Time for Objectivists To Come Clean
by Scott McPherson
time for Objectivists to come clean on the Iraq War.
say that as a small "O" objectivist. Like so many others,
I came into the Libertarian Movement largely due to the writings
of Ayn Rand. There were other influences, but Rand provided such
sharp insight into the immorality, psychology, and inevitable results
of statism that nothing, before or since, has had so profound an
impact on my thinking.
put, my view of metaphysics is grounded in objective reality; my
understanding of how human beings acquire knowledge of reality is
through their rational faculty; ethically, I believe the only sane
and healthy way to behave is via rational self-interest; and finally,
I consider laissez faire capitalism and libertarianism Ė peaceful
coexistence Ė as the only sane and healthy political system to live
have a framed copy of the poster from Ayn
Rand: A Sense of Life (signed by the director, even) hanging
on my wall. My 165-pound Great Daneís name is Atlas Shrugged.
Iím a small "O" objectivist because I endeavor to live
my life guided by Objectivist axioms, principles and premises. But
I do not accept the "official" Objectivist truth served
up by the Ayn Rand Institute and The Objectivist Center and (all-too-willingly)
swallowed by their rank-and-file members Ė especially on matters
of foreign policy.
through my objectivist roots and worldview I accept the Objectivist
position that nations have the right, and moral responsibility,
to attack, preemptively even, any other nation that poses a credible
threat to the individual rights of those living under their governance.
Any government that failed to protect the rights of its citizens
from a foreign power would be failing to carry out its most fundamental
is why I donít hate Objectivists who supported the launch of a war
against Iraq. For whatever their failings, they sincerely (I believe)
feared that Saddam Husseinís Iraq was an unstable dictatorship that
was attempting to acquire Weapons of Mass Destruction for possible
use against the United States.
I tended then (as now) to dismiss the neo-con argument that the
"smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud" as cheap war rhetoric,
I understood that the principle of self-defense most assuredly supported
the principle of hitting first and hitting hard. Anyone who has
ever effectively dealt with a school-yard bully can understand the
value in that.
I want to emphasize that I donít hate Objectivists for backing the
neo-cons in their rush to invade Iraq Ė I just think they, like
so much of the rest of the country, were misled into believing that
a threat existed and it turned out to be false; and too, that like
the rest of the country, theyíve given up expecting such archaic
niceties from our government as a constitutional declaration of
failings are serious, to be sure. But they donít make the Objectivists
my enemy; it just makes them wrong.
now itís time to come clean. Itís not just that no WMD were ever
found; itís not just that thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians
have been needlessly killed; itís not just the 20,000 American casualties,
including 2,500 dead, providing America with its own version of
Northern Ireland; itís not just that the "mobile chemical weapons
labs" were non-existent; itís not just that the attempt to
acquire uranium from Nigeria never happened.
now know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the Bush Administration,
and its allies in the Intelligence "community," willingly
and knowingly cherry-picked the information that would make their
case for war. We can speculate about their motives, but the evidence
appears almost weekly on my doorstep, courtesy of the Washington
never posed a threat to the United States. Maybe a case could be
made that we didnít know that three years ago. No one, short of
a liar or a madman, can say that is so today.
come clean, all you war-cheerleaders at ARI and TOC. If youíre dedicated
to reason, rational self-interest, peaceful coexistence, and justice
Ė as you claim Ė then admit you were wrong. Thereís nothing to fear.
Though Iím an atheist, my favorite quote is biblical: Proverbs 23:23,
"Buy the truth, and do not sell it." Give everything you
have to the cause of reality, and then donít part with it Ė regardless
of the price offered. By knowing and acknowledging the truth you
can better prepare for the future.
a future that is free of needless wars, over-bearing government
and an irrational fear of everyone requires learning first that
just because the government uses words and phrases that make you
feel warm and fuzzy ("evil-doers" springs to mind) doesnít
mean it can be trusted, that war is truly the health of the state
(noticed government getting any smaller?), and that rationality
best guarantees peace Ė not the whimsical, irrational thrashing
about the globe that has defined American foreign policy for over
Objectivist friends, stop fighting so passionately for the great
morals and values of our country under the leadership of a government
that has abandoned both. Admit you were wrong, learn from the mistake,
and help us steer our country back onto its once-noble and proud
course in the world, one defined by "Peace, commerce, and honest
friendship with all nations." Ayn Rand wrote that "justice
is the act of acknowledging that which exists" Ė and reality
has never been clearer.
McPherson [send him mail]
is a policy advisor at The Future of
Freedom Foundation in Fairfax, Virginia.
© 2006 LewRockwell.com