January 21, 2017

Washington, Jan. 20, 2017

I watched Donald J. Trump’s inauguration today with mixed feelings.

I didn’t vote for him, even though the prospect of another four years of Obama’s “progressivism” under Hillary was awful.

Watching his campaign with disbelief, I thought he was a blend of Peter Keating, demanding attention and affirmation with a hair-trigger intolerance for being dissed; and of Gail Wynand, building power by appealing to the lowest common denominator.

Yet I have to admit that, on election eve, my heart lifted when the results cascaded in his favor. It wasn’t just that Hillary lost, and that the commentators and media were so flummoxed. It seemed that something new and promising might actually happen.

Two things have boosted that feeling.

The first is that Trump has nominated strong, independent, successful people to his cabinet. Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon; Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE fast food restaurants; education philanthropist Betsy DeVos—these and his other nominees are not the yes-men sycophants one might have feared, and they are not insiders whose appointment is merely a good bureaucratic career move.

The second is my observation of the opposition. I was working at home today, on 14th St in the heart of DC, and heard helicopters and sirens all day. Finally I went out to observe some of the protests. They were not an edifying sight. “Black Lives Matter” shut down traffic on Massachusetts Ave. two blocks from my place, with protesters lying in the street to block a major commuter route and shouting “All cops are fascists.”

K Street was closed. I couldn’t get close enough to see the march except for one protester in a fur costume with a sign “Wolves are great.” Environmentalism, I guess.

Police were everywhere, lined up—it seemed to me—more to keep the crowds back than to control protesters’ disruptions, which snarled traffic for blocks around. Yet, as I write this evening, more than 200 people have been arrested, with reports of property destruction and police injuries.

In short, Trump has some good people on his team, and he has the right enemies. But what of his agenda?

His inaugural speech was refreshingly short, and he sounded one good theme: He attacked the “progressivist” idea that experts in a government bureaucracy can make better decisions for people than they can themselves. This doctrine has been a premise of government action for a century, and Trump implicitly denounced it:

"For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.

"Washington flourished – but the people did not share in its wealth."

Does he mean it? I’m not sure.

For one thing, the most prominent theme in his speech was nationalism, “America first.”

"We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs.  Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength….

"We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American."

Excuse me, but didn’t Adam Smith refute mercantilist protectionism two-and-a-half centuries ago? I am not an economist, much less a specialist in international trade. Perhaps some deals need to be re-negotiated. But Trump’s theme sounds like a beggar-thy-neighbor policy that has always led to decline. If we trade on open terms, why is trade among nations worse than trade among the several states of our union?

But the worst thing, from my perspective as a philosopher, was the way Trump expressed his opposition to rule by a progressive elite:

"Today we are not merely transferring power from one Administration to another, or from one party to another – but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People….

"What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people….

"Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams, will define our American destiny."

1712451 1280x720

Returning power to the people is a galvanizing idea after Obama’s goal to make government “cool” again. But it’s ambiguous, and the ambiguity is dangerous. When politicians refer to “the people,” as candidates do routinely, they usually treat that term as a collective noun. But actual people are not a collective entity. They are individuals. Their voices, hopes, and dreams are not uniform, and cannot be blended into some communitarian consensus, a false hope that Obama and every collectivist leader has invoked. The voices, hopes, and dreams of people are as individual as their individual beings, and just as diverse. They do not amalgamate into a single collective purpose.


Those who think so rightly infer that government is the only way a collective choice can be enacted. Does Mr. Trump agree? If so, his administration will merely replace one favored constituency with another. It would be far better to recognize the basic meaning of “We the people”: The people are not a herd but an association of individuals who seek to live their own lives, by their own lights.

The only power Trump or other leaders can return to “the people” is not the power of collective choice but  the power of individual freedom. In the iconic words of

John Galt in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, “Get the hell out of my way!”






David Kelley Ph.D
About the author:
David Kelley Ph.D

David Kelley founded The Atlas Society (TAS) in 1990 and served as Executive Director through 2016. In addition, as Chief Intellectual Officer, he was responsible for overseeing the content produced by the organization: articles, videos, talks at conferences, etc.. Retired from TAS in 2018, he remains active in TAS projects and continues to serve on the Board of Trustees.


ケリーの哲学的著作には、倫理学、認識論、政治学の独創的な著作があり、その多くは客観主義の思想を新たな深みと方向性で発展させている。著書に 五感の証拠を、 認識論で論じたものです。 目的論における真理と寛容目的論運動の問題点に関するもの。 無抵抗の個人主義。博愛の利己的根拠そして 推理の極意論理学入門の教科書として広く利用されている論理学入門』も第5版となりました。

ケリーは、政治や文化に関する幅広いテーマで講演や出版を行っている。社会問題や公共政策に関する記事は、Harpers、The Sciences、Reason、Harvard Business Review、The Freeman、On Principleなどに掲載されています。1980年代には、Barrons Financial and Business Magazineに 、平等主義、移民、最低賃金法、社会保障などの問題について頻繁に執筆した。

彼の著書 A Life of One's Own:個人の権利と福祉国家福祉国家の道徳的前提を批判し、個人の自律性、責任、尊厳を守る私的な選択肢を擁護するものである。1998年、ジョン・ストッセルのABC/TVスペシャル「Greed」に出演し、資本主義の倫理に関する国民的議論を巻き起こした。

客観主義の専門家として国際的に知られ、アイン・ランドとその思想、作品について広く講演を行っている。の映画化ではコンサルタントを務めた。 アトラス・シュラッグドの編集者であり アトラス・シュラッグド小説、映画、哲学.



"Concepts and Natures:A Commentary onThe Realist Turn(by Douglas B. Rasmussen and Douglas J. Den Uyl)," Reason Papers 42, no.1, (Summer 2021); 近著のレビューで、概念の存在論と認識論への深掘りが含まれています。






The Party of Modernity, Cato Policy Report, May/June 2003; andNavigator, Nov 2003; プレモダン、モダン(啓蒙主義)、ポストモダンの文化的分裂に関する論文として広く引用されている。

"I Don't Have To"(IOS Journal, Volume 6, Number 1, April 1996) と "I Can and I Will"(The New Individualist, Fall/Winter 2011): 個人として自分の人生をコントロールすることを現実化するためのコンパニオン作品です。