Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ayn Rand Quotes Relevant to the Election

Here's some food for thought that I cooked up for a local group. The key question was: vote for Obama to protest the ineptitude of the Republican's, and to let the Dem's ruin their reputation, or vote for McCain because, whatever his flaws, the consequences of a President Obama are irreparable. Or: vote for neither.

The angle: examine a collection of old quotes from Ayn Rand that struck me as relevant to making such a decision. Most of these concerned the McGovern-Nixon election, a few the Reagan election, and some others might apply to any election.

Key issues subsumed here:
- impact on history to the election of either man -- short and long-term.
- Leftism vs pragmatism
- The threat of fascism (I think it applies to both parties)

- Parallels to the rise of Nazism? (Honestly Obama scares the hell out of me, but the same might be said of McCain)
- Prospects for what we can expect to live under with Obama or McCain -- short and long term.
- Prospect for the Supremes under either?
- How much can either man get away with in Congress. Can a minority of Republicans block Obama's worst? Will they?
- Will President Obama shake up the Dems? Will a McCain loss shake up the Republicans?
- many others, for sure...

Beside the essays these quotes are from, I think John Lewis's recent lecture on the convergence of the Right and Left is relevant, but I don't have a copy of that. Also, the recent Objective Standard article on the Neo-cons. And, in regard to McCain of McCain-Feingold fame, probably Francisco's Money speech in Atlas Shrugged. And Peikoff's "Ominous Parallels"

(ARL = Ayn Rand Letter, TO = The Objectivist, CUI = Capitalism the Unknown Ideal, PWNI = Philosophy Who Needs It, VOR = Voice of Reason.)

(My comments in parentheses below the quote)

The Dead End (ARL v1, no 20):
"President Johnson... fell as a martyr to the principle that principles are
unnecessary. It took only four years to carry him from a popular landslide to so
great an unpopularity that he could not venture to face the voters again."
(President Obama could quickly end up this way, I think)

"Sooner or later, somebody had to cash in... Senator McGovern did... " (aka, Obama?)

"As a true pragmatist, Mr. Nixon saw nothing wrong in proposing to save
capitalism by providing everyone with a guaranteed minimum income..." (McCain
proposed saving us with McCain-Feingold limits on campaign financing, at the
expense of free speech)

"Mr. McGovern proposes to slice off the top, the near-top, and the middle of the economic pyramid, thus cutting off the future,
the ambition, the energy, and the hope of every individual in this country,
except those on ...welfare." (Obama, obviously)

"The McGovern plan would stop everyone on whatever level he has happened to reach and forbid him to rise.
It would freeze the nation into economic castes... It is against this class ...the self-made man -- that the McGovern proposal is directed." (Obama's plan
for subordinating the U.S. to the U.N., and requiring us to pay taxes to the
U.N. to support the third world.)

"[regarding McGovern's foreign policy]
I wish [someone] would tell us how to assess an obscenity such as a proposal for
the unilateral disarmament of the United States -- and would suggest some
possible explanation, other than treasonable irresponsibility or a staggering
degree of stupidity." (Obama's plan would essentially do this.)

"The liberal Establishment and its pragmatist commentators seem to be bewildered by
Mr. McGovern's success in the primaries..." (Obama)

"Since there are no fundamental differences among the candidates, those in the middle of the road
[McCain, others?] paved it with altruist-statist generalities and evasions, thus
enabling Mr. McGovern to march forward as the consistent representative..." (Why
did Hillary falter? Less consistent)

"People know that the country cannot go on like this much longer. But since they do not know which direction
it ought to take --since neither the politicians nor the commentators nor the
professors nor the intellectual leaders will tell them -- people have reached
the only conclusion open to the helplessly frustrated: 'anything is better than
this!' They have expressed it by voting almost indiscriminately against the
middle -- by voting for two "extremists"." (aka, Obama and Hillary?)

