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JULY 2005




AUGUST 31, 2005

Song of the Day #380

Song of the DayDo You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?, music by Louis Alter, lyrics by Eddie De Lange, is from the 1947 film, "New Orleans," in which it was sung by Billie Holiday (featured on "The Ultimate Collection"). It has been recorded by many artists. I post it today as a tribute to the people of that great city of jazz, and to all those who are dealing with the horrific tragedy of Hurricane Katrina. Godspeed. Today's selections are from the children of New Orleans. Listen to an audio clip of a live rendition from Satchmo, a soulful version by clarinetist Pete Fountain, and a vocal version by another New Orleans native, Harry Connick, Jr.

Posted by chris at 08:52 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 30, 2005

Song of the Day #379

Song of the DayI Don't Know Enough About You features the words of singer Peggy Lee and the music of Dave Barbour. It's a 1945 hit that has been revived again and again. Listen to audio clips from Peggy LeeRussell Malone and Diana Krall (at those links).

Posted by chris at 09:49 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 29, 2005

Mises and China

Asia Times has a news item on "FX Trading" that mentions Mises and the Austrian business cycle theory. In focusing on cyclical phenomena in China, Jack Crooks reports also from Stratfor that "Beijing's inability to control local leaders, coupled with a pervasive culture of corruption and nepotism, has left an indelible taint on the government structure that reaches from the lowest levels to the highest." He tells us that "China, as far as we can see, is a real time test case for validation of von Mises boom-bust credit cycle analysis."

Read the whole article here.

Comments welcome. Cross-posted to the Mises Economics Blog.

Posted by chris at 08:23 PM | Permalink | Posted to Austrian Economics

Song of the Day #378

Song of the DayTurn Your Love Around, words and music by Jay GraydonSteve Lukather, and Jerry Leiber, exhibits that foot tappin' jazz pizzazz in the performance of George Benson. Listen to an audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 10:38 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 28, 2005

Two SOLO HQ Posts

This is just a note to direct Notablog readers to two posts of mine at SOLO HQ. The first post reiterates points I've made many times in the past on the treatment of the subject of homosexuality by Rand and post-Randian writers.

The second post relates to that Dennis C. Hardin essay I referenced in this Notablog post. It just reiterates points made here and here, with regard to the intellectual relationship between Rand and Branden.

Update: Also check out this other post at SOLO HQ, "Hefty Complaint Against Doc," and the discussion thereafter.

Comments welcome, but readers might wish to join in on the SOLO HQ discussion.

Posted by chris at 12:15 PM | Permalink | Posted to Rand Studies

Song of the Day #377

Song of the DayThrob features words and music by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and Janet Jackson. Granted... there really aren't many lyrics and the song is minimalist. But it scorches the dance floor. From the album "Janet" (Miss Jackson, if you're nasty...), listen to an audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 11:53 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 27, 2005

"Lost Liberty" on "Nightline"

Friday night's "Nightline" broadcast opened with a special segment on the "Lost Liberty Hotel," an effort by Logan Darrow Clements to use the power of eminent domain to condemn the New Hampshire property of Supreme Court Justice David Souter for uses that would provide a greater "benefit" to the community. (Souter voted with the 5-4 majority in the infamous Kelo decision.)

I must admit it was hilarious to see Clements with a very visible copy of Atlas Shrugged on the ABC broadcast, which he inscribed:

Dear Mr. Souter: A story about the importance of property rights. Enjoy!

Logan Darrow Clements

Talk about milking the inner contradictions of the system to prove a point.

Taking a look at Souter's property... I can understand why anyone would want it condemned. Are the taxpayers not paying Souter a good enough salary? Can't he afford a paint job for that house?

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 12:12 AM | Permalink | Posted to Frivolity Politics (Theory, History, Now) Rand Studies

Song of the Day #376

Song of the DayJust Friends, music by John Klenner, lyrics by Sam Lewis, has been performed by many artists, starting with Red McKenzie in 1931. Listen to audio clips of versions by Russ ColumboBobby DarinFrank SinatraJoe PassHelen Merrill with Stan Getz, and Stan Getz with Chet Baker.

Posted by chris at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 26, 2005

The Rose Petal Assumption

Back in July, when volatile discussions of James S. Valliant's book The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics were proceeding on a number of forums, Dennis C. Hardin at SOLO HQ made the following point, after a long, rather critical, dialogue in response to my own engagement at Notablog with Valliant:

Nathaniel Branden said the following a while back:

About ten years ago, I came across a saying from the Talmud that impressed me profoundly. I have not been able to stop thinking about it. ... The line that so impressed me was: "A hero is one who knows how to make a friend out of an enemy." ...

I will acknowledge that Chris has shown the true meaning of heroism in the sense described.

Well, given my long history of engagement with adversaries on all ends of the political and intellectual spectrum, I have always responded positively to that Branden-uttered line. But there seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding that phrase and its various applications. Dennis himself has brought up the issue again in a recent SOLO HQ essay entitled "Nathaniel Branden vs. Ayn Rand on Morality," which has sparked another volatile discussion. As Dennis makes clear: "Branden made this comment in the context of discussing David Kelleys decision to address a libertarian group ... It is clear that Branden was using this quote to express his admiration for Kelleys decision, because Kelley saw that 'libertarians often supported their position with aspects of [Ayn Rands] philosophy, without necessarily subscribing to the total of Objectivism.'"

It's not my desire to re-open that tired, old thread over the appropriateness of speaking before libertarian groups; it depends on the group, of course, but I'd be the last one to object in principle, since I consider myself a (small-l) libertarian, and I have always believed that Rand herself was, in the sphere of politics, a (small-l) libertarianfor the same reason she was an "egoist" in ethics, despite sharing that label with Nietzsche and Stirner, for example, to whom she was profoundly opposed. (I have discussed these issues many times; see here, which, for nonmembers of the Branden Yahoo group, is referenced here; also see here.)

What I'd like to focus on, however, is that Talmudic expression. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a Talmudic scholar or rabbi, though I've read the Bible from cover-to-cover. I do like what Adam Reed says here:

I looked up "A hero is one who knows how to make a friend out of an enemy" in the Talmud. I would have translated it as "A hero is one who knows how to make a friend out of an opponent," because it is in the context of "makhlokhet l'shem shamaim," which in the context of the quote means "conflict between good and good." I suppose that Ayn Rand may have known of it, because in the social context that is what her heroes wind up doing. Kira turns opponent Andrei to her side, eventually. Roark turns "enemies" Dominique, and in a sense Wynand, to his. Francisco turns Rearden, and Galt turns Dagny.

Whatever the precise translation of the statement, it has had some personal significance for me. I cite it in a recent interview conducted by Sunni Maravillosa at Sunni's Salon. On this page and this page of the interview, I state the following:

I guess I've always operated also on what I call the "rose petal assumption." A friend of mine once observed that I was the kind of person who would find the one rose petal in a pile of manure. Instead of calling the whole thing crap, I'm busying myself searching for that rose petal, and sometimes getting pretty dirty in the process. But, the truth is, I do try to look for the good in people, even in my critics; I try to appeal to the best in everybody. Perhaps I would like to embody that Talmudic expression that Nathaniel Branden has often highlighted in his work: "A hero is one who knows how to make a friend out of an enemy."

This strategy, however, which is built into my very soul, as it were, does not always work. Some people are just constitutionally nasty and mean-spirited and it doesn't matter how many nonviolent responses one authors. It never makes a dent. I usually give such people three strikes. I mean, it is possible that in the rough and tumble of give-and-take on any particular discussion forum that a person might occasionally lose their temper in an exchange, perhaps once or twice. But beyond that, I've learned not to be somebody's punching bag. I've gotten better at drawing and re-drawing that "line between valid criticism and a crank's ranting," as you put it. Most of all, I've learned to stop tolerating rudeness. I am willing to engage anybody on any issue, but the moment my interlocutor treats me with ridicule or rudeness or disrespect, I stop the discussion and refuse to enable or sanction such behavior. I have also noticed that when people engage in rude and disrespectful exchanges, the topic of the discussion soon shifts from a debate over substance to a debate over style.

I know that in the cyber-universe and in the blogosphere, in particular, it's not just pro-freedom individuals who are loose canons in this regard. I've seen that same level of negativity, anger, fear, and hatred on display on left-wing forums as well. As for those in our own ideological home being unable to deal with criticism in a constructive way, I can only say that there is only one way to create a civil discussion: acting with civility. There is simply no substitute for actually practicing the very virtues one claims to celebrate. ...

I then draw a distinction between Rand's practice and my own:

Rand ... often speeds to the bottom line of a judgment on, say, a particular philosopher, which seems to sweep away any and all complexities in that thinker's corpus. So, while I'm more apt to look for the rose petal, Rand is busy taking the hose to the manure. And that function is needed. But it's not easy to reach people working in other traditions if one always approaches them with the hose. Or the sledgehammer.

Now, let's just explore these themes a bit more.

The phrase"A hero is one who knows how to make a friend out of an enemy" or an "opponent"has particular application to the context of civil and voluntary discourse and social relations. It has no applicability once the line has been crossed into incivility and coercion, especially coercion. Branden himself makes the point in a recent interview with Alec Mouhibian in The Free Radical. When the person you are engaging is quite clearly a "mad animal," such as a terrorist suicide bomber, the very last thing you should be doing is trying to turn that person into a "friend." As Branden puts it: "Theres nothing you can do except shoot him. ... [I]n action, one kills them, rather than getting killed by them."

As one who has spent some time trying to situate the whole post-9/11 world in a wider context that takes account of the evolution and structure of U.S. foreign policy, I have frequently made a very clear distinction between "explanation" and "justification." One can look to the past history of U.S. involvement in the Middle East as one factor in the modern development of fanatical Islamic fundamentalism; but an explanation of its development, or even of its goals, is not the same as a moral justification for the actions of those particular Islamic terrorists who killed nearly 3,000 civilians on September 11, 2001.

There is only one appropriate response to those who have destroyed life, liberty, and property: Justice. And justice demands that one act in self-defense against those who violate individual rights.

Quite clearly, then, the Talmudic expression applies to genuinely human social relations. It is not a pact of appeasement between those who live according to human standards and those who adopt the barbarism of the jungle.

The Rose Petal Assumption has allowed me to reach out to my critics and my intellectual adversaries in a spirit of rational, civil engagement. It is not a license or a sanction for rudeness or ridicule. It is not a license or a sanction for the violation of individual rights. Those who are rude are not entitled to civility; in my view, they're not even entitled to a reply, except perhaps "But I don't think of you." And those who violate rights are not entitled to the sanction of those whose rights have been violated.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 10:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | Posted to Culture Dialectics Foreign Policy Rand Studies


Engagement is impossible not just with the violent, but the dishonest, who use a more indirect form of coercion.

Posted by: Jim Valliant | August 26, 2005 12:30 PM

Indeed---and that's why most people who speak of a principle of nonaggression speak of injunctions against both force and fraud. In discourse, fraud is not manifested by the gaining of a material value through misrepresentation---but the gaining of a spiritual value through misrepresentation. (It's ironic, but some of the most interesting discussions of the inherent problems of "communicative" dishonesty can be found in left-wing "dialogical" theorists, such as Jurgen Habermas, who criticizes what he calls "strategic communication.")

The problem, of course, is that it is not always easy to come to a judgment about somebody's dishonesty. Lord knows I've heard enough people speak of my own "dishonesty"---which is merely a euphemism for the fact that they simply disagree with me.

Sometimes, however, dishonesty is not even apparent to the people who practice it. There are plenty of people who practice intellectual and emotional self-delusion; it's not our obligation to bring such people "to the light"---but I'm still less apt to make that judgment until I've had the opportunity to interact with such people over the long run.

