“Rugged Individualism”

Submitted By: Mike Spindell. Guest Blogger

Fess_parker_crockett_disney_televisionMythology can be seen as the social glue of diverse groups. It is the accumulation of tales, beliefs, moral strictures and mores that gives a specific population a sense of homogeneity, allowing it to exist with synergy. This is true of nations, ethnic groups, religions and even political movements. One of the defining conditions in our nation is that we are one of the most diverse on this planet when it comes to religions and ethnicities. All of our original thirteen states came into existence via individual peculiarities of settlers, religious sects, slavery, climate and the spoils system of colonialism. About a third of the citizens of those thirteen colonies, of the nascent United States, chafed under foreign domination and engendered a rebellion against the British Empire’s exploitation. Among that fractional populace, there fortunately resided a group of the colonies wealthiest citizens and greatest minds. The rebellion succeeded and a decade later a government emerged created by the novelty of a Constitution delineating how it was to be run.

As improbable as the rebellion against the world’s greatest power might have seemed, the ongoing success of this enterprise is even more of an improbability. From the beginning most citizens saw themselves as attached more to their individual states, than to the Federal Government. The subsequent history of this country is well-known, but what I think often gets missed is that the history as we know it is mostly a creation of an American mythology, which has given consistency to this diverse enterprise and served to inculcate waves of immigrants into seeing themselves as part of America. While a nation’s mythology may serve it as “social glue” it can also contain within it seeds of social dysfunction. What follows is my take on the American Myth of the “Rugged Individualist” and why though it may have had initial utilitarian value; it has become cancerous within our country and may lead to the disintegration of America as we know it.

The initial inspiration for this piece came from this source: http://www.nationofchange.org/right-s-sham-religion-rugged-individualism-1355328952  and it is an article well worth reading. Robert Becker’s OpEd in The Nation of Change “The Right’s Sham Religion of Rugged Individualism” presents an excellent short essay. Rather than sprinkle this essay with quotations I urge you to read it, while I spin off in a less political direction. The study of Mythology in the tradition of Joseph Campbell, Robert Graves, Sir James George Frazer and Richard Slotkin has been a lifelong avocation of mine. Using Mr. Becker’s article as a kind of muse, I will look at “rugged individualism” from my synthesis of the ideas I’ve absorbed through the years. I first touched on this theme on 7/22/11 in this guest blog: http://jonathanturley.org/2011/07/23/the-american-quest-for-empire/#more-37487   and it is an insight that influences much of the way I view America’s current situation.

Rugged Individualism definition:

The belief that all individuals, or nearly all individuals, can succeed on their own and that government help for people should be minimal. The phrase is often associated with policies of the Republican party and was widely used by the Republican president Herbert Hoover. The phrase was later used in scorn by the Democratic presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman to refer to the disasters of Hoover’s administration, during which the stock market Crash of 1929 occurred and the Great Depression began.” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/rugged+individualism

While it is true that Herbert Hoover is given credit for the coinage and usage of the words “rugged individualism”, in my view the concept and connotation of these words goes further back into American history as a mythological theme. With the advent of the “Social Darwinist” philosophical movement, that “pseudo-science” lent credence to the concept and helped blend it into the common wisdom of the country.

One way to view history is from a conspiratorial perspective. While I do think there have been many conspiracy’s that have indeed influenced the course of human events, I think that to view them as the result of evil cabals plotting their execution is to be naive as to the way we humans act and think. It is certainly true that the NAZI’s in Germany and the Communists in the USSR, conspired to gain power and then used propaganda to create national mythologies that were ultimately destructive in nature. Similarly, FDR’s Administration used ideology, and mythology to create propaganda to defend against these foreign forces. My thinking is that propaganda and its creator’s, no matter how cynical, ultimately starts out with a set of mythological beliefs, sincerely understood to be ultimate truths by the propagandists. Julius Streicher and then Joseph Goebbels of the NAZI Party really believed that Jews were an evil plague upon humanity and then created propaganda to convince others of its truth. The unexamined acceptance of mythology, common wisdom if you will, is perhaps a person’s greatest handicap in trying to understand the world they live in.

Central to American mythology is the idea of the “rugged individualist” as the driving force behind our country’s success. This myth holds that all of American progress came through the exertions of extraordinary men, going their own way, charting their own courses and bringing the rest of the populace along with them as followers of their iconoclastic natures. We have the legends of Daniel Boone, “Johnny Appleseed” and Paul Bunyan to represent how individualists helped spread the White Man in his quest to claim all of our “manifest destiny”. Like most mythology the process of the accretion of heroic stature onto real people came from a need to find “men” the populace could emulate and follow. This need came from the loose alliance of business and political interests seeking to make this country into a world power and seeking to exploit the bounty of its natural resources as they each pursued their selfish interests.

In the Revolutionary War we saw the creation of heroic myths used to rally people to the cause and then glorify the revolution to a population that did not overwhelmingly support it. Once the battle had been won a national mythology was needed to make this collection of localities and populations coherent. Think of Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys in upper New England.  Remember Nathan Hale’s speech on the gallows; Sam Adams radically rousing the people of Boston; Paul Reveres’ Ride; “The Shot Heard Round the World”; and of course the Boston Tea Party. These people and instances, along with the individual mythology surrounding the wisdom of our “Founding Father’s”, were used as a common mythology to take a collection of diverse localities and meld them into a national whole. That there was much truth to the fact of the extraordinary talents of some of these individuals does not diminish their mythological aspect, merely it enhances it.

To briefly bring us forward in time we see the mythology of the “rugged individualist” as the driving force of the American success story throughout our subsequent history. Behind that of course, is the belief in “great men” doing “heroic deeds” as being those who impel history, leading along the rest of us who lack their stature. We see this mythmaking in the “Taming of The West”; in the Civil War; in our “Industrial Revolution”, in fact this theme of individual greatness runs through the entire history of this country and to illustrate it let me just list a bunch of names and allow you to conjure the images these names produce:

Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, Sam Houston, Abraham Lincoln, U.S. Grant, George Armstrong Custer, John Jacob Astor, Eli Whitney, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, Thomas Alva Edison, Henry Ford, Teddy Roosevelt, William Randolph Hearst, FDR, Dwight D. Eisenhower, JFK, MLK, RFK, Ronald Reagan, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

I’m sure as you read these names all of them are familiar to you, but beyond that familiarity there comes to your mind a back-story that is full of detail. Though all of these were real people, they have already passed into American Mythology because of the mental associations you have with them and the partially mythologized detail of their particular life stories. I specifically chose those names because all of them can be associated with “rugged individualism”, American History, American Progress and the belief that great “Men” impel progress. The “Great Man” theme is certainly not unique to our country; it is in fact a common thread throughout humanity. Where America has taken this theme though, in the minds of many powerful political and economic forces in this country, is into the sense of “rugged individualism” representing the backbone of the “great men” who drive our history and create the mythology of “American Exceptionalism”.

If you accept “rugged individualism”, as exemplified by “Great Men”, as the driving force of progress and growth of our society, then logically it is to the needs of these “great men” that we must all cater. We see the truth of this today in the popularity of the works of Ayn Rand and the pervasive influence of libertarian philosophy. Viewing issues from this perspective leads one to the conclusion that any attempt by the government (or society) to restrain the individual rights of any person, or corporate entity, creates stifling counter-productive effects on our country. If we are all merely individuals ultimately responsible to ourselves, then we must be the sole guardians of our personal interests, without any mediation from the “nanny state”.

In this past election there was a recurring theme of much Republican and Libertarian argument that is the outgrowth of the “rugged individualism” mythology. The counterpoint between the people who “produced” for our economy and the 47% of those who merely took from it was put forth repeatedly. The idea of the entrepreneur as the modern “rugged individualist” hero creating wealth for all of us, was so common as to be a “given” in much political debate. Even the ultimate representative of collectivist bureaucracy, the Corporation, was seen from a “rugged individualist’s” perspective; since they were run by “entrepreneurial hero” CEO’s, who with their strength of leadership and wisdom provided for their workers.

I believe that the idea of the “rugged individual”, seen through the lens of American History, is not only dangerous but utterly false. I assert that it is contrary to the history of humanity from pre-historic ages unremembered. Humans are by nature “social” animals and humanity’s ascension to dominance on this planet is the result of building societies of ever greater complexity. Yes, to be sure, the actions of great individuals have spurred progress and change for better or worse, but all change occurs limned by the social structure where it occurs. We have had “great people”, geniuses perhaps, moving us forward via innovation due to their thinking outside the box. Yet this genius was nurtured in a particular social context that allowed it to grow. Michelangelo was a genius in his time, but his time included Leonardo Da Vinci and was after all “The Renaissance”. Sir Isaac Newton was a singular genius, but then too Gottfried Liebnitz was his contemporary and their time was the beginning of the “Enlightenment”. Thomas Edison was a genius electrical inventor, but his contemporary of no mean skills and accomplishments was Nikola Tesla and their time was the height of the “Industrial Revolution”.

Despite common belief to the contrary, Henry Ford invented neither the automobile, nor the “assembly line”, but he certainly helped to perfect both, again in the context of an ongoing “Industrial/Technological” Revolution. I celebrate the “individual” who has the ability to think counter to the myths they are born with and who strives to introduce new ways of looking at the world. For better, or ill, I’ve tried to act that way in my own life, so I certainly am no justifier of collective thought and action. Yet no matter how much I would like to believe that I am not the product of my heredity, my social milieu and the country of my birth, I must accept that all of those elements and many more shaped me.

The specious philosophy of “rugged individualism” has caused much ill to this country. It has lent itself to the companion myth of “American Exceptionalism”, because the thinking goes that with our “ruggedly individualistic” natures this country has been raised above all others and it is our destiny to enforce our hegemony. This myth has actually allowed us to create a mythology similar to the mythologies created in countries with overwhelming ethnic homogeneity, like Hitler’s Aryan purity premise in Germany, French “cultural superiority” and/or the Serbs vs. the Croats and vice versa.

We humans do have a need for mythology as a means of establishing societal connectivity. At the same time though, when we allow ourselves to become blinded by the myths we live by, we lose the ability to see our world clearly enough to make logical decisions on the issues that we face. To me the scariest thing about politics in the world today is that our discussions and our debates are muddied by mythological premises to such an extent that we can’t hear other points of view, or allow ourselves to consider them. While this has been generally true throughout human history, our species has never had the power before to destroy everything and everyone. Because of that destructive ability it is imperative that we look beyond our myths to see our present world as it really is. We are on the brink of so many disasters like climate change, over-population and water shortage, that we must seek means of dealing with them. Yet due to the inhalation of various counter productive mythologies we merely talk at each other, allowing events to overwhelm us, as we remain in a state of inaction.

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger

131 thoughts on ““Rugged Individualism”

  1. Great post Mike, really great.
    The great man myth is truly dangerous in large part because of the climate and society it creates that allows some allegedly great men to do very destructive things the consequences of which they rarely suffer and when you add to this the corrosive idea that corporations are people too the rest of us are cooked.

  2. The ideas here tie in nicely with the contrast between two ethical viewpoints. The first more traditional ethic takes good behavior to result mainly from individual virtues; better people do better things. The second ethic takes better or worse behavior to result very largely from better or worse psycho-social situations. This latter situationist ethic is very difficult for people to accept. Confidence in the power of individual virtues is high, yet roughly 50 years of social psychology research provides strongly compelling evidence favoring the situationist view.

  3. I am reminded of the “new” American myths as I read this excellent essay. Obama is a Muslim and foreign born, Reagan Revolution, Bush II’s WMDs, the wealthy as job creators, minimal universal healthcare as a socialist plot to undermine state’s rights, etc. All are destructive myths and all are pushed by the pundits that need the myth to survive in order to prosper financially and politically, even at the cost of the greater good.

  4. Mike,
    Excellent as usual. You are correct that there is no such thing as a “rugged individualist” unless they are talking about a hermit living in a cave somewhere. My gggg-grandfather was a friend of Daniel Boone and they went long hunting together several times. Long hunting did not refer to the long-barrel rifles of the day, but to the fact the were gone a long time. That might be anywhere from weeks to several months. These men were definitely rugged, but they were not totally self-sufficient. They depended on each other, because they could not have harvested hundreds of pounds of meat, smoked and salted it, and brought it back to their families alone.

    As the poet says, no man is an island.

  5. “Humans are by nature social animals.” True. However, women are more social than men. MikeS, what your polemic excludes is the very basic concept of introverts. Introverts are not “by nature social”. Your piece is from the very biased extrovert point of view that permeates our culture. This culture looks down on introverts and considers them inferior. Intoverts are by definition “rugged individualists.” Unlike extroverts, we are self sufficient when it comes to creating energy, being w/ the most extroverts depletes our energy because it’s just being “social” for the sake of being social. We introverts do get energy from substantive people but the “small talk” which extroverts crave is horseshit to us. Any list of the “rugged individualists” you scoff includes a high % of introverts. We are a distinct minority..~35%. However we comprise 60% of gifted and talented. A high % of parents who home school their child have introverted kids. They don’t fit the cookie cutter, union, educational system. You might know these kids soon, they go to Ivy League schools and will be running this country in short order. So sit tight MikeS, the following decades might be a rough ride for you. This is a quiet revolution, almost guerilla like. Ironically, it was started by the bestseller, Quiet. But, there are many other books out there. I also suggest the Intovert’s Advantage. Very few introverts go into politics, but that’s going to change as the US craves people of substance. The best US Senator in the past decades was Russ Feingold, an uber introvert.

  6. Very interesting perspective Mike S, and very well articulated.

    I had to look up a couple of words, so thanks for expanding my vocabulary a bit.

    I noticed that Nick Spinelli took exception, which will enhance the discussion.

    While I am not going to take exception to your guest post, because I do think it takes a village to produce an amygdala, I do want to mention another myth that ties in with your guest post subject matter.

    That is the myth of Rugged American Individual Intelligence:

    And what he [Ernst Mayr] basically argued is that intelligence is a kind of lethal mutation. And he had a good argument. He pointed out that if you take a look at biological success, which is essentially measured by how many of us are there, the organisms that do quite well are those that mutate very quickly, like bacteria, or those that are stuck in a fixed ecological niche, like beetles. They do fine. And they may survive the environmental crisis. But as you go up the scale of what we call intelligence, they are less and less successful. By the time you get to mammals, there are very few of them as compared with, say, insects. By the time you get to humans, the origin of humans may be 100,000 years ago, there is a very small group. We are kind of misled now because there are a lot of humans around, but that’s a matter of a few thousand years, which is meaningless from an evolutionary point of view. His argument was, you’re just not going to find intelligent life elsewhere, and you probably won’t find it here for very long either because it’s just a lethal mutation. He also added, a little bit ominously, that the average life span of a species, of the billions that have existed, is about 100,000 years, which is roughly the length of time that modern humans have existed.

