This essay has proven controversial enough to warrant an informal debate on the issue between Andrew Bernstein and Harry Binswanger on “The Olympics of Evil: Does it Matter Who the Winner Is?”
In April 2011, I traveled by car along I-70 in Kansas en route to Manhattan to give a talk for the Ayn Rand Institute at Kansas State University. The talk was titled “Religion Versus Morality.” It demonstrated that faith-based beliefs contradicted every principle of a rational, life-giving ethics. As we swept past a small town sprawling along the perimeter of the Interstate, the car’s driver, a very bright student who ran the KSU Objectivist Club, pointed out to me,: “The local high school canceled a boy’s basketball game this winter because one of the referees was a woman.” I responded, very philosophically: “Huh?” He replied with words to the effect: The Bible says that women should not hold dominion over men. After I picked my jaw up off the floor, a dozen thoughts occurred to me. In no particular order: What about boys–they’re not yet men. Can a woman hold authority over them? And perhaps, these particular boys have a mother? After all, it’s customary that most children do. Did the high school officials stop to reflect that perhaps the mothers held far more dominion over their sons than a basketball referee would? (Some religious cultures and families are suppressive of women, without a doubt. Nevertheless, Mom wields power over the children; I can guarantee you that.) And why accept a faith-based belief like this in the first place? For example, suppose a man requires surgery for a life-threatening condition, and the most proficient specialist in this field is female? Should the patient choose a lesser doctor based on gender? Should a young male surgeon, desiring to learn from the best, reject the leading role model for reasons of her sex? Should I, an aspiring writer/philosopher in the 1970s, have rejected an opportunity to study with Ayn Rand? Such examples can be replicated endlessly.
But my adventures in Kansas were merely beginning (and I had a great trip to the Jayhawk state, I might add, where people treated me with consummate hospitality.) That evening, I delivered the talk. The first respondent in the follow-up Q and A was a young, blond girl who asked: “So are you an atheist?” I affirmed that I was. She replied, in a tone not altogether friendly: “Then burn in Hell!” She turned, stomped down the aisle, and clattered through the Auditorium doors and out of my life forever.
Religion is a bizarre phenomenon, upholding the existence of a transcendent realm, necessarily inaccessible to sensory awareness, and therefore beyond the scope of reason. We start with a revealed text, whose teachings are insusceptible to rational demonstration and must therefore be accepted on faith. Was it Mark Twain who defined “faith” as “believing something you know ain’t true?” Perhaps. More precisely, faith is a form of belief in a supernatural dimension and its impact in this one, belief in the absence of observable evidence and in direct contradiction to the evidence. Belief in God–in a spirit or consciousness with no brain, nervous system, or other biological means of consciousness, a Super-Ghost of the Universe that created the entire cosmos from nothing–is a paradigm example of such beliefs.
What happens when differing persons or tribes hold competing or clashing faith-based beliefs? Neither side can prove its teachings are accurate. Can they agree to disagree and live together in peace? Yes, they can and sometimes do. But remember: Faith-based beliefs can yield any conclusion. If the Dweebs, for example, claim God tells them that Dweebism is the one true faith, that it must reign over Earth’s entire population, and that infidels should be extirpated, how could we know–on a faith-based method–that they’re wrong? We couldn’t. Their claim to ascendant Dweebism has as much gravitas as a competing faith’s commitment to the brotherhood of man.
Ayn Rand made this point succinctly: “I have said that faith and force are corollaries, and that mysticism will always lead to the rule of brutality. The cause of it is contained in the very nature of mysticism. Reason is the only objective means of communication and of understanding among men; when men deal with one another by means of reason , reality is their objective standard and frame of reference. But when men claim to possess supernatural means of knowledge, no persuasion, communication or understanding are possible.”[i]
A perfect historical example of this tragic truth is the theological theory dubbed by the early Medieval Catholic Church “the Arian Heresy.” Arius was a Catholic clergyman in Alexandria in the 4th century AD. He achieved notoriety by attempting to make sense of the Trinity, part of which is the claim that Jesus is God, but distinct from God the Father; nevertheless, God is one. This is an obvious logical contradiction. Arius, seeking to preserve a logically coherent monotheism, held that Jesus is the son of God but not himself divine. When his doctrine was condemned by the Church, his many followers refused to accept theological defeat, and war broke out in which thousands of Christians were put to the sword.[ii] What is the takeaway? When faith is our method of knowing, any belief–even the most arrantly irrational, even the claim that God is one but God is three–can be upheld as truth.
Faith-based beliefs continue to wreak havoc in 21st-century American politics, especially regarding the abortion issue. Many abortions are performed in the first trimester when the fetus is a mass of protoplasm–certainly, a potential human being, to borrow Aristotle’s immortal distinction, but not yet an actual one–and no rational case can be made for its human personhood. But religion does not base its claims on factual evidence and logic–but on faith. The faith-based belief is that when sperm and egg cells unite, God delivers an immortal soul into the tiny embryo, therefore making it human from the moment of conception. A deliberate termination of an innocent human life is, of course, murder–and must be outlawed by the legal system of any civilized society.
Rationally, a woman is a female human being with all the rights thereof–a right to her own body, her own mind, and her own judgment. To deny her moral and legal right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy on a faith-based belief in a fetus’s human status is an egregious violation of her right to her own body. And if she has not the right even to her own body, then, in principle, what rights do any of us have?[iii]
Additionally, religion has a long history of condemning homosexuality as sinful and of violating the rights of gays. For example, “Leviticus” 18:22 states: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” (I’m tempted to say: “That’s the spirit!”) Other Biblical passages of both Testaments make the same point. Famed evangelist, Billy Graham, called homosexuality a “sinister form of perversion” and stated, “We traffic in homosexuality at the peril of our spiritual welfare.”[iv] One contemporary preacher stated: “The Bible clearly and consistently declares that homosexual activity is a sin.”[v]
What is to be done with the sinners? Over the ages, a number of Christian rulers have commanded the death penalty for homosexual acts.[vi] Today, the Westboro Baptist Church proclaims that “God Hates Fags,” preaches that 9/11 was God’s punishment of America for tolerating homosexuality, and celebrates the violent murder of gay victims.[vii] Islam, of course, in our day, is vastly worse than Christianity: Under sharia law, homosexuality is often considered a capital offense. For example, homosexual relationships are punishable by death in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, and several other Islamic-dominated nations. In recent years, Islamic State has executed numerous men accused of homosexual activity.[viii]
In fairness to 21st century American Christians, most do not support legally restricting the love lives of consenting adults, regardless of their sexual orientation[ix]–and emphatically reject a death penalty for homosexual activity. Nevertheless, they are faced with a moral dilemma: If human life is to be ethically upright–to them, Godly–is it not necessary to legally restrict activities condemned as sinful in The Bible?
Then there is the thorny issue of evolution. Religious Fundamentalists take a literal interpretation of the Bible. If the Bible says that God created man in a day, then that means a literal 24-hour period. (I’m not sure why it took so long for an all-powerful being who could achieve his goal at will. Was God slacking off that day?) There is no way to reconcile a single day of religious belief with a billion-year-long process of scientific theory. Fundamentalists had a simple solution: Ban the teaching of evolution in high school biology courses. Various Bible-belt states, in the 1920s, did precisely that, imposing legal restrictions that held for forty years–much to the detriment of science education in those states–until struck down by SCOTUS ruling in 1968.[x] The infamous 1925 Scopes “Monkey Trial” was a result of this legislation.
