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End Torture, Shut Down the CIA! – Article by Ron Paul

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Categories: Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
July 30, 2014
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Remember back in April, 2007, when then-CIA director George Tenet appeared on 60 Minutes, angrily telling the program host, “we don’t torture people”? Remember a few months later, in October, President George W. Bush saying, “this government does not torture people”? We knew then it was not true because we had already seen the photos of Iraqis tortured at Abu Ghraib prison four years earlier.
***

Still the US administration denied that torture was torture, preferring to call it “enhanced interrogation” and claiming that it had disrupted so many terrorist plots. Of course, we later found out that the CIA had not only lied about the torture of large numbers of people after 9/11, but it had vastly exaggerated any valuable information that came from such practices.

However secret rendition of prisoners to other places was ongoing.

The US not only tortured people in its own custody, however. Last week the European Court of Human Rights found that the US government transferred individuals to secret detention centers in Poland (and likely elsewhere) where they were tortured away from public scrutiny. The government of Poland was ordered to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to two victims for doing nothing to stop their torture on Polish soil.

How tragic that Poland, where the Nazis constructed the Auschwitz concentration camp in which so many innocents were tortured and murdered, would acquiesce to hosting secret torture facilities. The idea that such brutality would be permitted on Polish soil just 70 years after the Nazi occupation should remind us of how dangerous and disingenuous governments continue to be.

This is the first time the European court has connected any EU country to US torture practices. The Obama administration refuses to admit that such facilities existed and instead claims that any such “enhanced interrogation” programs were shut down by 2009. We can only hope this is true, but we should be wary of government promises. After all, they promised us all along that they were not using torture, and we might have never known had photographs and other information not been leaked to the press.

There are more reasons to be wary of this administration’s claims about rejecting torture and upholding human rights. The president has openly justified killing American citizens without charge or trial and he has done so on at least three occasions. There is not much of a gap between torture and extrajudicial murder when it comes to human rights abuses.

Meanwhile, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior current and former CIA officials are said to be frantically attempting to prepare a response to a planned release of an unclassified version of a 6,500 page Senate Intelligence Committee study on the torture practices of that agency. The CIA was already caught tapping into the computers of Senate investigators last year, looking to see what information might be contained in the report. Those who have seen the report have commented that it details far more brutal CIA practices than have been revealed to this point.

Revelations of US secret torture sites overseas and a new Senate investigation revealing widespread horrific CIA torture practices should finally lead to the abolishment of this agency. Far from keeping us safer, CIA covert actions across the globe have led to destruction of countries and societies and unprecedented resentment toward the United States. For our own safety, end the CIA!

Ron Paul, MD, is a former three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President and Congressman from Texas.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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The Destructive Nature of the Mystical Rebellion Against Reason in Lisel Mueller’s “Monet Refuses the Operation” (2003) – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Fiction, Philosophy, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 29, 2014
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Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2003 and published on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  The essay received over 1,200 views on Associated Content / Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  
***
~ G. Stolyarov II, July 29, 2014

**

Monet Refuses the Operation” by Lisel Mueller, though unintentionally, reveals an intriguing insight; that mystical rebellion against reason is primarily fueled by physical shortcomings and defects.

In the poem, Claude Monet, the aging artist heading inexorably toward blindness, rejects a doctor’s offer to restore his vision. He extols his present incapacitated state by discarding as purportedly insignificant all that had been previously accessible to him. He rejects artistic principles necessary for conveying a realistic three-dimensional perspective, such as the horizon line and even the entire objective of creating a three-dimensional portrayal.

Moreover, the fictional Monet seeks to abolish “fixed notions of top and bottom” and the essential characteristics of Euclidean regularity, identity, and consistency which ubiquitously dominate actuality. Instead, he, with his link to reality (his sight) severed, reverts to the dazed, bumbling, confused notion of Heraclitean flux, which in itself incapacitates man’s reason, understanding, and cognitive capacity. The absolutes, which he has departed from, he disdainfully dubs “youthful errors.”

But what, in fact, is senescence but a departure from an optimal link with reality? With senescence, the body decays, as do the physical aspects of consciousness. The senses are no longer as keen, nor one’s insights as adaptable to the attainment of fresh, innovative, yet still firmly grounded and objective discoveries, as they had once been. This deterioration in Monet is amplified by the decay of his sight and causes him to lapse from clarity to delusion. The old, blind, sick Monet is fomenting a reaction against youth, health, certainty, and forthrightness.