    With the environmental crisis, we’re now in a situation where we can decide whether Mayr was right or not. If nothing significant is done about it, and pretty quickly, then he will have been correct: human intelligence is indeed a lethal mutation. Maybe some humans will survive, but it will be scattered and nothing like a decent existence, and we’ll take a lot of the rest of the living world along with us.

    (Human Intelligence & The Environment). I know that there are those here on this blog who feel human intelligence is the be all against which all other things are to be measured.

    Like Nick offering a counter argument, Mayr (R.I.P.) was not convinced of our rugged individual intelligence as a good thing.

    Just sayin’ …

  7. “MikeS, what your polemic excludes is the very basic concept of introverts. Introverts are not “by nature social”.”

    Nick,

    As usual your reading comprehension leaves much to be desired, perhaps mainly because you use your pre-conceptions to not only imagine what is not there, but to then impose your own pre-disposition onto the framework. You talk of “introverts” and “extroverts”, with the rather silly assertion that “Introverts are by definition “rugged individualists.” Whose definition, your own singular one perhaps because it suits what you deem your personal personality type? Perhaps you might refresh your understanding here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraversion_and_introversion

    “Introverts are not “by nature social”. Your piece is from the very biased extrovert point of view that permeates our culture ”

    The problem is Nick, that I am and have always been an introvert. Most of those who know me will attest to that. So being lectured about that state of being by you seems a rather puerile exercise, done because you again are talking incorrectly about something that you pull from your behind. Not being a “social” person has little to do with what I’m talking about. As OS makes the point above, we are all part of society at large, without regard to the our ability to enjoy parties and/or the company of people. When you are able to come up with some valid on point criticism of something I actually wrote, I’d be willing to discuss it. Your use of the term “polemic” is more suited to your comment, rather than my essay. The problem is that by upending the concept of society into introvert/extrovert you don’t refute my argument because you in fact prove that you don’t understand what I’m saying.

    “We are a distinct minority..~35%. However we comprise 60% of gifted and talented. A high % of parents who home school their child have introverted kids. They don’t fit the cookie cutter, union, educational system. You might know these kids soon, they go to Ivy League schools and will be running this country in short order. So sit tight MikeS, the following decades might be a rough ride for you.”

    Where exactly Nick did you get your seemingly precise statistics, out of your behind again? As far as schools go I have a Masters Degree from an Ivy League school, so please tell me about them from your vast experience. Also, I didn’t fit in well with my own public education and found social situations difficult. Now since you claim introvert status, whatever that is, I suppose you have similar feelings. Yet given your putative chosen profession I would think that interacting with people would be a requisite for doing the job properly. The point being that introvert/extrovert does not lend itself to convenient definitions, but describes a continuum. It certainly does not pertain to the issue of whether we are members of a society and how that society assists, or deters us, from pursuing our individual endeavors. How about dropping the political polemic Nick, for once, ad actually engaging in a real discussion?

  8. Another thought-provoking piece, Mike S.

    From the Robert Becker link:

    “We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone . . . and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one’s life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something.” -Sandra Day O’Connor

    Yes, “it takes a village”, but a village of people who are willing (and able) to do the right thing, as opposed to a village of idiots.

    10 People You’ve Never Heard Of Who Changed History

    http://www.mandatory.com/2012/12/28/10-people-youve-never-heard-of-who-changed-history/?icid=maing-grid7|main5|dl4|sec1_lnk2%26pLid%3D250784

    FRANK WILLS

    “On the night of June 17th, 1972, DC security guard Frank Wills was making his rounds when he noticed a bit of duct tape on a door of an office complex. Since it wasn’t holding the door together or doing any of the useful things duct tape is known for doing, Wills removed it, only to find it had been replaced when he came by on the next round of his patrol.

    Wills immediately called the cops, who arrived at the Watergate hotel/office/apartment complex minutes later to find five middle-aged men ransacking the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee—the beginning of the scandal that would finally sink the Nixon presidency. Wills would later play himself in the film “All The President’s Men,” but sadly that was the last time his newfound fame worked to his advantage—after quitting Watergate when he was turned down for a raise (and really if you’re not going to give him a raise, who are you ever going to give a raise to?) Wills found that many public institutions were too afraid of vengeful Republican politicians to hire him as a guard.

    Wills drifted from job to job (including a gig working for legendary black stand-up Dick Gregory) before the pressures of caring for his ailing mother landed him in prison and then the poorhouse. He died of a brain tumor in September of 2000.”

    America needs another “Frank Wills” moment.

  9. I like this article and the topic very much.
    There is a parallel yet contradictory thread in American lore. It is that of the great families, the amost sainted elite families. In the south it was plantation slave owners, in the north sainted families of wealth, and later sainted families with a scion who earned or stole the wealth and sired children who are then worshiped. Of the list of names of rugged individualists in the article, I can name several who were born with a silver spoon in the arse. Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Kennedy, his brother Bobby (one must say it with a half arsed spoon in the arse Boston accent), and Hearst. Jesse James was a good outlaw, a rebel of sorts, rugged but not really a “rugged individualist” in some idealized concept. The Kennedy family is more aligned with outlaw Jesse. The kids more aligned with the Royal Family of England.

  10. I don’t know if Russ Feingold is an uber introvert but I pretty sure that he doesn’t believe that any one person, man or women, succeeds on his or her own. Also from what I know of Russ he believes in collective action and mutual support. Even introverts benefit from what society collectively creates.

    To be honest, I wasn’t aware that there was this uneasy tension between introverts and extroverts. My universe of acquaintances includes both and we associate rather nicely. Difference is good; its the belief that one type is better in someway or deserving of special privilege that is troubling and in the “rugged individual” myth particularly of the messianic variety results in problems for the Genral welfare.

  11. “There is a parallel yet contradictory thread in American lore. It is that of the great families, the amost sainted elite families. In the south it was plantation slave owners, in the north sainted families of wealth,”

    IBDog,

    A good point and I don’t think contradictory, since the scions of the “Great Families” were also considered “great men” and “rugged individualists” ala Teddy Roosevelt.

  12. Justice Holmes ties things up nicely and succinctly…

    ========

    ‘Former NSA head Thomas Blanton called him “the guy who saved the world”’:

    http://www.mandatory.com/2012/12/28/10-people-youve-never-heard-of-who-changed-history/10

    VASILI ARKHIPOV

    A poor kid from the outskirts of Moscow, Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov got his start in the Soviet Navy during its brief war with Japan at the tail end of WWII. From there he eventually transferred to submarines, and then to the Black Sea, Baltic, and North Sea fleets, where he ended up executive officer of the pride of the Soviet Navy, the brand-new Hotel-class nuclear submarine K-19, which Americans know of as “The Widowmaker” while Russians always just called it by the pithier nickname “Hiroshima.”

    After successfully handling K-19’s first and most famous accident, the newly respected and mildly radioactive Arkhipov was dispatched to the Caribbean to command a quartet of nuke-armed Foxtrot-class patrol subs. There he found himself in yet another sticky situation, as his Foxtrot came under what seemed very much like an American attack (supposedly the Navy was only dropping “practice” depth charges in an ill-considered attempt to flush the sub to the surface) and the sub’s captain and political officer both demanded that they retaliate with nuclear torpedoes.

    They hadn’t had contact with Moscow for days and had no idea whether or not World War III had actually started or would simply start as soon as they fired back, but Arkhipov refused to authorize the launch with the sort of determined resistance to nuclear war one can only find in somebody that glows in the dark.

    Eventually the sub surfaced and scampered away from the American task force with no further violent action. Vasili Alexandrovich continued to make his way through the Russian submarine service, retiring a vice-admiral and dying peacefully in 1998, four years before former NSA head Thomas Blanton called him “the guy who saved the world” and Liam Neeson played him in an unsuccessful movie.

  13. The rugged individualist myth underlies the effort to break the New Deal and social safety net. It’s libertarian affiliation gives it a patina of intellectual respectability. Even if it were ever true — that we are not a fundamentally interdependent society — the complexity of the modern state, nation, infrastructure, etc., make laughable the notion each individual can thrive on his/her own. Of course, those who can’t, and are drowned by the systems, just go to reinforce the notion — in this version — that they were a poor bet to begin with..

    An associated myth, bred by the contempt that only money can buy, is that the rich are not also fundamentally dependent on the structure of the state, and the relative predictability that brings, to thrive.

  14. Here is the best take on “rugged individualism” I’ve ever read:

    “I returned to the Holiday Inn — where they have a swimming pool and air-conditioned rooms — to consider the paradox of a nation that has given so much to those who preach the glories of rugged individualism from the security of countless corporate sinecures, and so little to that diminishing band of yesterday’s refugees who still practice it, day by day, in a tough, rootless and sometimes witless style that most of us have long since been weaned away from.”–Hunter S. Thompson, Gonzo Papers, Vol. 1: The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (1979)

  15. I’m not sure I get the author’s idea of individualism, rugged or otherwise… at least not as how the idea sits in my own brain. :) It’s not a guy living on an island… unless the guy chose to live on an island. There are multiple references here to “extraordinary” men doing extraordinary things, but I think that misses the point. Their appeal isnt that they were “extraordinary” men that dragged us all to a better tomorrow, but that they’re excellent examples of “ordinary” men achieving “extraordinary” results due to their own drive and interests, either without or in spite of, “the state”. When I think “rugged individualist”, that’s a big part of what comes to mind.

    Yet no matter how much I would like to believe that I am not the product of my heredity, my social milieu and the country of my birth, I must accept that all of those elements and many more shaped me.

    Yeah, they can shape you… but they dont “define” you. You generally arent limited by or totally accountable to those factors. I usually dont see a need to make amends for them, and there’s a limit to how much they can be used as a crutch or an excuse, and you pretty much dont owe or are owed anything for them.

    Yet this genius was nurtured in a particular social context that allowed it to grow.

    Ye olde “You didnt build that” argument, eh? :) Yeah, every human operates within their particular environment. If Rockefeller had been born a cave-man, he wouldnt have “achieved” as much. But many people lived in Rockefeller’s era, with similar advantages or drawbacks, some greater, some less. All those guys mentioned here had notable achievement within their environment – to a much “greater” degree than their contemporaries. It’s what you do with the tools available, towards what you perceive as your own individual priorities and goals and desires.

    It has lent itself to the companion myth of “American Exceptionalism”, because the thinking goes that with our “ruggedly individualistic” natures this country has been raised above all others and it is our destiny to enforce our hegemony.

    Yep… but that’s a problem with “American Exceptionalism”, not “rugged individualism” – it’s a misapplication. I’m not a believer in “American” exceptionalism. I am a believer though, in “exceptionalism” – ie, that humans, from any tribe, would be well served by allowing the freedom of individualism and voluntary cooperation within a society. Thus sure, *shrug*, systems that dont allow for that are inferior, and dont serve their citizens as well. Americans arent “special” or “entitled” somehow because they have an “American” label above their head, but because this system provides a better environment than many for humans to maximize their human potential.

    Humans are by nature “social” animals and humanity’s ascension to dominance on this planet is the result of building societies of ever greater complexity.

    Yeah… but those social interactions should be voluntary, not forced. Humans working together because they choose to is excellent, but there’s always the danger of “the forgotten man” argument. Also, society isnt an entity unto itself – it’s a collection of individuals operating in their own self-interest. The problem with many societal organization systems is that some interactions are deemed compulsory, and they go beyond the single purpose of government, to protect the individual rights of its citizens… like some of the ones the author mentions he advocates. :)

    Interesting article though, thanks :)

  16. Scott,

    Hunter Thompson was one of the great minds of our time and yet so little appreciated by those that call themselves informed. How apt that 33 years ago he describes today’s situation to a “T”.

  17. MikeS, When challenged your first reaction is to condescend. My %’s come from the book, The Introvert’s Advantage. I fully understand what you’re saying and the stale, “You simply don’t understand” is a tired boilerplate response. I believe wholeheartedly in teamwork. I coached it for decades. However, within the framework of a team you have individuals who excel. I coached a kid in American Legion who went on the play Division 1 baseball @ Valpo. He carried the team. He was an introvert. Never said much..just played hard, smart, and well. Many times he was the reason we won. Other players helped but w/o him we would have lost. I remember one game in particular where our leadoff hitter walked, went to second on a slow grounder to third, and our star drove him in w/ a double. He was stranded on second. He pitched a two hitter, and we won 1-0. I thought you understand team sports. Or..are you just a stats geek?

    MikeS, I believe in teamwork, how the group working together can accomplish much. I taught that! However, I also believe the individual is an important part of the equation. I guess you hate Walden Pond. You seem most pompous when it’s your piece on which we have disagreement. I read quite well, thank you. And I probably read more than you. The difference being I read all topics and opinions. You just like to preach to the choir. It’s time for your posse to ride in now.

  18. Mike, I really miss Thompson. Before he died he had a few things to say about those who rig the game in their favor, and then dare to call themselves rugged individualists. I know he often mocked Bush for his little set out in Crawford where he cleared brush for the cameras, as if every thing he’d ever gotten he’d gotten for himself through hard work. Our corporate overlords have worked the myth to their advantage, and most people don’t even know they’re being conned by it.

    Meanwhile, my wife and I live in the woods, buy our meat and produce from local farmers and ranchers who get up early every day and work their butts off to earn an honest living on a small farm. We try to make our local community as ruggedly resilient as we can, and even then we all rely on each other to make this small community work.

    I read some Joseph Campbell, who deconstructed many myths, but never really deconstructed the myth of the rugged individual. Seems that in that one quote, Thompson managed to do what the great Campbell never did: expose the myth of the rugged individual as yet another tool used by the PR machine to sell us on a political philosophy that only serves to bloat their bottom line.

  19. Justice, Feingold is an uber introvert. He was not a member of the Dem club. He was shunned for being the only Dem w/ the temerity to vote that evidence should be heard in the Senate on the Clinton impeachment. Being a liberal, he of course believes in the major philosophies of the Dem party but he was not afraid to tell fellow Dems to go shit in their hat when it strayed from his moral center, like The Patriot Act.

  20. “I read some Joseph Campbell, who deconstructed many myths, but never really deconstructed the myth of the rugged individual. Seems that in that one quote, Thompson managed to do what the great Campbell never did: expose the myth of the rugged individual as yet another tool used by the PR machine to sell us on a political philosophy that only serves to bloat their bottom line.”

