Skip to comments.Hey Randians, There’s More To Life Than Economics: Mike Lee is right, life is not an Ayn Rand novel
Posted on 12/25/2013 10:01:42 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet
In an address to the Heritage Foundation entitled Whats Next for Conservatives, Senator Mike Lee said, The conservative vision for America is not an Ayn Rand novel. Its a Norman Rockwell painting, or a Frank Capra movie: a nation of plain, ordinary kindness, and a little looking out for the other fellow, too. The comment, which received little attention when it was made back in October, harkens back to a traditional conservatism that stressed the importance of local institutions and relationships as a source of strength. As innocuous as that might seem to most conservatives, the mildly unfavorable comparison of Ayn Rand to anyone seems to be enough to send some of her devotees into a tizzy.
Enter Yaron Brook and Steve Simpson of the Ayn Rand Institute.
Taking to the pages of The Daily Caller to defend Rand from the Utah Senators statement, the two conclude that Mike Lees vision of America is no different than Barack Obamas. As evidence, they point to a speech Lee gave in November at a Heritage Foundation anti-poverty forum. The Senator said:
"First, lets be clear about one thing. The United States did not formally launch our War on Poverty in 1964, but in 1776: when we declared our independence, and the self-evident and equal rights of all men to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
Brook and Simpson responded to Lees assertion by sarcastically asking, American colonists fought the most powerful nation on earth as a precursor to a mid-20th century welfare program?
It would be obvious to all but the most obtuse readers that it was not Lees intention to compare the American Revolution to LBJs War on Poverty. To anyone who cared to read beyond the cherry picked excerpt Brook and Simpson provided, Lee explicitly says what he means a few sentences later:
"From our very Founding, we not only fought a war on poverty we were winning. The tools Americans relied on to overcome poverty were what became the twin pillars of American exceptionalism: our free enterprise economy and voluntary civil society."
Are the luminaries at the Ayn Rand Institute denying that free enterprise and voluntary association have been the most effective tools in reducing poverty? I suppose that makes them no better than Obama.
Its sad to see such knee jerk hostility to the idea that communal ties, beyond those that are the result of cold economic calculation, played an integral part of the success America enjoys. Its also not very conservative.
While the Randians rightfully hold individual achievement as the primary building block of prosperity, they seem to think that it occurs in a vacuum defined by the size and scope of government. Theyd have you believe that all the remarkable individuals of the world need in order to reach their potential is the absence of government.
But the truth is more complex than theyd lead you to believe. There are more conditions that contribute to the level of individual achievement in America than we can even begin to catalogue here. The social stability that provides the safe space in which the individual flourishes is not the result of abstract principles divined from a Rand novel. It is the result of millions of relationships, shared beliefs, and communal bonds or, as Edmund Burke famously put it, being attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society.
Norman Rockwells ability to capture the spirit of Burkes little platoons is what makes his work a more appropriate metaphor for what makes America great than anything Rand wrote. The idealized image of a family sitting around a Thanksgiving table says more about America in one image than Atlas Shrugged was able to say in 1,168 pages of dense text.
Yaron Brook and Steve Simpson would have you believe that attributing Americas success to strong communal bonds is a deviation from conservatism or the vision of the founders. To the contrary, denying them is the true deviation.
Of course it's all twaddle, designed to win arguments by sheer bluff rather than have to go through all that logic and hard debate work. There is no reason why current social trends in drug use, abortion, or sexual activity cannot be reversed, or even sheer off in some other direction. Sexual and social mores have oscillated from one extreme to another for centuries, as even a cursory examination of history will illustrate. All it requires is for people to think differently on these matters, and that is what we are in politics for. Just because the other side claims that they will prevail doesnt mean that they will, unless of course by shouting that so loud they shut us up.
In other words, FRiend...do not despair! The world may not bend to your wishes often, but it doesn't bend to theirs either.
She was against the view that held that those in need had a right (welfare system) to your life and goods.
Sadly, many so-called 'Conservatives' think that the welfare state is just fine even though it is based on implicit force.
It is immoral.
The abundance pictured in that picture came from the Capitalist system, which allows freedom of association and private property.
The Puritans almost starved to death because they tried socialism before they tried private property rights.
Take away capitalism and you have each man fighting for the scraps that the Government throws our way.
Those in government today who call themselves conservatives seem very unconcerned with defending private property, but are more concerned with making the welfare state work more efficiently.
Lee’s initial remarks are easily misinterpretable by honest people. All that was needed was the clarification given. The rest is picking a fight with people that we don’t need to have.
Well said. That was exactly my immediate reaction when reading the article.
A fight we don’t need.
Mike Lee is a good guy. A good Senator. We need more like him.
Although we are free men and surely able to pick the company that we keep, I think that there are many issues where Conservatism and Libertarians agree.
Both want smaller government.
Both believe in the Constitution.
Liberals hate both groups.
Sometimes when you are in a foxhole, it’s better to have someone on your side who disagrees with you on minor issues but agrees that you have a right to your opinion.
How different things would be if the two parties in Congress were the Libertarians and the Teaparty.
Yep. "Now that I've got mine screw you."
Russell Kirk dismissed libertarians as “chirping sectaries” adding that they and conservatives have nothing in common...
What tripe. "Randians" only "seem" to think that to this writer. It is either intentional misinterpretation or outright ignorance of Rand's philosophy. Probably the latter.
Believe as you like but your hopes are a totally lost cause in this culture. Nothing short of a complete collapse will turn the page back. The ‘50’s are not coming back.
I dont want the 50’s to come back. I want my culture to be alive, vibrant and prosperous in the 2020’s. Do you not think the future is worth fighting for?
Yes I do but wholesale change will take massive death. The people who have poisoned our culture are not open to persuasion; They already know they are indisputably right. They have to die out and, via their beloved abortion rights, leave no progeny similarly poisoned by their ideas.
I don’t see it happening soon or completely.
This is why families are so important. They are the ones who need to look out for each other, and not be reliant on those outside of the extended family.
But the traditional family structure has been destroyed, through disastrous government policy, and liberal propaganda. I believe this was done intentionally, so as to further increase the power of the government.
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