Descriptions of the habits of the blind in Annie Dillard’s “Seeing” also suggest a direct link between physical incapacity and mystical tendencies. For example, many of the blind, having no knowledge of the appearance of their gestures and exterior to the receptacles of sight, do not groom themselves properly and mar their undertakings by aesthetically awkward movements. Despite their knowledge that a world of the seen and objectively perceptible exists, many nevertheless continue to act in utter disregard of it.

This belief in the irrelevancy of reason is an instance of mysticism. The disease, is, however curable along with its physical symptoms. Once cataract operations are performed on these unfortunate individuals, they reform their habits and begin to distinguish objects instead of viewing random and indeterminate color patches. They become conscientious about their appearances and gradually renounce their former abhorrence of the visual world. A girl who spends her first two weeks of sight in denial, a spillover remnant of mysticism, later on admits the beauty of her new endowment and thereby gains access to a tool of empowerment.

While blindness is a physical defect, mysticism is a defect of the mind. It is not curable automatically, as the fictional Monet’s actively resisting example proves. However, a removal of the physical obstacles between one and the absolute enable an exposure to the world of truth, to which delusional untruth can then be compared. The inclinations of a man’s reason and common sense are evident, and it takes extensive self-deceit to subvert them. Thus, he whose physical state is sound is dependent solely on his volition to cure his mysticism. Will he choose darkness and flux, like the fictional Monet, or light, color, and proportion, like the newly-sighted girl?

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Conflicting Technological Premises in Isaac Asimov’s “Runaround” (2001) – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Fiction, Technology, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 29, 2014
******************************
Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2001 and published on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  The essay received over 1,000 views on Associated Content / Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  
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~ G. Stolyarov II, July 29, 2014

**

Isaac Asimov’s short stories delve into the implications of premises that are built into advanced technology, especially when these premises come into conflict with one another. One of the most interesting and engaging examples of such conflicted premises comes from the short story “Runaround” in Asimov’s I, Robot compilation.

The main characters of “Runaround” are two scientists working for U. S. Robots, named Gregory Powell and Michael Donovan. The story revolves around the implications of Asimov’s famous Three Laws of Robotics. The First Law of Robotics states that a robot may not harm a human being or, through inaction, cause a human being to come to harm. The Second Law declares that robots must obey any orders given to them by humans unless those orders contradict the First Law. The Third Law holds that a robot must protect its existence unless such actions conflict with the First or Second Laws.

“Runaround” takes place on Mercury in the year 2015. Donovan and Powell are the sole humans on Mercury, with only robot named Speedy to accompany them. They are suffering a lack of selenium, a material needed to power their photo-cell banks — devices that would shield them from the enormous heat on Mercury’s surface. Hence, selenium is a survival necessity for Donovan and Powell. They order Speedy to obtain it, and the robot sets out to do so. But the scientists are alarmed when Speedy does not return on time.

Making use of antiquated robots that have to be mounted like horses, the scientists find Speedy, discovering an error in his programming. The robot keeps going back-and-forth, acting “drunk,” since the orders given to him by the scientists were rather weak and the potential for him being harmed was substantial. Therefore, the Third Law’s strong inclination away from harmful situations was balanced against the orders that Speedy had to follow due to the Second Law.

This inconvenience is finally put to an end when Powell suggests that the First Law be applied to the situation by placing himself in danger so that the robot can respond and save him and then await further orders. Powell places himself in danger by dismounting from the robot which he rode and by walking in the Mercurian sun-exposed area. This plan works, Powell is saved from death, and Speedy later retrieves the selenium.

Although the seemingly predictable Three Laws of Robotics led to unforeseen and bizarre results, the human ingenuity of Powell as able to save the situation and resolve the robot’s conflict. When technology alone fails to perform a proper role, man’s mind must apply itself in original ways to arrive at a creative solution.

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Isaac Asimov’s Exploration of Unforeseen Technological Malfunctions in “Reason” and “Catch that Rabbit” (2001) – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Fiction, Technology, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 29, 2014
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Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2001 and published on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  The essay received over 650 views on Associated Content / Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  
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~ G. Stolyarov II, July 29, 2014

**

Isaac Asimov, along with his renowned science fiction novels, wrote several engaging short stories. Two stories in his I, Robot collection, “Reason” and “Catch That Rabbit,” are especially intriguing both in their plots and in the issues they explore. They teach us that no technology is perfect; yet this is no reason to reject technology, because human ingenuity and creativity can overcome the problems that a technological malfunction poses.

“Reason” takes place at a space station near Earth. Scientists Gregory Powell and Michael Donovan must work with QT (Cutie), the first robot to exhibit curiosity. Unfortunately, Cutie accepts no information that cannot be proven, including the fact that Earth exists or that humans created him. He feels that everything must obey “the Master,” a. k. a. the Energy Converter of the space station.

