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  • Author: Andrew Bernstein
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: On the morning of September 11, 2001, Mohammed Atta and his minions flew stolen planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, destroying the former and murdering thousands of innocent civilians. What motivated this atrocity? What filled the murderers with such all-consuming hatred that they were willing to surrender their own lives in order to kill thousands of innocent human beings? The clear answer is that these were religious zealots engaged in holy war with their primordial enemy—the embodiment of the modern secular West: the United States of America.In their evil way, the Islamists provide mankind with some clarity. They remind us of what real religion is and looks like—not the Christianity or Judaism of the modern West, watered down and diluted by the secular principles of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment; but real faith-based, reason-rejecting, sin-bashing, kill-the-infidels religion. The atrocities of 9/11 and other similar terrorist acts by Islamists do not clash with their creed. On the contrary, they are consistent with the essence of religion—not merely of Islam—but religion more broadly, religion as such. This is an all-important lesson that humanity must learn: Religion is hazardous to your health. Unfortunately, conventional views of religion hold just the opposite. Many people believe that religion is the necessary basis of morality—that without belief in God, there can be no ethics, no right or wrong. A character in Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov famously expressed this view: “In a world without God, all things become permissible.” In the 21st century, many people still believe this. But the converse is true. A rational, fact-based, life-promoting morality is impossible on religious premises. Indeed, religion clashes with every rational principle and factual requirement of a proper, life-advancing ethics. A proper ethics, one capable of promoting flourishing human life on earth, requires the utter repudiation of religion—of all of its premises, tenets, implications, and consequences. To begin understanding the clash between religion and human life, consider the Dark Ages, the interminable centuries following the fall of Rome in the 5th century AD. The barbarian tribes that overran Rome eventually converted to Christianity, which, in the form of the Catholic Church, became the dominant philosophic and cultural force of medieval Europe. Unlike the essentially secular classical world, or the post-Renaissance modern world, the medieval world zealously embraced religion as the fundamental source of truth and moral guidance. What were the results in human life?
  • Topic: Health, Islam
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe
  • Author: Frederick Seiler
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: The Scientific Revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries was a defining moment in the history of Western Civilization. Modern science and the scientific method were born; the rate of scientific discovery exploded; giants such as Copernicus, Vesalius, Kepler, Galileo, Harvey, Newton, and countless lesser figures unlocked world-changing secrets of the universe. It has often been observed that such a revolution occurred only once in human history, and in one particular culture: the predominantly Christian culture of early-modern Europe. This observation gives rise to several questions: What role, if any, did Christianity play in the birth of modern science? Did faith give rise to science? Did a mixture of faith and reason give rise to it? Was Christianity somehow responsible—perhaps even necessary—for the rise of modern science, as some historians have argued? In short, what, if anything, does religion have to do with the Scientific Revolution? As long as science has existed, religionists have been attempting to reconcile religion and science. Recently, a new breed of scholars has asserted that religion itself—in particular Christianity—actually caused the birth of science. What are the facts of the matter? Toward answering that question, let us first review some earlier and relevant historical developments; then we will turn to relevant highlights of the Scientific Revolution itself. Science was born in ancient Greece among the pre-Socratics, who were the first to look for natural explanations of the world around them. Thales's claim that everything is made of water is significant because it assumes that the fundamental building block of the world is a natural substance. Embracing this naturalistic outlook, the Greeks of the classical and Hellenistic eras made important advances in astronomy, geometry, medicine, and biology—and established the fields of history, drama, political theory, and philosophy. Philosophy was especially important. Plato and Aristotle—the philosophical giants of Greece—created two dramatically different philosophical systems, especially in terms of their metaphysics and epistemologies. Plato, in exception to the general Greek attitude, proposed that the world we experience is not fully real. He maintained that the individual physical objects we see are imperfect, corrupted reflections of those in a higher reality. Plato called this higher dimension the world of the Forms and held that knowledge of this realm can be reached only via intuition. Although Plato revered mathematics, he did so for its alleged ability to train the mind to receive the Forms rather than as a means of gaining understanding of the physical world. Plato had little interest in studying this world.
