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Thoughts On Tea Party from Objecitivist Perspective

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"The spread of the Atlas Shrugged movie is just part of a wider Atlas Shrugged phenomenon--and part of the Tea Party phenomenon.The Tea Party movement began, in last 2008 and early 2009, during a huge surge in interest in Ayn Rand's masterwork, when talk of "going Galt"--a reference to one of the novel's heroes--sent Atlas Shrugged back onto the best-seller lists after more than 50 years. The two phenomena are connected."


While the spread of Atlas was definitely helped out by the breakout of of the TP movement, you will note that the connection between the two is not the kind of connection you want it to be. You want to make the TP movement out to be an intellectual movement, and connect it to an intellectual novel. But it's not. It's an emotional reaction to the ever-increasing size and scope of our government, and to the social policies implemented by this administration. There are no rational ideas at the base of the TP movement.

The only thing rational about the TP movement, is that it is unofficially backed by Atlas Shrugged. Atlas and the Constitution are the unofficial ideological underpinning of the Tea Party movement, because that's the most politically and philosophically consistent document which most TP members can point to as a reference. Without them, the mainstream TP movement is a mish-mash of people who are intellectual and smarter than the average American about the Founding of our country and about the Constitution and the government, but it's not an intellectual movement in and of itself, with a centralized message and rational ideological premises. And if it is, I have yet to hear what this centralized message and rational premises are, from guys like you, who are the TP movement's ideological backers.

But even with these two documents, not all and not most TP members understand the principles behind them. For example, they don't all understand the ideas behind the Declaration of independence, such as the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. What would the average TP member say is the basis of the right to pursuit of happiness or property, for example? What would the average TP member say is the basis for our right to freedom of speech and religion?

There is too much of variation in the ideology of the average TP member. Note that they come from all over the place. And you can't really have a consistent movement of people who are all over the place politically. Hasn't that already been proven by the failed Libertarian movement? Isn't there ample proof in their 50 odd year history? And yes, I DO compare it to the libertarian movement, which also gets its ideological steam from Atlas Shrugged and AR.

Many of these people are anarchists, and some are even conservative Republicans. Basically, I echo everything that Peter Schwartz wrote in his article "Libertarianism: the Perversion of Liberty", as it pertains to both Libertarians, and also to TP members--but I cut the TP members some more slack, because their movement is less intellectual, and therefore potentially less malevolent. I would even go so far as to apply some of the criticisms of libertarians to the average TP member. For example, many TP members would agree with liberty, as an end in itself, and many hold the concept of liberty, as a floating abstraction. Think of what disastrous consequences this idea has, for the rest of one's philosophy. It's all outlined in Schwatz' article. Why not re-read it, and substitute the TP everywhere the word Libertarian is written, and see how much of an analogy you can draw between the two.

At the psycho-epistemological level, the TP movement and its members are benevolent, but ignorant. They get the fact that government is too large, and needs to be cut down in size. They get the fact that our taxes are too high, and that government corruption is too much. But ask them fundamental questions, suach as the source of our rights, and the nature of government, and where it derives its just powers--and the average TP member (as opposed to the average Objectivist) will greet you with a blank stare.

Compare that to the average progressive leftist, who actually has the opposite philosophy as the average Objectivist. I ask you to make this comparison, because the TP is SUPPOSED to be the antidote for the progressive entitlement society that we live in. And therefore, the average TP member, must be the antipode, to the average progessive leftist of today. Yet the average TP member, will not have the intellectual firepower, to counter the average progessive's consistently anti-freedom, anti-reason mentality, and consequent entitlement society world-view.

Therefore, we cannot rely on the TP movement and its members, as a means to save our country from the progressives. We can rely on the underlying documents--the Constitution, the Declaration, and Atlas. But we can't rely on the people, and the ideas (or lack thereof) of the movement itself.

You once said that this is a temporary movement, and once it achieves its objective, it will dissolve. But it's objective is so large in size and scope--namely to cut the size and scope of government--an objective which requires such a large context of knowledge both politically and philosophically and economically, that it is not possible to achieve without the full Objectivist philosophy held in context.

Guys like you will give the TP movement some intellectual ammo. But the ammo is wasted, because there is no substance behind it. There are no rational ideas held as the basis for these cosmetic political ideas which they are trying to implement.