In any event, a good point.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 26, 2005 12:58 PM

Chris, In that interview over at Sunni's Salon, I particularly enjoyed the distinctions you made between your and Rand's approaches. I'm also glad you made the point that both approaches are necessary (in different contexts, eh?). Anyone who didn't check out that interview, should!

Posted by: Jason Dixon | August 26, 2005 03:40 PM

Hey, Jason! Yes, you're right: Different contexts demand different strategies. :)

Thanks for the kind words on the interview too.

All the best,

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 28, 2005 07:59 PM


Song of the Day #375

Song of the DayPent-up House (audio clip at that link) is a Sonny Rollins jazz composition. It has been played by many musicians; among my favorite versions is one featuring two great jazz violinists: Jean-Luc Ponty and Stephane Grappelli. These two actually recorded the composition live for "Violin-Summit" (it was also included on their "Giants" disc). An audio clip of a solo Grappelli effort is here.

Posted by chris at 08:25 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 25, 2005

Song of the Day #374

Song of the DayAt Last features the music of Harry Warren and the lyrics of Mack Gordon. Today, one hears it during a cat food commercial. But it has been recorded by many artists, including Glenn MillerCeline Dion, and, of course, Etta James (audio clips at those links).

Posted by chris at 08:12 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 24, 2005

Song of the Day #373

Song of the DayJump, Jive, an' Wail is a classic Louis Prima composition, which was also recorded by the Brian Setzer Orchestra (audio clip at that link). But nothing compares to the Prima version (audio clip here). The master passed away on this date in 1978, but his music lives on and on...

Posted by chris at 08:27 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 23, 2005

Song of the Day #372

Song of the DayR&B Junkie is credited to Jimmy Jam & Terry LewisJanet JacksonTony "Prof. T" Tolbert, and the writers of "I'm in Love" (because it samples from that great Evelyn "Champagne" King track). Performed by Janet Jackson, it has all the groove of the Kashif song, with a little Jam & Lewis magic. Listen to an audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 09:39 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 22, 2005

Dualism: A Difference With Distinction

The chat continues between Geoffrey Allan Plauche, Billy Beck, and me. Billy had originally questioned the very use of the word "dualism" to describe what he believes is mere "difference." He writes here:

What's with all this "dualism"? I'd wondered how they (Chris Sciabarra and Plauche) were using the term, starting with a review of Anaxagorean split of mind and matter. No; I conclude that they're talking about little more than definitions. In his fifth paragraph, Plauche recaps relations among various "monopolistic institution[s]" (what Plauche correctly spikes as Rand's "definition" in his third paragraph), but all this is really only different arrangements of the same basic thing. It's not about "types"; it's about the degree of application of the basic thing. Now; if we want to call it "dualism" to properly identify two different things and scrupulously discriminate between them, then I guess it's okay, but everybody should bear in mind that that's what it means.

Billy takes it one step further with these comments here:

On "dualism": Geoffrey says (quoting Chris Sciabarra, I'm pretty sure, but I think he missed the opening punctuation) that it is "an orientation toward analysis by separation of a system's components into two spheres." He continues diligently and you should go read it. I do understand that technical philosophynot cracker-barrel jaw-boningmust keep certain standards of concept and referent that are generally alien around the cracker-barrel, but I cannot understand why the plainly simple concept of "difference" would not suffice: it is what it is (which is: understanding that a thingmaterial, conceptual, whatever: the referent at issueis not what it ain't and cannot be substituted for with what it ain't), and I, for one, don't see a call for Rube Goldberging structures around "methodologies" when the Law of Identity not only works, but should be endorsed as effective at every turn throughout this currently advancing Endarkenment. K.I.S.S., fellas.

Anticipating the distinction between mere "difference" and "dualism," Geoffrey answers a query from John T. Kennedy, who asks: "Is the True/False dichotomy an example of dualism?" Geoffrey writes:

Nope. Not every dichotomy is a false dichotomy, and often it depends on the context. However, a dualist methodology encourages the creation and/or acceptance of false dichotomies. ... I should add that a dualist methodology will tend to lead one to drop or overlook at least part of the full context of a given phenomenon which will make it difficult if not impossible to identify and analyze it correctly, and failing to identify and analyze the phenomenon correctly will tend to result in any subsequent action/policy/solution being at least partially incorrect.

Everything that Geoffrey says here is accurate, from my perspective.

Let's backtrack a bit to clarify why we need the concept "dualism," rather than the concept "difference" to describe what are essentially "false alternatives."

In the above post, Billy mentions the Law of Identity. Let us recall Aristotle's first formulation of the law of noncontradiction (noncontradiction, excluded middle, and identity, being the first laws of logic):

[T]he most certain principle of all is that regarding which it is impossible to be mistaken. ... It is, that the same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject in the same respect ... It is for this reason that all who are carrying out a demonstration refer it to this as an ultimate belief; for this is naturally the starting-point even for all the other axioms. (Metaphysics 4.3.1005b17-33)

In essence, Aristotle is telling us that A cannot be A and not-Aat the same time and in the same sense. That's a crucial italicized proviso, especially for those who seek to deny the law by introducing a temporal element or by viewing A from a different perspective or relationship, and who declare that A is somehow "different" than what it is, that A is not-A.

Well, we can and should accept this fundamental law. And since Aristotle presents the law as both a law of being and a law of thought, that is, as both an "ontological" and a "logical" principle, it is clear that identity implies "difference," and that there is a "difference" therefore between "A" and "not-A."

But there are "different" kinds of "difference." There are certain differences that are differences within a unity; Aristotle called some of these "correlatives." Such differences must be viewed in their indissoluble relationships; any attempt to create a mutual exclusivity between such terms does violence to the meaning of each, since the definition of each depends upon its relationship to the other. Here is Aristotle again:

For example, if a slave is spoken of in relation to a master, then, when everything accidental to a master is stripped offlike being a biped, capable of knowledge, a manand there is left only being a master, a slave will always be spoken of in relation to that. For a slave is called slave of a master. (Categories 12.7.7a35-39)

So, it is not good enough to say that there is a "difference" between master and slave, as if these are simply in "logical" contradiction to one another. Strictly speaking, in actuality, they are not logical opposites, like "true" and "false," but relational opposites. G. W. F. Hegel would pick up on this theme in later years, in his own discussion of "master" and "slave," which Robert Heilbroner has rendered into more understandable English than anything Hegel ever wrote:

[T]he point is that a Master is a being who can only be defined or described by using a concept that is its meaningful opposite or negation. Without Servants there are no Masters, and vice versa. ... The logical contradiction (or "opposite" or "negation") of a Master is not a Slave, but a "non-Master," which may or may not be a slave. But the relational opposite of a Master is indeed a Slave, for it is only by reference to this second "excluded" term that the first is defined.

This principle actually has revolutionary political implications that have been noted variously by thinkers as diverse as Hegel, Karl Marx, and Ayn Rand: The revolution consists not in a Slave becoming a Master or a Master becoming a Slave, but in stepping outside this whole relational dynamic. Rand understood, for example, that the independent individual is one who is neither master nor slave, one who neither demands nor provides sacrifices.

In Randian language, the fallacy of dualism is, in essence, the fallacy of "false alternatives." It might be said that a dualist looks at all distinctions as if they are logical opposites, rather than relational opposites. This has the effect of rigidifying all opposites as if they are stark "black-and-white" choices, rather than relations within a unity or terms or philosophic stances united by some common (false) premise. The dualist sees mind and body as fundamentally opposed, for example, rather than as part of some organic unity. The oppositions that emerge from this dichotomy are legion:


... and so on ...

Now, in the history of philosophy those who adopt methodological "monism" do so as a way of resolving the "false alternatives" that have been posited by dualists. But these "monistic" solutions don't seek some "fuller context" within which to understand false alternatives; rather, they simply emphasize one pole of a duality to the detriment of the other pole, and the dominant pole becomes the means of "resolving" the dualism. That's the methodological pretext at work in the oppositions that one finds between

Materialism and Idealism
Intrinsicism (or what was known as "classical objectivism") and Subjectivism
Rationalism and Empiricism

... and so on ...

So, to repeat: "Dualism" is used to describe a specific kind of difference.

Now let's remember that dialectics is the "art of context-keeping." When I speak of a "dialectical" resolution of a false alternative, I am speaking of one that highlights the larger context within which to understand oppositions that are, in fact, relational, rather than logical. That's why it is an obscenity when conventional defenders and critics of dialectical method have attacked its relationship to the law of noncontradiction. As I put it in my book, Total Freedom (I have dropped the footnotes and references for now):

All concepts of method presume the validity of logic. We cannot even think about the world without adhering to the fundamentals of logic, which are as much about being as they are about knowing. Logic is "the fundamental concept of method," a tool of objectivity upon which the theoretical and applied sciences depend. Objectivity entails a recognition of the fact that we can only acquire knowledge of reality by means of reason in accordance with the rules of noncontradictory identification.

One implication of this caveat is that dialectics, as an orientation, is not in opposition to logic, but rather is a fundamental complement to logic, and, as such, cannot correctly be said either to undermine or to "transcend" logic. The widespread failure to grasp this fact has resulted in the irony that dialectics has been as seriously jeopardized by some of those who have sought to preserve and extend it as by those who have endeavored to destroy it. Those so-called dialectical theorists who champion dialectics as "superior to" logic fail to appreciate logic as the foundation of knowledge, an undeniable constituent of all concepts of method. Those who refer to dialectics as being "transcendent of" the axiomatic laws of noncontradiction, excluded middle, and identity are thus speaking nonsense every bit as much as those who claim that dialectics is destructive of those laws. Defending the rightful status of dialectics as a methodological or research orientation is thus made doubly difficult, because those most in need of keeping logic foundational to their dialectical inquiries do not think they need to, while those most capable of showing that logic is foundational to dialectics think that dialectics is antithetical to logic. Logic and dialectics are mutually implied: just as logic is the art of noncontradictory identification, dialectics is the art of context-keeping, and both arts entail various techniques for achieving these mutually reinforcing goals.

How all of this relates to the debate between libertarian anarchists and minarchists is discussed in my book Total Freedom. Since this whole discussion between Geoffrey, Billy, and me began with the question of anarchism, I'll relate these thoughts to that debate.

I think one of the fundamental questions one must ask, and answer, is this: Is the distinction between "market" and "state" a logical one or a relational one? Is there some sense in which it is both logical and relational? I think anarchists and minarchists provide different answers to these questions.

I think on one level, there is clearly a logical difference between the "market" and the "state" insofar as these institutions rely upon fundamentally different principles of organization. The former is based on voluntary exchange, the latter relies upon the initiation of the use of force.

But, on another level, for me, the really interesting questions focus our attention on the historical relationship between markets and states. Here is how I put it in my discussion of the work of Murray Rothbard in Part Two of Total Freedom:

Rothbard's persistent description of the state as an "external" intrusion, however, obscures the "multiplier effect" of state interventionism. Since each intervention engenders another, having multiple, and often unforeseen, social and historical consequences, it seems extremely difficult, if not impossible, causally to trace every consequence to either the market or the state. No theorist has such an omniscient view of social evolution. Though logic suggests that predation is a parasite upon production, evolution entails reciprocal patterns of development. The state may depend upon social production for its survival, but it sets the parameters within which social production has functioned. Indeed, the historical development of the interventionist economy has so deeply affected every social practice that it may be impossible to separate market and state influences cleanly. Each sphere is in a dynamic interrelationship with the other. Each sphere permeates the other. And if the very existence of the state constitutes "intervention," as anarchists claim, then the market has always existed within the parameters of state involvement. This includes a statist legal structure that defines the very form of property relations in a way that differs significantly from Rothbard's quasi-Lockean theory of "just acquisition." Will not the market continue to reproduce the injustices of state-influenced property distributions? Moreover, if individuals exist in a concrete historical context, and this context has always been tainted by "coercive" elements, how is it possible to create an accurate balance sheet by which to evaluate who is a producer and who is a parasite?

