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Apr 17, 2012

The Old Rugged Cross


Genius.  Billionaire.  Playboy.  Philanthropist.

Genius. Billionaire. Playboy. Philanthropist.

For some reason I’m on the mailing list of an outfit called “Conservative Action Alerts.” (They seem more libertarian than the conservative mainstream, so that’s probably the connection.) Their latest missive complains that the word “individualism” has been “poisoned by deceptive propaganda that disparaged it as ‘rugged.’”

Well, not exactly. “Rugged individualism” was introduced as a positive term, either coined or popularised by Herbert Hoover (who liked to pose, at least sometimes, as a free-market type even though his actual policies were straight-up big-government dirigism). Admittedly it’s often used pejoratively now, but that’s mainly due to the (ludicrous) perception that Hoover’s ineffective response to the Great Depression was somehow driven by individualism.

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