    Scott,

    While I’ve read all of Campbell, he has his own built in prejudgements and you have to work around them in reading him. One main difference between Campbell and Thompson is that the former was an intellectual who worked from an academic/intellectual framework. Thompson had a massive intellect, but little intellectual pretensions. He looked at the world like a Zen Master and so was pithy in his commentary.

    As you’ve shared regarding your life in the woods, on or off the grid, we all need social groups around us to live and prosper, however one defines prospering.

  21. “MikeS, When challenged your first reaction is to condescend.”

    Nick,

    I agree but would formulate our exchange in this fashion. Your comment initially was a condescending one, as is your nature, I merely repaid you in kind.

  22. How could I possibly condescend to someone who plays the Ivy League master degree card. Do you have any clue how elitist and pompous that is? Of course you don’t. You’ll give a lame ass “You brought up the Ivy League” response. I’m still waiting for the posse. You are part of what Nietzsche called “the herd.” Well, I won’t be herded by you, the posse, or anyone.

  23. Interesting! The Philosophy of “Rugged Individualism” is similiar to W.E.B. Dubois’ Talented Tenth Social-Educational Philosophy (group of most educated or ‘talented’ African-Americans need to lead the rest of the African-American population). Dubois’ philosophy was predicated upon his perception of what was (and still is) transpired (or transpiring) amongst the Majority (European-American/White)Community since the beginning of the country’s existence. However, I believe our fake “Democratic” American Government and Economics system evolved from the ‘Talented Tenth” or “Rugged Individualims” into a political and economical system of Oligarchy.

  24. I am not sure why not being a member of what you call the Dem club makes Russ an uber introvert. Perhaps we have a very different understanding of the word. He is neither shy nor retiring. In his politics he is very supportive of the safety net and the progressive social contract that assumes an interconnectedness that the rigged individualist myth does not. I see his view of the world as outward looking and other centered but again our disagreement such as it is may be definitional.

  25. “Do not make the mistake of the ignorant who think that an individualist is a man who says: “I’ll do as I please at everybody else’s expense.” An individualist is a man who recognizes the inalienable individual rights of man—his own and those of others.”

    An individualist is a man who says: “I will not run anyone’s life—nor let anyone run mine. I will not rule nor be ruled. I will not be a master nor a slave. I will not sacrifice myself to anyone—nor sacrifice anyone to myself.””

    “Textbook of Americanism,”
    The Ayn Rand Column, 84

    “Individualism regards man—every man—as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being. Individualism holds that a civilized society, or any form of association, cooperation or peaceful coexistence among men, can be achieved only on the basis of the recognition of individual rights—and that a group, as such, has no rights other than the individual rights of its members.”

    “Racism,”
    Ayn Rand

  26. nick,
    Wasn’t Gary Cooper’s character in High Noon a town sheriff who was paid to work for the good of the whole town?

  27. Mike:

    Thank you for the time you spent writing this thought provoking article. My take on this, please correct me if I am wrong, is that the term Rugged Individual is one of an unworkable extreme.

    I am one of those persons who believes in the importance of individuals and that the subjugation of the individual under the pretence of protecting the collective is harmful. One example:

    It seems to be the prevailing topic of this blog at least, that a nation that protects the rights of each individual is necessary for the social progress of that nation in that if each individual is valued and respected in aggregate it fosters that all persons in the nation as a group will be better.

    While there are obvious examples where this was not the case, it is true that in our legal system the judiciary can hold that the government violated the rights of an individual citizen and can punish the government for this. It is a situation that is not offered citizens of many repressive governments. it is rather uncommon in human history where this happens. That is, our system values the individual to such as degree that the ruling class and 300 million others are trumped by the rights of one person who was injured by the government’s actions.

    I might argue that the concept, not the propaganda as you have pointed out others have abused, of the rugged individualist might stem from this attribute of American society where individuals were valued and to be respected by the government according to our constitution. The framers of this constitution had certainly argued the notion of breaking free of arbitrary rule by kings, though realistically it wasn’t effectively so until the Bill of Rights was ratified to guarantee individual liberties. It does seem natural that people can value individuality and maybe the rugged individual is probably in idealized consequence of this.

    I guess my take on this would be that if all persons were extreme rugged individualists it would resemble more anarchy than society. That is “every man for himself” or similar ideas. There has to be a contribution from society to the individual for the individual to succeed in his / her own ambitions. Even oligarcs need a support basis from the masses.

    Individuals should be allowed their own identities. I think we would be better off if humanity viewed itself as a collection of individuals rather than a group similar to a bee society where the individual is irrelevant and the hive is the identity. But then again there is a lot of strength and support that can be provided by the group to each individual if managed honorably.

  28. The libertarian philosophy works for those who are strong and who have the resources to be so independent. Unfortunately, that’s not the majority. The majority seems to understand that the only way we all “make it” is if there is cooperation and sharing. There seems to be a strong libertarian bent in the Republicans these days who have no problem taking from those with less or from the government themselves for another house with a car elevator but who want to strip all help from those who need it to survive.

  29. Wow. Would both balderdash and poppycock work to describe this article. While most of the responses were oohs and aahs, Nick Spinelli and Atnor wrote the most intelligent and responsive counterpoints. The nays definately have it. Mike Spindell is an “individual” unto himself.

  30. The Great and Continuing Myth in Present Day America

    1. That the United States Constitution is applicable to All OF THE
    PEOPLE!
    2. That Americans enjoy liberty and Justice
    3. Liberals are good, Conservatives are evil
    4. That homosexuals are automatically Good
    5. Ask Jeanne M. Kincaid (State of NH lawyer) who is a Liberal and a
    Lesbian
    6. That only the former Soviet Union (now Russia) forced their subjects into mental hospitals…people who disagree with the political rhetoric of that society: In America this is being condoned by the Supreme Court justices
    7. That Freedom of speech is an Amendment enjoyed by all: Retaliation is routine in America, condoned by the Supreme Court Justices who provide cover to State attorneys for the Constitutional and Human Rights abuses
    8. That only in “Communists” countries like Russia, N. Korea China etc are people retaliated against and punished for being Conscientious Objectors: Ask Bradley Manning, Juliann Assange, attorney Richard I. Fine and hundreds of others by placing the phrase “Judicial corruption” in YouTube
    9. That only the Russians, Chinese, N. Koreans etc punish INNOCENT PEOPLE BY IMPRISONMENT: INDEED YOURS TRULY WAS INCARCERATED FOR 60 DAYS SO THAT MY SON COULD BE REMOVED FROM MY CUSTODY AFTER I SOUGHT ASYLUM IN HOLLAND, MARCH THIS YEAR. I am not an American citizen, and I was forced to return here after all communications with my son was cut off, I was then imprisoned!
    10. That only those countries above use THE POLICE TO HARASS AND INTIMIDATE THEIR SUBJECTS: Kincaid uses the Chicago police to harass and intimidate me everyday…even at the library, at the train station, in restaurants etc.
    11. That human rights are so respected in America: This myth denies the realities that INNOCENT PEOPLE NOT ONLY ARE ROUTINELY IMPRISONED HERE, AND HAVE THEIR CHILDREN REMOVED FROM THEIR CUSTODY, BUT GOVERNMENT LAWYERS ROUTINELY SOLICIT AND CONSPIRE WITH STATE & COUNTY HOSPITALS TO MURDER THEM BY INJECTING THEM WITH MEDICATION TO STOP THEIR HEARTS: THIS IS WHAT KINCAID USED 4 DOCTORS AT STROGERS HOSPITAL TO DO TO ME WHEN I WENT TO THE ER COMPLAINING OF RESPIRATORY DISTRES…THEY WERE WORKING ME UP FOR CARDIAC DISTRESS. SHE FORGOT TO TELL THEM THAT I AM A NURSE! THERE IS A LOT MORE TO THIS!
    12. IN AMERICA, CHILDREN ARE USED AS PAWNS BY MUCH OF THE JUDICIARY, AND FATHERS ARE ROUTINELY DENY THE RIGHTS TO SEE AND MAINTAIN A CONNECTION TO THEIR CHILDREN…THIS IS BLESSED BY JOHN ROBERTS AT THE SUPREME COURT
    13. IN AMERICA, YOU (NOT A CITIZEN) WILL HAVE YOUR PASSPORT CONFISCATED SO THAT YOU CANNOT LEAVE, BECAUSE THE CRIMINALS DO NOT WANT FIRST HAND ACCOUNT OF THEIR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

    PS If you try to respond here to this, Kincaid will block you…that is, unless you are on her corrupt side. Others have been informing me!

  31. Darren:

    interesting points.

    isnt a rugged individualist one who just is a strong believer in individual rights? And if you are a strong believer in individual rights then you would also belive in the individual rights of others.

    Individual rights are hard to secure without the force government can bring to bear on those who violate other’s rights.

  32. rafflaw, Yes he was. However, he needed help..he needed “his village” as you like to quote. But, they figured “we paid him to do this job” and left him alone to fight the bad guys. I guess that’s the dynamic you covet? Sometimes the village are cowards and lazy and it takes a strong, courageous person to stand up to evil. This is really pretty basic stuff for non idealogues. I agree we need both teamwork and individuals. The individuals challenge conventional wisdom, which is a critically important component for any group, company, or society to succed. However, many yearn for the comfort of the “herd”, described poignantly by Nietzsche.

    Darren, Bravo!

  33. “I guess my take on this would be that if all persons were extreme rugged individualists it would resemble more anarchy than society. That is “every man for himself” or similar ideas.”

    Darren.

    Conceptually that is exactly what occurs when a society believes that it only moves forward by the actions of extraordinary people. That neither negates the fact that there are and always have been extraordinary people, only that their achievements no matter how singular bring change within the context of the society that surrounds.

    “Individuals should be allowed their own identities. I think we would be better off if humanity viewed itself as a collection of individuals rather than a group similar to a bee society where the individual is irrelevant and the hive is the identity.”

    What’s missed by some commenters here projecting onto what I wrote is the distinction between the rights of the individual to live their own identity unimpeded by government imposing upon them and the view that individual rights always trump those of society. The easiest example is the murderous psychopath that achieves pleasure from killing people. As the old saying goes where do that person’s rights end and someone else’s begin? My point was that all of us, even the most talented, benefit from the society surrounding us and those that put forth the “rugged individualist” mythology are really saying “some people are more equal than others” and therefore more entitled to be able to do as they please.

    One of the interesting dichotomies of this past year’s political scene was the spectacle of some politicians who were adamant in defense of corporate freedom and yet just as adamant in the belief that government should regulate women’s sex organs. The problem with this myth as it is played out on the political scene is that the same people who talk about freedom from being limited by government (corporate interests) are happiest when they put forth proposals to limit personal freedom.

  34. The “rugged individualist” is more in sync with the post civil war Radical Reconstructionist agenda which was passed into constitutional law with the Fourtheenth Amendment. The English kept their lords and lassies and the rest of Europe their kings and their queens. Nobility. There were those in American colonies and thereafter who aspired to be nobles and some were descendents of English or European nobles. This is still true on the East Coast but not prevalent but does somewhat exist out farther west in the places east of the Alleghanies. In Missouri we wouldnt have a Henry Cabot Lodge. We have some think alikes and wannabees. The Danforths come to mind. But our read people in Missouri are guys like Harry Truman and Jesse James. Those two come from differing threads of the rugged indivdualist.

    Historians from Harvard and Yale like to keep a tight reign on the history books. Harry Truman is the “failed haberdasher” whereas when they say the words Franklin Delano Roosevelt they sing it with emphasis on the Delano. He was never a failed haberdasher because he was a spoiled rich kid with a silver spoon up his arse til the day he croaked from smoking himself to death. His tests in life were getting an ok grade at Harvard.

    The crime family is another aspect of the American myth and view. No one speaks of the fact that Joseph Kennedy was a mobster. The family is ensconsed in Camelot. Other than survive PT 109 what did Jack ever have to do that was rough and tumble or to earn a nickle? The best writer of the crime family as a species of American rugged individualism is the book and movie The Godfather. Don Corleone did not want his kids to be in the mob. Michael had to carry it on but the next generation was programed to have straight careers. But the rugged indivdualist streak in a mobster is a good thing to pass down to the next generations, even if they do end up b eing dull accountants for CitiBank. They can be tough when the tough get going and dont cross the women offspring of a Sicilian mobster. This dog knows, he was a guide dog for a blind mobster.

    The East Coast snobbery and affiliation with English lord and lassie culture will not likely fade for another hundred years. When these folks move down to a place like North Carolina to retire, their new neighbors size them up for a while and ultimately come to the conclusion that these are folks who think that their poop dont stink. The East Coasters also want to keep alive the notion that the Rockefellers and the Kennedys are special and noble.

    As a dog from Missouri, I reject the notion of lord and lassie and exhalted familes. To me the present generation of Kennedys are schmucks. They are not tried and tested in the tough world. They can play with their forelocks like Bobby but really exude no charisma. In terms of leadership, whether politician or the head of a corporation like Bain Capital, I dont want the son of some schmuck like Bobby Kennedy or the son of George Romney.

    I predict that in a hundred years the historians will be favorable to Teddy Roosevelt but scalding to FDR. The Kennedy tribe will get F-. A guy like Lyndon Johnson will be criticised for his Vietnam foray but exalted for his role in passing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He put Thurgood Marshal on the Supreme Court. Clinton will score well, and he rose from the briar patch. Obama will be rated well. Lincoln will remain on a pedestal as well he should. Truman will be number three of all Presidents of the 20th Century behind Teddy and LBJ. Clinton next. All were hard scrabble boys.

  35. “How could I possibly condescend to someone who plays the Ivy League master degree card. Do you have any clue how elitist and pompous that is?”

    Nick,

    That is perhaps as pompous and elitist as the quote from you that I responded too:

    “We [Nick?] are a distinct minority..~35%. However we comprise 60% of gifted and talented. A high % of parents who home school their child have introverted kids. They don’t fit the cookie cutter, union, educational system. You might know these kids soon, they go to Ivy League schools and will be running this country in short order. So sit tight MikeS, the following decades might be a rough ride for you.”

    Is your attention span that short Nick that you don’t even remember the points you make (about yourself presumably) in your own comments? Now go back and please try to understand the point I was making by writing that, which was that I am myself an introvert, but I don’t see that as having made me any better or worse than anyone else.

    “My %’s come from the book, The Introvert’s Advantage.”

