Author Archives: Cmsciabarra

RIP, Jackie Mason

A hilarious comic—who offended everybody with his irreverent politically incorrect humor—has died at the age of 93.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Homonograph Reviewed @ C4SS

Eric Fleischmann—who is not just a student of my work and a very dear friend, but a very fine young scholar in his own right—offers a critical and provocative review of my monograph Ayn Rand, Homosexuality, and Human Liberation on the site of Center for a Stateless Society, which, not coincidentally, is offering the “Homonograph” for sale at its C4SS Store here.

Eric interviewed me for the piece, which places the monograph in its proper context—a nearly two-decade old discussion of the relationship between Objectivism and those in the LGBTQ+ community who were drawn, “like moths to a flame,” to Rand’s uplifting celebration of individual freedom and authenticity “only to be burned in the process.”

Despite some many on-point criticisms of the work, of Rand and her acolytes, and of reactionary elements within the libertarian movement, Eric argues that the “monograph serves as one of the centerpieces in the establishment of thick libertarian ideas. It especially forwards the point that it is not enough that people refrain from trying to use the state against the LGBTQIA+ community. We must go further and combat a culture that breeds both physical and nonphysical violence.”

Check out the review here and other reviews of the work here. And thanks, Eric, for your challenging and wide-ranging examination of the monograph!

The “Homonograph” (Leap Publishing, 2003)

Song of the Day #1875

Song of the Day: 1981 Disconet Top Tune Medley [YouTube link], mixed by Mike Arato (who DJ’d at Uncle Sam’s in Long Island!) and John Matarazzo, is a swirling compendium of some of the best hits of that year, including: “Pull Up to the Bumper“, “Nights“, “Try it Out“, “Give it to Me Baby“, “Hit ‘n Run Lover“, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough“, “Walk Right Now“, “Your Love“, and “Lay All Your Love on Me” (yep, from that great ABBA Disconet Remix [YouTube link]). While the rest of the world was walking on disco’s grave, the rest of us were dancing the night away in the clubs of the day!

Ravitch, Rand, and CRT: The Ominous Parallels?

I introduced this blog post on Facebook with the following preface:

Okay, here’s something that should piss off people on both sides of the Critical Race Theory debate. The merits of CRT matter less to me than the central point of this blog entry: That somebody as far away from CRT as Ayn Rand had something profoundly important to say about the nature of systemic racism.


I have not written extensively on “Critical Race Theory” and have no time to do so, given personal and professional constraints. But Diane Ravitch published a worthwhile article in the New York Daily News on this topic in the 29 June 2021 issue. Check it out here.

Ravitch writes:

In the Houston of my youth, every public and private facility was racially segregated: schools, mass transit, restaurants, hotels, public swimming pools and everything else. Grocery stores had two water fountains, one marked “white,” the other marked “colored.” Public buses had a movable marker with the word “colored,” which consigned Black people to the back of the bus. If whites needed more seats, the marker was pushed back, and Blacks stood. By custom, a Black person entered the house of a white person only through the back door. When a white and a Black approached each other on the sidewalk, the Black person was expected to step into the road to let the white person pass. The customs of white supremacy were well understood and seldom, if ever, violated.

In school, our history textbooks taught us about great American patriots, all of whom were white. The only person of color mentioned was George Washington Carver, who discovered many uses of peanuts. When we studied the Civil War, there were heroes on both sides (my junior high school was named for a Confederate hero, Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston), but minimal mention of slavery or its cruelty.

Reconstruction following the Civil War was taught as a time when Southern whites were oppressed by federal troops, opportunistic carpetbaggers, and ignorant Black politicians who ran their states into the ground.

It was many years later that I learned that this was the Confederate view of events, and that Reconstruction was a time when able Black men served honorably in Congress, and racially integrated state legislatures wrote new and progressive constitutions. And that, when Reconstruction ended in 1877, white Southerners quickly restored the status quo, replacing slavery with Jim Crow legislation that maintained racism, segregation and unequal opportunity for Blacks.


Many whites, myself included, believed that the 1954 Brown vs. Board decision, which overturned the fiction of “separate but equal,” marked the beginning of the end for racial segregation. The Civil Rights laws passed during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration in the mid-1960s strengthened the belief that racial inequality was defeated. The federal government and the federal courts would reverse any racial discrimination, we believed. No longer would places of public accommodation or public transit or public schools be allowed to bar Blacks, nor would Blacks be denied the right to vote.


