The Objectivism of Minecraft

Thanksgiving evening at home — snow on the ground outside, the hum of the dishwasher in the kitchen, half-eaten pies on the counter. The “kids” of the family have taken over the living room: my sister, my two brothers, and I. The TV displays a videogame called Minecraft and they pre-emptively defend it to me: it’s more than meets the eye, they say. When they start playing, I understand their warning. The graphics are blocky and old-school. The 1st-person protagonist looks like a lego man. “Mountains” in this digital world are more like green and brown staircases. When you approach the trees, their “leaves” are revealed as pixelated green cubes.

But here is the charm: Minecraft is a game of building. As the title suggests, it’s a game of mining and crafting. In other words, it’s a game of discovering and creating values in the world. While there is an over-arching structure to the game, it’s mostly opaque — a vague mission to move through a few different levels and eventually find a portal. The game never requires that you pursue the mission, and most of the fun is found in collecting resources and building things. For instance, you can chop wood from the trees and use the wood to fashion tools, construct a shelter, and build its furniture. As you become more adept, you can build fancier structures. My sister and brothers proudly show off houses incorporating caves, a big stately building with a dome and dozens of rooms, and their prize creation: a house built elegantly on stilts over the water.

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Interview at Students For Liberty

I was recently interviewed by the wonderful Lexxie Monahan at Students For Liberty, as a profile for my involvement with Alumni For Liberty. I talked about my work at The Art of Reasoning and The Atlas Society, my passion for libertarian feminism, and how I became interested in liberty.

“I’ve also always been interested in the individual’s emotional and spiritual experience, inner life, and the existential and romantic aspects of personal freedom, independence, and creativity.”

I also talked about discovering The Atlas Society, and the beginning of a lifelong interest in the philosophical meaning of time.

“I signed up to give a speech about epistemology and concept-formation; it was not a very good speech. ‘Concept formation’ is an extremely broad and difficult topic: I was an undergrad trying to summarize it in 20 minutes. I was in way over my head, the entire time. But I had one moment where I articulated something well, and that was noticed — about how the measurement omitted in the Objectivist axiomatic concepts was the measurement of time.”

Read more, here:
Success in the non-profit world: An interview with Laurie Rice

 

Video Interview with Ron Johnson (R-WI)

This video interview originally appeared at The Atlas Society.
See it here: http://www.atlassociety.org/ele/sen-ron-johnson-atlas-shrugged 
Or watch on YouTube: http://bit.ly/1tEse1Y

January 16, 2013 — “Fight to be free.” These are the words of Republican Senator and businessman Ron Johnson, and he is so committed to the fight, he had the words inscribed at the foot of a giant Atlas statue in his hometown of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Johnson recently sat down with Laurie Rice of The Atlas Society to discuss the ideas of Atlas Shrugged, his experience running a successful manufacturing company, the goals of his political career, and the future of the American economy and culture.

Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged grow in influence everyday. In expressing the impact Atlas Shrugged has had on his ideas, Senator Ron Johnson is in the company of politicians such as Paul Ryan (who spoke at an Atlas Society event in 2005), Congressman Allen West (who gave an interview to The Atlas Society’s Ed Hudgins in June 2012) and 2012 Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (who was interviewed by TAS CEO Aaron Day). These American leaders are using the ideas of Objectivism to realize their goals and shape the world according to their values. The Atlas Society is here to provide, explain, and promote the philosophical framework for “Objectivism in life and thought.”

Ron Johnson is a member of the budget committee and the appropriations committee in the United States Senate. Before he was elected to serve in 2010, Ron Johnson was a CEO and accountant at Pacur, a medical device packaging company in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

UPDATE: As of February 4, 2013, this Atlas Society video interview with Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) was picked up by numerous media outlets, including PoliticoThe NationThe BlazeMother JonesThe Huffington PostSlateThe Chicago TribuneHuman EventsReason MagazineThe HillRoll CallPolitics Nation with Al Sharpton on msnbcThe Center for Media and Democracy’s PR WatchL’OpinioneThe Northwestern.comThe Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and Right Wisconsin.

Feminism and the Future

Imagine a rich, new media landscape—one that extols complex heroines whose lives expand a young woman’s sense of the many ways that it is possible to be; one that de-emphasizes sexuality and appearance as the measures of a woman’s worth. Imagine energized women smartly banding together to solve social problems—using micro-financing to enable other women to launch businesses, for example—instead of leaning dependently on a paternalistic government. Before we look deeper into what our future could be, let’s consider feminism’s trek to date.

In the last 150 years, the United States has accepted a basic ideal of equality between males and females. Best understood, this ideal holds that men and women are first and foremost individuals who live by reason. As such, both men and women have the same requirements for freedom and the same potential for achievement. The belief in these core ideas is what Joan Kennedy Taylor, a feminist and Objectivist intellectual, called “the individualist feminist impulse.”

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Did Objectivists End the Draft?

This article was originally published at The Atlas Society.

In the mid-1960s, a handful of individuals from Ayn Rand’s inner circle set out to end the draft. Few know the story of their activism. Just how powerful was their influence over Nixon?

IT WAS NIGHTFALL IN BOSTON; April 16, 1967. A wet, icy wind blew off the Charles River and howled down the wide channel of Massachusetts Avenue, gusting into narrow alleyways, and rattling the windows of Jordan Hall on Gainsborough Street. Inside, anticipation was building as the murmuring crowd took their seats on rows of white, wooden benches. Then she appeared; America’s most controversial individualist: Ayn Rand. People leaned over the balconies to catch a better glimpse of the best-selling novelist and diminutive philosopher who stood at the podium. Applause broke out; Rand took in the scene, scanning the room. Her penetrating gaze drifted up to the second level balcony, past the large, gilded clock which faced her. She began in earnest: “The question of the draft is, perhaps, the most important single issue debated today,” Rand said, “but the terms in which it is being debated are a sorry manifestation of our anti-ideological ‘mainstream.’… A volunteer army is the only proper, moral—and practical—way to defend a free country.”

Ayn Rand’s speech, called “The Wreckage of the Consensus,” was her first sustained look at the Vietnam War and the draft. Just one week later, Dr. Martin Luther King would stand at the same podium. And four months prior, General Lewis B. Hershey, the long-time head of Selective Service and the public face of the draft, addressed the forum.

Rand opposed the draft because it was a statist infringement on the right of the individual to own his own life.

Ayn Rand’s position on the draft, like so many of her ideas, was a contrast to both Left and the Right. Rand opposed the draft because it was a statist infringement on the right of the individual to his own life, and because it relied on an ethic of duty and sacrifice. Rand’s philosophical system,Objectivism, which grounded man’s right to life in his faculty of reason and the conditions of his survival, provided a context for consistent, integrated arguments against the draft.

The young intellectuals in Rand’s inner circle—students of Objectivism, at the time—often used the context of her philosophy as the basis of their own activism. And it was now that they began to ask themselves, “What will it take to end the draft?”  Continue reading Did Objectivists End the Draft?