Sign in to follow this  
Ed Hudgins

Martin Anderson Remembered

Recommended Posts

Martin Anderson Remembered

By Edward Hudgins

January 6, 2015 -- Friends of freedom have lost a friend. Martin Anderson, 78, a Hoover Institution scholar and policy advisor to presidents, has passed away. Among his achievements were helping to eliminate the military draft and heading off a national ID card.

Anderson was a life-long fighter for freedom. From the 1960s he was part of Ayn Rand’s New York circle and he helped make real the principles of individual liberty and limited that she espoused.

In his 1964 book The Federal Bulldozer: A Critical Analysis of Urban Renewal, 1942-1962 Anderson demonstrated how government policy was actually destroying affordable housing and at huge taxpayer expense.

Martin Anderson’s fight for liberty

Anderson was a leading advocate of eliminating the military draft. In 1968 he was instrumental in persuading then-candidate Richard Nixon to make replacing conscription with an all-volunteer army a central part of his presidential campaign. Nixon carried through on that promise, at least.

Anderson made his mark as domestic policy advisor for Ronald Reagan. For example, at a cabinet meeting early in Reagan’s first term, Attorney General William French Smith presented a plan to require a national ID card for anyone working in the United States, in part to deal with illegal immigrants.

Anderson, who normally didn’t speak at those meetings, raised his hand and, when called on by Reagan, explained that such a card could easily be faked or lost. So why not tattoo a number on everyone’s wrist? Reagan immediately understood the illusion to Nazi practices and the threat such a “Papers please” dictate would pose to liberty. The proposal died there and then.

Documenting Reagan’s legacy

Anderson, a trustee of the Ronald Reagan Library, documented the achievements of the Reagan administration in his aptly-titled book Revolution. And as a Reagan biographer with his wife Annelise, he set the record straight about the country’s 40th president.

For example, Reagan, a hardline anti-communist, was perceived by many as a war-monger. But when I visited Anderson’s Hoover Institute office in the mid-2000s, he explained to me that too few people appreciated just how strongly Reagan had as a top priority—along with cutting taxes and eliminating government intrusion in the economy—eliminating the possibility of nuclear war. Before Reagan was elected, America practiced a strategy of “mutual assured destruction.” The notion was that if the Soviets launched a nuclear attack on the United States, this country would retaliate by destroying every major Soviet city. Both countries would be destroyed and fear of such a holocaust would keep the country safe.

Reagan rejected this “balance of terror” strategy. With the Strategic Defense Initiative he sought to create a system to protect American cities by shooting down incoming Soviet nukes. And on a parallel track he sought to negotiate actual reductions in the number of nuclear weapons, not out of a naïve view of benevolent Communist leaders but under the sound principle of “trust but verify.”

Martin and Annelise documented the Gipper’s success in their 2010 book Reagan's Secret War: The Untold Story of His Fight to Save the World from Nuclear Disaster.

Anderson’s legacy

Anderson’s scholarly work also included Welfare: The Political Economy of Welfare Reform in the United States published in 1978, a few years before he brought his insights to the Reagan administration. And his 1992 book Impostors in the Temple: The Decline of the American University called attention to a reality that is all-too clear to day. In the words of the book’s subtitle, “American intellectuals are destroying our universities and cheating our students of their future.” We're living that future now and seeing the effects that Anderson predicted.

Martin Anderson’s was a life of the mind and a life of achievement. His life should be celebrated and he will be missed.
----
Hudgins is Director of Advocacy and a senior scholar at The Atlas Society. Posted January 5, 2015.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seems like a heck of a good guy. Rand's influence continues to grow.

But if he was a close adviser to Reagan, why did he never say something like: "Freedom is 100% good in theory, and 100% good in practice. It has no flaws whatsoever. The welfare state, in contrast, is 100% bad in theory and practice." Or how about: "A moral and civilized society never allows the initiation of force. You're never allowed to attack someone's person or property. We can create an economic and social utopia right now simply by outlawing initiation of force. This principle alone creates sheer, absolute, definitive, political perfection."