I concretize this abstract discussion by reference to an historical concrete:

These rigid distinctions create problems for individuals living in today's world. R. W. Bradford conceptualizes the difficulty, in a discussion of the Randian argument that those who receive benefits from government or who take public jobs are "morally justified" only if they regard these as "restitution," while those who advocate for such benefits "have no right to them." As the public sector crowds out the private sector, it is self-defeating for libertarians to become martyrs, while ceding to the profiteers of statism all the alleged benefits of the system. Rands only warning to prospective public sector employees is that they ought not to take jobs that bolster statism ideologically or that require the enforcement of "improper" laws, i.e., laws that violate individual rights per se. Like Rand, Rothbard argues that in a state-run world one should "work and agitate in behalf of liberty," "refuse to add to [the world's] statism," and "refuse absolutely to participate in State activities that are immoral and criminal per se." When one realizes that, for Rothbard, the very existence of the state is criminal, one begins to grasp the significant problems. For as Bradford observes, it is often difficult to evaluate the propriety of jobs or benefitspublic or privateunder statism. Recalling the Ruby Ridge conflict, he reasons: "Sure, its easy to see that, say, the FBI murder of Vicki Weaver while she held her baby in her arms in the doorway of her home is an 'improper' function of government." But he wonders:

. . . what about the secretary who helps the FBI agent, who killed Mrs. Weaver, with his paperwork? Is his job also improper? What about the cook in the FBI cafeteria? Is his? And what about the person who hauls the trash from the FBI headquarters? Does it make a difference if the trash hauler or the cook work for a private firm that contracts with the FBI? I suspect that Rand, and most libertarians, would reply that these tasks are peripheral to the murder of Mrs. Weaver, and that the person who prepared the FBI agents lunch is not acting improperly. . . . But this doesnt really answer the question of where exactly the boundary between proper and improper action lies.

Bradford emphasizes that, while the inner contradictions and crimes perpetuated by statism are omnipresent, our evaluation of moral action in that context requires a precise understanding of the particular conditions within which a given person acts. One can only determine the propriety of an action by factoring into one's evaluation such important issues as people's knowledge of the situation, their causal distance from the crime committed, the enormity of the crime, and the mitigating circumstances. Without taking these important qualifications into account, libertarians might gain "credibility" for adhering strictly to their own principles. But such adherence translates into a rationalistic application of dogma that comes "at the price of human suffering."

There is a lot to digest in this post. But I do believe that this whole discussion of "dualism" is not simply a floating abstraction on the level of what Billy calls "terminographologicality." It is a discussion that has real social and political implications. How we organize the data of our world will affect the strategies we adopt when we attempt to change that world fundamentally.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 08:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (29) | Posted to Austrian Economics Dialectics Politics (Theory, History, Now) Rand Studies


"So, to repeat: "Dualism" is used to describe a specific kind of difference"

I thin you are saying:

Dualism describes false dichotomies.

False dichotomies are instances of Dualism.

Am I understanding you correctly?

Posted by: John T. Kennedy | August 23, 2005 05:46 PM

Yes, John, exactly: Dualism is a word we use to describe false alternatives; false alternatives are instances of dualism.

But let me clarify this a bit more:

People who are "dualists" (or even "monists") do not recognize the alternatives as false. They may, in a certain context, identify alternatives that are genuinely logically opposed; the "dualist error" manifests itself when dualists rigidify the logical opposition, such that they are unable to see a wider context in which the alternatives might either reciprocally presuppose one another, or mutually imply one another, or share a common premise, etc.

Understand too that, typically, dualists view the poles of a dichotomy as "co-equal" and "mutually exclusive." (The technical philosophical way of putting it is that dualists view these poles as "externally related.") And, again, it is entirely possible that, in a given context, one can treat such poles as "mutually exclusive." But a shift in one's level of generality or a shift in one's vantage point might illuminate the ways in which those poles interrelate.

Now, let's return to that "true-false" dichotomy that you pointed to here.

There are, in actuality, "dualistic" thinkers who argue that "true" and "false" are "co-equal" principles. But that's just not the case. That which is "false" is not co-equal with that which is "true." In fact, that which is "false" radically depends upon that which is "true." We can't even define what is "false" without first knowing what is "true."

The same can be said of those philosophers (e.g., the Existentialists) who argue that "something" and "nothing" are co-equal principles. "Nothing" cannot be defined on its own terms. "Nothing" is the absence of something. Rand herself argued that those who sought to elevate "Nothingness" into a special kind of "something" were guilty of the "reification of the zero." As Rand puts it in her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology: "This fallacy breeds such symptoms as the notion that presence and absence, or being and non-being, are metaphysical forces of equal power, and that being is the absence of non-being."

In the realm of ethics, Rand, of course, took this one step further, and, I would argue, it is a revolutionary step in many ways. "Good" and "evil" are not "co-equal" principles in Rand's Objectivist ethical framework. That which is "evil" is a parasite upon the "good." Frequently, "evil" depends upon the "sanction" of the good, the "sanction of the victim," as it were. Rand understands, much like such thinkers as Etienne de la Boetie who proposed the notion of "voluntary servitude," that it is in the withdrawal of one's victimization that one defeats evil. By stepping outside the "master-slave" dynamic, by not recognizing the terms upon which that dynamic is built, the victim tosses off the shackles and asserts an independent existence, sanctioning neither the sacrifice of himself to others nor the sacrifice of others to himself.

There are a lot of other applications that can be made here; see especially my book Total Freedom, particularly my discussion of Rothbard's distinction between "The Voluntary" and "The Coercive" (pp. 220-23). On one level, he sees these as "mutually exclusive." But on another level, he sees that "the coercive" often relies upon the "voluntary" sanction of those who are coerced (since the coerced often provide a veneer of "legitimacy" to their own subjugation).

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 23, 2005 06:35 PM

...much like such thinkers as Etienne de la Boetie who proposed the notion of "voluntary servitude," that it is in the withdrawal of one's victimization that one defeats evil.

I don't see how withdrawal of *one's* victimization defeats evil.

If *one* of the slaves on a plantation decides he'd rather die than serve, and gets that wish, it doesn't seem to me that evil has been defeated. What Etienne de la Boetie didn't sufficiently address is that individuals act independently of one another - the individual who withdraws sanction from the state gets the same government as the individual who collaborates with it.

Posted by: John T. Kennedy | August 23, 2005 09:15 PM

Very good points, John.

I don't think Rand was oblivious to individuals acting in concert, however, and how such action might actually topple tyranny.

I also think she was talking about a much broader removal of sanction on multiple levels (e.g., she gives us a portrait in ATLAS SHRUGGED of the character Hank Rearden, whose opposition to the government appropriation of his property makes transparent the naked violence at the foundation of coercive government action).

On a tangential point about "non-sanctioning" strategies of opposing tyranny: To my knowledge, Rand was not an advocate of the strategy of nonviolence. But I've seen some very good discussion of nonviolent resistance (in contrast to pacifism or armed revolt) in the works of Gene Sharp. I discuss some of Sharp's work in TOTAL FREEDOM.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 23, 2005 09:27 PM

"I don't think Rand was oblivious to individuals acting in concert, however, and how such action might actually topple tyranny."

Not oblivious perhaps, but I don't see that she got that much further on this particular front. It isn't that much of a stroll from the prescriptions of Etienne de la Boetie to the "solution" arrived at in ATLAS SHRUGGED. Did you have some other work of Rand's in mind?

Posted by: John T. Kennedy | August 23, 2005 10:22 PM


Rand was not a political strategist. She came up against the eternal question for all radicals, one echoed even by "Russian radicals" of a different hue before her (Chernyshevsky, Lenin): "What is to be done?"

I don't think she thought of ATLAS as a model for social change, per se, but she does view "The Strike" of the "men of the mind" as one means of withdrawing sanction from those who seek to destroy the good. If one believes that the unjust "predatory" state survives as a parasite upon the host, it is only through the withdrawal of the host that the parasite is denied nutriment.

Still, Rand once said that she "was interested in politics for only one reason---to reach the day when [she] would not have to be interested in politics." Not unlike Marx, however, she refused to provide a blueprint for change: "I am not a government planner nor do I spend my time inventing Utopias."

For Rand, the basic battle was philosophical and cultural. In her lifetime, she didn't think it was necessary to go to the "barricades"; it is likely that she would have advocated such resistance if a country were embracing one-party rule, executions without trial for political offenses, nationalization/expropriation of property, and censorship... all key characteristics of dictatorship (see "Collectivized 'Rights'" in THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS).

Nevertheless, she conceived of social change on multiple levels: the personal, the cultural, and what I call the "structural" (political-economic). One "checks one's premises" on each of these levels; one must check especially the "man-made" premises of the institutions and structures that predominate in any unjust society, as a prelude to changing those institutions.

Rand was not unrealistic, however. She believed that statist institutions were firmly entrenched, and that these both depended upon and perpetuated a whole host of ideological props, rooted in widespread "anti-conceptual" methods of education. And she clearly believed that social fragmentation and the "civil war" of pressure groups would not end---could not end---unless its source in statist control of the economy was ended.

Practically, Rand made a number of proposals---from a "fairness doctrine" for education to boycotts, strikes, and civil disobedience. She also believed that people could milk the inner contradictions of the mixed economy, while challenging it fundamentally. But Rand argued that none of these strategies was a primary; a genuine revolution could only happen as "the climax of a long philosophical development" and only in response to tyranny as "an act of self-defense against those who rule by force."

As for the other works in which Rand discusses strategies for change, see:

o "What Can One Do?" in PHILOSOPHY: WHO NEEDS IT

o "Check Your Premises, Choose Your Issues" (October 1966) in THE OBJECTIVIST NEWSLETTER

o "The Question of Scholarships" in THE VOICE OF REASON

o "Fairness Doctrine for Education" in PHILOSOPHY: WHO NEEDS IT

o "The Cold Civil War" in THE AYN RAND COLUMN

o "The Property Status of the Airwaves" in CAPITALISM: WHO NEEDS IT

o "Government Financing in a Free Society" in THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS

o Also see various audio lectures and Q&A sessions:
- Rand in Lecture 10 of Peikoff's PHILOSOPHY OF OBJECTIVISM
- Rand, "Questions and Answers on Objectivism"
- Rand, "The Role of Education"

I should note that there is a forthcoming volume of Rand's Q&A's; I suspect that many of these comments will be reproduced in that volume.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 24, 2005 07:43 AM

" the same sense".

(nod) It's like pulling teeth, sometimes, to impress the understanding that all knowledge is contextual. It wears some people out to the point where they just go blank whenever they hear the word "context", and I half expect to see some kind of internet "law" (see Godwin) declared just about any day now, by which discussion will be arbitrarily halted at the mention of the word, which -- practically -- is often the case now, anyway.

In any case, the thing that's most compelling to me in all this is that the logic of correlatives depends on first distinctions. Through it all: identity remains. This the principal fact that conditions dualism as a "fallacy", and it strikes me as crucial to analyze the fallacy to its roots. To my mind, this must necessarily destroy the "dualism" at hand, which is a proper thing to do.

Thanks, Chris, for taking the time to write this up.

