requires that you first know your priorities. Regular readers of this column know that I urge people to “introspect” by having a serious conversation with themselves about what they want and what makes them happy.

Will you immediately get what you want? Maybe not. Our graduate might have to do something for a while that he doesn’t quite want to do. Maybe my senior friend will have to rely on grocery deliveries until he finds a car he likes. But if the priorities remain firm and constant, life will flow steadily in the right direction. From a psychological point of view, any deviation will almost certainly result in anxiety and stress.

My experience counseling people over the years has repeatedly confirmed that individuals who know what they want are happier than those who don’t. Nobody knows you better than you do, and nobody can make life decisions for you. We’re all responsible for evaluating what we want and deciding how to go about getting it. The inner calm and confidence it brings is well worth the effort.

Michael J. Hurd, Daily Dose of Wisdom

Critical race theory: a ruling-class ideology.It is embraced by today’s political and cultural elites because it serves their interests.

There have been protests against racism in the past, of course. But this year has been different. Never before have people on every continent, in countries and towns facing their own unique problems, turned out in such huge numbers to support the same cause. Never before have books like White FragilityWhy I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race and How To Be An Antiracist become international bestsellers. And never before has a protest movement had such establishment backing. In the UK, BLM has been publicly endorsed by the royal family, the football Premier League, and senior politicians. Multinational corporations have got in on the act, too. Ice-cream maker Ben and Jerry’s has pledged to do all it can to dismantle white supremacy, while elite universities have issued statements denouncing their own institutional racism.

The mainstreaming and elite-backing of anti-racism initiatives speaks to a new understanding of racism. Critical race theory (CRT) used to be a minority pursuit, an obscure academic interest. In 2020 it provided the rationale for protests, books, diversity workshops and school lessons. In June, Channel 4 screened The School That Tried to End Racism, a documentary series that followed the progress of children made to undergo an anti-racist re-education programme based upon principles of CRT. New phrases entered our vocabulary. Terms like systemic racism, unconscious bias, white privilege, cultural appropriation, reparations, microaggression and intersectionality migrated from academics and activists to newspapers, radio discussions, charity campaigns and school lessons. President Trump and Kemi Badenoch, the UK’s minister for equalities, made speeches explicitly naming CRT and calling out its perniciousness.

What is CRT ?

CRT begins with a challenge to the ‘scientific’ racism of the 19th and early 20th century. In the days of empire, colonial exploitation and slavery were justified by a belief that white people were physically, mentally and morally superior to the people they ruled over. This view extended to the working class at home, who were portrayed as genetically distinct from and inferior to the upper class. This biological understanding of race began to be called into question after the Second World War, although its legacy continued to play out in Apartheid-era South Africa, Jim Crow laws in the American South and discrimination in the UK.

Critical race theorists are not the first to point out that race is socially constructed; that is, it is not a naturally occurring phenomenon but created and made meaningful by people collectively, over time and place. Few today disagree with this point. But whereas a previous generation of anti-racists challenged the social significance attributed to biological differences to argue that there was one race, the human race, and emphasised universal traits that create a common humanity irrespective of skin colour, critical race theorists argue that, once constructed, race becomes an incontestable fact. As Robin Di Angelo explains in White Fragility: ‘While there is no biological race as we understand it, race as a social construct has profound significance and shapes every aspect of our lives.’ (1)

When race is seen in this way, racism is understood as systemic; that is, built into the very fabric of societies designed by white people, for the benefit of white people. Proponents of CRT argue that ideas of white superiority and black inferiority are intrinsic to our language, culture and interpretations of history. Every aspect of our daily lives, from education, policing, the health service and employment assumes a white norm, they argue, and this makes a mockery of equality before the law and the liberal notion of equality of opportunity. As Reni Eddo-Lodge explains in Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race: ‘If you’re white, your race will almost certainly positively impact your life’s trajectory in some way. And you probably won’t even notice it.’ In an inescapably circular argument, race is constructed and made meaningful through racism; it is people’s everyday experiences within a racist society that create the reality of race.

The Origins of Critical Race Theory

CRT is newly fashionable and highly influential, but it has a long and complex history. Its origins can be traced back to a divide within the US civil-rights movement. Free speech, democracy and legal equality were initially considered integral to the fight for civil rights, but by the end of the 1960s, with progress appearing to have stalled and both racism and poverty still major problems, groups within the movement began to question the efficacy of these principles. Many arrived at the conclusion that legal equality not only left social inequality intact but actually provided the context and justification for its continuation. As the authors of Words That Wound, a key CRT text published in 1993, point out:

‘It became apparent to many who were active in the civil-rights movement that dominant conceptions of race, racism, and equality were increasingly incapable of providing any meaningful quantum of racial justice.’

