The never-ending cycle of revolutions

via: http://www.activistpost.com

“A revolution is the climax of a long philosophical development and expresses a nation’s profound discontent; a Putsch is a minority’s seizure of power. The goal of a revolution is to overthrow tyranny; the goal of a Putsch is to establish it.” Ayn Rand

The day after Revolution the streets were in silence. Anarchy was the rule and a no man’s land emerged. The protests against the ruling party had started several weeks before. However, as my grandmother recalled, the problems that had ignited the most recent uprising had always existed: ” these were the very old unfulfilled promises long inherited from Colonial times.”  Indeed, these promises were the idea that Government was here to rule over Us, to give Us and to provide Us for our needs and to care for our frailties.  The Global South has known dozens of revolutionary movements, dozens of attempts of revolutions and a handful of sanguinary coup d’états. Unfortunately, not much if anything has changed after the uprisings.

Around the world today conflict  continues in many areas that were once colonized or controlled by Western European or Soviet powers. The source of many of these protracted conflicts, in large part, lies in past colonial  policies, and especially those “regarding territorial boundaries, the treatment of indigenous populations, the privileging of some groups over others, the uneven distribution of wealth, local governmental infrastructures, and the formation of non-democratic or non-participatory governmental systems.”

It is therefore essential, if one wants to understand current revolutionary movements, intractable conflict and its causes, to examine not only the issues and problems of the moment, but also influential historical factors and actors – most notably, past colonial policies and today’s ruling power of these metropolis over former colonies – and their lingering effects.

The idea that the government should provide for our needs is more accepted in post-colonial governments that inherited institutions of dependency and granted privileges by the metropolis.  Imagine yourself traveling 200 years back in time to the period in which colonies were ruled by Western Capital. Interestingly, you will find yourself observing almost the same institutions and the same old problems that societies in the Global South still face today in Africa, the Middle East, South America, Eastern Europe and South Asia. The problems in these societies are the result of a long list of misguided decisions all centered in one fatal conceit: the conceit of revolution by force, not in defense, but in violation, of individual rights.

The colonial institutional heritage of the Global South is built around the abuse and violation of individual rights. Not a single revolutionary movement in the Global South has really aimed at restoring individual rights but to the granting of privileges for a minority.  The minority groups have taken many forms, received many names and have taken many slogans. They have been revolutions organized by and in contraposition of one minority group versus a majority: of the poor versus the rich, of the middle classes versus oligarch classes, of national interests of capital versus foreign interests, of enlightened groups versus conservative groups, of different ethnic groups against each other, of indigenous groups tired of being exploited, and many many more.

In order for a revolution that aims at restoring individual rights to take place it would be  necessary for all citizens to first redefine their code of values upon principles that allow them to pursue happiness without violating the rights of others.  This means that for a “revolution and not a putsch” to take place in the Global South we need first to understand that today’s revolutions have no moral justification and are all gang warfare.  As such, in order to change our immoral systems of government we require to first our own immoral code of values.  This means that we need to learn our history and fix all those immoral decisions taken in the past by our former enslavers.

I believe that the ideal way for starting to learn which is the code of values that provides for a consistent philosophy of life that protects individual rights and allows for humans to pursue happiness is the philosophy of Objectivism and the Objectivist Ethics.

If successful, most probably, the ongoing revolutionary movements in the Middle East, Ukraine and Venezuela will reflect to be nothing but immoral putsches of the very same old privileged groups that they were supposed to fight.  Corruption will take a new name, the citizens will be again defrauded by their leaders, immorality will again reign.  the power currently upheld by immoral leaders is not a simple system of domination of one specific group but it completely traverses the entire social body.  When social relations are not based upon a consistent and ethical code of values its result is “the immanence of force” that Foucault widely studied.    In this game of power, the incessant struggle and confrontation will be reinforced, transformed and reshaped without any meaningful outcome.  This never-ending cycle of revolutions will encrust and institutionalize itself if it hasn’t already. I truly believe that a Peaceful Philosophical revolution is Possible.  It is up to you reader, to chose wether to start it or not.

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The 55th Anniversary of Atlas Shrugged

“My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists—and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these. To live, man must hold three things as the ruling values of his life: Reason—Purpose—Self-esteem. Reason, as his only tool of knowledge—Purpose, as his choice of the happiness which that tool must proceed to achieve—Self-esteem, as his inviolate certainty that his mind is competent to think and his person is worthy of happiness, which means: worthy of living. These three values imply and require all of man’s virtues…” Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged

55 years ago was published the book Atlas Shrugged written by Ayn Rand.  I love this book because it tells wonderfully Ayn Rand’s philosophy of life in the form of a psychological thriller. As many of my usual readers know, I have been a student of Objectivist Philosohpy for many years and I apply her ideas in the understanding of Global History.

