Tuesday, July 21, 2009
I was too young to remember the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, but have seen the footage and read many accounts about that glorious event. Ayn Rand wrote what I regard as both the best account ("Apollo 11", which can be found in The Voice of Reason) and the the best cultural commentary, "Apollo and Dionysus," (which also appears in Return of the Primitive).
I highly recommend reading the latter if you'd like to understand why I found the below video almost perfectly fitting for this anniversary.
On one level, Buzz Aldrin giving this mealy-mouthed and dishonest provocateur (one Bart Sibrel) the only kind of answer his ilk will acknowledge is very funny.
But within a cultural context, I find it sad, and it makes me angry. Mankind is an accomplished race, and yet we are grounded on our home planet due largely to a failure to understand property rights and apply the principle to space exploration. Worse, this grounding will probably extend into the foreseeable future because our culture is so primitive that, for example, conspiracy theories like the one peddled by Sibrel flourish. You can't expect a groundswell of support for private property from a mostly irrational culture .
The second man to have stepped foot on the moon on that glorious day neither should have also been one of the last nor should he have to fend off such a small adversary.
Take a moment to celebrate the moon mission, but don't forget that it symbolizes how bright our future can be when men of reason are free to create and profit from the kind of creativity that makes such things possible.
In the important sense that the moon mission was a government effort, rather than a private one, it was botched. But man reached the moon anyway. Just imagine what we could do if we worked to make America even as free as it was forty years ago, and realize that there is no need to be satisfied with that -- with any vestige of government control of the economy.
Buzz Aldrin's fight is our fight, but winning it will take more than fists. It will require two much more powerful weapons: The right ideas and persuasion of those open to reason.
Today: Minor edits.