    Marti Olsen Laney Psy.D., who has written the book is a psychotherapist, who is considered an expert on introverts. I would like to know where she got her figures? Her book sounds like just one more popular self-help book designed to cater to a specific population. The link I provided you in my response was to show you that the introvert/extravert distinction is not at all a clear one. However, as usual that got lost on you Nick because you tend not to be able to argue specifics. The fact of the matter though is that nothing in my article even was remotely related to introvert/extravert, but never let it be said that you would let the facts bother you.

  36. “Individualism regards man—every man—as an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life, a right derived from his nature as a rational being. Individualism holds that a civilized society, or any form of association, cooperation or peaceful coexistence among men, can be achieved only on the basis of the recognition of individual rights—and that a group, as such, has no rights other than the individual rights of its members.” Ayn Rand

    Bron,

    It isn’t that I’m so much against Rand’s formulation, as it is that it presents a dichotomy, which you yourself recognized in a follow up comment:

    “isnt a rugged individualist one who just is a strong believer in individual rights? And if you are a strong believer in individual rights then you would also belive in the individual rights of others.”

    No, as I used it and provided a definition for it “rugged individualism” is:

    “The belief that all individuals, or nearly all individuals, can succeed on their own and that government help for people should be minimal.”

    My point is that it is a piece of mythology that bears little relationship to the reality of the human condition. Some who is an “individualist”, however, is a person who tries to follow their own course in the world. I’m an individualist by belief and always have been.

    However, you yourself tempered Rand’s individual statement here and I agree with your formulation:

    “And if you are a strong believer in individual rights then you would also belive in the individual rights of others.

    Individual rights are hard to secure without the force government can bring to bear on those who violate other’s rights.”

    Thiese two sentences illustrate the problem with Rand in general, which I think you recognize. Not all strong believers in individual rights would grant those rights to others, or feel that their right to trample over others rights should ever be limited. That is why we need government, to protect us all from those who would trample our individual rights in pursuit of their own aims.

  37. “Interesting! The Philosophy of “Rugged Individualism” is similiar to W.E.B. Dubois’ Talented Tenth Social-Educational Philosophy (group of most educated or ‘talented’ African-Americans need to lead the rest of the African-American population). Dubois’ philosophy was predicated upon his perception of what was (and still is) transpired (or transpiring) amongst the Majority (European-American/White)Community since the beginning of the country’s existence.”

    RWL,

    This is exactly true. DuBois was exactly mirroring the Progressive Movement as exemplified by Teddy Roosevelt, except their belief was in the “White Man’s Burden”. An excellent source detailing Roosevelt’s beliefs and the beliefs of the “Progressivism” of his time is Richard Slotkin’s “Gunfighter Nation”. I never understood how far off base Teddy Roosevelt was until I read that book many years ago and it was then that I found out that being Progressive historically wasn’t always a good thing. DuBois for his part saw himself as of course one of the 10% of Black leaders a super abundance of hubris on his part.

  38. “And of course both Gary Cooper and his character are an anathema here.”

    Nick,

    how wrong you are. “High Noon” was probably exerted the most influence on my life of any movie I’ve ever seen. I was eight years old when I saw it. A bullied kid in school and a kid who was alienated from my peers, an introvert if you will. The values taught in “High Noon” was that a person needs to do the right thing in life, even if those that were being done for didn’t support the effort. Gary Cooper was my favorite actor after Humphrey Bogart another individualist. The movie was so important in my life that I would hear its theme song, sung by Tex Ritter, in my head when ever I faced danger of being attacked and bullied. It would bring a warm powerful feeling of emotion to me and give me the courage to face up to the threats. You are just so damned caught up in your own suppositions about people that your thought process is more like a fantasy life.

  39. Mike S, I love that movie as well “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh, My Darlin'” by Tex Ritter so tightly, with sparing score by Dimitri Tiomkin. Cooper’s character, Will Kane, did “do the right thing in life, even if those that were being done for didn’t support the effort…” because he knew it as a duty to himself and the community he served (serving first by putting those men away, and second by keeping the peace the years afterward). He kept imploring that community to help him, as their retribution was first to him but also by what was right or just right for them. The community only came around when they saw his willing sacrifice to be what it was, less for him (he could have left with his Quaker wife) but more for what was right and right for them. A good movie showing many levels of what it means to do what is duty and what is right.

    As for Progressive, from T.R. on it encompasses a lot of varied thought. The term has no clear meaning. The Progressives today not T.R.’s Progressives. My take from reading early 20th Century history leaves me with a Marxist or Fascist tinge (I see Technocracy, a hallmark of Progressive, as more Fascist in the late 10s, and 20s, and more Marxist in the 30s in this country, but that may be that I see Wilson as our most Fascist President).

    If there’s an underlying meaning to all these terms, it’s that they don’t mean what we think they do unless we know the full history and put them in context. It’s like the guy who says all human progress is liberalism, but when confronted with past liberalism calls it conservatism. And then calls it bad.

  40. In one sense the “greatest” rugged individual is the rogue government who thinks it does not have to interact with the people, does not have to work for the people, is independent of the people, and is the only sovereign.

    The rogue government is what Ayn Rand wanted individuals to be:

    Selfishness, it contends, is good, altruism evil, empathy and compassion are irrational and destructive. The poor deserve to die; the rich deserve unmediated power.

    Rand was a Russian from a prosperous family who emigrated to the United States.

    (Ayn Rand: Patron Saint of The Plutocracy – 4).

    Psychopaths.

    Ode to Ayn Rand:

  41. More on the mythology of the “rugged individual” as envisioned by Ayn Rand:

    In her journal circa 1928 Rand quoted the statement, “What is good for me is right,” a credo attributed to a prominent figure of the day, William Edward Hickman. Her response was enthusiastic. “The best and strongest expression of a real man’s psychology I have heard,” she exulted. (Quoted in Ryan, citing; Journals of Ayn Rand, pp. 21-22.)

    At the time, she was planning a novel that was to be titled; The Little Street, the projected hero of which was named Danny Renahan. According to Rand scholar Chris Matthew Sciabarra, she deliberately modeled Renahan – intended to be her first sketch of her ideal man – after this same William Edward Hickman. Renahan, she enthuses in another journal entry, “is born with a wonderful, free, light consciousness — [resulting from] the absolute lack of social instinct or herd feeling. He does not understand, because he has no organ for understanding, the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people … Other people do not exist for him and he does not understand why they should.” (Journals, pp. 27, 21-22; emphasis hers.)

    “A wonderful, free, light consciousness” born of the utter absence of any understanding of “the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people.” Obviously, Ayn Rand was most favorably impressed with Mr. Hickman. He was, at least at that stage of Rand’s life, her kind of man.

    So the question is, who exactly was he?

    William Edward Hickman was one of the most famous men in America in 1928. But he came by his fame in a way that perhaps should have given pause to Ayn Rand before she decided that he was a “real man” worthy of enshrinement in her pantheon of fictional heroes.

    You see, Hickman was a forger, an armed robber, a child kidnapper, and a multiple murderer.

    Other than that, he was probably a swell guy.

    In December of 1927, Hickman, nineteen years old, showed up at a Los Angeles public school and managed to get custody of a twelve-year-old girl, Marian (sometimes Marion) Parker. He was able to convince Marian’s teacher that the girl’s father, a well-known banker, had been seriously injured in a car accident and that the girl had to go to the hospital immediately. The story was a lie. Hickman disappeared with Marian, and over the next few days Mr. and Mrs. Parker received a series of ransom notes. The notes were cruel and taunting and were sometimes signed “Death” or “Fate.” The sum of $1,500 was demanded for the child’s safe release. (Hickman needed this sum, he later claimed, because he wanted to go to Bible college!) The father raised the payment in gold certificates and delivered it to Hickman. As told by the article; “Fate, Death and the Fox” in crimelibrary.com, At the rendezvous, Mr. Parker handed over the money to a young man who was waiting for him in a parked car. When Mr. Parker paid the ransom, he could see his daughter, Marion, sitting in the passenger seat next to the suspect. As soon as the money was exchanged, the suspect drove off with the victim still in the car. At the end of the street, Marion’s corpse was dumped onto the pavement. She was dead. Her legs had been chopped off and her eyes had been wired open to appear as if she was still alive. Her internal organs had been cut out and pieces of her body were later found strewn all over the Los Angeles area.”

    Quite a hero, eh? One might question whether Hickman had “a wonderful, free, light consciousness,” but surely he did have “no organ for understanding; … the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people.”

    But Hickman’s heroism doesn’t end there. He heroically amscrayed to the small town of Echo, Oregon, where he heroically holed up, no doubt believing he had perpetrated the perfect crime. Sadly for him, fingerprints he’d left on one of the ransom notes matched prints on file from his previous conviction for forgery. With his face on Wanted posters everywhere, Hickman was quickly tracked down and arrested. The article continues: “He was conveyed back to Los Angeles where he promptly confessed to another murder he committed during a drug store hold-up. Eventually, Hickman confessed to a dozen armed robberies.

    It seems to me that Ayn Rand’s uncritical admiration of a personality this twisted does not speak particularly well for her ability to judge and evaluate the heroic qualities in people. One might go so far as to say that anyone who sees William Edward Hickman as the epitome of a “real man” has some serious issues to work on, and perhaps should be less concerned with trying to convert the world to her point of view than in trying to repair her own damaged psyche.

    (Ayn Rand: Patron Saint of The Plutocracy – 3). Is it any wonder that the rogue and ruggedly individual government protects mass criminality?

    Like Rand, they are evolving from left to right with no end in sight, even though it is just beyond their short sightedness.

    The proper role of individualism is to stand up to bullies, selfish pricks, warmongers, hatemongers, and all of that ilk, to instead be decent to others, especially those who are in need through no fault of their own.

    Like those victimized by Ayn Rand worshipping Bernie Madoff and the plutocrats who are plundering the law abiding citizenry.

  42. America will keep the tradition of having members come up from hard scrabble to obtain not only success in business or accumulation of money but success in academic circles or professions like law chemistry or computer science.

  43. BarkinDog.
    “The “rugged individualist” is more in sync with the post civil war Radical Reconstructionist agenda which was passed into constitutional law with the Fourtheenth Amendment.” Yeah, the Mountain Men were all during/after Reconstruction and the 14th Amendment. Even though they date to 50+ years earlier. You must mean their right to be Senators, or apportioned Representatives, or the obligation of both to have not been part of an Insurrection, or something about public debt. Maybe they didn’t qualify as born or naturalized. I just can’t find “rugged individualist” in that Amendment, or the 13th or the 15th. Just not there, but give me the line with the quote and I’ll give you your justification.

    It took rugged individualists to bind together to form a communal effort to cross the Great American Desert (look at the early to mid 19th Century maps, and understand the meaning), with the knowledge that they would not only face that Desert but also the continual Indian Wars. It wasn’t getting your kicks on Route 66.

    I see both individualism and communal effort. Without individualism nothing would have happened, we’d still be huddled on the East Coast, but without communal effort, we’d be in New Jersey talking about those crazy Mountain Men (that would have made a great Jersey Shore episode). It takes both, but one originates. The Mountain Men did it on their own, they were unique.

    Ayn Rand? I’ve read “Anthem”, “We the Living”, “The Fountain Head” (the best), and “Atlas Shrugged” (a real slog), and she did praise workers too, not solely the drivers. It’s in there, but her praise was for workers that took their jobs to heart, did the job to their best, and worked for excellence. It’s there, you just have to find it as her thrust was the drivers, the creators. Ayn Rand wasn’t against government, just to the degree that government controlled behavior destructively. I never saw in her books that “government didn’t secure rights” but that government can ignore what are rights to secure what aren’t. In “The Fountainhead” it was about the government recognizing rights of the individual, if only by contract. She was never against government in the books I covered. It’s a common mistake to misunderstand a government that secures individual rights with one that doesn’t.

    She did have a strong authoritarian bent, so well expressed in her private life, but that’s not unusual for anti-authoritarians. Her expression of right government in her novels was government limited by individual rights. Communitarian rights by government were not rights but the repudiation of individual rights and ultimately the destruction of those rights…That’s the government she opposed.

    Remember, she came from a communist society. She left during the slide from the apex of Marxist-Leninism in ’25 (this beginning the shuffle that the sociopath Stalin would ultimately win). Her name was actually Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum. Maybe the Pogroms affected her outlook too.

    ““The belief that all individuals, or nearly all individuals, can succeed on their own and that government help for people should be minimal.” That’s a 20th Century concept or definition if only over minimal; the men and women that went into Kentuck, and further, had no concept of your definition, their maximal was military help which wouldn’t even meet your meaning of minimal.

  44. PreacherDog,

    ‘America will keep the tradition of having members come up from hard scrabble to obtain not only success in business or accumulation of money but success in academic circles or professions like law chemistry or computer science.”

    Ah, to some it’s Horatio Alger but to others Alger Hiss.

  45. As to the rugged individualist: would you want your son or daughter to marry one? Lets say that Sheila brings home for parental vetting at Xmas time a guy from Princeton. named Adam, who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and wants to be a business guy when he graduates from business school. Then at Easter she brings home some guy, John, who works as an electrician who does home repairs for a union shop and brings home a good sum of money every day and every year. This one already has a house and dog. Then on July 4th she comes home with Jared who is a computer science guy who has invested himself in a start up company called AppsRus. Finally, at Tanksgiving she drags home Justin, the son of a Bain Capital guy, who just graduated from beauty school and wants to set up his own shop–with no help from daddy who has cut him off.

    On those facts alone, how would you rate the candidates? It turns out that they are all in the picture and all want Sheila to marry them.

    Your responses, please.

  46. Hi, Dredd,

    Nice quote on Ayn Rand. You mean she wasn’t perfect, not fallible? She picked poorly, perhaps because she knew less at the time than you do now? She knew when she wrote that he was what he was later?

    You know, really there’s a term for what you did. I call it anachronist (you give what he did in 12/27 while prior quoting Rand in ’28, but no month for her and no indication of when Hickman was actually believed to have done what he did). I think historians have a better term, but I can only remember it as by my own filter: “stupid BS”.

    Jessie James and John Dillinger were folk heroes. Later, not so much. You do realize for the whole time the FDIC didn’t cover their robberies?

  47. itchinBayDog here and I ain’t itchinBay about the background or occupational hazards involved. I just dont like the names Adam, Justin or Jared. They are all names of cerial killers and I dont like nobody that dont like Cheerios. I especially dont like that Adam Lanza guy. In pig latin, which I am used to working with, Adam comes out damDa. I would hate for my kid to be married to an aredJa.