At the core of Objectivism is the morality of reason.  It is because of this approach to morality, that the book Atlas Shrugged is more than amazing fiction for me. I consider the book one of the most valuable instruments I have to guide my life, my writings and my decisitions.  If you have not read Atlas Shrugged today would be a great day to begin the journey.  If you have already read it, I want to congratulate you for having found out Who was John Galt?

The Evidence of the Senses now available for FREE ONLINE

I have GREAT NEWS for all Philosophy fans!!!

David Kelley‘s classic, The Evidence of the Senses, is now available on Scribd.com FOR FREE!  The Scribd platform allows you to search the book, share it with friends, print it, download it, read it online, copy and paste text from it, and comment or communicate with others reading the book.

About The Evidence of the Senses:
In this highly original defense of realism, David Kelley argues that perception is the discrimination of objects as entities, that the awareness of these objects is direct, and that perception is a reliable foundation forempirical knowledge. His argument relies on the basic principle of the “primacy of existence,” in opposition to Cartesian representationalism and Kantian idealism.

In the first part of the book, Kelley discusses the nature and validity of perception. He argues against classical sensationalist and modern computational theories, according to which perception involves inferences from sensory input. Unlike most realists, he also offers an in-depth consideration of the problems of perceptual relativity. His theory incorporates a key distinction between the object and the form in which it is perceived. This distinction provides insights into the status of phenomenal qualities, the nature of perceptual constancy, and the difference between primary and secondary qualities.

In the second part of the book, Kelley is concerned with the way we distinguish conceptual knowledge from perception. His theory of non-propositional justification shows how perceptual judgments are supported by the direct awareness of objects, and it allows a novel defense of empiricism.

An original and substantial contribution to the philosophical literature, this book will be invaluable to philosophers, psychologists, and anyone interested in the complex subject of perceptual theory.”

Read The Evidence of the Senses now >

Find more about Atlas Society and David Kelley’s work now >

The Book WE have been waiting for is finally here!!!

I have GREAT NEWS for all Philosophy fans! One of the books I have been awaiting for is finally published!

The first time I heard about this book was in a conference I attended by Dr. Peikoff’s  at OCON 2010 in which he identified three different modes of integration, i.e., of interrelating concretes, such as individual percepts, facts, choices, story events, etc. As Dr. Peikoff explained:

“My thesis is that the dominant trends in every key area can be defined by their leaders’ policy toward integration. They are against it (Disintegration, D); they are for it, if it conforms to Nature (Integration, I); they are for it, if it conforms to a Super-Nature (Misintegration, M).” The book—focusing on literature, physics, education and politics—demonstrates the power of these three modes in shaping Western culture and history.

Here is more information about how to get the book,

In what some critics are calling his masterpiece, Leonard Peikoff, renowned philosopher and author of Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, argues that it is the human mind that makes all the difference—specifically, the ways we are taught to process and integrate information. He finds three and only three processes at work, each dominant in different periods, and each paving the way for the next.

From this perspective, The DIM Hypothesis: Why the Lights of the West Are Going Out surveys, from Greece to the present, four broad fields of human culture—literature, physics, education, and politics—and develops his strikingly original interpretation of the nature and history of the West.

Extrapolating from the historical pattern he identifies, Peikoff is able to explain why the lights of the West are going out—and to predict the most likely future for the United States.

Read more about Dr. Peikoff’s The DIM Hypothesis, or buy the book now.

The role of Ethics, Economic Power and Political Power in Big Corporations

Today in class we had a short discussion on which is the economic and political power of Corporations and Transnational Companies in the Global Political Economy as compared with the power that have states and governments.  Undoubtedly, the scope and array of political activities of  companies is huge and their economic activities are even more diverse.

More so, the power of these corporations to shape culture, politics and media is widely studied and written about in books, journals and documentaries. What is usually not mentioned is that these huge and powerful companies have acquired political power by the use of their profits for the sake of protecting their interests.  These interest and the means used are subject of ethical judgement.s

Generally, the political power to which we usually identify this corporations is that of lobbying.  However, many other ways of achieving global economic and political power are open for corporations by allying with ruling governments, offering loans and investment for countries and/or new cities; but also by the enforcement of specific news agendas and in the Media to inform citizens.

