What Is to Be Done?

Ed Hudgins's picture
Submitted by Ed Hudgins on Fri, 2013-10-04 01:08

[Note from Linz—I've lifted this post from Ed Hudgins' thread below because I thought it deserved a thread of its own. Ed agrees. It's his response to Michael Moeller's and my prompting him to be specific as to what he'd recommend a freedom-lover *do* in today's context.]

Linz – Let me give you a bit of a long response, as your inquiry deserves. For concrete actions, I’d start with a reminder that there are no silver bullets that will fell the enemy. The degeneration of our culture and politics is a process that has played out over decades and will only be reversed over time.

I’ve been taking concrete actions for decades, as have thousands of others who favor individual liberty and, to a lesser extent, a culture of reason. The battles must be fought by many soldiers on many fronts: in the media, classrooms, think tanks, discussion threads, and ballot boxes.

No individual actor or action has been perfect in the battle. Rand herself and a lot of Objectivists have been critical of Ronald Reagan. While he was not perfect, he did hold back government expansion on some fronts. And with Maggie Thatcher, he did as much as any individual to contribute to the demise of communism. Heroes both!

As important, Reagan helped change the terms of the public debate, arguing that government is not the solution but, in so many cases, the problem. And a generation of now-aging activists worked for him and were inspired by him.

Young future

So I offer as a first concrete action that we target young people. They will carry on the fight in the future. Without them on our side, there is no future.

Students for Liberty has grown in a little over six years from a group of dozens to a group that attracted over 1,200 to its annual international conference and are putting on something like 15 regional events this fall; I’m speaking at two of them, Will Thomas at one, David Kelley at three or four.

Young Americans for Liberty has seen similar growth.

These young people are smart, thirsting for knowledge, passionate, and activist. Many came out of the Ron Paul movement. I have issues with Paul’s analysis of Islamists and think a lot of the young people are naïve on this matter. Then again, you think I’m naïve!

But these young people focus on economic freedom and individual liberty.

In the future, these young people will be the journalists, public policy analysts, political activists, teachers, and scholars. And they’ll be voters!

Are we Athens?

But let me offer an analysis and an analogy that point to some promise.

Athens during its Golden Age was wasting its blood and treasure in the Peloponnesian War. And the democracy got out of control, with demagogues whipping up the ignorant. The Athenians killed their best generals and engaged in other destructive behavior. (At least the Athenians taught America’s Founders about the virtues of a republic versus an unlimited democracy.) And the Athenians lost the war.

But that period also saw the flowering of philosophy, drama, art, history, and much that formed the basis of our civilization.

I need not review here the degenerate aspects of our culture and politics today—paralleling Athens’s—on this discussion board where they are so well discussed. But we have also seen in recent decades an explosion of entrepreneurial energy and activity from the information and telecommunications revolution. I call your attention to inspirational examples in the book Abundance by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, which I review here. There are revolutions occurring in many more sectors that get little or no attention in the media that feeds on bad news: “if it bleeds, it leads.”

I saw Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker the other day and will be doing a view of his book “Better Angels of Our Nature” which argues that things are far, far better than what we see on the news. I suspect I’ll disagree with him on some points. But he urges us to consult the evidence, not our gut feeling, and I shall do so.

Roark and Galt?

The entrepreneurs highlighted by Diamandis hold special promise.

First, they respect the power of human reason, which gives them an almost infinite capacity to change the world for the better.

Second, they understand that individuals matter, that they are the driving force behind human progress, not government bureaucracies.

Third, they love their work and productive achievement. I’ve often quoted Steve Jobs when he said “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma—which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

And fourth, they know that their efforts help to create a world as it can be and should be.

These are individuals with the spirit of Howard Roark. But they still need the politics of John Galt.

So here’s my second suggestion for concrete action: target these entrepreneurs with our message. Today, few if any are probably Objectivist friendly; Steve Davis of SpaceX, who has a cameo in Atlas Shrugged is a fan. There are probably more that are libertarian-leaning; I know some of these as well. But, as I’ve said, cultural and political chance is a process.

I will be reporting from time to time on my efforts on this front.

How’s this for the start of “meaningful dialogue?!”


Positive news indeed!

Ed Hudgins's picture

Linz – Yes, these are the young people that I’ve mentioned on a number of occasions. David Kelley spoke at three of their regional conferences this fall. I spoke at two and Will Thomas spoke at one as well. David will have a keynote slot at the International SFP Conference in February. Will and I will be speaking there as well.

As I’ve said, young folks like these are part of the reason that I’m not totally pessimistic about the future.

And Michael, surveys by Zogby and, I believe, Rasmussen during 2012 primary season found two groups had a generally favorable view of Ron Paul: Young libertarians (like the SFL types) and young, disillusioned Obama supporters. I suspect that the latter are not libertarians. But I believe they perceived Ron Paul as genuine and sincere, as opposed to most other Republicans as well as Obama, and that they appreciated what seemed like a consistent and principled defense of liberty.

At the Berkeley SFL event where I spoke, there were also speakers talking about outreach to liberal students who were shocked by the escalation of government spying by Obama. Again, I don’t expect they’ll be jumping to the libertarian camp in large numbers in the very near future. But they’ve had their fuzzy, utopian vision of “The One” shattered. They see how dangerous government and how disingenuous politicians can be. This should lead the better ones in our direction.

Ed

Michael Moeller's picture

Young persons' support for Obama has cratered, utterly collapsed, thanks to a poor job market for them and ObamaCare.

Any ideas on bringing them into the fold?

From what you have written thus far, I don't see how your concrete actions get you past Marketing 101.

Two quick points on this (as I plan on writing more): your reach is to a limited audience. I don't see how this hits mainstream students and young people.

Secondly, even if it did, you are failing to distinguish yourself in the market. An article, or a web video, is what a zillion other advocates do. If you are doing things the same as everybody else most likely you are failing. For instance, giving a speech preaching to students is ancient technology and does not get the students active and involved. If you're not finding a way to at least harness any excitement from a talk, then they will go home and go to sleep.

