In a recent post I noted that when materialist metaphysics meets politics (whether on the left or the right), it always devolves into mere right-makes-right force. I said,
We err when we think of fascism, communism, Marxism, and progressivism as being different things. They are not. They are different versions of the same thing. We especially err when we think of a fascist like Hitler and a communist like Stalin as being somehow polar opposites (with one on the “right” and one of the “left”). Hitler and Stalin had far more in common than otherwise, and a political analysis that perceives them as opposites is deeply flawed. If all of these things are versions of the same thing, what thing is that? That thing is materialist metaphysics applied to politics.
Today I was surfing around and landed on Whittaker Chambers’ 1957 review of Atlas Shrugged. Unsurprisingly, Chambers said it all far better than I:
Nor has [Rand], apparently, brooded on the degree to which, in a wicked world, a materialism of the Right and a materialism of the Left first surprisingly resemble, then, in action, tend to blend each with each, because, while differing at the top in avowed purpose, and possibly in conflict there, at bottom they are much the same thing. The embarrassing similarities between Hitler’s National Socialism and Stalin’s brand of Communism are familiar. For the world, as seen in materialist view from the Right, scarcely differs from the same world seen in materialist view from the Left. The question becomes chiefly: who is to run that world in whose interests, or perhaps, at best, who can run it more efficiently? Something of this implication is fixed in the book’s dictatorial tone, which is much its most striking feature. Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal. In addition, the mind which finds this tone natural to it shares other characteristics of its type. 1) It consistently mistakes raw force for strength, and the rawer the force, the more reverent the posture of the mind before it. 2) It supposes itself to be the bringer of a final revelation. Therefore, resistance to the Message cannot be tolerated because disagreement can never be merely honest, prudent, or just humanly fallible. Dissent from revelation so final (because, the author would say, so reasonable) can only be willfully wicked. There are ways of dealing with such wickedness, and, in fact, right reason itself enjoins them. From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: “To a gas chamber–go!”