Finally, there is the lethal problem of faith healing. Some Christian denominations reject medical science because if God wants a patient to die, medical intervention is not helpful; if God wants a patient to live, medical intervention is not necessary. They substitute prayer for medical remediation. There are cases of children dying from diabetes and other medically-treatable diseases.[xi]
Religion is hazardous to your health.
But collectivism is worse.
Collectivism is, at root, a theory of human nature claiming that society, the group as a whole, is the fundamental reality and unit of moral value. Collectivism holds that an individual is but a splintered fragment of the group, holding no more value in himself than does an ant estranged from the colony–or perhaps even a bodily appendage severed from the whole organism. Collectivism’s antipode is individualism, the theory holding that an individual is fully real, not a mere component of a greater whole. Individualism maintains that the individual holds logical priority over the group, which is nothing more than a collection of individuals, their actions, and their relationships. Politically, collectivism entails the state’s preeminence over the individual citizen, who is subordinate to it. Individualism upholds inalienable individual rights, the protection of which is the sole factor morally legitimizing government.
Collectivism breeds, in differing versions, the political-economic system of socialism. Individualism, on the other hand, consistently applied, leads to laissez-faire capitalism. Under full socialism–National Socialism (Nazism) and Communism–an individual’s life has been socialized; it belongs to the State. Under full capitalism, an individual’s life belongs to the individual. Contemporary America is a mixed system, combining elements of collectivism and individualism, of socialism and capitalism. As a convenient shorthand, I will deploy the spatial metaphors, “Left” and “Right,” to denote collectivism/socialism and individualism/capitalism, respectively.
Historically, American collectivists have been predominantly Marxists, not National Socialists, fighting class war, not race war, claiming that under capitalism the rich exploit the poor. But recently, they have added race war rhetoric to their class war ideology: Now it is the rich whites who victimize the poor non-whites. One of the Marxist leaders of Black Lives Matter (BLM) calls whiteness a “psychosis.”[xii] They have reversed favored and disfavored races; nevertheless, this is a race war element akin to Nazism (National Socialism).
The rights-violating policy recommendations of the contemporary Left are legion. In no particular order:
1. Defund the police is Criminals’ Lib, which will necessarily result in rising rates of homicide and violent crime generally, the victims of which are often innocent persons
2. The Green New Deal will force hundreds of millions of US citizens into severely diminished living standards in a vain attempt to halt global warming, which is caused by natural, not man-made forces–and, in the first place, is beneficial, not pernicious to life on Earth.[xiii]
3. Gun control legislation necessarily–always and everywhere–leads to rising rates of violent crime.[xiv] Criminals are often bigger and stronger than the women, the elderly, and the unarmed generally upon whom they prey; when they know their prospective victims are legally disarmed, they are less wary to strike. The economist, John Lott, established this truth in his definitive study of gun control laws and their consequences, More Guns, Less Crime[xv]–yet, Leftist politicians have long banned ownership of handguns in major cities, and now, Beto O’Rourke cries, “We’re going to take your AR-15!” Their premise is, all we need do is obey the State, and the State will protect us (albeit, now, with diminished police resources).
4. The racism of the contemporary Left (both overt and covert) is pervasive. Leftists rail endlessly against white privilege, white supremacy, white guilt, and so forth, claiming that whites are inherently racist ( itself a blatantly racist accusation) and that racism and police brutality are the major threats to black lives. They ignore the data showing that white racism has been dying since the heyday of the Civil Rights Movement some fifty-odd years ago. In blaming whites for the problems of the black community, Leftists overlook the gigantic, overwhelming danger to innocent black lives–the black thugs, the gangbangers, the “urban terrorists,” as Taleeb Starkes accurately dubs them[xvi]. A torrent of violent crime has risen in many black urban neighborhoods since roughly 1970. Somewhere between 5,000 to 7,000 black Americans are homicide victims each year, and in 90% of the instances, the killers are black thugs. This is a Holocaust of black homicide victims–and it is a direct result of the Left’s welfare state policies; policies that Leftists clearly will not re-examine, regardless of how many black lives they terminate.[xvii]
5. The massive assault on truth-speaking. The Left controls the intellectual, educational, journalistic, and entertainment culture. Anyone brave enough to challenge any vestige of its dogma runs the risk of being ostracized, censured, and/or fired.
For example, high-tech companies will often remove a post or suspend an account for making claims with which they disagree. Twitter, as one instance, locked the account of the New York Post for truthfully exposing the sordid details of Hunter Biden’s dealings with foreign governments.[xviii] Evidently, the tech giants don’t care that, in a free country where all ideas can be openly discussed and debated, in time, more rational theories win out over irrational ones. Or maybe that realization is what disturbs them.
Even worse, people are fired from their jobs for contravening Leftist orthodoxy.” Grant Napear, the long-time TV voice of the Sacramento Kings NBA team, was fired for publicly stating, “All lives matter. Every single one!”[xix] Similarly, Professor Nathaniel Hiers was fired in November 2019 from his position as an adjunct professor of mathematics at the University of North Texas. His transgression? He mocked university fliers that promoted politically correct beliefs. You were not–the fliers stated–to say such things as “The most qualified person should get the job” or “America is a land of opportunity.” Why not? Because such beliefs represented “micro-aggressions” that promoted “color-blindness.” Hiers dubbed such beliefs “garbage,” refused to recant, and was subsequently fired.[xx] Dr. Susan Crockford, a zoologist and world-class expert on polar bears, was not re-hired to her position at the University of Victoria (Canada). Why? She cited numbers, in contradiction to the claims of global warming alarmists, showing that the Arctic polar bear population is increasing and flourishing.[xxi] And the beat goes on.[xxii]
Such instances of egregious Leftist intolerance are so prevalent in academia that Professor Alan Charles Kors, an eminent historian and Enlightenment scholar at the University of Pennsylvania, co-founded the Foundation for Individual Rights In Education (FIRE) to defend individuals sufficiently foolish to believe that centers of higher education are open to a free discussion of all intellectual theories and ideas.[xxiii] FIRE defends the right of free intellectual expression for many professors and students.
6. The push toward censorship. Leftist politicians approve the attempt to suppress free intellectual expression in the culture and the universities. They are eager to impose it politically.
For example, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) wants to proceed with criminal charges against scientists who reject the AGW Hypothesis.[xxiv]Various State Attorney Generals agree with Whitehouse: In March 2016, sixteen Democrat and one Independent state AGs announced a plan to initiate legal action against specific organizations skeptical of pernicious man-made warming.[xxv]
AOC, a member of Congress, openly calls for “archives” of Trump supporters.[xxvi] Why would a powerful politician seek lists of political enemies? Recently, she called for a means to “rein in” disinformation in the media.[xxvii]She was dubbed “the future of the Democratic Party” by the DNC Chair.[xxviii] What future is that–censorship?
Similarly, David Atkins, a California member of the Democratic National Committee, stated that Democrats should “start thinking in terms of post-WW II Germany or Japan” in “order to deprogram 75 million people.”[xxix] Does this mean we need re-education camps for Republicans to “de-Nazify” them, as the Allies did in post-war Germany? If not, what does it mean?
