“One of the methods used by statists to destroy capitalism consists in establishing controls that tie a given industry hand and foot, making it unable to solve its problems, then declaring that freedom has failed and stronger controls are necessary.” — Ayn Rand
At Pajamas Media, there is an appalling post declaring that “the American experiment has failed”. I was disappointed, but not surprised, to find that it was authored by a conservative — and one that I have already fisked before, here at The New Clarion.
Once again, Matt Patterson gives us another striking example of ideological causality. Here, Patterson demonstrates how conservatism plays off the Left in attacking their common enemy: America, and the Enlightenment ideals it concretizes.
Have you ever wondered why conservatives insist on ascribing the term “liberalism” to the Left, despite the clear contradictions between actual American liberalism and Leftism? Why would they aid and abet the Left’s co-opting of liberalism? The answer lies in conservatism’s essential anti-Americanism. The Left seeks to discredit and destroy liberalism — i.e. Americanism — from within, by passing off illiberal ideas in its name. When these ideas have their logical, destructive results, the conservatives point to the wreckage and declare “thus fails liberalism.”
Either way, it is genuine liberalism — Americanism — that is discredited, diluted, and floated away as if it never existed. This underlying, collusive synergy between the soi-disant “opposites” against their common target is itself a function of ideological causality; that is, most of the participants are unaware of the synergy. (I don’t envy you the unpleasantness should you ever encounter one of the few Leftists or religionists who DO know it). This is why Objectivists and all defenders of liberty must remember that at a certain, fundamental level, we are dealing with a single enemy.
I’m quite certain that Patterson would genuinely recoil from the accusation of moral treason that I direct against him in the comment I posted on his article, and which I reproduce below. It doesn’t matter. His terms of thought, his underlying premises, manifest themselves according to their own internal logic no matter what Patterson tells himself he believes…. and down that road he goes.
Ideological causality is a bear.
Ah, Matt Patterson strikes again!
Before you can declare any experiment a success or a failure, you have to understand the nature of the experiment — what it is that is being tested or tried. Knowing that, you then have to make sure that your experiment is not tainted by the presence of outside, interfering contaminants that are not the subject of the test.
You fail on both counts, so egregiously that I once again find myself suspecting bad faith on your part, all the way down the line.
The “American experiment” was mankind’s first foray into a form of society based not on the accidents of war or ethnic congregations, but on an idea. This was unique in many respects; not only in being the first nation founded on the (then and still) radical principle of individual rights, but was also the first nation ever founded on a principle of any sort — i.e. the first nation founded on purpose.
This experiment was widely derided by the intellectuals and leaders of its day, in particular because the Founder’s contemporaries understood — rightly — that this notion of “individual rights” amounted, in their terms, to “every man a king” — i.e. that every individual was morally sovereign, free to discover for himself what he ought to do in the pursuit of his happiness, in living what was, for the first time in history, fully and legally recognized as his life.
This experiment was and is a wild success, dwarfing anything else in human history. The resultant explosion of human innovation, of success against mankind’s ancient enemies in nature, is the hockey stick that can’t be denied.
So what happened? Why, obviously to any honest, sentient being, the experiment became tainted. Increasingly, the nation of individual rights is being mutated into its own opposite. Like seeing a tribe of cannibals set up shop unopposed in downtown Manhattan, we are observing the rise in America of the ancient, primitive ideas that have dominated the rest of history, and against which America was a rebellious, defiant “NO!”: the idea that the individual is not morally sovereign, but morally subject — that there is something greater than him (society, race, king, fiefdom, God, tribe), to which his life and liberty are subordinate.
The expression of this anti-American idea, is the same as it’s been throughout history: out-of-control government, unconstrained by the rights of individuals and unsubordinated by any moral law. There is no excuse to be surprised at the results.
What is failing, is plainly not the American Experiment. That experiment is over, the results are in, and they are spectacular — so spectacular, that we still enjoy their results even as the experiment is being shut down. What is failing, is that shutdown.
When a magnificent structure, brilliantly designed and engineered and proven as such by many trials, becomes abandoned by its alleged protectors and becomes infested with termites dedicated to its destruction, by what infernal evasion is the resulting collapse attributed to a failure of the original design?
Why would you, Patterson, blithely tell us that it is “the American Experiment” that is failing, when it is plain that it has been corrupted by external factors?
There’s only one answer to that question: The ones screaming that the experiment has failed, have a vested interest in discrediting that experiment regardless — or perhaps because — of the successful results.
Errors of that size are not made innocently.
America stands as a shining validation of the Enlightenment, especially its core admiration for and reliance upon the moral virtue of reason, and its consequent political principles of individual moral sovereignty and liberty. The former is an affront to religious conservatism; the latter is an affront to the collectivist Left. Ideological causality dictates that no matter how much they hate each other, the summary result of the interplay between these so-called “opposites” is to move us *away* from what the great experiment has shown us; the twentieth century proves that prediction with frightening exactitude.
Should America fall, it will not be due to the failure of the American experiment. It will be due to its betrayal and murder at the hands of her conservative/Leftist enemies — as an ideologically dictated result of its success.