"Perhaps the most pathetic and significant aspect of the primaries was
the large number of voters... who voted for McGovern and named Wallace as their
second choice... But the voters are not listening to concretes (or to promises
any longer: they are looking primarily for a man they can trust... Both
projected moral self-confidence... It is this quality that people respond to in
political candidates, not the 'charm', their 'personality', or their photogenic
profiles. The source of this quality is an uncompromising commitment to a
broadly consistent set of ideas." (Obama vs Hillary)

"As of this writing I do not know whether Mr. McGovern will win the nomination or not. If he
does, it will be by ... default... of his opponents. In either case the
Democratic Party has gone past the middle and reached the dead end of the
welfare-state road..." (Hillary's default)

"If anyone can get George McGovern elected President of the United States, it will be Richard M. Nixon."
(or John McCain)
A Preview (ARL, v1, no. 22. 23, 24)

"The [Democratic Party] Platform is tailored to the McGovern program in content,
but not in form. In form, it is a contract drawn up by a shyster who intends to
put over as much as possible on the careless ... and is counting on them to
skim... recognize the familiar sugary phrases, and miss the ground glass
sprinkled through the sugar." (This is surely Obama's meaningless campaign

"The motives behind such programs is the same as the motive of
all the exponents of power-lust..." (Which is Obama to a "T" in my opinion)

"The rest of the issues covered in the Platform are ... vaguer and
dripping in generalities... the hint of a program of forced resettlement 'to
promote a balance of population"... the official establishment of quotes 'in all
branches of the Federal Government...' ... the creation of a full system of
socialized medicine... and Mr. McGovern's promise to cut military spending down
to the level of unilateral disarmament..." (All sounds familiar)

"You would not sign such a contract in your home, office or place of
work, at any time. Do not sign it in a voting booth in November."
"...while the precariously mixed economy of the country was going down,
the intellectual pressure of the academic world was going up... the real turning
point came when the welfare statists switched from economics to physiology: they
began to seek a new power base in deliberately fostered racism... of minority
groups, then in the hatreds and inferiority complexes of women, of 'the young',
etc." (Obama again...)

"The men at the convention... the defeated
candidates [could not permit themselves to grasp it]... When Hubert Humphrey
withdrew from the race, he was tragically sincere in his determination to
support his Party's choice... [his] party loyalty as ... the only remnant of his
shattered universe. During the primaries, he expressed bitter astonishment at
the fact that he had a better, more liberal record than McGovern... yet his
former supporters were deserting him. He was obviously unable to understand that
he had spent a lifetime preparing the way for McGovern's victory, and that he
was losing not in in spite of his record, but because of it." (aka, Hillary)

"In spite of the commentators' bewildered tributes to the supposed
efficiency and discipline of McGovern's 'organization', what came across on the
television screen was the exact opposite: the spectacle of disorganized motion,
of a shapeless horde pulled in various directions... caught in a situation way
above its depth..." (Kind of what I expect for the Dem convention)

"The presence of an 'organization' was noticeable only in the
achievement of a single purpose: to take over -- with no thought or plan for
what came next (which indicates the leaders' motives)." (Certainly applies to
Obama and his supporters)

"Is McGovern the leader or the captive of the
hippies? Both and neither... the hippies lost no time in throwing their weight

"The power base that McGovern teeters on is only a pile of
buckshot to be scattered under his first step."

"McGovern's candidacy was no one's first choice. The first leader of the leftist attempt to take over
the Democratic Party, in 1968, was Eugene McCarthy, a much more intellectual
figures; he was followed by Robert Kennedy, who was stronger and more
colorful..." (Obama is not as boring as McGovern, but he's certainly no

"For many years I had watched Republican candidates start
out as uncompromising champions of free enterprise, then throw it all away and
lose the election in a disgracefully mealy--mouthed, fence-straddling,
cliché-ridden acceptance speech... Now I had the bitter satisfaction of hearing
a Democratic candidate outdo them all... McGovern's speech was a flat, trite,
uninspired combination of... the generalities of a cautious demagogue [and] the
banalities of a small-town evangelist." (Sort of what I expect if Obama gets the

"To the great credit of the American people, the polls taken immediately after the Democratic Convention showed a significant drop in
McGovern's popularity and a significant rise in Nixon's." (And I think a
nomination of Obama could quickly have the same effect)

