Is Self-Reliance a Bad Thing?

For the life of me, I always thought that the can-do American spirit was a good thing. However, the news hounds are teaching a new philosophy: Self-reliance is bad, and total dependence on the nanny state is good.

But that way of thinking is dangerous. Recently on BreakPoint, Chuck Colson discussed Greece's latest chaos, likening it to an ancient Greek tragedy.

If, like Chuck and like me, you think a bit of self-reliance is good, we'd best start thinking of ways we inspire others to imagine and build. Any ideas?


One of the striking ironies of Western elitists is their continuing adolescent infatuation with socialism and the nanny state. Many have expressed not only their fondness for this option, but their utter distaste for the vision of the Founding Fathers. In fact, historian Christopher Lasch labeled their obsession with replacing the older view with this pitiful ideology, "the most elaborate act of suicide he had ever witnessed."
Here's a longish quote that shows a marked difference between work and charity from a great John Wayne movie *McLintock*:

Movie Name: McLintock! (1963)
Devlin Warren: About that job Mr. McLintock.
George Washington McLintock: Look son, I told ya, I got no need for
farmers. Or use for them either.
Devlin Warren: Just one minute, Mr. McLintock. My father died last
month, how come we don't have a homestead. I've got a mother, a
little sister to feed. I need that job badly.
George Washington McLintock: What's your name?
Devlin Warren: Devlin Warren.
George Washington McLintock: Well, you've got a job. Go see my home
ranch forman. He's over by the corral.
Devlin Warren: Step down off that carriage, mister! [Swings at McLintock and gets thrown to
the ground]
George Washington McLintock: Hold that hog leg! I've been punched many a time in my
life but never for hirin' anyone.
Devlin Warren: I dont know what to say. Never begged before. Turned
my stomach. I suppose I should have been grateful that you gave me
the job.
George Washington McLintock: Gave? Boy, you've got it all wrong. I
don't give jobs, I hire men.
Drago: You intend to give this man a full day's work, dontcha boy?
Devlin Warren: You mean youre still hirin' me? Well, yes, sir, I
certainly deliver a fair day's work.
George Washington McLintock: And for that I'll pay you a fair day's
wage. You won't give me anything and I won't give you anything. We
both hold up our heads. Is that your plug?
Devlin Warren: Yes sir.
George Washington McLintock: Well, hop on him and wel'l go get your

Somewhere he tells Devlin that he works for everyone who buys his beef...
"Self-reliance" is in a way not accurate, because the contrast is with dependence on government, not relying on others. That's the way it is normally used. Everyone has to rely on others, be it family members, friends, co-workers, churches, banks, customers, employers, doctors, you name it. But what crushes the human spirit and our liberty is the ever expanding nanny state of the progressive imagination. Whatever we call it, we need the opposite of that.
It might be good to point out that "self-reliance" is an unfortunate turn of phrase. Only John Wayne can afford to rely on himself.

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