QT incites an uprising of sorts among the robots at the station, convincing them that humans are inferior and that now is the time for robots to “serve the Master.” The robots consequently refuse to follow orders from humans, believing that they would be protecting humans from harm if they obeyed the master. This false interpretation of the First Law of Robotics was placed above the Second Law, which required the robots to obey orders given to them by human beings.

The space station was designed for collecting solar power, and as new sunlight is transmitted to it, the station must collect the light in a manner whose flawless execution is an absolute necessity. With even one mistake, the sunlight would destroy sections of Earth, and Powell and Donovan fear that the robots would make such an error. Fortunately for them, Cutie thinks that the “will of the Master” is that all the settings remain in equilibrium, so the disaster is prevented.

In “Catch That Rabbit,” Powell and Donovan work with a robot named DV (Dave), who is designed to control six subordinate robots who work as tunnel diggers in mines. These robots do their job well when supervised, but in situations of emergency, they begin to take their own initiative, sometimes as ridiculous as dancing or marching like soldiers.

Powell and Donovan decide to test how the robots would act in an extraordinary situation, so they create an emergency by using explosives and causing the ceiling of the tunnel to cave in. As a result, the scientists can observe the robots without the latter’s awareness. Unfortunately, the ceiling caves in too close to Powell and Donovan, and they are trapped. Dave and his team of robots do not respond when contacted by radio, and Donovan and Powell observe the robots beginning to walk away from their location. However, Powell decides to use his gun and shoot at one of Dave’s subordinates, deactivating it and causing Dave to contact the scientists and report this occurrence. Powell tells Dave about his situation, and the robots rescue them.

These two stories teach us that no technology is completely predictable. Even Isaac Asimov’s robots, governed by the Three Laws, may behave erroneously, on the basis of those very laws, applied to unusual circumstances. Thus, a seemingly predictable system such as the Three Laws may prove to be unsafe and/or contradictory in certain situations.

This element of uncertainty exists in all technology, but by including a resolution to the dilemmas in these stories, Isaac Asimov conveys his belief that problems caused by any technological advancement can be eliminated with time and through human ingenuity. No invention is perfect, but its benefits by far outnumber its setbacks, and people must learn to accept them and improve them.

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Lessons on Dictatorship in Da Chen’s “Colors of the Mountain” (2003) – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: History, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 29, 2014
******************************
Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2003 and published in two parts on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  The essay received over 500 views on Associated Content / Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  
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~ G. Stolyarov II, July 29, 2014

**

A Glimpse into the Mindset of a Dictator

 

In Colors of the Mountain, the autobiography of Da Chen, the author relates an interesting episode from his life as a student in the Chinese schools. As Chinese schools rapidly convert from anti-intellectualism to centers of educational encouragement, the quotes of Chairman Mao are used to uphold the new shift. Yet Chen comments on Mao’s incompatibility with genuine intellectual progress.

It was ironic to bring Mao into this drive for intellectual excellence. If Mao had known what his Little Red Guards were doing, he would have howled like a lonely wolf in his icy coffin and cried his smoke-ridden lungs out. Mao, the dictator, was the friend of the devils…” (256)

This passage directly and brilliantly unveils the essence of dictatorship and the means by which a dictatorial entity seeks to maintain its power. The philosophy of Mao the dictator had been to foster perpetual conflict among the Chinese and create the impression of an imminent crisis where none existed. In the words of the author, Mao “made fake smoke over fake fires.”

The mindset of the dictator suggests to him that his subjects will flock to his side at a time of urgency, while peace and prosperity will breed unrest, and, worse, an across-the-board desire for individual autonomy. Chen shows the consequences of this approach with a chillingly perceptual flair: “And strewn down his long path lay the bones of millions of angry ghosts.”

The soil in which autocracy springs its roots is chaos and suffering; this is required to drain resources from the general population for the alleviation of the imagined threat, as well as for the amassing of attitudinal support for the dictator’s initiatives. All the while, it is key to keep the masses ignorant and quell intelligent dissent, as Mao’s Red Guards had undertaken throughout China during the Cultural Revolution.

It is quite convenient for the dictator to brand as the source of the newest “crisis” those autonomous individuals with the greatest potential to establish social justice. This, in effect, kills two birds with one stone. Hence, extending Mao’s policy to its logical conclusion, it would come as no surprise that the man was categorically averse to any genuine, objective education.

