Raising a Libertarian Army

baby in camoWe libertarians have some problems. We're in the minority, and competing constantly for ideological market share. We try to educate, sway, and convince, but it's tough going - some people's minds just aren't very receptive. If only there was some way to guarantee that some of the world's population increase consisted of a die-hard contingent...

But perhaps there is - for I have some evidence that libertarianism can be genetic. While my father is a libertarian, I was raised by my apolitical mother. Before I knew anything about the philosophy, or that my father was an adherent, before I'd ever heard of the Libertarian Party, I was arguing against censorship, against taxes, and for libertarian natural rights. In fact, I didn't really start exploring my political beliefs until after college, before that I was just verbalizing my (extremely libertarian) political intuitions.

So, possessing the raw materials to produce recruits for our embattled legions, 'tis my natural duty and privilege to do so. My fiancee has begun the 9-month construction period, and I expect the first result early next year, although it may take a couple decades of training to reach full effectiveness.

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Congratulations, Patri!

Congratulations, Patri! After four generations of Friedmans, I expect this whole statist-coercion nonsense in the world to be fixed once and for all!

By the way, we raise our sons pretty much in accordance with the principles Scott quoted (though I didn't realize this was Objectivist dogma--it just made sense). In spite of Glenn's worries, their teenage rebellious nature doesn't seem to be directed so much at their parents. I think knowing that the parent-child relationship ends at 18, and that both parent and child have a mutual goal of preparing the child for adulthood diffuses a lot of the tension.

Dear everybody who's a

Dear everybody who's a critic of Rand,

Anthem

'nuff said.

obviously mr half sigma

obviously mr half sigma never read "we the living".

For the record, I am not

For the record, I am not attempting the unenviable and probably impossible task of defending the quality of Rand's writing.

Patri, Congratulations to

Patri,

Congratulations to you and to your fiance.

I never really read Rand

I never really read Rand thinking "Wow, this is some great writing!". I mean really, who writes 40-page monologues into a novel? After all, whenever I give someone a copy, I have to tell them "yeah, the first 600 pages are a bit slow, but after that it starts to get good."

Either way, we're off-topic here...

Patri, congrats. Teach the little rugrat poker early! When he wins a WSOP title, he can pay for your retirement!

Not only were there no

Not only were there no children in Galt's Gulch, I don't recall there being many women either.

Obviously it was a place where men lived celibate lives of the mind before they all died off, allowing the moochers with their big families to take over again.

Regardless, I think simple

Regardless, I think simple omission of children in a work of fiction is a weak ground upon which to criticize Rand

Not sure if its true, but the claim was the omission in *every* work of fiction, not any one work. Important difference.

I don't see how that makes

I don't see how that makes any difference. Rand chose adult characters as vehicles for her philosophy; it remains a large and unconvincing leap to go from her omitting children to Rand being "startling and troubling."

I've written numerous fictional pieces--all of them awful--and to my knowledge, I've never mentioned children in a one of them. Still, I'm fond of kids. I don't consider myself startling or troubling to others.

Thinking about it, in Atlas I seem to recall flashbacks of Dagny's childhood days with her brother and D'Anconia.

If I ever manage to

If I ever manage to reproduce it'll be something of a miracle, so make sure you have a few extra for me.

And to all the libertarian ladies out there: if you wanna help keep my DNA in the gene pool, look me up.

Congrats Patri, Patri's

Congrats Patri, Patri's wife, and recently conceived rugrat.

Considering the other

Considering the other options, I'm not sure wanting Gephardt to win the Democrat primary was a bad thing...

Scott - I don’t think it

Scott - I don’t think it means her philosophy is doomed to extinction. But I do think it suggests serious psychological problems. She may not have been anti-children, but she was at least children-oblivious. I think its fair to say that her books reflect her vision of the world as it is, and in the case of Galt’s Gulch etc. as it should be. To lack such a fundamental aspect of the world seems both startling and troubling.

Could be. But Galt's Gulch didn't have garbagemen either, as I recall.

Regardless, I think simple omission of children in a work of fiction is a weak ground upon which to criticize Rand. I imagine if someone had asked her: "Well, would there be children in Galt's Gulch?" she wouldn't reply "Absolutely not!" but rather: "Maybe."

At any rate, on that topic, here's something I just googled from Nathaniel Branden. Some of you might be interested.

Karen Reedstrom asks:

In any of your discussions with Ayn Rand on the subject of children, did she ever discuss parent's obligations to their children? If so, what are they? Also, did she ever mention if she had thought seriously at any time in her life about having a child herself or did she agree with her mother that it was a joyless duty?

Nathaniel Branden responds:

To answer the second part of your question first, Rand said specifically and more than once that she never for a moment considered having a child. Not because she saw motherhood necessarily as a "joyless duty" but (a) because she did not find within herself any desire for children and (b) she wanted the freedom to devote herself entirely to her work, and she was keenly aware that childbearing entails serious responsibilities.

Which leads me to her (and my) view of parental obligations.

