Ayn Rand; 1970, New York Times Magazine

Posted by $ Commander 1 year, 1 month ago to Philosophy
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This article was published in The New York Times Magazine, May 17, 1970, as part of a symposium on the question: “Are We in the Middle of the Second American Revolution?”

“The New Left does not portend a revolution, as its press agents claim, but a Putsch. A revolution is the climax of a long philosophical development and expresses a nation’s profound discontent; a Putsch is a minority’s seizure of power. The goal of a revolution is to overthrow tyranny; the goal of a Putsch is to establish it.

Tyranny is any political system (whether absolute monarchy or fascism or communism) that does not recognize individual rights (which necessarily include property rights). The overthrow of a political system by force is justified only when it is directed against tyranny: it is an act of self-defense against those who rule by force. For example, the American Revolution. The resort to force, not in defense, but in violation, of individual rights, can have no moral justification; it is not a revolution, but gang warfare.

No revolution was ever spearheaded by wriggling, chanting drug addicts who are boastfully anti-rational, who have no program to offer, yet propose to take over a nation of 200 million, and who spend their time manufacturing grievances, since they cannot tap any authentic source of popular discontent.

Physically, America is not in a desperate state, but intellectually and culturally she is. The New Left is the product of cultural disintegration; it is bred not in the slums, but in the universities; it is not the vanguard of the future, but the terminal stage of the past.

Intellectually, the activists of the New Left are the most docile conformists. They have accepted as dogma all the philosophical beliefs of their elders for generations: the notions that faith and feeling are superior to reason, that material concerns are evil, that love is the solution to all problems, that the merging of one’s self with a tribe or a community is the noblest way to live. There is not a single basic principle of today’s Establishment which they do not share. Far from being rebels, they embody the philosophic trend of the past 200 years (or longer): the mysticism-altruism-collectivism axis, which has dominated Western philosophy from Kant to Hegel to James and on down.

But this philosophic tradition is bankrupt. It crumbles in the aftermath of World War II. Disillusioned in their collectivist ideals, America’s intellectuals gave up the intellect. Their legacy is our present political system, which is not capitalism, but a mixed economy, a precarious mixture of freedom and controls. Injustice, insecurity, confusion, the pressure-group warfare of all against all, the amorality and futility of random, pragmatist, range-of-the-moment policies are the joint products of a mixed economy and of a philosophical vacuum.

There is a profound discontent, but the New Left is not its voice; there is a sense of bitterness, bewilderment and frustrated indignation, a profound anxiety about the intellectual moral state of this country, a desperate need of philosophical guidance, which the church-and-tradition-bound conservatives were never able to provide and the liberals have given up.
Without opposition, the hoodlums of the New Left are crawling from under the intellectual wreckage. Theirs is the Anti-Industrial Revolution, the revolt of the primordial brute – no, not against capitalism, but against capitalism’s roots – against reason, progress, technology, achievement, reality.

What are the activists after? Nothing. They are not pulled by a goal, but pushed by the panic of mindless terror. Hostility, hatred, destruction for the sake of destruction are their momentary forms of escape. They are a desperate herd looking for a Fuhrer.

They are not seeking any specific political system, since they cannot look beyond the “now”. But the sundry little Fuhrers who manipulate them as cannon-fodder do have a mongrel system in mind: a statist dictatorship with communist slogans and fascist policies. It is their last, frantic attempt to cash in on the intellectual vacuum.

Do they have a chance to succeed? No. But they might plunge the country into a blind, hopeless civil war, with nothing but some other product of anti-rationality, such as George C. Wallace, to oppose them.

Can this be averted? Yes. The most destructive influence on the nation’s morale is not the young thugs, but the cynicism of respectable publications that hail them as “idealists”. Irrationality is not idealistic: drug addiction is not idealistic; the bombing of public places is not idealistic.