It is of particular interest for me the ethics of the political and economic power that a company has.  The pursuit of profit is the goal of a company by the provision of services to its consumers.  It is profit which fuels a company to continue growing and providing services.  However, this activity of pursuing profit is subject for ethical judgements that historically have been judged by/from immoral philosophical backgrounds. (For further information on what I consider to be Morality or Ethics please visit: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/morality.html)

The pursuit of profit is a moral action when undertaken in consistency with the respect of individual rights.  As such, a company should and can influence politicians by lobbying when it considers it necessary for them to increase their profits.  The lobbying that is ethical is that which doesn’t creates privileges but that which eliminates regulations on competition that was previously benefiting special interest groups.

Historically, the role that Corporations and Transnational Companies have had  should be analysed in context when judged about its morality or immorality.  Thousands of pages of research that demonstrate how corporations have used its political power to achieve special privileges can be found everywhere.  The immorality of the actions of many corporate managers has been demonstrated and data on how they have violated human rights can easily be found in newspapers.  But this is not an absolute; just because some (or most) of the companies have violated and abused of their economic and political power it doesn’t make of them to be intrinsically evil or corrupt.

Corporations are not humans.  However, corporations are managed by humans whom depending on their philosophies of life can respect or violate individual rights and disobey the rule of law.  It are only those companies which act ethically which at the end of the day will profit the most and benefit the rest of society in a positive sum game.  Those companies and their managers who are willing to violate rights and act unethically have brought the Global Political Economy into zero sum game results in which only one side of the exchange has benefited.

And here, once again, the enlightment of Ayn Rand comes to play particular interest when identifying which is the difference between economic power and political power.  As well, as what is ethically correct for a company to do or not to do.

Rand wrote that,

What is economic power? It is the power to produce and to trade what one has produced. In a free economy, where no man or group of men can use physical coercion against anyone, economic power can be achieved only by voluntary means: by the voluntary choice and agreement of all those who participate in the process of production and trade. In a free market, all prices, wages, and profits are determined—not by the arbitrary whim of the rich or of the poor, not by anyone’s “greed” or by anyone’s need—but by the law of supply and demand. The mechanism of a free market reflects and sums up all the economic choices and decisions made by all the participants. Men trade their goods or services by mutual consent to mutual advantage, according to their own independent, uncoerced judgment. A man can grow rich only if he is able to offer better values—better products or services, at a lower price—than others are able to offer.

Wealth, in a free market, is achieved by a free, general, “democratic” vote—by the sales and the purchases of every individual who takes part in the economic life of the country. Whenever you buy one product rather than another, you are voting for the success of some manufacturer. And, in this type of voting, every man votes only on those matters which he is qualified to judge: on his own preferences, interests, and needs. No one has the power to decide for others or to substitute hisjudgment for theirs; no one has the power to appoint himself “the voice of the public” and to leave the public voiceless and disfranchised.

Now let me define the difference between economic power and political power: economic power is exercised by means of a positive, by offering men a reward, an incentive, a payment, a value; political power is exercised by means of a negative, by the threat of punishment, injury, imprisonment, destruction. The businessman’s tool is values; the bureaucrat’s tool is fear.

And by this she meant that economic power is always ethical because it pursuits a reward for men everywhere and anytime (in the entire process of designing, production, transportation and distribution of products and services).  And as such that the political power of a company appears when the businessman becomes a bureaucrat or lobbyist that uses the power of government to achieve privileges for himself and his company.

This discussion comes from observing the following table which presents the GDP-PPP of the Top 100 Economies in the World (2009) which was prepared by the World Bank.  Particularly relevant from this table is the fact that among the top 100 economies the authors included also the largest companies in the world in base of their Revenues-PPP (2009).  In position #32 appears Royal Dutch Shell as the largest company of the list with revenues of 458 billion dollars and it is followed by ExxonMobil in position 35 with 426 billion dollars.  These two companies had Revenues-PPP in 2009 which surpassed the size of the GDP-PPP of countries like Venezuela (#48), Greece (#52) and Switzerland (#53).

Even though is not commonly done; I have always studied Global Political Economy by remembering clearly what is ethical human behavior and what is not.  Starting from this point then I try to understand what is or can be the effects of a government’s or corporation’s decisions in real world cases.  Unfortunately, the ruling ethical code among Academics today considers it to be evil to pursue profit, self-interest, individualism and collaboration in order to create positive sum games in global exchange.

