|Objectivism has always attracted patriots. Ayn Rand praised the American Constitution and called America the greatest nation on Earth. If memory serves, then in discussing the successful spread of Objectivism about 1965 or so, both the Objectivist Newsletter and a lecture by Nathaniel Branden proudly revealed that an FBI agent had used the alias "Wesley Mouch." Apparently, the Objectivists considered the FBI to be good guys.|
Having come to Objectivism from the conservative right myself (Young Americans for Freedom), I was ambivalent about the FBI, a secret police organization that served anyone in power, including especially Roosevelt and his New Deal. The FBI pursued people for doing perfectly good business in alcohol, gambling, and prostitution, none of which were any business of the govrenment.
In discussing bootleg romanticism that she approved of, Rand cited Ian Fleming's James Bond and the televisions show The Avengers. She said that The Avengers played out the "moral princple" of "patriotism versus foreign agents." Even at 17 years of age, I held some reservations about that. It might be a plot-theme, but "patriotism versus foreign agents" is not a moral principle. Proof of that is Ayn Rand's endorsement of The Scarlet Pimpernel which was all about the heroism of a monarchist "foreign agent" subverting a "democratic republic." In The Fountainhead, Howard Roark and Mike meet in a speakeasy. They could have met in a restaurant. The author put them in an illegal bar. Where was their patriotism? What if they were arrested by the FBI?
If America is the freest and greatest nation in history and on Earth today, then is opposition to America congruent with opposition to freedom? In Richard Hofstadter's The American Politcal Tradition, the word "the" in the title was not accidental. Hofstadter identified four basic tenets that define the political mainstream of America: individualism; free markets; competition; equal opportunity.
Being a liberal, Hofstadter included both progressives and conservatives in his definition of our tradition. The purpose of the New Deal was not to destroy free enterprise, but to save it by strengthening opportunity. Similarly, anti-trust laws encourage competition. Of course, I understand the fallacies here, the same as you do. The point is, however, that one of the greatest historians in American academia wrote in one of the 100 greatest books of the 20th century that the New Deal was in the American political tradition. If you attempted to defy Executive Order 6102 by shipping gold out of the country, then were you not a treasonous, traitorous, betrayer of America?
Who is to say? What is the standard of judgment? How do you apply such a standard once you find it?
Does "rational patriotism" exist? I do identify myself, at least in part, with the economic, social, and political history of America. What is interesting is that so do many other Americans, even as we disagree on very basic issues. Those basic disagreements allow us to view each other as enemies, outside the (true) American political tradition. Perhaps, then, this indicates that like Christians arguing over whether the Bishop of Rome is the Vicar of Christ, were are working from within the same "tradition" and nowhere near the facts of reality.