Image via WikipediaJBH is on a little hiatus. It's almost Memorial Day (which I surprisingly have off - go fig). For those of you out looking for something to read while sitting on the boat waiting for the fish to bite, or something to read while you're watching the kids frolic and play, or something to read while you're grumbling that you have to go to work on Tuesday but you're privately thankful that you're still employed, here are a couple of ideas:
ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand
It's the story of what happens when a government of moochers and looters crack down on men and women of intellect, from whose minds spring the wealth of man's existence. When the fountainhead of man's creative and productive ability is diminished, society becomes diminished. But those with drive don't simply accept that the state of man is one of decrepitude.
(From what I understand, it's also the second-longest novel in the English language.)
In the linked article that provides more modern context, it's also telling the future day by day. I've heard the Cliff's Notes are often recommended as a way to make sure you're able to digest all the huge ideas thrown about.
Ayn Rand's stark moral and philosophical judgements on good and evil lend themselves to harsh criticism by relativists. Most criticism of Ayn Rand is groundless, the criticisms of her philosophy being made by people trying to justify their own vices and immoral "looter" ideals, and angry at being portrayed accurately in the novel as villains. It's frightening to see her most intentional parody and ridicule of collectivist/leftist/statists (moochers & looters) being used by popular figures and accepted by the public as legitimate debate positions to hold today.
Ayn Rand lived in and escaped from the USSR. Anyone who has lived in a socialist/communist/collectivist country usually has little good to say about them. Canadians, contrary to popular belief, aren't big fans of their health care system. Those who stood in bread lines in the former Soviet Union, or who lived in flats with their entire family, quite often have good things to say about the American system. Former Soviet subjects are rarely fans of disarmament, either. They are intimately familiar with what the "good intentions" of what non-productive people seeking to redistribute wealth of the productives results in.
This is often overlooked by people who haven't been lucky enough to speak in depth with former subjects of the USSR. There is a distinct political gap between a witless US-raised professor who's been insulated in academia all his life and never had to live in the real world and those USSR-raised professors who've had colleagues vanish in the night for saying the wrong thing. Those who've escaped the perfect collectivist/leftist/socialist/communist system have the wisdom of experience. The other keeps insisting "socialism/collectivism/communism will work this time, they just did it wrong" - this is the logic that leads them to believe it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.
When Rand's work sheds light on the turd in their hand, the collectivist/leftist/statist/looter will invariably try to defend the mess they're holding and justify their own idiocy, or at best try misdirection. Illuminating and thus abolishing the failed ideas of fools is something my other suggestion for light reading also does rather well. Also, this one is a light read in volume, but very heavy in content.
LIBERTY & TYRANNY
A Conservative Manifesto
by Mark Levin
Levin's most recent book (which was #1 on both the Amazon and NYT Bestseller lists for several weeks, and is #2 on Amazon as of this post) is surreptitiously sweeping the nation. Listeners to his radio program are already familiar with many of his opinions and ideas, but it takes a fair amount of listening to hear his reasoned opinions on such an array of topics.
He starts in the first few pages by breaking down what conservatism is. In America, conservatism is adherence to the principles of the constitution - which was founded on classical liberalism. Classic liberalism, American conservatism, are founded on the preservation individual liberty being the function of the State.
The state (especially the federal state) is not there to regulate how people live, nor how they should worship - or not worship. The state is not there to take from one group and give to another. The state is not there to redistribute wealth. The state's purpose is to protect individual liberty and protect one's ability to earn wealth and to keep it. The state is not to dictate how one group must live, or how the people are to be "cared for" by the state. The state, in America, is to be a model of the social contract - government exists by the consent of the government - government of, by, and for the people. Government does not exist to rule the people.
When the Founding Fathers wrote our Declaration of Independence, it was from the king's state that sought to redistribute from the colonies to the king, where the king ruled the people of the colonies.
Winston Churchill famously said "“If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain.” Classic liberalism and conservatism are the same, allowing both a heart to care for the individual and a brain to know it's historically proven to be the best for the individual. Both reject a king dictating to free people.
Today, "liberalism" is the doctrine of taking from one group to give to another group. A narrative is written, and one group is portrayed as the villain, while the other is the victim - always to justify the consitutency/perpetuety of office of the "liberal". In the recent banking scandals, the bankers have been portrayed as "predatory lenders" - giving loans to people who couldn't pay them back. The government forced these loans through the CRA. Now the government, under the guise of "liberal" empathy takes over the banks and buys the banks. This is but one example.
Levin identifies this and strips it away. This is not liberalism, it is a course of action that is solely supporting the state and expanding state interests - it is statism. He identifies that the first issue in understanding conservatism is understanding what it is - supporting individual liberty and individual rights and limiting the state.
It's a good primer for a newcomer to classic liberalism/conservatism, or anyone who thought they were a liberal, but found themselves suddenly made outcasts when they said they were voting for Hillary in the primary.
Levin's Liberty & Tyranny comes in at around 200 pages, but is well written and concise. Rand's Atlas Shrugged comes in at around 1100 pages or more, and is exceedingly well written and well paced to allow ideas to sink in. It is considered a literary masterpiece of importance second only to the Bible.