7. Underlying and giving rise to it all is Progressive Education and its modern heirs. These “educators” reserved full academic training for elite students–and severely de-valued phonics and academic training in favor of practical courses and industrial arts for the rest. Phonics in the teaching of reading was largely replaced by different iterations of the disastrous “whole word” method. Academic courses as math, history, literature, and science were profoundly diluted at best, and often replaced by hygiene, driver’s ed, sex ed, and wood shop. Worthy topics, to be sure, but much better taught at home or via vocational programs outside of school, not in school, which should be the one institution in society solely dedicated to training the mind. The predictable result was millions of American high school graduates who are functionally illiterate. They cannot write a coherent paragraph, do not know the first thing about history–including American history–and whose basic math skills remain at an elementary school level. [xxx]All of these policies are logically entailed by collectivist principles in their diverse strands. Defund the police is Marxist: Society is divided into oppressive and oppressed groups, and we must side with the victims. In America, blacks are still oppressed by whites and the racist police. Therefore, the insane belief that black lives–including in high-crime urban neighborhoods–will be saved by less policing.(The truth is: 1. 90% of black homicide victims are murdered by black criminals 2. Black thugs kill 19 times as many black victims as do police officers 3. A police office is 18 times as likely to be killed by a black criminal as a black criminal is by a police officer.) [xxxi]
The Green New Deal is environmentalist Marxism. First, capitalism and industrialization were held to oppress the workers and the poor, then the minorities and the women, now the environment and the polar bears. A benign socialist government must control industry to ensure that, in a greed-driven quest for profit, industrialists do not rape the Earth.
Gun control is old-fashioned Platonic paternalism: All we must do is obey and serve the State, and the State will provide for and protect us. (Defund the police clashes with this, and will motivate more honest persons to buy guns.)
The Left’s racism is a product of both its Marxism and its National Socialism. Marxism drives the welfare state that wars relentlessly on black families and lives; National Socialism in reverse, a race war ideology, drives the pervasive and virulent anti-white racism.
The private suppression and public censorship of free intellectual expression is a Platonic-Marxist commitment to a governance of an intellectual elite and a planned society/economy. Everyone serves the State, which is ruled by the most intelligent and most educated; the rest of us heed, obey, and do not question. “Theirs not to make reply, theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die.”
The Progressive war on education was and remains classic Platonic paternalism: The educated, intellectual elite will govern in the legislature and in the classroom. The rest of us will do our jobs well, serve the State, and obey the wise rulers. Let us not forget that John Dewey, William Heard Kilpatrick, and George Counts–leading progenitors of the Progressive movement–pilgrimaged to the Soviet Union and returned with glowing reports of education under Communism, education designed to implement a planned society/economy.
Would American Christians still like to ban the teaching of evolution in public high school biology courses? Perhaps some would. Do conservatives seek to legally restrict tech companies’ right to suppress, on private platforms that they own, viewpoints the owners deem unacceptable? They do. Do religious conservatives intend to ban a woman’s right to abortion? Fervently. All of these policy positions are anti-liberty. Further, in our day, some American conservatives have embraced Nationalism, which is a version of collectivism (this will be addressed below).
Do Leftists seek to severely diminish reading and academic education in the schools, and churn out generation after generation of semi-illiterates? They not only seek to, they do. Do Leftists suppress free dissemination of information on a massive scale, repress truth-speaking in favor of politically correct dogma, and impose censorship on AGW skeptics? They do. And what of a woman’s right to her own body, her own mind, her own choice, her own life? Well, let’s take the hypothetical case of Nancy Simmons, an innocent human being living in a large US city. God forbid, some bad guy breaks into her apartment one night. She dials 911. But the police have been de-funded; they have limited resources and take five minutes to respond. Nancy grew up in a rural area and learned to use a pistol; but she moved to a big city where handguns are outlawed, and she is disarmed. The bad guy intends to wreak mayhem, and she is reduced to defending herself with a steak knife. Let’s make this a happy ending: Nancy survives the assault and makes a full recovery. But the principle is clear: Under the Leftists, a woman’s right to abortion is protected; her right to life and to defend her life–not so much.
It should be clear, in terms of public policy positions, who is the most egregious threat to individual rights.
Religion has a brutal history. There are too many instances of its bloody brutality to be chronicled here. A few representative examples will suffice, using Christianity as our main example. But if the Old Testament is to be taken as history, the triumph of the Jews–God’s Chosen People–over various pagan tribes is rife with God-instigated atrocities. Also, Islam’s history and the current practices of a large proportion of its practitioners are permeated with religious barbarism that can be discerned simply by glancing at newspaper headlines. It is substantially more aggressive than is Christianity. Nevertheless, Christianity is the dominant religion of the West and the United States, and it is on this faith that we will focus.
You could pin on a wall a map of Christianity’s history before the Enlightenment, throw a dart at it randomly, and in almost every case, it will land on an atrocity. To start, let me focus on the Catharists, a sect of 12th and 13th century Christians who held several essential beliefs distinct from the Church’s orthodoxy; a sect, it should be added, whose members were no more brutal or unethical than were those loyal to Church dogma. Nevertheless, the Church branded them heretics. What was their fate for such theological disagreement? Let me quote from an earlier essay of mine:
“The Albigensian or Catharist Heresy, as it was known during this specific renewal , was exterminated in a bloody war called by Pope Innocent III in 1208. The Pope’s army of heretic hunters stormed the city of Beziers in 1209. Both loyal Catholics and Catharists of the city took refuge in the churches; the invaders burst in and slaughtered everyone–men, women, children, babies, invalids, priests. In a story that may be apocryphal, the papal emissary, Arnald-Amalric, when informed that many sincere Catholics inhabited the city, responded: ‘Kill them all. God will recognize His own.’ There is no doubt that he wrote gleefully to the Pope after the massacre, proclaiming that ‘nearly twenty thousand of the citizens were put to death, regardless of age and sex. The workings of divine vengeance have been wondrous.’ The sect limped on in vastly diminished numbers for another century; the last of the Catharists were burned in Italy in 1330.”[xxxii]
Three centuries subsequent, during the height of the Reformation, holy war raged in France, where Catholics and Huguenots (French Protestants) vied for the soul of France. In August, 1572, in a purported peace initiative, the Huguenot king was to marry the sister of the Catholic monarch of France in fanatically-Catholic Paris. For largely political reasons, the French king had many of the Protestant nobles slaughtered. But that let the genie out of the bottle. “There followed such slaughter as cities have seldom known even in the frenzy of war.”The Catholic mob rose–for religious reasons–and massacred several thousand Protestants. The homicidal mania swept through the Catholic countryside, fanned at times by bishops and priests, and for weeks the carnage continued. In the end, the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, as it came to be known, claimed an untold number of innocent Protestant lives. Historians estimate roughly7,000 murders, but nobody knows for certain, and estimates range from 5,000 to 30,000 innocent deaths. Known with certainty is that Pope Gregory XIII declared a special Mass of celebration for God’s deliverance of the one true faith from the heretics.[xxxiii]
Such examples from the history of Christianity could be endlessly replicated. Let’s just take one more from the Reformation: the unlikely tale of Michael Servetus (1511-1553).