Posted by: Billy Beck | August 24, 2005 11:26 AM


"Rand was not a political strategist."

I didn't mean to suggest that she need be, or that ATLAS (or any other of her works) ought to contain a practical blueprint for social change through collective action - just that they didn't and she never got much beyond Discourse of Voluntary Servitude on the practical problem of collective change.

In What Can One Do, for instance, Rand writes "...teach men the right philosophy - and their minds will do the rest". Surely Etienne de la Boetie would agree, but this begs the question of why individual men would listen. Neither of these authors after all got a better government than their less philosophically inclined fellow men.

Posted by: John T. Kennedy | August 24, 2005 12:49 PM

John, you state that Rand didn't have much to say about "the practical problem of collective change." I agree.

That's one of the reasons I've always been intrigued by the works of Gene Sharp. His work certainly merits a separate blog post at some point, but for the sake of those unfamiliar with him, let me recommend THE POLITICS OF NONVIOLENT ACTION and SOCIAL POWER AND POLITICAL FREEDOM.

(Oh how remarkable it would be if some militant Middle Eastern groups would read and absorb Sharp. Unfortunately, violence is seemingly endemic to their ideologies.)

In any event, I'm curious: Do you have anything specifically in mind, John, with regard to practical efforts in large-scale social, political, or economic change?

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 24, 2005 01:16 PM


"nod) It's like pulling teeth, sometimes, to impress the understanding that all knowledge is contextual. It wears some people out to the point where they just go blank whenever they hear the word "context", and I half expect to see some kind of internet "law" (see Godwin) declared just about any day now, by which discussion will be arbitrarily halted at the mention of the word, which -- practically -- is often the case now, anyway."

I don't mind someone telling me I'm dropping context, provided they go on to specify the context they think I'm ignoring. I've certainly been guilty of committing logical fallacies many times; who hasn't? And I don't mind having them pointed out to me, not at all. But I wonder why it's even necessary to tell someone they're dropping context when all that matters *is* that context. It would seem to me to suffice to simply draw their attention back to what you think they're missing. There's no disputing that dropping context leads to false alternatives. Nobody gets a penalty flag from me for claiming that I'm dropping context, unless they continue to make the claim without proceeding to back it up.

Posted by: Joh | August 25, 2005 10:48 PM


"Do you have anything specifically in mind, John, with regard to practical efforts in large-scale social, political, or economic change?"

Yes, I respond here.

Posted by: John T. Kennedy | August 25, 2005 10:51 PM

"The production of means by which individuals may increasingly evict collective politics from their lives."

Hmmm, sounds an awful lot like more of that " rational evangelizing" here John, that you mentioned above: as in.. "Oh Gee if only the Libertarians would stop engaging in "collective politics" they might get somewhere."

How's that working for ya?

Posted by: MWW | August 26, 2005 01:27 AM

The comment attributed to "Joh" above is mine.

Posted by: John T. Kennedy | August 26, 2005 04:08 AM

Thanks, John, and others, for additional comments.

I have always been of the view that there are many different strategies (not all of which are mutually exclusive) in which one might engage in an attempt to roll back tyranny. I wish I had all the answers here; for example, I wish it were easier to distinguish between "milking the inner contradictions" of a system, and becoming "co-opted" by it.

What is genuinely awful about the system that is currently in place is what Rand pinpointed many years ago: that statism creates a "class of beggars" and that, in that context, no power on earth can prevent the institutionalization of a civil war among groups. And as Hayek said: When political power becomes the only power worth having, it will touch off a war among groups who are most adept at using that power. That's why "the worst get on top."

Abstaining from these structural dynamics and creating parallel institutions is one important strategy; I'm just not sure how effective this will be without a corresponding change in the overall culture that generates institutions, whether they be social, economic, or political.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 26, 2005 10:54 AM

For my two cents on the strategy issue:

Posted by: Geoffrey Allan Plauche | August 26, 2005 05:15 PM

MWW notes:
"Hmmm, sounds an awful lot like more of that " rational evangelizing" here John..."

Rational evangelism is effective only on people who are both capable of and willing to process rational arguments.

That's a subset of about zero percent of the populance, and that's why rational evangelism is a failure in regards to manufacturing freedom: there just isn't a large number of people capable of being convinced.

In fact, there won't be a sizeable number of such people any time soon, because a democratic welfare state provides incentives for irrational behavior.

This comment thread, on the other hand, probably does contain a relatively sizeable number of people willing and able to understand rational arguments. Therefore rational evangelism can work, here.

Posted by: John Lopez | August 26, 2005 10:42 PM

So, can I take it to mean that you are refuting the notion that all human beings (barring some physiological infirmity) have the capacity to reason?

Posted by: MWW | August 27, 2005 09:57 AM

Maybe "capable of" is a bit of an overstatement. Pretty much everyone can count money or make it to the video store and back without killing themselves. They can get from A to B.

But the incentives are overwhelmingly against making rational choices in government.

Posted by: John Lopez | August 27, 2005 12:37 PM

I think this is a very important distinction to pay attention to.

If one is trying to determine the right/proper sort of relationships that men should have with other men, if they are living as human beings, one really should have a handle on the nature of human beings, which I would suggest does require one to examine the capacity for rational thought of human beings.

If one does not really believe that most human beings have the capacity to reason, or worse, that they are incapable of rational thought... then what is left in how to deal with other human beings?

ie in order to effectively develop strategy to achieve a civil society, where rights are respected... operating under the assumption that most human beings are incapable of rationality, means that achieving a civil society amongst men is impossible.

Now if that's really what you believe, fine. But you should say so, and in those terms -- exactly.

Posted by: MWW | August 27, 2005 08:34 PM


"ie in order to effectively develop strategy to achieve a civil society, where rights are respected... operating under the assumption that most human beings are incapable of rationality, means that achieving a civil society amongst men is impossible."

As David Friedman points out:

Prisoner's dilemma provides a simple demonstration of a problem that runs through the economic analysis of law: Individual rationality does not always lead to group rationality. Consider air pollution, not by a few factories but by lots of automobiles. We would all be better off if each of us installed a catalytic converter. But if I install a converter in my car I pay all of the cost and receive only a small fraction of the benefit, so it is not worth doing. In much the same fashion, everybody may be better off if nobody steals, since we are all potential victims, but my decision to steal from you has very little effect on the probability that someone else will steal from me, so it may be in my interest to do it.

Men nearly always behave in an instrumentally rational manner but there are systematic disincentives for epistemic rationality in collective politics. That's why I say the problem of political irrationality is the greatest social problem humanity faces.

Posted by: John T. Kennedy | August 28, 2005 11:35 AM

I just wanted to thank people for the additional comments.

I think there is room to accommodate those who stress volitional factors in social change and those who stress what I've come to call "structural" factors (economic and political). As this Rand-inspired model indicates, there is a complex reciprocal interrelationship among at least three levels of social relations, and any analysis that emphasizes one level to the exclusion of the others will fail to take account, I think, of the enormous difficulties involved in changing society.

Rand was among the most important champions of human volition. But she (and other libertarian theorists) have been very careful to emphasize that choices always take place in a complex historical, social, and cultural context. That context often constrains both the choices that individuals can make and the choices that are available to them. (On these issues, see especially her discussion of "The Comprachicos" and her various discussions of the "New Fascism," all of which suggest that pedagogy, education, culture, politics, and economics reciprocally reinforce the same tenacious "altruist-collectivist-statist" practices, regardless of how much these practices are challenged.)

Hayek was also very good on this point. He stresses, for example, that one of the most insidious results of welfare-statist government intervention is not political, but social-psychological, insofar as it changes people's views of individual responsibility, accountability, and entitlement. In many ways, it is this dynamic that makes "the road to serfdom" all that more threatening, socially speaking.

So, what I'm saying is that I agree with the central issue as laid out by MWW---that much of this speaks to one's conception of human nature. But I also agree with those others (and with Rand and Hayek) that there is a complex context (which relates to the system of statism and its evolution over time) within which human beings are situated, and which has a significant effect on their capacities to think and to act.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 28, 2005 12:27 PM

ie in order to effectively develop strategy to achieve a civil society, where rights are respected... operating under the assumption that most human beings are incapable of rationality, means that achieving a civil society amongst men is impossible.

Maybe I'm not explaining myself well. Most people are capable of rationality. However, in a welfare state, there is little-to-no incentive to make rational political choices. You get the same government no matter how much (or how little!) thought you put into it. You don't pay the costs of your bad decisions, and you don't get the benefits of your good decisions.

Any "strategy to achieve a civil society" has to take this into account, it can't be just wished away.

Posted by: John Lopez | August 28, 2005 01:04 PM


For the purposes of curtailing government I don't think the problem is as complex as you're suggesting.

In level two of your model you are only going to be able to rationally persuade people who are manifesting epistemic rationality in politics. But few people do because it's instumentally rational to eschew epistemic rationality in politics. And it's fruitless to attempt to argue someone into epistemic rationality because such arguments only have force for those already employing epistemic rationality.

It's instrumentally rational for most individuals to not waste their time improving their political philosophy because it won't improve their political outcomes. It hasn't improved yours or mine, we get the same political outcome as everyone else.

Level three of your model is where individuals can make real progress. As I pointed out in my earlier answer on my blog, Phil Zimmermann changed the structure of communication without putting it up for a vote. Only a very small number of people were required to effect a profound structural change.

Posted by: John T. Kennedy | August 28, 2005 02:38 PM

John, I think you're right about how people can make real progress on the structural level. But I think that the extent of that progress still depends on the larger context (which includes Levels 1 and 2).

Perhaps we're a bit spoiled since our lives are situated in a uniquely American context, which, as compromised as it is by the generational influence of interventionism, is still very much informed by a kind of commonsense "rugged individualism."

But think of Russia, or even of Iraq: How any attempted change to the structures of political power is most likely to be undermined by a culture of tribalism, collectivism, and dependency, built over generations of statist intervention.

Even in this country, certain structural changes can occur... but genuinely radical change that challenges the fundamentals of statism is something that requires some kind of change in Level 1 and 2 practices.

I discuss the implications of the Randian model in particular (with a few additional Hayekian insights) in this section of an essay I wrote in response to the neo-Hegelian David MacGregor (published in Critical Review).

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 28, 2005 08:30 PM

Please excuse the intrusion.

I have worked out a model based upon AP or Assassination Politics with a change. Instead of promoting aggressive violence the idea intends to promote defensive avoidance of violence. I call the idea Anti-Despotism Insurance.

Utilizing an Open Source Start Up Model: the business purports to offer potential customers a measure of security against specific aggressions. Ideally the customers vote unanimously with their own monetary investments and award a settlement to a specific claimant.


I check the web page and type in Refugee. On the top of the list is a claimant whose family is being forced out of his home. The total current monetary settlement, an account held in escrow, is sufficient to get that person out of trouble; in my personal estimate. I move down the list and find a claimant worthy of my dollar. I send it.

The enterprise could be competitively policed with transparency including the publication of charges against the total capital (a percentage on every dollar completing the exchange) defraying the costs of administration. Insurers more capable of minimizing costs tend to weed out those who dont.

This type of business model is evolving now. It may continue to evolve so long as people remain free to communicate in parallel (a network). If people give up that freedom, require a license, a tax, prejudiced exclusivity, then, avoidance becomes less possible, borders return, power centralizes, and conflict ensues.

Posted by: Joe Kelley | September 3, 2005 03:13 PM

Joe, thanks for sharing this with us. I don't know enough to comment one way or the other, but found the points you make interesting. Feel free to let us know if you develop this in print or online at some point.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | September 9, 2005 04:43 PM


Honesty is the best policy. To see the wisdom of those four words is one thing; to actually live honestly requires courage and, perhaps, faith.