  48. MikeS, I am obviously unworthy of even communicating w/ you. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. You dismiss studies and books out of hand. How in the f@ck could a person who considers themself open minded dismiss a book they have not even read. I give you a study on corrupt cities and you dismiss it because it isn’t a longitudnal study, “that would be too difficult” to conduct. I give you a book you simply Google and you call it a “self help book”. You’re exposing yourself as a phoney and paper tiger. Enjoy “the herd” and your myopic view of reality. The posse must be in the saloon. Call their cells. You need some help on this one, paisan. I’m waiting for the “logic, straw man, troll, yada yada”, dude to chime in. I’m sure you are also. We disagree, why can’t you just accept that. What is it w/ you alpha dudes that you have to “win” or be “right.” I accept you don’t agree w/ me. Just let it go, you’ll live longer.

  49. At SWM’s suggestion we just got back from seeing Silver Linings. I think you would enjoy the flick, MikeS. Life’s too short to sweat the small shit is one of the themes. Good acting and not the cookie cutter Romance Comedy flicks that clutter the movie screens. I give it 4 stars.

  50. One of the great economic and political fallacies is the notion that, if **anyone** can succeed, it must be true that **everyone** can succeed. But for that to be true in an economic sense, it would have to be true that there is no limit to how much economic activity a population can support. But this is not the case. We can only utilize so many pizza shops, so many nail salons, so many dog walkers, so many real estate agents, and so on. And it is equally fallacious to presume that entrepreneurs can necessarily create a limitless number of products and companies. Indeed, modern Darwinian capitalism seems to be heading in the direction of ever-greater concentration of economic activity in the hands of fewer and fewer.

  51. BarkingDog,

    “As to the rugged individualist: would you want your son or daughter to marry one?”. Yeah, as long as the guy didn’t fall for your definition or Limbaugh’s, really, you don’t buy Limbaugh’s do you? Do you?

    Rugged individualists made up wagon trains, and worked and helped each other for a common goal. Rugged individualists paid $18 for 160 acres under the Homestead Act (do you realize how much of the West the Feds owned, and still do; the East Coast should be so owned…), and worked with each other when possible to plow fields, erect barns, make homes, even towns. And those rugged individualist were immigrants too, taking the chance offered by the Homestead Act (which was really abused by the non-rugged individualists, you might even call them the communitarians, though better the communalists, as communitarians recognized individualism).

    The less-than-rugged individualists wrote tracts and went home to dinner. In the same town where they were likely born, mobility being so much less then without Route 66.

  52. I would not buy Rush Limbaugh’s definition of much. My definition of a rugged individual wouild be Jesse James, Mark Twain, Harry Truman, Abe Lincoln, and yeah, Lyndon Johnson. None of them had a silver spoon given from mommy and daddy.

  53. Did anyone of the readers here get mail today? In my part of the north east we had 14 inches of snow. Many people did not shovel. Did you look at the footprints leading to your mailbox. Did you even consider what the letter carrier had to walk through to get to your mailbox. How about your garbage man. The person that gets off the school bus in the morning to safely guide your child. … The cop, the fireman, the emt, the bus driver, the snowplow driver, etc. etc. etc. …. Rugged individualism exists in everyone everyday.
    Some rugged individuals get ignored, or disparaged, and very often get underpaid. Yet every day they carry on… and do there duty. There is a ton of rugged individualists in this country, just look around. I am grateful for every one of them.

    This country seems to admire wealth, fame, and power,
    I admire the people of this country that struggle, do their job and duty, and because of their efforts we strive. …. I am not a major supporter of republican philosophy. They claim rugged individualism, but they descry sacrifice. Those that sacrifice just do it as part of living.

    Lord Lord, don’t charge me an extra 4% on every net income dollar I make over 250K….. I might have to fire the guy that wipes my rear in the morning.

    Oh and by the way, I’m starting a new franchise, rear end wipers. As degrading as this topic seems, I bet I could sell it in some parts of the world.
    The rugged individual rich, should not have to wipe their own rear!!!!

  54. Ariel,

    The movie demonstrated great values for me at my tender age. So much of what it portrayed for me was to help guide me in the 60 years of my life that followed. You are correct too that the meanings of political labels change through the years. TR believed that only a select few should rule guiding the “unwashed masses”with their wisdom. He also believed in Anglo -Saxon primacy in the world and he was racist. Wilson came from the same “progressive” school of the era and was personally a racist and a bigot. And so it goes. I personally hate all “Ism’s” believing them just a cover for some people’s will to power.

  55. Andrew Jackson was a rugged individualist. His notion of man, the individual and those nobles out east, set the tone for the Democratic Party. That party went to hell over slavery. The Republicans under Abe came along and then they went to hell after Teddy Roosevelt.
    I would put Andrew Jackson in the pantheon of great Americans, great Presidents, and the best rugged individualist President.

  56. No longer should people refer to Social Darwinism but instead to Social Spencerism after Herbert Spencer. The old term demeans Darwin! Also, one can call it Spencer- Randism.
    Mike, would you agree?

  57. BarkinDog,

    I’m at a loss. You’re confusing “self-made” with “rugged individualism”.

    To start out: do you mean that Jesse James that wiped out whole towns by stealing the money in their banks (banks were local, no FDIC, entirely dependent on deposits and promissaries), or the Jesse James that knew Sandra Bullock (Praise be unto him, all day long, except he was too stupid to keep her)? Next, LBJ, one of the more corrupt politicians throughout his career? I can go with Abe, though he was a railroad lawyer; Mark Twain certainly by career; and Truman, if only for that un-American “the buck stops here”, you had to be an individualist to say that.

    Rugged individualism does imply a code that neither James nor LBJ had. Someone might undercut me on the rest if they can give good argument with historical fact.

    I’d go for this “I would put Andrew Jackson in the pantheon of great Americans, great Presidents, and the best rugged individualist President.”, but with the cringe that the guy was a jingoist and responsible for “the Trail of Tears”. Worked in the day, I guess.

  58. “Convergence” is a concept uttered, I think, by John Maynard Keynes. The notion is that over time the communist countries will change over to capitalism and the capitalist countries will go more the way of the communist countries. To some extent that has occurred in China and Russia. The rugged individualists in Red China are those that get to the top of the Communist Party and then dip their hands into the til and become rich. Jesse James comes to mind in some respects. Our country spies on us like the Russians know how to spy and we have have the Patriot Act telling us how to be patriots “or else”.

    We need more rugged individualists to stand jp against the Patriot Act. Where are they? Any Kennedy offspring? George Romney offspring? Any Roosevelts left over? Prescott Bush was a rugged individualist–how about his offspring like Jeb? Ya gonna stand up for us Jeb? Well, oke we can not rely on the noble families of our three generations back rugged individualists to come forward in our time of need.
    How bout you Brown? Yo Jerry Brown, your old but you have hutspa. Oh, I forgot, you are second generation politico too. Who is “rugged” out there that will stand up for us?

  59. Mike S.,

    Damn, we have more in common than I like (don’t take that as an insult, I just prefer the position of gadfly, so give me something). I also saw the same in Hondo (Farrow), and Ford’s westerns, the latter by degree. “Twelve Angry Men”, “OxBow Incident”, and the unforgettable “To Kill a Mockingbird” gave me lessons in the spirit of the meaning of law. Sometimes movies are more than entertainment, other times they suck.

    Yeah, Wilson was a progressive of the time, a full blown technocrat (rule by experts), and someone that didn’t embrace civil liberties (I include civil rights under that umbella, why are civil rights just about race? Why?). I still consider him our first “Fascist” President. Academia, nothing like it.

  60. BarkingDog,

    Oh, G*d, through my gritted teeth, you’ve gone from self-made = rugged individualist to manipulative sociopathic bureaucrat = rugged individualist. It isn’t about the outcome of reaching the absolute top, even Rand didn’t push that as an “only”. It’s about how you do it, serving the highest of your character and your ability as an ideal not where you get, even when you do it. Roark wasn’t ever about reaching the top as an ideal; Keating was but without the foundation of character, ability, or ideal.

    I’m in existential pain now, no idea if I live or exist, I’ve Sarted. So I must fade away, no love to not. It leaves me a sad man even behind brown eyes. Give me today and I’m only left lathered..

    Until another day…

  61. It is my understanding that history and myths are so intertwined that some believe some history to be myth.

  62. Ariel 1, December 29, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Hi, Dredd,

    Nice quote on Ayn Rand. You mean she wasn’t perfect, not fallible? She picked poorly, perhaps because she knew less at the time than you do now? She knew when she wrote that he was what he was later?

    You know, really there’s a term for what you did. I call it anachronist (you give what he did in 12/27 while prior quoting Rand in ’28, but no month for her and no indication of when Hickman was actually believed to have done what he did). I think historians have a better term, but I can only remember it as by my own filter: “stupid BS”.

    Jessie James and John Dillinger were folk heroes. Later, not so much. You do realize for the whole time the FDIC didn’t cover their robberies?
    =========================================================
    Yes, there is a term for what I did.

    I quoted the scholar who specializes in her history, who has decades of experience and access to all of her notes, drafts, and writings.

    Imagine that, when I could have listened to your apologetic instead and avoided being “anachronistic.”

    No thanks, he was robbing and killing people while she loved him and he was the most popular figure in the pabulum press.

    She was a psychopath long before she became hallucinogenic over that psychopath who was, in her published work, her ideal “rugged individual”, superman, perfect man, and a real man.

    The point is that the rugged individual is a myth in her tortured musings, as her poor choices show.

    She does little to advance the ideals of proper individualism.

  63. My quotes above that came from a noted expert on Ayn Rand were characterized by   Ariel as:

    I think historians have a better term, but I can only remember it as by my own filter: “stupid BS”.

    The reference to “I think historians” is advanced as authoritative because I suppose in Ariel’s mind, like Rand’s mind, “I think” is dispositive of any issue.

    Whereas, my quotes were from Chris Matthew Sciabarra, a historian and noted scholar who specializes in Ayn Rand history:

    Sciabarra is a Visiting Scholar at New York University, where he earned his BA in History (with honors) in 1982; his MA in Politics in 1983; and his PhD in Political Philosophy, Theory, and Methodology in 1988, under the supervision of Bertell Ollman. In 1999 he became the co-founder and editor of the biannual Journal of Ayn Rand Studies and belongs to Liberty and Power, a group weblog at the History News Network.

    He is the author of a trilogy of books on dialectics and libertarianism. The second of these, published in 1995, is Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical, which explores Ayn Rand’s college influences and intellectual roots — particularly the role of Rand’s philosophy teacher, philosopher Nicholas Onufrievich Lossky — and argued that Rand’s philosophical method was dialectical in nature.

    (Wikipedia Chris Matthew Sciabarra). One easy and comical way to understand Rand’s concept of individualism is via the notion Sarah Palin has of it, because they are quite alike.

    Palin’s notion of individualism is encapsulated in her “all rogue and mavericky” imaginings and myths, which is the essence of Rand’s meanderings too.

    Like Ariel’s.

  64. idealist707 1, December 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm
    @Dredd and others who want to go further back in our evolution.
    For impatient monkeys, here is the link and then the presentation lecture.
    =================================================
    Thanks for the two videos.

    Dr. Jack is arguing semantics, evidently miffed off by creationists.

    His amygdala was acting up on several occasions in those videos.

    Like his apparent rejection of abiotic evolution as “real evolution.”

    That is not accurate.

    In addition to comments up-thread, here is a rebuttal by a scientist who is not itching about creationists, but instead is focusing on research:

    Many cellular processes are carried out by molecular ‘machines’… Despite much speculation, strong evidence of the mechanisms by which these assemblies evolved is lacking. Here we … determine how the complexity of an essential molecular machine — the hexameric transmembrane ring of the eukaryotic V-ATPase proton pump — increased hundreds of millions of years ago … Our experiments show that increased complexity in an essential molecular machine evolved because of simple, high-probability evolutionary processes, without the apparent evolution of novel functions.

    (Evolution of Increased Complexity in a Molecular Machine, Journal Nature, Jan. 2012). For a scientist to say evolution has nothing to do with the origin of life is laughable.

    Evolutionists have a rap for exactly when it occurred, and where, in terms of sequence of events.

    Clearly, the theories and hypotheses indicate that machines evolved into carbon based organic life on Earth about 3.54 billion years ago, which is about 10.51 billion years after evolution entered the picture at the Big Bang.

    Molecular machines are chemical, made up of atoms, but not biological.

    Therefore they are the subject of brain chemistry, as Mark mentioned, and would be the focus to answer the question Mark poses:

    What if altruism isn’t just learned at your mother’s knee but is really a result of evolved brain chemistry?

    Just sayin’ …

  65. Mike S,

    You can delete the last comment of mine above, it was merely a test to test Mark’s thread.

    It was posted on Mark’s thread where it should have been.

  66. What we are seeing is a knee-jerk reaction to Mr. Obama’s re-election, to try and sell the notion that something’s wrong with the Republican Party. This article is attempting to go after one of the “tenants” of the Republican Party and that is the observation that the country was founded on rugged individualism, and furthermore, rugged individualism is what makes this country the great country it is (or was). The reason why I say it is a knee-jerk reaction is because there are still a number of people that are under the impression that Mr. Obama actually won the re-election. There are copious amounts of voter fraud that have been evident from the very start. For example there are several districts that had more votes cast than registered voters. When you have a district that has a 1000% voter turnout, something is wrong. We of course saw the problems with early voting (why do we even have early voting in the first place?) where the electronic voting machine would default to Mr. Obama. Still other areas where a female representative for the Republican Party was thrown out as a poll watcher. Still other areas where the Black Panthers were intimidating voters and the NAACP was interfering with the voting process. So I would challenge that Obama actually won. If he had to resort to so much rampant voter fraud to win, he didn’t have enough votes. Before the election, we saw the reports where he couldn’t even fill a stadium. His democratic convention had to be moved to a smaller venue for fear all of the empty seats would be disheartening and perhaps show that he didn’t have the support that the media would have you believe, and he was in trouble. It would be harder to sell a fake election result if the empty stadiums and venues were shown. So the media portrayed Obama as being popular while he wasn’t. Every sign before the election shown that his campaign was in trouble. Mr. Romney was picking up steam and showing to be ahead in many of the swing states. He had absolutely no problem getting a supportive crowd wherever he went. Mr. Romney won all of the debates and Obama had to change his tone and then came across as an angry bully. Same could be said for Biden. Everyone likened him to a grinning Cheshire cat or the Joker from Batman. Everyone was excited because it looked like the end of the Obama reign. The media of course ramped up their negative coverage of Romney and nothing but positive coverage of Obama. The media was even successful in convincing Obama’s drones that Benghazzi wasn’t a problem. They were able to exonerate Obama from any wrongdoing in the public eye, which was very helpful to the campaign. Because if the media coverage was accurate, the Benghazzi incident would have been the final nail in the coffin for Obama.

