Category Archives: Fyi

Honoring John Hospers

This Sunday, October 10, 2021, Jameson Books is publishing a wonderful collection in honor of philosopher John Hospers entitled Libertarianism: John Hospers, The Libertarian Party’s 50th Anniversary, and Beyond, edited by C. Ronald Kimberling and Stan Oliver. As Tom Palmer writes in his Foreword to the book:

John Hospers was a memorable man, with an influence far greater than his current renown. It’s thus an honor to advance this collection, as well as to contribute to it. His ideas, his encouragement of his students, his friendship, and his scholarship are explored by the numerous articles and essays in this volume, which also provides primary documents for those interested in the growth of the libertarian political movement in the United States. It’s a valuable resource for historians of ideas, for political junkies, and for anyone interested in the revival of libertarian thought in the United States—a revival in which John Hospers played an important role. That preference for liberty, for escaping the cages of “left” and “right” that have so warped and degraded American political practice, is now a part of the American political scene.

The 400-page book includes more than 30 essays by a wide variety of writers, including yours truly. In my own essay, “John Hospers: A Remembrance,” I reflect on my discovery of John’s work and my friendship with this gentle man with a remarkable intellect and wonderful sense of life. As I state in the essay:

I had heard of John Hospers years earlier, when I was twelve years old. He was, after all, the first presidential candidate of the newly formed Libertarian Party. In 1972, he received, along with Tonie Nathan, his vice presidential running mate, one electoral vote, which was one less for Richard M. Nixon. Nathan became the first woman and the first Jewish candidate to receive an electoral vote in any US presidential election.

But it wasn’t until years later, when I read “Libertarianism“, that I came to appreciate the true significance of John Hospers, philosopher. This work revealed the remarkable breadth of the libertarian vision. Within it, I found a logically arranged, eminently readable introduction to all of the core issues with regard to economic and political liberty, both at home and abroad, the dangers of the interventionist state, and even a discussion of the debate between the advocates of minimal government and the anarcho-capitalists. Hospers’s 1971 opus preceded Robert Nozick’s seminal “Anarchy, State, and Utopia” by three years and introduced a young generation to a genuine “philosophy for tomorrow.” It was, in fact, one of the founding “manifestos” of an
intellectual revolution in twentieth-century thought, deeply rooted in the ideals of classical liberalism adopted for a new age.

As the years passed, I made that new libertarian vision my guiding intellectual pursuit, and as I learned more, it seemed as if John Hospers was always a presence somewhere in that learning process. I discovered other works of his, and then, eventually, I had the courage to send him a copy of the working manuscript for my book, Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, seeking his feedback. With grace, he accepted the task of a critical reading of the manuscript and provided me with meticulous, insightful, and thought-provoking comments; whenever critical, they were constructively so, whether they were conveyed on the phone or in correspondence. There is no doubt that his input immeasurably improved the final product, for which I remain eternally grateful. In the end, his support of my work on Rand led him to provide a generous blurb that appeared in the first printing of its first edition.

I finally met John at a Liberty conference in 1996, where I appeared on a panel with him and Barbara Branden to discuss the contributions of Ayn Rand. Three years later, he became one of the original founding advisory board members to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. When he passed away on June 12, 2011, the world lost a marvelous thinker; I lost a dear friend. This book includes essays coming from a variety of perspectives—including some with which I disagree. But it remains an inspiring memorial to John’s humanity and legacy.

Celebrating John Hospers

Postscript – On Facebook, some folks, who disagreed with John Hospers on many issues, found it odd that anyone would contribute to a book that would deify him. I replied:

Let me make one thing clear: I contributed to this anthology not as a means of deifying the man, but as a means of recognizing his larger legacy, which has been underappreciated. I approach all learning the same way: I have drawn lessons from thinkers all over the intellectual map—from Aristotle to Hegel, from Ayn Rand to Karl Marx. I do not believe in the deification of any of these figures, but I give credit where credit is due, criticize that with which I disagree, and move on.

The Marxist scholar Bertell Ollman, my doctoral dissertation advisor and mentor, remains one of the most important influences on my intellectual development; I would contribute to any anthology recognizing his contributions in the same way I have done for John Hospers. Both men had an immense impact on my growth, in addition to being remarkably generous, kind souls.

