Welcome to the Summer 2024 issue of The Objective Standard.

I hope to see you at LevelUp 2024, hosted by Objective Standard Institute in Atlanta, June 19–22. With talks on building a flourishing life, developing a happiness plan, defending freedom, getting maximum enjoyment from your romantic life, and much more, this will surely be a life-changing event. Register before the end of May to take advantage of 30 percent savings.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is witnessing other developing writers level up. This issue’s cover article—“Thomas Paine: Defender of the Rights of Man”—is a fascinating study of an important historical figure by a writer I’ve seen make massive strides over the past several years: Thomas Walker-Werth. Here, he discusses Paine’s vital role in the American Revolution, his powerful defense of reason, and the ways his ideas are often twisted by today’s advocates of welfare statism. If all you know about Paine is that he wrote Common Sense, you’re missing out big-time. Dive into Paine’s life and ideas, learn about the many interesting intersections between his story and that of other American founders, and enjoy a hero’s tale often neglected in today’s schools.

Next up, Thomas’s better half (are you still allowed to say that?), Angelica Walker-Werth, shines a light on key aspects of healthy romantic relationships via the love lives of several characters in Ayn Rand’s magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged. “By examining a few of the most important relationships in the book,” she writes, “we can better understand how sacrifice is incompatible with love, and how a totally different approach paves the way for strong, loving relationships.” Learn about this approach in “Love in Atlas Shrugged,” and start improving your love life today. (By the way, Angelica and Thomas will be discussing “Love as Trade: What’s in It for You—and Me?” at LevelUp 2024.)

Saul Zimet then weighs in on one of the most prominent recent legal battles in “Disney versus DeSantis and the Fairy Tale of Conservatives Defending Freedom.” Zimet shows why, even if the company’s positions on certain issues are ill-founded, its conservative critics are entirely wrong to undermine its political freedom, as they have done. The common conservative justification of DeSantis’s crusade against Disney—that he is upholding free-market principles—is pure fiction.

Of course, the destructive impacts of today’s conservative statists are in many ways outdone by their “Progressive” counterparts. In “The Biden Administration’s Demon-Haunted World,” Elizabeth Weiss exposes that administration’s effective destruction of the barrier between church and state. “[O]n the basis of an unholy alliance of ‘white guilt,’ virtue signaling, and political correctness, Biden has mandated that ‘indigenous knowledge’—meaning, the religious beliefs of Native American tribes—be treated as objective and scientific, and that it be used to set policies for such agencies as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).” Weiss, a professor of anthropology at San José State University, reveals how the administration’s “epistemological egalitarianism” is destroying scientific research, infecting K–12 science classes, and even threatening NASA’s Moon missions.

Such mystical nonsense was always in the crosshairs of the greatest orator of the post–Civil War era, Robert Ingersoll. “Suppose the church had had absolute control of the human mind at any time, would not the words liberty and progress have been blotted from human speech?,” he asked. “How fortunate it is for us all that it is somewhat unnatural for a human being to obey. Universal obedience is universal stagnation; disobedience is one of the conditions of progress.” His speech “Individuality” is a moving ode to those who throw off the shackles of dogma and popular opinion and push the world further by thinking for themselves and acting with integrity to the truths that they uncover. In a world increasingly engulfed by the collectivism and irrationalism of identity politics, his message is more needed than ever, and we relish the opportunity to reprint it here. Enjoy, and share it far and wide.

Rounding out our features, Thomas Walker-Werth interviews Ivan Ko, a Hong Kong real-estate developer who fled after the Chinese government imposed the ominous, rights-violating national security law. Ko is seeking to build a New Hong in northern England—not a mere cultural enclave but a thriving industrial hub, just as that tiny almost resourceless “pearl of the Orient” became under substantially rights-protecting British governance.

The reviews in this issue are:

Last, I provide some updates on what’s been happening in the world of music—bad and good:

Enjoy the issue, and I hope to see you at LevelUp!

Welcome to the Summer 2024 issue of The Objective Standard, featuring articles by @tomwalker22, @AngelicaWerth, @SaulZimet, and more.
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