    This brings me to my point. The democrats and their fake election result has given them the incentive to try and portray the Republican Party as failing, when in actuality they aren’t. I liken the result to this analogy. Let’s say you are using a ruler and you don’t like the measurement that you came up with. The logic of the left would say there’s something wrong with that ruler. We need to get rid of that ruler. Never mind it wasn’t anything wrong with the ruler. Likewise, nothing is wrong with the beliefs of the Republican Party. This country was founded on “rugged individualism”. Contrast this with the democratic party. Class warfare. Pit one class against the other. The “rich” with their higher income are the enemy. Those “right wing” church goers – those Bible thumpers are their enemy. Those “rugged individualists”, they are their enemy. So the democrats use class warfare to pit one group against the other.

    And the notion that “rugged individualism” is something bad – your article says rugged individualism has “become cancerous within our country and may lead to the disintegration of America”. What a preposterous, idiotic notion, if there ever is one. In actuality, what is a cancer to America is the left-wing ideology. The notion that we have to have a government to protect us and provide for us. The notion that we aren’t strong as an individual, we have to be dependent on the government. We’ve seen an explosion in the food stamp program, and more dependence on the government. This gives the government more control over us. Welfare was never meant to be permanent, it was supposed to assist people to get back on their feet. Democrats use welfare because their existence depends on a welfare state. Democrats need those on welfare to be dependent on them. The notion that people need to be on permanent welfare instead of becoming independent individuals, that notion is cancerous to America. When left to the people to vote on these hot button issues, like same sex “marriage”, the voters almost always vote against such, but the democrats always have to rely on an activist judge to reverse the decision of the people. The demoncrats left-wing ideology is poisoning America and our future. This is what is detrimental to the country and this notion needs to change. Now we have the big push for socialized healthcare. Really, who was calling for any help with healthcare in the first place? We’ve seen almost a decade of whining about healthcare from the left, when it’s been a problem with the economy all along. Socialism has failed everywhere it has been tried. We have businesses cutting back, laying off, not hiring, reducing pay and hours, in order to make room for the Obama socialized healthcare requirement (which is UNCONSTITUTIONAL).

    Now we are seeing the false flags to assist the left in disarming America. Another cancerous problem with Obama’s reign. This article is so far off the mark, it is almost laughable. Nothing is wrong with the Republican Party or rugged individualism. Furthermore, the latter isn’t a myth. You can see evidence of such in history. It isn’t a myth, nothing is wrong with it. To the contrary, this false re-election and the alleged mandate to try and diagnose problems with the Republicans, when the democratic party needs to figure out why they had to resort to a fraudulent election to re-elect their “messiah”. That is where everyone needs to focus their attention. Revamp the democratic party and see if they can get an election without resorting to fraudulent voting schemes. Let’s take apart the democratic party and their myths to find out what is wrong. (Actually I don’t care, because the democratic party IS what is wrong with America and it needs to be seen as a failure, but since so many rely on the drive-by media, Obama drones won’t see the truth).

  67. @ Hubert,

    The person that most equates Obama with the word Messiah is Rush Limbaugh. I have conversations with some that worship Limbaugh words.
    They too, easily refer to Obama as the Messiah.

    I will assume you are a big Limbaugh fan, and probably an ardent Fox viewer.

    My opinion of Obama is that he is a DINO. He is right of center, coddles the plutocrats, and is slowly allowing the USA to slide towards a police state.
    The Oligarchs have control of the media, Rush is their darling. Fox news is their mouth piece. Obamas has few policies that truly help the shrinking middle class. His administration has continued to fuel the growing wealth disparity in this country. If Obama had an R for party designation ( which he should) this country would be more balanced and prosperous.
    The center of this country far right and the MSM presents it as balanced. Fox & Limbaugh present it as left lefter leftest.
    Hubert, it seems as if we are 180 degrees different in our concepts.

    Viva Democracy, Viva Free Speech. ….. This I hope we agree on. :)

  68. “Rugged Individualism definition:
    The belief that all individuals, or nearly all individuals, can succeed on their own and that government help for people should be minimal.” http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/rugged+individualism

    When I wrote this blog I purposely supplied a definition of “rugged individualism” because I wanted it to be clear how I was using the term. I’ve noticed that despite this, many prefer to assert arguments using the term with different connotations. Their arguments may, or may not, have merit in their internal logic, but they miss what this piece is trying to convey. There are of course people who are singular in their abilities and rise to widespread recognition by the dint those abilities. The point I am asserting though is twofold:

    1. Is that those “singular” individuals abilities become recognized because of the particular era and the environment that surrounds them. The point being that the ability to achieve is aided contextually and so nobody does it alone despite their “genius”. Think of Vincent Van Gogh, an amazing artistic genius, scorned and poverty stricken in his own time as the painter of insane pictures, only to be recognized after his death as one of the greatest of painting geniuses, whose works values are priceless. The context changed and the crazy person became someone of value, unfortunately too late for him.

    2. The second and to me more important point, is the assumption by those who believe the mythology of “rugged individualism” that the government as a representative of society, not only has no role in affecting human progress, but is actually a hindrance.

    The remainder of the definition that I included above is:

    “The phrase is often associated with policies of the Republican party and was widely used by the Republican president Herbert Hoover. The phrase was later used in scorn by the Democratic presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman to refer to the disasters of Hoover’s administration, during which the stock market Crash of 1929 occurred and the Great Depression began.”

    Hoover used this term, as does Hubert C. in his comment above, to justify his not doing anything to ameliorate the pain and suffering caused by the 1929 Stock Market Crash. The implication was that people who were impoverished and starving because of the financial machinations of the elite, should simply “toughen up” and find a way out of their despair themselves, without any government aid. To give them aid no doubt would destroy their inner “rugged individualism”. To me this is a nonsensical myth being substituted for pragmatic political action and we’ve seen it in the reaction of some to aid for Sandy victims, succinctly put as “Man Up!”.

  69. “This country was founded on “rugged individualism”.”

    Hubert,

    Not only do you not know what you are writing about, but you actually live in an alternate reality, bubble perhaps, making it impossible to communicate with you on any level. To try to discuss this with you someone would have to laboriously respond to every single sentence where you are wrong and that would compose about 99% of what you wrote. That in short would be a fools errand.

  70. “You can delete the last comment of mine above, it was merely a test to test Mark’s thread.”

    Dredd,

    You know I respect you and we agree on much, but once again I have to disabuse you and others of the notion that we guest bloggers and JT, spend time either editing and/or censoring this blog. It doesn’t work like that. The problems people have with posting are generated by WordPress. Yes all the guest bloggers can go into the blog and change things but we almost never do so, for two reasons.

    The first is that we all are busy with our lives and our guest blogging, while a beloved avocation, is only a small part of our lives. I’m doing a lot of other things in my life and even as a retiree I find there is not enough time in the day to do everything I want to do, so I have no desire to turn this gig into a full time job. Those guest bloggers who are not retired I assume are even busier than I am. As far as Jonathan goes I don’t know how in hell he finds time to do everything that he does in his life and career, besides producing content for this blog. This is strictly a non-profit situation and a labor of love.

    The second point is that there is no censorship here, except for the strictures imposed externally by WordPress, or by the civility of the comments which is interpreted quite broadly. This is the spirit imbued in this blog from the beginning by Jonathan and all of us guest bloggers are loathe to ignore that spirit.

    I address this to you because you brought it up and used it to again clarify misconceptions that arise mainly from others and not you. As a blogger on your own your are aware of what can be done offline, so understand the potential capabilities that none of us has an inclination to use.

  71. “This article is attempting to go after one of the “tenants” of the Republican Party and that is the observation that the country was founded on rugged individualism, and furthermore, rugged individualism is what makes this country the great country it is (or was).”

    Hubert,

    When you speak of “rugged individualists” were you speaking of:

    The Bush Family
    Dick Cheney
    Mitt Romney
    Paul Ryan
    Donald Trump
    Mitch McConnell
    John Boehner
    The Koch Brothers
    The Mars Family
    Dick Armey
    Pat Robertson
    Rick Santorum
    Newt Gingrich
    John McCain

    And a whole host of others who are prominent Republicans, yet owe everything in life to the situation of their birth. some of those in fact were of age during Viet Nam and strongly supported it, but at the same time avoided the draft. In your strange Universe, “rugged individualists” all no doubt.

  72. You blame Herbert Hoover for the depression, when actually Hoover came into office in January of 1929 and the crash happen in October of 1929. So Hoover was to fix what Coolidge did in less than 10 months. And yet you lefties still want to blame G.W. over 4 years later. get your facts right.

  73. The U.S. gor involved in the Viet Nam war during the Kennedy administration, The U.S. got involved in Korea under the Truman administration, The U.S. got involved in WW2 under the Roosevelt administration and you call Bush a war monger?

  74. One’s cultural amygdala conjures up various meanings when the words “rugged individualism” is used.

    Here is what the propagandists of the plutocracy want everyone to believe in — when they use the term “rugged individualism” as a diversion from their plunder of the public:

  75. Mike Spindell 1, December 30, 2012 at 10:51 am

    “You can delete the last comment of mine above, it was merely a test to test Mark’s thread.”

    Dredd,

    You know I respect you and we agree on much, but once again I have to disabuse you and others of the notion that we guest bloggers and JT, spend time either editing and/or censoring this blog. It doesn’t work like that. The problems people have with posting are generated by WordPress. Yes all the guest bloggers can go into the blog and change things but we almost never do so, for two reasons.
    =================================================
    It is your post to do with as you please.

  76. “Damn, we have more in common than I like (don’t take that as an insult, I just prefer the position of gadfly, so give me something).”

    Ariel,

    That you think we wouldn’t have ideas in common is perhaps the fact that despite my protestations to the contrary, many here think me as strictly a dogmatic Leftist, perhaps you as well. As I’ve stated before I abjure all “Ism’s” and think they are but foolish mythologies to intellectually give credence to the ministrations of people’s ego’s. Do my sympathies lie with the problems that the Left identifies such as poverty, unneeded wars and class warfare by the corporate elite, in a sense yes. However, I mistrust the leaders of the Left almost as much as I distrust leaders on the Right and think even those formulations of the political spectrum are mere chimera’s for the real issues of humans. My distrust comes from the fact that it seems there must be elements of sociopathic/psychopathic behavior to want to be a political leader in the first place. Egotism and hubris also fit in when psychological disorders leave off.

    I am first of all someone who believes in civil liberties and so individual rights and individualism are concepts dear to me. In writing this piece I took pains to define exactly what I meant by “rugged individualism” but unfortunately some of the responses went off in a different tangent. I really am willing to consider all logical arguments about what I write and am open to being corrected, however, when someone (not you specifically) is “boldly” beating up a “straw man” attributed to me, then admittedly I become rather testy.

    Yet there is much we do disagree on as you well know. I’ve read all of Rand’s novels. What got me started was seeing “The Fountainhead” movie on TV. As I mentioned I liked Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal was superb, it was a great movie, so as I did with most movies I enjoyed I went to the source, this was in my Teens. I liked “The Fountainhead” (it was her best novel from a literary standpoint) and having seen the movie it was easy to envision Howard Roark. Even then though, I could see that the plot was far-fetched to say the least. The idea that the firing of an Architecture Critic over his bad review of Roark’s building and the have a Hearst-like character brought to his knees by the subsequent public protests was a ridiculous plot point put in to making a philosophical point. “Atlas Shrugged” however, was a stupid, vapid ad badly written Allegory, with idealized characterization that bordered closely upon an Anglo-Saxon wet dream.

    From a civil liberties standpoint I do find some aspects of libertarian thought attractive, particularly in the thoughtful manner put forth by one of our infrequent commenters Gary T. Practically though, I see it an ultimately unworkable simply because of the “will to power” of sociopath’s and psychopath’s, who would ultimately rig and ruin any system they came upon. I see a libertarian system as one of the most easily corruptible of all social schemes and the concept of a “free market” as one that is untenable given the current psyche of humanity.

  77. “you call Bush a war monger?”

    Bruce,

    Iraq. At least 100,000 dead Iraqi’s and 4,000 dead Americans. No weapons of mass destruction and no connections to 9/11. A secular government turned into an Islamic government. I call him a murderer and war criminal.

    Both Harding and Coolidge were Republicans, whose policies Hoover supported and whose policies led to disaster. He was as responsible as they were, but bears a greater responsibility because through his stupid belief in “rugged individualism” he did nothing to ease the pain of the people.

  78. Mike,

    Excellent article and I agree with it in the majority. One thing you touched upon though I think merits expansion upon and that is the myth of history as viewed through a conspiratorial lens. Sometimes there are actually real tangible focused conspiracies, but more often than not such evils come from Arendt’s “banality of evil” combining with Burke’s admonition that “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Very often evil succeeds in history because we as a species fail to identify it (or wilfully ignored it) until it was too late to stop its momentum.

    That being said, we are a nation of “cowboys” and that false ideology that society is built by loners rather than by groups. The lessons of cooperative society our Founders knew were distorted by the myths borne in the Westward Expansion. The criticism of the myth of the rugged individualist is valid, but I think it will prove difficult to “unweave” from the fabric of our society as (mis)portrayed by the usually unstudied tale of our history that many if not most believe without question.

  79. Voltaic:

    I am reminded of the “new” American myths as I read this excellent essay. Obama is a Muslim and foreign born, Reagan Revolution, Bush II’s WMDs, the wealthy as job creators, minimal universal healthcare as a socialist plot to undermine state’s rights, etc. All are destructive myths and all are pushed by the pundits that need the myth to survive in order to prosper financially and politically, even at the cost of the greater good.

    How could you forget the “grandma-killing panels”? It scared me so much I found myself feeling glad my grandma was already dead!

  80. “One thing you touched upon though I think merits expansion upon and that is the myth of history as viewed through a conspiratorial lens.”

    Gene,

    Yes I only abutted on it and agree with your view, but it is something in itself that would merit its own article. Where I would expand your point further is that many people who’ve done quite evil deeds, actually believed they were doing “good” in my estimation. George W. Bush, for instance, is someone who I’m convinced believed he was doing the right thing, while committing great evil. I don’t read him as a sociopath, or psychopath, just a scion of privilege without any ability to self examine.