By no means did I agree with John on issues like abortion or the Iraq war, but heck, I have had major disagreements with thinkers inside and outside of libertarianism my whole life on issues across the board. Still. I have learned from so many, and I think it is important to recognize this. We never stop learning—well, at least we never should stop learning—and it’s a good thing to be able to acknowledge those who have taught us. And I’d like to think that I pass this legacy onto those who have learned from me.

Another exchange on Facebook raised the issue of whether John Hospers would have supported civil disobedience, given his focus on the “rule of law”. I replied:

The problem you raise is one that all folks—who believe in any radical shift away from the status quo—must face. As Rand once said, it’s the problem of how to live a ‘rational’ life in an ‘irrational’ society. It is the problem of trying to change a society given the conditions that exist. In Libertarianism, the book published 50 years ago (in 1971), Hospers suggests that armed revolution against unjust laws would most likely lead to enormous loss of life and property and would not change things fundamentally. He also argued that the refusal to obey unjust laws could have a monumental effect—but only if “very large numbers of dissenters” joined in the civil disobedience, say “fifty million people” refusing to pay their taxes or to be subject to military conscription.

Hospers cites Albert Jay Nock, who wrote: “Inaction is better than wrong action or premature right action and effective right action can only follow right thinking” (quoted by Hospers on p. 462 of Libertarianism). So for Hospers, the surest way to affect a change in laws was by a cultural shift in ideas through an educational process.

Given some of the conversations I had with him, I suspect he would have still left it to individuals to engage in resistance to unjust laws; respecting the rule of law is not the same thing as respecting the rule of laws that by their very nature coerce and oppress.


Taking out the Trash on Social Media

At one point, only a couple of months ago, I was nearing 5000 Facebook “friends”, whom I was adding throughout the years without giving much thought to it. But the increasing toxicity over the last few years has been palpable. It led me to “trim” my FB “friend” list by over 4000 people.* I’ve even invited some folks to unfriend me if they didn’t like what I had to say, and lo and behold, my wish was granted! THANK GOODNESS! I have had it with the toxicity and the nastiness in social media. I’ve seen it up close and personal for all too many years. Life is too short.

Taking out the trash …

___
* And for the record, I still have over 940 FB “friends”. We don’t all agree! But there is a difference between having a disagreement and being disagreeable. (Actually, it’s now below 940… so clearly, the approach is working!)

But more importantly, it’s not just about taking toxicity out of the airspace; at root, it’s about self-care, indeed. Nobody should have to devote one moment of their time to something that is as corrosive as that kind of interaction. It erodes us and it diminishes us. All the more reason to take the intiative and do what’s right for yourself.

Facebook: Trust, but Verify!

Earlier today, I was invited by Facebook to complete a process of authentication that would secure my profile with a “verified badge,” such that people who read my posts on my Timeline can trust that the words come from me! A check mark now appears to the right of my name on my profile page and to the right of my name anywhere that I make a comment. Hovering over that check mark, you’ll see that “Facebook confirmed that this is the authentic profile for this public figure.” Public figure! Wow!

As Facebook explains:

The verified badge appears next to a Facebook Page or profile. It means Facebook has confirmed that the Page or profile is the authentic presence of the public figure or global brand it represents. We don’t use the verified badge to endorse or recognize public figures or brands. The verified badge is a tool to help people find public figures and brands’ real Pages and profiles. If a Page or profile has the verified badge, we’ve confirmed that it represents who it says it does. If the badge isn’t there, it may not be the real Page or profile. Posts, stories and other content from verified Pages and profiles aren’t verified by Facebook.

So rest assured, my Facebook account is not a sock account (or, more properly, a “sock puppet account“), and my page represents an “authentic,” “unique,” “complete,” and “notable” profile. Given all that’s happened on Facebook over the last few years, I don’t know if this is a plus or a minus. But there aren’t many other folks who would want to “own” the dialectical libertarian “brand” I represent. I knew who I was before this verification process. I know who I am today. And, now, apparently, so do you!

smh 🙂

How NOT to Read an Article

It was really late last night, after a long, eventful day, and I decided to open up Friday’s copy of the New York Daily News (Friday the 13th, no less!), and was thumbing through the newspaper, and the Sicilian in me caught the headline on page 18: “119.8 degrees in Sicily is eyed as European record” (by Nelson Oliveira). Wow! — I said to myself.