You may wonder why my response to you begins this way as I wonder how to avoid insulting people with my efforts to be honest. Faith in the value of truth is my answer. The garbage that emits from my brain through my fingers onto this screen is the best I have to offer, honestly, at this moment in time.

Now; I have to tie things together and try to communicate relevance in as few words as possible. The world is rapidly changing because people are connecting voluntarily and at liberty through a connecting medium linking almost everyone to almost everyone else practically instantly.

The result of this ability of almost limitless connectivity is a much greater appreciation for liberty, honesty, transparency, and perhaps most importantly; cooperation.

The business model I have described is a reality already, if not exactly, as a result of honest, transparent, cooperation. My efforts to promote this evolution of human trade may or may not add much to the improvement. Your recognition of this phenomenon, in my opinion, is more important than my personal effectual efforts.

To me; what is most important is that honesty becomes popular and more and more people find the courage to be honest. All else will fall into place because honesty is the best policy among trading partners. Enemies choose falsehood. Weak, cowardly, ignorant subjects, slaves, whatever, embrace the veil of falsehood.

Virtually unlimited connectivity, like an electrical parallel circuit, bypasses the resistive nature of falsehood. Each connective node in the matrix becomes a battle ground, a choke point, a bridge used to carry supplies. Falsehood and honest transparent communication contend and compete at each choke point for dominance because, now, in the matrix or network, the path of information is practically limitless. The path of least resistance, a going around of the broken or undecided nodes, bridges, is made instantly.

If falsehood is truly popular then honesty can no longer impede the progress of falsehood. At each node where honesty dominates, or rejects falsehood, the effort to spread falsehood simply finds a more accommodating path.

The phenomenon is now being played out world wide so long as local conditions remain civilized. Hurricanes, invading armies, trade blockades, and other such destructive physical conditions eliminate the local network and the local matrix connectivity thereby reducing the free flow of information into single paths like a series electrical circuit. Control of the single path of information then returns to the old way subject to the whims of the few who control the single path.

Too many words dilute the message. Too much effort, on my part, dilutes the honesty. I am often just another lying coward.

Posted by: Joe Kelley | September 10, 2005 12:51 PM


Just wanted to thank you for your additional comments.


Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | September 13, 2005 08:41 PM


Thanks and Cheers,

I woke up early with a dream of significance fading back into nothingness. Before the inspiration evaporated I managed to save a few recollections intact. Four young women, daughters, were arrested and being held by the foreign soldiers. The Mom refused to take the oath of allegiance demanded by the faithless Imperial commander of the invading infidel army. The Mom audaciously struck out with a single arrow killing the commander. I stood frozen in place as the four daughters were dragged away into a certain unconscionable horror. I woke up.

People tell me I am honest to a fault. Is that meant to insult? It manages to insult me. People tell me I am a loon. That is mostly funny. My friends, the few that I have, tell me to light up. Fewer have thanked me. This is what you get when you thank me.

I have developed a routine of waking up and thinking out loud. My thoughts are very, very clear as I think. By the time I get to the keyboard things change some. It helps, immeasurably, to have feedback, direction, and personal communication. Few books offer this treasure. Books record some faded memory of a past history; like a few recollections captured after waking up from a dream. Solzhenitsyn offers treasure in book form as does Albert J. Nock. They are artists. I am not. I am simply trying to be honest.

My dreams are the fruits of diligent work: I think. Sleeping on the problem is a form of feedback. Thanks are better. I can now turn my work into a relevant direction.

Dependence upon external authority is a false notion. Authority is nothing more than a contest of wills seeking control. Giving in or abdicating authority is not dependence; it is subjugation. Subjects are powerless because they embrace a false notion. Subjects can be honest in their efforts to find the path of least resistance. The false notion hides the easier path. The subject, at first, refuses to see the better path; soon the better path fades out of view. The better path, at first, appears to be hard; soon the better path appears to be impossible. Soon the master, falsehood, becomes reality in the mind.

The master is busy closing doors and locking them. Obeying becomes more important than knowing. How false is that? When the order is given to start digging; the subject digs. When the order is given to dig faster; the subject digs faster. The subject refuses to see the hole for what it is in fact. The hole is a grave. The hole is falsehood. The subject refuses to see the bodies piling up in the grave. The subject sees only a greater need to obey, dig faster, block access to the doors with more dirt. Somewhere deep inside the subject still knows dishonestly; he is next. Who will fill his grave?


Posted by: Joe Kelley | September 14, 2005 07:14 AM


Song of the Day #371

Song of the DayI'm in Love, music and lyrics by Kashif Saleem (born Michael Jones) and Nicholas Trevisick, is one of Evelyn "Champagne" King's best. Listen to an audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 06:21 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 21, 2005

Song of the Day #370

Song of the DayMeditation from Thais is a theme composed by Jules Massenet from the opera "Thais." I first heard this as a 78 r.p.m. recording by violinist Fritz Kreisler, and fell in love with it. Listen to an audio clip here of this wonderful melody played by violinist Maxim Vengerov.

Posted by chris at 09:17 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 20, 2005

Anarchy and Dualism, Revisited

Geoffrey Allan Plauche over at Libertas revisits the subject of "Anarchy and Dualism" (which we'd discussed briefly here and here), mostly in response to a post by Billy Beck over at Two--Four.

Geoffrey discusses the fallacy of dualism, which I highlight in my own book Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism. What is of interest to me is that even though I have viewed anarchists as creating a dualism between market and state, they themselves view the state as the source of social dualisms and conflict. One might say that they are motivated by a desire to resolve the very dualisms in social life that even nonanarchists decry. (I have argued that the anarchist resolution is not dialectical, but that's a separate issue.)

In any event, check out the relevant links above for some interesting discussion.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 03:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | Posted to Politics (Theory, History, Now)


"What is of interest to me is that even though I have viewed anarchists as creating a dualism between market and state, they themselves view the state as the source of social dualisms and conflict. One might say that they are motivated by a desire to resolve the very dualisms in social life that even nonanarchists decry. (I have argued that the anarchist resolution is not dialectical, but that's a separate issue.)"

I totally agree, Chris, except with that last parenthetical remark. And I would add 'many' in between 'viewed' and 'anarchists'. Don't forget a lot of anarchists are not capitalists. Check out the addendum in my post for my response. :o)

Posted by: Geoffrey Allan Plauche | August 20, 2005 03:40 PM

Your points are well taken, as always. I, in turn, left you a comment, the essence of which I'd like to reproduce here as well:

I think what it all comes down to is that not enough libertarian anarchists are making the larger points about the personal, social, and cultural factors; in my experience, they have focused much too much on the elimination of the state as some kind of panacea. Rothbard himself used to talk quite a bit about how certain "praxeological" factors might push a society back down the "hegemonic" road. For me, it is those factors that need to be made part of the analysis... and part of the solution.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 20, 2005 05:50 PM


I think we're definitely in agreement there. One of the benefits that I see in libertarian anarchism over libertarian minarchism is that it encourages one to look at and consider those sub-political factors instead of focusing one's attention on making changes only at the political level. Granted many have focused on economics and the market to the exclusion or negligence of the personal, social, and cultural. However, Rothbard's influence is still very fresh. While his insights are important and integral to a philosphy of liberty, hopefully as time passes more and more libertarian anarchists will begin to look at these other factors as well. I, for one, like you, will keep pushing for it.

Posted by: Geoffrey Allan Plauche | August 20, 2005 08:07 PM


remark for you... or at you, or something.

Love ya both, bless your pointed heads.

Posted by: Billy Beck | August 21, 2005 11:17 AM

While we're continuing in this "love-fest" :) ...
you guys compel me to say a lot more. Check out my newest post:

Dualism: A Difference with Distinction

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 22, 2005 08:49 AM


Song of the Day #369

Song of the DayLovin' is Really My Game, words and music by B. Woods and T. Womack, was first recorded by the group Brainstorm (audio clip at that link). Belita Woods, who was one of the song's accredited writers, and who spent some time with George Clinton and P-Funk (Parliament-Funkadelic), provides the rousing hi-energy vocals on the track. It was also recorded by Ann Nesby and by Sylvester (the audio clip is linked mistakenly at "Take Me to Heaven").

Posted by chris at 12:52 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 19, 2005

The Brooklyn Egg Cream

I posted some follow-up at SOLO on that 10th Anniversary Thread. In that post, I mentioned the Classic Brooklyn Egg Cream, in my attempts to explain what I meant by "seltzer" (my drink of choice):

Seltzer is seltzer-water, or carbonated water, or soda-water. It's like club soda (without the sodium) or mineral water (without the minerals). I add this explanation because anytime I've traveled out of the NYC area, and I order Seltzer, some waiter or waitress thinks I mean "Alka-Seltzer" or "Bromo-Seltzer" for the tummy. But seltzer is a classic New York drink. You can even make Egg Creams with seltzer. (I'd add another footnote to this footnote, but that's not standard academic practice. Suffice it to say: Egg Creams do not include Eggs or Cream. See here for instructions on how to make a classic New York Egg Cream. Also see here. And yes, we have real seltzer water delivered to our home in Brooklyn.)

All I can say is: If you've never had a Brooklyn Egg Cream, you've never had a refreshing drink! There are all sorts of debates as to how to make it. The ingredients are simple: syrup (chocolate, but some heretics use vanilla), milk, and seltzer. Some add the milk and seltzer first and stir in the chocolate syrup; some add seltzer and chocolate syrup first and stir in the milk.

But I love the original Brooklyn Egg Cream. Some insist this is the Bronx Egg Cream and that the Brooklyn Egg Cream starts with seltzer and milk, instead of chocolate syrup.

But this is the recipe I learned, growing up in Brooklyn:

Begin with chocolate syrup; in a tall 8 oz. glass (glass is the only way to go!), add about 3/4 of an inch-to-an inch of syrup; then another inch or so of milk; then add seltzer from a Seltzer Bottle (only resort to a newly-opened can of seltzer if you're desperate).

And there you have it: The Classic Brooklyn Egg Cream, with a nice thick white foam at the top, and a delicious carbonated beverage that will quench your thirst. Great for the "Dog Days" of August.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 08:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | Posted to Food Frivolity


Salsa? I asked for seltza, not salza! Why do you bring me salsa when I asked for seltza?

MMMMMMMM.....egg cream.

Posted by: Joe | August 20, 2005 01:57 PM


Song of the Day #368

Song of the DayLove Insurance, words and music by S. Plotnicki and E. Rubin, was performed by the group Front Page, featuring the late Sharon Redd. Listen to an audio clip of this rare, energetic, musical disco classic here.

Posted by chris at 08:12 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 18, 2005

My Interview at Sunni's Salon

The tenth anniversary celebrations continue this afternoon with the publication of my interview at Sunni's Salon. I have known Sunni Maravillosa for a long time, and she's a total sweetheart. Her interview of me is comprehensive, wide-ranging, sometimes intimate, and always entertaining.

The 8-page interview starts here.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 02:34 PM | Permalink | Comments (6) | Posted to Austrian Economics Culture Dialectics Foreign Policy Music Pedagogy Periodicals Politics (Theory, History, Now) Rand Studies Sexuality


It was a super interview - on both your parts. Thanks. And as an aside, can't you get seltzer at most grocery stores these days? It's what my partner uses to make her version of an egg cream. Or to mix with fruit juice.

Posted by: Happy Curmudgeon | August 19, 2005 07:54 PM

Hey, Happy, thanks for your compliments.

Yes, I do, in fact, buy seltzer at many grocery stores and supermarkets in the metro area.