Servetus was a Spanish polymath–a combination of scientist, prophet, and lunatic. In the 1550s, he published his research on anatomy, making genuine advances in the field of pulmonary medicine. His theological work, Christianismi Restitutio (The Restitution of Christianity), published in 1553, rejected doctrines of both the Trinity and predestination. He claimed the end of the world was nigh, that the Archangel Michael would lead a war against both the Church and the Protestant rulers of Geneva, and that he, Servetus, would fight and die in that war. He had the poor judgment to send his manuscript to John Calvin, whose theories he blasted. Will Durant points out mildly: “Obviously Servetus was a bit more insane than the average of his time.” The Inquisition at Toulouse condemned him and issued a warrant for his arrest. He escaped Catholic clutches, was arrested by Protestant authorities in Geneva, and was tried as a heretic. The French Inquisition at Vienne sent an emissary to Geneva, pleading for the return of Servetus that he might be tried in a Catholic court. The Protestants refused. They found him guilty of heresy and burned him at the stake in October 1553. The Inquisition in Vienne, denied their man, burned him in effigy. In Basel, an author, under a pseudonym, penned a defense of Servetus; after the writer’s death, his identity was discovered. His skeleton was dug out of the grave and publicly burned.[xxxiv]
Here is the distilled essence of religion: Unprovable faith-based dogma, inevitable theological dissent, orthodox denominations squabbling for the privilege of terminating heretics, extirpation of free-thinkers, pervasive lunacy.
Turning to the collectivists: Notice that Nationalism is a form of collectivism. Its essential claim is that the nation (or tribe) holds primacy over individual members, who owe unceasing service to it. Nationalism is the belief that my nation is superior to others (culturally and/or racially) and the conviction of “my country, right or wrong.” One of its worst manifestations is jingoistic mania, leading to endless warfare (World War I, for example). In less extreme forms, as with some American conservatives, it is the belief that goods should be made at home, that American-owned companies should headquarter in the US, and that American consumers should buy only goods made in the USA. In this economic form, Nationalism results in protectionism and trade wars. It is unfortunate that this form of collectivism grips many American conservatives, because, for a long time, one of their best features was commitment to free market capitalism, including international free trade, an economic policy benefiting all trade partners. Regarding immigration, nationalists seek to restrict it, not merely for criminals and jihadists but for honest, productive individuals, as well.
In its most virulent form, Nationalism was a component of National Socialism (as its name indicates). The Aryans (white, northern Europeans) were held to be morally superior on racial grounds; and the German Nation was considered superior to all individuals, domestic or foreign, who owed it unquestioning obedience. An individual’s life was socialized; it belonged to the German Nation. This system was, as the Nazis dubbed it, “German Socialism.” It was truly, in contrast to Communism, national socialism. “German socialism…[ended] the notion of economic self-seeking….The economic system must serve the nation.”[xxxv]Communism, on the other hand, is international socialism. An individual’s life belongs not to the race but to the economic class. History is not driven forward by race war but by class war. Whereas the Nazis believed that the primary social conflict was national (Germany versus England, for example), the Communists held that it was international (the German and English working class versus the German and English owning class).
The atrocities perpetrated by collectivists, whether race war socialists or class war socialists, dwarf those perpetrated by religionists. The Nazis, in a 12-year reign of terror, murdered 21 million innocent civilians,[xxxvi] independent of the millions killed in the war of conquest they launched. This figure includes 5.1 million Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust,[xxxvii] and some 15-16 million equally innocent non-Jews, including many Slavic peoples–Poles, Ukrainians, Russians–considered racial inferiors by the Nazis.
Professor R.J. Rummel coined the term “democide,” the murder of the people by government, whether indigenous or a foreign conqueror. He wrote of the Nazis:
“But above all, people were machine gunned in batches, shot in the head at the edge of trenches, burned alive while crowded into churches, gassed in vans or fake shower rooms, starved or frozen to death, worked to death in camps, or simply beaten or tortured to death because of their race, religion, handicap, or sexual preference.”[xxxviii]
The horror of Nazi atrocities has been thoroughly documented in both serious and popular culture, and requires no further elaboration here.
The Communists, not to be outdone, murdered, by conservative estimate, 100 million innocent civilians in the past century.[xxxix] Professor Rummel estimates a significantly higher number, including some 62 million in the Soviet Union alone.[xl] From the earliest days of Communist power, they engaged in an orgy of mass murder. Quoting from the The Black Book of Communism:
“In Kharkiv [the Soviet Union], there were between 2,000 and 3,000 executions in February-June 1919, and another 1,000-2,000 when the town was taken again in December of that year; in Rostov-on-Don, approximately 1,000 in January 1920; in Odessa, 2,200 in May-August 1919, then 1,500-3,000 between February 1920 and February 1921; in Kyiv, at least 3,000 in February-August 1919; in Ekaterinodar, at least 3,000 between August 1920 and February 1921; in Armavir, a small town in Kuban, between 2,000 and 3,000 in August-October 1920. The list could go on and on.”[xli]
Indeed, the list does go on and on, continuing throughout the Lenin-Trotsky tenure and the entirety of Stalin’s 30-year nightmare regime.
National Socialism and Communism are both systems of principled mass murder.
The Nazis, as a matter of inveterate philosophic/moral principle, proclaim the rightful superiority of the “master race” over “inferior races,” including the moral authority to conquer, enslave, and/or annihilate them. The Communists repudiate this race war mentality. Rather, as a matter of inveterate philosophic/moral principle, they proclaim the intrinsic evil of the owning class and the moral dominion of the working class to conquer, enslave, and/or annihilate them. Martin Latsis, one of Lenin’s secret police officers, succinctly explained the difference between Nazis and Communists: “We don’t make war against any people in particular. We are exterminating the bourgeoisie as a class.”[xlii] To the extent these two political systems put their fundamental principles into practice, to that extent they necessarily perpetrate mass murder. It is only when they fail to practice their key principles that they refrain from widespread butchery. How irrational is a system when only hypocrisy saves it from the darkest reaches of evil?
The Primacy of Consciousness Worldview
What philosophy gives rise to this degree of evil? Part of the answer lies in the field of metaphysics, a branch of philosophy that studies the fundamental nature of reality.
Ayn Rand identified what she dubbed the “primacy of existence principle.” This consists of several components.
The first is that “existence exists”–meaning that the universe exists independent of consciousness, of any consciousness, including God’s if there were such a being. Consciousness, including the human mind, and any other form of awareness, whether animal or other, is a metaphysical dependency. The universe is independent of awareness; awareness is dependent on the universe. Consciousness depends on existence in three forms–for its object, its means, and its purpose. Consciousness is conscious of something, whether a rattle in a baby’s playpen, a television sitting on its console, music blaring from a stereo, or one of thousands of other possibilities; some aspect of existence is what any consciousness is first aware of. A consciousness conscious only of itself is an impossibility. The question becomes: Consciousness of consciousness–of what? For example, I am currently aware of traffic noise on the road outside. Secondarily, I am aware of my awareness of the annoying noise.
