Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It takes a village to raise an idiot

One of the most important books I’ve read (third only to the Holy Bible and C. S. Lewis’ The Last Battle) is Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. It continues to have an overwhelming effect on my thought processes and is probably the main reason I have long feared for the future of our country.

Recently, Democratic Presidential Candidate hopeful HRC suggested “It's time to replace an ‘on your own’ society with one based on shared responsibility and prosperity.” My recollection is that 19th Century political observer Alexis De Tocqueville opined: “A decline of the American experiment in government would occur when the majority of its peoples learned they could legislate wealth away from its holders, to be distributed among the masses according to the desires of those masses”. Could be that’s why we were founded as a Democratic Republic and not a Democracy. The Founding Fathers were awfully smart and we should pay more attention to that which they gave us and less attention to making their structure “work” by constantly altering it.

I could be confusing De Tocqueville with Ayn Rand somewhat, but the point remains valid. So then, what’s to keep America from becoming Socialist? Nothing, I fear except America’s desires for freedom and towards prosperity. I know that in Atlas Shrugged Rand observed the nation’s “producers” ultimately leaving their homes quietly and independently for another place that valued work and respected the right of one to profit from their labors. And in the country they left behind there remained nothing but waste, for without reward for one’s effort there is no reason to produce other than to provide for basic needs. If one can work productively for eight hours and only receive basic sustenance or they can work only 4 hours for the same, what reason is there to labor longer? And for that matter for two, or for none at all? Does the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard come to mind? Not quite, I believe.

A strong believer in Capitalism and the Free Market System, I would make the case that the only system which lifts up the individual to greater self worth is one such as we experience, though I believe it’s really about freedom and not reward. In any society where wealth is distributed equally, freedom can not long exist. All ultimately become dependent upon the State for fulfillment of their needs, and then the State becomes their god. I don't recall this as how our Father designed His Creation.

So, how does one fit Christian charity into this equation? I suggest it is incumbent upon true Christians to look towards the less fortunate and see that their needs too, are met; for that is Christ’s call to us. “To love one another as we love ourselves.” But for that call to work it must come from the heart and not from legislation. My biggest disappointment with Ayn Rand’s work is her approaching everything selfishly and not from a position of brotherly love. Coming to America from Russia in the heyday of Communism, it appears she didn’t understand or else couldn’t justify the Christian thought process, the main place I feel she “missed the boat”. Otherwise, I find her thoughts most profound, … and scary.


Post a Comment

<< Home