Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

09 April 2009

A Reader Request - The Humble Libertarian

A reader, Wesley Messamore, has asked me to share this with you:

To Dr. Anderson:

Hello. I'm a libertarian blogger who recently published a post with a graphic representation of the characters in Atlas Shrugged arranged according to their ability and morality.

I thought it might merit mention on your blog as your readers would find it interesting, relevant, and useful:

Have a great day and thanks for your consideration.

Wes Messamore

News and Commentary from a Libertarian Perspective:

The graphic Wes produced may be useful for jogging some of our memories about some of the characters of Atlas Shrugged. I admit to being way overdue for the pleasure of re-reading Atlas Shrugged, but what can you do when you are trying to keep up with science, solve technical and scientific materials problems, run a small business, keep up with the attempts of socialists to steal away the sovereign rights of the individual, read excellent books for the first time by such authors as Thomas Sowell, Walter E. Williams, Amity Shlaes, Jonah Goldberg, Robert A. Levy & William Mellor, Patrick J. Michaels & Robert C. Balling, Jr., Chris Edwards & Daniel J. Mitchell, and others, and formulate evaluations and responses to the myriad dastardly deeds of our would-be socialist slave masters? Add to this a wife and three daughters who deserve attention and love and you have one guy with far too few hours in a day. The pleasure of re-reading Atlas Shrugged will have to wait. But, sometimes when I need a pick-up, I do just thumb through it and find a passage to re-read for pleasure and inspiration. I admit that I never pick a passage about James Taggart, Wesley Mouch, or Robert Stadler. They are just too depressing for such a purpose. My picks are always passages about my heroes, my fellow heroes, the people I want to be my best friend.

But some of you may also enjoy thinking about where you would move some of these characters on the same plot or even about plotting them against other parameters. This could be a fun exercise.

I would prefer that those of us who are trying to defend the rights of the individual in these trying times would not be too Humble. We are engaged in the on-going epic battle of the last 200 years with respect to socialism and of all of man's history with respect to his freedom. Many of us are Americans, who look back to a brash tradition in which men sought proudly to manage their own lives and to be dependent upon their own minds and the product of their personal effort. Our tradition was simply this: Nature can and must be controlled for my benefit and I am just the man to do it with the use of my capable mind and my determined effort. This is a brash assertion, but it is what gave man the confidence to claim his individual sovereign rights to his life, to his liberty, to his property, and to his pursuit of happiness. It also gives him the confidence and the self-esteem that causes him pleasure in seeing others control and manage their own lives in pursuit of their self-identified values, without a twinge of envy and without a bit of desire to steal another man's self-attained values. I would rather Wes Messamore and Ben Bryan had called their blog The Arrogant Libertarian, The Brash Libertarian, The 'I have hardly begun to fight!" Libertarian, The Unconquered Libertarian, The Unchained Libertarian, The Untrodden Libertarian, or some such name. But, a Libertarian who likes the works of Ayn Rand is likely a good ally on many important issues.

Damn, I feel like sinking a government relief ship bound with American welfare goods to a socialist country or a dictatorship for a personal pick-up of my spirits. Ragnar, where are you? Or maybe Midas Mulligan and I could come up with a scheme to get some of the bank bailout money back into the hands of the American taxpayers. Or I could do some materials R&D to support Hammond Auto in putting GM, Chrysler, and Toyota out of their misery. We individualists need something to have fun with and to celebrate the fact that some of us, at least, still feel up to the task of managing our own lives.


W. E. Messamore said...

Thanks so much for the mention, Dr. Anderson. I am presently in the middle of Atlas Shrugged for the second time (the first time was as a high schooler), and enjoying it even more this time around- as people tend to do with truly good books that they really love.

I appreciate your comments on my blog's title and I want to say that I agree with your sentiments. To borrow from Rand's novel: If you find it inconceivable that an Ayn Rand enthusiast would call himself a "Humble Libertarian" -check your premises. One of them is wrong.

In this case, it is the premise that I mean what you think I mean by the word "humble." Please let me clarify that by "humble" I do not mean passive, soft-spoken, or apologetic (in the modern sense of that word).

I mean that libertarians are not so presumptuous or arrogant as to believe they have the legitimate right to interfere in another man's life. They are too humble to do so- they are willing to see that they are not necessarily perfect in their knowledge, so they prefer to live in a civil society, a society where all men interact voluntarily so that if a man does happen to have a false premise, only he suffers the consequences for it, not those who he forcibly dragged along with him in his irrational arrogance.

With that explanation, do you feel a little better about the title?

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

I feel better about your blog name with that explanation of your intent, but I suspect that very many will think it means you are uncertain about your cause.

Clearly what you are saying is that you are not presumptuous enough to force others to live their lives in accordance with your values. You, unlike many, recognize the uniqueness of other individuals genetically, in experience, in mind development, and in the exercise of their free-will. Am I right?

So, the Unpresumptuous Libertarian! Well, OK, the Humble Libertarian, then.

W. E. Messamore said...

Ha ha- thanks Dr. Anderson, I believe you understand me correctly. I do appreciate your bringing this up. I'm either going to do a post on my blog clarifying the name, add an additional paragraph to the About page, add a FAQ, or some combination of these to make sure folks don't get the wrong idea. Precision is as necessary in the realm of politics as it is in the realm of physical science.

And how's this for brash? -When Bush bailed out GMC and Chrysler, I was so irritated that no one around me was bold enough to split the cost of buying a beat up old Chevy and the risk of dumping it into a river in protest (and I asked around). That would be a modern day tea party!

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Hi Wes -

Precision is necessary in all rational thinking. It is sometimes not found in science, global climate science being especially notable for this as well as context-dropping. In politics, the politician's Bible seems to say, "Never be precise, so when the policy you advocated proves to be a disaster, as it usually will be, you can claim that your intention was different than it it really was."

While I like the spirit of dumping an old Chevy as a protest, I actually do have both a rational desire to take care of the environment and a frugal sense that says I would rather the steel and parts were re-used in so far as it is economical to do so. Unlike the many proud environmentalist who surround me, I actually do leave no trash behind in the forests when I backpack. While their children throw away their fast food trash in other people's yard, mine never did that.

It seems that a genuine respect for human life produces a more genuine respect for all life, than one finds in the anti-man crowd. It seems that a respect for work and property leads to a reluctance to impose work on others and for damaging other's property.