The battle is not lost. We live to fight another day. WE WILL ENDURE. We will endure because we have the ultimate weapon at our disposal, and that weapon is our minds.
We are not dead, nor are we a lost cause.
I told someone the other day that I never thought that I would live to see the day where I felt like I was the product of a bye-gone era. I am constantly amazed and bewildered by the general apathy among the twenty-somethings I know in regards to things political and to the work ethic. It very simply boggles the mind.
Yes, that's the word, and that's part of the problem. The mind.
I don't think that the upcoming generation really knows how to think.
A few years back I did a piece, which I posted originally here this past year, called Thought and Modern Man that dives into this issue. Sometimes a article is of such depth and magnitude (yes, I've been told I have a huge ego) that it needs to be reposted for emphasis, and I am doing so below.
I don't think conservatism is in it's death throes. We are taking a beating, true, but we are an ideology based in thought, and in reason, rather than based in feeling. Rationality and reason will always triumph, ultimately, over emotion; virtue based in the value of human achievement trumps virtue based in the sacrifice of self. Man alone of all animals is given the ability to reason and to function as a thinking being; we do not rely on sheer instinct for our survival. To rely upon instinct rather than thought is to offer ones self up for destruction.
So, to paraphrase the bard, "Read on, MacDuff," and take heart. While thinking men and women still live, so will live the ideology of conservatism to battle liberalism.
Thought and Modern Man
In the generations following the New Deal era of the FDR administration, and the free love culture of the flower child generation, we find ourselves today in a situation in which thought, reason, and rationality have found themselves having been replaced by feelings and emotions. Rational thought is no longer taken into account when one is dealing with the situations that face modern society, what has become more important than the reason behind what motivates the individual is not the thought process of the individuals mind, but the feelings that the individual experienced while in the process of performing an act, be it for the benefit or detriment of self or others.
Our society is driven now by feelings, speed, and convenience than by reason or thought. In our quest for convenience, we have made for ourselves, as a society, a culture of drones who work in jobs that require no thought, no reasoning skills, only the ability to press a few buttons with not words, but pictures upon them when ringing up a sale at a fast food restaurant. And somehow, the order the customer places invariably winds up to be incorrect even with the ease and convenience of having the job all but done for the workers running the machinery. It is only in the higher quality and higher caliber restaurants that one can find the service that is both well planned and the waitresses and waiters seem to take pride in their ability to remember a customers order with few mistakes, and the chefs able to complete an order on time without it not being prepared in a manner not to the customers ultimate satisfaction.
We have taken this fast food industry approach in regards to our fuel and transportation needs, as well. The garage with the attendant who is there to fill the gas tank of the customer, check the air in the tires, wash the windows, and check the oil is rarely to be found anymore amongst the quick marts, 7-11’s, mini marts, and such. Even the major fuel distributors in large cities have abandoned the full service gas station in favor of the convenience store, a place where the customer can fuel up their car, pick up a soft drink, a snack from the deli, a pack of cigarettes if (gods help them should the politically correct elitists see them) the customer happens to need a fresh pack. But woe unto the traveler who has a fan belt or radiator hose to break or rupture while on their journey, for the gas station is no longer an option, the driver will have to find an automotive specialist to do the repair work, after scheduling an appointment and having to wait for the wrong part to be sent, returned, and the right part to arrive. And please, don’t expect the staff at these stores to be happy to see the customer come in and do business; after all, someone owes them these jobs, but that doesn’t mean that there should be any work involved, or at least that seems to be the attitude of a great many.
Yet we love our modern conveniences, and rightly so. Technology has brought about such marvels as high definition television, high speed digital communications, and a great deal of other things for modern people to use for their personal enjoyment. It has improved modern medicine to the point where it is no longer a Stone Age practice of divination, but a science. Technology has also enabled the world of production to increase it’s output to a point unheard of during the industrial revolution, and has eased the workday of the modern factory worker considerably from the conditions of early factories, making the speed and efficiency of modern production a thing that modern industrialists should view with pride and a sense of accomplishment when running a line to produce their products. Yet government regulations have so choked the production industry, and taxation has so struck the profits of such industries, that corporations have begun to move their manufacturing outside of US borders in order to find cheaper labor, therefore insuring that the stockholders and owners of these companies can insure their profits, profits that are the expected right for the fruits of one’s labor.
Our government, while not exactly going to the same measures as the government in Atlas Shrugged, has, in the past century or so, managed to become something strikingly similar TO the government that exists in Atlas. The number of regulations and standards that exist today are enough to discourage the would-be ambitions of modern inventors from developing new products and then manufacturing them. What research IS done today is done by existing companies within their laboratories, but with contracts signed by the developers that any product of the researchers mind belongs to the company, a company that would just as soon pay a gifted chimpanzee, in many cases, as to pay for the worth of man’s mind, thus discouraging the brightest of researchers and developers to fall to a point of mediocrity, for they rest in the knowledge that their best efforts will be rewarded the same as the most ludicrous of others who surround them.