This is all easy enough to say. If Martin Anderson was properly schooled in Randian thought, why didn't he ever say this to Reagan?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Division of labor. Making pronouncements from the sidelines is okay--hell, I do it all the time. But to actually be in the fight, to actually work within a system to change it for the better, is another and usually tougher matter. Anderson did serious studies but, certainly in the case of the draft, engaged in politics and actually was instrumental--with other Objectivists--in eliminating it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I converted to Objectivism in less than one day. After 18 years of virtual brainwashing I only had to hear large pieces of the truth one time to know it. And it wasn't even told very well. Who are you people? You don't seem remotely similar to myself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Individuals take different paths to the truth, and the discovery of truth is an ongoing process. Epiphanies and "Road to Damascus" conversions happen but tend to be rare because each individual carries different values, priorities, assumptions, and expectations. That's the real world. Many in Rand's circle half-believed that within months if not a year of the publication of Atlas Shrugged the philosophy would catch fire and triumph in this country. The philosophy did begin to spread but it often takes decades to change a culture. Enlightenment ideas and values were developed, accepted, and reenforced by social institutions and culture over a period of centuries and then only imperfectly.

We're in a long-term battle that we are fighting on many fronts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I converted to Objectivism in less than one day. After 18 years of virtual brainwashing I only had to hear large pieces of the truth one time to know it. And it wasn't even told very well. Who are you people? You don't seem remotely similar to myself.

Kyrel,

That's actually a good observation. I'm happy to see you make it. I'm serious.

If you are interested in helping change the world for the better, the first thing you have to realize is that other people are not like you. I know you know this on a conscious level, but you just asked "who are you people?" on a gut level. And if I'm not mistaken, this was not just a rhetorical question meant to trash. Well... some... :) But I sense honest curiosity in it, too.

That said, an entire sermon or white paper that could be inserted here, but I'm not going to do that. Regardless, from where I sit, all roads lead to persuasion.

The very first element of persuasion is learning to meet people who disagree with you where they are at, not impose on them where you are at.

This is Persuasion 101 taught in all the best courses. And it bears repeating.

If you want to persuade people, you have to meet them where they are at, not where you think they should be.

You want to take them where you think they should be, so obviously, you cannot start there.

And that means you have to study people and try to learn, truly learn, what makes them tick, that is, those who are not like you.

Rand's works meet people spot on where they are at, but only a certain kind of person. I don't mean those who are innately morally superior (there is no such thing). I mean people who have suffered the pains she depicted so brilliantly, especially the resentment of being punished and shamed for ones virtues and honest productive intentions.

Other people have other pains. They didn't suffer that.

So Rand doesn't reach them on first contact. They need something more relevant to their lives.

I see Ed's work, TAS's and so on as a form of addressing these other people.

If nobody addresses those who are different than you in a form where they will at least listen, how can they be persuaded?

They can't.

They aren't listening.

And they're not interested.

Objectivism is a philosophy that glorifies human competence. I fully agree. This is one of my inner buttons that gets me going like strong coffee. As I have learned and am learning, persuasion is a craft that can be performed with excellence. But it takes study and practice to develop the skills.

I, for one, am on the way. Still student level, but on the way.

If you like, I can point you to some very good courses, books and online videos.

As for Ed, once again, great job. I like his writing and I think it hits a certain kind of person well. Also, people like Martin Anderson deserve praise for their achievements. I hope Ed continues to grace us with his words for many more years.

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, you adopted Objectivism in less than a day. What did you do the rest of that day and in the subsequent days that compares to Anderson's part in ending the draft?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, you adopted Objectivism in less than a day. What did you do the rest of that day and in the subsequent days that compares to Anderson's part in ending the draft?

I look forward to an answer to this one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, you adopted Objectivism in less than a day. What did you do the rest of that day and in the subsequent days that compares to Anderson's part in ending the draft?

I look forward to an answer to this one.

I'm still looking forward to answer to this one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Individuals take different paths to the truth, and the discovery of truth is an ongoing process. Epiphanies and "Road to Damascus" conversions happen but tend to be rare because each individual carries different values, priorities, assumptions, and expectations. That's the real world. Many in Rand's circle half-believed that within months if not a year of the publication of Atlas Shrugged the philosophy would catch fire and triumph in this country. The philosophy did begin to spread but it often takes decades to change a culture. Enlightenment ideas and values were developed, accepted, and reenforced by social institutions and culture over a period of centuries and then only imperfectly.

We're in a long-term battle that we are fighting on many fronts.

But I still wonder why Martin Anderson didn't explain libertarianism, which he evidently understood, to Nixon, Reagan, and Bush Sr. Why didn't he say something like: "Freedom is 100% good in theory, and 100% good in practice. It has no flaws whatsoever. The welfare state, in contrast, is 100% bad in theory and practice." Or how about: "A moral and civilized society never allows the initiation of force. You're never allowed to attack someone's person or property. We can create an economic and social utopia right now simply by outlawing initiation of force. This principle alone creates sheer, absolute, definitive, political perfection."