When you implement political ideas without a philosophical basis for them, they are wasted implementations. The Founding of this country was such an enormous acheivement--not because we got a document (the constitution) out it--but we got with that, a full ideological revolution. Granted, that revolution was a consequence of many decades of prior political-philosophical thought, and that not everyone on the 'American street' possessed those thoughts--but they understood those thoughts and their consequences, as a result of the bloody revolution. They saw and understood why these rights are so important, in a very real way--a real way that we can't experience, because we weren't deprived of them to begin with, like they were.

But the TP movement, who seeks to have a material consequence to their efforts--presumably, something constitutional, or the repeal of certain laws currently on the books--is unlike the founding in other ways, specifically because it seeks to have it's (the TP movement's) consequences, without the requisite ideology which necessarily precedes the consequences. In other words, it is a movement which lacks a philosophical basis, and which seeks consquences which can only be philosophically attained. To put it in AR's terminology, it's the desire for the un-earned, in mind, body or spirit. But you can't really attain the un-earned in mind. You can get the good grade, even if you cheated to get it. But the good grade on your report card, doesn't mean you possess the knowledge which the grade presumes you do.

YOu can't get something for nothing. You must always pay for what you get--whether now or in the future. The TP movement seeks to get something now, and hopes to pay for it in the future (kind of like how the Progessives' vision of the entitlement society is--give them goodies now, and figure out how to pay for it in the future). Ayn Rand has attempted to help us pay for the TP's desired consequences. But the members of the TP movement haven't done the required mind-work, to pay for it. As a result of this intellectual emptiness, and lack of intellectual funding, the TP movement will suffer the same fate as the Libertarian movement--whose members the TP movement have undoubtedly borrowed for a while.

The TP movement will start out strong (that is where it's at right now), and attempt to achieve liberty as an end in itself, for lack of any other political objective. It will be a reactive movement, which will attempt to repeal perceived restrictive legislation, such as obama care. But it will never have a positive platform or agenda, due to the plurality of ideological views held by it's members.

It will attract a mish-mash of individuals with all kinds of political ideas, but take most of its most potent ideas from its Objectivist members. Most others will not understand the Objectivist ideas, but will accept the political conclusions of them.

Eventually, the movement will start to fall apart when there is no clear and direct political path ahead. Some people will try to hijack the TP movement, and make it about specific issues. Others will try to reconcile it with Objectivist ideas, and others will try to liken it to whatever other political or philosophical leanings they have. But eventually, it will come to an end.

Tracinski: get out of this movement before it's too late. Don't waste your time and effort on it. And remember, that the only reason we even have a backlash movement such as the TP movement, is because of Atlas Shrugged, and because of the Objectivist movement, which is the REAL ideological and philosophical movement of our time.

The only way to defeat the liberal-progressive agenda, is to do it at the fundamental level--at the level of metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. The politics will come as a result. But in this era of Obama and the coming-of-age of the progressive movement, it's clear to me that, while the Objectivist movement is also beginning to come to a head as the only alternative, that we still have many years of work to do, to undo the fundamental premises underlying the entitlement society that we live in.


Sev A.

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I am trying to learn the quote function so bear with me here. Sorry. I am so use to writing in essay form I will continue with that mode for now.

Sev wrote:

At the psycho-epistemological level, the TP movement and its members are benevolent, but ignorant. They get the fact that government is too large, and needs to be cut down in size.

They are your allies, Sev. Many have agreed to put any social issues on the back burner. If you want to improve your own life, in the long run, you need to improve your government.

Don’t forget Judge Narragansett from Atlas Shrugged:

The rectangle of light in the acres of a farm was the window of the library of Judge Narragansett. He sat at a table, and the light of his lamp fell on the copy of an ancient document. He had marked and crossed out the contradictions in its statements that had once been the cause of its destruction. He was now adding a new clause to its pages: "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade . . ."

The Tea Party can do that in 2012. No Objectivist need sanction everything a political party does. Ayn Rand supported Dewey (no joke) and Goldwater.

Extremism in the defense of Objectivism, even going to the extent of joining a political movement, is no vice. Doing nothing, or speaking as a nihilistic spoiler, or voting for someone who is sure to lose, is not virtuous and it is not what Ayn Rand did. Aren’t some candidates worth supporting? America IS worth saving. Ayn Rand's *government* is based on the United States Constitution.

In Robert Tracinski's “An Interview with Jamie Radtke, Part 2, he asks the Senatorial Tea Party and Republican candidate from Virginia about the Repeal Amendment and Jamie replied:

The Repeal Amendment is a proposed amendment to the US Constitution designed to restore the balance of power between the federal and state governments that our Founders originally envisioned. The amendment states that any law, rule, regulation, or tax passed by Congress can be repealed upon a vote of two-thirds of state legislatures. This does not give absolute power to the states—but with repeal power, the states could check the current absolute power of the federal government and force Congress to take a second look at unwise legislation.