"I am not an admirer of President Nixon... but I urge every able-minded voter, of any race,
creed, color, age, sex or political party, to vote for Nixon -- as a matter of
national emergency. This is no longer an issue of choosing the lesser of two
commensurate evils. The choice is between a flawed candidate representing
Western Civilization -- and the perfect candidate of its primordial enemies. If
there were some campaign organization called 'Anti-Nixonites for Nixon', it
would name my position. The worst thing said about Nixon is that he cannot be
trusted, which is true: he cannot be trusted to save this country. But one thing
is certain: McGovern can be trusted to destroy it." (I think this is very

A Nation's Unity (ARL, v2, no. 1, 2, 3)
"Do you accept a social system of this kind? ... It is important to consider it
now because, in the coming Presidential election, one of the candidates is
asking us to agree and -- in the name of national unity -- explicitly to accept
the principle that our lives belong to the State." (Arguably we could say this
about McCain as well as Obama)

"The problem of human predators is as old as recorded history, or older..." (This is how I characterize Obama. But in his
own way, McCain, too)

"When a politician's demands for unity violate your convictions, when he claims that unity supersedes our judgment, when he
urges you to support policies which you oppose, to participate in actions you
regard as evil, to join your own destroyers, or to leap into a sacrificial
furnace -- all in the name of national unity -- then pretense, hypocrisy,
corruption, hatred, and national disintegration will be the only results. It is
the last remnants of the principle of individual rights -- and therefore of
national unity -- that George McGovern is avowedly out to destroy." (McCain is
the consummate "centrist", and I think we'll be hearing calls for "unity" if he
gets elected)

"McGovern was advocating a proposal... that all income above $12,000 a year be expropriated... Such a proposal is the confession of a
mentality totally devoid of the concept of individual rights (and of justice)."
(Not so different from Obama... he'd give all our income to the world)

"It was McGovern who rewrote the Democratic Convention rules, which
enabled his boys to stack the delegations by means of preferential quotas given
to some minority pressure groups... he was helped by ... a gang of sundry young
manipulators, power-luster's and hippies, who publicized themselves as a
'grass-roots movement'. ...This is the kind of unity McGovern hopes to extort
from the nation." (absolutely Obama & Company)

"It is obvious that McGovern had counted on hatred -- on deliberately stimulated class hatred and
hatred for Richard Nixon -- to unite the nation..." (the Left is still doing it
-- but hatred for Republicans in general)

"McGovern and his intellectual supporters are obviously stunned and bewildered [at the public's
dislike for him]...." (I think that could well be Obama's fate in the run up to
the election. That's why I'm thinking McCain will be elected, despite the mess
Bush has created.)

"In an alternative of this kind, there is only one
choice for those who value individual rights. As you know, I an not an admirer
of Mr. Nixon -- but whatever his flaws, they are nothing compared to his
adversary's 'perfectly clear signposts'. It is against statism that we have to
vote. It is statism that has to be defeated -- and defeated resoundingly." (Is
that the compelling issue this election? Others say it's the danger of religion.
My own opinion... religion has been somewhat marginalized by the fanatics of
9/11 and Bush's incompetence. )

"A year ago I was being asked whether I
held any hope for the future of this country. I gave my answer under the title
'Don't Let It Go'... It dealt with the sense of life of the American people. In
the present campaign, [they] have confirmed and surpassed my best hopes. If I
were religious... I would say: 'God bless America'. I am saying it anyway."
(What's the relevance of this? Not sure. But it was her response to the election
of Nixon, of all people. And remembering the McGovern defeat, I agreed. I might
be prepared to say it about McCain over Obama, gritting my teeth real hard.)
Ideas v. Good (ARL, v3, no. 11)
"...Isabel Paterson... used to say to me: 'If you hear some bad collectivistic
notions, chances are that they came from liberals. But if you hear or read
something outrageously, god-awfully collectivistic, you may be sure that the
author is a conservative." (One reason for gritting my teeth. But is McCain
really a conservative?)