Speaking of not distinguishing yourself, your message does not lend itself to young people. Your articles are often numbers-laden, which is fine for policy wonks, but not real great for young people. They want to be connected to ideals -- a concrete connection to their own lives, something to strive for, a sense of empowerment -- not policy statements with a bland libertarian message of "the government does things worse the the private sector".

More to come as I have time...

Stossel

Lindsay Perigo's picture

I just watched three young Students for Liberty on Stossel's special, "The Libertarian Rise." Definitely not airheads. Exhilarating. Almost awoke me from my defeatist slumbers.

You know what Einstein says...

Shayne Wissler's picture

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." -- Albert Einstein

"The problem with the young is that they've been comprachicoed to the point of cretinism."

Accurate.

Michael

Michael Moeller's picture

You wrote:

"In the humanities the bad guys constantly change the rules and playing field and are masters of things like instead of arguing with reason..."

That's a very good point. Daniel Greenfield made the same/similar point in this article. Everything is a game, a tactic, a distraction. They don't play on the level, but that can be an advantage if one can expose the tactics.

Good points Michael. "I like

Newberry's picture

Good points Michael.

"I like the "best you can be" attitude that you describe, and I do not want to see it relegated to hidden bunkers within the culture. I want it to be the mainstream attitude."

It seems to me that the good guys are naive, the bad guys clever. Short of drug enhancements it is almost impossible to cheat in sports. So good guys can be as dense as a block of wood, but beating their opponent is all they have to do - to win. In the humanities the bad guys constantly change the rules and playing field and are masters of things like instead of arguing with reason, they comment that you have a booger showing. It seems one has to be both good and clever to elevate culture. Lol, I still have time to work on the clever bit. ; )

Michael

Michael Moeller's picture

Indeed, there is no guarantee of success.

Let me make a few distinctions of mine that I think may be getting lost:

1. Superstars have a fundamental advantage in marketing, distribution, and financing (usually) by virtue of their achievements. It is not difficult for somebody like Donald Trump or Jack Welch to promote certain ideas in their books, appearances, and speeches because people want to hear what they have to say. People want to know how they achieved what they achieved.

2. Indeed, activism can be a thankless job, or that is the way it seems. This is the problem with a lot of current activism, i.e. it fails to inspire. I'll be saying more on this later, but one of the ways it may inspire is to draw on the unique talents of the people involved. Perhaps it would not seem like drudgery if, for instance, a particular project tapped into your talent as an artist.

3. I understand people not getting involved with all the other things that may be happening in their lives, particularly when the activism is "thankless", conventional, and uninspiring. I remember Thomas Sowell saying that if he had to do it over again, he would go into photography. He further stated that he was met with incredulous responses when he told people that. But I get it. You focus on what you are passionate about.

On the flip side, Rand's To All Innocent Fifth Columnists tugs at me. As mentioned above, I think a possible resolution is merging a person's talents and passions with activist projects.

4. To continue the sports analogy, if I remember correctly, you were a high level tennis player, correct? I am sure you had times where you did not perform to your best and lost to a poor player and experienced the resultant feeling of disappointment in yourself.

But as far as the cultural battle goes, our side does not even seem to be on the court. And we are not losing to poor players, we are losing to evil players. Losing to low-rent Marxist agitators like Obama or OWS drones is soul-crushing, at least to me.

Personally, I like the "best you can be" attitude that you describe, and I do not want to see it relegated to hidden bunkers within the culture. I want it to be the mainstream attitude. I want this attitude to WIN and become predominant in the culture. Instead, I fear the right has become to comfortable with losing.

Renaissance and Not

Newberry's picture

Michael M.,

Aristophanes wrote a very funny play, Frogs, pitting the spirits of Aeschylus and Euripides, battling out who was the greater dramatist, so that the winner could come back to Athens and revitalize the theater and consequently Athens itself. With Aristophanes you can feel he is kind of a one man band fighting for the values, through humor, that would restore Athenian greatness. His career was through the 27 year Peloponnesian War. He gave us incredible plays, and considered by many the greatest comic poet in history. He didn't succeed in stemming the Athenian self-destruction.

Activism can be thankless and involve a lot of marketing, fundraising, social events, tact ... I am not sure how much superstars can do towards changing a culture.

In my grandparents' time there was a attitude of do what you love and be the best you can be. I remember growing up hearing that from friends, teachers, coaches, family. I could be wrong but that doesn't seem to be in the general American culture anymore. If so it might be very difficult to reach the broad general culture and effect change. I would think that a sociopath has it easier, spend energy and time figuring out what the mass of people already relate to and give that to 'em. And it looks like a mass change like the Occupy Wall Street.

To echo a thought in Ed's post, to be successful from the inside out, and gather like minded friends and if that grows a cultural Renaissance great, if not, stay the course and defend yourself against tyranny.

Newberry

Michael Moeller's picture

An analogy is a limited comparison by its very nature, and my comparison was explicitly geared towards superstars generating interest and enthusiasum through their achievements, like Woods did for golf or Jobs did for multimedia, telecommunications, etc. Or do you remember the "Be like Mike" campaign in re Michael Jordan? That does not mean that sports and business and science etc are alike in all respects.

You don't buy the superstar phenomenon? Or at least as it applies to philosophy? Then you are going to have a hard time explaining Rand's longstanding success and influence.

Besides, I DO think athletes have to "persuade" with their talents. There are a zillion different forms of entertainment out there, and they have to perform at such a level that people are interested in watching. The "persuasion" (for lack of a better term) for sports is primarily physical, and for philosophy it is primarily intellectual, but both are a mixture of the mental and the physical.

So I am not at all sure what you mean by athletes "just do it". They are not robots engaged in mindless motion that people watch for the hell of it.