Further, everything we know about consciousness or awareness points exceptionlessly to the conclusion that it depends on brain, nervous system, and sense organs. Independent of biological functioning, consciousness is nothing but a ghost–a mythical being. Third, the purpose of consciousness, for any living being, is to further its life, whether to spy one’s prey, or to sniff out carnivores, galvanizing flight, or to learn to grow crops or cure disease, and so forth.[xliii]
The primary metaphysical error is what Ayn Rand terms the “primacy of consciousness premise.” This is the idea that consciousness holds logical priority and that the universe depends on it. Religion is the first and obvious example–the belief that pure spirit or consciousness, a super soul, a mega-ghost of the universe, pre-dates existence and creates it out of nothing. For purposes of this essay, we will focus on two versions of the primacy of consciousness error. The religious variant is one. The social version is a second.
According to the religious version of the Primacy of Consciousness, since God created and governs nature, He can bend its laws at will. He can make burning bushes speak, turn women into pillars of salt, permit men to live inside whales, cause virgins to give birth, and so on. He performs “miracles,” violations of the laws of reality, at will. Belief in faith healing is a perfect example of such lunacy. The medieval era was dominated by this philosophy. Salvation and faith, not earthly life and reason, were of the first importance. W.T. Jones, a leading historian of Western philosophy, states about the mentality of the medieval era:
“…ascertaining the facts, which seems so important to us, was of less concern to men of the Middle Ages. It was overwhelmingly more important to them to know what was required for salvation. About things that did not touch one’s faith–about the…cure for leprosy, for instance–it did not matter a great deal whether or not one went wrong.”[xliv]
Facts, science, medicine are not necessary to cure disease; we simply pray to the all-powerful spirit to intercede. In 14th century Catholic Europe, this “method” led, heartbreakingly, to the death of 20 million individuals to the bubonic plague–“between 30 percent and 50 percent of Europe’s population.”[xlv]
This is not a surprising result from a philosophy that upholds the requirements of otherworldly salvation over a cure for leprosy (or other diseases).
What is perhaps surprising is the equally bad—or worse–horrors of the social version, a theory that is secular, not other-worldly. The social school of the primacy of consciousness metaphysics holds that the will of the people can bend reality to its desires. In effect, “Vox populi, vox dei.” Leading historian, Paul Johnson, describes Chinese Communist dictator, Mao Zedong: “He did not believe in ‘objective situations’ at all. It was all in the mind….’On the basis of the tremendous energy of the masses…it is possible to accomplish any task whatever.’ “[xlvi] Presumably, then, if the masses willed it with sufficient fervor, they could fly across the Pacific by flapping their arms. “This contempt for objective reality,” as Paul Johnson describes it, was to have devastating consequences. Mao had declared that “‘in company grain grows fast; seeds are happiest when growing together’–attempting to impose class solidarity on nature.”[xlvii] The peasants, of course, knew better. They had farmed for generations and knew the requirements of their crops. They tried to reason with the Communists: “You plant the seedlings too closely, there is not enough breathing space between them…It will suffocate them to death.”[xlviii] Mao ignored them. He ignored agricultural reality. This agricultural madness was the “purest expression of Mao’s belief in mind over matter, his confidence that, granted the will, the age of miracles was not over.”[xlix] Mao’s attempt to force nature to abide by Marxist theory led to perhaps the worst famine in history; tens of millions of human beings starved to death. The only miracle was that anyone survived. The brutal lesson of this bitter harvest? Reality does not accede to the will of the people–or to the will of the Party.
This lesson was driven home in the Soviet Union, as well. For almost 30 years, Trofim Lysenko, an agronomist and scientific imposter, held dominion in Soviet agriculture. He denied the existence of genes, claimed that acquired characteristics could be transmitted to new generations, and awarded supremacy to environment over laws of heredity. He was, in short, a charlatan. “But the greatest scientist of all, Comrade Stalin, was thoroughly captivated by Lysenko’s half-baked…claims.” When leading Soviet scientists objected to Lysenko’s fraudulent theories, they were incarcerated or shot. Lysenko “refused to be frustrated by the slowness of nature and would bend it to his will….Lysenko’s award of priority to environment…seemed to offer greater hope of engineering the ‘new Soviet man’ of the Marxist-Leninist theology.” Again, nature would be compelled to adhere to Marxist principles in contradiction to agricultural reality. Communist writer, Bertram Wolfe, stated: “Laws of heredity [were] passed by the Politburo.” Except that they aren’t. Nobody understanding the primacy of existence principle is surprised by the result of a dictatorial government believing it can rule nature the way it rules society. Soviet agriculture tanked.[l]
Hitler’s regime had its own version of the social primacy of consciousness theory. The Nazis held that moral characteristics are racial and biologically transmittable. The science of genetics tells us that moral traits are acquired and not genetically transmitted. Massive amounts of life experience, of factual data, confirm genetics: Mom and Dad might be moral paragons and junior an utter reprobate–or vice-versa. The Nazi response? So much the worse for science and observational facts. If the Aryan people and/or the National Socialist Workers Party will it, then moral traits are grounded in biology. The Nazis proceeded to re-write the biology textbooks to suit their prejudices. The result, of course, was mass murder of “racially inferior” peoples.
Today, there is a new version of the primacy of consciousness theory. For want of a better name, I will simply call it: “Gender-itis.” Its meaning is the belief: “I can be any gender I want to be.” In reality, there are two genders and rare persons born with characteristics of both. But according to gender-itis, there are numerous genders: Some say there are seven, some say there are fifty-eight, I say why not thirty-seven hundred? There is pangender, transgender, cisgender, neutrois, and the beat goes on. I can choose whatever sex I want to be. My will, or the will of society, if I convince its members, not the laws and facts of biology, hold primacy. This is lunacy. It is reminiscent of a story told of Lincoln, which, whether accurate or apocryphal, is germane to the philosophic truth. Addressing a backwoods audience, Lincoln inquired: “If we call a horse’s tail a leg, how many legs will the horse then have?” “Five,” responded the audience. “No,” said Lincoln. “The horse will have four legs, because calling a tail a leg will not make it so.” Exactly right. Similarly, calling a male a female (or vice versa) will not make it so.
Any supporter of individual rights will point out that it is the inalienable political/legal right of an individual to identify as any gender he/she wants, to dress in accordance with such choice, to act accordingly, to convince others of it, to have a sex-change operation, and so forth. In a free society, none of this should be in dispute. Further, psychologically, if an individual is born male, for example, but identifies as female, if he feels like a female trapped inside a male body, this must be a painful way to live, and any honest person should empathize. But the philosophic point is that the laws of reality, the facts and laws of biology, in this case, do not change because we will or desire them to.
There is legislation that persons should be treated in accordance not with the gender they are but in accordance with how they identify. This leads to the injustice, for example, of girls and women forced to share bathrooms and showers with males who identify as female–and to female athletes forced to compete against males. These are injustices, to be sure. But they are relatively innocuous when contrasted with the horrors to come from starting down this slippery slope. Once we grant the premise that the government can legislate not just society–but reality–that nature bends to social and/or governmental decree, what principle then constrains the government from instituting the kind of brutally insane Communist/Nazi policies delineated above?
The supernatural and social versions of the primacy of consciousness metaphysics are equally insane and cannot account for the vast disparity in the number of murder victims between religion and collectivism. What does?