"Professor Ronald H. Coase of the University of Chicago... is advocating government control of the press... " (et tu McCain -

"The hallmark of the unphilosophical mind is its
indiscriminate mixture of floating abstractions and momentary concretes, without
the ability (or the need) to tie the first to reality, and the second to
principles. ...'I do not believe that this distinction between the market for
goods and the market for ideas is valid', [Coase] declared..."

"...a concept which Mr. Coase, on the evidence, would be incapable of challenging:
altruism." (I'm sure McCain doesn't)

"...observe the motivation (and the triviality) of an unphilosophical mind. Observe the depth at which it stops, ie,
what issues it regards as fundamental enough to justify so awesome a proposal as
the erection of the ultimate capstone of a totalitarian dictatorship: government
control of speech and press." (I think this captures McCain perfectly)

"When one discards ideals, the fact that a given policy ... is evil,
does not constitute a reason for rejecting it. On the contrary, such an estimate
serves as an incentive to adopt and expand that policy... to a cynic's mind,
that which is evil is potent and practical." (McCain is absolutely a cynic, and
an angry one. )

"When one discards philosophy, one ... does not challenge the fundamental premises of current beliefs: one loses the capacity to
perceive fundamentals."

"If principles are not the motivation of the conservatives policy, what is? ... consider the degree of blinding hatred a man
would have to feel against the press in order to be eager to chain it at the
price of giving up the freedom of the mind (his own included)..." (Recall McCain
got caught in the Keating campaign money scandal early in his career... he came
out of it contrite... and eventually sponsored McCain-Feingold to do penance. To
McCain, money is the root of all evil [Francisco's money speech], and he was
willing to sell out freedom of speech to that end.)
Ideas V. Men (ARL, v3, no. 15)
"Mr Coase reveals the notion he regards as sufficiently explanatory [for his
theory]: 'The market for ideas is the market in which the intellectual conducts
his trade. ... Self-esteem leads the intellectuals to magnify the important of
their own market..."

"The Wall Street Journal... came to the defense of Mr. Coase... 'there should be no distinction between the market for goods and
the market for ideas.'" (Maybe the Republican Party today will do the same.)

"The same kind of problem affected the listeners [of Coase's
lecture]... They did not focus on the speech, but on the speaker: since he was
known as a defender of free enterprise, they assumed that anything he said was
in defense of freedom. They listened selectively, in snatches, trusting his
superior knowledge... hearing only what they wanted to hear, ignoring the rest."
(Describes a lot of Conservatives)
Censorship: Local and Express (PWNI)
"Both camps hold the same basic premise--the mind-body dichotomy--but choose
opposite sides of this lethal fallacy. The conservatives want freedom to act in
the material realm... but they advocate government control of man's spirit...
they advocate the State's right to impose censorship... to rule the intellect.
The liberals want freedom to act in the spiritual realm... but they advocate
government control of material production... neither camp holds freedom as a
value... the two camps are only two sides of the same coin--the same counterfeit
coin--they are now moving closer and closer together..." (As John Lewis said.)

"If this censorship ruling is not revoked, the next step will be...
'marketplace of ideas'." (And we're seeing that now. And probably more from a
President McCain)
The Anatomy of Compromise (CUI)
"Consider the conflict between the Republicans and the Democrats... Since both
parties hold altruism as their basic moral principle, both advocate a welfare
state or mixed economy as their ultimate goal..." (Will there be any difference
between McCain or Obama? I think so... )

"If and when the conservatives are kicked out of the game altogether, the same conflict will continue between
the 'liberals' and the avowed socialists... when the socialist win, the conflict
will continue between the socialists and the communists; when the communists
win, the ultimate goal of altruism will be achieved: universal immolation."
(Sure sounds like Hillary and Obama)

"Nothing can be added to the fact that [the U.N.] ... is so grotesquely evil an affront to reason, morality and
civilization that no further discussion is necessary..." (Obama, of course, has
called for the United States to be subordinated to the U.N, and to pay it taxes
to distribute to the world, etc, etc.)
Conservatism: An Obituary (CUI)
"We stand for freedom say [conservatives and liberal] -- and proceed to declare
what kind of controls, regulations, coercions, taxes and 'sacrifices' they would
impose..." (Guaranteed we'll get it from both McCain and Obama)

"The 'liberals' are trying to put statism over by stealth... [but] there is something
more reprehensible still: the policy of the conservatives who are trying to
defend freedom by stealth..." (Here lies one of the key arguments for the Obama
voters, no? Or is it the snub of the religionists they seek?)