Michael You are right on the

Pepe Estrepo's picture

Michael
You are right on the money. A lot of “Idea Guys” but little in the way of getting things done—no execution =no success, as you say. Objectivism does need “superstars,” articulate spokespeople like Frisco who can gets things done, and at the same time, articulate the vision of rational self-interest.

Both Branden and Peikoff have said Ayn Rand was hostile toward organized Objectivism which makes me wonder what her vision was for the future? Was everyone suppose to transition into John Galt and Dagny Taggert, and thus influence the world in this manner? More than a few Objectivists, like Binswanger, have talked against collective action. Yet, I see the everyone-as-John Galt scenario as a failure, and Objectivism with little influence in the culture.

As you say, “What Can One Do?” is very generalized. She counseled intellectual foundation before activism, but at the rate we are going, the game could end before we even put our cleats on. What I find so annoying is the total lack of Objectivist spokespeople to counter the Left, Islam. We are living through “Atlas Shrugged”—everything Rand predicted is happening—and who is making this point?

It’s all in the book. All we need are articulate people with a public presence to do it.

To me, the New Intellectual still has to be born. Using Lindsay’s words too much, “asshole-ism, anal-retentiveness, religiosity and solipsism.” When I think of selfishness in a real-world Objectivist context this is what I think of.

In fact, all the people who are strong, articulate and courageous who put me in mind of Rand's vision of the New Intellectual are not Objectivists: Ann Coulter, Geert Wilders, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Tommy Robinson and Caroline Glick.

MM: "... what Tiger Woods has

Newberry's picture

MM: "... what Tiger Woods has done to re-invigorate golf."
Michael that is not a good analogy. How does someone win in the humanities? In sports you just do it, they don't have to persuade anyone.

Pepe

Michael Moeller's picture

Remember that Rand was an advocate for the "New Intellectual", which was a hybrid (eg. the philosophical businessman or the practical intellectual). Objectivism seems to have quite a number of "intellectuals" and "philosophers" that haven't done anything in business, science, art, etc. I've been saying for many years now that Objectivism needs superstars in their respective fields that can do for capitalism what Tiger Woods has done to re-invigorate golf. As you rightly noted, we have Rand's fictional characters but little in the way of real-world examples.

Ergo, probably the most important part is having highly successful professionals that simultaneously promote Objectivism, i.e. discuss and talk about how Objectivism helped them achieve success.

Conversely, those who choose to be advocates need yardsticks of practical success, not just "intellectuals" who publish material and expect the rest of the world to automatically adopt it. I'll be saying more about this.

Also, there is nothing wrong with political activism per se, but it should be infused with more fundamental principles of epistemology and morality.

Rand herself was no stranger to activism. She worked for Wilkie's campaign, she wrote the "Screen Guide for Americans" as a guideline to fight communist infiltration into Hollywood, she testified before HUAC, she even attempted to form organizations with some free market conservatives (see Ayn Rand Letters). Alas, she was left dissatisfied with all these endeavors.

In any event, her articles on activism ("What Can One Do", "Don't Let It Go", "To All Innocent Fifth Columnists" etc.) are all very broad. They do not talk about how to successfully execute activist goals. And to my knowledge, not many Objectivists have followed up with specific concrete steps, with specific execution. Everything is generalized, such as we need to "educate" the culture -- with no concrete plans on how to achieve that goal, outside of the conventional means of publishing articles and books. And even in those cases, the reach is not that much beyond other Objectivists.

I liken the current state of activism to my story of: "The Idea Man".

Recently, I met a relative of mine at a funeral. He's one of these guys that has the answers to all the worlds problems, but has never accomplished anything of significance himself. He inherited a lot of money, which apparently entitles him to play the Bigshot.

He heard I was starting my own business venture, so he came up to me at the funeral and starting rattling off about one thousand ideas for different home improvement products (he works in carpentry). I asked him some basic questions about each: Have you built a prototype? How much does it cost to manufacture? What is the price of the competing products? What are the advantages over the competing products? Who do you want to market it to? Where do you want to retail? etc etc.

Well, he would give me generalized answers that showed he had not done a fucking thing! He even asked me if he "should be writing this stuff [his answers] down". The clincher was (as I was asking him about making prototypes and getting a handle on his costs of production): he finally said that he only wanted to be "The Idea Guy". By his own admission, he just wanted to spin out product ideas, and other people would execute the ideas for him. He didn't want to be involved any more than that.

Objectivism seems to be filled with "The Idea Guy". Lots of ideas about what should be done and what the world needs, but NO concrete plans and NO execution.

The bottom line is this: no execution = no success.

What Can One Do?

Pepe Estrepo's picture

Michael and Ed Hudgins

What to do?

I thought Ayn Rand answered that question in her essay back in 1972. She proposed philosophers, intellectuals, writers, articulate spokespeople advocating and imposing Objectivism on society in order to establish a foundation for capitalism.

Has this been done? I haven't seen it. Where are the articulate intellectuals, where are the writers? Who out there is talking about OBJECTIVISM, the foundations?

Rand warned about putting politics before a solid philosophical foundation, but this is what is being done all over Objectivism. No doubt Ed Hudgins is trying hard but isn't this what he is doing--politics without a solid philosophical foundation?

Can you defeat thousands of years of anti-self morality with a pea shooter?

Image wise, we have fictional characters as our heroes but no actual examples.

Strategically, Objectivism is fragmented. Slowly, it is losing its center, its certitude in its rightness. Even ARI is fragmented with the West Coast versus the East Coast.

And on the horizon is Apocalyse Now.

Lindsay

Pepe Estrepo's picture

Lindsay

Thanks for the welcome. Your advocacy of convivialism is just the thing we need. This mentality of the long-distance runner—the need to be the lonely Galt or the lonely Frisco—is not the road to happiness. In the real world, I haven’t seen any examples of this type of person achieving happiness.

I read your credo. Whille debate has its place, a madman raving about killing people in order to establish a libertarian society is another matter. I’m glad you and Michael responded because I was ready to bail.

