The Left-Right Paradigm 101-- According to Rand

Posted by MattFranke 8 years ago to Philosophy
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Quoted directly from Objectivism by Leonard Peikoff, from the chapter on government.
"The liberals tend to advocate intellectual freedom while demanding economic controls. The conservatives (though they endorse many economic controls) tend to advocate economic freedom, while demanding government controls in all the crucial intellectual and moral realms. Both groups obviously subscribe to and reflect the mind-body dichotomy. The conservatives, whose roots lie in religion, are mystics of spirit. The liberals, whose roots lie in Marx, are mystics of muscle.
'The conservatives [writes Rand] see man as a body freely roaming the earth, building sand piles or factories-with an electronic computer inside his skull, controlled from Washington. The liberals see man as a soul freewheeling to the farthest reaches of the universe--but wearing chains from nose to toes when he crosses the street to buy a loaf of bread.'
Is it a paradox that the spiritualists advocate economic freedom, while the materialist advocate intellectual freedom? Ayn Rand holds that such a development is logical:
'...each camp wants to control the realm it regards as metaphysically important; each grants freedom only to the activities that it despises.... Neither camp holds freedom as a value. The conservatives want to rule man's consciousness; the liberals, his body.'
There is nothing more to be said about liberals; no one can confuse Franklin D. Roosevelt or Edward M. Kennedy with Objectivism. About the conservatives, however, who pretend to be defenders of "free enterprise" or "the American way of life" while spreading all the opposite ideas and laws, something remains to be said.
Precisely because of their pretense, the conservatives are morally lower than the liberals; they are farther removed from reality--and, therefore, they are more harmful in practice. Since they purport to be fighting "big government" they are the main source of political confusion in the public mind; they give people the illusion of an electoral alternative without the fact. Thus the statist drift proceeds unchecked and unchallenged.
Historically, from the Sherman Act to Herbert Hoover to the Bush Administration(s), it is conservatives, not the leftists, who have always been the major destroyers of the United States.
"Conservative" here must be construed in philosophic terms. It subsumes any "rightist" who attempts to tie the politics of the Founding Fathers to unreason in any form--whether he is a Protestant fundamentalist, a Catholic invoking Papal dogma, a neoconservative invoking Judaic dogma, a Republican invoking "states right" (i.e. a man seeking fifty tyrannies instead of one), a libertarian invoking anarchism, or a Southerner invoking racism.
Freedom is the opposite of every one of these creeds--and so is Objectivism their opposite.
Objectivists are not "conservatives." We do not seek to preserve the present system, but to change it at the root. In the literal sense of the word, we are radicals--radicals for freedom, radicals for man's rights, radicals for capitalism.
We have no choice in the matter.
We have no choice because, in philosophy, we are radicals for reason."

So there you have it; the truth about liberals and conservatives; simply two sides of the same coin; a duopoly of power, both meant to enslave and control the masses.

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  • Posted by Hiraghm 8 years ago
    Funny, as Rand also demanded government control in the moral realm. Else she would not advocate making it illegal to initiate violence.

    The biggest problem I have with Objectivists is that they come off like typical teenagers. Know-it-alls who don't have enough experience of life to back up their idealism.

    All this guy is doing is promoting the usual left-right dichotomy.

    I wonder if he's encountered the Pournelle Axes?

    Then the Founding Fathers themselves were unreasoning Republicans, because they set up the system of State Republics and invoked States rights (see the 10th Amendment as an example).

    It is not 50 tyrannies vs 1 (and I can give argument why that would be preferable but it's beside the point). Half the people who set up the government did not want the federal government involved in people's lives beyond the common defense and common concerns among the States; a confederacy. The Articles of Confederation proved too difficult to adjust (no Amendment process, iirc), which is why we came up with the Constitution which preserved States rights. Oh, and there were only 13 tyrannies at the time.

    If one tyranny is preferable to 50, then it's certainly preferable to 126. So I can only assume you really can't wait for the U.N. to control the world.