  • Topic: Development
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece
  • Author: Dan Norton
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Eleven years ago, toward the end of my undergraduate years as a philosophy major at the University of Virginia, I was feeling dissatisfied with my knowledge of history. I had taken several history courses but wanted more. Because my immediate interest was ancient Greece, I decided to try a friend's recommendation, The Life of Greece by Will Durant. Finding the book at the library, I was surprised to see that it was but one volume in a massive series called The Story of Civilization—eleven substantial volumes spanning two feet of shelving.1 Although I wanted to learn more about history, I wasn't sure I wanted to learn that much. It turned out that I did. Reading those volumes—sometimes poring over large portions of them multiple times—would be one of the most enlightening and enjoyable experiences of my life. First published between 1935 and 1975, The Story of Civilization is a work of great and enduring value. Exceptional for its masterful prose as well as its size and scope, the Story is a powerful combination of style and substance. An author of rare literary talents, Durant (1885–1981) won a wide readership through his ability to make history intriguing, lively, and dramatic. His volumes, intended for the general reader and each designed to be readable apart from the others, have sold millions of copies. Some even became best sellers, and the tenth volume, Rousseau and Revolution, won a Pulitzer Prize. Individual volumes have been translated into more than twenty languages.2 Having earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1917 from Columbia University, Durant first won fame and phenomenal success with The Story of Philosophy (1926). This book sold two million copies in a few years and has sold three million copies to date; eighty-five years later, the book is still in print and has been translated into nineteen languages.3 Durant followed this book with another best seller, The Mansions of Philosophy (1929).4 His earnings from these and other books, as well as from articles and public lectures, helped free his time for writing The Story of Civilization, which would be his magnum opus. His wife, Ariel Durant (1898–1981), assisted him throughout his writing of the Story, her assistance increasing to the point that, beginning with the seventh volume, she received credit as coauthor.5 The Story of Civilization begins with Our Oriental Heritage, a volume on Egypt and Asiatic civilizations. The remaining ten volumes tell the story of Western civilization (with a substantial treatment of Islamic civilization in one of the volumes6). Durant's original intention was to tell the story of the West up to the present, but, despite working on the Story for more than four decades, he was unable to do so: “[A]s the story came closer to our own times and interests it presented an ever greater number of personalities and events still vitally influential today; and these demanded no mere lifeless chronicle, but a humanizing visualization which in turn demanded space” (vol. 7, p. vii). The increasing space he gave to each period of European history resulted in his having to end the Story with the downfall of Napoleon in 1815; moreover, he had to omit the history of the Americas entirely. He was ninety when the Story's last volume was published and had carried it as far as he could. In each volume Durant takes a comprehensive approach, covering, for each nation and in each period of its history, all the major aspects of civilization: politics, economics, philosophy, religion, literature, art, and science.7 He called his approach the “integral” or “synthetic” method, and regarded it as an original contribution to historiography.8 Elaborating on the origin of his method, he writes: I had expounded the idea in 1917 in a paper . . . “On the Writing of History.” . . . Its thesis: whereas economic life, politics, religion, morals and manners, science, philosophy, literature, and art had all moved contemporaneously, and in mutual influence, in each epoch of each civilization, historians had recorded each aspect in almost complete separation from the rest. . . . So I cried, “Hold, enough!” to what I later termed “shredded history,” and called for an “integral history” in which all the phases of human activity would be presented in one complex narrative, in one developing, moving, picture. I did not, of course, propose a cloture on lineal and vertical history (tracing the course of one element in civilization), nor on brochure history (reporting original research on some limited subject or event), but I thought that these had been overdone, and that the education of mankind required a new type of historian—not quite like Gibbon, or Macaulay, or Ranke, who had given nearly all their attention to politics, religion, and war, but rather like Voltaire, who, in his Siècle de Louis XIV and his Essai sur les moeurs, had occasionally left the court, the church, and the camp to consider and record morals, literature, philosophy, and art.9 Durant's integral history does not only occasionally consider these latter areas (which he calls “cultural history” or “the history of the mind,”)10 it emphasizes them. “While recognizing the importance of government and statesmanship, we have given the political history of each period and state as the oft-told background, rather than the substance or essence of the tale; our chief interest was in the history of the mind” (vol. 10, p. vii). (Nevertheless, the Story contains ample and excellent material on politics.) The Story is by far the most massive and thorough treatment of Western civilization by a single author (or team of two) that I have been able to find. Large teams of historians have collaborated to produce similarly large, or even larger, works. But such works, writes a respected historian, “while they gain substantially in authoritative character, are seriously lacking in correlation and are not written from a . . . harmonious point of view.”11 Harmony is indeed one of the cardinal virtues of Durant's work; readers find therein a beautifully integrated tale of man's past, a veritable symphony of history. For this reason and others—notably, Durant's grand, philosophical overviews and scintillating style—I believe that many, and perhaps most, readers will find no better place to turn for a large treatment of Western civilization than The Story of Civilization. . . .
