The Revolt of the Conservatives

A picture of a double medal of honor recipient...

A picture of a double medal of honor recipient . (Note that the light blue ribbons (at the top of his ribbon rack) appear almost white in this overexposed photo.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Revolt of the Conservatives, A History of the American Liberty League, 1934-1940 by George Wolfskill. Before the invention of Astroturf, there was an earlier version of the TEA Party with a similar cast of characters, goals and methods and financed by the du Pont family, the Koch brothers of their day. The following is a quotation from the book. The reference to Butler is to Smedley Butler who was the League’s choice to replace FDR in a military coup. In his day, FDR was hated by conservatives as much as President Obama is today.

“Following the November elections and the temporary embarrassment of the Butler episode, the American Liberty League launched the most intense and concentrated campaign to propagate conservative political and economic thought that the United States had ever witnessed. To a philosophy that was at once a combination of Social Darwinism, laissez-faire economics, Old Testament apocalypse, and Constitution and ancestor worship, the Liberty Leaguers now often added a savage hatred of the man who had come to symbolize their torment and frustration.”

The election referred to is November, 1934, and the ancestor worship is of the Founding Fathers. All this sounds familiar, doesn’t it? I recommend this book highly. It is available now at http://www.amazon.com for $11.13 used plus shipping.

Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand ( real name Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum), published in 1957 and at 1168 pages, about 1,000 pages too long. Posing as a novel, it is really an exposition by Rand in favor of  unregulated and untaxed capitalism, a philosophy she dubbed objectivism. Rand was born in 1905 in Russia and emigrated to the US at age 21 in 1926 from the newly formed USSR. I believe that she was traumatized in her formative years by the Russian Revolution which occurred in 1917.

Who is John Galt? He is the hero of the book and embodies Rand’s philosophy. He does not appear in the book for the first 700 pages. Toward the end of the book, he explains Rand’s philosophy to the world in a radio address beginning at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time that I imagine lasted all night (she says 3 hours). Only Fidel Castro among world leaders currently alive could have rivaled Galt for wordiness. If he had been cast as an US Senator rather than an electrical engineer, Galt could have sustained filibusters by himself.

Rand’s characters are not believable, being less than two-dimensional. They scream rather than speak or shout and they are always smoking cigarettes. The novel? takes place mostly in the US, while the rest of the world is ruled by people’s states. The picture she paints of the US is a nation in decline and resembles the Soviet Union that she left. It is a shame that many of the current GOP leaders subscribe to her vision and philosophy. Paul Ryan and Alan Greenspan among others are her disciples.She favored Social Darwinism, survival of the fittest, starvation and extinction for the rest.

Rather than read this book, I recommend reading or re-reading Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984. In my opinion, more is to be gained from Orwell than Ayn Rand, and Orwell is more pertinent to our present situation. Orwell’s two books are available in one volume from Amazon.com at $15.00. Their combined length is only 400 pages, 1/3 the length of the Rand book which has the weight and size of a brick, and the readability too IMHO.

Please see Ayn Randistan

Ayn Randistan

Atlas sculpture, New York City, by sculptor Le...

Atlas sculpture, New York City, by sculptor Lee Lawrie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vote for Romney/Ryan
If you want to live
In Ayn Randistan
Gold is the standard
In Ayn Randistan
Taxes are taboo
In Ayn Randistan
Government loots job creators (1%)
To support moochers (99%)
In Ayn Randistan
Atlas Shrugged
McConnell shrugged
Boehner shrugged
Norquist shrugged
Romney/Ryan shrugged
It’s not our fault
Social Darwinism rules
In Ayn Randistan
You’re on your own
In Ayn Randistan
No safety nets
No entitlements
It’s survival of the fittest
In Ayn Randistan.

Social Darwinism

Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher and po...

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The following excerpt is from a college textbook, Sociology, A Down-to-earth Approach, 7th edition by James M. Henslin.

“Spencer thought that societies evolve from lower (‘barbarian’) to higher (‘civilized’) forms. As generations pass, the most capable and intelligent (‘the fittest’) members of society survive, while the less capable die out. Thus, over time, societies improve. If you help lower classes, you interfere with this natural process. The fittest members will produce a more advanced society—unless misguided do-gooders get in the way and help the less fit survive.

Spencer called this principle ‘the survival of the fittest.’ Although Spencer coined this phrase, it usually is attributed to his contemporary, Charles Darwin, who proposed that organisms evolve over time as they adapt to their environment. Because they are so similar to Darwin’s ideas, Spencer’s views of the evolution of societies became known as social Darwinism.

Spencer’s ideas that charity and helping the poor were wrong appalled many. The wealthy industrialists of the time, however, who saw themselves as the ‘fittest’—and therefore superior—found Spencer’s ideas attractive. Not coincidentally, Spencer’s views helped them avoid feelings of guilt for living like royalty while people around them went hungry.”

“Spencer gained a wide following in England and the United states, where he was sought after as a speaker, but eventually social Darwinism was discredited.”

But was it discredited? It seems to me that social Darwinism has made a roaring recovery in today’s GOP.

Herbert Spencer lived from 1820 to 1903, and 1903 was the year of the Wright brothers’ first flight and the year my mother was born.

Please see Great Depression 2 | I am weary | November, 2012 | Monopoly money | Lemming politics

Lemming politics

A dead lemming on a stone in the river Revåa i...

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In a recent message, I said that the GOP has gone off the deep end. That started me thinking about why they have done so.  How can thinking adults leave logic and rationality in the dust? This is what I have concluded so far.

Demagogues in the media, you know who I mean, are playing upon our fears to increase their clout and income. Some Americans are following their lead like lemmings racing to a cliff. The TEA Party is acting to corral and shepherd the lemmings so that none dare vary from the course. Thinking for oneself is actively discouraged, and expressing differing thoughts vociferously opposed.

Empathy for our fellow Americans is fading virtue. It is ironic that many who don’t believe in Darwinism, evolution, are those most favoring social Darwinism, survival of the fittest. Monetary success is a mark of divine favor while failure is stigmatized as divine disapproval or plain old laziness. In other words, only those who should succeed are worthy and the rest of us are doomed in this life and the next. Each of us must succeed or fail on our own.  What social Darwinists seem to forget is that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to gain entry into Heaven. Since camels are not native to the US, I think that those preaching divine approval of wealth over helping your neighbor don’t realize that camels are large animals.

Government is criticized as a barrier to freedom, yet it is government that provides the playing field on which we all must compete, and that playing field is not a level one. It does not matter how much wealth one accumulates if our society becomes so divided that the wealthy cannot savor the freedom they claim to seek on our behalf. No one can be free in a cell, whether that cell is in an institution or self-created within a gated community.