“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. “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.

  2. “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!”.

  3. @ 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. 🙂

  4. 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).

  5. 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.

  6. 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’ …

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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…

  11. 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.

  12. “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?

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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!!!!

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

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