  • Topic: Government, History
  • Political Geography: America, Europe
  • Author: Daniel Wahl
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: In 1943, on the coast of Andalusia in southwest Spain, a dead man “washed ashore wearing a fake uniform and the underwear of a dead Oxford don, with a love letter from a girl he had never known pressed to his long-dead heart” (pp. 323–24). It was near the high point of the Third Reich's reign, with Europe effectively under Nazi control; but, owing in part to this dead man, Hitler's days were numbered. Ben Macintyre tells the story of this fantastic ruse in Operation Mincemeat: How a Dead Man and a Bizarre Plan Fooled the Nazis and Assured an Allied Victory. The book may read like fiction, but remarkably, the story is completely true. It begins during World War II when the Nazi war machine “was at last beginning to stutter and misfire.” The British Eighth Army under Montgomery had vanquished Rommel's invincible Afrika Korps at El Alamein. The Allied invasion of Morocco and Tunisia had fatally weakened Germany's grip, and with the liberation of Tunis, the Allies would control the coast of North Africa, its ports and airfields, from Casablanca to Alexandria. The time had come to lay siege to Hitler's Fortress [across Europe]. But where? Sicily was the logical place from which to deliver the gut punch into what Churchill famously called the soft “underbelly of the Axis.” The island at the toe of Italy's boot commanded the channel linking the two sides of the Mediterranean, just eighty miles from the Tunisian coast. . . . The British in Malta and Allied convoys had been pummeled by Luftwaffe bombers taking off from the island, and . . . “no major operation could be launched, maintained, or supplied until the enemy airfields and other bases in Sicily had been obliterated so as to allow free passage through the Mediterranean.” An invasion of Sicily would open the road to Rome . . . allow for preparations to invade France, and perhaps knock a tottering Italy out of the war. . . . [Thus]: Sicily would be the target, the precursor to the invasion of mainland Europe. (pp. 36–37) There was a major problem, however. Macintyre points out that the strategic importance of Sicily was as clear to the Nazis as it was to the Allies and that, if the Nazis were prepared for it, an invasion would be a bloodbath. So how could the Allies catch their enemy off guard? The solution was to launch what Macintyre calls one of the most extraordinary deception operations ever attempted. The British Secret Service would take a dead man and plant on him fake documents that suggested that the Allies were planning to bomb Sicily only as an initial feint preceding an attack on Nazi forces in Greece and Sardinia. They would then float their man near the Spanish coastline, making it appear as though he drowned at sea, and hope that one of the many Nazi spies in Spain discovered him and the documents and passed their content along to his superiors—convincing them to weaken Sicily by moving forces to Greece and Sardinia. . . .