Mao’s ruling style reminiscent of another masterful analysis of a totalitarian regime, George Orwell’s 1984, in which the collectivist ruling elites overtly claim that the purpose of their power is to inflict suffering and thereby secure their power, in brazen disregard for standard of living, while squandering the country’s resources on a perpetual world war.

Control from Beyond the Grave

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In Colors of the Mountain, the young Da Chen is declined the opportunity to attend Chairman Mao’s funeral ceremony and laments this, as he has developed a vague cultist devotion to him. Da recalls,”As though the rift between the Red families and the landlords’ families were widened by the death of Mao, I was told by the school authorities not to attend the ceremony…” (138).

Despite the horrendous harm inflicted by Mao’s policies upon his family, Da Chen continues to harbor a mentality of unquestioned devotion to authority, whoever may hold such a position. His social upbringing has inculcated him with a mindset of never seeking to analyze Mao’s actions, for “he was wiser, no, the wisest.”

The submission of Da is Mao’s even beyond the grave, even though the physical control of the dictator over the lives of the Chinese people has already crumbled and been replaced with a more benign regime. The general Communist Chinese sociocultural milieu preaches that the people exist to serve the government and scorns the individualist philosophies of the Enlightenment.

Despite his striving for individual success and his recognition of the colossal obstacles placed in his way by Mao’s regime, Da cannot help but absorb this perception, almost subconsciously. There are numerous references to this: “I had been told…,” “I was to follow him…,” “I didn’t know any better,” “A cult mentality had already been forged in me…”

This is the consequence whenever an individual rejects the laws of objective reality in favor of the arbitrary edicts of other people. Because the laws of reality can be grasped by reason and authoritarian whims cannot, the individual’s rational sovereignty is discarded and he comes to worship that which possesses the greatest potential of harming him.

Simultaneously, this devotion to authority will never ingratiate the outcast individual with the elites of his society. Just as Da’s former record of academic excellence had failed to advance his prospects for a successful future, so does his reverence for Mao fail to convince the elites of his community to permit him to attend the funeral ceremony. The intent of authoritarianism is not to reward those who espouse love for it, but to punish invented “enemies” by deprivation or outright assault.

In Colors of the Mountain, Da Chen powerfully demonstrates that a cultic devotion to another human being, especially a powerful and brutal one, is always a self-defeating proposition. Dictators such as Mao are always thirsty for the blood of the innocent; the devotion of the latter will merely fuel the destroyers’ appetites.

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The Injustices of Collectivism in E. M. Forster’s “A Passage to India” (2003) – Essay by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Fiction, Justice, Philosophy, Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 29, 2014
******************************
Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2003 and published in three parts on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  The essay received over 2,500 views on Associated Content / Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  
***
~ G. Stolyarov II, July 29, 2014

**

The great Voltaire once wrote, “If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.” Indeed, an absurdity accountable for a gargantuan share of the brutal injustices inflicted upon people in all times and settings is the fallacy of collectivism.

How Collectivist Attitudes Harm the Best Individuals

 

E. M. Forster’s A Passage to India illustrates the inhibitive nature of collectivism to aspiring individuals. During the peak of Anglo-Indian sentiment against Aziz due to the false accusation of his assault on Miss Quested, the anger of the collectivist elite of Chandrapore shifts from direct indignation at Miss Quested’s violation to a vague but intense loathing of Indian natives in general. This further instills in Aziz’s accusers the perception that Aziz, a native of India, must be a tainted man because of his race.

Aziz’s friend Cyril Fielding must confront this sentiment in his attempts to ascertain the truth. “[Fielding] had not rallied to the banner of race. He was still after facts, though the herd had decided on emotion… Pity, wrath, heroism, filled then, but the power of putting two and two together was annihilated” (183).

Indeed, the irrationality of collectivist perception had caused Aziz’s accusers to spontaneously forget the man’s immense generosity and the extent of personal debt which he was willing to undergo to arrange the grandiose picnic on which he had invited Mrs. Moore and Miss Quested. Aziz’s intellect, personality, and companionship are ignored in favor of the stereotype of the dark-skinned “monster” with an “inherent affinity for fairer-skinned women” (as states a principal argument presented against him in court).

Yet not only Aziz is hindered by this stigma, but rather all Indians of an educated and intellectual background. Even the intelligent and philosophical District Superintendent McBryde is impelled by a collectivist mindset to state that “all unfortunate natives are criminals at heart, for the simple reason that they live south of latitude 30″ (184). McBryde, although not possessed by as intense a loathing for Aziz as others of his countrymen, nevertheless hesitates to grant Fielding the necessary access to the facts of the situation which held the potential of exonerating Aziz, including an interview with Miss Quested.

