Re: From Whittaker Chambers’ Review of Atlas Shrugged

In reference to Steve’s post.

There is an excellent account of this internecine feud within the ranks in George Nash’s book The Conservative Intellectual Movement since 1945.  Some conservatives supported Rand, others however, were in Whittaker’s camp, including some of the biggies.  One being Russell Kirk (Burkean champion) of whom Nash said, “While Kirk supported free enterprise and agreed with Rand’s criticism of collectivism, the amassing of wealth was simply not ‘the whole aim of existence’”  A reference to Burke’s “flies of a summer” line.

Another detractor was classical scholar Garry Wills.  His view on Rand he wrote:

“When… John Galt [the hero of Atlas Shrugged] repudiates all obligations to other men, he denies history, that link with one’s ancestors and with all human experience which is the first principle of conservatism.  Galt asserts the immediate perfectibility of man (an achieved perfection in his own case), he is working from the first principle of historical Liberalism. … Ayn Rand’s superman comes from the same source as the Liberal’s perfect society.  Her muscular and Malthusian heroes … are all expressions of Liberalism—the attempt to attain beatitude with a politico-economic program.

Tough stuff indeed.  Nash summed up Will’s view of her with “It was the worst of errors to allow the doctrinaire, laissez-faire, utopian Objectivist to reside within the conservative fold.”

Even, at that time, the eventual founder of Fusionism, Frank Meyer, rebuked her, “Ayn Rand was guilty of “calculated cruelties” and the presentation of an arid subhuman image of man.”  And this is from the guy who, only less than 10 years later had changed his larger view of libertarianism and came up with Fusionism.  The philosophy of fusing conservative and libertarian thought, harnessing both intellectual sides and focusing them at the common enemy: The Statists.

The primary vehicle undergirded by and promoting Fusionism, fighting the fight back then in the 1960’s, is still alive today: The National Review.  Given all that, some today think the conservatives of the late 50’s were too harsh on Rand.  Regardless, she was bitter about it and never forgave them, and they didn’t ask her to.

I’m a software guy with a penchant for football, hockey, music, current events and politics — mostly current events and politics. Having driven several conversations to silence while discussing the latter items, it has been intimated that I should blog about it; to purge it from my system so that we may return to enjoying social events and cocktail parties. Kind of like drawing venom from a snakebite so that the body may return to health. The body, in this clumsy metaphor, is the social life of my wife:0) So, game on! I’ve got opinions and I hope to persuade and look forward, in return, to be persuaded.