If they had the means to do it and if it had a good chance of succeeding, would it be moral or right for objectivists to use force to overthrow the US federal government?
The question describes Objectivists (without specifying how many) somehow having the power to overthrow the US Government by force. The question does not attempt to explain how or why Objectivists could ever acquire such power, nor whether the number of Objectivists would be just a small enclave or the great majority of the US population. In the latter case, there would be no need to overthrow the government, since all necessary governmental reforms could easily be brought about by using the normal Constitutional mechanisms already written into our Constitution by our Founders. In the former case, it is an unrealistic hypothetical, and Objectivism regards it as a waste of one's time and energy to delve too deeply into unrealistic hypotheticals (unless such an effort is closely connected to some other realistic purpose, such as possible artistic purposes). Objectivism is not a philosophy for those who want to dream of having power, even if their dream is to exercise such power benevolently. Objectivism is a philosophy for freedom seekers, advocates, and incremental governmental reformers.
Remember, also, that America itself was born out of a revolution, a forcible overthrow of British rule in the American colonies. The American revolutionaries recognized the importance of explaining their reasons and principles to the world in a publicly stated Declaration, out of "decent respect to the opinions of mankind." They wrote that "to secure these rights [to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness] Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." The Declaration continues:
...whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Although the present US Government certainly needs major reforms (by Objectivist standards), our present condition is not yet absolute despotism. OPAR (p. 460) observes:
To the end of her life, Ayn Rand upheld her distinctive "benevolent-universe" premise. The good, she maintained, can be achieved; "it is real, it is possible, it's yours." So long as there is no censorship, she taught, there is a chance for persuasion to succeed.
So long as we still have freedom of speech, the most important course of action is to exercise that freedom by explaining to others what Objectivism stands for, what freedom depends on, and what that implies about reforms needed in our government. The reforms, in turn, will be most likely to come into being and endure if implemented by Constitutional means with substantial support from the American people. That is the way democracy is supposed to work, even the view of democracy that I've heard our current President express his support for. That is where Objectivism can be crucially reinforcing, not in idle wishing for the power to overthrow our government.
answered Sep 14 '14 at 03:13
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