An Objectivist view on the election and Bush's faith

Harry Binswanger has written an interesting piece endorsing President Bush, the article has been published in Capitalist Magazine.

Binswanger takes a very strict Objectivist view of the President, and this campaign. Some of this I like, in fact this quote really rings true with me,
On a symbolic or sense-of-life level, Bush evokes the cowboy. The cowboy ethos is something that anti-Americans hate and fear. As Andrew Bernstein stated in his op-ed on the subject, "What we honor about the cowboy of the Old West is his willingness to stand up to evil and to do it alone, if necessary. The cowboy is a symbol of the crucial virtues of courage and independence."
The (somewhat) undercover sense of anti-Americanism that pervades the Left is un-nerving, especially when it is couched in the image of international diplomacy and statesmanship. John Kerry's attitude and statements about the UN bear out proof that, as Binswanger puts it, "[Senator Kerry] thinks any military self-assertion by America is wrong".

Binswanger does score some very good points on foreign policy, as pointed out above, but he really loses me during the following attack on religion.

The main negative, is of course, Bush's religiosity. The growth of religion in America is alarming. And it can only get worse, whether or not Bush is re-elected. It is some consolation that Bush has not made his campaign center on religion: that means that a Bush re-election cannot be taken as a mandate for tearing down the church-state barrier.

But religion is growing in influence and will continue to grow because of its monopoly on morality. People need moral guidance, and if they can't find that guidance in any rational, secular philosophy, most of them will seek it from where it is being offered: religion.

Religion will always win, in the long run, when people are forced to choose between religious answers and no answers, between mysticism and skepticism. These are, of course, false alternatives. The real alternative to both mysticism and skepticism is the Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand. Objectivism defends reason, objectivity, and a morality of rational self-interest, with man's life as its standard of value. But Objectivism is as yet only a faint, flickering candle on the edge of our cultural darkness.

I am a great fan of Ms. Rand's work, in fact Objectivism is the secular philosophy I have the most respect for and belief in right now. But here is a quick overview on my personal stance on the relationship between Objectivism and my personal faith: Neither one is mutually exclusive, as secular philosophies should not be taken "all or nothing".

I happen to believe that the basis of Objectivism, rational self-interest, is valid, actually I believe its incredibly valid. I find the speech on money from one of her characters in Atlas Shrugged dead-on and absolutely inspiring. The passion and truth to which Ms. Rand advocates pure capitalism is something everyone should examine, even if you are inclined to disagree.

However, I find the embedded message of atheism in Objectvism false. Attribute the atheist strain in her philosophy to whatever you want, Ms. Rand's Soviet roots, her personal inclination, etc., but I refuse to believe that you have to swallow Objectivism whole. Rational self-interest, as described by Ms. Rand, is compatible with my faith. Upon closer study a lot of things are in my self interest that appear not to be under superficial examination. There is a motivation for me to participate in a family of believers, to love my neighbor, and to reject the philosophy of the "looters" and the ever-present "greater good".

I think Mr. Binswanger has some very good points, and if you believe in the Objectivist philosophy it is a great read on the election.

But in the end I have always tried reconcile my belief in secular philosophies with my personal faith, always believing that man is fallible, and no man will ever get it all right.

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