Intellectual Curiosities and Provocations

Philosophy Weekend: Why Ayn Rand Is Wrong (and Why It Matters)

By Levi Asher on Saturday, April 16, 2011 12:08 pm

I wrote Why Ayn Rand is Wrong (and Why It Matters), a new book now available for Kindle, to fill a vacuum. I'm pretty sure it represents a completely original approach to the works of Ayn Rand.

There are a lot of smart people in the world who value Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, and there are also a lot of smart people who don't. This ought to be the making of a great public debate ... but the two sides don't debate.

Instead, they call each other names. Non-objectivists caricature Ayn Rand as a shrill proto-fascist and mock the enthusiasm of her fans. Her fans circle the wagons and remind each other that the world is full of cowards who can't handle Rand's clear thinking anyway. Both sides seem to just wish the other side would go away. This is how we treat a philosopher who dares to write with strength and originality?

I believe that Ayn Rand's ethical theories were completely wrong (thus, the title of my book). But I also know that she was one of the most popular and persuasive philosophers of the 20th century (the only other two in her class were Ludwig Wittgenstein and Jean-Paul Sartre). Her novels may have been melodramatic potboilers, but she stopped writing novels in 1957 and spent the next twenty-five years writing philosophical essays that were -- have you ever read one? you may be surprised -- sharp, witty and powerful. She deserves much more respect than she gets.

I can't think of any other major 20th century writer who is as widely hated and ridiculed as Ayn Rand. You'd think she spent her career spreading anthrax, not writing books, for the way some people react when they hear her name. It's hard not to wonder whether the fact that she was an opinionated woman with a foreign accent has anything to do with this. George Orwell also wrote plodding (though shorter) novels about Stalinesque dystopias, and nobody hates George Orwell. Henry David Thoreau was also an anti-social crank, and we all love Thoreau. Perhaps the only other controversial public figure who has been so persistently hated for expressing a political philosophy is Yoko Ono (who, ironically, is as super-liberal as Ayn Rand is super-conservative, but they have a few characteristics in common).

Ayn Rand's philosophy is keenly relevant to our own age -- perhaps more relevant than it has ever been. A film version of her last novel Atlas Shrugged has just hit the screens. Kentucky's Republican/Tea Party Senator Rand Paul explained the plot of Rand's novel Anthem at the U.S. Capitol this week (he insists he was not named after Ayn Rand, though his Presidential candidate father Ron Paul is also a Randian, and so is Congressman Paul Ryan, who is currently sponsoring a Republican budget bill that would defund Medicare while preserving tax breaks for billionaires).

I don't agree with Ayn Rand about much, and I don't agree with Tea Party conservatives or Republicans about much either. However, I always make it a point to respect the intelligence of anyone I disagree with. I'd rather explain exactly why I believe Ayn Rand's ethical philosophy to be logically flawed than stand back and sneer condescendingly at her followers.

Because I am a proud liberal (with a philosophy degree) who does not desire a Randian style of government in the United States of America, I would like to engage with today's Objectivist community in a logical examination of the premises and implications behind the doctrine of rational self-interest. As a rule, Objectivists value rational argument, and a rational argument is what this book delivers. No insults, no games, and no hard feelings when I kick their ass in structured, rational debate.

Why Ayn Rand is Wrong is my opening thrust in a dialogue that I hope will continue. This short and inexpensive book contains five chapters that lay out a single argument: that Ayn Rand's ethical philosophy depends on a weak psychological understanding of the nature of self, and thus rests on a shaky foundation.

If you're interested in ethics, politics, psychology or philosophy, I hope you'll read my book (available now only for Kindle, other formats coming very soon) and let me know what you think about it all.

Buy the book here -- thanks!


This article is part of the Philosophy Weekend series. The next post in the series is Philosophy Weekend: Nicholson Baker's Case for Pacifism. The previous post in the series is Philosophy Weekend: The Case Against Egoism.


41 Responses to "Philosophy Weekend: Why Ayn Rand Is Wrong (and Why It Matters)"

by frsh on

Not much in Xavier Zubiri or Ortega y Gasset, are we?