Many old-time Objectivists have told me that Objectivism shot itself in the foot with its Randroidism, and now when we need all the intellectuals to protect the country, they are not available. My sense is that Peikoff and Binswanger surrendered the morality issue a long time ago, and only give lip service to selfishness. How do you fight the whole world with a pea shooter? I, myself, gave up on it long ago but I wish you the best of luck with your new concepts, and you might be on to something big.

Pepe

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Your reportage in response to Michael is salutary. Feel free to expand these observations into a full-blown article and start a new thread with it if you wish. It was to combat such unappetising features of Orgoism as homophobia, religiosity and anal-retentiveness that SOLO was founded. See the Credo. I have urged the adoption of "selffulness" and "sacrifism" in place of "selfishness" and "altruism" to avoid any implication that Objectivism advocates asshole-ism or the pathology of solipsism (rampant among Oists!). I am working on a substitute for "selffulness" since I've been persuaded that even that is not ideal. In the credo of "Authenticism" that I'm working on, I shall advocate what I shall be calling "convivialism" and stress man's metaphysical need for festive mutual engagement, that man is a social animal as well as the rational one.

Noting your puzzlement re Doug Bandler on the other thread, I'd draw your attention to the disclaimer at the bottom of each page. SOLO is not "an Objectivist site" as such; it's a place where Objectivists can debate each other, and non- and anti-Objectivists, freely ... among other things. Again, see the Credo.

Oh, and welcome aboard! Smiling

Wow

Michael Moeller's picture

Pepe,

Your experiences with Objectivists really runs the gamut.

I don't hang around Objectivists or Objectivist circles (outside of some internet interaction), so I find it quite illuminating.

Thanks for sharing.

Michael

Ex-Objectivists

Pepe Estrepo's picture

Michael

I think with the people I knew it is a case mostly of marriage, work, family, community and the stress of everyday living. Even a gay woman in our group, who has no family ties, has abandoned the ship and is now a Leftie. I think some of her plight had to do with being rejected for her gayness amongst Objectivists. I know she harbors resentment.

Another guy in the group became a Zionist and went to live in Israel, married, joined the army, and occasionally sends me an email. He never talks about Ayn Rand.

A woman I knew who was very involved with Rand had a lot of problems dating Objectivist men. Finally, she met a Marine officer, a very strong guy, a Christian conservative, and got married. I think she still is influenced by Rand but is not active. She was friends with a woman I dated so I heard all about her problems. Here too resentments played a part of her attitude.

Another guy in the group became very wealthy, became a playboy like Frisco, and drowned off the coast of France, supposedly under the influence.

Another guy was found hanging from a rope in his apartment.

All the others are normal, middle-class people, businessmen and women, who are not active Objectivists although no doubt are influenced by her writings. One of these guys told me over drinks that he was tired of the whole rugged individualist theme of Objectivism, that it was not his personality, and that he enjoyed socializing a great deal.

Someone else who lived in New York complained about Binswanger and said that his type of Objectivism was not for him.

All in all, it makes me wonder about the future. At one time, I had a great deal of confidence in Objectivism but I think after Peikoff disappears we may be in for trouble unless a strong leader surfaces.

Ed

Michael Moeller's picture

I think the question is pretty straightforward, and you have given some answers. Saying "I would target young people" is not a concrete action. Giving a speech to young Paulbots, as you are going to do, is a concrete action targeting the young. You listed other concrete actions like joining a Tea Party or getting elected to local office. That's what I was asking for.

Any suggestions at all regarding concrete actions. A person with a lot of time and little money? A person with a lot of money? Pick the parameters you want.

I am just curious as to the state of the thinking behind executing on delivering the message. As it stands, the left is blowing us away in certain key respects.

Don't take this the wrong way Ed, as I appreciate and applaud the efforts you are making, but look at the scope here. You are talking about delivering a speech to a handful of Ron Paul disciples. Meanwhile, statists are pushing Marxist propaganda like the video "The Story of Stuff" into public schools across the nation.

And it is not just the number of people they are reaching. There are many layers as to why such actions are more successful.

As soon as I catch my breath from a flurry of activity, I am going to give my own take on a foundation for successful activism, provide examples of concrete actions, and discuss at least one of the projects I am working on. I don't come at this from the angle of working for think tanks and advocacy groups. Starting my own business venture has opened new insights to me that may apply to advocacy. I certainly don't claim to have "all the answers" and learning as I go as well. Actually, I will be shooting from the hip a bit, so I welcome criticism.

But I am hoping to inspire some new and fresh thinking about activism.

Pepe

Michael Moeller's picture

Welcome.

I am interested in hearing about the young people you know/knew that deserted the cause.

Do they remain committed to the principles of Objectivism (besides the Evangelical, of course)? Or have they abandoned the principles along with any sort of activism? I'm interested in hearing any stories regarding the fellow travelers you knew in college.

Best Regards,
Michael

Gregster

Pepe Estrepo's picture

Thanks for the welcome and I think you are right on the mark about intellectuals. I was disappointed to hear Leonard Peikoff speaking about immigration. Rather weak in his conviction where he is usually much stronger. I would also like to see more passion from Yaron Brook. They are the leaders and set the pace. Amy Peikoff seems like a treasure. Maybe she will take a more active role in the future. Women are setting the tone all over the world, why not with Objectivism?

Good luck with your speech Mr. Hudgins. I will be very interested in hearing you talk about Objectivist morality. Personally, I have seen the morality fight as a lost cause. Too much to fight with too little in the way of ammunition. I just don't see it happening. I hope I am totally wrong but I fear I am not.

What is to be an answer?

Ed Hudgins's picture

Hi guys! I’m now crashing to finish a speech on “Restoring Political Liberty with Objectivist Morality.” Come here me October 19, 2013 at SFL in Denton, Texas!

But my brief reply for now is a question for Michael: What would constitute an answer to your “What to do?” question?

