There are currently 1 user and 32 guests online.
Is Edward Snowden a hero?
Hell yes! His actions were moral.
Hell no! Put him away for treason.
Yes and no. It's a grey area.
Other (please specify)
Total votes: 11
A Rousing Manifesto
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Mon, 2012-12-31 02:26
I've just finished my second read of Yaron Brook's and Don Watkins' Free Market Revolution—How Ayn Rand's Ideas Can End Big Government.
It could be called Capitalism the Unknown Ideal—The Sequel.
Not since that arresting collection of essays by Rand and her colleagues has the rationale for capitalism been stated so compactly, comprehensively and KASSly, with an ocean of empirical back-up—FMR is jam-packed with up-to-the-minute examples and anecdotes.
Those who feared the ARI were becoming blandified will be reassured by passages such as:
The authors offer their own suggestions as to how this separation might be judiciously effected, at the book's conclusion.
Above all, Brook and Watkins reiterate to the point of happy tedium that capitalism cannot be revived or enabled to endure without an uncompromising proclamation of its moral underpinning: the sovereign individual's right to pursue his own happiness as he sees fit. This in turn, they constantly remind us, requires a moral revolution. The profit motive, the relentless drive for "more" and "better," selfishness—all of these must be embraced proudly and boldly, in full knowledge of why it is right to embrace them.
"Stop letting the enemies of capitalism claim the moral high ground," they enjoin us. "There is nothing noble about altruism, nothing inspiring about the initiation of force, nothing moral about Big Government, nothing compassionate about sacrificing the individual to the collective. Don't be afraid to dismiss those ideas as vicious, unjust attacks on the pursuit of happiness, and self-confidently assert that there is no value higher than the individual's pursuit of his own well-being."
There's a problem here, of course, which the authors acknowledge without addressing. "Selfishness" has long been synonymous with general assholery, reservoir-poisoning, baby-eating, running over old ladies after stealing their life savings, Bernie Madoff, Adam Lanza, Adolf Hitler and the like. The sacrifice of others to self. Much more than Adam Smith, Ayn Rand—as this book eloquently explains anew—gave it a meaning which precludes and proscribes such activities, individuals and characteristics. She meant rational self-interest, of benevolent import, non-sacrificial, to be effected by rationality, productiveness, integrity, and so on. Given that only she and we use the term in this way, wouldn't it be advisable to devise a new one? Wouldn't that make our polemical task so much easier? Are we not otherwise condemned to have to reinvent the wheel with every new listener? (Yes, we know Rand's own cute response to that question, but that was fifty years ago and we're no further advanced!)
Ditto, altruism. Virtually everyone on the planet would read "there is nothing noble about altruism" as an attack on kindness and benevolence; "kindness and benevolence" is what the world thinks "altruism" means. It matters little any more that the man who coined the term meant something quite different, and malevolent: that our moral imperative is to live for others, to place their interests above our own, to sacrifice for them, as our default position. Again, wouldn't we lighten our load by simply using a different term?
I have suggested "selffulness" and "sacrifism" respectively. These may not be the best options, but continuing on with "selfishness" and "altruism" is, I submit, the worst.
There are other times when one would like to see the authors step outside the box. It's all very well to say, mantra-like, "no controls or regulations whatsoever," but surely it's possible to worry about such things as air pollution without being part of a communist or eco-nazi plot? Doesn't polluting the air represent an initiation of force? Isn't it government's job to act against the initiation of force? Some issues are tricky. Sometimes one wants to lure the authors from their plush, tranquil HQ and show them the real world.
In the real world, for instance, the Left are far more dangerous than conservatives. Brook and Watkins, however, are very much EODs—Equal Opportunity Denouncers, eager to be "fair" and even-handed in their denunciations of Left and Right alike. In practice this means a surfeit of odious quotes from conservatives (even Reagan gets clobbered) while President Obama is let off relatively lightly. This is irrational and myopic. Yes, both conservatives and the Left preach sacrifism, but the former are patriots who are merely confused; the latter are treasonists who are evil, through and through. Contrary to the fiction the ARI were touting a few years back, that socialism is dead, it is very much alive and on the rampage under the vile Obamarx. Of him and his sprawling, mindless groupies, no criticism can be too harsh or too frequent; nor does it need to be "balanced" by equal criticism of Dubya.
In the real world, the problem nowadays is both the preponderance of wrong ideas and the plethora of sub-humans incapable of grasping any ideas. As I've argued copiously elsewhere, America is now Airhead America, including (but not limited to—Mr Moeller please note!) what an astute comedian has called "the crappiest generation ever," armed, paradoxically, with the smartest technology ever. Admirable eulogies to the technology's creators like Steve Jobs, who is a recurring hero-figure in FMR, simply cause the crap's eyes to glaze over. It's all too abstract. The crap is conceptually crippled, cretinously stupid. The crap thinks "From each according to his ability to each according to his need" originates from the Founding Fathers, not Karl Marx. The crap is steeped in rap, and other facets of a culture that is far more depraved than the one that was so depraved Ayn Rand had to stop herself writing about it! And the crap has the vote.
How do the authors think we can prevail in the face of the crap and its culture? Reiterating the moral case for the free market on its own won't come close to cutting it. At a certain level, Brook and Watkins do seem to grasp this, and the killing enormity of the battle beyond mere economics. They say, right at the end, that they're prepared to put everything on the line for the cause of freedom, and hope that we are too. But what exactly do they think we should be prepared to do? (If they mean what I think they mean, I agree with them.)
In one welcome respect, Brook and Watkins have emerged from the cloister: unlike CUI, FMR quotes generously from luminaries who are not Objectivists and not Ludwig von Mises. Some conservatives are quoted approvingly! Thomas Sowell features aplenty; even Objectivist apostates Nathaniel Branden and George Reisman are quoted and footnoted respectively (confining a titan like Reisman to the footnotes is, of course, ludicrous, but for the ARI to acknowledge his existence is a step forward). The realization seems to have dawned, finally, that to be effective in the world, the ARI must be part of it, and not like a secular version of the Amish.
Such carpings aside, as a primer and refresher, Free Market Revolution is a stunner. Every freedom-fighter should have one. The ammunition is invaluable, the argumentation generally exemplary. If we are, somehow, to halt and reverse the barbarian advance, the part this book could play is hugely significant.
That's not thunder you're hearing, it's Ayn Rand applauding from her grave.
More SOLO Store
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand