Issue CCCVII

December 19-24, 2011

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Culture
Christopher Hitchens, Kim Jong Il, Totalitarianism, and Cultural Homogeneity
G. Stolyarov II

December 20, 2011

Two famous men died last week. One was a great thinker, the other – a vile dictator and despicable thug. This will not be an obituary for either of them. Kim Jong Il did not deserve an obituary, and Christopher Hitchens would have preferred a different treatment. I was shocked by Hitchens’s sudden death from pneumonia, as he had just days before published his “Trial of the Will” – an essay that strongly suggested that he had at least several months of life left in him. But such is the fundamental injustice of death – a horror that indiscriminately visits even the best of us.
Instead of an obituary, Mr. Stolyarov offers a discussion of one of Hitchens’s ideas – helping in this way to keep his thought alive, as he would surely have wished.

Christopher Hitchens Remembered
Edward Hudgins

December 24, 2011

Hitchens, who passed away December 15 after a year-and-a-half battle with cancer, was an author, intellectual, polymath, and journalist who traveled to the worst war zones and trouble spots of the world to see things for himself. The subjects of his books spanned the spectrum from Thomas Jefferson to George Orwell to Henry Kissinger to Mother Teresa to the Clintons to the fallacies of religion. Dr. Edward Hudgins offers his recollections of Hitchens and some thoughts on his ideas and legacy.

Economics
Illiberal Belief #34: Assigning Blame Is Simple
Bradley Doucet

December 24, 2011

Even a healthy, mature adult is not entirely responsible for every aspect of his or her life. As a general rule, events often have complex causes, and so praise or blame must be parcelled out accordingly. A simple illustration of this is the bicycle accident, of which Bradley Doucet has had three since moving to Montreal as a young man.

Beware the Coming Bailouts of Europe
Ron Paul

December 24, 2011

The economic establishment in this country has come to the conclusion that it is not a matter of "if" the United States must intervene in the bailout of the euro, but simply a question of "when" and "how". Newspaper articles and editorials are full of assertions that the breakup of the euro would result in a worldwide depression, and that economic assistance to Europe is the only way to stave off this calamity. Rep. Ron Paul writes that these assertions are yet again more scare-mongering, just as we witnessed during the depths of the 2008 financial crisis. After just a decade of the euro, people have forgotten that Europe functioned for centuries without a common currency.

Literature
Cash McCall: The Story of a Heroic Corporate Raider
Edward W. Younkins

December 24, 2011

Cash McCall (1955) is a novel by Cameron Hawley that is positive about business and free-market capitalism. It explores many of the same themes as does Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged but it is not nearly as philosophical. Like Atlas Shrugged, Cash McCall is populated with a range of good and bad characters. It is also a 1959 film starring James Garner and Natalie Wood. Despite some changes in the details, the film is very similar to the book. Dr. Edward Younkins offers his review and philosophical analysis of this work.

Politics
The Payroll-Tax Fiasco and the Tea Party's True Colors
G. Stolyarov II

December 21, 2011

In the recent fiasco over extending the payroll-tax cut, the Tea-Party Republicans in the House of Representatives have shown their true colors – and the Republican House leadership is beholden to them and complicit in their travesty of a brinksmanship strategy. When in recent history has it been that the Democratic Party has put together a deal to extend a tax cut, with no offsetting spending increases or expansions of federal authority, and a self-proclaimed small-government Tea-Party bloc has thwarted the extension? Well, it has happened now. It shows, writes Mr. Stolyarov, that the Tea-Party members of the House care less about actually reducing the scope and power of the federal government, and much more about opposing whatever the Democrats claim to support.

Videos
The True Exception is Not America - Video
G. Stolyarov II
December 19, 2011

For a term coined by Joseph Stalin in 1929, "American exceptionalism" is surprisingly popular among certain elements of the American Right. The idea has certainly elicited ample agreement and praise from numerous politicians of the Republican Party of late. But the exceptionalist mindset often misses the very point of the attributes it considers exceptional. Mr. Stolyarov explains that what is exceptional is not America, but rather the universalizable Enlightenment ideals that led to America's prosperity.

The corresponding essay by Mr. Stolyarov can be found here.

The Partial Iraq Withdrawal - Obama's Inadvertent Greatest Achievement - Video
G. Stolyarov II
December 19, 2011

Mr. Stolyarov gives credit where it is due to the Obama administration's withdrawal of most US personnel from Iraq, despite the Obama administration's preferences to the contrary. While this is by no means a complete withdrawal, it is an order-of-magnitude reduction of the US presence in what has become a showcase for the follies of militarism and foreign-policy interventionism.

Christopher Hitchens, Kim Jong Il, Totalitarianism, and Cultural Homogeneity - Video
G. Stolyarov II
December 20, 2011

After the deaths last week of Christopher Hitchens and Kim Jong Il, Mr. Stolyarov analyzes the insights of the former regarding the regime of the latter. In the interests of continuing the intellectual conversation, Mr. Stolyarov extrapolates upon the observations of Hitchens in his 2010 Slate article, "A Nation of Racist Dwarfs".

The Payroll-Tax Fiasco and the Tea Party's True Colors - Video
G. Stolyarov II

December 21, 2011
The recent mad refusal of the Tea-Party bloc in the House of Representatives to enact a two-month extension of a 2% payroll-tax cut suggests that these politicians are cut from the same cynical cloth as the ones they seek to replace. Mr. Stolyarov argues that the choice for the Tea Party is not between a two-month and a one-year extension, but rather between a two-month extension, with a likelihood of increasing it to one year - or nothing.

 "Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society.  As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all." 
~ Frederic Bastiat