"[conservatives] are paralyzed by the profound conflict between
capitalism and the moral code [of]... altruism. ... in recent years the
conservatives have gradually come to a dim realization of the weakness in their
position... but the means by which they are attempting to correct it are worse
than the original weakness... [by] discrediting and destroying the last remnants
of their claim to intellectual leadership. ...the neo-conservatives are now
trying to tell us that America was the product of 'faith in revealed truths' and
uncritical respect for the traditions of the past." (Had no idea
neo-conservative was a term in the sixties)

"I want to give a warning... nothing is as futile as a movement without goals or a crusade without ideals or
a battle without ammunition. A bad argument is worse than ineffectual: it lends
credence to the arguments of your opponents. A half battle is worse than none:
it does not end in mere defeat--it helps and hastens the victory of your
enemies..." (Question: is a protest vote for Obama a half-battle?)
"Do not join those who have no ideology... do not go into battle armed with nothing
but stale slogans... and meaningless generalities. Do not join any so-called
"conservative" group.. that [argues] from 'faith', from 'tradition'...." (Does
the Republican Party now fall under this category?)
The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus (CUI)
"Observe the torrents of vilification, abuse and hysterical hatred unleashed by
the 'moderates' against any advocate of freedom, ie, of capitalism..." (Where is
McCain on this?)

"Which... two variants of statism are we moving toward:
socialism or fascism?" (as she said, fascism, and I think that is still true)

"If you doubt the power of philosophy... observe that our mixed economy
is the literal, faithfully carried-out product of Pragmatism.." (Above all,
McCain is a pragmatist. There's one source of the terrible damage he can do.
Pragmatism and altruism. But he's a guilty altruist -- the worst combination.)
Lessons of Vietnam (ARL v3, no. 24)
"I was in my early teens during the Russian civil war. I lived in a small town
that changed hands many times. ... When it was occupied by the White Army, I
almost longed for the return of the Red Army, and vice versa. There was not much
difference between them in practice, but there was in theory. The Red Army stood
for totalitarian dictatorship and rule by terror. The White Army stood for
nothing; repeat: nothing. In answer to the monstrous evil they were fighting,
the Whites found nothing better to proclaim than the dustiest, smelliest
bromides of the time: we must fight, they said, for Holy Mother Russia, for
faith and tradition." (Sounds so much like the Dems and Republicans...)

"I kept waiting for some person or group among the Whites to come out
with a real political manifesto that would explain and proclaim why one must
fight against communism and what one might fight for. I knew even then that the
'what' was freedom, individual freedom, and (a concept alien to Russia)
individual rights." (Becoming alien in the U.S., too. Are we heading into the
year 1917 in Soviet Russia? )

"In a passive, indifferent way, the majority of the Russian people were behind the White Army: they were not for the
Whites, but merely against the Reds; they feared the Reds' atrocities. I knew
that the Reds' deepest atrocity was intellectual, that the thing which had to be
fought--and defeated--was their ideas. But no one answered them. The country's
passivity turned to hopeless lethargy as people gave up. The Reds had an
incentive, the promise of nationwide looting; they had the leadership and the
semi-discipline of a criminal gang; they had an allegedly intellectual program
and an allegedly moral justification. The Whites had icons. The Reds won."