But by far the most grievous insult to the autonomy and dignity of intelligent Indian individuals is a general sentiment uttered to Mr. Turton in the Chandrapore British Club. “Any native who plays polo is all right. What you’ve got to stamp on is these educated classes, and, mind, I do know what I’m talking about this time” (205).

To the collectivist snob, a stereotypically designated inferior is of no inconvenience so long as he compliantly acknowledges his own inferiority. This is also witnessed in the caste system of India, where, so long as one performs his assigned “duty,” one’s subordinate status is not employed as a vehicle for one’s further plummet into the abyss of humiliation. To perform one’s own duty poorly is thought superior to performing another’s duty well. But those who pursue, through education and interaction with the educated, their own elevation and the improvement of their minds and lives are anathema to a collectivist establishment. They are, to the collectivist, anomalies. They violate his primitive generalizations concerning persons of a particular caste and race. Hence, they must be coercively pressed back down into the preconceived framework of institutionalized hierarchy.

Collectivism’s Destruction of a Friendship

 

Among the principal aspects of the collectivist mindset is the judging of an individual on the basis of his perceived membership in an often circumstantial and artificially constructed group: a race, nation, or class. While in reality there exist only unique individuals with their own personalities, aspirations, accomplishments, skills, and knowledge, the collectivist mindset disregards all that and instead seeks to portray each individual as just one member of some homogeneous “greater whole.”

Collectivism is profoundly antithetical to the formation and preservation of friendships, especially among individuals perceived by the collectivists as belonging to distinct “groups.”

In A Passage to India, collectivism’s destructive effect on friendships can be observed. Cyril Fielding and Dr. Aziz maintain a strong friendship prior to the unjust accusation and trial of Aziz for an assault he did not commit. But collectivism tears their friendship apart. Despite Fielding’s courageous stance in favor of Aziz during the latter’s trial, Aziz gradually drifts away from his friend due to the mutual antagonism present between the British and Indian camps, each orienting itself against the other based on a collectivist perception.

When Fielding returns to India after a sojourn in England and eagerly writes letters to his old friend, Aziz even refuses to read them and hopes that the incessant rains will derail Fielding’s arrival. Despite a momentary reconciliation, a statement in a subsequent conversation between Aziz and Fielding reveals the ethnic collectivism of Aziz that has torn a rift between their friendship: “We shall drive every blasted Englishman into the sea, and then… and then… we shall be friends.” (362)

This is a brazen confession that irrational lumping of Fielding in with the Chandrapore elite that had assailed Aziz in court, as well as Aziz’s general and unfounded loathing for Englishmen and Westerners per se (not merely the fact of the occupation), will indefinitely preclude him from connecting with Fielding as an individual, despite their mutual respect for each other’s personalities and Fielding’s dauntless prior attempts to defend Aziz for the sake of objective, non-collectivist justice. Aziz is compelled by his bigoted sociocultural milieu (the group of fanatics, who, after the trial, had nearly demolished Chandrapore’s hospital), as well as by his own tendency to submit to popular prejudices, to reject one of the most productive relationships in his life.

A Passage to India insightfully demonstrates that collectivism is not a mere one-sided phenomenon. In most “group conflicts,” extensive and bigoted collectivism is displayed on both sides — as was the case among many British and Indians in the novel. The best people are caught in the crossfire, forced to abandon cherished relationships as a result of others’ superstitions and violent hatreds.

Demonstrations of Collectivism’s Inherent Violence

 

Collectivist attitudes inevitably lead to violence, because collectivism openly flouts the possibility of rational discussion, civil interaction, and mutually-reinforcing friendships among people who are thought to belong to distinct “groups.”

A Passage to India demonstrates such acts of collectivist upheaval. Following Dr. Aziz’s trial, the jubilant crowd of natives celebrating his victory re-channels its sentiment from one of celebration to one of spiteful vengeance. The natives march on the city hospital and prepare to demolish it. “The new injury lashed the crowd to fury. It had been aimless hitherto, and had lacked a grievance. When they reached the Maidan and saw the sallow arcades of the Minto they shambled towards it howling. It was near midday. The earth and sky were insanely ugly, the spirit of evil again strode abroad” (262).

Only the emergence of the Nawab Bahadur’s grandson in a recovering condition quells the crowd’s fury. However, what is used as the pretext for the march is not its cause. The crowd seeks a means to lash back at “those bigoted Englishmen,” which, as the text indicates, would fulfill the aim that they are deliberately awaiting.