  81. “Why did we go to Viet Nam under Kennedy and Korea under Truman?”

    Bruce,

    As Dwight Eisenhower famously warned “Beware of the Military/Industrial Complex), which I would add is bi-partisan.

  82. Thnaks, Mike about Social Spencerism.
    Pres. George Wlaker Bush is as you say. He and V.P. Richard Cheney have proclaimed their adherence to torture- water-boarding. That means they “self- indict.” They alos violated FISA.Yet, in the view of going forward Obama-Biden-Holder decided not to pursue any further recriminations about torture.
    Judge Lawrence Welch states that when Pres. George Herbert Walker Bush pardoned Sec’y. of Defense Casper Weinberger, he exonerated himself [ Pres. Reagan?] in the Iran-Contra Scandal.
    Yet, the Republicans went after Pres. William Jefferson [Blythe] Clinton on a personal matter!
    What intransigent twaddle!

    Pres. Dwight David Eisenhower, also was a big spender -stimulus maker- for federal highways. And, he was for a lean military, ever reducing its spending.
    Whilst he was our greatest scoundrel, Pres. Richard Milhous Nixon also ranks amongst our greatest presidents: EPA, FDA, OSHA, Clean Water and Clean Air Acts, voluntary military, EITC and opening up relations with China.
    Pres. Ronald Wilson Reagan, whilst trying to dissovle the safety net, got help with the EITC. Of course, he wanted to use the latter to rid the former whilst we the people need both.He and W. did take off the income tax rolls many.
    Pres., Lyndon Baines Johnson is amongt the greatest presidents, but he and Sec’y. McNamara failed us miserabley with that War.
    Both Pres. Clinton and Pres. Barack Hussein Obama will be amongst the greatest according to the next Siena College poll, I predict!
    Mike, you might post at the following:
    http:// jeffgriggs.wordpress.com

  83. Mike, W. is such a scion! He did go AWOL according to a valid source [ not Mr, Rather], [according to the AP] and he was a miserable pilot!. He failed in business, yet got golden parachutes.I don’t know abut his governership, but as Rep. Richard Gephardt notes, he failed miserably as president!
    He ranks below Tricky Dick!

  84. Many “rugged individualists” have children and thence come grandchildren. When the top dog is gone the next generation and the third generation are there to inherit the money, the wind, whatever. If there is big money left over from the rugged individualist then the next generation become the scions. So with the Kennedy family for example. Joseph Kennedy the original pirate left a pile of money. Sonny boys were like the Corleone family after Michael. They stayed away from gangsters as much as they could and went to Harvard and WWII. Legends were formed around the Joseph. Lies. His desireand expressed goatls for America when he was Ambassador to Great Britain to partner up with the Nazis is something that is pushed under the rug. When John boy makes it to the Presidency they forge the myths of Camelot. Now the media refers to them as the Royal Family. And all the little Bobbys and Jacks running around want to run for office. You will note that few of them have much to contribute to the national dialogue. None of them have gone out and founded a corporation or written anything significant. What is noteworthy about this family is the manner in which things go downhill after the rugged individualist has banked a lot of money so that kiddos can go to Harvard and Yale. The next generation exagerates their ruggedness and their individuality. Jack becomes the great war hero. The daughter of Camelot has a sainted place in American society. She wanted to run for office but had little to say that was coherent or relevant to the issues of today.

    So, in the article when the names were thrown out of rugged inddividuals, several were second generation not so rugged. There are some exceptions to the spoiled brat syndrome. Senator Jay Rockefeller comes to mind. Second generation Jerry Brown, son of Pat Brown comes to mind as a tough thoughtful person who stands tall in politics.

    As I referrence in some comments above, those born with silver spoon up the arse are generally a far cry from papa. I cringe when I hear that some new Kennedy has a desire to run for Teddy’s seat. I close my ears when someone wants to interview Patty Hearst. If I was around in the 1870s and Abe Lincoln had a kid running for office I would have listened. If Harry Truman had a grandkid out here now I would listen. If Bill Gates wanted to run for the Senate I would open up my mind to his ptich. We need a new rugged individualist to come to politics. But generally, leave the scions on the wayside.

  85. Mike,

    W didn’t need to be a sociopath or a psychopath. He just had to be malleable. He had Cheney to be the puppet master. Where the weak minded play, the predators will follow.

  86. The follow up on the thread of the offspring of rugged individuals. The article lists John Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy as among the rugged individuals. Their daddy Joseph was the rugged individual who worked with the mob to make the fortune that allowed Johnboy and Bobby to be socialcrats and politicians. But the two offspring or “scions” were themselves rugged. They were also Catholics. They too had their ties with the mob. Some different than others. The downfall of both brothers was their respective assassinations. Both were tied to their ties to the mob. They pissed off the mob when Jack Kennedy transmitted venerial disease to Sam Giancan’s girlfriend who gave it to Sam. Jack got it from Maryilin the same night that both Bobby and Jack porked Marilyn at the White House. Neither used a condom because they are Catholic scions. The rest is history. Rugged for messing with the mob and foregoing condoms and individualistic for choosing good looking woman. Bobby got the clap from the waitress at the Willard Hotel. Bobby to Marilyn to Jack to Sam’s girlfriend to Sam in short order–maybe two days. All because of Catholic faith and the prohibition against rubbers. All proving that it takes two to tango. If you need any more info on this thread I am available.

  87. By the definition given is Thoreau a “rugged individualist”? Because he definitely didn’t have much use for government but neither was he a social Darwinist which seems to be the popular definition of rugged individualist being used.

    “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.”

    “That government is best which governs not at all”

    “There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.”

    “Be yourself- not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be”

  88. Gladwell’s Outliers explains how success isn’t merely an individual endeavor but both circumstantial and a person’s commitment to work. It supports the argument here that the social circumstances bely mere individual ruggedness.

  89. Mike S.,

    I had a good friend that was a wobblie; he called me a romantic rightist, as well knob, and I called him a less than rational idealogue (I warned him if he moved up he’d lose his standing as a wobblie, he did an thus goes ideological purity because it isn’t how you think it’s what you think; I prefer how not what). I agreed with him that workers should own the means of production, but that they should buy them not confiscate them. He actually agreed in terms of the system as it is. He recognized creativity and putting one’s life into it, and we both agreed that capitalism today isn’t that.

    “As I’ve stated before I abjure all “Ism’s” and think they are but foolish mythologies to intellectually give credence to the ministrations of people’s ego’s. Do my sympathies lie with the problems that the Left identifies such as poverty, unneeded wars and class warfare by the corporate elite, in a sense yes. ” On “isms” so do I, and see it as the foundation of political correctness, as well groupist blindness.

    Poverty? I’m going to change that word, and please note I did that to change direction on your argument, to “poor”. We’ll always have the poor as it’s a subjective term, so you can never make “poor” a thing of the past. The poor have less. “Poverty” is less and subjective but can be defined easily as one or more or these: without shelter, without clothes, and without food (I’ll give food as meaning meeting nutritional needs, especially growing children). The poor in this nation don’t meet this. If you want to go “people sleeping on grates”, we go into civil liberties by way of the ACLU and Reagan. The Right identifies and acknowledges poverty and the poor, but just has a different solution (while giving a whole lot more money to private charity than the Left, but that’s just voluntary versus coerced). If you hate to fish I can understand why the Left’s solution is better as you never have to learn to fish. I am for a social net; defining what that means is always the issue.

    “My distrust comes from the fact that it seems there must be elements of sociopathic/psychopathic behavior to want to be a political leader in the first place. Egotism and hubris also fit in when psychological disorders leave off.”

    Oh, that just makes us twin sons born of different mothers. My son (hey a segue) is in an Honors program at his University (the poor kid has to write a thesis to get his Baccalaureate), which includes Peace Studies. One thing I have gotten through to him is that it only takes one sociopath to destroy all that the idealists, and I’m one, envision for peace. Only one. No more, though one is just too idealistic.

    “However, I mistrust the leaders of the Left almost as much as I distrust leaders on the Right and think even those formulations of the political spectrum are mere chimera’s for the real issues of humans.” And I distrust the leaders of the Left more than the Right, and think the same way as you do for both but that the Left, at this juncture, is more dangerous than the Right. Part of that is that I think the Right believes we are constrained by that old, hoary document, and the Left by whatever judicial theory comes latest. “Separate but equal” was a judicial construct, ignored the meaning of the Reconstruction Amendments, and ended my religious trust of SCOTUS. You can blame it on “too many Southern sympathizers”, or any other excuse, but it was what SCOTUS does. How many exemptions to the 4th now dance on the head of a pin, or more pointedly on pinheads?

    Mike, if you take much of what I write as tongue-in-cheek because too many take themselves seriously, you’ll be no more informed by what I write but less disturbed by what I write. I’m really a moderate, by American standards, but still go by not what you think but by how you think. I try to please the longshoreman named Hoffer rather than the schoolteacher, or the illegitimate little corporal, or the son of a wealthy farmer.

  90. Dredd, oh my poor Dredd, how I feel for you. If I could just drag you from that hell pit so deprived of light leaving a darkness you suffer so that Angels weep and Demons rejoice, then I would be assured of life eternal for my altruism alone because no egoism could be called to speak for me.Trust me by my assurance of all my worth and humanity that yours is just a nightmare from which you only have to open your eyes. I will, I so promise with all that is right and where all humanity in its utmost depth has meaning, hold you tight to quell your fear in that moment when you cry out in pain, even horror, from the abyss you dwell, and realize you’re a schmuck.

    “Palin’s notion of individualism is encapsulated in her “all rogue and mavericky” imaginings and myths, which is the essence of Rand’s meanderings too. Like Ariel’s.”

    Only if you’re delusional given that Palin came out of your head (when did I even allude to Palin? What should I do if you brought up Cotton Mather, or John Brown, Quisling, or any one else you could bring out of that dark pit of hell you think is thinking), should I be left with that you think “assume” gives less blame to you but more the one of which you make assumptions? It’s actually only “ass” applies in assume, it doesn’t tar “me”. Maverick isn’t that a bad a term, if only because the closest antonym in the animal kingdom is “sheep”. Do you prefer sheep?

    I do thank you for the use of “myths”, it only shows you have no understanding on the deeper meaning of myths; Joseph Campbell would shake your world, chastise your ignorance, and just shake his head.

    “The reference to “I think historians” is advanced as authoritative because I suppose in Ariel’s mind, like Rand’s mind, “I think” is dispositive of any issue.” Arguing the word dispositive (as I don’t think it means what you think it does, and I’m not an Oxford snob), “I think” with “I am” is Descartesian ( or Cartesian if you prefer) with regard to consciousness, and has as much to do with your quote of me as binding Chinese female feet.

    I wrote “I think historians” in context of “You know, really there’s a term for what you did. I call it anachronist (you give what he did in 12/27 while prior quoting Rand in ’28, but no month for her and no indication of when Hickman was actually believed to have done what he did). I think historians have a better term, but I can only remember it as by my own filter: “stupid BS””. I see this too often, this inability to put things in context by what was known at that time. Bernie Madoff was great until he wasn’t. Is this basic way of putting history into a meaningful matrix so hard?

    Kimmel and Short paid by you method of thinking. A cost neither deserved. I’m sure you can find a way of blaming them, by evidence years later.

  91. Dredd,

    As for Rand, I take her by her books and not her cult afterwards, which really went south from her books. I also take Plato as a technocratic totalitarian (benign philosopher kings with “experts” as advisors, oh please). I take British empiricists during the Enlightenment as the best for government, and French existentialism as the most entertaining for life. I live but I don’t exist; you should know my life, or would it be my existence?

    There is no philosopher, or school of philosophy, that hasn’t hit a dead end. It doesn’t mean we ignore all they wrote, or that all they wrote is to be ignored. What, you want to go with Political Scientists? They use logic, words, even color, so poorly.

  92. Malisha,

    “How could you forget the “grandma-killing panels”? Actually, in the USA it was “death panels”. Which is what the Netherlands, Belgium, and a few other European countries are doing when looking at allocation of health benefits. In their case, it is swung towards the young not the elderly.

    Why should you at 65 get a new hip, kidney, or liver, when someone at 45 needs it more, if only because they’ll live longer? These are the decisions being made now in Europe, and they aren’t being made in favor of those over 60-65. Who would you give a kidney to, your 65 year-old grandmother? What a waste.

    With longevity increasing, and resources static or growing slowly, where do you think the decisions will go?

    Enjoy your old age. “Logan’s Run” isn’t that far-fetched when allocation of resources with most benefit for society is the rule. If your past 67, what the hell good are you anyway? Or 30 for that matter…

  93. Gene H.,

    “He just had to be malleable. He had Cheney to be the puppet master. Where the weak minded (sic) play, the predators will follow.” The weak-minded also think what they believe is proof because they believe it. Prove that Cheney pulled the strings, by objective fact. Point by point.

    Lincoln was thought to be Seward’s puppet, as well a puppet of others. If I could find the right string, I know google would give you a whole list of Presidents who were thought puppets to some hated individual that was either VP or Cabinet member. It’s a tired meme.

    Now I know by weak-minded you meant easily swayed, you couldn’t have meant low IQ as JFK had the lowest estimated IQ at 118 and Carter the highest measured at 176, with most falling in the high mid 20s to high 30s.

    So, here’s a great quote for you on weighing personal assets that you don’t measure (if you want the link, I don’t help the lazy):
    “Presidents with high SQ (social skills), Ambition, and Integrity (but only above average IQ): Washington, Reagan, Ford, Kennedy (117 or 119), G Bush, GW Bush (126).
    Presidents with high SQ, IQ, and Integrity (but only above average Ambition): Truman, Eisenhower
    Presidents with high SQ, IQ, and Ambition (but only above average Integrity): Clinton, Johnson
    Presidents with high IQ, Ambition, and Integrity (but only above average SQ): Carter, both Adams’

    Failure with less than 3 qualities: Nixon had high IQ (143) and Ambition but flawed Integrity and SQ.” And damn he was elected twice. What were you thinking? (Fall for the you, remember English usage.)

    You see it just falls into your own cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias. I can’t see any President as a puppet, they might listen too much or too little to others, but a puppet?. A vacuous, talking head you listen to on nightly news likely, but a President no. If only because the position would go to his head…and the weak-minded would think it meant more than it does.

    However, pulling from the Lovenstein Hoax, such a great quote: “The smartest president didn’t know enough to keep his pants zipped and the dumbest one thinks he can run a war.” The problem of course is which presidential zipper and which dumb president. FDR was called an “amiable dunce’ by his family; Woodrow Wilson thought he was the smartest president to run a war by shutting down any dissent; with, lastly, how many Presidential zippers does it take to screw in a light bulb? None, the zippers didn’t screw in a light bulb, the Presidents screwed in the the White House.

