Archive for April, 2011

SAT May 21 - Rude Democracy in America

WHEN:
SATURDAY, May 21, 2011 7:00 to 7:30 PM Arrival Time

TOPIC:
Book “Rude Democracy: Civility and Incivility in American Politics”

by Susan Herbst

LEADER:
Jackie Hazelton

DESCRIPTION:
Discussion will focus on the lead article in The Phi Beta Kappa Society, The Key Reporter magazine Spring 2011, “Rude Democracy in America-Can We Overcome It”.

You can read the article at http://www.pbk.org/home/FocusNews.aspx?id=685
eading the book is the best preparation.

In particular, we will discuss Susan Herbst’s observations and routes to solutions, included below, from an Objectivist perspective.

1. Create a Culture of Listening.  We have all focused, rightly, on “sins of commission”:  what is said by pundits and leaders that seems entirely out of line. But we typically fail to note “sins of omission”:  what we fail to do, and what we forget to do, as leaders and citizens. One of the things we seem unable to do is to listen, and truly open ourselves up, with the patience it takes to process information.  Everyone wants to talk at once and be heard! Their blog, their post, their soundbite. In this cacophony there is no reward for silence, and seemingly no benefit. We have some ground-breaking projects to be sure — StoryCorps on NPR being the premier example — focused on getting Americans to slow down and listen. But beyond these few brave contributions, listening seems to be a lost art, and one that needs immediate resurrection.

2. Advocate for Rules of Evidence.  The single most problematic aspect of the internet, and our ability to be heard without gatekeepers, is the lack of argumentation rules. It seems that anyone can say anything, and have that picked up and repeated over and over, without critical oversight. I suppose our founders would lean on the populace: Educated people can separate the wheat from the chaff. That is easier said than done, however, because it has become very difficult to separate the two in a flood of information, or have the time to try. I keep hoping that one of our leading news organizations or pundits will call for a summit: How can broadcast professionals come together and agree on standards, to define what constitutes evidence? So many professional organizations do this, daily. Why can’t our media, who should be public servants while making their profits, locate their professional standard and moral center?

3. The Answer is in P-16 Education.  In many ways, the generations of citizens older than 25 have lost their way, with regard to political talk. Perhaps we can change, but it is far more likely that the high school and college students of today will navigate the new waters and develop the sort of discourse that might make America seem the humane, lively democracy envisioned so long ago. We cannot rely on standard, even if excellent, civics courses or Introduction to Political Science. We need to teach young people how to argue with vigor, intelligence and panache. We must train an educated populace, as always, but just as important, we need to create a culture of argument. And we need to do this on a mass scale thorough our public and private schools. If we cannot teach our children how to reason and articulate their ideas, they will find themselves in the same dysfunctional bind their parents live in.

4. We Need Courage.  It feels old-fashioned to write, and you likely find it ridiculously 19th century to read, but being a citizen in a democracy has always demanded a sort of courage that few of us ever come to know.  Soldiers know it, and they prove it daily in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the rest of us don’t call on any sort of internal cognitive or emotional strength when it comes to politics. We want it to be easy, which is why social scientists find that most people hang out with those who share their beliefs. Few people argue or seek others who might disagree.  Somehow, we think that democracy itself — rule by the people — would just involve occasional voting, when it always called for much more. Democratic theorists have written about this in so many ways, over hundreds of years now: Self-rule is impossible without the bravery it takes to express opinions and do so civilly. The abilities to argue, to listen and create the nation together, are both foundational and non-negotiable.

WHERE:
Jackie & Lyman Hazelton’s Home
480-921-1156
Use http://www.mapquest.com/

to get directions from your location.

QUESTIONS:
Jackie Hazelton
(c) 480-516-3281 (h) 480-921-1156
(e) AZObjectivists_at_cox_dot_net

RSVP:
Reply to this message to AZObjectivists_at_cox_dot_net or
Call Jackie Hazelton at 480-921-1156

BRING:
Snacks or beverage to share or a monetary donation.

TUES May 3 - Explore Atlas Shrugged Session 16

WHEN:
TUESDAY, May 3, 2011 7:00 to 7:30 PM Arrival Time

TOPIC:
Explore Atlas Shrugged Session 16
Podcasts and  discussion questions on Ayn Rand’s epic novel Atlas Shrugged
We will discuss the questions.