It is refreshing to find someone - on the internet especially - that is willing to take a stand that doesn't involve name-calling and finger pointing but wants discussion rather than argument. I'm a big proponent of Rand and have always enjoyed true contention. I'll certainly be reading it. Thanks for renewing my faith in intellectual discourse, and I'll keep an open mind.

by ANDREW LAMPERT on

I think the Oko-Rand link is a nice connection.

Nice cover by Eli Stein. My advice is to ask Eli to do each cover, giving your ebooks a uniform look and feel, like a set. If you want my advice.

by Laurie on

I bought and read your essay. I think you are right that pure egoism will not work for the world, but rational self-interest is not egoism, it's a system of living and thinking that accounts for situations like your car analogy in the first chapter and some of the other examples in the text.

Ayn Rand is 'wrong' for the great majority of people and I think she may have realized that towards the end of her life. Her ideas work extremely well for some people but that's it.

You brought up an interesting point towards the end and in retrospect I think what you put last could have been the premise for your whole rebuttal. You pointed out that Ayn Rand thought that the "heroes" of the world were rare and the "cowards" were common. Indeed, the protagonists of her novels are beset by parasites and secondhanders. If that was really the way she saw the world then why did she posit a philosophy that only a rare few could put into practice with success? She didn't do the math if she really expected her ideas to be embraced or adopted by society as a whole.

Good on you, Levi. Oddly, when I saw this I was in the middle of writing an edition of The Poet's Eye which deals with the same subject....the Randistas and the moral bankruptcy that they represent. Can't wait to read it. Onward.
Lightning Rod

Levi, I think I will read your book. I've only read some of Rand's fiction, never her actual essays. I should probably read at least a few. I agree with your effort to engage her ideas intellectually and with respect for her work. I had a discussion with a Randian last week - in person - about the new film which he was all excited about seeing. We talked briefly about how there is such a huge divide between Randians and non-Randians. I mentioned that I've always thought Ayn Rand was reacting logically and forcefully to an early 20th century that saw the herd mentality literally take over the world and cause millions to march willingly to their deaths. During such times and events a healthy swing toward individualism is perhaps the only weapon against mass hysteria.

This fellow thought that my point made perfect sense and he had no problem with my being a liberal and having doubts about the application of Rand's philosophy in too great a degree. He seemed to think that a measured application of her ideas, balanced with a more group oriented philosophy would actually be the best thing.

So, it would seem that there are at least a few Rand people and non-Rand people who can talk and come to some agreement!

Guess I'll have to read some Rand to see what this is all about. Then I'll do your e-book thingy. I had orginally planned to ignore the Kindle et al, but I guess I'm going to have to come around, like you did.

I think I'll start with Rand's essays.

by Kevin J MacLellan on

Mr Asher,
This proleptic essay is the best possible introduction to your book and should serve as--or in place of--the review you might hope for at Amazon. I can't imagine a review doing a better job of whetting my appetite for the book, as well as for the debate you hope to foster, than this intro does. Thanks for that. Know that I will be getting and reading the book soon. As an ex-professor of Logic, and Philosophy, I look forward to it!
Regards,
kjml

The best advice I got about reading Ayn Rand was from the book "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"- "Read Ayn Rand like a filter, not a sponge." For me, I always like reading her novels as just that: novels.

Now, see, I agree with "Books are My Boyfriend."

by AM on

I'm positively bowled over by the civility of your approach. The Yoko Ono thing is, strangely, dead on. I find the contempt most writers harbour towards Rand to be quite suspicious, and frankly very sexist. Mentions of Marx, Freud, Hume, Kant, Keynes, whoever usually focus on their ideas and achievements; mentions of Rand are invariably accompanied by snide and irrelevant insinuations about her character - took amphetamines, had an affair, was a strange 'shrill' (whatever that means) old woman. Never will you see the admirable/heroic aspects of her life brought up - that she had to flee communist Russia as a girl, arrived in America all alone during the great Depression and forged a great career for herself through nothing but talent and hard work. It's either sexism, or jealousy, or a mixture of both. Or just playground level herd mentality. Not even Hitler gets this sort of petty treatment.

As a somewhat-Objectivist I'm tempted to buy your book, and I have no hesitation to point others (O'ist or otherwise) in this direction. Rational, reasoned discourse is all I ever look for. If you think you've found logical holes in Rand's theory, I'm all ears.

