Rebirth of Reason

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Post 20

Monday, February 25 - 10:57amSanction this postReply
Hi Teresa,

Do I pay much attention to prominent conservatives? No, only since the Goldwater presidential campaign. Seriously, probably more than is necessary. Some conservatives I like, but I draw the line at the ad hominem and strawman attacks that Buckley and his cohorts launched. By the way, Anne Heller in her Rand bio mentions that Rand use to have Buckley over to her apartment to discuss the communists-in-government investigations that Joseph McCarthy had been making. Must have been in the early nineteen-fifties.I had not seen that mentioned elsewhere.

Usually, references to theit first meeting are based around her reported retort to Buckley at some party, "You are too intelligent to believe in God!" These introductory remarks I believe were first recounted by Buckley in an article included in an anthology, "What Is Conservatism," where he defines conservatism by those that he either threw out (Revilo P. Oliver), walked away (Max Eastman), or were never invited in (Robert Welch, and of course Ayn Rand).  Since Buckley delighted in publicizing anything that would put Rand in a bad light, I thought that this story might be apocryphal, or something that he had fabricated.

Several year's ago, I had occasion to talk to Henry Mark Holzer, and Phyllis (then Erika) Holzer, after a presentation that he made. Both were members of Rand's Inner Circle, and Henry was her lawyer for many years. I mentioned the alleged conversation between Rand and Buckley, and asked them, since they knew her so well, "Is that the sort of thing that Ayn would actually say, upon being introduced to Buckley?"  Somewhat to my surprise, they both thought the story was true and in any event, it would not have been out of character for her to say.

What does this have to do with your questions? I mention it because Buckley is such a central figure in the development of the conservative movement in the last half of the 20th century. Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) was started at a conference he held at his mansion in Sharon, Connecticutt. The American Conservative Union is a development created by YAFers, Buckley, and others, after Barry Goldwater's defeat in 1964.  The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is a creation of ACU, which has controlled who will speak at, and even what groups are allowed to display, at the conference.
To my knowledge, no self-described Objectivist has ever addressed this conference, nor has any Objectisvist-related organization been an exhibitor, with the exceptions of The Atlas Society in 2005  (in which Ed Hudgins was on one or two panel discussions) and, I think, two more times. They discontinued because they did not attract enough interest from CPAC attendees to continue. And of course, now, at the upcoming CPAC2013, in which the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights will be one of the exhibitors. As far as I could tell from reading the conference agenda (updated daily), no Objectivist is either making a presentation or being included on any of the panel discussions. The agenda topics are entirely related to the current conservative movement (with a strong emphsis on ant-abortion) and to opposing Obama. Nothing wrong with that, but if we are to make nice with conservatives, it would have been nice to see a gesture from their camp, such as at least token Objectivists included on the agenda. But there is none.

While (some) conservatives take umbrage at "atheism," I would have thought that some libertarians would be at least be represented. After all, conservatives arealso advocates of the "free market," So far, Cato is not listed as an exhibitor and I did not see any of their representatives listed as speakers. 
From everything that I have said here, you might conclude that I oppose  Objectivists making some type of common cause (on specific issues) with conservatives. No. Considering what has happened with Mr. Thompson now re-elected, those that oppose collectivism had better marshall their forces. To change the direction of this country is going to take a lot of work. From everyone.
Regarding CPAC2013, anyone can attend, To those who think it will be awelcome atmosphere, go try it and see. Maybe things are changing for the good, but I don't see much evidence. Just a word of friendly warning, Strangers taking a walk into Dodge City would be advised to be (intellectually) armed.

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Post 21

Monday, February 25 - 2:40pmSanction this postReply
Interesting stuff.

I am currently trying to discover a way to talk to people of faith in a manner that is not unduly offensive/divisive (I plan to submit my thoughts as an article here). This would include most of my family but it also now includes someone who is very talented who has shown interest in me as a potential business partner. He popped "the question" today:

"Do you believe in God?"

... and it caught me off guard. My answer was jumbled and unrefined. Perhaps I will share it in the article. Even though I sometimes appear to be a philosophical genius [ :-) ], I am somewhat terrible at thinking on my feet. A recent gaff was when I tried to impress Ron Paul in a face-to-face conversation and it back-fired on me and I must've looked somewhat like an idiot, though I'm sure I came off as an idiot who cares about the really important things.


Post 22

Monday, February 25 - 4:18pmSanction this postReply
All of my Christian friends would find that question extremely rude, Ed. It isn't any of his business, for one thing.  All I would have said is, "I'm an Objectivist."  That usually suffices, unless he's a totally ignorant Christian. 

I certainly look forward to reading what you have to say about this, though.  

Post 23

Monday, February 25 - 5:54pmSanction this postReply
This issue is arising here, in a thread on politics (politics and religion). In this context I think what is critical is distinguishing people of faith who are marching into political battle as soldier's of Christ, from those who maybe Christians, but it isn't why they are fighting for some political change.

There are a lot of people who happen to be Christian, but they are politically active, not in support of some religious issue, but for smaller government, or a balanced budget, or some other issue that we agree with. Clearly, we can work with them where it doesn't require affirming faith-based approaches to rights or some other bit of Christian dogma. And if their primary focus is a politics of commonsense fiscal conservatism and personal responsibility, we have no problems.

But people who divide everything into those who believe and those who don't believe - as a thing of major importance - they are probably not going to be allies in any way. Even if you stood side by side on some battle against, say, ObamaCare, it would quickly shift to a conflict where they went back to their primary focus on all things as they relate to Jesus.

If they want to know if you believe in God when it is a political discussion, that doesn't bode well. But, if there has been a recent history of more far ranging discussions, then they might just be curious - something might have triggered their awareness of your different beliefs. In that case, a simple declaration of being an atheist is adequate and might not change any political alliance.

Post 24

Monday, February 25 - 6:54pmSanction this postReply
"Above all, do not join the wrong ideological groups or movements, in order to “do something.” By “ideological” (in this context), I mean groups or movements proclaiming some vaguely generalized, undefined (and, usually, contradictory) political goals...The only groups one may properly join today are ad hoc committees, i.e., groups organized to achieve a single, specific, clearly defined goal, on which men of differing views can agree. In such cases, no one may attempt to ascribe his views to the entire membership, or to use the group to serve some hidden ideological purpose (and this has to be watched very, very vigilantly)." -Ayn Rand, "What Can One Do?"

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