Having come up against the limits of formal, legal equality, the question facing the civil-rights movement at this point was how best to achieve social equality. As Helen Pluckrose and James A Lindsay point out in Cynical Theories, more materialist activists focused on housing, schooling, employment and income. For some, this led to championing black nationalism and segregation over universal human rights. At the same time, some began to find a home within academia where, to quote Words that wound:

‘individual law teachers and students committed to racial justice began to meet, to talk, to write, and to engage in political action in an effort to confront and oppose dominant societal and institutional forces that maintained the structures of racism while professing the goal of dismantling racial discrimination.’

These academic activists argued that ‘majoritarian self-interest’ was ‘a critical factor in the ebb and flow of civil-rights doctrine’; in other words, a white-majority society would be unlikely to cede its power voluntarily (1). A key text to come out of this period was by Derrick Bell, Harvard’s first African American professor. In Race, Racism and American Law, published in 1970, Bell argued that white people only concede rights when it is in their interests to do so. By 1987, his views had crystalised further and he was able to explain that, ‘progress in American race relations is largely a mirage obscuring the fact that whites continue, consciously or unconsciously, to do all in their power to ensure their dominion and maintain their control’.

Black scholars found common cause with professors engaged in critical legal studies who sought to formulate a radical left-wing critique of dominant liberal approaches to the law. Together, they drew from ‘liberalism, Marxism, the law-and-society movement, critical legal studies, feminism, poststructuralism/postmodernism, and neopragmatism’. A key aim was to examine ‘the relationships between naming and reality, knowledge and power’ (2). This marked a splintering from the materialists and a distinct turn towards subjectivity. It led to racism being understood not just as legal and economic inequalities, but as social, cultural and psychological practices. At this point, as Matsuda et al tell us, ‘Scholars of colour within the left began to ask their white colleagues to examine their own racism and to develop oppositional critiques not just to dominant conceptions of race and racism but to the treatment of race within the left as well’. Their conclusions presented racism, ‘not as isolated instances of conscious bigoted decision-making or prejudiced practice, but as larger, systemic, structural, and cultural, as deeply psychologically and socially ingrained’ (3).

In 1981, Kimberlé Crenshaw, then a student of Derrick Bell’s, led a protest against Harvard Law School when it refused to hire a black professor to teach Race, Racism and American Law following Bell’s departure. Crenshaw, along with others, invited leading academics and practitioners of colour to lecture on a course aimed at ‘developing a full account of the legal construction of race and racism’. Bringing people together in this joint intellectual project crystalised the ideas underpinning critical race theory. By the end of the 1980s, Crenshaw’s work led her to devise a framework she labelled ‘intersectionality’ to describe how multiple features of a person’s identity can combine to create different modes of discrimination and privilege. Her 1991 essay, Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics and Violence Against Women of Colour, has been especially influential.

Pluckrose and Lindsay point out that the concerns of materialists dominated the critical race movement from the 1970s to the 1980s. However, by the 1990s, a more identity-focused and postmodern understanding of CRT, driven primarily by radical black feminists such as Crenshaw, Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Patricia Hill Collins and Angela Harris, was becoming increasingly popular. Today, CRT is mainstream and terms like ‘structural racism’ now refer to structures of thought far more than any structural, material analysis of society. Activists have taken the subjective, identitarian and psychological understanding of racism developed within universities and transformed it into a list of commandments all must obey.

The rules of CRT

Critical race theorists may not see race as a biological fact, but they do view it as an ingrained outlook, endemic in culture and imprinted on the consciousness of every individual. As a consequence, racism will never be solved by challenging individual instances of prejudice; instead, the entire social hierarchy must be overturned. Achieving this goal necessitates rejecting false beliefs in objectivity, neutrality, equality and meritocracy. Personal, or ‘lived’, experience trumps all else. People can never hope to understand the world other than from the standpoint of their identity group. As DiAngelo makes clear: ‘I have a white frame of reference and a white worldview, and I move through the world with a white experience.’

Once the importance of lived experience is accepted, then it is only logical to reject ‘colour blindness’; people must, first and foremost, see themselves and others as racialised beings. Alongside this, white people must recognise their privilege and black people their oppression. Original privilege/oppression means it is not enough not to be racist, or even to remain silent — people must be actively anti-racist. Anti-racism starts with white people acknowledging their own racism and battling the fragility prompted by threats to their privilege. From here, we must probe deep into our psyches to root out unconscious bias before, with each word uttered, we set about constructing reality anew.

