Wednesday, May 10, 2006

William F. Buckley Jr. smears Ayn Rand (yet again)

Here's a snip from Buckley's latest missive, this time contemplating the philosophy of our Evangelist in Chief:

[P]robes into Bush's political servitude to Christian dogma aren't conclusively damaging. The critic in question says of Bush that he is a capitalist to the exclusion of "other civilized values, (and) treats the national parks as a playground for snowmobiles. Bush is the first president to insist on drilling in the Arctic wildlife reserve."

Well, that is not so. Reagan's Interior Department recommended drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. President George H.W. Bush explicitly recommended it. If one is looking for extra-conventional sources of authority, one is attracted not to those who want to drill for oil in Alaska, but to those who do not. Their refusal to countenance drilling is in the nature of a taboo whose sanction is all but religious in nature, Big Chief Greenhouse no touchum Arctic refuge.

And of course Mr. Bush can hardly endorse unrestrained capitalism and pursue the grace of Christ. Those who worship capitalism to sacramental lengths are defiantly anti-Christian, like Ayn Rand and her utterly unholy Objectivists, and that branch of libertarianism which acknowledges only the market as authority, practical or moral.

Stem-cell research is a question correctly demanding moral, not purely instrumental, discrimination. If a president lists the factor of human life as one consideration to be weighed in making policy on stem-cell research, he should not for that reason be dismissed as superstitious.

Mr. Bush faces a lot of problems, and some of them are correctly informed by religious understandings. For example, Why not permit infanticide? Well, let me explain: Jesus wouldn't approve.
I think Buckley depicts the conservative political position quite admirably. Capitalism and mysticism do not mix; capitalism is egoistic while mysticism demands sacrifice. Those who “worship” capitalism—that is, those who worship voluntary exchange for mutual benefit—are anti-Christian and thus “unholy.” Only faith in the divinity of Jesus and the truth of religious law keeps us moral; absent that faith, anything goes.

So at root, conservatives are mystics who eschew self-interest, embrace altruism and damn anyone who disagrees with them as heretics. I know what you are thinking: who knew. Nevertheless, Buckley’s article underscores yet again that the conservatives must be challenged and ultimately replaced as a cultural force in America. I think its telling that Buckley doesn’t even attempt to define, let alone defend the morality of markets—it's faith in Jesus that is primary. And all the while, it is the conservatives who are perceived as capitalism’s premiere defenders. My view: as long as this perception exists, Objectivists' efforts to change the culture will continue to remain on the fringe. We have to treat the conservatives as our most dangerous enemy.

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