The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

A Brief Aside on Power

In my May 7th commentary, “’Civility’ per Obama,” I noted that:

One can’t question someone’s views or positions without delving into his motives and patriotism. (e.g., “Sir, if you know the idea is patently fraudulent, stupid, and costly, why are you for it?”) (Emphasis mine)

I would like to briefly expand on that comment, for it is important to understand the motivation of those responsible for what can only become a catastrophe for this country. It is important for Americans to grasp it, whether they are for or against ObamaCare or any other law this administration in particular authors and imposes on the country. It is crucial that men understand what moves those who advocate the blatantly demonstrable irrational. If more Americans understood it, perhaps the allure of state-managed existence in any realm would diminish and vanish, and its advocates and supporters be exposed for the monsters they are.

I characterized the words, actions, and attitude of President Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and others in Washington, concerning their desire to have ObamaCare and other statist legislation passed and enacted as law, in resolute disregard for individual rights, Constitutional limitations on executive and Congressional power, and of the proven opposition to their ends, as scabrous arrogance. It is why they are “for it” in the face of all the evidence, available to anyone, that their legislation can only lead to destruction, misery, and impoverishment.

The key to such legislation is the role of compulsion, or force. The arrogance is rooted in the power to compel one to act against one’s values, against one’s own life. The monsters wish to truly GOVERN people, not let them alone. In the past I have criticized the sloppy and dangerous usage of the terms govern and democracy, and will not repeat myself here. But, free men have no need of the monsters. Men who agree that they should be “governed” or “ruled” by them are of no interest to them, either. Novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand wrote in her 1941 pamphlet, “To All Innocent Fifth Columnists

The Totalitarians do not want your active support. They do not need it. They have their small, compact, well-organized minority, and it is sufficient to carry out their aims. All they want from you is your indifference.

And one’s indifference can complement the indifference of the legislators. Such indifference, as Rand explains, is a silent sanction of their actions and policies.

But free, independent men are truly hated by our “leaders,” who are power-lusters first class. “Governing” otherwise free men — making them think and act in ways free men might not otherwise think or act — is their chief and principal end. If the element of compulsion or force were not woven into their laws, they would have no interest in such legislation — they would have no reason to act, no reason to seek office, no reason to persuade their future serfs and slaves that it is in their best interests to become serfs and slaves.

Ellsworth Toohey, in The Fountainhead, in answer to Peter Keating’s question of why Toohey wanted to kill the hero, Howard Roark, answered:

“I don’t want to kill him. I want him in jail. You understand? In jail. In a cell. Behind bars. Locked, stopped, strapped — and alive. He’ll get up when they tell him to. He’ll eat what they give him. He’ll move when he’s told to move, and stop when he’s told. He’ll walk to the jute mill, when he’s told, and he’ll work as he’s told. They’ll push him, if he doesn’t move fast enough, and they’ll slap his face when they feel like it, and they’ll beat him with rubber hose if he doesn’t obey. And he’ll obey. He’ll take orders. He’ll take orders!”*

That is the fundamental, base, evil motivation of those who wish to employ force, dramatized and expressed by Toohey, who relishes the prospect of seeing Roark — or anyone like him — in fetters and not free to live his own life.

You will take orders. You will be locked, stopped, and strapped, and you’ll do as you’re told if you wish to stay alive, whether you are a complacent altruist or intransigent individualist. You will obey, else you will go to jail — or live in a country that has been transformed into a jail; that is the true meaning of Obama’s slogan, “hope and change,” all of his “audacious” policies and appointments and laws are geared to that aim — or see your bank accounts cleaned out by the government, or your house seized by it, or your wages garnisheed at the whim of an anonymous bureaucrat.

You will help Obama, Pelosi, Reid et al. make their “ideal” society work, even though they know, but do not tell you, that jails and prisons of whatever size — whether it is a county jail or a federal prison or a whole country — are not independent, self-sustaining organizations, which must collapse because production is not their purpose. Witness the campaign of conquest of the Nazis when they became fully-empowered totalitarians. Their purpose is to contain and control — and to exact obedience from its inmates, regardless of their willingness or recalcitrance, regardless of their economic status or profession, regardless of the expected consequences, which is destruction. For a dramatization of those consequences, see Rand‘s Atlas Shrugged.