The problems with CRT

This view of race and racism, drawn from CRT but which is now mainstream, represents a significant break from the anti-racism of the past. Anti-racism has moved from focusing on the material conditions of people’s lives to the inner workings of their minds; from challenging legal inequality to calling-out cultural representations; from aiming to eradicate race to seeing everyone as racialised; from considering racism an aberration to viewing it as the norm. This shift in anti-racism throws up new problems.

Much of the thinking, and many of the leading proponents of CRT, come from the US. Yet often its ideas are imported wholesale into the UK and other countries without taking into account their specific historical and cultural context. For example, Britain had no equivalent of enforced segregation, but citizens arriving in the UK from former colonies did experience racial discrimination and prejudice. This is at best misunderstood and at worst ignored if we superimpose an American analytical framework on to British society.

Presenting racism as endemic and intractable ignores all progress that has been made and suggests attempts at further change will be futile. Instead, all campaigners can do is dig ever more deeply for examples to expose the racism they know to exist. A focus on microaggressions, subtle acts of racism that may be perpetrated unknowingly – for example, asking someone where they are from – may well surprise people who came up against legal discriminatory policies in employment and housing several decades ago. Yet, to DiAngelo, ‘racism’s adaptations over time are more sinister than concrete rules such as Jim Crow’.

Just at the point when ‘scientific’ racism was being thoroughly discredited, CRT breathed life back into racial thinking by insisting everyone has a racial identity, and this alone determines our perception and understanding of the world. Rejecting colour-blindness pushes us to view each other as racialised beings. The emphasis on group membership simultaneously erodes both differences between individuals and the possibility of finding common cause across identity groupings. At worst, this provides fresh justification for racial segregation. Eddo-Lodge does not see the increase in interracial families as a positive sign that people are becoming less prejudiced. Instead she argues that ‘white privilege is never more pronounced than in our intimate relationships, our close friendships and our families’, and urges parents of mixed-race children ‘to be humble, and to learn that they are racist even if they don’t think that they are’.

CRT’s obsession with racial categorisation and white privilege leaves little room to consider the impact of social class on people’s life chances. Indeed, in the rush to construct intersectional hierarchies that position people of colour as oppressed victims of entrenched white superiority, the experiences of wealthy, highly educated, well-connected black people are overlooked. And rather than promoting solidarity between working-class people of all skin colours, poor white people must be taught to recognise their privileges.

Some people certainly do benefit from CRT. The academics, experts and workplace trainers that comprise the burgeoning diversity industry make a good living and find an important sense of purpose in revealing our unconscious bias, hearing penance and holding out the promise of absolution. They are morally invested in the existence of racism and cannot afford for it to ever disappear.

Members of the wider graduate class of experts, bureaucrats and managers have imbibed the CRT script. They know that, to paraphrase the socialite and journalist Nancy Mitford, referring to ‘people of colour’ is ‘U’ (vocabulary that marks one out as upper class), while ‘coloured people’ is distinctly ‘non-U’. They know that three years ago, the acronym BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) fell out of fashion and was replaced by BAME (with Asian specified). And they know that BAME itself is now on its way out. Attitudes change and language evolves over time but policing vocabulary in the name of enforcing anti-racism is how today’s graduate class shores up its moral authority and social status. Their special insights into white privilege and the impact of microaggressions allow them to justify their position.

This elite anti-racist project is terrible for everyone else. Black and white people alike are reduced to their skin colour and set in opposition to one another. Black people must learn to see themselves as victims, white people as privileged oppressors. Back in the days of empire, upper-class British boys were trained up for a life in the colonies, they had a role to fulfil managing and civilising the natives. Over a century on, the natives are now at home rather than abroad, and white rather than black or brown, but the civilising mission remains the same. It is now white working-class men who are made to atone for their privilege in a neverending process of repentance. As DiAngelo puts it:

‘A positive white identity is an impossible goal. White identity is inherently racist; white people do not exist outside the system of white supremacy.’

We have a new elite that uses not racism but anti-racism to invent differences between people which it exploits for its own ends. These radicals do not want to end racism but for it to continue indefinitely. They must not be allowed to get away with this.

Joanna Williams is currently researching hate crime in her role as director of the Freedom, Democracy and Victimhood Project at the think tank, Civitas.

