Monday, July 05, 2010
Happy (Belated) Independence Day!
John Adams wouldn't have it any other way.
Amit Ghate, in a Pajamas Media piece, notes that a consequence of socialism is a society-wide cacophony of kibitzing:
Socialism's failings are well known. Yet the New York Times regularly advocates policies which lead to it, most recently with its unabashed support for socialized medicine. As a result, we'll all soon be playing backseat drivers to doctors -- debating whether their professional decisions are appropriate or, in the Times' words, "a squandering of taxpayer's" funds. It's a disaster in the making.This is the flip side to the equally ludicrous notion that every voter needs to be an expert on everything. Omniscience is impossible, and pretending we can act on it will fail.
Of course, some government officials see that voters aren't omniscient and, rather than distinguishing themselves by questioning statism, use this as an excuse to assert themselves as cognitive authorities, and hold themselves above public scrutiny.
Objectivism as Self-Discovery
As with Friday, I have encountered another excellent post from about a month ago.
Roderick Fitts writes a lengthy debunking of Nathaniel Branden's absurd charge that Objectivism as such is dangerous. The piece is solid from beginning to end, but what I enjoyed most about it is what it has to say, positively, about Objectivism.
[Branden] accuses the characters of repressing emotions and "self-disowning," but [Rand's] novels present the most difficult journeys of self-discoveries, of soul-searching, that I've ever read, and I'm sure that I'm not alone in this sentiment. The entire plot of The Fountainhead is based on Roark's uncertainty about a difference between himself and certain kinds of other people, resulting in his discovery of "second-handers," thus learning more about himself and the independent mind as a result. The plot-theme of Atlas Shrugged culminated in the entire world being faced with the need to discover the power of their own minds, to discover their rational selves--if humanity was to survive. In The Fountainhead, Roark only lets his pain and suffering go down "to a certain point," but that didn't mean that he repressed even his negative emotions, such as his pity for Peter Keating. (It should be remembered that he felt bad for the pity he felt, that Peter's life had come to what it did, and that he had to evaluate him accordingly.) Perhaps the characters didn't feel the emotions Branden wanted them to, or when he wanted them to, or to the extent that he wanted, but it's absurd to claim that they were "dis-owning" themselves, or trying to block out certain aspects of themselves, something which can be attributed to the villains of the novels. If Roark had been a repressor, for instance, he wouldn't have done any of a number of things, such as pursuing his strong feelings for a career in architecture; maintaining hope even when his mentor died or when he had to find work elsewhere to survive; staying in love with Dominique, even when she had married Keating; or staying friends with Gail Wynand even after realizing how corrupt the man truly was (or possibly leaving Wynand after the climax's court case). All of these actions (and many more) flowed from a person in tune and at peace with himself, not a person conflicted with blocks and with a hidden "true self."That's just the tip of the iceberg, too. Fitts makes constructive points throughout his argument. For another example, his discussion of the phrase, "moral breach" is thought-provoking. Take some time out to read the whole thing. Yes, you will find yourself better able to address unjust smears of Objectivism after doing so, but more important, you'll gain a better appreciation for Ayn Rand as a thinker.
Inspiration from the Founding Fathers
Via Paul Hsieh: "Motivational Posters: Founding Fathers Edition"! Following a link from there, I also found two similar collections of posters based on quotations of Winston Churchill. My favorite of these comes from the first set: "If you are going through hell, keep going."