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.
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.
Ironically, you just demonstrated while its foolish to tout her snoozefests as ideal for promoting the "free market"
That said, the irony of your gratuitously mean-spirited remark is that it re-enforces my position: you are picking a fight with people that you don't need to pick, and indeed, cannot afford to pick.
If you think the country is so much on your side that you can alienate a single ally, you better get used to talking about Harry Reid as Majority leader until 2020, and President Hillary for eight years starting in 2016.
Let me be as clear as I can possibly be.
I am a Conservative. I don’t want Libertarians as an ally, as an political partner, or most likely as a friend.
We do not share the same values and pretending there is anything in common with our philosophies is pure bull..
Libertarians are Liberals at heart...
Ronald Reagan certainly thought so. The less the better at any rate.
Objectivists (Randians) are not Libertarians.
Mike... Lee is... a great... American!
Conservatives can’t even nominate a candidate in the supposedly conservative party. Enjoy the end of the country.
This is where the real attack on Rand is occuring.
Rand was never against charity, she was against 'looking out for the other fellow' being forced on everyone through government force.
Don’t bother. He thinks he’s going to win elections with 27% of the electorate.
Oh please. This article is absurd.
>> We do not share the same values and pretending there is anything in common with our philosophies is pure bull..
Then you’re not a Conservative.
Mike Lee ~ “It takes a village.”
Would you rather live in a country where abortion is legal, 10% of the population uses marijuana, people engage in all kinds of bizarre sexual behavior and the government seeks to control every aspect of your lives backed by 17 trillion in Chinese debt or live in a country where abortion is legal, 10% of the population uses marijuana, people engage in all kinds of bizarre sexual behavior and the government largely leaves you alone and runs on a small balanced budget?
If you honestly believe you can, at this point eliminate abortion, either legal or illegal and eliminate drug use, legal or illegal and eliminate non-heterosexual behavior, legal or illegal, you have formed your opinion in lieu of the obvious experience of the last forty years.
I wish no one used drugs, killed babies or missed the joys of traditional marriage but the world does not bend to my wishes often.
If you don’t want libertarians as allies you’ve just joined the Whig party. Reagan felt that the heart and soul of conservatism was libertarianism. If I have to pick you or Reagan to trust, you lose.
2DV troll alert. December 12???
If you actually read Rand, you know that none of her heroes succeeded on their own, they succeeded through voluntary cooperation with others.
The strength of a society is in its voluntary associations.
For sure Rand was against ‘looking out for the other fellow’ being forced on everyone’, but really she didnt have much time for voluntary charity either. She might have thought it should be allowed, but she quite clearly also thought it an utterly stupid thing to do.
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