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Germany, Tunisia, Rome, Alexandria
  • Author: Gideon Reich
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Norman Podhoretz, Jewish neoconservative and former editor-in-chief of Commentary magazine, attempts in his book Why Are Jews Liberals? to answer the perplexing commitment of American Jews to modern liberalism. Jews, according to Podhoretz, violate "commonplace assumptions" about political behavior, such as that "people tend to vote their pocket books"; they "take pride . . . in their refusal to put self-interest . . . above the demands of \'social justice\'"; and they have consistently sided with the left in the "culture war" (pp. 2-3). According to statistics cited by Podhoretz, 74 percent of Jews support increased government spending and, since 1928, on average, 75 percent have voted for candidates of the Democratic Party. Such political behavior "finds no warrant either in the Jewish religion or in the socioeconomic condition of the American Jewish community" (p. 3), argues Podhoretz; it can be explained only by realizing that Jews are treating liberalism as a "religion . . . obdurately resistant to facts that undermine its claims and promises" (p. 283). Podhoretz traces the prevalent political orientation of present-day Jews to conditions suffered by their Jewish ancestors in medieval Europe and later in the United States. During the Dark and Middle Ages, Christian authorities in Europe placed severe restrictions on Jews, including where they could live and what professions they could practice. In later centuries, as the influence of Christianity declined, liberal revolutions swept much of the European continent, and, in the 19th century, Western European governments began recognizing the rights of Jews and treating them as equal under the law (p. 57). Even so, conservative Christians, who still supported the monarchies, remained opposed to the "emancipation" of the Jews (pp. 55-57). Consequently, Jews entered politics in Europe almost exclusively as liberals, in opposition to the Christian right that had oppressed them and their ancestors (pp. 58-59). Governments in Eastern Europe and Russia, however, continued to persecute Jews well into the early 20th century (pp. 65-67), and, between 1881 and 1924, two million Jews immigrated to America, where they would be treated equally before the law. Most were poor, and few ventured out of Lower East Side Manhattan, where the majority found jobs in the textile industry, working more than sixty hours a week for low wages, and where even "modest improvements in their condition" were achieved only by the efforts of a Jewish labor movement (pp. 99-100). . . .
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, America, Europe
  • Author: Ari Armstrong
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: With Congress debating far-reaching bills to expand federal control of health care, politicians and pundits blaming the economic downturn on allegedly free markets, President Obama fulfilling his promise to "spread the wealth around," and dozens of czars overseeing wide swaths of American life, it seems that capitalism is in retreat. A rousing defense of capitalism, therefore, could not have come at a better time, and that is what Andrew Bernstein provides in his new book, Capitalism Unbound. Bernstein ably defends the achievements of the Industrial Revolution, presents the moral foundation for capitalism, skewers socialism, and indicates in some respects how several disasters-including the recent housing bust-were caused by government meddling in the economy. Capitalism Unbound is an updated and highly condensed version of Bernstein's 2005 book, The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire. With the new book, Bernstein promises "the essential points-presented in a simple, easy to read format" (p. ix). He begins his sixteen-page Prologue, "The Primordial Struggle for Individual Liberty," by mentioning that capitalism rests on the "moral code . . . of an individual's inalienable right to his own life" (p. 1). After recounting the American Revolution as a key example of the furthering of individual rights, Bernstein applies the principle of rights to issues such as contracts, property, and employment. He then defines some key terms, including capitalism ("the system of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned"), freedom (protection "against the initiation of force by either private citizens or the government"), and statism ("the subordination of the individual to the state [and] the repudiation of inalienable individual rights") (pp. 10-11). The prologue concludes with a discussion of some of history's most horrifying instances of statism, including tribal dictatorships, Soviet communism, National Socialism, and Islamic theocracy. The rest of the book is divided into three parts, about the historical, moral, and economic superiority of capitalism, respectively. In Part One, "The Historic Superiority of Capitalism," Bernstein first summarizes the impoverished conditions of preindustrial Europe. He then explains how, inspired by Enlightenment thinkers, innovators of 18th-century England and 19th-century America achieved profound advances in technology and economic production, created goods and services that radically improved the living conditions of the common person, and often amassed fortunes in the process. These productive giants include steam engineer James Watt, steel titan Andrew Carnegie, and oil pioneer John D. Rockefeller, who by the height of his dominance had driven oil prices from fifty-eight cents to eight cents per gallon (p. 52). Bernstein reviews many of the economic advances of the Industrial Revolution, such as the enormous expansion of cotton cloth-spun English cotton increased twenty-four-fold between 1765 and 1784 alone-enabling "hundreds of millions of people worldwide . . . to dress . . . comfortably, cleanly, and hygienically" (pp. 34-35, emphasis removed). . . .