The Philosophic Difference-Maker
Some people argue that the difference lies in the technology available in differing eras; that if gas chambers, crematoria, machine guns, and so forth had been available to medieval and/or Reformation Christians, their murder count would rival that of the collectivists.
This may seem to be a plausible argument at first glance, but, in the end, it is false. Let me start with counter-examples.
According to state-of-the art historical research, Genghis Khan, the 13th century Mongol conqueror, was responsible for 40 million murders.[li] Forty million human beings slaughtered in a roughly twenty-year (1206-1227) reign of terror…this is both numbing and extraordinary. By use of what weapons? Swords, spears, bow and arrows, and fire perhaps.
Further, a 14th century Mongol conqueror, Tamerlane (or Timur) had the charming habit of decorating the countryside around cities he plundered with pyramids of human skulls. Sometime in the 1380s, he conquered the city of Isfahan in Persia, forced all the survivors out, ordered his soldiers to decapitate everyone, and piled the severed heads high in dozens of towers composed of 1500 skulls each. A Muslim historian reported first-hand on the grisly pyramids; the estimated murder count is 70,000.[lii]Using swords, how long did the atrocity take? If Tamerlane had 70,000 soldiers and each man decapitated a single victim, it could be finished in a matter of minutes. If we conservatively estimate that the soldiers killed one-third each day and then rested, the mass murder would take three days. At that rate, ten days of mass murder would yield roughly 230,000 victims; one hundred days, 2.3 million. (Several years later, in 1391, Tamerlane’s army numbered 100,000 soldiers.[liii]) Blood-thirsty conquerors turn swords into weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Modern technology is not required to murder millions of innocent civilians
But there is another salient point: One of the Communists’ favored methods of mass murder is deliberate man-made famine. The Holodomor or Ukrainian Terror Famine of 1932-33 is a prime example. Stalin ordered the Red Army to rob Ukrainian peasants of every morsel of food and every seed of grain, he sealed the area with troops, and waited remorselessly for his victims to starve. The murder count was estimated at 5-7 million.[liv] It is true that Stalin had trains and trucks at his disposal to haul off the food. But if the mass murderers were limited to horses, oxen, and dog carts, it could still be done, just not as conveniently. Further, the simplest expedient of all is to burn the crops and scorch the earth; the murderers could do that with matches–or with two sticks rubbed together to make fire.
The difference-maker is not technological but philosophical. Let’s recur for a moment to the Church’s brutal extirpation of the “Albigensian Heresy.” According to historian, Matthew White, the Church slaughtered roughly one million victims over the course of several centuries.[lv] This is a horrendous atrocity, it is all atrocity all the time, and anyone who denies it must hold innocent human life in no value. But Stalin deliberately murdered 5-7 million people in perhaps eight months; Hitler, 20 million in twelve years. Are there millimeters of evil? There are. For example, robbery is less evil than rape; rape is less evil than murder; a single murder is perhaps less evil than the genocidal slaughter of millions, and so forth. What makes them all evil, and to differing degrees, is the initiation of force against innocent victims, and the extent to which force is initiated.
Why such a disparity in the time scale and number of victims? White gives us a clue. “After [the Catharist fortress of] Minerve surrendered, the Cathars were forcibly converted to Catholicism, except for 140 who refused and were burned.”[lvi]“Forcibly converted” means the choice of convert–or be brutally murdered. Here is the essence of religion: its faith-based fanaticism, its brutality, its murder lust…and its offer of life via conversion. Wait, what? You can save your life and that of your children by converting? Did Stalin offer Ukrainian peasants the chance to save their and the children’s lives by converting to Communism? Or did he offer nothing but agonizing death via slow starvation? Did Hitler offer conversion to the Jews?
The Christians hold a last shred of respect for human free will.
Their honoring of choice is severely delimited, since the only choice offered is: conversion or death. But it is a baby step toward morality when contrasted with the collectivists, who offer their enemies only death.
There is a difference between religion (in the Christian form) and collectivism that favors religion. The religionist’s first impulse is to convert the other (the infidels). The collectivist’s first impulse is to slaughter them. Religion seeks conversion first, slaughter if that fails. This is brutal intimidation, no doubt. But the Nazis maintain that moral delinquency is hard-wired into their foe’s biology; conversion to Aryan blood is not possible. The Communists claim that the bourgeoisie are conditioned by their class upbringing; brutal exploitativeness is ineradicably embedded in their class consciousness, and there is no transmutation to moral rectitude. Whether via nature or nurture, evil is systemically incorporated in collectivism’s foes. This is a brutally deterministic theory–and there is only one answer: the final solution.
For the Christians, an individual’s moral status is open to choice.
The Christian element of respect for free will is a product of their belief in the soul. An immortal soul is a faith-based belief, to be sure, but, contrasted to the collectivists, it serves as a limiting boundary to the evil that Christians might perpetrate. For the soul is held to be an individualized phenomenon. Possession of a soul grants dignity and importance to an individual; he is not merely a lump of meat to be slaughtered like a sheep or a goat. But Communists and Nazis loathe individualism. The warning of the Khmer Rouge (Cambodian Communists) to prospective victims was revealing: “Losing you is no loss, and keeping you is no specific gain.”[lvii] In and of himself, an individual has zero value for Communism. But for Christianity–even though based in a mythic claim–the individual does. Collectivists do everything in their power to expunge individuality. Christians glorify it.
A personal soul, independent judgment, and the efficacy of choice form a constellation of attributes supporting the individual. Despite Christianity’s monolithic demand to uncritically accept faith-based orthodoxy, its glorification of the personal soul grants it a last grudging respect for the individual. There is a profound contradiction here. But the very contradiction is itself a protector of man. It limits the Christians from all-out war on humanity.
In reality, a “spiritual”, immaterial part of human nature is the mind….the individualistic, independent, free-thinking human mind. Overwhelmingly, recalcitrant free-thinkers were slaughtered as heretics. But at times, independent thinkers triumphed: Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas were two outstanding examples.
When Christianity held total spiritual hegemony over Western Europe, there was a Medieval Renaissance, a glorious episode in which geniuses like Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas risked their lives to study, teach, and write about Aristotle, and thereby promote rational philosophy and science.[lviii] They triumphed. Even under Islam, there was a genuine Golden Age of Aristotle scholarship, science, medicine, and literature.[lix] In the end, this golden age was crushed by Islamic fanatics; nevertheless, for several centuries under Islamic aegis it flourished.
But under collectivism, there are no renaissances or golden ages; there are only red ages, not primarily because the Communist butchers wear red shirts, but because of the oceans of blood they spill.
The Church burned Bruno and threatened Galileo, who saved his life by publicly recanting. Continuing throughoutthe Italian Renaissance (roughly 1350-1550), the Church held substantial authority in southern Europe. It is no secret that Michelangelo sustained a stormy relationship with the Church; and Giorgio Vasari, Leonardo da Vinci’s first biographer, wrote:
“[Leonardo’s] cast of mind was so heretical that he did not adhere to any religion, thinking perhaps that it was better to be a philosopher than a Christian.”[lx]
Doubtless the Church did not agree but tolerated the “transgressions” of both geniuses. One wonders if Mao , Pol Pot, or Hitler would have been equally generous toward brilliant dissidents.