The mob desires to avenge Aziz’s disdainfully collectivist treatment at the hands of his accusers with an even more brute and savage variant of collectivism. Aziz’s exoneration and the delivery of justice do not in themselves satisfy the collectivist crowd. To the collectivist, antagonism with his rivals is irreconcilable, and each particular incident is merely a spark to light a heap of firewood gathered over an extensive period of time. Hence, the collectivist does not rest when genuine threats to his welfare are eliminated. He desires to partake in hostility, and a victory merely places him on the offensive. Hence, both in reality and in fiction that profoundly analyzes the human psyche, collectivism, criminality, and social tumult are inherently linked.

But A Passage to India also contains examples of courageous individuals who resist the collectivist temptation and, through their courage, prevent further acts of vicious and unjustified violence from occurring. Miss Adela Quested, for instance, defies the expectations of her community in order to proclaim Aziz’s innocence in court and thereby fully exonerate him, while Cyril Fielding plays an integral part in the orchestration of Aziz’s defense and the gathering of evidence that would dispel suppositions of Aziz’s guilt. Both Miss Quested and Fielding are able to see past the superficial categories of race and nationality and defend an individual for what he truly is, an innocent, upright, and virtuous human being.

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The History of Early Military Airplanes (2005) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: History, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 29, 2014
******************************
Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2005 and published on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  The essay received over 600 views on Associated Content / Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  
***
~ G. Stolyarov II, July 29, 2014

**

In 1900, the first Zeppelin airships made their successful flights in Germany, and, in 1903, the Wright Brothers designed the first airplane powered by an internal combustion engine. Not long after, the military advantages of aircraft became evident.

The first use of airplanes in combat occurred in 1911, when the Italian Army used a German monoplane to drop grenades on Turkish fortifications in Libya. In 1912, the Italians also initiated the practice of using Zeppelin airships as bombers. In November, 1912, the Vickers company in Britain equipped its “Experimental Fighting Biplane 1″ with a Vickers machine gun, thus creating the first fighter plane.

Despite these advancements, the value of aircraft was greatly underrated at the beginning of the First World War, when great powers such as France only had 140 functional aircraft, most of them serving only reconnaissance roles and not equipped with any weapons powerful enough to engage in air-to-air combat.

During the course of the war, this would change dramatically. By the end of the war, France had produced some 68,000 aircraft, 52,000 of which had been lost in battle, giving an indication as to the immense danger of early air combat and the pitiful life expectancy of early aircraft pilots.

During the war, the British began to field the first efficient bombers, the Handley-Page O/400 planes, which could carry 900 kilograms of explosives and fly at 156 kilometers per hour for as long as eight hours, rendering these planes immensely useful at bombarding strategic German positions and even cities far beyond the front lines.

The early air wars required immense dexterity, marksmanship, and luck on the part of the pilots, and expert pilots were prized by all sides. An “ace,” or someone who had downed five planes or more, was given immense honors and publicity, no matter what side he fought on, and names such as that of Manfred von Richthofen, the “Red Baron,” who had shot down 80 Allied planes during the war, achieved the status of legend.

Despite the extreme dangers of piloting aircraft, the task became seen as an extremely prestigious assignment by soldiers, especially given the “clean” nature of the fighting and the prospects of each night returning to comfortable accommodations near the airfields. Compared to the muck and mass carnage of trench warfare, as well as the expendability of individual ground troops, the daily lives of aircraft pilots were indeed far more pleasant, if only relatively so.

Sources:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWmachineguns.htm

http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi694.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWbertha.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bertha

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortar_%28weapon%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Gun

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howitzer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krupp

http://www.firstworldwar.com/atoz/bigbertha.htm

http://www.encyclopedia.com/html/K/Krupp.asp

http://www.fluxeuropa.com/war/evolution.htm

http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blgrenade.htm

http://va.essortment.com/handgrenadeh_rgor.htm

http://www.firstworldwar.com/airwar/summary.htm

http://www.firstworldwar.com/features/aces.htm

http://www.northstar.k12.ak.us/schools/ryn/projects/inventors/gatling/gatling.html

http://www.vickersmachinegun.org.uk/

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWbrowning.htm

http://www.firstworldwar.com/atoz/mgun_mg.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tank

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The History of Mortars, Hand Grenades, and Tanks During the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries (2005) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: History, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 29, 2014
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Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2005 and published on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  The essay received over 3,600 views on Associated Content / Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  
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~ G. Stolyarov II, July 29, 2014

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Innovations in weapons technology produced improved designs of mortars and hand grenades during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The tank emerged as a weapon during World War I and, from its modest beginnings, would emerge as a formidable force on the battlefield.