But nothing compares to the seltzer that comes out of a seltzer bottle. There is still a gent in Brooklyn who delivers cases of seltzer to customers in the borough; the bottles themselves are old. They almost constitute artifacts of urban archaeology. But they work! And the seltzer is grand.

You can still get classic Brooklyn Egg Creams at some choice fountains and restaurants in Brooklyn, places like Lundy's in Sheepshead Bay, known for its fine seafood, and, of course, Junior's Restaurant in downtown Brooklyn, known for serving the best New York Cheesecake in the World.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 20, 2005 01:15 PM

Wow, what a marvelous interview! Such a sun-lit, enthusiastic, friendly tone -- and not just a vacuous, no-brainer love-fest, either. Lots to chew on -- and look forward to. Thanks, Chris, and thanks, Sunni!

Roger Bissell

Posted by: Roger Bissell | August 23, 2005 08:02 PM

Hey, Roger, thanks very much for your very kind words on the interview. It seems to have made the rounds... has been mentioned on quite a few forums already.

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | September 9, 2005 04:40 PM

Yes, thank you, Roger. Chris and I left plenty of things to do another interview ... maybe for another tenth anniversary? What say you, Chris, my dear?

Posted by: Sunni Maravillosa | September 11, 2005 08:23 AM

This sounds like a plan, Sunni. :) Hopefully we'll actually meet before the next decade is up. :)

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | September 13, 2005 08:42 PM


Ten Years After, Take 2

On this date, ten years ago, my book Marx, Hayek, and Utopia was published by the State University of New York Press. The book is near and dear to my heart because it was the very first book I ever wrote, a derivative of my doctoral dissertation that became the first installment of my "Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy." As I stated in my "Ten Years After" article:

Marx, Hayek, and Utopia was first accepted for publication in 1989 by a West German publishing house, Philosophia Verlag, which eventually went bankrupt. I took back the rights to the book and eventually secured a contract with the State University of New York Press, which published it as part of its series on the Philosophy of the Social Sciences. By the time it appeared in the same August 1995 week as my second book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, Germany had become a united country.

Reminiscing about all this, ten years after, I have posted several times this past week at SOLO HQ. (Readers can follow that discussion herehere, and here.)

Today, in fact, at SOLO HQ, Edward W. Younkins publishes a version of an earlier review he did of my book Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism. He mentions in his review that while I offer an interpretive, methodological, and historical discussion, I don't offer my own substantive "dialectical-libertarian" social theory. Here, I make two brief points in response:

1. It is true that I didn't develop a formal "Sciabarraian" dialectical social theory in my trilogy, but there is an implicit parallel of sorts, between my own work and the work of somebody like Isaiah Berlin. Now, I'm not comparing myself to Berlin (some love him, some hate him) or to Berlin's history of voluminous writing. Moreover, I disagree with a lot of what Berlin has written.

But something of Berlin's "approach" was imparted to me through my Marxist mentor Bertell Ollman, who was himself taught by Berlin. One of the things I learned was that if I wanted to do intellectual history, I could express my own substantive views through my interpretation of the views of others. While my trilogy does not offer a substantive social theory, it is interpretive, methodological, and historical, and one can glean where I stand by the enthusiasm that I bring to my reconstruction of [, for example,] Rand's "tri-level model" (in Part Three of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical) and of Rothbard's "structural" critique (discussed in Chapter 7 of Total Freedom).

2. I think of my own essays on domestic and foreign policy as applications of the tri-level Randian model that I discuss in Russian Radical, and that I endorse, while being fully cognizant of important insights from other theorists as well (including Menger, Mises, Hayek, and Rothbard). Some day, when I finish a whole host of planned articles, I hope to return to the enunciation of a more formal "Sciabarraian" social theory. But before I can do that, I need to work on a much more accessible exposition of dialectical method. Though I defend my own ability to speak "Polish," as Linz has put it (that is, to situate myself in some very technical contemporary debates on methodology), I also believe that the time is ripe for extended essays on "The Art of Context-Keeping"essays that not only present "Dialectics for Dummies" (so-to-speak), but that integrate and illustrate the concrete practice of the art.

Here, I have more to say not only about this issue of speaking "Polish," that is, of speaking a technical language in books that are aimed at a technical audience (at least partially), but also about the larger issue of civility in public discourse:

I, personally, have engaged in what I view as very strong criticisms of other's works. Take a look at my critique of James Valliant's book, for example. I'm not going to re-open the substance of that debate on this thread. But if I'd called Valliant a "maggot" because I disagreed with him, what would it have achieved? We would have spent hours upon hours upon hours debating the style of my essay, rather than its substance.

An interview conducted by Sunni Maravillosa goes up later today where I expand on these themes. I'll post the link later. But as I say there, "when people engage in rude and disrespectful exchanges, the topic of the discussion soon shifts from a debate over substance to a debate over style."

Now, I'll admit that Linz has a nice Goldwater-tinged maxim in his essay from yesterday:

"Civility in the face of evil is no virtue; rage in the face of nihilism is no vice.

People who have seen me post to SOLO HQ have surely seen that I get passionate about many issues. Take a look at former discussions here of everything from homosexuality to foreign policy. But there comes a point where I move on. Just because I have serious disagreements with somebody does not mean that I have to revel in that topic for eons, spewing the newest, freshest insults I could come up with. That's just not me. It's not even a difference between a "public Chris" and "private Chris." It's not that I think one thing privately and say another publicly. I am usually unwilling to throw epithets around on SOLO HQ because I don't see the point of making the style of my exposition the center of the debate, thereby detracting from the substance of my points. It's as much a tactical decision as it is an expression of who I am.

Readers who doubt that should simply read Notablog more regularly; the discussions here that have been most contentious never go "off the rails." I expect my readers and posters to adhere to a certain tone in my home, and I lead by example.

More from my SOLO HQ post:

But few people ever walk away from a dialogue with me wondering about that substance. People know where I stand on a subject, whether it be the Iraq war, dialectics, feminism, homosexuality, or countless other topics.

None of this means that I'm not entertained by other people's diametrically opposed styles. Vive la difference! I have been entertained, plenty of times, by people (like Jeff), who can use satire and parody in devastating ways. And I may not like it when Linz throws certain epithets in my direction, but he can sometimes be very effective in the style that comes naturally to him.

And let me state this for the hearing of the world: I have actually learned from Lindsay Perigo. Horrors! There is a distinctive difference between the style of my academic work, which enters into very technical scholarly debates over methodology and epistemology, since it is addressed to a very specific audience, and the style of my essays for The Free Radical, which is more accessible. Linz has helped me to tap into my Inner Pit Bull on many an occasion, in his editorial comments on my first or second drafts for TFR, pushing me toward far more colorful and effective communication in that context. But I stand by my ability to speak "Polish" (as Linz puts it) to the Poles because I believe that different contexts demand different approaches. They do not demand a compromise of the substance of my points. But they do demand that I take into account the interests, needs, and knowledge of the audience I'm addressing.

On these last points, see my essay: "Dialectics and the Art of Nonfiction."

I'll post the link to my exchange with Sunni Maravillosa later today.

Comments welcome. Also mentioned at L&P.

Posted by chris at 10:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | Posted to Austrian Economics Dialectics Foreign Policy Rand Studies Sexuality


Congratulations on ANOTHER 10 year anniversary! I did not realize MARX HAYEK AND UTOPIA was also ten years old. One more and you'll have a triad! :)

Posted by: Joe | August 18, 2005 02:35 PM

Bravo, Chris, on the 10-year anniversary AND on standing up for civility and substance.

I eagerly look forward to more of that substance to come!

Posted by: Jason Dixon | August 19, 2005 09:21 AM

Thank you, Jason! It's good to see you here. I hope readers will check out your blog too:

The Passionate Plume of a Rational Queer

And thanks, Joe. I'm sorry I didn't complete that triad in 1995. But hey, that only means that when 2010 comes, we can celebrate the tenth anniversary of TOTAL FREEDOM. :)

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 19, 2005 11:28 AM


Song of the Day #367

Song of the DayHound Dog, words and music by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, was performed with characteristic gusto by Elvis Presley. Though the song was performed by Big Mama Thornton in 1953 as a #1 R&B track, it would not become a pop hit until three years later. On this date, in 1956, the song ascended as a double-sided record with "Don't Be Cruel" to #1 on the Billboard charts and stayed there for 11 weeks. It's one of my favorite Presley recordings. Listen to an audio clip here. This past week also marks the 28th anniversary of Presley's death.

Posted by chris at 09:38 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 17, 2005

Austrians in Academia

At the Mises Institute site, Walter Block publishes a thought-provoking piece entitled "Austrians in Academia: A Battle Plan." In it, he makes a number of interesting observations about publishing prospects. He even mentions The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (to which he has been a contributor):

What about movement journals for Austro libertarians such as Journal of Libertarian StudiesQuarterly Journal of Austrian EconomicsReview of Austrian EconomicsIndependent ReviewCato Journal, the American Journal of Economics and SociologyThe Journal of Ayn Rand StudiesAdvances in Austrian Economics, etc? (I call them movement journals because none of them is biased against Austrian or libertarian themes; indeed, the very opposite is the case).

If all of your publications are in these journals, e.g., you have none in any other refereed journal, the number of schools that will hire you will be limited. If you are aiming for a faculty position at an Ivy League school, you had better limit yourself to, say, 10% of your overall publications to journals such as these. The lower in (mainstream) prestige you go, the higher the proportion of such articles you can profitably have on your c.v.

Now that I have tenure, myself, I need not worry about such considerations, although there are still some slight pressures on me in this regard: if I want to be mobile, or get more of an annual salary raise, then I should look further afield for placement of my publications. As well, mainstream economists do not focus on these journals. If we want to have some impact on the profession at large, we should seek publication in their journals.

I think Walter is, of course, correct. I would hate to think that people in the academic profession who are interested in Ayn Rand, for example, would publish only in The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (and Walter is right: JARS has published its share of Austrian theorists too). It is very important for scholars to publish work on Rand and on Austrian theorists in "mainstream" journals.

But the existence of "movement journals" is important, insofar as they advance scholarly study of the subjects in which they specialize. That study must proceed with established standards of double-blind peer review. In addition, such journals must gain greater visibility in scholarly abstracts and indices. That's one of the reasons I have been relentless in my quest to get JARS noticed; the journal is now indexed in CSA Worldwide Political Science AbstractsIBR (International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences), IBZ (International Bibliography of Periodical Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences), International Bibliography of the Social SciencesInternational Political Science AbstractsThe Left IndexThe Philosopher's IndexMLA International BibliographyMLA Directory of PeriodicalsSociological AbstractsSocial Services Abstracts, and Women's Studies International. It is also linked to many online guides and resources. And there are many additional professional indices on the way.

In any event, as I said, Walter's article is provocative and merits your attention.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 10:55 AM | Permalink | Posted to Austrian Economics Rand Studies

An Interview, Conducted by Sebastien Care

This is a Notablog Exclusive.

In keeping with my tenth anniversary activities, I am interviewed today by Sebastien Care French researcher and Ph.D. in Politics, on the subject of libertarianism. Here's the link:

An Interview, Conducted by Sebastien Care

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 09:00 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | Posted to Austrian Economics Culture Dialectics Foreign Policy Politics (Theory, History, Now) Rand Studies


Hey Chris,

Fascinating stuff, thanks for posting it!

May I ask a question? In the interview, you said "At the head of SLS were such libertarians as Milton Mueller (who convinced me early on to avoid conservative groups like, say, Young Americans for Freedom)".

Just in general, what arguments did Mueller or others make against working with the YAF?


