The Politically Incorrect Show - 26/09/2001
[Music - Die Fledermaus]
Good afternoon, Kaya Oraaaa & welcome to the Politically Incorrect Show for Wednesday September 26, proudly sponsored by Neanderton Nicotine Ltd, the show that says bugger the politicians & bureaucrats & all the other bossyboot busybodies who try to run our lives with our money; that stands tall for free enterprise, achievement, profit & excellence against the state-worshippers in our midst; that stands above all for the most sacred thing in the universe, the liberty of the human individual.
[Music up, music down!]
"For three minutes on Red Square I felt free. I'll gladly take your three years for that." (Dissident to judge after being sentenced for protesting against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, 1968, quoted in Ayn Rand's The New Left: the Anti-Industrial Revolution.)
"For those who fight for it, freedom has a flavour the protected cannot taste." (Atlanta Staff Sergeant John Carlson, explaining to his son why he's heading for Afghanistan, The Times, 25/09/01)
Freedom has a flavour, to be sure. The protester in Red Square tasted it, John Carlson has tasted it. Perhaps it's true that the rest of us who take freedom for granted & passively acquiesce to its being violated DO not taste its flavour, but is it true that we CAN not? I believe most of us DO taste at least intimations of it in our youth, as we grasp that one day soon this whole big scary exciting world will be ours to engage as we choose. We eagerly embrace the prospect, & would bridle at any proposition that the day should be indefinitely postponed & that our parents should remain in control of our lives & our choices. THAT'S when we taste the flavour of freedom. It is the taste of adrenalin as we savour the promise of liberation, anticipate the thrills & spills of autonomy, applaud the special effects of self-ownership.
Sadly, that's as good as it gets for many, even in the West for whose (relative) freedom Mr Carlson is now preparing to fight. Over the last few decades, countless millions of citizens of the "Free World" have proved ready, in adulthood, to let their governments take over from their parents. These governments in turn have been taken over more & more by those with a pathological urge to be "super-parents" - non-individuated failures seeking control over others as psychological compensation - who have seduced their intended wards with the promise of bigger & sweeter candies. These are the "Attila"s of Ayn Rand's essay, "For the New Intellectual". They have had powerful allies in the "Witch Doctors," latterly the philosophy professors who have taught their young acolytes that the only certainty is uncertainty & the only ethical absolute is: sacrifice yourself - to anything or anyone who demands it, just so long as you sacrifice your SELF. Which means: DON'T THINK FOR YOURSELF, since it is by thinking that you discover & value yourself. Which means: abandon any concern with ideas, since ideas involve thinking.
And THAT is why so many never get beyond first base, never experience anything more than INTIMATIONS of the taste of freedom - they never learn that the nourishment which affords that taste is: REASON.
"There is a fundamental conviction which some people never acquire, some hold only in their youth, & a few hold to the end of their days - a conviction that IDEAS MATTER. In one's youth that conviction is experienced as a self-evident absolute, & one is unable fully to believe that there are people who do not share it. That ideas matter means that knowledge matters, that truth matters, that one's mind matters. And the radiance of that certainty, in the process of growing up, is the best aspect of youth."
"Don't let it go," Rand exhorted her fellow-Americans, those who had tasted freedom & savoured the flavour. In this context we could usefully paraphrase her exhortation thus:
Don't ever grow up.
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