I’ve been writing answers and actually doing for three decades. So while I want to be helpful, you need to narrow down what you want.

For affecting political change, I can say generally and obviously get involved at the local level.

*Join a local Tea Party group, Republican or Libertarian Party chapter, taxpayers’ association, or local free market think tank.

*Work to keep state and local taxes and spending low.

*Target particularly bad regulations; restrictions on land use are big problems in many states.

*Do grass roots recruiting and activism. Where I use to live in extremely liberal Prince Georges County, with a majority black population, in extremely liberal Maryland, I helped fight off the eminent domain bulldozing of ten houses in my town. And in that same liberal county, the citizens have rejected ballot initiatives, put on by local political hacks, to remove a property tax cap.

*Get elected to local office; I served 6 years on my town council.

To spread Objectivism, I certainly agree with gregster’s point. But, again, I’d ask what, specifically, are you looking for in the way of an answer?

Also, concerning Pepe’s points on young people, I still argue that they are crucial audience. Consider the demographics: Folks who came of age when Roosevelt was in office and popular tended to be life-long Democrat voters as they ages, though some departed, temporarily, for Reagan. Those who came of age when Reagan was popular are now the 50-60 year old voters who most vote strongly Republican.

The young folks are the future. They’ll be around a lot longer than older guys like me and they are the easiest to influence in these formative years.

Later!

Good to hear from you Mr Estrepo

gregster's picture

Oddly, I saw your post had arrived at this site frontpage but perhaps got taken as spam, a couple of days ago. What needs to be done is to turn around sufficient numbers of 'intellectuals' so that better ideas would see daylight. This enlightened minority, whether within education or private business or politics (!), which would consistently promote sound economics from the point of view as capitalism being the only moral system, would have to be there for there to be any hope of changing the presently disastrous course. It's the meaning of Going Galt: rejecting these modern sinking ship ideas and recognising that nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.

Strategy of Ed Hudgins

Pepe Estrepo's picture

Mr. Michael Moeller

I have been following your thread with interest and waiting, like you, for an answer from Mr. Hudgins that you have been soliciting. My guess is if he had an answer for you, it would have been out there long ago. While there is no magic bullet to change society, I don't see Mr. Hudgins with any kind of answer for what ails us. To privatize the memorials in Washington is not a long-term answer to anything. And other than that, I don't see anything new in what he is doing: basically the old libertarian message of liberty that only goes so far.

Mr. Hudgins remarked to you the great growth of his youth organization. While this could be good news, I don't see it as particularly crucial. Young people have been attracted to Ayn Rand in great numbers for long periods of time. The problem is how many remain committed after they learn about what they are up against. All my college friends committed to Rand have deserted the ship. Marriage, work, family and a hostile society has convinced them to desert. Many also talk about the lack of support of organized Objectivism.

A very good friend of mine, and once a committed Objectivist, is now an evangelical. It is strange to see a committed Objectivist becoming a pillar of society and an evangelical Christian as if he never read Rand or heard about Objectivism. He has completely stripped Objectivism from his life. Sadly, this story repeats itself in too many cases.

Ed...

Michael Moeller's picture

Looking forward to it.

More to come.....

Ed Hudgins's picture

Busy writing two speeches plus several TAS pieces, with two conference trips coming up. More to follow ...

Is That A Wrap, Ed?

Michael Moeller's picture

Nothing to suggest about what concrete actions the aspiring political activist can take? Or how one can court the young and entrepreneurs?

You missed the 1940 love of science

Ed Hudgins's picture

You missed the 1940 love of science!

I certainly agree with your assessment of Roosevelt and many aspects of the culture. But you are missing a number of things.

I want to start by pointing to the growing public fascination with science and technology. Einstein, who came here to escape the Nazis in the past decade, is treated like a Hollywood star. And look at the public excitement over George Ellery Hale’s plan to build a monster size 200 inch telescope on Palomar Mountain, funded not by Roosevelt but by private Rockefeller money. A lot of preachers, the one’s H.L. Mencken loves to satirize, denounced it as the devil’s work. But there were live radio broadcasts when they poured the molten glass at Corning for the first mirror. And when the train with the mirror blank crossed the country, very slowly so as not to damage the 20 ton cargo, people lined the track. They wanted to see the great, the heroic. They thirsted for a vision of achievement.

Speaking of which, how about the popularity of the New York World’s Fair last year? And back in the Big Apple this year, I met a little six year old, Carl Sagan, who was as excited about science as you have ever seen. It will be kids like him in decades to come that will help explore the planets!

Yes, this American love of science and technology is as healthy a cultural indicator as you could want. Sure, many Americans now look to government for answers. But at least they respect science, discovery, and technology. That’s something we can build on.

More to follow…

It’s 1940 and it's all over

Ed Hudgins's picture

It’s 1940 and it's all over. You want realism; you've got it!

Look at politics. Roosevelt is flush with victory, elected to an unprecedented third term! And mark my word he’ll go for a fourth and who knows how many more. And look at the unprecedented power he’s accumulated in his hands. Can you say “American Caesar?” Where are the checks and balances set up by the Constitution that use to be the law of this land?

And what is the New Deal? What are all his make-work programs? What is Social Security? Just FDR’s version of socialism!

Sure, the Supreme Court knocked down an item or two in his New Deal. But since he threatened to pack the Court, they’ve pretty much rolled over and let him have whatever he wants. They even ruled that someone running a farm on their own land to provide only for their own needs must bow to Franklin’s dictates because anything produced on a private farm but not offered for sale on the market thus affects the market by being absent and, thus, falls under federal control. Insane! Now the government can do anything!

Will the Republicans save us? Willkie was buried in a Roosevelt landslide. How stupid have the America people become? And what a pathetic candidate! The GOP is dead.