I gravitated to the center of the article, where something odd caught my eye:

Lucifer was expected to bring more heat and dry weather to Italy and neighboring countries, possibly causing additional wildfires.

WTF?? The West coast is burning, Greece is on fire, and now Lucifer is in on the act “causing additional wildfires” in Italy and elsewhere.

This couldn’t be, I said to myself. “Must be a misprint,” I muttered aloud. Now I’m looking back through the article to see how it is that somehow, on top of pandemics and global unrest, Lucifer has made an appearance to make matters even worse! And I found the answer!

Sicilian authorities said the mind-boggling [temperature] reading was recorded in the town of Siracusa on Wednesday afternoon as the region was hit by a brutal heat wave and an anticyclone dubbed “Lucifer.”

Okay. So at the very least, could we put “Lucifer” in quotes next time!

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!

2021 Summer Music Festival (Dance Medley Edition)

I’ve been doing a Summer Music Festival now for six years. In 2016, 2017, and 2018, it was an eclectic mix, but by 2019, I began more “thematic” installments, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Woodstock Festival. In the summer of 2020, it was a Jazz Edition. Folks who have followed the 1,866 “Songs of the Day” that I’ve posted since 2004 must know that I have an immensely diverse musical palette, which embraces everything from classical, jazz, musical theatre, and the Great American Songbook to R&B, rock, prog rock, and ‘Planet Rock‘ (hip hop). This year, however, it’s all about Dance Medleys! Yep! Unabashed, unapologetic, dance music—much of it even Disco, stretching from the late 1970s to the late 1980s, the very years that I was working part-time as a mobile DJ and MC, playing engagements, weddings, school proms and reunions, New Year’s Eve parties, and Bar Mitzvahs (see photo below, circa 1986). Not to mention doing custom-made mix tapes for people who attended those parties and for all my friends! (Heck, I even created dance mixes for Ms. Ski‘s [my sister’s] award-winning Dance Teams!)

So, let the Haters sit this one out! This fun, rhythmic music emerged from R&B, soul, funk, and Latino influences, with many of its early DJs coming out of an urban gay subculture. That might explain some of the hostility heaped on the genre in such events as “Disco Demolition Night” [YouTube link], which took place on 12 July 1979 at Comiskey Park. Alas, Comiskey Park is now history [YouTube link], but disco’s influence on house, techno, electronica, hip hop, and dance pop lives on. And we’re not even counting the hundreds of disco hits that have been “sampled” ever since by artists across all genres in the extension of their craft.

So, it’s time to dance down memory lane! Most of the featured medleys this summer are from Disconet, the New York-based “subscription” label founded in 1977 by Mike Wilkinson. Two of the medleys that I’ll post over the summer were created by me back in the 1980s, and will be making their debut on YouTube publicly for the first time! (And a special shout-out to my dear friend Ryan Neugebauer for guiding me through some of the YouTube tech issues! Thank you! ❤).

There were many fine DJ subscription labels, including Hot Tracks and DMC, but Disconet was the pioneer. I was very good friends with the late Bobby “DJ” Guttadaro, an award-winning club giant, from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, who was a member of the original team of remixers hired by the Disconet service. When we walked into a club where Bobby was mixing, I’d slip him a playlist, and could be certain that at some point in the night, he’d play virtually all of my requests! I dedicate this year’s Summer Music Festival (Dance Medley Edition) to his memory and the memory of all those heroic, trailblazing DJs who mastered the art of the mix. We start on June 20, for by Sunday night at 11:32 pm (ET), the Summer Solstice arrives! Watch this space!

^ Me (DJ’ing, circa 1986)

The “Homonograph” and DOL Available Thru C4SS Store!

Pardon me for this commercial break!