This too was misleading. In the 1980s, I became friends with Prof. Derrick Bell, the first Black person ever to receive tenure at Harvard Law School. … He is called the founder of critical race theory, which holds that racism is systemic and that Blacks will never achieve equality until we reckon with the past and confront the systems and beliefs that allow racism and segregation to persist, blighting our society. An example is housing patterns, which did not evolve by accident or choice, but because — as Richard Rothstein showed in his book “The Color of Law” — racially discriminatory rules were imposed by the federal, state and local governments. Segregated neighborhoods produce segregated schools. … A nation can’t escape the sins of its past without confronting them directly.

For those who dismiss all of this as a by-product of “leftist” thinking, check out Chapter 12 (“The Predatory State“) in my book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical. While Rand would have had many differences with many CRT advocates, I examine, in that chapter, Rand’s profoundly dialectical analysis of the reciprocal relationship between advancing statism and deepening racism in our society, such that each is both a systemic precondition and effect of the other.

I present Rand’s approach as a Tri-Level analysis of social relations of power:

The Tri-Level Model of Social Relations

As summarized in my September 2005 Freeman essay, “Dialectics and Liberty“:

Rand maintained that government intervention in the economy creates a civil war of all against all; advancing statism makes masters and slaves of every social group, with each vying for some special privilege at the expense of others. Paradoxically, even as statists try to create and rule society as a collective whole, their policies simultaneously create vast social fragmentation. The rule of force has the effect of engendering the formation of pressure groups, each with a design on the levers of power. Every group threatens every other group while acting in self-defense against the aggrandizement of its political competitors. Over time, Rand argued, the group becomes the central political unit of a statist society, and every differentiating characteristic among human beings—be it age, sex, sexual orientation, social status, religion, nationality, or race—becomes a pretext for the formation of yet another interest group.

Racism, in Rand’s view, was the most vicious form of social fragmentation perpetuated by modern statism. It was not a mere byproduct of state intervention; it was a constituent element of statism. From the perspective of Level I, Rand argued that racism was an immoral and primitive form of collectivism that negated individual uniqueness, choice, and values. Psychologically, the racist substitutes ancestral lineage for self-value and thereby undermines the earned achievement of any genuine self-esteem. Holding people responsible for the real or imagined sins of their ancestors, wielding the weapon of collective guilt, the racist adopts the associational, concrete-bound method of awareness common to all tribalists. This “anti-conceptual” tribalism is manifested in the irrational fear of foreigners (xenophobia), the group loyalty of the guild, the worship of the family, the blood ties of the criminal gang, and the chauvinism of the nationalist. Tribalism was “a reciprocally reinforcing cause and result” of the various caste systems throughout history.

Such “psycho-epistemological” tribalism could only gain currency in a culture dominated by irrationalist and collectivist ideas (Level II). When the Nazis ascribed notions of good and evil to whole groups of people based on legitimating ideological doctrines of racial purity, they depended on the obliteration of individualism as a cultural ideal.

In terms of structural realities (Level III), Rand explored the various political and economic institutions and policies that both reflected and perpetuated racism—through outright slavery, genocide, or apartheid, or through the use of quotas, prohibitions, zoning laws, rent control, public housing, public education, compulsory codes of segregation and integration, and a self-perpetuating welfare bureaucracy that kept poor people poor, while inculcating a psychology of victimization among them.

What most interested Rand was the broad historical process by which racism predominates in modern societies. In Rand’s view, statism was born in “prehistorical tribal warfare.” Political elites often perpetuated racial hatred and scapegoated racial and ethnic groups in order to secure power. But “the relationship is reciprocal,” said Rand: Just as tribalism was a precondition of statism, so too was statism a reciprocally related cause of tribalism. “The political cause of tribalism’s rebirth is the mixed economy,” marked by “permanent tribal warfare.” In Rand’s view, advancing statism and tribalism went hand-in-hand, leading to a condition of “global balkanization.”