Posted by: Matthew Humphreys | August 18, 2005 01:55 PM

As I recall, it was the argument that the best "conservatives" get it partially right (on economic freedom), but that they don't understand the necessity for protecting social and civil liberty.

Since I was never thrilled with the conservative attitudes toward civil liberty and freedom of association, it didn't take much convincing. :)

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 19, 2005 11:24 AM

Aah right. Thanks. I heard YAF had quite a stong libertarian "contingent" at one point but that many of them fell out with the traditionalists over the Vietnam draft. Of course that would've been back a few years before the time you're talking about.


Posted by: Matthew Humphreys | August 19, 2005 03:47 PM

There is a story told, I think by Jerome Tuccille, about the YAF convention, in which libertarians were shouted down as "Lazy Fairies" (a play, obviously, on "laissez-faire").

They were probably onto something. :)

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 19, 2005 03:53 PM


Song of the Day #366

Song of the DayIt Ain't Necessarily So, music by George Gershwin, lyrics by Ira Gershwin, has been recorded by countless artists. Listen to audio clips of this "Porgy and Bess" staple performed by Peggy LeeBobby DarinLena Hornetrumpeter Art Farmerclarinetist Buddy DeFranco and pianist Oscar PetersonPeterson on clavicord with guitarist Joe Pass, and Paul Robeson.

Posted by chris at 08:35 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 16, 2005

Song of the Day #365

Song of the DayOnce Upon a Time features the words and music of Giorgio MoroderPete Bellotte and singer Donna Summer, who performs this disco classic. Listen to an audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 10:51 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 15, 2005

On Anniversaries

Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the publication of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. All this week, I'll be "looking back" on the past ten years, through interviews, posts, and discussions.

Ironically, just yesterday, in anticipation of the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' Shea Stadium concert, a piece by Michele Ingrassia was published in the NY Daily News entitled "Reasons to Celebrate." Ingrassia asks the question: "What's behind our obsession with anniversaries?" She writes:

Behold, the anniversary onslaught. Not a morning goes by when someone isn't heralding, say, the 145th anniversary of the Pony Express, the 70th anniversary of the flat-top beer can or the 40th anniversary of the Slurpee. ... "It's a way for people to put their lives in context," says humorist Robert Lanham ... If anniversary mania has exploded this year, perhaps it's because 2005 is such a nice, neat number to subtract from. ... Lanham calls it a symptom of our "neurotic culture"baby boomers' need to explain everything through the prism of their own lives. ... "It's a way to recontextualize," [pop culturalist Robert] Thompson says.

Well, it's not necessarily the case that one is "neurotic" for seeing life through one's own eyes and one's own experience. Personal context does matter! And given my own obsession with the art of context-keeping, I can't think of a better way to mark my own tenth anniversaries this week than to extol the virtue of looking through the prism of my own life. It is an opportunity to "recontextualize" things, indeedto take stock, to look back, to see where I was, where I am, and where I'm going.

So there will be more to come throughout the week. Two new interviews make their debut this week. For those interested in past interviews and notices, take a look here.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 11:39 AM | Permalink | Posted to Culture Music

Song of the Day #364

Song of the DayI Feel Fine is a John Lennon-Paul McCartney composition, recorded by The BeatlesSpeaking of anniversaries, today is a big one: The 40th anniversary of The BeatlesShea Stadium concert (a midi audio clip of this song at that link). Nobody could actually hear this song or any other performed at Shea because the roar of the crowd was deafening. But it was a seminal moment in rock history. I also love a version of this song by singer Nancy Ames, from her album "Spiced with Brasil."

Posted by chris at 11:26 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

Song of the Day #363

Song of the DayOh Marie, written by Eduardo Di Capua, was sung with jazzy Italian gusto for the Peabody-dancing crowd by the Wild OneLouis Prima. A Louis Armstrong-influenced performer, Prima gives us Sicilian scat singing at its best. Listen to an audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 08:33 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 14, 2005

Ten Years After

On this date, ten years ago, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical was published. It was actually not "officially" released until the fall, but its arrival on my doorstep in 1995 was a moment of celebration for me. Russian Radical was actually my second book, but it arrived from the printer four days before the release of my first book, Marx, Hayek, and Utopia (which was published on 18 August 1995).

This week, I'm celebrating "Ten Years After" the publication of the first two books of my "Dialectics and Liberty Trilogy" (which culminated in 2000, with the publication of Total Freedom: Toward a Dialectical Libertarianism). There will be articles, interviews, and discussions here and at various host sites.

Today, to kick it all off, SOLO HQ publishes an article that first made its appearance in print in the July-August 2005 issue of The Free Radical. (Subscription information for Free Radical is available here.) The article is entitled:

"Ten Years After"

Discussion is archived here.

Links to all of my previous Free Radical-SOLO HQ writings are available here, along with PDFs for many of my Free Radical essays, including the current one here.

Comments welcome here at Notablog, and at SOLO HQ, and at Liberty & Power Group Blog too (with L&P comments here).

Posted by chris at 10:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (8) | Posted to Austrian Economics Dialectics Rand Studies


Chris Matthew Sciabarra,

(Or as I am going to call it now, AYN RAND: THE.)

I first read THE in 97, I believe it was, not quite 10 years ago, but I can't remember time before it. If Rand shook my foundations, you built them up again. Not only did I learn about Rand, I learned about history, psychology, dialectics, and much more. You've been a brave, dedicated and seemingly tireless champion of so many things, Randian and otherwise, and carried yourself with the grace of a saint. And you've provided a good soundtrack to go with it with your Songs of the Day.

You've dragged Objectivism kicking and screaming out of the academia closet, and even took your queer eye to the homophobia and gave it a fabulous makeover.

You've shared the strength of New York in her most trying time. You've kept your reason and your humanity above your anger and fear. You've called for retribution and vengeance without sacrificing justice and understanding. I stand by you and defend you from the slurs of Saddamy.
You've been my inspiration, my mentor, my hero.

And even through all you've been through, physically and mentally, you've kept your sense of life intact and found time to enjoy life. While others are desperately seeking to extend it, you've embodied the Objectivist virtue of "selection, not accumulation."

You guide us through the tearjearking songs of Lanza, bebop us through jazz, you even tackled the perils of prog, and still got Lindsay Perigo to shake his booty to some BeeGees.

Shine On, Chris. May there be many more footnotes.

Posted by: Joe | August 14, 2005 10:51 AM

Congratulations Chris. On a personal note, I had studied Ayn Rand as a kid, but gave up on her when I started studying philosophy in college. Your book gave me a new appreciation for her work.

Posted by: Neil Parille | August 14, 2005 11:37 AM

Chris, you have mightily rocked a boat that seriously needed rocking, as Rand would put it. You have suffered some pretty outrageous slings and arrows in the process of bringing your vision of dialectics to life and sharing it with a sometimes fearful and angry audience, and I hope it has lessened some of the sting to know that there are others out there who share and applaud your vision. Bravo, I say, for your intellect, your diplomatic skill, your courage, and above all, your decency -- and, I will add here, your enormous integrity, energy, and moral ambition --in respect of all of which you stand head and shoulders above your critics. And the best is yet to come -- and considering your trilogy, Feminist Interpretations, JARS, cyberseminars, etc., that means that truly fabulous things lie ahead! But even though you are the last person I would expect to rest on his laurels, you have already achieved more than many would-be scholars and intellectuals have achieved in a lifetime. (Plus, you share my enthusiasm for Bill Watrous, one of the all-time greats of the trombone. :-) I salute you.

Your admirer and friend,
Roger Bissell

Posted by: Roger Bissell | August 14, 2005 02:47 PM

Congratulations Chris! And here you are celebrating by giving us more of yourself for which I, for one, am very grateful.

By example you are teaching us how to be angry without venom, how to be studious without pedantry, how to be cheerful without any rowdiness. Not all triads fit us all but you can claim an apex in polemics and patience -- then tantalize us with newer acmes of perfection.

Your context matters a great deal. You got the A+ in writing rejection letters bu set me to work thereby and made me love it.

So celebrate on -- we all just love the Sciabarrean analysis.


Posted by: Jane Yoder | August 14, 2005 03:03 PM

Joe, thanks for that touching tribute.

Neil, I'm so glad my work influenced you toward a new appreciation for Rand's work.

Roger... as I said at SOLO HQ, thank you so much for your unfailing support of my work. Your friendship is invaluable.

And Jane, thank you for your kind words of tribute. But you'll need to come visit me in Brooklyn; there is still a Brooklyn rowdiness deep in my heart. :)

All my best, always,

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 14, 2005 09:59 PM

Since you named your article TEN YEARS AFTER, I think tomorrow's song of the day should be "I'd Love to Change the World." Or "Joy to the World." But not "One." Because One is the loneliest number, and two can be as bad as one; it's the loneliest number since the number one...three, on the other hand...

Posted by: Joe | August 15, 2005 12:59 AM

And here I thought you were going to refer to the group Ten Years After.


Anyway, today, I posted two songs: one by Louis Prima, the other by the Beatles (to mark yet another anniversary).

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 15, 2005 11:41 AM

Hmmm...I'm mixing bands, aren't I? I was referring to 10 Years after, and the first song is theirs...but the other two are Three Dog Night...hey, they both start with T, both are three word names...I see an accidental dialectic here...or maybe not.

Funny story, though. I woke up and couldn't get my favorite internet radio station to stream, and my backup station was not working, either. So I said, "Ah, I'll just play the Beatles station."
Then I go to your song of the day.

Synchronicity? Or something more insidious? You ARE trying to change the world! ;)

Posted by: Joe | August 15, 2005 02:46 PM


Song of the Day #362

Song of the DayJazzman, words and music by Carole King and David Palmer, is sung by King, with a little help from saxophonist Tom Scott. Listen to an audio clip of this song here.

Posted by chris at 09:34 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 13, 2005

Comments on the "Cultural Root of Parental Socialism"

I posted a few brief thoughts in reply to Steve Horwitz's L&P entry, "One Cultural Root of 'Parental Socialism'."

Comments welcome, but readers are invited to read Steve's paper and comment at L&P.

Posted by chris at 02:30 PM | Permalink | Posted to Culture

Bearing Witness

Every year since 2001, around the time of the September 11th anniversary, I put up another article, another testament to the tragedy and horror of that day. I've got quite a few articles planned for my annual series, and this year's essay should be of interest to those who have read previous installments (start here).

In the meantime, I must confess that I've been deeply moved by the materials I have found today at the NY Times website, the result of a court order that led to the release of "a digital avalanche of oral histories, dispatchers' tapes and phone logs so vast that they took up 23 compact discs."

Readers should check out pages herehere, and here, especially. I was reminded of the people I knew who died on that day, and of the people who survived... to bear witness.

My next 9/11 tribute should be up at Notablog around September 8th, a few days before the Sunday commemoration.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 10:02 AM | Permalink | Posted to Remembrance

Song of the Day #361

Song of the DayOnce You've Been in Love, music by Michel Legrand and lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, is from the 1972 film "One is a Lonely Number" (aka "Two is a Happy Number"). Streisand recorded a version of this that was never released. But Sarah Vaughan's version was released, and it is grand and moving.

Posted by chris at 09:46 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 12, 2005

Song of the Day #360

Song of the DayOnce in a Lifetime, music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, was featured in the 1962 Broadway musical, "Stop the World, I Want to Get Off." This song was also featured in the 1966 movie version. I was first exposed to this song as a kid when I heard my sister-in-law sing it in performance at the Gil Hodges Grand Slam Cocktail Lounge. Listen to Newley's original version here and to a swingin' grand slam version by Sammy Davis, Jr. here.