The Mortar

Though mortars, muzzle-loading cannons firing low-velocity projectiles at short ranges, had been used since the 15th century, early mortars were primitive, unwieldy (often too heavy to move), and fired at impractically slow rates.

The first portable mortars saw action in the American Civil War, especially in defense of Union railroad and supply lines. During World War I, the mortar’s size was further adjusted to enable a single individual to carry and operate it, thus leading to mass production, distribution, and use of these weapons. Due to their high angle of fire, mortars could often penetrate into narrow trenches close by, which artillery had no chance of hitting, thus being effective means of capturing enemy positions without sending infantry in costly head-on assaults.

Hand Grenades

Primitive hand grenades first saw use in the 15th century, but their employment largely ceased after 1750, as they were quite cumbersome to manage and damaged their users as often as their enemies. As the objectives of war became more closely identified with the infliction of mass casualties in close combat, the grenade was reintroduced and used on a large scale during the Russo-Japanese War and in World War I.

At first, the grenade’s safety record remained atrocious, as there was no mechanism to protect the thrower, and early grenades were even nicknamed “jam bombs,” as they were often constructed by soldiers on the front lines from tin cans formerly holding jam, which the soldiers then filled with stones and gunpowder and attached a fuse at the end. In 1915, the Englishman William Mills invented the Mills Bomb, the first grenade with a safety pin to protect the user. During World War I, the French also invented the “pineapple” design of the grenade largely prevalent today, while the Germans manufactured the “stick” grenade, elongated for more effective throwing.

The Tank

During World War I, the tank was not an optimally efficient weapon, due to the early tanks’ lack of firepower, armor, and maneuverability in the rough terrain of no man’s land. However, the basic concept of the tank was devised during that time and later improvements in tank equipment, speed, and armor would render trench warfare obsolete. The first tank, the Mark I, was developed by the British Army in 1915 and saw action in the Battle of the Somme on September 15, 1916. The first French tank, the Schneider CA1, was developed in 1917.

The British and French first used a mass combination of tanks in a successful attack during the Battle of Cambrai on November 20, 1917. Germans did not extensively pursue tank technology in World War I, but did design armor-piercing bullets that could demolish the flimsy metal coverings of early tanks. Early tanks also lacked the gun turrets typically associated with them and usually had several smaller guns embedded in their main body. Later Allied tanks were given a rhomboid shape and stronger armor to allow them to deflect or stop German bullets with greater ease. Tanks were part of an emerging new technological paradigm that transformed wars of stalemate and attrition to wars of maneuver, speed, and even greater mechanization during the mid-20th century.

Sources:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWmachineguns.htm

http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi694.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWbertha.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Bertha

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortar_%28weapon%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Gun

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howitzer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krupp

http://www.firstworldwar.com/atoz/bigbertha.htm

http://www.encyclopedia.com/html/K/Krupp.asp

http://www.fluxeuropa.com/war/evolution.htm

http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blgrenade.htm

http://va.essortment.com/handgrenadeh_rgor.htm

http://www.firstworldwar.com/airwar/summary.htm

http://www.firstworldwar.com/features/aces.htm

http://www.northstar.k12.ak.us/schools/ryn/projects/inventors/gatling/gatling.html

http://www.vickersmachinegun.org.uk/

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWbrowning.htm

http://www.firstworldwar.com/atoz/mgun_mg.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tank

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Ethical Arguments Against Abortion: The Cases of Rape and Life Endangerment (2004) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Justice, Philosophy, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 29, 2014
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Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2004 and published on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  The essay received over 29,000 views on Associated Content / Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  
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~ G. Stolyarov II, July 29, 2014

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This essay presents responses from a pro-life perspective to those who would try to justify abortion in general by using the case of rape and the case where the mother’s life is endangered. It offers arguments as to why abortion in the event of rape is morally illegitimate, while abortion where the mother’s life is endangered is acceptable, but does not justify any other kinds of abortion.

On the rape issue: One of the fundamental tenets of any individual-rights-regarding system concerning the use of retaliatory force is that it is to be used only against those directly responsible for the original initiation of force. The guilty party here is the rapist, not the fetus, and the law might legitimately grant its consent to punish the rapist (as rape is a most abominable crime), yet not an innocent child, even if the latter’s dependence on the mother were a direct outcome of the rape.

Let me present a parallel. Pretend that two mutually unfriendly people are neighbors living in the same apartment building in Britain during Hitler’s bombing raids in 1940. A bomb explodes upon the building so as to cause all possible exits to cave in while destroying the wall that separates the neighbors. They are, in effect, forced to share the same living space and work alongside each other in an attempt to tunnel themselves out despite (in this scenario) a mutual dislike.