The root of this crisis of thought, this lacking of ideas and reason, can be traced to our public education system, in which competition for grades has become a thing of the past, but an atmosphere of making a student feel good even though he or she is not capable or willing to produce the same level of work as a student who gives entire devotion and dedication to study and success. The earliest examples of this are to be found in the elementary years, where children are taught that there are no differences in any of us, individualism is not important but is dangerous, and it is more important to do something for the benefit of everyone than to ever do something strictly because it is what the individual desires to do. Individualism is also broken down and destroyed in the middle and high school years with the introduction of the school uniform.
The ideal of rugged American individualism is in danger of becoming a thing of the past; however, we have not gotten to the point yet where the American people, and indeed, the people of the world, are beyond hope. The political system of the 1900’s needs to be revamped and retooled, as a large government is a thing of waste and a burden to the public for which it strives (pretends) to work. This is not the call for revolutionary activity, and I speak not with the fervor or vehemence of the extremist militia, but merely as a thinking man who sees that this could be accomplished by taking the existing system and returning it closer to a form of government as existed in the days before the administration of Woodrow Wilson, after which time a great many things have been introduced as legislation that are in direct violation of the wording, meaning, and spirit of the United States Constitution. It is time to abandon the notion Lincoln forwarded in the Gettysburg Address that all men are created equal, Lincoln was a racist, and all men are not created equally, for we each are created with our own unique gifts and talents. The application of these talents, or lack of application, is what identifies us as either productive citizens or as a burden to others.
The greatest sin to be committed by man is the sin of failing to think.
The Government of the United States has become, as was foretold in Atlas Shrugged, the welfare state, a term used by critics of today’s government. This term is not used loosely, however, when one considers farm subsidies, corporate subsidies, and the general welfare program itself, which is overrun with abuses that go unchecked by social workers whose caseloads are so full that they often cannot put a face to a name when filing their reports to the larger cogs of the wheels of a government that has overstepped it’s authority and purpose in its attempt to become both mother and father to the generations of welfare recipients who are stuck in a cycle of poverty that is supposed to be a temporary state, but winds up binding its members with regulations so stringent that the incentive to work is all but killed out of those who are able bodied and willing to do so, with threats of loss of benefits to those who make an amount that the government deems too much in any given month. This is not a system that is designed to help people, it is a system designed to make a generation dependent upon the government for support and livelihood.
So often in the news today, especially during election years, politicians running for office moan and decry the state of the government systems, and promise to do something for change, while offering no solutions, no remedies, no repeals of the over reaching fingers of the government and it’s numerous agencies which, while in theory are established to serve the common good, are nothing more than machinery that is fed by the tax system, robbing the individual of his or her income by imposing a tax system that is unfair and inequitable, in the name of fairness to all. The individual is better judge of what his income is spent on than the federal government, yet the politicians that are elected, while paying lip service to tax reform to their constituency, seldom do more than token efforts to maintain the status quo rather than to do what common sense and reason deem the only logical choice of action: the elimination of redundant government programs, the elimination of government waste, and the reduction or elimination of the income tax system.
With these thoughts in mind, I close this offering of the thoughts of my mind, after years of seeing these things come to pass, and having only recently discovered Ayn Rand’s works and her incredible vision.
Postscript: It’s been roughly five years since I first set these thoughts down as “record.” I find myself, in reviewing them, considering a few things in retrospect. I haven’t changed my mind on anything that was said that evening these years gone by now when I first wrote this piece; if anything, I’m more convinced in rereading over it now that I’m correct in my observations. At the time of the original writing, I was “teaching” history and government classes at a juvenile justice facility. Since that time, I’ve walked away from the public education system in absolute dismay at the overwhelming apathy of school administrations that are more interested in the bottom line (money) than in the education of our children and in ensuring that students have learned to THINK.
Mind you, I’m in no way, shape, or fashion opposed to making money. I’ve stated fairly recently to those I work with that I’m VERY mercenary in regards to my work, and will go where I can make more money when and if the opportunity presents itself. However, as John Galt made clear in the book Atlas Shrugged, my mind IS my own, and I will use it as I see fit, rather than being forced to use it without proper recompense for the fruits of my thought and my labor.
“Who is John Galt,” Rand asks in her novel. The man who set out to stop the engine of the world, and succeeded. If things continue on the course that we currently travel, as a nation, as a people, I think that we may see the answer to another question asked the other day of “Where is OUR John Galt?” As one who DID as John Galt did, one who walked away from a system that had no appreciation for my intellect or talent, one who walked away from a system that strives to squelch independent thought, I can truthfully say there was more than a little John Galt in me when I left the public education system. A move which opened the floodgates in the system where I worked and saw several others walk away as well, choosing to take employment where their minds and talents WERE better appreciated and recompensed.
"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of
another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."
Check out my Random Thoughts, as well...
Once and Always an American Fighting Man