Ayn Rand on Ambition

“Ambition” means the systematic pursuit of achievement and of constant improvement in respect to one’s goal. Like the word “selfishness,” and for the same reasons, the word “ambition” has been perverted to mean only the pursuit of dubious or evil goals, such as the pursuit of power; this left no concept to designate the pursuit of actual values. But “ambition” as such is a neutral concept: the evaluation of a given ambition as moral or immoral depends on the nature of the goal. A great scientist or a great artist is the most passionately ambitious of men. A demagogue seeking political power is ambitious. So is a social climber seeking “prestige.” So is a modest laborer who works conscientiously to acquire a home of his own. The common denominator is the drive to improve the conditions of one’s existence, however broadly or narrowly conceived. (“Improvement” is a moral term and depends on one’s standard of values. An ambition guided by an irrational standard does not, in fact, lead to improvement, but to self-destruction.)

Politically, the goal of today’s dominant trend is statism. Philosophically, the goal is the obliteration of reason; psychologically, it is the erosion of ambition.

The political goal presupposes the two others. The human characteristic required by statism is docility, which is the product of hopelessness and intellectual stagnation. Thinking men cannot be ruled; ambitious men do not stagnate.

Newt Gingrich: The Thieves Who Stole Our Election Got Sloppy

Laziness leads to sloppiness, and sloppiness is how the most brazen heist in American history is being exposed.

Stealing the 2020 election was a mammoth undertaking, involving widespread lawlessness and illicit partnerships between private actors and public officials. They’ve been working to cover their tracks since Election Day, but they didn’t work fast enough. Now, the courts need to stop them from destroying any more evidence so that the people of Pennsylvania—and the rest of the country—can accurately assess the ramifications of their wrongdoing.

Explosive new litigation filed in federal district court on Nov. 21 details and documents a wide variety of illegal practices that were used to inflate the number of votes received by Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden, including disparate treatment of voters based on where they live and outright manipulation of Pennsylvania’s voter registration system by partisan activists.

An unprecedented number of mail-in and absentee ballots were cast this year, and practically everyone expected that this would result in a higher-than-usual rate of ballots being rejected for various flaws, such as lacking a secrecy envelope or missing information. In Pennsylvania, tens or hundreds of thousands of ballots were likely to be rejected, based on historical patterns. Instead, a mere 0.03 percent of mail-in ballots were ultimately rejected—somewhere in the neighborhood of about 1,000 votes.

Considering that a significant majority of mail-in votes were cast for Biden, the Democrat candidate benefited handsomely from this discrepancy. But how did this anomaly happen?

It turns out that election officials in Democrat strongholds such as Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Philadelphia County, and Philadelphia’s collar counties—particularly Delaware County—exceeded their authority in order to give voters preferential treatment that wasn’t afforded to voters in Republican-leaning areas of the state.

Specifically, election workers illegally “pre-canvassed” mail-in ballots to determine whether they were missing a secrecy envelope or failed to include necessary information. When ballots were found to be flawed, voters were given an opportunity to correct, or “cure,” their ballots to make sure they counted. In at least some cases, Democrat Party officials were even given lists of voters to contact about curing their ballots.

Election officials in Republican-leaning counties rightly interpreted this as a violation of Pennsylvania’s election code, but Democrat Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar issued guidance authorizing the illegal practices despite lacking the statutory authority to do so.

That’s not the only way Democrats broke the law to give their candidate an unfair advantage, though. Extensive on-the-ground investigations conducted over the past year and a half by attorneys and investigators with the Amistad Project of the nonpartisan Thomas More Society have uncovered another element of the plot that involved even more egregious behavior.

Boockvar also exceeded her authority by granting private, partisan organizations—including the notoriously pro-Democrat group “Rock the Vote”—access to the Commonwealth’s Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE).

“Rock the Vote’s web tool was connected to our system, making the process of registering voters through their online programs, and those of their partners, seamless for voters across Pennsylvania,” the lawsuit quotes Boockvar as saying.

That’s not supposed to happen. It’s one thing for outside groups to submit registration applications to the state on behalf of would-be voters, but election clerks are the only ones who are supposed to enter this sort of information directly into the records.

It’s easy to see why by inspecting post-election voter lists, which contain names such as “Mary April Smith,” followed by “Mary May Smith,” “Mary June Smith,” “Mary July Smith,” and so forth through the rest of the calendar. When the same voter lists were purchased just a week later, however, those suspicious names had mysteriously disappeared from the rolls.

Under the circumstances, that’s direct evidence of a systematic effort to conceal wrongdoing. All further alterations to the SURE system should be immediately halted to allow a thorough investigation of the records before any more evidence can be destroyed.

The thieves who attempted to hijack the 2020 presidential election were bound to slip up somewhere, and now they’re trying to clean up the glaring evidence of their wrongdoing before the full extent of their crimes can be exposed to the American public. We can’t allow that to happen, or we may never be able to trust the integrity of our elections again.

Newt Gingrich, a Republican, served as House speaker from 1995 to 1999 and ran as a presidential candidate in 2012.