This being Pride Month, I am happy to announce that my 60+ page-monograph, Ayn Rand, Homosexuality, and Human Liberation (2003) is finally available again for sale—though supplies are limited—through the C4SS Store (link to sale page). I donated virtually my entire personal inventory of the work to the store. The book may be out-of-print, but the copies are pristine and being sold for only $5 each!

Available Again thru the C4SS Counter-Economic Store

The “Homonograph” (as I’ve often called it) is a combination philosophical exegesis, sociological study, and political tract, which examines Rand’s impact on the sexual attitudes of self-identified Objectivists in the movement to which she gave birth and the gay subculture that she would have disowned.

I should also mention that our special discount sale of the anthology, The Dialectics of Liberty: Exploring the Context of Human Freedom (coedited by Roger Bissell, Ed Younkins, and me), is now over, because the book is sold out! It is still available at a higher price (in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle) through Amazon (as well as Google Books and Lexington Books), but why would you pay a minimum of $40 when you can get the book for $18 directly from the C4SS Store (link to sale page)! I’ve autographed all the copies that C4SS is selling. It is also available as part of the C4SS Store’s special collection: “The Intros Bundle” (link to sale page).

I want to thank James Tuttle for making all of this possible. Check it out!

JARS: The Third Decade Begins …

It is with deep appreciation to the readers and supporters of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies that I announce today the imminent e-publication on JSTOR and Project Muse and in print of our forty-first issue, the beginning of our third decade as the only double-blind peer-reviewed interdisciplinary, scholarly journal devoted to the study of Ayn Rand and her times.

As I previously pointed out, since the beginning of our collaboration with Pennsylvania State University Press in 2013, JARS has become a truly worldwide publication. Our authors come from every corner of the globe, as does our readership. Indeed, while a strong 48% of our article requests still come from the United States, the majority of requests now stretch from North and South America to Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania, encompassing nearly 130 countries.

With Volume 21, Number 1, we have now published 392 articles by 181 authors. In this issue alone, we introduce four contributors new to our pages—Mikhail Kizilov, Abhijeet Melkani, Stephen Marvin and Syed Haroon Ahmed Shah—each of whom embodies our mission, which welcomes papers from every discipline and from a variety of interpretive and critical perspectives, fostering scholarly dialogue through a respectful exchange of ideas.

Here is our line-up for the new July 2021 issue:

Introduction – Chris Matthew Sciabarra

Articles

Beyond “The Money-Making Personality”: Notes Towards a Theory of Capitalist Orthopraxy – Roger Donway

Hegemonic Change and The Role of the Intellectual in Atlas Shrugged: A Gramscian Study – Syed Haroon Ahmed Shah

Rand on the Atonement: A Critique – Amos Wollen

Selfish versus Selfish – Merlin Jetton

Mental Integrations as Functional Wholes – Abhijeet Melkani

Existence, We – Stephen Boydstun

Book Reviews

Re-reading Rand through a Russian Lens (review of Khudozhestvennoe tvorchestvo Ayn Rand v russkom kontekste [Ayn Rand’s Fiction
in a Russian Context
], by Anastasiya Grigorovskaya) – Mikhail Kizilov

A Multilayered Work (Review of Layers, by Nathaniel Branden) – Mimi Reisel Gladstein

A Journey to Fulfillment (Review of The Tao of Roark: Variations on a Theme from Ayn Rand, by Peter Saint-Andre) – Stephen Marvin

Discussion

Reply to Roger E. Bissell: A More Scientific Compatibilism – George Lyons

Rejoinder to George Lyons: Ontological, Ethical, and Methodological Compatibilism and the Free Will Controversy in Objectivism – Roger E. Bissell

Readers can check out the article abstracts here and the contributor biographies here. Those interested in submitting articles to be considered for publication in JARS, should use the Editorial Manager platform. And those interested in subscribing to the journal, should consult the various links here.

The third decade begins …

Pearls Patience

This is a common theme on the streets of New York …

Courtesy of Stephan Pastis and “Pearls Before Swine
New York Daily News

Motherhood Transcending Humanhood …

This is really an amazing video … a post-Mother’s Day treat!