John Locke, the Father of Liberalism and the political philosopher of the American Revolution, was a practicing Protestant; and many active abolitionists, including William Wilberforce, were devout Christians, who opposed slavery on the basis of Christian humanitarianism—the belief that every individual human being was equally a child of God.
Across the ocean, the USA was founded by leading minds of the American Enlightenment. Many of them held at least a slight connection to Christianity: John Adams was a practicing Unitarian, George Washington was an Anglican who regularly attended church services, Alexander Hamilton was a Deist but one “embracing Christianity as a system of morality and cosmic justice,”[lxi] and Benjamin Franklin was a Deist who upheld the usefulness of Christianity because, he believed, it fostered virtue. Many of America’s Founders were attenuated Christians. Did attenuated Nazis ever found a free society? Do Communists, attenuated or otherwise, abolish slavery? Or do they sustain its brutal practice in China and North Korea?
Religious wars have been devastating. Historians estimate 3 million killed between 1562 and 1598 during the French Religious Wars.[lxii] The most recent estimates of deaths in the Thirty Year War (1618-48), a conflict partly political, is 3-4 million.[lxiii] Religion is irrational, evil, and hazardous to your health. But its one virtue, relative to collectivism, is real. Writes Matthew White:
“The most long-lasting outcome of the Thirty Year War is that Europe finally realized how stupid it was to fight over religion….Eventually, many exhausted nations decided to allow the choice of faith to be a private matter, and this became one of the cornerstones of Western Civilization.[lxiv] (Emphasis added.)
When will Communists and Nazis “allow the choice of political theories to be a private matter?”
Ayn Rand brilliantly dramatized in Atlas Shrugged that the mind is mankind’s means of survival; therefore, the mind is the root of all good. It follows that he who attacks the mind at root is the root of all evil.[lxv] Christianity is evil–but it is not the worst evil mankind must face.
The collectivists, influenced by the German philosopher, G.W.F. Hegel, consider individuality a splintered fragment of the whole; only the State is real.[lxvi] We must serve the State; we must perforce obey. Freedom of conscience and choice is banned. Individualism is a crime. Independent judgment is a cardinal sin. Anyone who does not obey is gassed or shot or enslaved; members of the White Rose were guillotined.[lxvii] The mind is silenced and shackled. Society is pushed into economic collapse or war or both. The regressive mind-oppression of Anthem is an accurate depiction of a fully collectivized world. “It is a sin to write this,” says the hero of Anthem. “It is a sin to write words no others think.”[lxviii] For collectivism, one thinks what the State decrees. There is no glorification of the individual to contradict totalitarianism.
The worst of Christianity was the Dark Ages. Its best was the Medieval Renaissance. The worst of collectivism was Auschwitz, gulags, and 120 million civilians murdered in a century. There is no best.
Collectivism is more evil than Christianity. But US conservatives move toward Nationalism, a form of collectivism. If Nationalism approaches jingoist fervor, it leads to imperialism and war. If it unites with socialism, it forms National Socialism. American conservatives currently approximate neither. Let’s hope they never do.
Update: This essay has proven controversial enough to warrant an informal debate on the issue between Andrew Bernstein and Harry Binswanger on “The Olympics of Evil: Does it Matter Who the Winner Is?”
[i] Ayn Rand, “Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World,” in Philosophy: Who Needs It (New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1982), 85. (The text says “impossible.” But this makes no sense. It must be a typo. So I took the liberty of changing it: None of these things are “possible.”)
[ii] W.T. Jones, A History of Western Philosophy, vol. 2, The Medieval Mind (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovish Publishers, 1969), 63-64. William Manchester, A World Lit Only By Fire: The Medieval Mind And The Renaissance, Portrait Of An Age (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1993), 7-8.
[iii] Andrew Bernstein, “The Right to Abortion as an Application of Individual Rights,” in Andrew Bernstein, Capitalist Solutions: A Philosophy of American Moral Dilemmas (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2012), 123-136.
[iv]John Paul Brammer, “Billy Graham Leaves Painful Legacy for LGBTQ People,” Feb. 22, 2018, Accessed on December 30, 2020.
[v] What does the Bible say about homosexuality?” gotquestions.org. Accessed on December 30, 2020.
[vi] History of Christianity and Homosexuality,” en.m.wikipedia.org. Accessed on December 30, 2020.
[vii] “Westboro Baptist Church,” https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/westboro-baptist-church
[viii] Max Bearak and Darla Cameron, “Here are the 10 Countries Where Homosexuality may be Punished by Death,” June 16, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/06/13/here-are-the-10-countries-where-homosexuality-may-be-punished-by-death-2/. Accessed on December 30, 2020.
[ix] Caryle Murphy, “Most U.S. Christian Groups Grow More Accepting of Homosexuality,” December 18, 2015, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/12/18/most-u-s-christian-groups-grow-more-accepting-of-homosexuality/. Accessed on December 30, 2020.
[x] Andrew Coulson, Market Education: The Unknown History (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1999), 123-125.
[xi] Cindy del Rosario, “Oregon Faith-Healing Parents Charged With Manslaughter in Daughter’s Death From Diabetes,” August 31, 2013. https://www.medicaldaily.com/oregon-faith-healing-parents-charged-manslaughter-daughters-death-diabetes-255240. Accessed on January 2, 2021. Unfortunately, there are numerous similar cases.
[xii] Rowan Scarborough, “Black Lives Matter Anti-Police Brutality Crusade Obscures Violent, Marxist Agenda,” The Washington Times, July 27, 2020. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/jul/27/black-lives-matter-anti-police-brutality-crusade-o/. Accessed on October 3, 2020.
[xiii] Andrew Bernstein, “The Truth About Climate Change,” https://www.andrewbernstein.net/2018/10/the-truth-about-climate-change/. Accessed on January 3, 2021.
[xiv] Andrew Bernstein, “Effective Defense of Innocent Lives Requires Gun Ownership by Honest Persons,” https://www.andrewbernstein.net/2018/08/protection-of-innocent-lives-requires-gun-ownership-by-honest-persons/. Accessed on January 3, 2021.
[xv] John Lott, More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws, Second Edition (Chicago, Il.: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), 1-20, 36-116, and passim.
[xvi] Taleeb Starkes, Black Lies Matter: Why Lies Matter to the Race Grievance Industry (self-published, 2016), 57-69 and passim.
[xvii] Andrew Bernstein, “Leftist Supremacy, Not White Supremacy, is the Gravest Threat to Black Lives,” https://www.andrewbernstein.net/2020/10/leftist-supremacy-not-white-supremacy-is-the-gravest-threat-to-black-lives/. Accessed on January 3, 2021.
[xviii] Bruce Golding, “How tweet it is: Twitter backs down, unlocks Post’s account, October 30, 2020, https://nypost.com/2020/10/30/twitter-backs-down-agrees-to-unlock-posts-account/
[xix] Phil Mushnick, “NBA Voice Grant Napear Was Unjustly Fired Over ‘All Lives Matter’ Truth,” June 4, 2020, https://nypost.com/2020/06/04/nba-voice-grant-napear-was-fired-for-stating-all-lives-matter-truth/. Accessed on January 3, 2021.
[xx] George Leef, “Math Professor Mocks a Leftist Belief and Gets Fired,” May 1, 2020, https://www.jamesgmartin.center/2020/05/math-professor-mocks-a-leftist-belief-and-gets-fired/. Accessed on January 3, 2021.
