Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Reblogged:Yet Another Wasted Election?

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

Donald Trump managed to eke out a win over Nikki Haley yesterday in New Hampshire. Haley is not dropping out of the GOP primary yet, but her battle is more uphill than I was hoping to learn from yesterday's vote.

The outcome likely means that too many Republicans are part of Donald Trump's personality cult for that party to nominate a serious candidate for President and that not enough independents appreciated the need to have a better choice than Trump or Biden in November.

That is awful.

The war for freedom is hardly over, but this particular battle appears to be lost, and we will almost certainly have one of Joe Biden or Donald Trump and -- if either drops dead while in office -- one of their Vice Presidents continuing to damage our country for another four years.

This is both a bigger deal and a lesser concern than Oh well, I'll leave President blank again in the next election.

Two articles do an excellent job of explaining why.

On the bigger deal side is the first, which I learned about from the excellent Yaron Brook's Twitter feed. It's by Briton Dan Hannon, and its title is, "This Isn't About Trump Anymore -- It's About Whether America Is the Country It Always Was." The whole thing is worth a read, and ends as follows:
The country that was founded as an antidote to arbitrary power has fallen for a personality cult. The city on the hill is set, this time knowingly, to make a liar and petty crook its first citizen. The things that elevated and ennobled America -- optimism, political pluralism, the ability to disagree with civility, respect for the law, respect for the ballot box -- are scorned by those who claim to be patriots. God help them. God help the rest of us. [bold added]
In the short term, things look bleak. This election cycle and no matter who wins, we could be moving from a discussion of breathing room, of how much time we have to turn the ship around -- to wondering if we can politically further the cause of liberty at all, any time soon, in America.

On the not as big a deal side of the ledger we have Ayn Rand's 1972 essay, "What Can One Do?", which I first encountered in Philosophy: Who Needs It:
To gain perspective, one must focus on the right things. (Image by topntp26, via Freepik, license.)
Today, most people are acutely aware of our cultural-ideological vacuum; they are anxious, confused, and groping for answers. Are you able to enlighten them?

Can you answer their questions? Can you offer them a consistent case? Do you know how to correct their errors? Are you immune from the fallout of the constant barrage aimed at the destruction of reason -- and can you provide others with antimissile missiles? A political battle is merely a skirmish fought with muskets; a philosophical battle is a nuclear war.

If you want to influence a country's intellectual trend, the first step is to bring order to your own ideas and integrate them into a consistent case, to the best of your knowledge and ability.
This does not mean memorizing and reciting slogans and principles, Objectivist or otherwise: knowledge necessarily includes the ability to apply abstract principles to concrete problems, to recognize the principles in specific issues, to demonstrate them, and to advocate a consistent course of action. This does not require omniscience or omnipotence; it is the subconscious expectation of automatic omniscience in oneself and in others that defeats many would-be crusaders (and serves as an excuse for doing nothing). What is required is honesty -- intellectual honesty, which consists in knowing what one does know, constantly expanding one's knowledge, and never evading or failing to correct a contradiction. This means: the development of an active mind as a permanent attribute.

When or if your convictions are in your conscious, orderly control, you will be able to communicate them to others. This does not mean that you must make philosophical speeches when unnecessary and inappropriate. You need philosophy to back you up and give you a consistent case when you deal with or discuss specific issues. [bold added]
The essay was written with people concerned about the state of the world in mind, but it has a deeper meaning than is apparent, as is frequently the case with Rand's writings.

The passage above is a reminder, frequently needed anyway, about the nature of current trends, particularly for people interested in improving the world around them: Politics is the end product of a long conceptual and causal chain. Philosophically, it arises from ethics, and the dominant form of politics (increasingly, collectivism today) derives from the dominant ethics in the culture, which is altruism.

Until enough voices in the culture challenge altruism and its philosophical underpinnings (of mysticism and primacy-of-consciousness), our society will remain dominantly altruistic and political movements appealing to it -- be they leftist crusades to redistribute wealth or save "the planet" or right-wing crusades for nationalism or theocracy -- will always threaten to gain ground.

Change the dominant philosophy and the politics will take care of itself.

That's the easier part to see of a philosophical battle is a nuclear war. On a deeper level, one should ask, Why do I want to improve the world?

My answer is because I live in it, and I would hope any fellow travelers are at least equally selfish in that regard. That is the only good reason to want to participate in an intellectual movement. One cannot improve anything without knowing how, and one cannot know how without knowing why, and having a solid grasp of facts.

In the process of getting one's house in order and developing an active mind, one will consequently improve the quality of one's daily life by applying what one has learned.

Rand shows that the battle to improve the culture is long-range, and -- barring a true cataclysm -- much bigger than any single election. But she also shows that it is a personal battle for self-betterment that is always within the grasp of anyone who seeks it.

Speaking for myself: Short-term, while I might be unfortunate enough to be witness to the start of a dark time in American history, I'm glad I am doing so with open eyes, and am not deluded enough to see either of Donald Trump or Joe Biden as America's savior. I know that the constant media blare about Trump isn't worth too much of my time, and I can spend it on better things.

Politics can help or hinder one's life, but it isn't the whole of one's life. Thank God for that, so to speak.

-- CAV

Link to Original

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...