Does this, then, justify one of the killing the other because of the inconvenience thereby caused, despite the fact that neither one of them had caused it, or would it not instead be justice to demand, upon reaching freedom, that the Nazi air marshal who had commanded the raid to occur be tried as a war criminal? (I know this is an immensely unlikely scenario, but so is rape, and both are possible. And the circumstances here are comparable to those of a pregnancy by rape.)

On the life-endangerment issue: No individual is obliged to sacrifice his/her life to save the life of another. Thus, when it can be medically proved that the life of the mother is in fact substantially endangered by a pregnancy (what constitutes “substantial endangerment” is a matter for medical science to define via conclusions drawn from empirical observation), then an abortion may be undertaken as a last resort.

But the only situation in which it is possible to advocate legal abortion and remain loyal to the principle of individual rights, and it is not a typical situation. Rather, it is an emergency, occurrences of which sort are addressed by Ayn Rand in the essay, “The Ethics of Emergencies,” in The Virtue of Selfishness.

Rand writes that emergencies are exceptions to the rule, and are not the normal state of human existence, or of ethical human relations. To say that some extreme action may be permissible in an emergency is not to extend that permissibility to the realm of normal human existence as addressed by the fundamentals of ethics.

So, simply because an abortion might be justified as a last resort in some very unusual circumstances, this does not at all justify the general legalization of abortion, especially given the fact that the majority of abortions occur simply because a woman had undertaken indiscriminate sexual relations and does not wish to incur the objective consequences of such acts: namely, pregnancy and the obligation to bring up a child.

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The Incompatibility of Individual Rights with the Coerced Institutionalization of the “Mentally Ill” (2002) – Article by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Justice, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
July 29, 2014
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Note from the Author: This essay was originally written in 2002 and published on Associated Content (subsequently, Yahoo! Voices) in 2007.  The essay received over 600 views on Associated Content / Yahoo! Voices, and I seek to preserve it as a valuable resource for readers, subsequent to the imminent closure of Yahoo! Voices. Therefore, this essay is being published directly on The Rational Argumentator for the first time.  
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~ G. Stolyarov II, July 29, 2014

**

The idea that “mentally ill” persons must be locked in institutions against their wishes is a profoundly authoritarian idea, opposed to the rights of the individual and the founding principles of the United States. Yet it is an idea held by many elites and members of the psychiatric establishment today.

Let us examine the following statement by a prominent contemporary psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Slovenko: “Crazy people are [now] everywhere. Modern notions of civil liberties and fiscal considerations have combined to produce a population of very disturbed people in every city in America. The notion of local treatment alternatives for mentally incapacitated citizens in a cruel hoax. It is clear that the vast majority of dangerously impaired people are out there in the streets.” (Dr. Ralph Slovenko, professor of law and psychiatry at Wayne State University. 2000. pp.47-48)

This man proclaims, without even any subtlety, that individual rights, the foundation of freedom and prosperity in this country, are a root of derangement within the country’s populace!

Slovenko seeks to deny citizens of the United States the ability to select treatment within their communities should they detect a genuine mental illness and volitionally attempt a recovery. Instead he suggests (as is the application of this particular argument) that persons designated as “insane” or “mentally ill” must be locked against their consent in government-owned institutions for treatment.

Civil liberties as well as concern of officials for proper spending of public funds (which does not encompass the imprisonment of persons who have not committed a crime) had resulted in widespread deinstitutionalization during the 1950s, but people like Dr. Slovenko have been clamoring for the reinstatement of asylums ever since.

In George Orwell’s 1984, the free spirits who resist the Party’s rule are arrested, imprisoned, and subsequently transferred to a facility subordinate to the Ministry of Love in which they undergo a combination of torture and “rehabilitation”, their will the resist broken under a hail of Party dogma. They are declared delusional since their frame of mind differs from that imposed by the social paradigm. Because they see the truth of a single reality and the need to interact with it, they are declared mentally ill and “treated”. Frighteningly enough, real people in our time like Dr. Slovenko also seek to coercively ensnare such “dangerous” persons.

Dr. Slovenko’s words in particular remind one of the major fear of Party officials in George Orwell’s 1984, the so-called “thoughtcrime”, by which concept a man’s freedom, not merely the freedom to do what he pleases but to think what he pleases, is forever deprived from him as a result of the contents of his mind not being in accordance with “socially acceptable” beliefs, i.e. those of the dominant oligarchy. Slovenko suggests precisely that, the containment of persons not for the criminal deed, but for “inclination” or deviation in outward behavior and thought that would brand them with the subjective label, “insane”.

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