    The difference between a conservative and an anarchist is that a conservative recognizes that some government is necessary to preserve individual liberty, and therefore not all government is "tyranny".

    Your invocation of the terms "the masses", "neoconservative" and "Southerner invoking racism" gives your ideology away. You're a wannabe troll, imo.

    "Did you ever stop to think that maybe feudalism is what suits man? Some one place to call our own, and belong to, and be part of; a community with traditions and honor; a chance for the individual to make decisions that count; a bulwark for liberty against the central overlords, who'll always want more and more power; a thousand different ways to live."
    "... Why not a world of little states, too well-rooted to dissolve in a nation, too small to do much harm - slowly rising above petty jealousies and spite but keeping their identities - a thousand separate approaches to our problems." - No Truce With Kings by Poul Anderson

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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 8 years ago
    A great piece of writing; there's so much here.

    It's a lot of reading into the motivations of left/right-wingers. I'm not sure the right wants control the spirit and left wants to control the material physical b/c each wants to control what's important to its own side. I think the right sees the spiritual as the foundation (e.g. Binding of Isaac) upon which a good life is built while the left sees the physical as the foundation (e.g. Maslow's Hierarchy). My only difference with Rand on this point is I would say "foundational" instead of "metaphysically important."

    Democrats / Republicans are a layer removed, and act as if they represent the left / right respectively.

    This system is so corrosive. It takes someone like me who is leans libertarian / pragmatist. It says you must choose left or right. Okay, I'll say left for Maslow's Hierarchy reasons. Then they say if you're left, you must be a Democrat. Okay, but the Democrats don't even represent the left well. So I end up supporting a double layered compromise. I promote libertarian ideas by being involved my representatives, but the fundraiser money goes to the Democratic party, which helps promote this nonsense fight.

    The condition Rand is describing, in which the left and right are a duopoly of power, is much better than what we have. We have a Democrat / Republican (very loose representatives of left and right ideology) duopoly of power.

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    • Posted by $ Hiraghm 8 years ago
      Blacks LOVE watermelon and fried chicken. Women can't drive worth a darn. Jews are money-grubbers. Businessmen would rape their own mothers for profit.

      Oh... sorry, I thought we were invoking mindless stereotypical generalizations about groups which are more inventions of our own minds than have any basis in objective reality.

      The 'right' wants people to control themselves, to be responsible for themselves. The 'left' want to control everybody 'for their own good'. The objectivists/anarchists/libertarians, want free license to do whatever the hell they want regardless of its affect on the people around them (provided they don't initiate violence).
      Of course, the last group never figures out that if your exercise of license annoys the rest of us too much... we'll just kill you. Unlike the fairy tale of Atlas Shrugged, in the real world there are lots and lots of smart, clever and inventive people who don't subscribe to objectivism. WWII would have been a lot easier if the national socialists weren't quite so good at science, technology and industry.

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      • Posted by CircuitGuy 8 years ago
        Are you rejecting what Rand wrote? I reject part of it too, but I can't understand if you're belittling the Rand quotes, the author's interpretation of the quotes, or my comments.
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        • Posted by Hiraghm 8 years ago
          Mostly the author's interpretation.
          Two things always need to be kept in mind in these discussions, imo.
          Atlas Shrugged is a fiction story written by a human being to make a point. It was not written by the bastard child of Shakespeare and Aristotle.
          Ayn Rand is a human being, not a prophet; while one can admire her ambition in creating a whole new philosophy, one that stands up to much scrutiny, she doesn't know it all. And it's neither blasphemy nor heresy to challenge her ideas.

          I have repeatedly said that objectivism, like socialism, is a utopian philosophy.
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          • Posted by CircuitGuy 8 years ago
            One point I took away from AS and Fountainhead is we should hold another person's ideas up as sacrosanct.

            I certainly don't agree with every word of AS and Fountainhead. At one point in AS, Dagny appears to admire her grandfather (maybe another relative) for allegedly murdering a politician who promoted policies she disagreed with to scare other politicians into business-friendly policies. That was the most offensive thing, but there are many things I disagreed with.
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