SUMMARY / RELATED TOPICS

Objectivism and libertarianism

Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism has been and continues to be a major influence on the right-libertarian movement libertarianism in the United States. Many right-libertarians justify their political views using aspects of Objectivism. However, the views of Rand and her philosophy among prominent right-libertarians are mixed and many Objectivists are hostile to libertarians in general; some right-libertarians, including Murray Rothbard and Walter Block, hold the view that the non-aggression principle is an irreducible concept: it is not the logical result of any given ethical philosophy, but rather is self-evident as any other axiom is. Rand argued that liberty was a precondition of virtuous conduct, but that her non-aggression principle itself derived from a complex set of previous knowledge and values. For this reason, Objectivists refer to the non-aggression principle as such while libertarians who agree with Rothbard's argument call it "the non-aggression axiom". Rothbard and other anarcho-capitalists hold that government requires non-voluntary taxation to function and that in all known historical cases, the state was established by force rather than social contract.

Thus, they consider the establishment and maintenance of the night-watchman state supported by Objectivists to be in violation of the non-aggression principle. On the other hand, Rand believed. Voluntary financing notwithstanding, some libertarians consider that a government would by definition still violate individual rights by enforcing a monopoly over a given territory. In her biography Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, Jennifer Burns notes how Rand's position that "Native Americans were savages" and that as a result "European colonists had a right to seize their land because native tribes did not recognize individual rights" was one of the views that "particularly outraged libertarians". Burns notes how Rand's position that "Palestinians had no rights and that it was moral to support Israel, the sole outpost of civilization in a region ruled by barbarism" was a controversial position amongst libertarians, who at the time were a large portion of Rand's fan base. Libertarians and Objectivists disagree about matters of foreign policy.

Rand's rejection of what she deemed to be "primitivism" extended to the Middle East peace process in the 1970s. Following the Arab-Israeli War of 1973, Rand denounced Arabs as "primitive" and "one of the least developed cultures" who "are nomads". Rand contended Arab resentment for Israel was a result of the Jewish state being "the sole beachhead of modern science and civilization on their continent" while decreeing that "when you have civilized men fighting savages, you support the civilized men, no matter who they are". Most scholars of the right-libertarian Cato Institute have opposed military intervention against Iran while the Objectivist Ayn Rand Institute has supported forceful intervention in Iran. United States Libertarian Party's first candidate for President John Hospers credited Rand as a major force in shaping his own political beliefs. David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, an American libertarian think tank, described Rand's work as "squarely within the libertarian tradition" and that some libertarians are put off by "the starkness of her presentation and by her cult following".

Milton Friedman described Rand as "an utterly intolerant and dogmatic person who did a great deal of good". One Rand biographer quoted Murray Rothbard as saying that he was "in agreement with all philosophy" and that it was Rand who had "convinced him of the theory of natural rights". Rothbard would become a harsh critic of Rand, writing in The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult: The major lesson of the history of the movement to libertarians is that It Can Happen Here, that libertarians, despite explicit devotion to reason and individuality, are not exempt from the mystical and totalitarian cultism that pervades other ideological as well as religious movements. Libertarians, once bitten by the virus, may now prove immune; some Objectivists have argued that Objectivism is not limited to Rand's own positions on philosophical issues and are willing to work with and identify with the libertarian movement. This stance is most identified with David Kelley, Chris Sciabarra, Barbara Branden and others.

Kelley's Atlas Society has focused on building a closer relationship between "open Objectivists" and the libertarian movement. Rand condemned libertarianism as being a greater threat to freedom and capitalism than both modern liberalism and conservatism. Rand regarded Objectivism as an integrated philosophical system. In contrast, libertarianism is a political philosophy which confines its attention to matters of public policy. For example, Objectivism argues positions in metaphysics and ethics whereas libertarianism does not address such questions. Rand believed that political advocacy could not succeed without addressing what she saw as its methodological prerequisites. Rand rejected any affiliation with the libertarian movement and many other Objectivists have done so as well. Of libertarians, Rand said: They're not defenders of capitalism. They're a group of publicity seekers. Most of them are my enemies. I've read nothing by Libertarians -- i.e.. The teeth pulled out of them—with no credit given.

