No Government, No Force

Have You Shrugged your Country Today?


The Loss of the American Spirit

By Jeff Small,

When the American spirit was in its youth, the language of America was different:
Liberty, sir, was the primary object.

– Patrick Henry

CJS large Have You Shrugged your Country Today?

At a monthly meeting of a group of liberty-oriented people, when the subject of the recent election came up, the speaker asked the audience, “How many of you are still on suicide watch?” I believe he was only half joking. I have taken some time since the November 6th election to reflect on the outcome, while trying to formulate a new perspective on the state of this country and where I stand in relation to it. These are some of my thoughts.

Ayn Rand wrote about a person’s “sense of life” as being the integrated sum of their basic values. She also said:

A culture, like an individual, has a sense of life or, rather, the equivalent of a sense of life—an emotional atmosphere created by its dominant philosophy, by its view of man and of existence. This emotional atmosphere represents a culture’s dominant values and serves as the leitmotif of a given age, setting its trends and its style.   [The Age of Envy, 1971]. Just as an individual’s sense of life can be better or worse than his conscious convictions, so can a nation’s. And just as an individual who has never translated his sense of life into conscious convictions is in terrible danger—no matter how good his subconscious values—so is a nation.This is the position of America today. If America is to be saved from destruction—specifically, from dictatorship—she will be saved by her sense of life.   [Don’t Let it Go, 1971]

In 1971, what qualities did Rand see as forming the basis of the uniquely American culture? The independence of self-made, self-reliant, self-confident individuals; a common sense respect for knowledge; a trusting, generous and benevolent spirit; and an innocence as to the depth of evil that could exist in others. Fourteen years after publishing Atlas Shrugged, she still maintained a guarded optimism regarding America’s future when she penned the following warning:

If America drags on her present state for a few more generations (which is unlikely), dictatorship will become possible. A sense of life is not a permanent endowment. The characteristically American one is being eroded daily all around us. Large numbers of Americans have lost it (or have never developed it) and are collapsing to the psychological level of Europe’s worst rabble.   [Don’t Let it Go, 1971]

In 1971, what qualities did Rand see as forming the basis of the uniquely American culture?

This is a rather long article and very worthwhile reading.  Section subtitles are:

  • The Loss of the American Spirit

  • Lessons from the 2012 Election

  • It’s Time for a Change of Plans

  • Don’t Take it Lying Down

  • An Example of How Small Actions Can Produce Large Results

  • The Right to Your Rights

  • Pushing Back

  • Tactics: From the Bottom Up

  • Tactics: From the Top Down

  • Conclusion

You may find it valuable to read the rest, but it will take some time!  Please visit


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1 Comment

  1. Jeff’s article is lengthy and well detailed. Perhaps it’s the makings for a book?

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