On Seasteading and Liberlands

Libertarianism is an ideology of the frontier.Most political ideologies are built to answer, in some fashion, the question of how to get along with our neighbors. It may be through democratic persuasion, or melting-pot cross-pollination, or shared notions of duty and tradition. Libertarianism alone makes the assumption that you don't have to get along with your neighbors. You can limit your interactions with other people to whatever trades you find advantageous, and if you'd rather not deal … [Read more...]

The Injustices of the American Justice System

Again and yet again, America is bleeding. The latest eruption of protests and anger came in response to the brutal, unnecessary police killings of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, and then the carnage in Dallas where a deranged sniper killed five police officers and wounded more before being killed in turn.Whether any of this will spur reform, or whether violence will only beget more violence, either way it's clear that there's a chasm between police and the communities … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Wealth of Nations

Atlas Shrugged, Closing ThoughtsThroughout Atlas Shrugged and her other works, Ayn Rand valorized human ingenuity and drive. In her eyes, the individual ability for achievement is our supreme glory. But where do these desirable character traits come from? What makes one person a productive capitalist while another becomes a shiftless moocher?This is a question that Rand was staunchly incurious about. For all that she glorified brilliance, she never addressed what its origins or … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Almighty Dollar

Atlas Shrugged, Closing ThoughtsWe're almost to the end of our epic journey through Atlas Shrugged. I've reviewed the whole book and all three movies, pointing out the logical holes and untenable assumptions as they were spotlighted in each scene. In this post and a few more to follow, I want to step back and look at Rand's philosophy as a whole. We'll see some broader themes that deserve more attention.One of the cornerstones of Objectivism is that laissez-faire capitalism is the only … [Read more...]

Have We Hit the Limits of Growth?

Ever since the Great Recession and the grindingly slow recovery that's followed, it's become an especially urgent question whether we can expect the future to be more prosperous than the past. Singularitarians and other techno-utopians predict that technology will make economic growth an ever-upward exponential curve, bringing undreamed-of material abundance and making each generation's life vastly better than the one that preceded it. On the other hand, skeptics argue that minimal or zero … [Read more...]

On the Morality of: Open Borders

My recap of the Maryam Namazie-Sam Harris exchange spurred a debate about open-border policies, so I wanted to write a post focusing on that topic. Unfortunately, I believe this is only going to become more relevant, not just because of the Syrian civil war and refugee crisis, but because it's likely that the next few decades will see millions of people forced to migrate by climate change.On a first pass, it's hard to see what argument could be made against open borders. Shouldn't travel be … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Manifest Destiny

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter VII, The SpeechJohn Galt is still talking. In this section of the speech, which is the last part that I'll cover, he addresses an important question: what happens to the people who listen to him and come away convinced?After all, you've got to admit, he waited till pretty late in the game to deliver this grand manifesto. Civilization is disintegrating; the world is on an irreversible slide into violent anarchy and mass starvation. He's already swooped in … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Damn the Humanitarians

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter VDagny is at a formal dinner with Jim and the other influential looters, since that's where all major policy decisions are made now. The collapse of civilization is barreling toward them like a freight train, and everyone in the room knows it, but the bad guys are carefully avoiding the subject while insisting that all their problems are minor and there's still a chance to turn things around:"There's trouble in California," said Wesley Mouch sullenly. … [Read more...]

A Christian vs. an Atheist: On God and Government, Part 15

This is part 15 of my "Think! Of God and Government" debate series with Christian author Andrew Murtagh. Read my latest post and Andrew's reply.Hi Andrew,I think Haidt's work on the five foundations of morality has a lot of validity, although I'd argue that the conservative, "beehive" values tend to work better in smaller and more homogeneous societies. Large, multicultural civilizations, by their nature, need to rely first and foremost on the "contractual" values of harm/care and … [Read more...]

In Defense of Radical Individualism

Conservative Christians are still grappling with the Supreme Court's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage this summer. It's sinking in that Obergefell was just the starkest example of how they no longer enjoy the absolute cultural power they once held, and that, as younger generations become more secular, their influence will keep dwindling. Some are reaching for apocalyptic rhetoric - Franklin Graham, for example, has said in response to the ruling, "I believe the end is coming... we are in the … [Read more...]


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