From the essay “Conservatism: An Obituary,” in Ayn Rand’s book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal:
The “neo-conservatives” are now trying to tell us that America was the product of “faith in revealed truths” and of uncritical respect for the traditions of the past (!).
It is certainly irrational to use the “new” as a standard of value, to believe that an idea or a policy is good merely because it is new. But it is much more preposterously irrational to use the “old” as a standard of value, to claim that an idea or a policy is good merely because it is ancient. The “liberals” are constantly asserting that they represent the future, that they are “new,” “progressive,” “forward-looking,” etc.—and they denounce the “conservatives” as old-fashioned representatives of a dead past. The “conservatives” concede it, and thus help the “liberals” to propagate one of today’s most grotesque inversions: collectivism, the ancient, frozen, status society, is offered to us in the name of progress—while capitalism, the only free, dynamic, creative society ever devised, is defended in the name of stagnation.
The plea to preserve “tradition” as such, can appeal only to those who have given up or to those who never intended to achieve anything in life. It is a plea that appeals to the worst elements in men and rejects the best: it appeals to fear, sloth, cowardice, conformity, self-doubt—and rejects creativeness, originality, courage, independence, self-reliance. It is an outrageous plea to address to human beings anywhere, but particularly outrageous here, in America, the country based on the principle that man must stand on his own feet, live by his own judgment, and move constantly forward as a productive, creative innovator.
The argument that we must respect “tradition” as such, respect it merely because it is a “tradition,” means that we must accept the values other men have chosen, merely because other men have chosen them—with the necessary implication of: who are we to change them? The affront to a man’s self-esteem, in such an argument, and the profound contempt for man’s nature are obvious.