Explaining political science and socio-economic freedom is a matter of systematic education which anyone can acquire, and not any sort of instant epiphany.

As an important economic advisor, why did Anderson provide non-stop mediocre conservative advice, while never once providing a bit of ingenious libertarian advice? It's not legitimate or right to not try -- to simply assume that long-time conservatives Nixon, Reagan, and Bush Sr. would have failed to understand. Maybe he could have enlightened them! Politics isn't rocket science. Practically the whole thing can be explained in five minutes, as above.

I'm curious as to why Anderson never tried. Or at least why he never recorded their answers and criticisms after he did try.

And I continue to marvel at the average person's indifference and hostility to the truth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are interested in helping change the world for the better, the first thing you have to realize is that other people are not like you. I know you know this on a conscious level, but you just asked "who are you people?" on a gut level. And if I'm not mistaken, this was not just a rhetorical question meant to trash. Well... some... :smile: But I sense honest curiosity in it, too.

That said, an entire sermon or white paper that could be inserted here, but I'm not going to do that. Regardless, from where I sit, all roads lead to persuasion.

The very first element of persuasion is learning to meet people who disagree with you where they are at, not impose on them where you are at.

This is Persuasion 101 taught in all the best courses. And it bears repeating.

If you want to persuade people, you have to meet them where they are at, not where you think they should be.

You want to take them where you think they should be, so obviously, you cannot start there.

And that means you have to study people and try to learn, truly learn, what makes them tick, that is, those who are not like you.

Rand's works meet people spot on where they are at, but only a certain kind of person. I don't mean those who are innately morally superior (there is no such thing). I mean people who have suffered the pains she depicted so brilliantly, especially the resentment of being punished and shamed for ones virtues and honest productive intentions.

Other people have other pains. They didn't suffer that.

So Rand doesn't reach them on first contact. They need something more relevant to their lives.

I see Ed's work, TAS's and so on as a form of addressing these other people.

If nobody addresses those who are different than you in a form where they will at least listen, how can they be persuaded?

They can't.

They aren't listening.

And they're not interested.

Objectivism is a philosophy that glorifies human competence. I fully agree. This is one of my inner buttons that gets me going like strong coffee. As I have learned and am learning, persuasion is a craft that can be performed with excellence. But it takes study and practice to develop the skills.

I, for one, am on the way. Still student level, but on the way.

If you like, I can point you to some very good courses, books and online videos.

As for Ed, once again, great job. I like his writing and I think it hits a certain kind of person well. Also, people like Martin Anderson deserve praise for their achievements. I hope Ed continues to grace us with his words for many more years.

Michael

I only really enjoy discussing and debating the issues with the intellectual and moral elite -- not the masses. I only really enjoy seeking and finding the truth for my own benefit and purposes -- not to serve mankind. My desire to "persuade" others on philosophical issues is almost always quite low. I prefer to present the truth as best I can determine and construct it, and then let others deal with it as they wish and can. I also have real contempt for those who take 10 years to learn something that takes me 10 minutes. I usually view them as being not very open to reason and not decently honest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, you adopted Objectivism in less than a day. What did you do the rest of that day and in the subsequent days that compares to Anderson's part in ending the draft?

A quick answer is this: I continued to pursue still more truth. I tried to speak it aloud as well. And I wrote a lot. Virtually no-one seemed very interested or impressed. And I sought, and am still seeking, the next Ayn Rand or ultra-insight -- the next intellectual, or otherwise, quantum leap forward.

I also became a "militant" atheist, not an "intransigent" one; Rand failed this test. I condemned and fought againt the conservatives and Republicans; Rand failed this test. I condemned and fought againt the religious and cultist Objectivists; Rand failed this test.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I only really enjoy discussing and debating the issues with the intellectual and moral elite -- not the masses. I only really enjoy seeking and finding the truth for my own benefit and purposes -- not to serve mankind. My desire to "persuade" others on philosophical issues is almost always quite low. I prefer to present the truth as best I can determine and construct it, and then let others deal with it as they wish and can. I also have real contempt for those who take 10 years to learn something that takes me 10 minutes. I usually view them as being not very open to reason and not decently honest.

Kyrel,

If you have no curiosity about the Inferior Ones of mankind, why are your posts peppered with phrases of curiosity about them?

Hell, just from your post No. 10 above:

"But I still wonder why..."

"Why didn't he say..."

"Explaining political science and socio-economic freedom is a matter of systematic education which anyone can acquire..."