That is the long and short of the motivation behind those who would “govern” Americans. It is as important an issue to understand as the fallacy and evil underlying any collectivist system. That motivation is intimately and inexorably linked to the idea of force.

*Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead (1943). New York: Penguin/Plume Centennial Edition, 2005, p. 663.


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  1. Teresa

    It gives one that thrill of danger to contemplate what will happen if the Tea Party movement fails to change the course of the country. Then just lone individuals standing against the powers that be knowing we will be mowed down.

  2. Jon

    Mr. Cline, thanks again for the great post. I think this has further triggered my desire to understand the psychological side of a totalitarian's lust for power, something that since I was a child was taught to me as being a mere part of nature ("some people are just born that way"). Are their altruistic beliefs fundamental to their desire to rule, or are those beliefs simply an excuse for them to rule as a means to fill their false sense of self worth? If you know a good starting place to look to on this subject it would be much appreciated.

    – Jon

  3. Anonymous

    Jon: The best starting place is Ayn Rand's novels and nonfiction. Most psychology books are founded on one species of irrationalism or another. But, you're halfway corret in thinking that altruism is merely a patina to disguise power lust and a malice for independent men and minds. Understanding Ellsworth Toohey in is fundamental make-up can be a great aid in that purpose. One could say that controlling men like Howard Roark is his (and his ilk's) way of holding reality at bay — and it can't be held at bay except by force. Also, remember that jails and prisons are venues of punishment — and if power lusters like Obama, Pelosi, and Reid want to turn this country into one huge prison — that's their idea of punishing the country for being what it used to be.


  4. Burgess Laughlin

    If the Tea Party political movement fails, will individuals who oppose statism be left to stand in isolation?

    I no longer expect much, if anything, from the Tea Party movement. If, as I expect, it loses steam, I do not fear being left alone. There is another, much more potent movement, the Objectivist movement. It is far more ambitious than the Tea Party movement.

    The Objectivist movement aims at achieving a radical transformation of Western culture, from the ground up: abandoning supernaturalism in all its forms, in favor of focus exclusively on this world; turning to reason alone, and rejecting mysticism, as the means for solving problems; adopting an ethics of egoism, of rational self-interest; building a politics of capitalism, the system dedicated solely to protecting individual rights; and, in the broader culture, supporting life-affirming art, akin to the art of the classical Greeks and the Renaissance.

    A movement by definition is simply a group of individuals going in the same direction, working toward improving the world in which they live. Within a movemment, individuals can join together in various ways to expedite their efforts. The Ayn Rand Institute is one example element in the Objectivist movement.

  5. Bobby V

    Certainly, they planned on our indifference. And I don't think they had a backup plan for what they would do if the American public opposed them as they have. I think they are completely willing to take control in the same way the Nazis did once they took power. This next election will be very important. If we are able to create the gridlock we need and also discredit the left, we will still have to deal with the coming collapse that they are bringing about. And we may have to deal with the disaster they orchestrate in order to remain in power. I never thought I would ever say this about our country.

  6. Bill Bucko

    No one should be surprised. Remember, the bastard got his start in politics from two cop-killing Weather Underground terrorists, self-described communists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn. What did those bloody-handed murderers see in Obama? Exactly what Cheryl Taggart saw in James Taggart (in "Atlas Shrugged"): "You're a killer for the sake of killing."

  7. Anonymous

    Robert, Bill, Jon: You get my point.


  8. Anonymous

    The only thing I can add to the conversation is this: if any doubt remains about the power of Barack Obama and his Chicago thugs… remember that he/they stood up to and defeated the Clinton Machine. If you have any grasp of the history of American Politics in the last 25 years then you understand what an astonishing accomplishment that was.

  9. Unknown

    With morally good leaders jails and prisons are instruments of justice; powerlusters use them to inflict injustice—for the sake of injustice.

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