[xxi] Valerie Richardson, “University Dumps Professor Who Found Polar Bears Thriving Despite Climate Change,” October 20, 2019, https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/oct/20/susan-crockford-fired-after-finding-polar-bears-th/. The university disputed Dr. Crockford’s charge that this was the reason for refusing to rehire her, claiming it supported intellectual freedom. But it gave no reason for failing to rehire this professor who is an accomplished scholar in her field. Accessed on January 4, 2021.
[xxii] At times, leftist professors also get fired for speaking their minds, but given the vast disparity in the numbers of left-wing and right-wing professors, there is a large disproportion of right-wing intellectuals who are persecuted.
[xxiii] https://www.thefire.org/about-us/. Accessed on January 4, 2021.
[xxiv] Mark Hemingway, “Use RICO Laws to Prosecute Global Warming Skeptics,” June 2, 2015, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/weekly-standard/senator-use-rico-laws-to-prosecute-global-warming-skeptics. Hans A. von Spakovsky, “Prosecuting Climate Change ‘Deniers’ is an Abuse of Power,” April 22, 2016, https://www.heritage.org/environment/commentary/prosecuting-climate-change-deniers-abuse-power. Accessed on January 5, 2021.
[xxv] “State Attorneys General Launch Legal Attack on Climate Realists: An Egregious Abuse of Power,” https://www.heartland.org/topics/climate-change/state-attorneys-general-launch-legal-attack-climate-realists/index.html. Accessed on January 5, 2021.
[xxvi] Kenneth Garger, “AOC Faces Heat for Wanting to Archive Online Posts by ‘Trump Sycophants,'” November 6, 2020, https://nypost.com/2020/11/06/aoc-facing-heat-for-wanting-to-archive-posts-by-trump-sycophants/. Accessed on January 4, 2021.
[xxvii] Andrew Mark Miller, “AOC: We need to ‘figure out how we rein in our media environment so that you can’t just spew out disinformation,'” January 14, 2021, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/aoc-figure-out-way-rein-in-media. Accessed on January 19, 2021.
[xxviii] Victor Morton, “Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ‘represents the future of our party.’ DNC chairman Tom Perez says,” https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jul/3/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-represents-future-our-par/. Accessed on January 4, 2021.
[xxix] Sarah Taylor, “National Democratic Party Official Suggests Re-education for Trump Supporters,” November 19, 2020, https://www.theblaze.com/news/national-democratic-party-official-deprogram-trump-supporters. Accessed on January 4, 2021.
[xxx] Andrew Bernstein, “Heroes and Villains in American Education,” The Objective Standard, Vol. 13, No. 3, Fall 2018, 14-40.
[xxxi] Andrew Bernstein, “Leftist Supremacy, Not White Supremacy, is the Gravest Threat to Black Lives.”
[xxxii] Andrew Bernstein, “The Tragedy of Theology: How Religion Caused and Extended the Dark Ages,” The Objective Standard, Vol. 1, No. 4, Winter 2006-07, 11-37; quote on 20; interior quote from Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, vol. 4, The Age of Faith (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1950), 775.
[xxxiii] Will and Ariel Durant, The Story of Civilization, Vol. 7, The Age of Reason Begins (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1961), 346-355.
[xxxiv] Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, vol. 6, The Reformation (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1957), 479-484.
[xxxv] Quoted in Leonard Peikoff, The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America (New York: Stein and Day, 1982), 246-47.
[xxxvi] R. J. Rummel, Death By Government (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1994), 111-122.
[xxxvii] Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1985), passim
[xxxviii] Rummel, Death By Government, 115.
[xxxix] Stephane Courtois, et. al., The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 4 and passim.
[xl] Rummel, Death By Government, 79=89.
[xli] Nicolas Werth, “A State Against its People: Violence, Repression, and Terror in the Soviet Union,” in Courtois, et. al., The Black Book of Communism, 106.
[xlii] Stephane Courtois, “The Crimes of Communism,” in Courtois, et. al., The Black Book of Communism, 8.
[xliii] Leonard Peikoff, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (New York: Meridian, 1993), 17-18.
[xliv] W.T. Jones, A History of Western Philosophy, vol.2, The Medieval Mind, 170.
[xlv] Norman Cantor, In The Wake Of The Plague: The Black Death and the World It Made (New York, Perennial, 2002), 7.
[xlvi] Paul Johnson, Modern Times: The World From the Twenties to the Nineties (New York: HarperPerennial, 1991), 546.
[xlvii] Jean-Louis Margolin, “China: A Long March Into Night,” in Stephane Courtois, et. al., The Black Book of Communism, 489.
[xlviii] Frank Dikotter, Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962 (New York: Bloomsbury Paperbacks, 2017), 40.
[xlix] Paul Johnson, Modern Times, 550.
[l] All quotes from Eugene Lyons, Workers’ Paradise Lost (New York: Paperback Library, Inc., 1967), 321-325.
[li] Matthew White, Atrocities: The 100 Deadliest Episodes in Human History (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012), 115-126.
[lii] Matthew White, Atrocities, 149.
[liii] Matthew White, Atrocities, 150.
[liv] Robert Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), 225-259. Conquest estimates 5 million Ukrainians murdered by deliberate man-made famine, 249. Miron Dolot, Execution By Hunger: The Hidden Holocaust (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1985). Dolot, as a child, witnessed and survived the atrocity. Adam Ulam, Soviet scholar at Harvard University, in an Introduction to Dolot’s book, estimates the murder count at 5-7 million, vii.
[lv] Matthew White, Atrocities, 127. This is a commonly accepted number. But nobody knows where it originated or what evidence supports it. Nor, says White, “have I seen it in a scholarly history of France,” 579. So its reliability is unknown.
[lvi] White, Atrocities, 129.
[lvii] Jean-Louis Margolin, “Cambodia: The Country of Disconcerting Crimes,” in Courtois, et. al., The Black Book of Communism, 597.
[lviii] Andrew Bernstein, The Tragedy of Theology, 11-37.
[lix] Andrew Bernstein, “Great Islamic Thinkers Versus Islam,” The Objective Standard, vol. 7, no. 4, Winter 2012, 50-67.
[lx] “Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), https://philosophynow.org/issues/137/Leonardo_da_Vinci_1452-1519. Accessed on January 19, 2021.
[lxi] Ron Chernow, Alexander Hamilton (New York, Penguin Books, 2004), 205.
[lxii] White, Atrocities, 198.
[lxiii] White, Atrocities, 221. White says this is the most recent estimate. But, he says, the most common estimate, is 7-8 million deaths.
[lxiv] White, Atrocities, 221.
[lxv] This point was first made to me many years ago by Dr. Glenn Marcus, who may or may not want to be credited here. Nevertheless, it is true.
[lxvi] Leonard Peikoff, History of Modern Philosophy, “Lecture Four: Hegel,” private lecture notes.
[lxvii] A group of young German freedom fighters murdered by the Nazis. Andrew Bernstein, “The White Rose: A Story of Unsurpassed Courage,” The Objective Standard, Vol. 15, No. 2, Summer 2020, 23-27.
[lxviii] Ayn Rand, Anthem (New York: New American Library, 1946), 11. ,