    Is it true that JFK had a dispenser to meet “take a number” like the Post Office?

  94. BarkingDog,

    Joseph Kennedy was certainly a bootlegger in the 20s, but the proof only came sometime in the last 15 years by ledger from a Canadian whiskey manufacturer. Prior, it was only hear-say and conjecture, except to my grand-parents and great-grandparents. Still, they had no proof.

    Kennedy fought Coughlin, an anti-communist, anti-Semitic, anti–Federal Reserve and isolationist, from at latest 1936. So he was a Nazi sympathizer fighting an anti-Jew (I’ll give weight to anti-communist, but isolationist? The last thing Nazis wanted in the late thirties was a non-isolationist US). In the 10s, 20s, even the 30s (take into account lag time) when Nazism wasn’t seen as something substantially different from Fascism, and Communism as Marxist-Leninism wasn’t seen as so substantially different than the Socialism of 1890s Britain or Europe, all number of intellectuals or thinkers embraced either; you had this interplay of discussion of ideas that allowed acceptance of Fascism, Nazism or Communism until it became apparent what they actually led to: authoritarian repression; wholesale war and genocide; and genocide, repression, oppression, and incoherence where ideals were turned up-side down (Stalin’s 1936 Constitution is a wonderful document on freedom, never practiced). Susan Sonntag gave great perspective: “Communism is Fascism with a Human Face”. The sarcasm is evident as Fascism was the boot on that face. She likely meant Nazism, leftists do tend to confuse and conflate the two, but still…

  95. “The poor have less. “Poverty” is less and subjective but can be defined easily as one or more or these: without shelter, without clothes, and without food (I’ll give food as meaning meeting nutritional needs, especially growing children). The poor in this nation don’t meet this.”

    Ariel,

    I used the term poverty in a much more inclusive sense:

    “pov·er·ty [pov-er-tee] Show IPA
    noun
    1.
    the state or condition of having little or no money, goods, or means of support; condition of being poor. Synonyms: privation, neediness, destitution, indigence, pauperism, penury. Antonyms: riches, wealth, plenty.
    2.
    deficiency of necessary or desirable ingredients, qualities, etc.: poverty of the soil. Synonyms: thinness, poorness, insufficiency.
    3.
    scantiness; insufficiency: Their efforts to stamp out disease were hampered by a poverty of medical supplies. Synonyms: meagerness, inadequacy, sparseness, shortage, paucity, dearth. Antonyms: abundance, surfeit, sufficiency, bounty, glut.”

    My use of poverty is in line with 2 and 3 above. Yours is much more exclusive as in 1 above. My meaning is back upped by a 37 year career as a Social Services executive, Social Worker and Psychotherapist. Contrary to you statement the “poor” in this country do meet my definition, but going beyond that with the high unemployment and consistently dropping wage scale many more of the former “middle class” are also in that same boat.

    “If you hate to fish I can understand why the Left’s solution is better as you never have to learn to fish. I am for a social net; defining what that means is always the issue.”

    You are dealing in memes in this statement since the underlying connotation is that many don’t want to work. The facts don’t and never have born that meme out, but it remains a constant in Conservative circles.
    It is the equivalent of Romney calling 47% of this country “takers” and Reagan talking nonsensically of “Welfare Queens”. I actually spent a career working with people held up by the “social net” and in truth I claim as much, if not more expertise than any of the so-called “experts” discussing social net policy issues. The “social net” has always been merely a stopgap affair, that doesn’t address the endemic inequality of our system. Since Reagan’s ascendance even the “social net” that existed has
    been continually shredded.

    “The Right identifies and acknowledges poverty and the poor, but just has a different solution”

    Not to belabor the issue but while you yourself may recognize poverty as a problem that needs solving, the Right in general recognizes it as a failing of lazy people. Since in general they view the problem in this way, than their logical solution based on that mis-perception is to further do away with the “safety net” to force those “lazy” people to work. As for charitable donations, that too is a convenient dodge for guilty people. After my retirement from the City I worked for three non-profits charities.
    Prior to my retirement I served as a Director of Contracts, a Director of Budget and a Director of Administration. In those capacities I dealt with many on-profit charities dealing with NYC and regularly sat on the committees that assessed their proposals. Most charities, like the American Red Cross are at heart con games that pay well to those on top, who get their positions through political prominence or connections to personal wealth. It’s sad but true and I can cite chapter and verse from personal experience and research done on behalf of my work.

    “Mike, if you take much of what I write as tongue-in-cheek because too many take themselves seriously, you’ll be no more informed by what I write but less disturbed by what I write.”

    Ariel, what you write doesn’t disturb me. I react to you when in your argument your resort to attacking the writer, rather than the writer’s points. You haven’t done that with me, for the most part. Ideed, it seems that we eve agree on some issues, though come at them from different perspectives. One of the notions about me and the writing I’ve done here is to think of me as a Leftist Ideologue. Given the paucity of real discussion that exists these days I understand where that impression might come from but it is false. The 60’s taught me well that ideologies and “Ism’s” lead people astray from the real problems. Training as a Psychotherapist has opened my eyes to the fact that humanity’s problems are not the result political/economic theory, but stem directly from the still un-evolved human consciousness of humanity’s essential interrelation. Since evolution is measured by centuries and millenia, I as a pragmatic iconoclast prefer to seek solutions that will keep us from destroying ourselves before we can evolve. Secondly, ad from a personal perspective, I have suffered in my own life and in my work life I spent years dealing with human suffering, since I understand the pain, my sense of empathy and connection with other humans impels me to try to work to ameliorate it.

  96. General Notice to all bloggers.
    =======================

    Someone using aol.com as email, sent a message to my address fallingpetals@hushmail.com. It has been received and replied to.

    However my email server above advises that it and the other system are not working together. “It is not talking to me” was what it actually said other than the usual tech blable. So that means that my reply has not been delivered. Don’t give up hope. Sometime these spats between systems resolve themselves peacefully.

    It will keep trying for 4 more hours, and then we will see if I need to send ti to another address if provided by the sender.

    Thanks all for your attention.

  97. Late arrival due to health issues. Much to read and absorb.

    MikeS.

    You sit on your Olympian mountain, sharing the view and the comforts(?) of truth with the others in your village, the American village.

    America is composed, like you emphasize, of essentially mythologically dependent people, as is the rest of the world. Is it our myths that conflict??? They do domestically and probably inter-culturally.

    I can add no more.

  98. S Supak,
    Re MikeS response on HST comparing him to a Zen master.
    Unfortunately, HST did not awaken many of us. The power of words?
    Depends on where you preach from, your social status, and the power of your money. He had a little, but not enough.

    Now if he had been sent out by the NYTimes, the results might not have been as worthy, but he despised those “slaves”.

  99. pete9999,

    I was at a conference in Kyoto in 94 or something. The hotel provided the following facilities for conference members, ie those without rooms there:
    toilets (we call them here!) were designed so as to wash your anus with a stream of lukewarm water. The drying was by hot air. No paper, no germs, no idea why we don’t have them. :-)

    Of course, those with special problems were SOOL.

  100. I’ve lots of comments left to read, but a comment beside jokes would be welcome. At least it would assist me in staying awake.

    One well-spoken person wrote his summary which I loan as a starting point: “if you are an individualist, then you must recognize the rights of other individuals.” And if you think that means you as an individualist are qualified to enter the arena.to fight for you life and fortune then headsup.

    Remember two things only:
    ******You did not create the arena you are playing in. (Sorry NickS :-) ) So you are not an individualist, you are playing at someone elses place. You did not build it. And that has been my firm conviction since ca 14 years of age. My rights but not at the cost of the rights of others.
    ******You can always lose, because there is someone else who does not play by the rules. Only street rules like robbers, only in silk suits and playing the fraud game on WS.

    If you really believe in individualism, then stop sucking on the teat of the community which gives you its services, and a chance to improve your life through its assistance.

    Go get a hut on some strand of the Amazon and live like the Indians there do. No short wave radio for asking for a rescue, no chest of emergency medicines, no anti-venom shots. In short be that individualist that you so hotly desire.

    Betcha won’t.

  101. PS A thought for consideration.

    I wonder if the womens toilets at the Kyoto hotel were equipped with an extra button which would provide a stream pointed at the clitoral area?

    No wonder that there always was a long line of ladies waiting to get in there.

    And don’t say I am crude, only a tabu breaker, as long as they are not mine.

    One lady friend told me how she found out that her daughter had bought an battery driven dildo. After asking mom for batteries, she later returned the borrowed suitcase with discarded packaging left in it identifying the need for batteries.

    I did not ask her if her son has asked for batteries. Might have been shocked, even tho the voltage is so low.

    Sorry for the OTOTOT.

  102. “America is composed, like you emphasize, of essentially mythologically dependent people, as is the rest of the world.”

    ID707,

    Humanity is driven by mythology for good, or for ill. Any person trying to interact with the world rationally needs to look beyond it.

  103. Dredd,

    First an insult between friends. Are you perceiving things through your own filter? Borrowed from another here. :-)

    I say that because I see:
    !) No animosity anywhere by Jack. Only an attempt to explain as he sees it , the separation between biological evolution and the creation by chemical powers and coincidence the first what would be called a biological lifeform.

    2) I frankly don’t believe that evolution is the proper word for what you say abiotic life did. Evolution in my admittedly limited studies, mean a process of random mutation in cellular DNA. Which creates many mistakes which are lethal, but some which are positive in the sense of “fitness”.

    You mentioned beetles as a good example of non-intelligent life being favored over intelligent. I laughed because the beetle is perfectly adapted and that is due to the selective process of evolution.
    But survival is not enhanced for a one environment/one nutritional source being. They can (usually) not adapt and are, as you pointed out, usuallly extinct after 100,000 years.

    I am not quibbling over choice of words, but saying that the creation of life depended on the process which produced carbon as an element, is not sound IMHO.

    Then we are back again to the discussion as to why the universe is parametrized by such favorable values. From such speculations arise creationism by an extra-universal power. And I don’t think you belong to that clan. I can mention the peculiar value of gravity in relation to other forces; the maximum net energy released by nuclear fusion of hydrogen is ca 0.007, if larger the suns would have exploded and not been stable in their short lifetimes, if less then the sun would have collapsed in stages but never “ignited” , thus ending only as a black hole.

    I could go on but why we are discussing this here on the Rugged etc thread is confusing. Any special reason? “Evil thoughts lie in the hearts of men…etc.” A really mixed up analogy. Only in the US of eh.

    Back to yóu.

  104. Dredd,

    If I had read further, then I would have seen your recall of the post from another thread as being phony. Which it was. A test of blabla thread.
    What horsemanure you put out.
    You were baiting me, and trying to show how dumb I am.. How you could motivate the latter by using at best two sentences quoted from me, escapes me.

    Well, thanks for rattling my chain. It, in lack of seeing your phony recall, which was probably meant to irritate MikeS, gave me an opportunity to respond again to your pet hobby horses. You are a brilliant man, maybe.
    But you play dirty pool. And get off your amygdala trip, as at least I tire of it being used as a trump over the rest of the brain. Important? Damn right.
    But no more than the rest. IMHO :-)

    I don’t mind being made an ass. I do it all the time without assistance.

    But you now give me reason to wonder if you are like so many others enamored in your own ideas which you see as a part of YOU.

    And I can also take it as showing how illy you tolerate being disputed by others. I have seen this in reviewing your above commentary dialogue with ones with opposing ideas.

    Your brilliance is only exceeded by your attachment to yourself.
    And I said that, without rancor. Only an observation, not a snark.

    Good luck with yours, to borrow a phrase.

    Written after reading one of your worse, as yet, salvos. There might be a later coming mea culpa, but doubt it.

    But welcome with tales of derringdo as I enjoy a good myth when served well down.

    A shame that ended relationship ended like that. Just my paranoia perhaps.
    But I love it too. An evolutionary trait from pre-human stock.
    But perhaps that is one of the consequences of idolizing someone.

    You gotta love yourself, otherwise you can’t live with your bad self. Dubja comes to mind and most definitely his Poppy. Read the Russ Baker book.

    I can also be allowed my rants too. And Baker and the Bushes is one.
    A perfect exemplification of how we got screwed, and will be screwed until we find a cure for this nation, US-eh!

  105. Hi, Dredd,

    Actually, I think I was writing about that “proper individualist”. Maybe you missed it, rugged in taking chances but cooperative in achieving a goal. As for your scholar with “I quoted the scholar who specializes in her history, who has decades of experience and access to all of her notes, drafts, and writings.” I take only from her four books: Anthem, We the Living, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. If your scholar doesn’t understand that Roark was trying to design something special and meaningful for the Poor, something to make their lives better, while holding others to contract and his self to his own creativity, your scholar missed the whole damn point (I thought I’d say more than the dismissive and lazy-as-intellect “appeal to authority”). I said I think she went off the rails, and like in Super 8 it can be so long in happening. You by vehemence have more idolatry of her than I. I just think she made some good points that should be noticed, acknowledged, even incorporated. Answer this: if you have no right to your life, with all it entails, who does? And if they do, who are you?

    Hi Mike S., “And if you are a strong believer in individual rights then you would also belive in the individual rights of others. Individual rights are hard to secure without the force government can bring to bear on those who violate other’s rights.”

    Taking this from Bron, and going by your retort, yeah it’s why we have government. We have all sorts of ideals, like not lying or stealing, but too many go for the moment. Rand was making a point by hyperbole, though given her later life, I may just be being kind. Unfortunately, I have some of the old time pesky liberal thought in my head; I have to take the message separate from the messenger. As far I know, Kant liked small boys, and, G*d, what did Sarte like? Before the literalist lawyers go off (can’t wrap your head around Swiftian satire can you?), I don’t care the messenger but the message, or more to their understanding, I don’t care the arguer but the argument. If you don’t care, and think messenger or arguer is definitive of the message or argument, the Palestinian cause is shot to sh*t. The Storm endorses and argues for their cause. Done deal. Has to be wrong.

  106. Mike S,

    After “Unfortunately” wasn’t directed at you. Dredd spilled over. I should have gone new paragraph and “to all nimrods”. I’m really shocked by how many think “Nietzsche had syphilis, or desires on his sister”, “Rand was” whatever, or “Darwin was a racist’, or even Margaret Sanger was “a Eugenicist”, is an argument against their arguments. You argue against or for their arguments by point.

Comments are closed.