Time to Form a New Country? Why it is not the time to give up on America

by | Feb 27, 2000

Q. If you do not think libertarians are taking the correct action, may I suggest that those of us who are interested can join together to form a new country? A. This amounts to the idea that it is time to follow John Galt’s advice and strike from the world. Although no political party is […]

Q. If you do not think libertarians are taking the correct action, may I suggest that those of us who are interested can join together to form a new country?

A. This amounts to the idea that it is time to follow John Galt’s advice and strike from the world.

Although no political party is acceptable–and very few candidates are acceptable–it is not time to give up America; our situation is not identical to that which Ayn Rand presented in Atlas Shrugged. Many circumstances are identical: the almost universal acceptance of altruism, unreason and collectivism, the willing self-immolation of the country’s best people (primarily businessmen), and the collapse of values in every important cultural endeavor–from education to art–to name but three. Nevertheless, there are at least three distinguishing characteristics which either give reason to fight, or show that we have not yet fallen over the precipice into a new Dark Ages.

Firstly, there are a number of common-sense, “grass-roots” developments that indicate Americans are not willing to surrender, such as the parent-led concern for education, the most notable developments being the revival of phonics in teaching language, and the general rebellion against state education shown by the interest in home schools and school vouchers. Doctors are establishing non-Medicare, non-HMO, fee-for-service practices, and there is growing recognition of the evil of affirmative action. (I know your state of Florida is disputing this issue at this moment.) These positive developments are not ideologically motivated, i.e., they are not unified around the necessary philosophical foundations that they need and they are consequently inconsistent (e.g., the focus on religion in education), but they indicate something unique about Americans: when we recognize that something is wrong, we try to fix it. Practically, every other population in the world either accepts or rebels blindly against the government; Americans try to create real solutions. This is a distinctly positive value that we should cultivate, rather than abandon, and is part of what Ayn Rand observed as the uniquely American “sense-of-life.” While it still exists, there is still a chance to save America.

Secondly, today’s politicians have a higher implicit regard for the system they are attempting to destroy than did the villains of Atlas Shrugged. Even Clinton is extremely wary of the affects his policies have on the economy and is more inclined to do nothing that will adversely affect business than do anything to bring it down. (Of course, every action he takes does affect the economy adversely, but significantly less than he would otherwise get away with.) While they do move us toward dictatorship, that progression is restrained by the politicians’ real fear of meddling with forces beyond their control and knowledge, and upon which they know (to some degree, at least) their own success rests. Note how eagerly Clinton and Gore take credit for the economy and the Internet, and how quick Hillary was to condemn New York’s property taxes as soon as she had to start paying them. While statism approaches at a reduced rate, there is still a little time to fight back, building upon the better elements of the country and exposing the intellectual and moral void in the country’s political leadership.

Thirdly, and most importantly, we are still free to speak. Even with all the dangerous breaches in the First Amendment (school prayer, speech codes, movie ratings, banned advertisements, etc.), we maintain the right to speak our minds on important ideas, which leaves open the possibility of changing the dominant trend of ideas, no matter how long that may take, nor how difficult it will be. Free speech was killed totally in Atlas Shrugged by Directive 10-289; it has not been killed totally in America. It was on this very issue that Miss Rand drew a line and observed that while speech was possible, there was no reason to strike. So long as men are free to advocate reason, it is too soon to give up advocating reason.

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Andrew Lewis is a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

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