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‘You didn’t build that,’ conservative style

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Yaron Brook and Steven Simpson have posted an excellent article "‘You didn’t build that,’ conservative style" on the Daily Caller in which they politely exposed and analyzed an explicitly anti-individualism speech by Sen. Mike Lee in a conservative Heritage Foundation "Anti-Poverty Forum" last month. Lee misrepresented the American history of individualism and dismissed Ayn Rand, both in favor of a moral duty for service, as a religious conservative 'answer' to Obama's "you didn't build that".

It is important that Tea Party supporters follow this discussion and that principled individualists support it with comments and assessment.

My main comment posted there, in addition to several responses to other comments, was

Thanks to Yaron Brook and Steve Simpson for this expose' refuting and bringing to our attention Mike Lee's most basic views. Politicians rarely describe their fundamental principles and I had not realized that Lee's philosophy was so bad. His stridently anti-individualism speech on "poverty" at the Heritage Foundation last month was horrible. http://www.lee.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2013/11/bring-them-in

Lee's presentation reads like a cross between an exhortation for a "voluntary" religious communal utopia and the notoriously fallacious "states rights" argument for a welfare state to be imposed on us by states instead of the Federal government in the name of making statism and collectivism more "efficient". He grossly misrepresented the history of America, which was founded on individualism and productive achievement, and he urged a "morality" of collectivism and subservience that would make it impossible.

The American Revolution was for freedom and independence, not a "war on poverty". The individual's success depends on his productivity, not "service". The "only way [sic] to get ahead" is not "to look out for your neighbors". The success of our economy depends on individual initiative allowed to achieve goals, not "your service" and "service based networks". "Social solidarity" and "bonds of cooperation and service" are not "the highest expression of our dignity". "Empowering communities" are not what "makes life worth living". A collectivist "we're all in this together" with a duty to society is not what "freedom means". "Organic [sic] communities" sounds like something out of Hegel and are not "the blessings that poor families need".

Promotion of such collectivist bromides and dogma of subservience is profoundly uninspiring and destructive. It is a false alternative that will not motivate normal people to oppose Obama. On the contrary, it feeds his tyranny under the same false morality. Those who believe in it will go for the real thing, not a conservative watered down version, while the more independent will be turned away with no choice. Socialism is for those who take their altruism -- literally "otherism" -- seriously.


Robert Mayhew made an interesting scholarly observation on what book the conservative "vision" is coming from when they reject Ayn Rand's books:

Excellent article. Sen. Lee is right that the conservative vision of America does not come from an Ayn Rand novel; its ‘vision’, for lack of a better word -- including its view of who built what, and who owes what to whom -- comes from another book: “For from him and through him and to him are all things” (Romans 11:36); “all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3); “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever” (Ephesians 3:20-21). This book is also the source of the conservatives’ exasperating inability to challenge the Left on fundamentals.

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