"Nobody respects an altruist, neither in private life nor in
international affairs. An altruist is a person who keeps sacrificing himself and
his values, which means: sacrificing his friends to his enemies, his allies to
his antagonists, his interests to any cry for help, his strength to anyone's
weakness, his convictions to anyone's wishes, the truth to any lie, the good to
any evil."
A Last Survey (v4, no 2)
"The presidential election of 1976. I urge you, as emphatically as I can, not to
support the candidacy of Ronald Reagan. I urge you not to work for or advocate
his nomination, and not to vote for him. ... Mr Reagan is not a champion of
capitalism, but a conservative in the worst sense... see Fred Kinnan in Atlas
Shrugged... most Republican politicians... preserve some respect for the rights
of the individual. Mr Reagan does not: he opposes the right to abortion." (Okay,
here's one for the Obama protest voters)

"If, which is very doubtful, Mr. Reagan gets the Republican nomination, there is only one group of
people that could make it necessary to vote for him: the Democrats -- by
nominating some equivalent of Senator McGovern, such as Senator Kennedy." (What
she giveth, she taketh away... Here's one for the McCain voters)
The Sanction of the Victim (VOR, p156)
"What do I think of President Reagan? The best answer to give would be: But I
don't think of him--and the more I see, the less I think. I did not vote for him
(or for anyone else) and events seem to justify me. The appalling disgrace of
his administration is his connection with the so-called 'Moral Majority' and
sundry TV religionists, who are struggling--apparently with his approval-- to
take us back to the Middle Ages, via the unconstitutional union of religion and
politics. The threat to the future of capitalism is the fact that Reagan might
fail so badly that he will become another ghost, like Herbert Hoover, to be
invoked as an example of capitalism's failure for another fifty years." (Is this
a danger with McCain?)
Brief Summary (The Objectivist, p1090)
"You will observe an illustration of my tenet that 'a half-battle is worse than
none: it does not end in mere defeat -- it helps and hastens the victory of your
enemies'. The year 1965 marked a perceptible change in this country's cultural
atmosphere and an acceleration of its decadence... The turning point was the
Republican defeat of 1964 ...the miserably poor showing made by the country's
alleged defenders of capitalism and freedom. It proved to the collectivists that
no matter what the attempted to get away with, they would encounter no
intellectual opposition... the result was President Johnson, his 'consensus',
and the student rebellion at Berkeley-- ie, an open break with reason, an
explicit proclamation of gang... warfare as a way of life, and the introduction
of brute physical force as a means of solving social issues. " (And given
Obama's overt racism, that's what I think will happen)

"About forty years ago, whenever I encountered conservatives who were worried about the
policies of the New Deal, I told them that the battle is not political, but
philosophical; they answered that it is too late, that there is not time for
philosophical re-education, that the country must be saved from collectivism
instantaneously... Those who are not willing to give up the world to mindless
brutality must learn that the battle is philosophical -- and that there is not
time for anything else." (This is more my own position -- a vote here or a vote
there is almost hairsplitting in this election. How much difference will it
make? The only thing that will make a real difference is to get ideas out there.
The election is an opportunity for that. People need answers to the
irrationality, and are looking for them. )

"Kant was opposed in his time and the hereafter, but his opponents adopted a kind of Republican Party method:
they conceded all his basic premises and fought him on inconsequential
details..." (some parallels here to Hillary, too)
What Can One Do? (PWNI, p202)
"Above all, do not join the wrong ideological groups or movements, in order to
'do something'. By 'ideological'... I mean groups or movements proclaiming some
vaguely generalized, undefined (and usually contradictory) political goals. (Eg,
the Conservative Party, which subordinates reason to faith and substitutes
theocracy for capitalism...)" (this applies to both Obama and the Republicans

"If a dictatorship ever comes to this country, it will be by the
default of those who keep silent..." (I think speaking out right now is more
important than voting for either candidate.)
The Left, Old and New (The New Left)
"Culturally, we are approaching the stage where anyone can take over, provided
his doctrines are sufficiently irrational...." (I think this applies to Obama)

"The forms may vary, the slogans may change, ... but three fundamentals
remain untouched: mysticism-altruism-collectivism. And so does their
psychological manifestation: the lust for power, ie, the lust to destroy."
(Obama for damn sure, and some element of it in McCain)