Indeed, historical examples are not the best reference for illustrating how we can benefit from an Objectivist ethics perspective when understanding the role of Companies in Global Economy.  However, it is this lack of many examples which should make it easier for us to identify how a Businessman success depends on “his intelligence, his knowledge, his productive ability, his economic judgment—and on the voluntary agreement of all those he deals with: his customers, his suppliers, his employees, his creditors or investors. A bureaucrat’s success depends on his political pull.” (Rand, The Ayn Rand Letter, III, 26, 5. 1971-76).

Now, it is time for me to continue reading history and seeking for those few exemplary examples of ethical businessmen who have given us the best products and services in positive sum games for the entire world.

Free Online Education on Objectivism, the philosophy founded by Ayn Rand

I am happy to learn that more online Free services are been made available for those interested in studying Philosophy.  The news was sent by the Atlas Society,
The Atlas Society is launching a new video education series, theAtlas University. And we need your input as we get the first units ready for public launch. This is your chance to get an inside, first look at one of our biggest initiatives for 2012.

Atlas University is a video course series offering accessible, engaging, and enriching courses on Objectivism, the philosophy founded by Ayn Rand.  Our primary target audiences for this particular course are students interested in an “Objectivism 101” course and adults interested in an introductory continuing education curriculum focused on Objectivism.  If you are familiar with The Teaching Company’s Great Courses (http://www.thegreatcourses.com/) imagine this as an addition to their catalog.

The first Atlas University series is going to be a 10-part course called “Reason,” a survey of Objectivist epistemology. The instructors are TAS founder and chief intellectual officer David Kelley, PhD, and TAS director of programs William R Thomas, MA.

The planned ten parts of the “Reason” course are:

  1. What is reason? I (Speaker: David Kelley)
  2. What is reason? II The Conceptual Faculty (Speaker: William R Thomas)
  3. Volitional nature of reason (Speaker: William R Thomas)
  4. Objectivity I: Objective reality (Speaker: David Kelley)
  5. Objectivity II: Objective Knowledge? (Speaker: David Kelley)
  6. Reason and Emotion (Speaker: William R Thomas)
  7. Certainty (Speaker: David Kelley)
  8. Religion, God, and the supernatural (Speaker: David Kelley)
  9. Reason vs. mysticism and subjectivism (Speaker: William R Thomas)
  10. Conclusion: Living by Reason (Speaker: William R Thomas)

The first two 30-minute videos in this course are now ready for viewing.

In lecture 1, “What is Reason,” David Kelley introduces the course by considering what reason is and what role it plays in human life and civilization. Kelley surveys the history of modern philosophical thought to offer the viewer a grasp of how reason is viewed in the culture today and what challenges a defender of reason faces.


Lecture 2,“The Conceptual Faculty,” with William R Thomas takes up the most essential of these challenges, giving the distinctively Objectivist view of reason as the human faculty that allows us to mentally grasp universal terms via abstraction from the particular existents that we experience. Thomas presents Ayn Rand’s “measurement-omission” theory of concepts in an accessible, fresh manner, showing what makes it possible for our words to have objective meaning. Objective concept-formation is key to clear thinking.


We’re looking for individuals willing to preview these video programs and give us feedback on the content and the production values and general advise us on how make this course, and the Atlas University as whole, the best it can be.

Would you like to participate?

Just send an email to atlasu@atlassociety.org and enter “Atlas U” into the subject field of the email.

If you are accepted to take part, we will give you free access to these videos over a ten-day period (July  13-23).

You will be sent a link to two surveys, one relating to each video. You can use these surveys to offer your feedback. But please complete the surveys by Monday, July 24.

We will consider your feedback as we revise these two videos for full public release and as we continue creating videos in this and other Atlas University courses.

We would very much appreciate your participation.

Thanks,
The Atlas Society

Live-streaming of The Atlas Summit Available for June 28-July 1, 2012!

Register for Live-streaming! I am very happy to inform you that The Atlas Summit that is going to be held in the following days in Washington, D.C. is going to be available for Live-streaming.Here is a link to the Speaker Bios and information on the topic of their talks.

I am very exciting about this event since I will be talking this time on the History of Capitalism in two sessions.  I will be more than happy if you can join and send any questions during the Q&A Sessions: The History of Capitalism 1 and The History of Capitalism 2

If you can’t be in D.C. for the Atlas Summit you can still view all of the presentations by purchasing a live-streaming ticket. You will even be able of submitting questions for the Q&A sessions.Cost: $99 for entire conference.Students: $19 for entire conference. Sign up now!