Re: From Whittaker Chambers’ Review of Atlas Shrugged

by Scott Morales

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.

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  • Radical Moderate

    I to have my problems with Objectivism. I find it very difficult to criticize Rand (still having a schoolboy crush on her) but none the less I must, if I am to be true to her spirit point out her error in judgement.
    How can we justify pure Objectivism when it advocates for open borders and the free flow of of labor? Ayn’s form of Capitalism justifies the New World Order if taken to its extreme. Personally I don’t think she ever could fathom that men would attempt to use Capitalism to enslave the world. Though she hated altruism and saw it as a weakness she failed to grasp the true nature of man. That left alone to his devices and unrestricted he will destroy himself and bring true Capitalism along with him for the ride. What was her mistake in my opinion? Simple, she refused to believe in God, and as we all know the only thing that keeps man in line is fear of the afterlife and retribution for evils that he may commit during his lifetime. Even the founding fathers knew this as John Adam’s said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.” Otherwise, man believes HE can be God. That’s why even the founding fathers that were not ‘religious’ believed in Deism. if man has no ‘overseer’ then all else is justified from murder to mayhem, to shaping the nations into the image that HE wants. This is what we see now, a twisted and contorted form of Capitalism that has run amok leading to a Global Oligarchy that needs to be kept in check by an army of Progressive bureaucrats along with an omnipotent police state.
    I wish Ayn was alive so we could ask her opinion about the events transpiring today. I think even though she still would advocate for Capitalism as do I, I think she would be greatly disappointed that men have used it for destructive instead of constructive purposes.

  • kervick

    This is what we see now, a twisted and contorted form of Capitalism that has run amok leading to a Global Oligarchy that needs to be kept in check by an army of Progressive bureaucrats along with an omnipotent police state. Fascinating analysis Rad. I think you woukd be better to talk about the symbiotic relationship between the government and capitalist oligarchs who are really the sane oeople that change uniforms. They extort and support each other. The small business working man, toiling to support his family, and tied to an interconnected community, is our conservative hero. Republicans need to exalt that symbol because that is who we need to be.

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