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Letter from TOS Reader Burgess Laughlin

To the Editor:

Various TOS articles by Dr. John Lewis have helped me identify the essential nature of the current “War on Terrorism.”

One shouldn’t be surprised that an entity’s actions follow from the entity’s nature. As a political entity, the USA is a welfare state. It is taking various actions—military and economic—against individual Islamic terrorists and for “democratic” Muslims.

Just as the welfare bureaucracy of the USA endlessly drains the resources of productive citizens, all in the name of altruism, so the “War on Terrorism” is endlessly draining the resources (and lives) of the USA, all in the name of altruism.

All three essentials are in place in both cases: taxing productive people; altruistic motives; and a perpetual program that, by its very nature, can never be completed.

Sadly, I can also now see that the war (the action) won’t change until the USA welfare state (the entity) changes. Actions follow from the nature of the entity.

Thank you, Dr. Lewis.

Burgess Laughlin
John Lewis Replies:

Dear Burgess,

Thanks! I certainly agree with this.

I note, for one particular among many, how our welfare state identity affects immigration policy: The welfare state makes every new person an enemy. This was inevitable, once we abandoned freedom and capitalism in favor of slavery and socialism (to whatever degree we have adopted those characteristics). It is also fascinating that while the altruism of the welfare state considers every potential producer to be an enemy, it pretends that every enemy is a potential friend.

The good news here is that the identity of the United States is not metaphysically given; it is the product of the ideas and actions of the individuals in it. We have the political result that we do because American philosophy has collapsed. Our identity has been shaped by philosophy—for better or for worse. The American identity—specifically, its character—is the product of the moral values adopted by individuals, starting with the Founders and leading into the present day. Just as an individual’s character is, as Dr. Peikoff identified, a man’s nature or identity insofar as it is shaped by the moral values he accepts and automatizes, so it is with America.

We can, of course, adopt better ideas and act on them. The result will be a renewal of the American character as it existed at the Founding, and a Renaissance as has never been seen in history. You, Burgess, and all the other readers of TOS are part of that Renaissance.


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