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Eight Standout Essays of 2023

A selection of this year’s best philosophical and cultural commentary from New Ideal.

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A regular news consumer eager to learn more about our culture’s big ideas and trends will look in vain for deep insight from conventional commentators on today’s political controversies. But I am fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues who, unlike most commentators, are not satisfied with producing concrete-bound, soon-to-be-dated opinion, but who strive to produce real works of philosophical inquiry.

As 2023 closes, I want to highlight some of the essays published in New Ideal that I learned something new and insightful from this year, with the expectation that you may also gain something valuable from them.

Effective Altruism’s Faith-Based Sacrifice for the Future

In 2023, the “effective altruist” movement captured the headlines because of its connection to scandals surrounding Sam Bankman-Fried. But while most critics point to the movement’s alleged cynicism, narcissism, or excessive idealism, Ben Bayer argues that none of them takes seriously the real source of its irrational ideas: the morality of altruism itself.

Ayn Rand’s Devastating Critique of ‘Liberals’

Ayn Rand’s analysis of “liberalism” is an intellectual class in philosophical detection. Elan Journo explains how Rand’s critique differs from that of conservatives and fleshes out her argument about how and why the “liberals” of her day sought to conceal their true collectivist goals.

The Real Cause of Indoctrination in Schools

In the name of “parents’ rights,” many activists claim to fight against public schools’ ideological indoctrination of children by proposing to impose curricula and censor ideas themselves. But as Sam Weaver argues, this approach loses sight of and reinforces the deeper problem: as long as the public school system exists, it is impossible to satisfactorily resolve any conflict over what to teach.

Why Massimo Pigliucci Gets Ayn Rand Wrong

Aaron Smith defends Ayn Rand from the distorted, non-objective caricature made of her by philosopher Massimo Pigliucci. Following Smith’s point-by-point rebuttal, Pigliucci published a modified version of his article fixing some of its flaws.

European Appeasement Emboldened Putin’s Aggression

Putin’s Russia is a blatantly dictatorial and brutal regime, yet it has been able to fool the world by dressing up its aggression as victimhood. How can such an inversion occur? Ziemowit Gowin explores the decades-long history of European appeasement that, by concession after concession, gave Russia the undue moral legitimacy and strength that keeps it afloat today.

Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer and the Justified ‘Paranoia’ of Soviet Infiltration in the USA

Nolan’s 2023 blockbuster repeats the common portrayal of the anti-communist concerns of the 1940s and 1950s as motivated by hysteria, fear, and unreason. But Nikos Sotirakopoulos invites us to explore the underappreciated ways in which the Soviet regime infiltrated many crucial positions of American politics and in which many individuals involved in the communist movement enabled a murderous ideology.

The U.S. Immigration System vs. Workers

In this piece, Agustina Vergara Cid argues that the U.S. immigration system is designed to drive out and penalize hard-working, ambitious individuals. Drawing from her first-hand experience coming to America, she presents a vivid picture of the many obstacles and injustices imposed by the immigration system that set up working people for failure.

More University Donors Should ‘Go Galt’

The campus protests in support of Hamas have exposed the universities’ moral corruption, but the problem is wider than Penn and Harvard and deeper than antisemitism. As Onkar Ghate and Elan Journo argue in this essay, these protests reflect a century of anti-Enlightenment, anti-American egalitarian ideas in academia.

Image credits: Linaimages/Shutterstock.com, Bettmann via Getty Images, Salivanchuk Semen/Shutterstock.com, AtlasbyAtlas Studio/Shutterstock.com, Universal Pictures, Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock.com, lev radin/Shutterstock.com.

Massimo Pigliucci” by  Tim Deschaumes is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. Color image, rendered in black and white.


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Ricardo Pinto

Ricardo Pinto, BA in philosophy, is a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute.

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