In a 1981 interview, Rand described libertarians as "a monstrous, disgusting bunch of people" wh

Tharwa Foundation

The Tharwa Foundation is a nonprofit, nonpartisan grassroots organization that encourages diversity and democracy in Syria and the broader Middle East/North Africa. The Foundation derives its name from tharwa. Founded in 2003, the Tharwa Foundation is an offshoot of the Tharwa Project, an initiative launched in Damascus Syria by Ammar Abdulhamid and Khawla Yusuf. Abdulhamid is human rights activist and author. Yusuf is an author and human rights activist; the Tharwa Foundation released its manifesto in early 2007. As of May 2008, it has been signed by 100 nonviolent human rights activists in the region; the Tharwa Foundation was established to provide a supportive environment for democratic principles and practices in the broader Middle East and North Africa region. Through programs that encourage inter-communal dialogue and leadership development, Tharwa uses a range of educational and outreach strategies to enable people of different religious and ethnic backgrounds to come together to discuss peaceful solutions to the region's longstanding socio-political and development challenges.

Since its inception, Tharwa has been guided by a vision for the region’s future, based upon: The emergence of an open and self-empowering commonwealth of nations in the broader Middle East and North Africa region, where traditional communal identifications – ethnic and linguistic – are sources of the region's wealth and prosperity, rather than its division and decline Increased political awareness and issue-based, grassroots mobilization among disenfranchised groups in the region A growing role for local and supranational non-state actors and institutions, forming the basis of vibrant civil societies where diversity is respected and celebrated Democratic governments that respond to the demands and needs of their citizens and address the basic developmental challenges of their countries and their growing problems of economic stagnation, political alienation and extremism Respect for the rights of all persons residing in the region, in accordance with the principles outlined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international conventions on human rights.

The Tharwa Foundation was established to continue the work of the Tharwa Project, an independent initiative launched in Syria in 2001 by activist and dissident Ammar Abdulhamid to spotlight the living conditions of religious and ethnic minorities and foster constructive dialogue between majority and minority communities in the broader Middle East and North Africa region, in the hope of enabling the creation of new bridges of inter-communal trust and understanding, facilitating the ongoing processes of democratization and modernization and helping to stem the rising tide of extremist ideologies. With a small paid staff, a larger network of regular contributing reporters, Tharwa developed communication tools to enable inter-communal dialogue in the MENA region. Utilizing an interactive website, online publications, a number of regional and international advisors and partnering institutions, such as BitterLemons, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, Pax Christi Nederland, Heinrich Boell Stiftung, openDemocracy.net, Tharwa fostered new avenues for communications and grassroots activism in the region.

However, as the Project continued to produce reports on the sensitive issues of minority rights and political reform, it attracted increased scrutiny from the government in Syria, impairing its ability to operate there. Abdulhamid, himself a vocal critic of the Syrian government, was asked to leave the country, he returned to the United States on 7 September 2005. Despite these setbacks for the Project, the Tharwa team continues to operate in Syria and the broader MENA region, the number of its members, supporting partners and regular contributors is on the rise; the Tharwa Foundation established its headquarters in the Washington, DC, area in December 2006. The Foundation sponsors a number of activities in the region such as the Tharwa Institute for Democratic Leadership, launched in 2007 to help train a new generation of young democracy activists. Tharwa's multimedia reports and publications are now hosted online at the Tharwa Foundation website; the US office now administers and coordinates Tharwa's programs and activities, hopes to expand the scope of these activities over the coming years to enable the emergence of a new, diverse class of democratic leaders, empowered to represent the true aspirations of the people of the broader MENA region.

Tharwa's manifesto reads as follows: The Tharwa Commonwealth referred to as the Middle East, the Greater Middle East, the Muslim World among other inaccurate appellations, suffers from many intrinsic problems that have pushed its states to the brink of social and political implosion. We believe that the Tharwa Commonwealth belongs to all its peoples, regardless of their ethnicity, religious background and social status. We believe that our strength in the Commonwealth lies in our diversity and in finding suitable ways to improve and strengthen communal interrelations, suitable accommodations for the needs and aspirations of the various constituent communities in our midst. We believe in the rule of law, in the equality of all under the law, in responsible, democratic governance. We believe in the freedom of all people to personal and artistic expression. We believe education are the keys to empowerment. We believe in the right of civil society leaders to take an active part in shaping the future of the Commonwealth.

We believe that we are entitled to a fairer share in the global decision-making process and that the most