What this country needs is a philosophical revolution – a rebellion against the Kantian tradition – in the name of the first of our Founding Fathers: Aristotle. This means a reassertion of the supremacy of reason, with its consequences: individualism, freedom, progress, civilization. What political system would it lead to? An untried one: full, laissez-faire capitalism. But this will take more than a beard and a guitar. “

The first condition a philosophical revolution needs is a structured format to teach the Lay. Rand did not leave this as legacy. She left a conundrum no different than the age-old arguments academia proliferate to date. Aristotle, Plato,....and where is the simplicity beyond the complex, that the young, or those who have had no acquaintance with philosophical constructs, may learn what their perceptions are in abstraction? The Objective Standard? The Ayn Rand Institute? Atlas Society? The Gulch? Zero progress has been made toward simplicity of expression. Look at all the “ists” and “isms” above. This requires long-term focused attention and integration.....of what is “supposed” to be foundational. Is this really true? Or is it simpler?
I am Human. I experience my life through physical perception of comfort and discomfort, emotional perception of happiness or unhappiness and conceptual interaction, only with other humans, of equity or inequity. Look to both “sides” in this present political contestation ...unhappiness vs unhappiness. One side is a fundamental unhappiness regarding inequitable interactions learned through experiences, the other, a manufactured unhappiness upon those who have no philosophical tools to identify equity. And yet fear is the driving force behind each, not reason.

Today’s contestation; Putsch v Populist, a vote, solves nothing. Until mortality is defined as the underpinning source of values necessary to life nothing changes but the players in the game. Ayn rand offered this in 1961, a gem within the mountain of her works; The Objectivist’s Ethics. In South Africa it is said that it takes a ton of earth moved to find a diamond. Why has this been so overlooked....presumption, assumption? No! To take an objective look at one’s mortality requires courage. Courage to look at one’s own bias and begin paring away that which conflicts. Until A equals A at the most common among all humans.

Today we are fortunate to have on our ballots one who appeals to fundamental equitable relationships. Today I vote for Donald Trump, among others whom display similar values. What happens when there is no apparent heroic figure in the next turning?
SOURCE URL: https://www.nytimes.com/1970/05/17/archives/are-we-in-the-middle-of-the-second-american-revolution-the-most.html

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  • Posted by Owlsrayne 1 year, 1 month ago
    The Lefts perpetration of fraud in this election is so rampant it boggles the mind. Winning at any cost goes against the level headed intelligent citizens of this country. From what the results so far the Supreme Court will end up being the arbiter of this election. The entire educational system in this country has failed the young people of this nation. It's all fabricated history, economics & civics. Change in philosophy is not not going to happen!
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  • Posted by LarryHeart 1 year, 1 month ago
    In addition to the internal leftist threat which came about just as Ayn Rand outlined, today we have another outside threat.

    Communist China has influenced the election towards Biden and other left wing candidates around the world through spreading COVID-19 and wrecking the world's economies.

    The leftist media ginned up fear even further. China, the UN , the WHO and the global Media created fertile ground for the Fuhrers the fearful are looking for to rise up.

    However there is a value system that can save the United States. It is the one that the Founders embraced based on Nature and nature's god. Applicable to the religious of all stripes and the non religious alike.

    Individual Human Beings have transcendent and inalienable rights, among which – but not limited to – are the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, free will and ownership/stewardship of wealth and property.

    Mankind has dominion of the earth but not of each other. All property belongs to Nature and Nature’s God. However, Human beings are endowed with the right to ownership and stewardship of property and earn title to property by work, trade, inheritance or voluntary gift.

    more here http://02f8c87.netsolhost.com/WordPre...

    People always act with integrity. Criminal actions result from criminal values.
    The Solution to crime is to Replace the criminal values, not just Police criminal action.
    – Dr Society
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  • Posted by starguy 10 months ago
    I recently re-read "Atlas Shrugged", and it could be written from today's headlines. Thanks for posting this 1970 article. Much food for thought.
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  • Posted by Analog_Kid 1 year, 1 month ago
    Oddly enough I popped open my aged copy of TNL just yesterday and landed right on this essay. I was immediately reminded how prescient Rand was so long ago. I know she was writing about the world 50 years ago but it's shocking how accurately it describes our world today.
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