Posted by chris at 12:05 PM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 11, 2005

Song of the Day #359

Song of the DayScrapple from the Apple (Dexter Gordon audio clip at that link), composed by Charlie "Yardbird" Parker, is one of those classic bop tunes that has been recorded by countless jazz musicians. Listen to a "Bird" audio clip here and to a clip of one of my favorites: a Jim Hall live rendition here.

Posted by chris at 08:22 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 10, 2005

Summer of Sam

I was reminded of the "Summer of Sam" by today's NY Times "On This Day" feature. On this day, in 1977, David Berkowitz was caught before yet another wave of his ".44 Caliber" terrorizing of the citizens of NYC.

During that time period, I remember distinctly that we were all on edge. Less than two weeks before his capture, Berkowitz attacked and killed a young woman named Stacy Moskowitz who sat in a car not too far from my home in Brooklyn.

Two or three nights before Berkowitz was arrested, I was accompanying my sister and mother home from my grandmother's house. It was after 2 a.m. The streets were deserted. And oh so silent. We had been talking about the Son of Sam all evening, and were, naturally, a little tense.

Being the overprotective male figure that I was, and 17 years old, I announced to my mother and sister: "Don't worry, I'll protect you."

As we passed an all-night gas station just a few blocks from our home, a car that had just pulled up to the pump... backfired.

I am not sure if I screamed or if it was just a lower, more masculine expression of surprise. But I am pretty sure that I must have jumped about two feet in the air from pure fright.

The ribbing I caught from my mother and sister"Oh sure, you're gonna protect us!"had us laughing for some time thereafter.

The Son of Sam was taken into custody days later. The trail of blood he had left behind was no laughing matter.

But at least on that one night, our laughter helped us to face our fear.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 11:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | Posted to Frivolity

I would vastly have preferred a sidearm.

Beretta 92FS, for me.

Posted by: Billy Beck | August 10, 2005 12:07 PM


Song of the Day #358

Song of the DayAnd the Beat Goes On, words and music by Leon Sylvers IIIWilliam Shelby, and Stephen Shockley, was performed with jazzy gusto by The Whispers. Listen to an audio clip of this classic dance track here.

Posted by chris at 10:52 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 09, 2005

Song of the Day #357

Song of the DayRock Steady, music and lyrics by BabyfaceAntonio "L.A." Reid, D. Ladd, and B. Watson, was performed by The Whispers. Listen to an audio clip of this retro-sounding, soulful 1987 dance cut here.

Posted by chris at 08:27 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 08, 2005

A New Look for Liberty & Power

As a contributor to Liberty & Power Group Blog, I got a nice surprise today when I visited there. Check out the new look!

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 04:03 PM | Permalink | Posted to Blog / Personal Business

Peter Jennings, RIP

This is not going to be a post about media liberal bias, or the waning days of the Network News Anchor. This is not going to be a post about the changing nature of news in the cyber-age.

It's just a note to mark the passing of ABC newsman Peter Jennings67, who headed the anchor desk for two decades.

And for those two decades, I was a regular watcher of Jennings. I remember his Millennium coverage with special poignancy. Whether I agreed or disagreed with him, I liked his graceful and classy manner.

Jennings died of lung cancer; having lost my own mother to that horrific disease, I can only send my condolences to the Jennings family.

Comments welcome.

Posted by chris at 12:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | Posted to Remembrance


Hey Chris,

I share your sadness at Mr Jennings' passing - his show goes out in the UK on BBC News 24 (a rolling news/current affairs service).

I wrote a little bit myself on my own blog here.

and also on SOLO HQ (in respose to an article by Tibor Machan.)


Posted by: Matthew Humphreys | August 10, 2005 11:01 AM


Song of the Day #356

Song of the DayNever (Past Tense), words and music by R. Checo, A. Lorenzo, and P. Lewis, is performed by The Roc Project, featuring Tina Arena. A catchy hook and an irresistible dance beat grace this track. Listen to an audio clip here.

Posted by chris at 11:24 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 07, 2005

Song of the Day #355

Song of the Day(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons was most likely written solely by William "Pat" Best, but a lyric credit has also been given to Deek Watson. Either way, the song has charted with many artists through the years, from Ella Fitzgerald to Sam Cooke to the Cleftones (audio clips at those links). Listen to an audio clip of my favorite version, the #1 hit by Nat King Cole.

Posted by chris at 11:27 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 06, 2005

Song of the Day #354

Song of the DayRumour Has It features the words and music of Giorgio MoroderPete Bellotte, and singer Donna Summer, who performs the song. At the height of her Disco Diva status, Summer belted this one with gusto. A classic Moroder production, it first appeared on the album, "Once Upon a Time" (audio clip at that link).

Posted by chris at 12:22 PM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 05, 2005

Song of the Day #353

Song of the DayMemories of You features the music of Eubie Blake and the lyrics of Andy Razaf. Listen to an audio clip interview with ragtime pianist Blake and a clip of him playing the song here. And check out an audio clip from a lovely version featuring clarinetist Benny Goodman and guitarist Charlie Christian here.

Posted by chris at 09:10 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 04, 2005

Welcome to Stephen Davies!

Just a shout-out to Stephen Davies who, today, joins the roster of Liberty & Power Group Blog!

Posted by chris at 09:19 PM | Permalink | Posted to FYI

The Art of Cyber-Pedagogy

Yesterday, I read a really interesting article by Michael J. Bugeja in The Chronicle of Higher Education, entitled "Master (or Mistress) of Your Domain" (shades of Jerry), with the descriptive subtitle: "Creating a Web site for your latest book can showcase the work and aid your case for tenure and promotion."

I'll put aside the issue of aiding one's case for tenure and promotion. I'd like to suggest that it might actually aid one's cause (which might not actually aid one's tenure or promotion). And I think more classical liberal and libertarian scholars should consider doing it.

First, let's take a look at Bugeja's points. He writes:

For better or worse, the Internet is playing a larger role in editorial decisions about books and in promotion and tenure evaluations. It is commonplace for external reviewers to Google Web sites or troll databases before rendering their decisions on behalf of publishing houses and institutions.
Search committees also are using the Web to evaluate the writing or scholarship of job applicants before inviting them to on-campus interviews. ...


I advise authors to create a Web site with the title of their texts as the domain name and to assemble other sites with domain names identifying their scholarship. ... Authors are responsible for getting their books reviewed, purchased by libraries, and adopted by professors for use in research or in the classroom. In the past, that required an author to fill out a questionnaire for the publisher, identifying editors, book reviewers, and colleagues who might have interest in the work. The Internet has changed that.


Bugeja explains how he marshalled his own resources to promote his own work. Who is a better salesperson than the person who authors the work and knows it, inside-out? He "e-mailed reviewers and technology columnists, directing them to the Web site" he had established for his book, "asking if they would like a copy. Several said yes, generating reviews and citations that I added to my site under 'latest news.' Without the site, the book would have died along with the trees that gave it life at the printing press. Instead, it went on to win a research award with reviews in top publications. That's the benefit of a book site."

Bugeja tells us that his book site boosted classroom sales too. He reminds us that those who surf the web expect some things for free. The Internet may not be a "medium for professors concerned about copyright issues or intellectual property," but Bugeja encourages authors "to share [their] pedagogies or methodologies," giving readers, potential teachers and students alike, "all manner of free information, including lectures for each chapter; sample syllabi for large, middle-range, senior, master's, and doctoral classes; end-of-chapter materials; forms for paper assignments, journal exercises, and presentations; sample midterms and final exams; a bibliography; and an index." He even provides

a 103-page instructor's manual in both Word and PDF formats. Online manuals save the publisher printing costs and allow potential users to manipulate syllabi, lectures, and other downloads. The most popular free feature on my site is a twice-monthly teaching module meant to stimulate classroom discussion. To date, I've added more than two dozen such modules to the site on content too topical to include in a new edition but nonetheless related to the concept of the work.


I especially like Bugeja's suggestion that authors archive "reviews, recent articles, and information about" themselves. I've been doing such things for over ten years now on my own site, and I've had URL forwarding for the titles of all of my books. Just try typing or, more simply,, and see where that takes you. I'll never forget how my pal and colleague, Lester Hunt, once characterized my site. Linking to it from his site, he wrote: "Chris is a true liberal. In the interest of provoking dialogue, he puts some very adverse criticisms of his controversial work on his site, together with his replies." I think that's actually very important. And I think more liberal/libertarian scholars should be doing it precisely because it documents the history of a discussion of a particular work, while also providing the basis for future dialogue.

The one thing authors should not supply, of course, is: the book. But links to services where you can order the book online are always helpful. As Bugeja puts it: "That's the point of the site, and all links lead to that outcome."

I've not yet put a syllabus for my books online, but I do have one available for use in a cyberseminar that I give now and then on my "Dialectics and Liberty" trilogy. But Bugeja has given me a good idea about developing more study guides and syllabi for my various publications so as to facilitate their use in the classroom.

It would be a good idea, I think, if those in the liberal/libertarian academy do more to develop these kinds of web resources in a more formal manner. It is one way to develop a "parallel institution" of learning, while at the same time providing a blueprint for the use of such materials in established institutions of learning. Additionally, it gives each of us, as authors of the works, a chance to frame the discussion in a way that is most likely to generate further interest in our own contributions and the contributions of our colleagues in the libertarian academy. I've seen some development of this model on the sites of some of my colleagues; in the light of Bugeja's essay, I think this is something that can benefit each of us individually and the cause of liberty more generally.

Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P, where comments are posted here.

Posted by chris at 10:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | Posted to Pedagogy


Thanks for your post here, Chris. Your Web site is much more developed than mine, and I enjoyed visiting it.

Posted by: Michael Bugeja | August 8, 2005 03:52 PM

Michael, it's so nice to see that you not only read the blog post but took the time to visit my site.

I really loved your CHE piece, and it has given me some good ideas about online syllabi and course materials. In that regard, your site offers a wonderful lesson for all of us.

Keep up the fine work!

Posted by: Chris Matthew Sciabarra | August 8, 2005 04:10 PM

Dear Chris,

I will follow your work as well and visit notablog, an example of a resource that is informative and provides good service.

Kind regards,

Posted by: Michael Bugeja | August 10, 2005 02:36 PM


Song of the Day #352

Song of the DayThe Way You Look Tonight, music by Jerome Kern, lyrics by Dorothy Fields, has been recorded by many performers, including The LettermenAnita O'Day, and Frank Sinatra (audio clips at artist links). This Oscar-winning song was first performed in the film "Swing Time," where Fred Astaire sings it to Ginger Rogers. Listen to an audio clip from the soundtrack here. I especially love a live instrumental version by jazz guitarist Jim Hall (audio clip here).

Posted by chris at 08:39 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 03, 2005

Song of the Day #351

Song of the DayThe Way You Make Me Feel features the words, music, and performance of Michael Jackson. Back in the day, when I was a DJ, I'd play this at a party, and have to play it a few times in a row because the crowd just wouldn't stop dancing to it. It grew on me. Listen to an audio clip of this finger-poppin' Jackson track here.

Posted by chris at 06:36 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 02, 2005

Song of the Day #350

Song of the DayThe Way He Makes Me Feel, music by Michel Legrand, lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, is a gorgeous Academy Award-nominated song from the 1983 film "Yentl." Listen to two Barbra Streisand audio clips from the score here.

Posted by chris at 09:22 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music

AUGUST 01, 2005

Song of the Day #349

Song of the DayWhat Do All the People Know? features the words and music of B. Monroe from the group, The Monroes. Listen to an audio clip of this rhythmic '80s new wave hit here.

Posted by chris at 11:31 AM | Permalink | Posted to Music