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Writings based on Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand's most popular novels are Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, which present her philosophy, Objectivism, in vivid characterizations.

  Metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, esthetics, and  politics are the five main branches of philosophy that she identifies. Utilizing her methodology, one can be rational about all aspects of life. These essays present my understanding of Objectivism.

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Date: Tue, 4 Jul 2000 
The American Revolution
Thomas M. Miovas, Jr.

As I sit here typing this essay with my collection of John
Philip Sousa playing loudly in the background in preparation for
today's 4th of July Independence Day celebration, I am
remembering a marathon of The History Channel's "The American
Revolution" series I watched yesterday for five and one half
hours (six and one half, including the episode I watched
Sunday). This is an excellent and thorough history of the
decades leading up to the Revolution and the six years it took
to win our independence. I learned many interesting things that
have given me solace given the recent betrayal of Elian Gonzalez
and the founding principles of this country.

Most interesting was the presentation of the Continental
Congress and its Continental Army in conjunction with the
Militia, lead by George Washington. Until watching that series,
I had thought George Washington's troops at Valley Forge were so
battered and torn -- of both provisions and clothing, having
little food, ammunition, guns, and shoes -- because of the
fierce battles they had engaged in up to that point. As it turns
out, the Continental Army had precious little support from the
Continental Congress and the people at large -- they couldn't
get funding to buy those much needed provisions from the
Congress and little was donated to them by the population.

While they were not actively hindered by the population, the
majority of the Americans were either indifferent to or in
opposition to the fight for Independence. In fact, when the
British troops conquered Philadelphia -- where the Declaration
of Independence was signed -- the vast majority of the
population actually welcomed them and threw them a party!
Furthermore, the much vaunted Militia ran away from more battles
than they engaged in for the first three years of the
Revolutionary War. It got so bad at times that George Washington
was reported to have said that he would not wish his present
command onto his worst enemies.

Furthermore, the colony of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson's home
"country," with a population of 700,000 people, permitted a
British Dragoon leader with only a few hundred troops, known as
"The Butcher" because he took no prisoners, killing everyone who
surrendered to him -- this highly populated seat of the primary
ideas of the American Revolution let this "Butcher" roam freely
while he hacked away at the Continental Army's southern contention.

The Revolutionary War must be thought of as a civil war -- of
British citizens fighting against British citizens -- until it
became a world war, involving France, Spain, and the
Netherlands. And before one thinks that those who would not
fight for Independence were cowards, it should be kept in mind
that many of the colonists thought that by being British
citizens they already had the liberties expressed in the spirit
of the fight for Independence -- Britain being the freest of the
world powers at the time; also, it should be kept in mind that
Britain was able to take on France, Spain, the Netherlands, and
the American colonies -- all at the same time -- so they were
not a military force to be taken lightly.

After watching this series, I am convinced that had France not
gotten involved on the side of the Americans, providing much
needed military training, troops and warships; and had those
other nations not been involved in a declaration of war against
the British, thereby taking much of the heat of battle away from
the American colonies; I doubt if the United States of America
would be here today.

So why does this give me solace, you might ask.

It taught me that the American Revolutionary War was not a
popular uprising that I had thought is was previously. This is a
myth about the founding of this country. If not for the
dedication of a few heroic men, who would not give up a fight
based on the principles of Liberty, we would not have our proud
heritage. These men were idealistic revolutionaries -- even to
most of the population, who thought it wasn't possible to have a
government without a king -- and with their principles acting as
a moral guide, they persevered against all odds.

The solace comes from an understanding of the power and
motivation of ideas. Like the Founders of this country, we --
meaning Objectivists -- do not need the support of the
population in general. All we need is a clear understanding of
our long-range purpose and to persevere. Those proud and
dedicated men lost many a battle, and at times it all seemed to
be for naught.

I have felt this with the betrayal of Elian and the principles
of liberty -- which seems to have been lost as an ideal among
the population -- but, in the proper perspective, it's only one
lost battle, and it shows us the fight ahead.

With this full knowledge, and in dedication to the principles of
Objectivism and of Liberty -- I am proud to say: I have not yet
begun to fight!

I know that the Founders had a right
to do what they did, even if it only involved a handful of men
-- a man fighting for his rights does not need the approval of
others; and second, had that been the tack of the series, I
would have fired off a warning shot about it. As far as I can
tell, there was no evaluation of their actions as being immoral
or improper.

It's still
questionable to me what the status was between the colonists and
England. "Subjects" is a much better term than "citizen," but
I'm not sure the colonists were considered Subjects in the same
way the British troops were considered Subjects. The king had
final say over the governance of both England and the Colonies,
but the real question is: Was the government of the Colonies
the same government as that of England -- was it technically
considered the same country, since the king ruled it all? If so,
it was a civil war -- two (or more) factions struggling for
power within its own (civil) borders. I think it was a British
historian who referred to it as a civil war, but a friend of
mine suggests it might depend on which side you ask the question
-- the colonists or the king.

However, my own confirmation of this, after watching the series,
was that Philadelphia was held by the British for nearly three
years, and New York City was held for the duration of the war,
both captured within the first year of battle. Since there was
no mention of the equivalent of a French Resistance in either
city, I took this to mean there was no popular support for the
fight. In other words, there was an implication that neither
townspeople considered themselves to have been captured by an
invading enemy army. Likewise when Charleston, South Carolina
was captured. It's possible I overgeneralized, not taking into
account that many major cities were *not* captured, and
therefore didn't need a "French Resistance." By the way, were
there any cities that once captured were taken back by the
colonial populace?

Regarding the general support, of the Revolution, if said support was so high, why
was the Continental Army often walking in rags and starving? I
mean, why didn't the populace take them food, clothing, shoes,
and at least some thick blankets; and what about ammunition and
gun powder? I don't know the answers to these questions in this
particular case, but I do know there were other wars (throughout
the world history) where the populace came through. Why didn't
that happen here?

Maybe they didn't know where the army was to supply them, or
maybe it was too difficult to get around in the winter (the war
practically came to a standstill during the winter). One problem
was that the Continental Army was trying to pay for things using
paper money printed by the National Treasury, which the populace
(rightly) considered to be worthless. But that, in and of
itself, doesn't explain why they didn't get much more voluntary
donations for the cause. I'm not trying to place blame here, I'm
just asking.

Matt Sissel Fine Art

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