Skip to comments.The Case Against Ayn Rand
Posted on 04/01/2013 7:47:17 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
The cult of Ayn Rand has never been stronger on the American Right. Rands influence on groups such as the Tea Party and politicians like Rand Paul who is, after all, named after her is intense, and clearly growing in popularity. Indeed, the Tea Party began with a pundit who called himself basically an Ayn Rander. For many on the Right, Rand has become something approaching a messiah, or at least a patron saint. American conservatives, looking for a way up from the defeats of the Obama era, appear ready to embrace this trend. This is, needless to say, an extremely bad idea.
First, it is politically suicidal. The U.S. is mired in an economic crisis that has been brewing for some time, and shows few signs of disappearing. And this crisis was caused, to a great extent, by Randian economics. Eschewing traditional fiscal conservatism, the American Right embraced for the better part of three decades a messianic form of capitalism that demonized the state and society, while fostering an idolatry of the individual entrepreneur, the corporate CEO, and the unabashed pursuit of money as the highest moral good.
That this has had horrendous consequences cannot be denied. If money is the highest moral good, then making money by whatever means overrides all other concerns, even legality, prudence, and common sense. The result has been massive economic inequality, recklessness on the part of the private sector that brought it close to self-destruction, the gutting of public assets, and the negation of even the idea of a collective good.
This is much in contrast to traditional conservatism, which acknowledged the self-evident fact that society is a collective endeavor, and the interests of the individual must be balanced against those of the collective. It also acknowledged indeed, insisted that a society can reach a consensus on what constitutes the good, and pursue it on a collective level to the benefit of all. Indeed, Edmund Burke based his entire critique of the French Revolution on the idea that the good can only be achieved by particular communities with specific values, and not through universalist individualism. Rand, in contrast, regarded society as fundamentally evil and the mortal enemy of the individual; a point of view that can, in fact must, lead to a state of anarchy and social collapse that benefits no one and destroys precisely what traditional conservatism seeks to preserve.
The majority of the American people appear to have reached the same conclusion. They have twice voted for a president who rejects Rands ideas entirely, and polls indicate that an overwhelming number of them want policies like higher taxes on the rich that are anathema to Rands ideology.
Many Americans, moreover, are suffering under current economic conditions, and when people are suffering they will turn to anyone who promises to help alleviate that suffering. Rand demonized such people as moochers and parasites. It is very unlikely that Americans will vote for people who hate them. Do not, as the ancient proverb goes, stand in the way of a hungry man. To run on Randian principles may be popular with many on the Right, but on a national scale it can only lead to greater marginalization and defeat.
Second, Rands ideology is morally reprehensible. Rand proclaimed such things as compassion, generosity, charity, and empathy as evil and enemies of humanity. That this is monstrous should be readily apparent. Such sentiments are basic aspects of human nature and human relationships. To deny them makes us essentially inhuman. To vitiate them completely results in a condition in which power is the sole arbiter of justice and good. The ideologies of the 20th century that embraced such ideas have been among the ugliest. Indeed, they are the fundamental principles of totalitarianism. As conservative icon Whittaker Chambers pointed out, at the heart of Rands ideology is a voice screaming to the gas chambers go! Ultimately, Rands ideas were based on a demonization of empathy; and in a post-modern world in which all gods are dead and people increasingly alienated from each other by social, economic, and technological forces, we are desperately in need of empathy. Without it, we will find ourselves in a world where, as French novelist Michel Houellebecq puts it, it is simply impossible to live.
Last, and contrary to her own claims, Rand was an enemy of intelligence and rational thought. She fancied herself a philosopher, but was at best a polemicist. Her understanding of philosophy and its history was amateurish at best. She demonized essential thinkers like Emmanuel Kant without addressing their ideas in any but the shallowest way. This disparaging attitude causes Rands acolytes to close themselves off in a tautological ideology that begins with Rand and ends with Rand.
To go down the Randian path, then, might be edifying for some on the Right, but would also be politically and intellectually disastrous. The American Right currently faces a situation fundamentally different from that which raised it to the commanding heights of American politics. If it cannot adapt to it, it will be either completely marginalized or eventually transformed into something unrecognizable.
