What is one to do? The perennial question we all ask ourselves when we take the dream of a free, capitalist America and compare it to the America we face today.
There is the question of whom we choose as allies.
For example, when I think of the Cato Institute, I think of it as one of a hundred public policy groups in Washington with which I find some degree of disagreement. If I looked at Cato only that way, when they do the occasional good thing, I would be inclined to support it.
The problem with a group like Cato is that they more than just a Washington policy group. They are the standard bearer for the libertarian movement. They have allied with those who directly attack the philosophy I support. It was my attendance at an event featuring David Boaz, a leader at Cato, which cemented my opposition to the toleration-ist break with Objectivism. I was new to Objectivism at the time, and Boaz was making the case that one could form an alliance for political liberty with a committed adherent of Islam. Even as a fresh Objectivist and many years prior to 9-11, I thought that position to be laughable.
Boaz’s view is the fundamental opposite of the Objectivist view, and it speaks to the heart of what animates Cato philosophically. When it comes to the overarching take on the world and how to deal with it, they are not fellow travelers, but opponents.
A friend sent the following to me that amplified this point: “If you have set up an organization that is to be specifically the Objectivist voice for capitalism, keeping the existence of libertarians in mind and how they only stand to gain from Objectivists and we only stand to lose from them, isn't this whole issue amplified a whole lot more than it would be, say for a [college] club?”
That might mean CAC looses allies that we would have if we were just a single issue group working on an isolated case. But since we are aiming for not just political change, but philosophic change, the goal demands a comprehensive approach.
CAC is an Objectivist group and it seeks to make the case for capitalism by applying Objectivism to public policy questions. Our standards must be strict. The larger cultural problem is not so much this law or that law; it is the failure of our fellow citizens to understand the truth of Objectivism and apply it to their lives and their social relationships.
In the same breath, I’m not going to reflexively condemn others if, for their own reasons, they decide that they want a relationship with libertarians or conservatives because they believe it serves their interests. Given their agenda, these relationships may make sense, although I am hard-pressed to see it myself. I often see people and groups do things that I myself would not do. That is their choice, and they will have to accept the consequences, good or bad.
But when it comes to the group I lead, my mission is to bring about the the rise of Objectivism. To achieve that goal, one must posses a thoughtful loyalty to certain principles.
Like I said before, I’m rethinking what CAC as a group needs to do. Please consider this one of several public brainstorms I will be having as I re-contemplate CAC’s mission. I welcome your reaction and comments. Please feel fee to use the comments feature on the blog, or contact me privately using our feedback page.