For those who think there is no comparability between Rand’s view of how statism and racism are systemically related and what Ravitch and others have said about systemic racism, I’d say this: If anything, Rand lays bare the statist order that makes such systemic racism possible. It is not just a part of the past, but a necessary part of our present social system. Rand called this system “the New Fascism”, and her analysis of it—of the racism and social fragmentation it depends upon and perpetuates—is as radical as any proposed by Critical Race Theorists.

Taking a cue from Rand, I’d tell folks on both sides of this debate to “Check your premises.”

Pearls Before Swine: Remote Learning

Today’s “Pearls Before Swine” installment, courtesy of The New York Daily News and Stephan Pastis. I may not have all these remotes, but since I often misplace the ones I do have, I sure would like that last one!

Remote Learning

Song of the Day #1874

Song of the Day: 1980 Disconet Top Tune Medley [YouTube link], produced by John Matarazzo and Mike Arato, features such dance gems as “Fame“, “Funkytown“, “Twilight Zone“, “Vertigo/Relight My Fire“, “Celebration“, “Love Sensation“, “Rapture“, “Upside Down“, and “Another One Bites the Dust“, drawing from the pop, alternative, and rock sounds of the day.

Ski and Me: Update #3

Back in December 2020, I first posted on my sister’s medical adventures. Elizabeth Sciabarra (aka “Ms. Ski” to the thousands of students whose lives she touched as an educator for nearly fifty years) was taken seriously ill in mid-November. This was followed in mid-March by back surgery, which necessitated her entrance, on April 7, 2021, into a subacute rehabilitation facility. She has toughed it out, as only she can, and today—after 4+ months of physical therapy—I am happy to report that my sister is home again.

The first thing on our agenda was ordering some Brooklyn Pizza to celebrate her return!

Here’s to many more days of celebrating, as she continues to progress toward full recovery. Thanks to all those who have expressed their love and support.

Here’s to My Sister! My Friend! My Partner in Crime! With all my love, always …

Welcome Home!

Pete Alonso: HR Derby Champ Again!

I don’t care if you’re a Yankees fan (like me) or a Mets fan! Two cheers (for two consecutive wins) to the Mets’ Pete Alonso for winning the Home Run Derby again! Great show! And the kid’s got rhythm too (see below) —

JARS: Dedicating and Rededicating …

Over the last twenty-one years of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, we have lost key members of the JARS family. In 2005, one of our cofounders—the man with the vision to create this journal—Bill Bradford, passed away. This was followed by the deaths of original Advisory Board members Larry J. Sechrest in 2008 and John Hospers in 2011. David Mayer, who joined the Board of Advisors in 2012, died in 2019. And in June 2021, we were greatly saddened to learn that Steven Horwitz, another Advisory Board member from the class of 2012, lost his battle with multiple myeloma.

It is in Steve’s memory that we will dedicate the forthcoming December 2021 issue of JARS, published by Pennsylvania State University Press.

But dedications of this sort require rededications to our mission—as we continue to be the only nonpartisan, biannual, interdisciplinary university-press published, double-blind peer-reviewed scholarly periodical devoted to the critical examination of Ayn Rand and her times. To that end, we are proud to announce the addition of four new Advisory Board members and one new Editorial Board member (and fuller bios for these folks will follow in our December 2021 issue):

We are also pleased to announce that Roger E. Bissell, another prolific contributor to JARS since its debut in 1999, has become an Associate Editor. Roger is an independent scholar living in Antioch, Tennessee. A research associate with the Molinari Institute, he has edited no fewer than ten books and is the author of more than three dozen scholarly essays in philosophy and psychology and four books, including How the Martians Discovered Algebra: Explorations in Induction and the Philosophy of Mathematics (2014) and What’s in Your File Folder? Essays on the Nature and Logic of Propositions (2019). He is also the coeditor, with Chris Matthew Sciabarra (me!) and Edward W. Younkins, of The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom. A lifelong professional musician, he has an M.A. in music performance and literature (University of Iowa) and a B.S. in music theory and composition (Iowa State University).

In welcoming these individuals, we remain profoundly grateful to all of our editorial and advisory board members for their continued support, which is integral to our ongoing intellectual journey.

Stay tuned for what promises to be a blockbuster December 2021 issue of JARS!

Props to Italy in Euro 2020!

It’s like the Fourth of July again in these parts of Brooklyn! Congratulations to Italy for winning Euro 2020!