Don Watkins On Comparisons Between American Revolution & The Tea Party Movement

Don Watkins from the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights:

From the Voices For Reason blog:

Although the Tea Party name adopted by the protesters evokes images of the American Revolution, there is, at present, no basis for comparison. The American Revolution was fundamentally an intellectual movement–a revolt against the anti-freedom ideas motivating Britain’s treatment of the colonists, and, most importantly, a revolt for the idea of individual rights. These radical new ideas about what government should and should not consist of were enshrined by America’s Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence, and were the motivating force behind the revolt.

If today’s tea party protesters intend to spark any significant change, they need to understand that ideas drive change, and they need to advocate the right ideas. 


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13 responses to “Don Watkins On Comparisons Between American Revolution & The Tea Party Movement

  1. Another big difference, our founding fathers where perpared to die for their revolution. So far, we are not that far along, and I pray that we can affect change without needing to resort to this quote from Thomas Jefferson:

    “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

    • Roark

      I hope you are right, but I think you are wrong. You have to wait until people are willing to die for their cause to truly see change.

      Maybe you should read Faith of the Fallen by Terry Goodkind; it embraces this principle and shows the consequences.

  2. Robert Cons

    What we need to understand are the fundamental ideas that give rise to Rational Self-Interest, which logically lead to Life, Liberty, Property and the Pursuit of Happiness, which lead to lassiez-faire capitalism.

    This is indeed a moral crisis between those that would sacrifice you and themselves in an altruistic destructive orgy as against those that seek to use their intelligence in their own self-interest in creating and producing goods and services they enjoy and deem beneficial to themselves.

    • TLH

      Speaking of “rational self-interest,” I am a fan of Ayn Rand and yet a “Liberal” in the sense the word was used when our ancestors wrote of “liberal education.” Before there was a United States, “liberal” referred to the status of a “freeman,” someone who was not bound to another person, someone who had enough money to afford the leisure and tuition to acquire an education in subjects such as history, languages, and study of other cultures (we’d call this “sociology” today. “Economics” hadn’t yet been invented, though thoughts on matters of trade were integrated into a liberal education in those days). The concept of enlightened self-interest is hardly new. Ancient Greek philosophers, in their republic, contemplated philosophy behind government as Ayn Rand did and we do still today. Modern democracy as practiced works best as a republic in which the people (that’s us!) who are generally too busy working other jobs to participate in governing, to acquire enough liberal education to choose our governors wisely. It is our privilege and responsibility to choose well. Good liberal government, from the grass roots upward in a democracy, considers long-term consequences. Ayn Rand certainly considered the logical possibilities of Socialism (moreover, she saw some of the worst possible results firsthand in her youth); but have her intellectual heirs considered the worst possible consequences of “pure” laissez-faire capitalism? Our departing Governor, Tim Pawlenty, whined, “Business just wants government to get out of the way!” Yeah. So they can Merril Lynch us again? So we can be Enronned into destitution? It seems that the one thing “capitalists” try to do, given the opportunity, is DESTROY free competition, public access to information, access to public property, etc. What is the logical end of that game but slavery of the many for the benefit of the few? They talk about free, fair trade. Alright, in many respects the social programs such as public education, Social Security, and even (temporary!) aid to dependent families with children can be considered as exchanges. No, not directly by immediate payment, but across time and generations. Consider the middle-aged person, young enough to have children in school, rich enough to send them to private school if necessary, and old enough to have paid tens of thousands of dollars into Social Security. Imagine now that s/he is told that Social Security will be gone by the time s/she is old enough to collect. The logical response? “Hey, if I have to pay for my parents’ retirement as well as my own, I won’t have enough money to educate your kids. If I have to work ’til I die, it would be dumb indeed for me to educate them, as then they would be competition for the job I need to survive. I’d be better off if THEY don’t survive!” Nice country that would be. Any foreign power could destroy us as none of us would be able to distinguish friend from enemy. Like Ayn Rand, I’m perfectly willing to pack my bags and abandon such a lot of idiots to their fates. Like Ayn Rand, I selfishly want to live in a nicer world, one where I can delight in the healthy joy of my neighbors’ children (even if I have to pay a lot to their school system!) Enlightened self-interest means creating a community where it makes more sense to feed a hungry child than to eat him (yeah, our ancestors included a lot of cannibals – check out “Constant Battles, Why we Fight.” Those societies are generally extinct now for some odd reason).

  3. Great quote from Thomas Jefferson. I liked the post, J.G.


  4. Mark A. Grinnell

    Princibles are an indepenciable companion for all those who wish to make sense of life.Princibles can not hope to answer all of life’s problems. However, they do provide assurance that answers can be formulated.
    Do to the lack of Princibles, this administration has proven its’ self incapable of learning from its’ mistakes, or able to craft intelligent policies.
    Thus are created the conditions that are resurecting the TEA PARTY.
    I’m for
    This is the foundation apon which my PRINCIBLES are based.

    Thanks every-one for your Thoughts, Efforts, Time, and Attention…………..Mark for “Farm Logic”

  5. Mr. Slater.

    Thank you for your interview with Don Watkins. Mr. Watkins offered some provocative, fresh and important ideas about solving the economic, political and, most important, ethical problems that Americans face today.

    Please have more shows with commentators from the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights.

    Joseph Kellard

  6. John Harris

    My hope for the Tea Party movement (which is probably not as cohesive as it needs to be to call it a movement at this point, but this post is about hope for our future) is that it is about illuminating current lost individual (and state) rights and working within the current political system to bring about a recovery of those rights.
    The majority of the fundamental ideas have been pioneered for us in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
    The federal government has circumvented the Constitution originally through interstate commerce rulings by the courts, but now they act as though there is no such document as the Constitution.
    It served as the roadmap for the creation of our government.
    Hopefully, we can use it as a roadmap to get back to having a government that ONLY does what we the people NEED it to do and nothing more.
    If not, then there’s always revolution.

  7. We need an organized peaeful demonstration for change similar to The civil Rights movement march to DC & The million man march. Tea parties are good But not enough. A massive demonstration of millions & millions of Americans to DC will do the job.

    • Roark

      Thank you for stating what I see. The tea parties are not enough. It is still people complaining to someone else to change their circumstances for them. Complaining to the same people who contributed to us getting into this mess. We have to wait until people are ready to do it for themselves.

  8. John

    This fight has been coming for a long time now and the American people are rapidly come to 3 options.
    Or government No longer listens to WE THE PEOPLE.
    They lie, cheat and steel or money to fund there own interests!
    I think if the people don’t scream, yell and demand change now by the Millions soon we will be forced to fight for the very freedom that is taken for granted.
    1; a major tax revolt, this would scare them and send ripples through the halls of power in Washington, but it would take millions of us to do it?
    2; holding on till 2010 and voting these bums out of office.
    3; and the worst of all of them is a revolt against a corrupt government, this is by far the worst option of all, this fight will be in our yards in the streets and all over America,
    I hope and pray that this kind of fighting for Freedom never comes back to this country, that I Love and have protected as a veteran.

  9. I think we should give the Tea Party Movement a chance and not dismiss them out of hand. At this time they’re the only grassroots group to visibly stand up against Obamacare. Indeed perhaps there is a need for an injection of ideas, but remember, organizations need time to develop, and I think TPM will.

    Bruce Burleson

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