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..........
The author should look at who has been peddling those things to the public over the last 80 years and why, and then ask himself what really is monstrous.
Most people have never heard of Ayn Rand and have no clue who she was.
That's my take.
Original article was posted to PJ on 3/28.
So yes, the original Author is serious...
And apparently mildly retarded.
Aye, there's the rub.....It's the same with Karl Marx, he could explain all of the problems with Capitalism, but his "cure" was even worse than the disease.
mildly retarded? i think not;)
I disagree with some of the points made by the author.It’s been several yrs since i read “Atlas Shrugged”.But i recall the primary theme addressed the incremental encroachment by the government upon society/economy to the point where big gov had almost total control.The result was an economy that was dysfunctional-at best.I do agree that Rand comes across as a bareknuckles anything goes capitalist and(imo)rather deficient in the empathy department(read “The Fountainhead”).She was certainly flawed(quite a character!).Anyways,I’m not a “Randian”,but I agree with much of her philosophy-to a point.Thanx for the post.
Like anything else, mine the gold and leave the tailings.
“There is no way to rule innocent men...” - Ayn Rand
No need to read past here without a HUGE barf alert. The guy's a rube.
Mr. Kerstein doesn’t seem to know much about U.S. economics and either hasn’t actually read or understood Ayn Rand’s work. In my experience, communists-at-heart find Rand so threatening to their world view that they can’t get a mental grip on her meaning. To protect themselves, they misrepresent her views, and try to take her novels literally, rather than as abstract presentations of principles.
Rand had no problem with VOLUNTARY social activity, specialization of labor, complex integrated societies, and compassion/charity. What she opposed was COERCION. Through the application of reason to experience, Rand knew that socialists inevitably force others to join communal efforts against their interests and will — precisely because the type of people who join freely are the takers, not the makers. Hillary Clinton is a perfect Rand villain; her justification for forcing young healthy people into paying for healthcare for others is classic: “We need their money in the system”. Armed robbery for what she dictates is a “benevolent” purpose is ok.
Rand relentlessly exposed the Left’s game of false benevolence and compulsory altruism as a scam. “Collective” action wherein an elite determines the will of the group turns the group members into dehumanized slaves, who receive more than they contribute temporarily —until it all dries up, and everyone has nothing. Rand’s work argues, correctly, that individuals creating wealth through free market economics bring freedom and higher standards of living for all that are sustainable. But that’s not what the Democrats/Socialists/Leftists really want, is it?
“Beware of the moneychangers”. Even Rand chastized those who sought to make money for the sake of making money, or more aptly, printing money out of thin air, so that they could gamble it to make profits out of thin air. Once currency stopped being a store of value and work, and became nothing more than gambling fodder, is when the financial structure of the west started to fall apart. Once people lose faith in the currency and financial institutions, expect the events that have unfolded in Cyprus and the EU to happen here.
Rand ping. And I don’t mean Paul....
Your time is too valuable to try and rebut this drivel. At worst, you'll get into a game of "whack-a-mole" in a discussion with those who disagree with you.
I get into arguments with my liberal alumni friends all the time. What Rand says to me revolves around personal choice.
For example, I give to my church because I am trading value for value, not because I feel an obligation to do so. My parish plays a large role in strengthening my faith and my family...it's only natural that I would support it through donations of time and money.
My current reading is focused on Hank Rearden and his interactions with his family, and the extreme "danger" of the "guiltless man". A good friend of mine here at work was having the same problem with his daughters (18 & 23) as Hank was having with his mother and brother: the guilt trip being laid on him for not bending to their every whim.
I laughed and said, "going Galt, are you?" When he responded with a WTF look, I responded "you really need to read AS, and focus on the family troubles of Hank Rearden." His daughters are in for a rude awakening! lol
Coining “The Aristocracy of Pull” was brilliant.
mark - maybe read later
I am not sure that Objectivism is compatible with Christianity
This tool doesn’t have even the slightest idea what Rand’s philosophy is all about. There’s nothing “randian” that created the latest crash. There’s nothing evil about helping the poor and greed is not a moral good.
Rand was about keeping to your own values, not subverting them to someone else’s.
Liberals never seem to notice that Ms. Rand glorified "men of the mind" regardless of how lofty or lowly were their professions.
Definitely a double-digit IQ... But can probably tie their own shoes without help.
To Rand, mystics were deceivers of moochers - no better, and possibly worse - than looters.
