From my oldest and dearest friend, on the false dichotomy of communism vs. fascism:
"...there has never been a pure capitalist country. Current evidence suggests that because of human nature, unfettered capitalism doesn't seem to work much better than communism (Atlas Shrugged talked about the problems with communism). We still need some form of government to keep the capitalist honest. Furthermore, the human race still hasn't dealt with the problem of religions that want to use some form of force to limit human freedom."
It is certainly true that there has never been a “pure capitalist country,” but the closer we’ve come to that ideal, the better off we’ve been. The poor in America have almost always been better off than the middle class in much of the world. Whereas, as nations have come closer to “pure commun-social-fasc-nazi-Rousseau-progressiv-ism,” the worse off they’ve become. There’s an old joke that, “The Constitution may not be perfect, but it’s better than whatever we’re using now.” Change “The Constitution.” to “capitalism,” and it fits the present issue perfectly.
Unfortunately, the media, academia, and the government (yes, before you say it, Bush was not spotless in this!) have so distorted the meaning of capitalism that I’d be amazed if one out of 10,000 Americans can give you a legitimate, non-contradictory definition.
Rand’s point was that we have been given a false dichotomy – a choice between apples and manzanos – and sold a despicable bill of goods that they are different – and that they are the only choices we have! How many times, Old Friend, have you and I gone around about the idea that we must choose between the tyranny of the Democrats and the tyranny of the Republicans? Or that one must either love Obama and hate Bush, or love Bush and hate Obama?
At this point, our Titanic of State is down 20 degrees by the head and half our boilers are flooded. This is not the time to be inventing an iceberg-detecting radar. Fortunately, we don’t have to invent a new form of government right now. We have one that works a hell of a lot better than what we are using. It may or may not be perfect; as you pointed out, we’ve never tried it in its pure form. We do, however, have considerable empirical evidence of its superiority over statism.
As for “…the problem of religions that want to use some form of force to limit human freedom,” we actually have dealt with that problem. It’s called a democratic republic, based on a written constitution, that is inviolable but amendable, and a heavily armed and informed population. Perhaps, “informed population” should be in bold uppercase at the head of the list.
Tyranny is tyranny. It doesn’t make a flippin’ bit of difference if the tyrant is Baptist or whatever the hell Obama is. Yes, some people do manipulate and pervert religious principles to justify infringing on the agency of others. But I’ve noticed a potfull of people who infringe on the agency of others, and don’t care a damn about justifying it by any means, at all! It’s sort of like the moral difference between the Confederacy and the Union.
The Confederates talked about the principles of the Declaration of Independence, and what they considered the original intent of the Constitution. They talked about freedom and rights and equality before the law. All of their high-sounding rhetoric was, of course, in hopeless – or insane – conflict with the practice of human slavery. The rest of the world saw it, and shook their heads in disbelief. Had the South been allowed to secede and try to make it in the world on its own, at some point that contradiction would have had to be addressed. They would have had absolutely no choice but to come down on the side of their noble principles, or on the side of their Peculiar Institution. Given the moral and economic pressure from the rest of the world, and the South’s near-obsession with the opinions of European governments, I think they’d have stuck to their principles and ended slavery. Of course, we’ll never know, because…
The North – or at least the Lincoln government and those who supported it – had thrown all of those high-sounding principles out. To hell with all that noble namby-pamby. We are here to bring all Americans under the iron heel of the Washington government – black, white, brown, male, and female. They weren’t the least bit concerned with ending racial slavery except as a means to the end of enslaving everybody.
I see a strong parallel in our situation today. On the one hand, we have people who profess to follow the teachings of a book that [ended up] saying slavery was wrong, that people had the right to make up their own minds, but not the right to escape the consequences of their actions. Some of these people range from squirrelly to flat out stupid, and scare me as much as or more than they scare you. But at least they have some connection to proper principles.
On the other hand, we have amoral pragmatists who wouldn’t know a moral principle if it bit ‘em on the leg. They are after the pure, raw power over their fellow man. It is, to quote Rand again, “Naked, smirking evil.”
For myself, I see an enormous difference between a Newt Gingrich saying he’s against forcibly taking money from people who are against abortions, then giving it to people who are for abortions, and Barack Obama saying he’s going to forcibly take money from whomever he damned well pleases and give to whomever he damned well pleases. Given the choices we have before us now, I choose to support someone who is at least aware of the existence of agency and moral principles. Of course, I’m going to watch ‘em like a hawk, and keep my gun hand clear.