Think the culture will save us? Look at the rise of “Our Town,” love for the common man mediocrity that is coming to dominate movies, radio, magazines and newspaper stories. And Hollywood is a hotbed of pinko, commie-loving Stalin apologists. Did you read that book by the Russian Ayn Rand, giving a clear-eyed look at what the Soviet Union is really like? Didn’t sell very well, did it? And she’s a Hollywood writer. You’d think such a compelling story would quickly find its way to the silver screen. In this culture, no way!

Think the rest of the world offers hope? Come on! In Europe there are two political-cultural alternatives: Fascism and communism. Pick your poison! France got beat because its politics and culture were degenerate and just begging to be destroyed.

Sure, the Brits are resisting. But even there, their welfare state is proceeding apace. And even Churchill, the one true hero they have, has promoted welfare state policies; he just wanted a little less of it than the socialists.

Liberty cannot survive the onslaught of such mass mindlessness as we are currently witnessing. The Apocalypse? My point is, it's already happening.

It’s 1940 and it's all over!

Or am I missing something?

Yes!

More to follow...

Ed

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Have we reached the “long train of abuses and usurpations?” Possibly!

Possibly? I'd say, beyond incontrovertibly! King George and the Brits were raging libertarians next to Obamarx, Pelosi, Reid and their teeming ilk ... including many Republicans and recent Presidents.

But will the Lexington and Concord approach that you seem to suggest actual work? No chance!

Now Ed, what would you have said in 1776?

The point is, America cannot be salvaged peaceably. Gramscification is now irreversible. You want realism; you've got it. The problem is not just that too many voters have been cretinised—it's that they are militantly, insolently, maliciously, proudly cretinous. I hate to break it to you, Ed, but people like you, your wonderful family, David Kelley, Moeller, Chris and Cindy Lewis and their prodigy children, the truly human human beings who comprise the milieu of all of us with Enlightenment values, are glittering diamonds that have been swamped by an avalanche of sewage, if I may mix my metaphors. America is now defined by MTV and rap-crap. Airhead America. And the triumphant torrent of totalitarianism's only interest in random jewels is in sweeping them away.

Now, it may well be that America cannot be salvaged forcibly either. This is not 1776, and there are next-to-no patriots around ready to put their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honour on the line (let alone able to pull it off or even to understand what they're doing).

Ergo, it's all over. That's my view, trying my best to adhere to your injunction, "Let's be realists!" We may have a few years yet in which to enjoy the twilight of civilisation's last gleaming, and that'll see me out ... but increasingly I get the feeling that the "cataclysm" of which I've spoken is imminent.

You make it sound, Ed, as if I'm advocating the last days of the Roman Empire. I am not; I'm trying to draw your attention to the fact that those days are already back!

As you proclaim below, it's civil war!

Ed

Michael Moeller's picture

I agree with you on a violent revolution.

I think you've given some good targets in young people and entrepreneurs. Acting locally can also be successful.

However, I still have no idea what concrete steps you would take in hitting those targets. Just some ideas, not "all the answers" as I don't think that really even applies in this context. People are looking -- nay, yearning -- for some answers and actions.

I mean, compare what you've stated here to what Chris Lewis stated in the article (linked in the other thread). Mr. Lewis gave very specific actions that could be taken if the US wanted to improve tennis, not just non-specific generalizations. His article has apparently inspired people to think more critically about the subject.

And I can see why. He not only gave a theoretical basis, but also specific actions to achieve the goal of improved US tennis professionals. I doubt he would claim he has "all the answers", but it certainly gets ideas generating and the ball rolling.

Forcible removal impossible

Ed Hudgins's picture

Linz – Lots to respond to, but I’ll start with the elephant stampeding through your post.

Have we reached the “long train of abuses and usurpations?” Possibly! But will the Lexington and Concord approach that you seem to suggest actual work? No chance!

How will a cabal of right-thinking Americans find themselves in a position to implement the policies you suggest? A military coup? Are there enough people in the military of that inclination? Could they pull it off? Would other elements of the military fight back? Would it be true, blood-in-the-streets civil war? Would not Americans left and right unite against such a move, whatever the politics of the seven-days-in-May clique? Once the genie of “forcible removal” is out of the bottle, would America look like the Roman Republic during its last century, bled by civil wars of Marius vs. Sulla, Caesar vs. Pompey, Octavian and Antony vs. Brutus and Cassius, and Octavian vs. Antony?

Would our new rulers be steeped in Rand and Mises? Or would they be more the radical religious right types who would not only have a jihad against Muslims but against gays, atheists, agnostics, and the like?

While I don’t claim that my thinking on how to restore liberty is the all-inclusive answer, and I appreciate Michael’s questions (and yours!), I’m looking for path ahead that is more than a college dorm bull-session pipe-dream. Let’s be realists!

More to come…

Linz

Michael Moeller's picture

This doesn't answer the question. We both know what kind of policies should be implemented; however, I am asking about the concrete actions to get those policies implemented.

The closest you've come is a revolution by force, in which case you probably will not need to worry about Social Security, Medicare, etc. But what comes out of such a revolution may be worse. At the very least, you still need to solve the problem of advocacy -- of mainstreaming the right policies, or at least the right policies in the hands of an active, vocal minority, which is arguably what the Framers were.

Look at it this way. One of the primary reasons Obamacare is unpopular and is being attacked in Congress is the actions of the Tea Party by holding events with speakers, by gathering petitions, by attending town halls, by getting Republican candidates to run and win, etc. etc.

Or take a look at the greens. The Green Party does shit in elections. I think they usually get less than the Libertarian Party, which is pathetic. However, they have mainstreamed their ideas with the Democrat party, which has been so successful that their cohorts have an entire agency unilaterally implementing policy (aka the EPA). It is worldwide with things like the Kyoto Protocol and the IPCC.

They've been so successful at pushing their ideas that they have even carved out a lucrative space in the commerical marketplace. Ordinary people have fallen for the "green" fad and line of products.

So Linz, it is time to ask how they have done it. Not just the message, but the how -- the concrete actions -- they've used to push the message.