"It's not legitimate or right to not try -- to simply assume that long-time conservatives Nixon, Reagan, and Bush Sr. would have failed to understand..."

"I'm curious as to why..."

"And I continue to marvel at..."

These are your words, not mine. They indicate curiosity about the Inferior Ones.

(Surely you will not assign Nixon among the intellectual and moral elite.)

Am I mistaken and this is not true curiosity?

Or is this just the rhetorical noise of you stroking your own vanity? If that's the case, then no answers to any of your questions and musings like that are needed.

Right?

If that is not the case, then you are saying you want to persuade the Inferior Ones with one side of your mouth, and saying you are not interested in persuading the Inferior Ones out of the other side.

That contradiction is really clear in your words.

I'm not trying to be hostile. But I'm interested in ideas, not posturing to stroke vanity.

I find vanity stroking in philosophy, er... inferior...

:smile:

(Sorry, I couldn't resist that one... :smile: )

Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I converted to Objectivism in less than one day. After 18 years of virtual brainwashing I only had to hear large pieces of the truth one time to know it. And it wasn't even told very well. Who are you people? You don't seem remotely similar to myself.

You got that right.

Objectivism as fast food.

If you were brainwashed for 18 years maybe Objectivism went in on the same road.

--Brant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kyrel,

If you have no curiosity about the Inferior Ones of mankind, why are your posts peppered with phrases of curiosity about them?

Hell, just from your post No. 10 above:

"But I still wonder why..."

"Why didn't he say..."

"Explaining political science and socio-economic freedom is a matter of systematic education which anyone can acquire..."

"It's not legitimate or right to not try -- to simply assume that long-time conservatives Nixon, Reagan, and Bush Sr. would have failed to understand..."

"I'm curious as to why..."

"And I continue to marvel at..."

These are your words, not mine. They indicate curiosity about the Inferior Ones.

(Surely you will not assign Nixon among the intellectual and moral elite.)

Am I mistaken and this is not true curiosity?

Or is this just the rhetorical noise of you stroking your own vanity? If that's the case, then no answers to any of your questions and musings like that are needed.

Right?

If that is not the case, then you are saying you want to persuade the Inferior Ones with one side of your mouth, and saying you are not interested in persuading the Inferior Ones out of the other side.

That contradiction is really clear in your words.

I'm not trying to be hostile. But I'm interested in ideas, not posturing to stroke vanity.

I find vanity stroking in philosophy, er... inferior...

:smile:

(Sorry, I couldn't resist that one... :smile: )

Michael

Martin Anderson was a very successful person of seemingly high-quality. I'm curious what his conversations with Nixon, Reagan, and Bush Sr. involved. Did he mention libertarianism, or try to persuade them of it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kyrel,

If you have no curiosity about the Inferior Ones of mankind, why are your posts peppered with phrases of curiosity about them?

Hell, just from your post No. 10 above:

"But I still wonder why..."

"Why didn't he say..."

"Explaining political science and socio-economic freedom is a matter of systematic education which anyone can acquire..."

"It's not legitimate or right to not try -- to simply assume that long-time conservatives Nixon, Reagan, and Bush Sr. would have failed to understand..."

"I'm curious as to why..."

"And I continue to marvel at..."

These are your words, not mine. They indicate curiosity about the Inferior Ones.

(Surely you will not assign Nixon among the intellectual and moral elite.)

Am I mistaken and this is not true curiosity?

Or is this just the rhetorical noise of you stroking your own vanity? If that's the case, then no answers to any of your questions and musings like that are needed.

Right?

If that is not the case, then you are saying you want to persuade the Inferior Ones with one side of your mouth, and saying you are not interested in persuading the Inferior Ones out of the other side.

That contradiction is really clear in your words.

I'm not trying to be hostile. But I'm interested in ideas, not posturing to stroke vanity.

I find vanity stroking in philosophy, er... inferior...

:smile:

(Sorry, I couldn't resist that one... :smile: )

Michael

Martin Anderson was a very successful person of seemingly high-quality. I'm curious what his conversations with Nixon, Reagan, and Bush Sr. involved. Did he mention libertarianism, or try to persuade them of it?

First you knew there were no such conversations, now you wonder. People who work for a President don't shovel on ideology unless by invitation. The President wants policies. One knew where Reagen was going prior to his becoming President by looking at what he did and didn't do as governor of California. And it happened that way. What you elect is what you get. Reagen was very firm and articulate with his ideas, He could and did write a lot of his own stuff. Forget about any significant displacement; he was set in his ways and by the time one reaches his age one likely should be.

--Brant

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this