Friday, 6 October 2006

"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice" - online audio

IN THE FIRST part of the series on conservatism running here at 'Not PC,' Brad Thompson suggested that "To set some context, however, let us first recall the basic ideals that have traditionally been regarded as the gold standard of true conservatism: the ideals associated with Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign, which, in turn, point to the principles of America’s Founding Fathers."

As it happens, LearnOutLoud has just made available -- free! -- Barry Goldwater's July 1964 speech which has been called "the speech that defined modern conservatism." Says LearnOutLoud:
Goldwater is especially adamant in his stance for use of force against Communism with his statement "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice". He also confronts bureaucracy and centralization of government power as major problems facing the politics of his day.
I feel duty-bound however to point out that Ayn Rand was not an entirely wholehearted Goldwater enthusiast herself. In March 1964 she observed in 'How to Judge a Political Candidate':

If a candidate evades, equivocates and hides his stand under a junk-heap of random concretes, we must add up those concretes and judge him accordingly. If his stand is mixed, we must evaluate it by asking: Will he protect freedom or destroy the last of it? Will he accelerate, delay or stop the march toward statism?

By this standard, one can see why Barry Goldwater is the best candidate in the field today.
But by the end of the campaign, in December, she presaged Thompson's arguments about conservatism in general when she said about the losing Goldwater campaign:
There was no discussion of capitalism. There was no discussion of statism. There was no discussion of the blatantly vulnerable record of the government's policies in the last thirty years. There was no discussion. There were no issues.

In psychological, if not existential, fact, the campaign ended in mid-October, when Senator Goldwater chose to concede his defeat in one of the least attractive forms possible. It was the form of a truly shameful switch: the attempt to substitute the question of personal "morals" for all the crucial questions of our age, and offer it as the cardinal issue of the campaign.

You can see the progression of Rand's disillusionment in her comments summarised here at the Objectivism Reference Center. The flatulent "me-tooism" about which she frequently excoriated conservatives is something they have yet to repudiate, and now with neoconservatism it is being conflated into a "philosophy of governance." Little wonder that libertarians and Objectivists have little time for conservatives.

LINKS: Barry Goldwater: 1964 Republican National Convention Address - LearnOutLoud [MP3 and streaming]
Ayn Rand on Barry Goldwater - Objectivism Reference Center

RELATED: Politics-US, Politics, Objectivism, History-Modern, History-Twentieth Century

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