This would bad not only for the Right but also for America. More than ever, the United States needs traditional conservatism the conservatism of fiscal and social prudence that regards change and reform as not necessarily evil but not necessarily good, and views progress with reasoned skepticism. Its revival is the Rights only path back to power. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely the Right will take this path, or it will take it only after a brutal civil war within the movement. One hopes that cooler and more conservative heads will eventually prevail.
Wrong...The problem is that the lines between business and government became more blurred over time.....We need separation of Business and State.
Rand’s own philosophy had serious, fatal flaws. However, her depictions of Leftist Government Compassion Fascists is completely accurate.
If this idiot thinks that our current crisis was caused by being too free market, he has no idea what he's talking about. I don't agree with everything Rand said but she was right in saying that free markets result in a collective good.
Summary: Ayn Rand is wrong because people don’t like it and won’t vote for it...
april fools. right? this guy cannot be serious
This appears to be an April Fools posting. It’s also really, really dumb for PJ to do it.
Bookmark to rebut this fatuous nonsense at a later date.
>>who is, after all, named after her
“The name my mother gave me was Randall....First question I was asked was, was I named after Ayn Rand? But I am a big fan of Ayn Rand...”
I’ve read everything she has ever written and my take is:
1) She needed an editor. She takes a great idea and beats you over the head with it for at least five pages.
2) Having Roark rape Dominique in The Fountainhead was so bizarre I read the part several times to see what I was missing. Apparently the fact that they both wanted each other made it all right and the fact the it was written by a woman makes it worse, WTH?
3) Her personal life was a shambles, she cheated on her husband and told him she was going to do it.
4) She was a hard drinker and smoker. OK, this doesn’t bother me because I have zero room to talk but if you want to be some moral authority, you might want to reflect it in you personal life.
5) I still like The Fountainhead despite the bizarre rape scene as that scene is better than the literally 100 page John Galt speech in Atlas Shrugged. Frisco’s money speech is good even if it does go on forever.
6) We The Living is an awesome book. Yes, it’s long and dreary, just like the communism the characters live in. If anyone here has read it, the parallels between it and Obamavision are scary.
Finally, I would say that what she wrote against are what is destroying this country, she was right on there. I forget the exact line but I think it’s from Toohey in The Fountainhead where he says they don’t care about people breaking laws, they want them to so they’re easier to control.
That (most) people don't like Ayn and won't vote for her preferred policies happens to be a fact. This doesn't make her necessarily wrong, but it does make her a disaster for anyone who wants to win an election.
If it makes you happy to bitterly cling to your conviction that Rand is Right while we all go over the cliff together, that's lovely for you. But it's not much consolation to the rest of us.
Sorry, but this piece is wrong, dumb propaganda. Had to have been an Obama voter that wrote it.
RE: Sorry, but this piece is wrong, dumb propaganda. Had to have been an Obama voter that wrote it.
Well, don’t stop there now, tell us why... IOW, elaborate please.
This article sets up more strawmen than a scarecrow convention.
If money is the highest moral good,
When did she say money was the highest moral good? If it was, then Ben Bernake would be the Pope of the Church of Rand because he has created the most money through any means.
Second, Rands ideology is morally reprehensible. Rand proclaimed such things as compassion, generosity, charity, and empathy as evil and enemies of humanity.
More strawmen. Evil? No, but they can be used for evil by those who want to force compassion. If I give food to a hungry family because it pleases me that is OK. On the other hand if that family uses their hunger to force me to empty my wallet for them then that is evil.
More than ever, the United States needs traditional conservatism the conservatism of fiscal and social prudence that regards change and reform as not necessarily evil but not necessarily good, and views progress with reasoned skepticism.
That sounds dangerously close to the siren's song of a Rockefeller Republican, where the only argument with the Democrats is how fast to drive down the road to serfdom.
I really, really hope this was an April Fools' Day joke, and we can all have a great laugh over it tomorrow over a plate full of tree picked spaghetti, but I fear that it isn't.
>>She needed an editor.
The audiobook version (Audible, read by Scott Brick) has the Galt speech go on for about 2 and a half hours...
Sounds painful. In the book after they’ve captured Galt, he says it took three hours to tell them why he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) work for the looters.
Pretending that crony capitalism is Capitalism, and not it's true nature: Fascism, Kerstein goes on to mask envy and class warfare as nobless oblige, textbook Marx and Alinsky Communism.
Not even a good try Ben, we know all Commies hate Ayn.
No one understood the problem and its consequences better than she. Her solutions on the other hand..........
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