READINGS:
Atlas Shrugged, Part 3, Chapters 5B-6
Part 3, Chapter 5: Their Brothers’ Keepers (Sections 3-4)
Part 3, Chapter 6: The Concerto of Deliverance
Or:
Pages 936-999 in the larger Hardcover or Softcover
Pages 869-927 in the smaller Mass Market Paperback

AUTHOR:
http://www.exploreaynrand.com/1957/
These discussion questions and podcast were prepared by Diana Hsieh for
ExploreAtlasShrugged.com for people interested in creating their own Atlas
Shrugged Reading Groups, as well as for anyone wishing to study the novel in
more depth. They may be freely used for the study and discussion of Atlas
Shrugged, provided that this paragraph remains intact in any reproduction.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
The listed page numbers are for the larger edition, softcover or hardback.
Part 3, Chapter 5: Their Brothers’ Keepers
Section 3 (936-943)
- How is the economy disintegrating faster than ever? How do Dagny’s concerns differ from those in power? (936-9)
- What happens in Minnesota with the harvest? Why does it happen? What will its effects be? (939-43)

Section 4 (943-962)
- Why does Dagny attend the meeting with the looters? Why does she think she was invited? How was she wrong? What does she learn about their actual goals and methods? (944-8)
- What is Dagny’s response to the breakdown of the signal system in the Taggart Terminal? Why is that important? What is her response to the discovery of John Galt among the workers? (949-955)
- What is the motive and meaning of John Galt’s and Dagny’s sexual encounter? What might its consequences be? (955-62)
- What is Galt’s view of Dagny’s affair with Hank Rearden? Why does Galt have that view of it? Why did Galt envy Rearden for that brief moment on seeing him, but only just that brief moment? (958-960)
- Why doesn’t Dagny want Galt to repair the signal system in the terminal? Why is she still willing to work for the looters? (961-2)

Whole Chapter
- What is the significance of the title of this chapter?

Part 3, Chapter 6: The Concerto of Deliverance
Section 1 (963-999)
- What is Hank Rearden’s attitude toward Rearden Steel now? Why is that significant? (962-6)
- What does Hank Rearden’s family say to him during their meeting? What do they want from him? What does he learn from that conversation? (968-76)
- How and why does Hank Rearden’s mother ask him for forgiveness? Why does he refuse? Under what conditions would he have accepted? (970-76)
- What does Hank Rearden come to understand about his relationship with Lillian, including why she chose him? What does she reveal about her motives and values? Why is Hank indifferent to her? What does that do to her — and why? (974-6)
- What is the purpose of the Steel Unification Plan? What are the looters counting on? What does Hank Rearden understand about these kinds of schemes from his meeting with the looters? (980-7)
- What are the three tumblers that come into place for Rearden during this meeting with the looters? What are the looters counting on? (985-6)
- How has Rearden’s attitude toward his mills changed as he drives back toward them? How will that enable him to go on strike? (988)
- What has the Wet Nurse has done to save the mills? What is so significant about that — and about his death? What has he learned from Rearden? Why does Rearden respond as he does — with tenderness toward the Wet Nurse and anger toward his teachers? (989-95)
- What has made Hank ready to hear what Francisco had to say, in a way that he wasn’t before? What took Hank so long? (998-9)

Whole Chapter
- What is the significance of the title of this chapter?

WHERE:
Jackie & Lyman Hazelton’s Home
480-516-3281
Use http://www.mapquest.com/ to get directions from your location.

QUESTIONS:
Jackie Hazelton
(c) 480-516-3281 (h) 480-921-1156
(e) AZObjectivists_at_cox_dot_net

RSVP:
Reply to this message to AZObjectivists_at_cox_dot_net or
Call Jackie Hazelton at 480-516-3281

BRING:
Snacks or beverage to share or a monetary donation.

SAT Apr 16 - Gladstein on Atlas Shrugged

WHEN:
SATURDAY, April 16, 2011 7:00 to 7:30 PM Arrival Time

TOPIC:
Atlas Shrugged and Its Many Manifestations
Video of a talk given by Dr. Mimi Gladstein at the 2009 Free Minds Conference

LEADER:
Jackie Hazelton

DESCRIPTION:

Mimi Reisel Gladstein is the author of “Atlas Shrugged: Manifesto of the Mind”.  She also co-edited, with Chris Matthew Sciabarra, “Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand.”  Dr. Gladstein is a professor of English and Theater Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso.  In this talk, Dr. Gladstein discusses aspects of Atlas Shrugged that you may not have considered.  To learn more about Dr. Gladstein go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimi_Reisel_Gladstein.

WHERE:
Jackie & Lyman Hazelton’s Home
480-921-1156
Use http://www.mapquest.com/

to get directions from your location.

QUESTIONS:
Jackie Hazelton
(c) 480-516-3281 (h) 480-921-1156
(e) AZObjectivists_at_cox_dot_net

RSVP:
Reply to this message to AZObjectivists_at_cox_dot_net or
Call Jackie Hazelton at 480-921-1156

BRING:
Snacks or beverage to share or a monetary donation.