For comparison, think of Muslim clerics, the Reverend Moon, the Reverend Jessie Jackson and a litany of "spiritual leaders" deceiving their flocks.
Ayn Rand said:
I am done with the monster of we, the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame. And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: I.
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
The financial crisis was triggered by a complex interplay of policies that encouraged home ownership, providing easier access to loans for subprime borrowers, overvaluation of bundled sub-prime mortgages based on the theory that housing prices would continue to escalate, questionable trading practices on behalf of both buyers and sellers, compensation structures that prioritize short-term deal flow over long-term value creation, and a lack of adequate capital holdings from banks and insurance companies to back the financial commitments they were making
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.
The capitalism favored by Ayn Rand conforms to and is compatible with the values of the Founding Fathers of limited government, individualism, a culture based on reason and rationality, and respect for the natural rights of liberty, private property, and pursuit of happiness by the individual.
The unabashed pursuit of money as the highest moral good:
In a modern division of labor economy, the earning of money becomes an essential aspect of productive activity. This is because in order to live in such an economy, one must obtain the goods and services of other people. These goods and services are not given away for free, nor, to any significant extent are they, or could they be, obtained through barter. To obtain the goods and service of others, one must possess money. Thus, if one's productive activity is to be appropriate to life in a division of labor society, that is to be the means of obtaining the goods and services of others, it is essential that it be moneymaking. Only then does one's activity make it possible for one to share in the benefits of a division of labor society.
Second, Rands ideology is morally reprehensible. Rand proclaimed such things as compassion, generosity, charity, and empathy as evil and enemies of humanity.
Rand's ethics were influenced by Aristotle and were the product of both reason and observation of reality. She considered the initiation of physical force, evasion of reality, failure to be rational in thought and action, altruism, collectivism, and socialism to be the enemies of humanity. Benevolence, generosity, compassion, charity were acceptable if they were not forced and were not a sacrifice of one's values.
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.
Ayn Rand's theory of concepts was brilliant. It provides a way to achieve objectivity of knowledge, values, concepts, and truth. She corrected Aristotle's errors and produced the pathway to integration that produces objective principles. Kant's philosophy is of a set of affirmations, worldly or otherworldly, but of negations. In metaphysics Kant denies the reality of this world not n favor of a higher realm, such as God, but in favor of an inconceivable-that is, of a nothing, nothing to human consciousness; he denies for sake of the denial. In epistemology, Kant condemns man's consciousness as impotent to grasp real truth, not because our mind is inferior to some higher consciousness, but because, like every kind of consciousness it requires a means of consciousness. Again, Kant denies for the sake of the denial. These negations make Kant the father of disintegration and negation of principles.
However, explain her belief system to most people and you will get a horrified rejection.
I’m not saying they’re necessarily right to have this reaction, but that they do is a fact of critical political importance.
I submit this crisis has little to do with "Randian Economics", and everything to do with the unconstitutional statutory laws that have been ensconced since an unlawful Opinion was released from the US Supreme Court in a Tax Case at:
Too bad Ayn Rand was an atheist.
Have you ever heard of Sir John Maynard Keynes? You know, the educated idiot that said a government can spend its way out of any economic problem. Someday the world may finally find that the Austrian School and Chicago School of Economics is the only way for a great nation to stay great. Ludwig von Mises' and Friedrich Hayek's teachings would be a refreshing change to the Socialist tinkerers that never met an economy they could force to its knees.
Benji, try reading "Human Action: A Treatise on Economics" and get back to me. [no, I haven't read it myself. I am saving that for the day I retire and have a couple of years to dedicate to it.]
that is - could not - but you know what I mean
politicians like Rand Paul who is, after all, named after her
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I am sure this ‘author’? has this on good opinion.
Seems Paul’s birth name was Randal, he grew up as Randy and his wife ‘changed’ it to Rand.
Guess if you follow the theory that Clinton was the 1st Black President, Obama the 1st Jewish pResident and Hillary was named after an obsure soda jerk named Edmund Hillary, this is perfectly good logic.....
This guy is obviously a GOP political strategist and the Tea Party and Rand Paul scare the crap out of him.
Im glad. The Old Guard Rockefeller Republicans should be scared. Their days are numbered.
They have cooperated with the socialist that have been systematically destroying this country and from what I read in his article he wishes to continue this collaboration on the expansion of the socialist state.
Wrong...We need Business that believe they a moral responsibility for what they do as well politicians that recognize what the Founders always knew.
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." --October 11, 1798 John Adams