Over the years, regardless of the political party in power, states have surrendered their sovereign prerogatives in return for federal handouts. This has given the federal government the ability to intrude in areas that the Constitution has reserved to the states.

This concentration of federal power has had many negative and unconstitutional consequences, from loss of personal freedom to unnecessary burdens on the free market, to the transfer of the people’s money to federal bureaucrats, to the imposition of unfunded mandates and other financial burdens on the states and their people.

Unless states stop yielding power to Washington, their complaints about federal intrusiveness will ring hollow. We must empower states with a constitutionally legitimate tool to check the powers of the federal government. The Repeal Amendment is that tool. The Repeal Amendment will empower states to regain their veto power to stop the irresponsible concentration of power in the federal government.

Interesting. A two-thirds majority of the state’s legislatures can repeal any law, rule, regulation, or tax passed by Congress. But a “con-con” or constitutional convention must first be called, to enact The Repeal Amendment. Do we trust the B%$#*tards to do JUST that?

Does anyone have any thoughts about the advisability of passing this amendment? The Government is once again, about to run out of money and ten elected, Tea Party Senator’s are tired of it. I like The Repeal Amendment better than calling more than one constitutional convention in the coming years. . . or politics as usual.

Semper cogitans fidele,

Peter Taylor

Edited by softwareNerd
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I am trying to learn the quote function so bear with me here. Sorry. I am so use to writing in essay form I will continue with that mode for now.
When you're posting, you will see a line of icons just above the text-entry box (starting with the icon for Bold, Italics, and so on). One of these is a blurb. When you click on that, it will insert two "tags", one to begin a quote and the next to end it. Anything you type between these two tags will show up in a quote block.

If you are replying to a particular post, and if you want to quote from that post, do not click "Add Reply" at the bottom of the topic. Instead, click the Reply button specific to that post. When you do that, the software will start you off with a reply that already contains the text from the other person's post, already within quote 'tags", and with the person's name and a backward link to their post already filled in. from within the quote "tags", you can remove any part of the text of their post, leaving just the part you wish to quote.

There's more, but for now, try this out.

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Bear with me. I am going to try the quote function again.

Thomas Jefferson wrote:

Each generation is as independent of the one preceding, as that was of all which had gone before. It has then, like them, a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes most promotive of its own happiness . . . .”

George H. Smith, author of “Atheism the Case against God,” illuminated the above quote by responding:

. . . the Founding Fathers rejected the notion that one generation can bind future generations. This does not mean that they framed constitutions only for their own generation. They had another explanation for how the political obligations generated by constitutions can apply to future generations. For now, I will leave it to you to figure out what that explanation was.

How about the Repeal Amendment proposal?

What do the Objectivists here think of the *consent doctrine?* Have you given your consent for Obamacare? Most likely not. Yet, if we are living in a Constitutional Government must we abide by the law as we work to change it? Yes, Ayn Rand might say, or protest non violently and accept the legal consequences.

George H. Smith also wrote:

But to say that it (The Constitution) was created principally to secure individual rights is really stretching the point. The 13 states already had their own constitutions, and these tended to be more libertarian than the U.S. Constitution.

If the various thirteen States already had their “more libertarian” state’s constitutions, weren’t those documents meant to last, complimenting the Federal Constitution, past the time that the signers died, onwards until their children died, and their children died? Weren‘t they meant to secure individual rights . . . well . . . forever?

I can only think that the Founders of the 13 States Constitutions, and the Founders of the United States Constitution were not creating documents to last until they died, or until their kids took over the reins of government. They would have been foolish to not act for posterity. Did they create something wonderful as if they would die tomorrow, or did they create a wondrous thing as if they (and their children’s children) were going to live forever?

With a view contrary to the one I just stated Thomas Paine wrote:

Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself in all cases as the age and generations which preceded it . . . It is the living, and not the dead, that are to be accommodated. When man ceases to be, his power and his wants cease with him; and having no longer any participation in the concerns of this world, he has no longer any authority in directing who shall be its governors, or how its government shall be organized, or how administered."

Paine is persuasive. But, isn’t he speaking about the right of each generation to fight tyranny? But what were the majority of the signer’s intents? Didn’t they *intend* to write a document to AVOID tyranny, so that they and their posterity would live in freedom? This wasn’t a contract to build a house. It was a contract to build a country.