The key to understanding the nature of parental obligation lies in the moral principle that human beings must assume responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

A child is the responsibility of his parents, because (a) they brought him into existence, and (b) a child, by nature, cannot survive independently. (The fact that the parents might not have desired the child, in a given case, is irrelevant in this context; he is nevertheless the consequence of their chosen actions-a consequence that, as a possibility, was foreseeable.)

The essence of parental responsibility is: to equip the child for independent survival as an adult. This means, to provide for the child's physical and mental development and wellbeing: to feed, clothe and protect her; to raise her in a stable, intelligible, rational home environment, to equip him intellectually, training him to live as a rational being; to educate him to earn his livelihood (teaching him to hunt for instance, in a primitive society; sending him to college, perhaps, in an advanced civilization). When the child reaches the age of legal maturity and/or when she has been educated for a career, parental obligation ends. Thereafter, parents may still want to help their child, but he or she is no longer their responsibility.

A reasonable expectation that they will be able to afford the basic minimum necessary for food, clothing, shelter and education, should be the prerequisite of rational parents' decision to have children. However, parents are not morally at fault if, due to the father's or mother's illness or some other unforeseeable economic disaster, they are unable to provide for their child as they had expected to; in such a case, they are obliged simply to do the best they can.

If parents forgo other purchases in order to provide for their child's necessities, their action is not a sacrifice, and they have no moral right to regard it as such. One of the cruelest injustices that parents can perpetrate is to reproach a child for being a financial burden or for requiring time and attention, as if the child's legitimate needs were an imposition on them-to complain to the child of the "sacrifices" made for his or her sake, as if the child were to feel apologetic or guilty-to state or imply that the child's mere existence is an unfair strain, as if the child had any choice in the matter.

Above the level of necessities, it is the standard of living of the parents that properly determines the standard of living of the child, appropriately scaled to his age and level of development. It is the responsibility of the child, as she grows older, to understand (if and when it is the case) that much of what she receives, above the ordinary, is an expression of her parents' benevolence and affection-and should be acknowledged as such in the form of reciprocated consideration and good will. If his parents are genuinely devoted to the child, if they treat the child justly and do their conscientious best to guide him or her, the appropriate response on the child's part is appreciation, affection, and respect.

It is the child's further responsibility, as he or she grows older, to understand that parents, too, have rights; that he or she may not make unlimited demands on them, as if their sole purpose were to live for and serve the child.

(Note: this response is adapted from an article I wrote many years ago for The Objectivist Newsletter.)

Available here.

Scott - I don't think it

Scott - I don't think it means her philosophy is doomed to extinction. But I do think it suggests serious psychological problems. She may not have been anti-children, but she was at least children-oblivious. I think its fair to say that her books reflect her vision of the world as it is, and in the case of Galt's Gulch etc. as it should be. To lack such a fundamental aspect of the world seems both startling and troubling.

I have two unrelated

I have two unrelated thoughts:

(1) All aspects of human behavior are influenced by our genes, and certainly I believe that genetics play a part in our political beliefs.

(2) Ayn Rand was anti-children. None of the characters in her books ever had any children. Hers is a philosophy doomed to extinction.

Congratulations and best

Congratulations and best wishes to you both! That endeavor is both the most satisfying and challenging one I've yet encountered (my contributions to the individualist stock being nearly 84 and 60 months along). They're coming along very nicely.

(2) Ayn Rand was

(2) Ayn Rand was anti-children. None of the characters in her books ever had any children.

She may have been anti-children--certainly her "anything goes" stance on abortion wasn't all that nurturing. But I don't think the simple lack of children in her books means that Ayn was in any way anti-children, any more than Anne Rice is pro-vampire.

My parents sorta split the

My parents sorta split the difference. Dad's a staunch anti-globalization rust-belt Democrat (he wanted Gephardt to win the Dem primary last year...); Mom's fairly conservative (except she supports socialized heathcare for some reason), though I've swayed her more my direction as of late.

Brother doesn't give a rat's ass about politics. At all.

My brother and I had read

My brother and I had read most of Rands stuff by grade 10, from my mom's impetus not my dad's. My dad's a cronyist from the old school. He loves big government/business. My mother believes theres nothing morally below child molsters except government apologists and welfare recipents. Thank Allah for my mother! Happy Mothers day! :smitten:

Ccongratulations, Patri.

Ccongratulations, Patri.

As for the nature vs nurture issue, having a college account when I was young and being shown each year how much the government was taking from me by my libertarian dad makes my example a bit of both - and it is probably a good method of ensuring a child grows up with libertarian tendencies.

Fuck yeah! Put an Ayn Rand

Fuck yeah! Put an Ayn Rand doll into his crib!

Contragulations! Welcome to

Contragulations! Welcome to the club! I joined 21 months ago today (notice the conspicuous use of months as the preferred unit of time). Membership in this club brings a great deal of reward, frustration, and entertainment.

I've often wondered where my libertarian leanings originated from. My mom was apolitical as well, but my dad has shown signs of a free-thinker from time to time. I'll have to look into this more.

