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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Battle Hymn of the Objectivism


There seems no limit to how far Objectivist Republicans will go to take apart the federal government. Old Town Review makes brief mention of this attempt by Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum to outsource the National Weather Service . While they tend to write it off as just one more attempt of a loony politician to gain some attention, I believe it is just a symptom of the ongoing hi-jacking of the Republican Party by Objectivists.

Objectivism , for those who don’t know, is a philosophy created by writer Ayn Rand . Her body of work, including the masterpieces The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged were basically dedicated to one purpose – providing a moral imperative for capitalism. Her basic premise is that, as a private philosophy, on intense self-interest is a legitimate action. She set this out specifically in the treatise as The Virtue of Selfishness .

Objectivism is a simple philosophy – as simple as taking the most selfish action possible at every step of the way. However, everyone has the right to be a selfish bastard if they choose. The problem is that Objectivism is not satisfied with making a meaner world one person at a time. They want to make it a meaner world by overtaking the government.

That makes it a problem for all of us. Part of the “Conservative Revolution” was a uniting of several philosophies into a common political agenda. It was headed by true Conservatives like Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, but it also included a lot of Libertarians and Objectivists – like Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. As long as they were in the minority, the specific differences didn’t make a lot of difference. All three groups had an anti-New Deal attitude and agreed that dismantling the social safety net created by Democrats in the 1940s and 1950s.

The problem now is that they are in power. Republicans hold majorities in both Houses of Congress. They have held the White House for all but eight of the last twenty-five years. They have a majority of federal judges that agree with them. What united them for so long now divides them.

You can still see Conservatives arguing that the federal deficit is destroying the freedom of our children by obligating them to higher taxes for our spending. You hear Libertarians arguing that much of the Bush Administration is in direct opposition to the guiding principals of the US Constitution. And you hear the Objectivists applauding pretty much everything the Government is doing now.

Objectivism holds that the only legitimate function of government is to hold a monopoly on force. The monopoly of force is necessary in case of the masses rising up against the wealthy to rob them of their wealth. This is necessary because Objectivist society is based on pure capitalism – what I was taught as a child was called pure greed. Objectivists have moralized capitalism in a manner somewhat reminiscent of John Calvin’s idea that worldly wealth is evidence that God approves of what you are doing.

Of course, strict Objectivism is actually atheistic. The little twist of throwing God in the mix is a result of the constant pandering to the religious right. It’s a dangerous twist, though, because it legitimizes every underhanded capitalistic trick that can possibly be pulled as long as it increases the bottom line. It believes that the poor are poor simply because they are morally inferior – and holds this as self-evident because God would not allow a worthy person to be poor, or sick, or stuck in a war zone.

This is really what is behind the push to privatize Social Security – not that anyone will be better off, but that God will work through the stock market to choose who he wants to be better off. The rest simply don’t matter. This is what is really behind the push to minimize government – in every area except the use of force. This is why the Administration worked so hard to build a (false) case against Saddam Hussein – and why they are now trying to connect him to Oklahoma City and every other bad thing that happened in history – because Objectivism cannot justify pre-emptive war.

If I am wrong, then I am simply a misguided liberal trying to hold on to the social contract that was in place at my birth. If I am right, however, then every one of us has a lot to worry about. Objectivism views every attempt to even soften it around the corner as a moral attack on its basic premise. It views anyone who doesn’t go along with it as a heretic and an enemy.

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