When Paine says the deceased signer of the Constitution, “has no longer any authority in directing,” the living, I say he is defending the right for people to always fight any future tyranny! Those were cautionary words. *Multigenerational Contracts,* *Ownership,* and one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite causes, *Inheritance* were all hundreds of years old common law, and UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED CONCEPTS during that era. They did not live in the moment!

No, I must disagree with Paine. They set no time limit within the Constitution. It did NOT have a sunset clause. They created something to last longer than their own life times.

Look at every painted picture of the Signers. The artists tried to capture that sacred moment. Let me quote the meaning of *Sacred* from the Ayn Rand Lexicon:

I will ask you to project the look on a child’s face when he grasps the answer to some problem he has been striving to understand. It is a radiant look of joy, of liberation, almost of triumph, which is unself-conscious, yet self-assertive, and its radiance seems to spread in two directions: outward, as an illumination of the world—inward, as the first spark of what is to become the fire of an earned pride. If you have seen this look, or experienced it, you know that if there is such a concept as “sacred”—meaning: the best, the highest possible to man—this look is the sacred, the not-to-be-betrayed, the not-to-be-sacrificed for anything or anyone.

Mr. Paine, The founding Fathers did not build a house of cards.

2012 will be a pivotal year to seek a remedy to the “Problem of the Constitution.” I will consent to the right changes.

Semper cogitans fidele,

Peter Taylor

Edited by Peter Taylor
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In the recent debate, NYC Debate 2: 'Freedom From' vs. 'Freedom To' (Harry Binswanger and Benjamin Barger) (Watch Here on the Ayn Rand Institute LiveStream page.), at about 01:29, a woman in the audience has this helpful to understanding the purpose of the Constitution exchange with Dr. Binswanger (which I hope to have transcribed accurately):

Woman in audience: "As was stated earlier, our US Constitution is a social contract. I would like for you to address, if possible, the words "We the People" in our Constitution. What does that say to you?"

HB: "It's the people who were authorizing the document. They were speaking in the name of the people of the United States because it was approved in the state ratification. No, I don't think it's a social contract. But it wouldn't matter. I didn't sign it. You didn't sign it. When people vote to do things to you that you don't want done to you that is a violation of your rights if they use force to carry it out."

Woman in audience: "So you didn't sign it so you don't think you have to live by it or under it or abide by it, because you didn't sign it? Is that what I'm hearing?"

HB: "Well I...kind of; you're kind of hearing that. You're hearing the fact that a bunch of people get together and make an agreement doesn't bind the person who didn't make that agreement. It's not a contract; it's a statement of the authorization, of the legitimization of the government of the United States, what they were authorized to do, what they could and mainly what they couldn't do. Ayn Rand always made the point that the Constitution is a limitation on government. Far from the social contract, its sole aim was to constitute a government and to keep it limited. That's why the "necessary and proper" clause is in there: "Congress shall pass no laws except those necessary and proper to carrying out...." Necessary! Not, wouldn't it be nice if! But necessary and proper to carrying out the specified, enumerated powers in the government. We threw that out over a hundred years ago. So, it's not a contract; it's the statement of a coercive agency of what they think their legitimate authority is.

Edited by Trebor
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  • 1 month later...

Just to trow my two cents into the subject of the Tea Party; I went from being a Republican, to a Tea Party Member (Like to think I still am one) to Libertarian, then to a student of Objectivism. I agree that the forming of Tea Party was an emotional response, but one that can lead to the rational conclusions of Objectivism.

Can't be too bad, can it?

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I went from being a Republican, to a Tea Party Member (Like to think I still am one) to Libertarian, then to a student of Objectivism.

Wow. Over what period of time did this transformation take place? The Tea Party hasn't been around all that long, so you've made some fairly rapid changes in your views. I'm curious, why are you no longer a Libertarian?

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Wow. Over what period of time did this transformation take place? The Tea Party hasn't been around all that long, so you've made some fairly rapid changes in your views. I'm curious, why are you no longer a Libertarian?

It's been a few years, but in truth I was never really a "true" republican. I was always left-of-center on social issues and right on economic. Originally I was enticed into Libertarianism because of the aspect of personal freedom on all fronts, but I was severely turned off by the anarchists. I never really took the step to official switch to the libertarian party.

I would have to say that the past four or so years have been politically confusing for me, and after reading Atlas Shrugged, I finally found something I can whole heartedly embrace without reservation. I realized the faults with the previous parties, especially the veiled collectivist leanings of both Libertarian and Republican policies.

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