Saturday, November 09, 2013

Social security and the ideological struggle

Social Security and Me: Ayn Rand, the Four Freedoms, the Road to Serfdom and the Leninist Strategy by Bruce Webb

According to Webb, the battle over social security
is a manifestation of a clash of philosophies between two irreconcilable camps. One camp takes its collective inspiration from a canon that includes Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and The Virtue of Selfishness, Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, and Friedrich Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. Each work and its respective acolytes subscribe to one or both of the following equations: Capitalism = Freedom and Socialism = Tyranny. In this camp the firm and often fervent belief is that any and all government interventions in the Free Market via central planning, regulation or programs that redistribute gains from productivity are if not Socialism per se, certainly steps along the path. They may admit that such interventions might be well motivated and even for a time have positive net effects by Utilitarian Greatest Good for Greatest Number calculations but still maintain that promoters of them are either dupes or active collaborators with a fundamentally anti-Freedom and anti-Capitalist agenda. Which as Friedman suggests are ultimately the same thing.

On the other side of this divide is a group that takes its inspriration from a quite different canon, one that includes FDR’s Four Freedoms Speech and for the more religious the Sermon on the Mount. If you had to some [sic] up the unifying philosophy it is explicitly anti-Rand in holding that not only is Selfishness NOT a Virtue and still less the PRIME virtue, but instead close to The Root of All Evil.

As a result there is little room for compromise in the parallel battles of Chicago vs. Hyde Park, Objectivism v. the New Deal, or Libertarianism vs. Social Democracy, each draws on a different vision of what it means to be fully human.

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