The Objective Eye

"Every movement that seeks to enslave a country, every dictatorship or potential dictatorship, needs some minority group as a scapegoat which it can blame for the nation's troubles and use as a justification of its own demand for dictatorial powers. In Soviet Russia, the scapegoat was the bourgeoisie; in Nazi Germany, it was the Jewish people; in America, it is the businessmen."
- Ayn Rand, "America's Persecuted Minority: Big Business" (1961)

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Location: Los Angeles, United States

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

"Country First?" Correction: LIBERTY First.

Now Playing: GOP Convention Coverage (finally,) on Fox News Channel

I had known that McCain is yet another of those politicians whose ethical credo is "self-sacrifice" (for self-sacrifice's sake,) but I hadn't expected it to become the official slogan of my Party's Presidential Convention. Silly me.

At the moment President Bush too is making paeans to "selflessness," and after yesterday's ostentatiously "selfless" postponement of the Convention for the sake of...umm... ........aah......... does anybody know what that was for? Or what, precisely, it accomplished? At any rate, I'm wondering if there's another American left who understands the core principles upon which this country was built, who understands to whom it is that those principles apply, who understands their relation to the Party called "Republican."

Those principles are, for the record (now listen up John): Reason, Self-Sovereignty, Individual Rights, and Liberty. To recap, the entities to whom they apply are: Individuals.


The negation of those principles can come in many forms, but the prime destroyer, both in philosophic theory and in existential practice, of individual rights and the individual lives that depend on them, is precisely: "selflessness."

I know, I know - the intended context of McCain's usage, presumably, is an admonition to his fellow politicians to do their jobs rather than to pander to future voters. It's also a call to attenuate some of the rancorous partisanship that's appeared in the wake of Gore's and Kerry's razor-thin defeats in 2000 and 2004. Fine - tell it to those militant Leftists who are the ones who need to hear it, though they're not likely to listen nor even to comprehend.

McCain's Mantra is also a kind of feelgood demand on the rest of us to pull together as a nation to solve its many problems. [Problems. Not "challenges." If there isn't a guy in frilly ruffles and a ridiculous hat throwing his glove at my feet and demanding that I meet him at dawn for a manly duel, it's not a "challenge." It's a problem. 'K? We're Republicans - can we drop that Leftwing "PC" lingo? Words are important. Thanks. We now return you to our regularly-scheduled programming.]

But partisanship, though amplified to a disturbing new nihilism by the Democrat-Socialist Left, has always been a part of free - or even semi-free - political discourse in America. America's problems are not caused by its people, they are caused by its government, and occasionally, by various & sundry international thugs.

Unfortunately, the "selfless sacrifice" mantra is also an appeal to the gutter busybody mentality among us that seeks to control the lives of others - because those others are just "too independent." It's that old biddie who phones the police every time a neighbor has a backyard barbeque - because other people's open enjoyment of life is an unintentional reproach to a stale, embittered life; those envy-ridden mentalities that spew blanket condemnations of Bill Gates, Sam Walton, Phil Knight and basically...anybody whose income is greater than theirs - for their heinous crime of... succeeding at the American Dream; it's that "Why, there oughtta be a law against thaaat!" pathology that's responsible in part for the cancerous growth of our leviathan regulatory state over the past century; it's the eco-fascist mentalities who seek to ram their standard of living, from the homes we live in to the cars we drive to the bathroom equipment available to us, down other people's throats by brute force.

At root, the demand for "selflessness" is a frontal assault on the right of each of us to the Life, the Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness that America's Founders placed explicitly at the heart of the American Revolution - as something inherent to our nature as rational beings, as something ethically inalienable. That enumeration of rights applies to each one of us as an individual - not as a collective - and not as a temporary "privilege," to be withdrawn at the whim of condescending politicians who've forgotten, or never knew in the first place, that the rights of individuals are not subordinate to any collective.

McCain's "Country First/Service" placards represent the triumph too of an erroneous and potentially catastrophic ethical-political credo: "My country, right or wrong." It's an elevation of a place and a government over the vital principles that define what kind of place and how just a government may be present there.

Rand identified the corrected formulation as "My country is right, therefore I love it" - assuming it is right. Love of country is not a primary, it's a secondary consequence of that country's first accepting and upholding the rights of individuals, something America was the first nation in history to do. Even Thoreau had it figured out in 1849:

"There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly."

Rand blew the issue wide open in her seminal lecture given on December 7, 1960 at Princeton University, titled "Conservatism: An Obituary":

"The American political system was based on a different moral principle: on the principle of man's inalienable right to his own life - which means: on the principle that man has the right to exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself, and that men must deal with one another as traders, by voluntary choice to mutual benefit...

The social system based on and consonant with the altruist morality - with the code of self-sacrifice - is socialism, in all or any of its variants: fascism, Nazism, communism. All of them treat man as a sacrificial animal to be immolated for the benefit of the group, the tribe, the society, the state.

To the extent to which he is demanding of his fellow politicians that they get their noses back to the grindstone and start doing what's best for the country - i.e., doing what's needed to re-establish and defend individual liberty - then McCain's "Country First/Service" slogan, while poorly chosen, is valid.

To the extent to which it's aimed at we the American individuals, it is a corrupt perversion of core Americanism, which needs to be rejected outright by all Republicans and all others who yet value their priceless freedoms.

...Ah, they've got former Republican Newt Gingrich on the tube, in an interview with a reporter. The same Newt Gingrich, mind you, who sold out to the Climate Armageddon Cult a year ago (in his pusillanimous "debate" with John F'n Kerry.)

'Think SpongeBob Squarepants is on - where's that remote...



Anonymous Anonymous said...

You very succinctly stated precisely what I felt in seeing all those "Country First" signs last night. Thank you. I emailed your honest assessment of such signage to my husband. The very term just makes me uncomfortable as I do not know what to make of it. Is it a pronunciation of McCain's life, or is it a command? If the latter, then that makes me nervous. I certainly comend those who do, and have, put "country first" but I am thankful to live in a place that, for over 200 years, has never made it a requirement for citizenship.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Objective Eye said...

Another American who understands - yes! I knew there had to be some out there.

And yes, given that McCain / Palin would have to screw up massively to blow what will likely be a lopsided, if not landslide, victory in November, one can only hope that McCain's wishy-washy "Service / Country First" message is intended as an election slogan. That it is the real-life core of his ethical credo is unmistakable, which means the best we can hope for in terms of general policy decisions is McCain's breaching his own professed standards. - TOE

12:36 AM  

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