Acting Locally

Robert Hartford's picture

Posts on this thread advise us to reach out to the younger generation and act locally as well as nationally. In that spirit, since 2010, I have been somewhat active in a local Tea Party group in Charlotte. I presented a piece to that group intended to reach my grandchildren’s generation. A local news and opinion website published it under the title, “Liberty Letters to my Grandchild – Number 1.”

When you were young, you wondered about Santa Claus, and I answered your questions as best I could. Now you wonder about freedom. You wonder if freedom has a future. Yes, Virginia, freedom has a future.

I am optimistic because of you and so many like you. You have created your wonderful self by thinking clearly, building your character, and setting goals for your well-being and happiness.

You know that others have their own dreams and goals as well. You would not dream of forcing them to support your goals, and they shouldn’t force you to support their goals. You deal with others in the only fair, just, and moral way possible, by mutual consent, each person freely choosing to work with the other, or not.

But now you wonder if such a society of mutual respect, voluntary consent, and political freedom is possible. You see too many others who want to take away your freedoms. They want to force you to act the way they think best. Most would not directly use force against you; instead they hijack a proper government. They turn government from protector of your freedom to violator of your freedom. They turn government into an agent that controls you and takes from you. No wonder you wonder if freedom has a future!

Freedom does indeed have a future, because people’s understanding of political freedom is growing. Political freedom means you can think, choose, and act for your own well-being and happiness as long as you respect the right of others to do the same. That truth, when widely understood, leads to a society of good-will, kindness, mutual respect, and political freedom. To secure that blessing, our founders gave us the justification for freedom in the “Declaration of Independence” and the means to implement freedom in “The Constitution.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful? You and I, and everyone else, free to pursue our own happiness in voluntary cooperation with others; neither using force on others nor being subject to force from them. Each of us free to pursue our own well-being and happiness in our own way. This vision motivated our founders, is the essence of political freedom and political equality, is the fair, just, and moral way to treat one another, and can be the freedom in our future.

In this, my first Liberty Letter to you, I want to explain one of the worst threats to that future. Without understanding the threat, we don’t have a chance of finding a fix. The threat has been growing because of the failures of my generation, and earlier generations, to control our government.

We allowed government to set up a huge Ponzi scheme, with you and future generations the ultimate victims. We allowed government to take our money because they promised to give it back in our old age. The government didn’t save or invest the money for us, they simply distributed it to others, or to other government programs. The money taken from us is gone; the IOUs given to us can only be paid back by taking from you and your generation. That is not fair, that is not just, and that is not moral.

You should be saving and investing for your old age. You should not be forced instead to pay for our mistakes. We can’t fix a problem until we honestly state the problem. It is impossible to take enough wealth from you and your generation to provide the promised entitlements to me and my generation.

Before you were even born, the government was promising to take from you so it could promise to give to us. How could we have let that happen? Were we greedy, ignorant, asleep, lazy, incompetent? Whatever the reason, we made the mistakes and we should reap the consequences. We must be willing to take the moral high ground of reducing our so-called “entitlements.”

Undoing the harm we did will not be easy, but we must support those who will try. The solution is difficult, because so many people are getting government money, and no one wants to be the first to lose benefits.

The government can give those benefits only because it takes money from the taxpayers directly, borrows money it can’t pay back, or creates money out of thin air by printing it or using bookkeeping tricks, thus making all our savings worth less. Government then gives that money as subsidies to: individuals, organizations, educational institutions, farmers, energy companies; the list goes on and on; always taking, always redistributing.

The government taking of our wealth for entitlements and redistribution is our greatest economic threat. My generation must acknowledge it, and make a solemn commitment to you and your generation to help solve this most pressing problem. The future health of our society is at stake.

It is certainly true of this society that we are all in it together. All the more reason to respect each others' political freedom, and move government toward its proper role of protecting political freedom. We have nothing to lose but our chains.

We grandparents like to think of ourselves as kind and caring to our grandchildren. For that to be true, we must try to stop the government from stealing your future. We must speak, write, and fight with our strongest logical arguments. We must fix the problem we have created, and clear the way for your future.

With love from . . . . Every grandparent who shares these ideas

The piece draws the reader in by evoking the caring relationship between grandparent and grandchild. It explains the nature of political freedom in a very general way and goes on to admit that my generation “allowed government to set up a huge Ponzi scheme, with you and future generations the ultimate victims.”

Michael Moeller asks what “tangible actions” we can take, and how we can “harness [the] energy” of Tea Party types. Because mainstream politicians are somewhat shy of going near the necessity of reforming Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, I would like to see an organization appealing to my generation for contribution of a portion of the money taken from the young and given to us. That organization should persuasively advocate for policies that will realistically lead to free market solutions.

What can each of us do locally? Read the letter to any appropriate group you can. If read widely enough, maybe a famous actor or actress would produce a video clip reading the letter with passion and conviction. That would go a long way to promoting the needed conversation.

Ed

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Linz – Let me give you a bit of a long response, as your inquiry deserves. For concrete actions, I’d start with a reminder that there are no silver bullets that will fell the enemy.

No, but there are lead ones. Again I say, the time has come when the statists' "abuses and ursurpations" justify their forcible removal. "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." Don't the Declaration of Independence and Thomas Jefferson count for anything any more?

The degeneration of our culture and politics is a process that has played out over decades and will only be reversed over time.

A Gramsci-in-reverse, for which I once argued, is impossible. The culture is steeped in rot which only the cleansing surge of an oceanic cataclysm will sweep away. Removal by force of the statists, followed, in the first instance at least, by:

1) Restriction of the suffrage. I have just watched airhead Americans being vox-popped as to which they prefer: Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act. The two are one and the same, of course; the airheads did not know that and uttered complete nonsense. It's intolerable, and fatal for liberty, that such cretins should have the vote. What little there is by way of brains in such entities has been addled by rap-filth. At minimum, voters should have to pass linguistic and political literacy tests, including knowledge of the aforementioned Declaration and the Constitution. Welfare recipients should not have the right to vote, and of course, voter ID should be mandatory.