I will say this: It's pretty obvious that genetics plays a central role in the ability to form increasingly advanced concepts (how many members of Homo erectus could understand the lambda calculus?). So it wouldn't surprise me if some lineages have a greater ability to understand economics -- and would, of course, produce more libertarians!

There are certainly cases of

There are certainly cases of becoming libertarian through nature. I would argue that many Italian-Americans are naturally libertarian as a result of having a flawed government for the last thousand years; an individal's allegiance goes entirely to the family rather than the state, especially in Sicily. Recently, Italy is changing, but most immigrants left there around 1900.

Congratulations, Patri. -

Congratulations, Patri.

- Josh

Congratulations!

Congratulations!

I wonder if we can identify

I wonder if we can identify distinct categories of "intuitive-from-birth" libertarians vs. "convinced-later-in-life" libertarians, and see whether those in the first category are more likely to have libertarian parents.

I'm an anecdotal counterexample to that theory-- I've felt freedom in my bones as long as I can remember, and my parents are modern-liberals, and so were my grandparents-- but the plural of anecdote isn't data.

tx for all the grats! Note

tx for all the grats!

Note that I was not claiming that genes are necessary for libertarianism. Only that in my case, they are likely to be sufficient.

But should libertarianism

But should libertarianism ever become mainstream, children will undoubtedly start rebelling against their parents by becoming statists.

My father is an ex-hippie

My father is an ex-hippie former atheist and is now a Born Again Christian demi-Marxist. My mother is an ex-hippie former Catholic and is now a Wiccan liberal. I definitely did not inherit my libertarianism from them.

Congratulations, Patri!

Congratulations, Patri!

Oh, and nature or nurture?

Oh, and nature or nurture? Hey, I don't care--I'm results-oriented!

Congratulations! (That's

Congratulations! (That's also about the third most adorable stock photo I've ever seen, by the way.)

As it happens, I'm a third-generation libertarian along my paternal line. That might seem like good anecdotal evidence for the inheritance theory. On the other hand, in the countervailing evidence column, my great-great-grandfather was a slaver. That might fly with the folks at the Von Mises Institute, but it won't fly with me.

My gut instinct is that

My gut instinct is that society would be well served by more people who think like you and your fiance. So, here's to hoping that this will be the first of 10 strapping new friends of freedom!

Congrats, Patri. I’ve

Congrats, Patri.

I’ve begotten three future libertarians…there is reason to be hopeful.

What a great idea! We can

What a great idea! We can also even help the Free State Project! :smitten:

Sarah, the whole

Sarah, the whole 'Rand/childhater' angle is irrelevant and fabricated.

I came to this dicussion

I came to this dicussion kind of late, but there are children in Atlas Shrugged in two places. Scott's right; there are flashbacks of the main characters as kids. In addition, however, there's a baker and her two young boys in Galt's Gulch. There's a page-long discussion of them about halfway through part III, ch. II. (It's page 724 in my edition.)

Regardless, I think simple

Regardless, I think simple omission of children in a work of fiction is a weak ground upon which to criticize Rand.

That's not a good defense, Scott. Rand and Objectivists don't consider her books to be merely works of fiction, but works of philosophy in the form of novels. Constant omission of something in her lifetime of work may not indicate hatred of children, but it does indicate that Rand didn't consider children to be a very important part of life. Which makes the Ayn Rand School For Tots all the funnier.

she didn't mention dogs or

she didn't mention dogs or horses , or grandparents either. that must surely invalidate any philosophy.

That’s not a good defense,

That’s not a good defense, Scott. Rand and Objectivists don’t consider her books to be merely works of fiction, but works of philosophy in the form of novels. Constant omission of something in her lifetime of work may not indicate hatred of children, but it does indicate that Rand didn’t consider children to be a very important part of life.

The offense wasn't any better. And that doesn't address the original claims, which were that Rand's omission can be interpreted as being "anti-children" and "startling." I don't see how either claim follows.

Rand by her own admission wasn't the mothering type, but neither are many people. I don't find that trait startling, and I certainly don't find it anti-children.

She didn’t mention dogs or

She didn’t mention dogs or horses , or grandparents either. that must surely invalidate any philosophy.

It may imply that she wasn't a huge animal lover.

That's amazing. Native Son

That's amazing. Native Son is the first thing that came to mind when I read that comment, too, Rad.

Brad: "I mean really, who

Brad: "I mean really, who writes 40-page monologues into a novel?"

Well, Richard Wright and Fyodor Dostoyevsky, to pick a couple of examples off the top of my head.

There are plenty of reasons to criticize Rand's writing but the mere existence of Galt's Speech is not really one of them.

I myself have created 3

I myself have created 3 future liberty protectors. Too bad none of them will be able to vote in the next election.

Segway - Please visit www.voters4ventura.com to join the petition urging Jesse Ventura to run for President in 2008. Enough accepting the role of affecting an election. We need to reach out to win an election, and we'll need honest and name recognition to do so.

Jesse Murray
Support change - www.voters4ventura.com