Sunday, April 30, 2017

National Review, of All People, Laments the Rising Popularity of Socialism in America

Recently, via a Facebook group run by The Verma Report publisher Anoop Verma, I came across this article from National Review: Too many of us have forgotten the lessons of the Cold War. The author, Dave Nammo, expresses shock and alarm at recent polls that indicate that most so-called “liberals,” and a substantial minority (40%) of Americans, “prefer socialism to capitalism.”

Nammo writes: “Americans who believe in limited government, welfare reform, and states’ rights should look over their shoulder and realize that a dangerous ideology is gaining ground.” He quotes another writer as accusing “liberals” of trying to redefine “traditional moral values” as support for gay marriage and legalized abortion among those who “want socialism to replace capitalism” (as if socialism hasn’t been slowly replacing capitalism for the last 100 years).

What is Nammo’s solution?

It is time to play both the short and the long game. Now is the time to speak out and educate all who will hear about the history of this nation and the benefits of traditional values, free markets, and capitalism, which, though not perfect, are better than all the alternatives. Those who love this nation and the ideals of our experiment in liberty must counter the gainsayers in academia and the media or they will soon find that America as “one nation under God” is no more.

I thought National Review was formed by William F. Buckley in 1955 precisely to “play both the short and the long game” is defense of capitalism and freedom in America. If not, where has it been all these years?

In fact, National Review has been leading the religiously-based conservative pushback against the Left socialists.

I find it interesting that National Review should now lament the rising popularity of socialism in America. It’s had over 70 years to reverse the socialist trend. Today, it’s obvious that National Review-style conservatism has failed miserably. Today, we’re more socialist than ever. Yet it clings to the bankrupt strategy of state’s “rights,” welfare “reform” rather than repeal, appeals to God and faith, the social authoritarianism of the religious “right,” tradition, and the like. I think Craig Biddle has good insight into why it failed. Here’s Biddle back in May—How Conservatives Begat Trump, and What to Do About It—as Donald Trump was putting the finishing touches on his upset GOP nomination:

[T]he political rise of Trump is not merely the fault of Republicans. It is also, and more so, the fault of conservatives—especially conservative leaders, both old and new.

The seminal act of conservative culpability in this regard took place in 1957, shortly after the publication of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

In the pages of her revolutionary novel, Rand had handed conservatives, and the world in general, an observation-based, demonstrably true philosophy that, in addition to providing principled guidance for choosing and pursuing life-serving values at the personal level, also provides a rock-solid foundation for supporting and defending freedom and capitalism at the political level. This book was a godsend to everyone who loves life, loves America, and wants to advance the ideal of a government dedicated to protecting individuals’ rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.

What did conservatives do with this gift? They shat on it.

Two months after Atlas was published, William F. Buckley’s popular conservative magazine, National Review, ran a “review” of the book, penned by ex-communist Whittaker Chambers. The reason for the scare quotes around the word review in the previous sentence is that it was not a review but a lie. A big lie. Indeed, it was and remains an unsurpassed (although often aspired to) model of intellectual dishonesty, injustice, malice.

Biddle goes on to explain why that “review” is “an unsurpassed . . . model of intellectual dishonesty, injustice, malice.” (There’s also a full rebuttal to Chambers in Essays on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged by Leonard Peikoff, Chapter 8, page 145.)

It’s not that National Review and the modern conservative movement it spawned didn’t have access to effective philosophical ammunition for challenging socialism at its root. Rather than integrate Rand’s ideas into its strategy, especially her moral ideas, National Review willingly ignored it and trashed it.

We shouldn’t follow Nammo’s advice. There’s nothing new there.

Capitalism was born amidst a political revolution that guaranteed every individual the egoistic right, based on his nature as a rational being, to the freedom to pursue his own happiness based on the idea that his life is his to live, according to his own reasoning mind, by inalienable right. Therefor, you can’t defend capitalism by reference to the tradition values of faith and altruism. National Review conservatism has had its chance and it has failed. Our only hope of restoring capitalism and the ideals of the American Founding is to adopt the radical moral revolution that implicitly underpins those ideals, and which Ayn Rand has explicitly articulated.

Related Reading:

Atlas Shrugged—Ayn Rand

National Review’s MO Regarding Ayn Rand—Craig Biddle for The Objective Standard

The Virtue of Selfishness—Ayn Rand

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