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: America, Europe
  • Author: Frederick Seiler
  • Publication Date: 07-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: No abstract is available.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Doug Altner
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Over the past few years, Somali pirates have attacked numerous ships, hijacking more than forty in 2008, holding more than six hundred seafarers for ransom that same year,1 and extorting more than $150 million in ransom payments from December 2007 to November 2008.2 More troubling is that, as of September, reported pirate attacks for 2009 have already surpassed the total number reported in 2008-a strong indication that the problem of piracy is only worsening.3 Because of these attacks, shipping companies must choose between navigating dangerous waters and taking costly alternate routes in order to protect their crews and goods. In November 2008, Maersk, one of the world's largest container shipping companies, announced that, until there are more convoys to protect its ships from attacks, some of its fleet will avoid taking the most direct sea route to the East through the Suez Canal, which leads to pirate-infested waters.4 By taking the next best route from Europe to the East-around South Africa's Cape of Good Hope-shipping companies such as Maersk will add an average of 5.7 days and three thousand miles to each trip. The average annual cost of this route change to such a shipping company will range in millions of dollars for each of its ships that uses the alternate route,5 not to mention short- and long-term expenses from additional wear on its vessels. And, of course, given the integrated nature of the economy and the amount of goods shipped to and from the East, such route changes negatively affect all industries, directly or indirectly. Although the piracy threat has been well known to those in the shipping industry for a few years, it became manifest to most Americans in April 2009 when Somali pirates hijacked the Maersk Alabama and captured twenty U.S. sailors. Although the sailors soon regained control of the ship,6 four pirates took Captain Richard Phillips hostage on a lifeboat. The three-day standoff that ensued ended when a team of navy SEAL snipers rescued the captain.7 Fortunately, neither the captain nor any sailors were seriously harmed during this attack-but it is disconcerting that a small gang of third-world pirates dared to attack an American ship and abduct its captain. Why were the pirates not afraid of a standoff with the most powerful navy on earth? To determine what is motivating these pirates and how the U.S. Navy should best combat their attacks, many policy analysts, historians, and defense experts are looking to the Barbary Wars-two wars the United States fought in the early 19th century to end North African piracy-for guidance. These experts are wise to look here, for the situation surrounding the Barbary pirates of the revolutionary era is similar in important respects to the situation surrounding the Somali pirates of today. Like the Somali pirates, the Barbary pirates attacked trade ships, stole goods, took prisoners, and demanded ransom from wealthy nations with strong militaries. And like the Somali pirates, the Barbary pirates got away with their thievery for some time. But unlike the Somali pirates, who continue their predations, after the Second Barbary War the Barbary pirates stopped assaulting U.S. ships-permanently. Toward establishing a policy that can bring about this same effect with regard to the Somali pirates, it is instructive to examine those aspects of late-18th- and early-19th-century U.S. foreign policy that were effective against Barbary piracy and those that were not. In particular, it is instructive to identify why the First Barbary War failed to end the pirate attacks but the second succeeded. Let us consider the key events surrounding these two wars. . . . To read the rest of this article, select one of the following options:Subscriber Login | Subscribe | Renew | Purchase a PDF of this article
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, South Africa, Somalia
  • Author: Craig Biddle
  • Publication Date: 09-2008
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Objective Standard
  • Institution: The Objective Standard
  • Abstract: Surveys the promises of John McCain and Barack Obama, shows that these intentions are at odds with the American ideal of individual rights, demonstrates that the cause of such political aims is a particular moral philosophy (shared by McCain and Obama), and calls for Americans to repudiate that morality and to embrace instead a morality that supports the American ideal.
  • Political Geography: America, Europe