2) Cessation of Islamic immigration, declaration of a War on Islam (in response to Islam's sundry declarations of war on America) and the vigorous pursuit/incarceration/deportation of Islamofilth actively seeking an Islamic theocracy in America.

3) Unequivocal enshrining of English as the only official language of the USA.

4) Declaration of War on Political Correctness. PC is the means by which Gramsci has succeeded. Active promotion of American values—selffulness, anti-sacrifism, personal freedom and responsibility, entrepreneurialism—in state schools; simultaneous development of programme to remove the state from education.

5) Implementation of the "Fair Tax" at however outrageously high a rate it initially needs to be—say, 25% for the first year—coming down two and a half per cent a year, ending up at 15% after five years and staying there while the nation philosophically regroups; immediate elimination of all other taxes.

6) Immediate repeal of Obamacare.

7) Development of programme to phase out Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, food stamps ... all coercive government "charity" ... within a realistic, specified time frame.

All great things come in sevens! There you have it, Patriots! Are you up for it ... or to it?

Ed

Michael Moeller's picture

I think acting locally can be successful, but so can acting nationally. The Tea Party, for instance, does plenty of national advertising and recruiting. Events may be local, but their outreach is national. Ergo, I don't see local actions as the key, and one can even end up playing small-ball.

But I am certainly interested in hearing more about what kinds of local actions can translate into political successes.

First, act locally

Ed Hudgins's picture

On the earlier thread Michael responded to my post as follows:

Meaningful Dialogue, Indeed!!

Michael Moeller's picture

Submitted by Michael Moeller on Fri, 2013-10-04 00:26.

Ed,

I do hope you create a new thread with this post. I think it will bear fruit, as contained within your post is the reason why the right is losing.

I have much more to say, but I want to hear some more as I think you failed to answer the question, again!

While I agree with you on who to target -- i.e. the young and the productive -- you have not stated the how. That was my original question. You have not said what concrete steps you will take to attract these people, beyond proposing to address a small Paulbot contingent of students.

You are only trying to convert those that already predisposed to your thinking. When they become teachers or advocates or whatever, what roadmap have you offered other than speaking to the like-minded?

Actually, my original question is what advice re concrete steps or tangible actions could you offer to John Teaparty after he reads an Ed Hudgins article and likes what Ed Hudgins has to say? How do you plan to harness his energy if he gets fired up and wants to act?

Should he just wait passively for the next Ed Hudgins article?

I will offer more thoughts in the future but want to begin by emphasizing the need to act locally. Tea Party folks are organized locally. They can be much more effective in reaching out to their neighbors, putting on events meant to attract those who are not Republican activists and attending local government meetings and town halls by candidates.

I know I haven't commented specifically on the content of what they should be doing, what appeals they should be making and to whom. But the targets of their actions will also be local and better known to them. I know a fair amount about the absurdities of the Maryland government because I live here. I know little about the local, hot-button issues in Iowa.

I've been critical of the Libertarian Party for failing in the 40 years of its existence to build local party organizations on par with those operated by Republicans and Democrats. Local action is key.

More to follow...

Copying Over...

Michael Moeller's picture

My post...

Ed,

I do hope you create a new thread with this post. I think it will bear fruit, as contained within your post is the reason why the right is losing.

I have much more to say, but I want to hear some more as I think you failed to answer the question, again!

While I agree with you on who to target -- i.e. the young and the productive -- you have not stated the how. That was my original question. You have not said what concrete steps you will take to attract these people, beyond proposing to address a small Paulbot contingent of students.

You are only trying to convert those that already predisposed to your thinking. When they become teachers or advocates or whatever, what roadmap have you offered other than speaking to the like-minded?

Actually, my original question is what advice re concrete steps or tangible actions could you offer to John Teaparty after he reads an Ed Hudgins article and likes what Ed Hudgins has to say? How do you plan to harness his energy if he gets fired up and wants to act?

Should he just wait passively for the next Ed Hudgins article?

And here's ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... my response from the other thread. Michael might like to repost his as well:

How’s this for the start of “meaningful dialogue?!”

Ha, Ed! You've done yourself proud, and I thank you. You should put that post up as a new thread.

The problem with the entrepreneurs is that they have the spirit of Roark and the politics of Marx. Sacrifism is rampant. (It would help if we called it that, too, as I have suggested, rather than "altruism," which is guaranteed to rub everyone up the wrong way from the get-go.) Just yesterday O'Reilly was interviewing some university theology professor, a young woman, who was arguing with a straight face that people who don't give all their wealth away to the poor can't make it to Heaven. If sickening sacrifists and appeasers like Gates and Turner and Buffet don't also believe that literally, they certainly behave as though they do! The entrepreneurs, like everyone else, were comprachicoed where it counts.

The problem with the young is that they've been comprachicoed to the point of cretinism. Certainly there will always be exceptions who will be responsive and gravitate to pro-liberty groups, but the youth culture has been drowned in an avalanche of airheadery. That's the reality you gentlemen are bravely setting your faces against. Liberty cannot survive the onslaught of such mass mindlessness as we are currently witnessing. Michael challenges me to put a date on the Apocalypse. My point is, it's already happening, as it inevitably must when the Drooling Beast is uncaged. That it will culminate in some kind of definitive cataclysm is equally inevitable, barring some dramatic and highly improbable act by good men, such as the forcible overthrow of the statists as provided for in the Declaration of Independence. And that would be only the beginning.

Michael asks why I bother. Quite simply I want to complete my projects, and I proceed on the assumption there's still time (while realistic about the fact that it's running out). Plus, I can't bear the thought of not being here to see what happens next! I've done what I can and shall continue to, and I applaud you gentlemen for doing the same—but I'm firmly convinced as of now that our better chance will be post-cataclysm (or post-Dark Age that will likely follow the cataclysm).

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