One thing about Objectivism is that it's applicable and useful on an invididual level in any situation. Many Objectivists quietly get on with their lives, enjoying the calm, the confidence and the drive that a fully integrated practical philosophy gives them, and have no intention of 'preaching' or 'spreading the Word.' And certainly no desire to wade into the useless depths of philosophical discourse in academia that nobody ever really tries to *live.*

by Heinrich Gundel on

What a weak post. All you're doing is pitching your book, but you don't say *why* you think Ayn Rand is wrong. Every book or thesis can be summarized. But you don't give any hint that your book is any better than your post (which is full of political correctness - a bad omen for any open-minded and factual analysis). That's why I definitely won't buy it. Note that I'm neither pro nor against AR as I don't really know her theories - and I couldn't care less.

by Mike Cane on

Good luck. Rand herself would not be open to logical refutation of her system's flaws. At bottom, it rests on the variety of people in the world, very few of whom (if any!) are anything like her *imaginary* characters (and she certainly wasn't like them). Frustrated by such reality, Rand would would likely say, "Well, they shouldn't be like that!" Which is no argument at all. BTW, I've read all her fiction and non-fiction books, even got her autograph before she died (saw her at her last public appearance), and a good friend worked for her too. So I just don't waste my time arguing with Randroids. There is no Howard Roark, there is no John Galt; they are made-up people who do not reflect real human beings and are, in fact, antithetical to *being* human. But none of them seem to be able to grasp that fundamental point to begin with.

by DON DRIVER on

I just purchased a kindle and have downloaded Ayn Rand's "ANTHEM". "Atlas Shrugged" is still under copyright, and I refuse top pay for it when the library has it free. I am interested in reading her philosophy because I believe there are too many people on the dole, and some of those are my relatives! I work 8 to 5 for a living and pay taxes. I am appalled to learn that about half of the people in this country do not pay taxes. When I roll out of bed on a cold winter morning to go to work, they roll over and fart, waiting on their government check to arrive. One of my co workers in ISS is a Russian lady who still has family in Moscow that she loves and visits often. She however has no use for socialism in any form having lived most of her life under it. Solzhenitsyn didn't seem to have a lot of use for it either. I remember he was the darling of the left until he started speaking out. Karl Marx who formulated this ridiculous idea was so enthralled with it that his own family suffered while he wasted his life on it. Socialism does not take human nature into account. Not many people like to work and if they can get by without it they will. That is why we are about to go bankrupt as a nation. God knows where we are headed! Wars and entitlements have bankrupted us!

by Nun on

Umm... Nothing in this article explains anything about your argument. Not even a teaser.

by Levi Asher on

Heinrich and Nun: both of you point out that I don't describe the book's argument in this blog post. That's true, but the book was created from several other blog posts than ran earlier on this site, and if you'd rather read these first drafts than the book (which is perfectly understandable) you can start here:

The Ayn Rand Principle and the Two Senses of Self

The argument is spelled out over five blog posts. The post linked above is #2 in the series (the first in the series is an introductory piece). At the bottom of this blog post you'll find links to the introductory post, and the three successive posts.

Still, these blog posts add up to a first draft version of the book, and I think it's much more readable (and polished) in book form. So I do hope you'll check out the Kindle version, which can be read on any digital platform. You can also get a sample of the Kindle book for free from the Amazon page.

Well, I followed the link to buy the book - $2.99 seems like an excellent price. But Kindle? No thanks, esp. not as I usually run Ubuntu.

Any chance of a plain PDF version? I'm happy to pay a premium for nixing the DRM.

by Levi Asher on

Duncan Bayne, I'm working on a print version, using Amazon's CreateSpace. I am very picky about making my books look perfect, though, so I won't release the print version till I've got all the details worked out. Soon!

Levi, thanks - if you've a mailing list or whatnot, please sign me up for it so I'm notified when the print version's available. Or, for that matter, if you release a DRM-free eBook version. (Some very serious publishers, especially in the IT field, do release DRM-free eBooks. O'Reilly is a good example.)

by Igor Kokorev on

Levi, I just read your book, and I liked it, mainly for two reasons: (i) for the way you chose to engage the subject; and (ii) for what I, perhaps mistakenly, understood for your fundamental idea - rational egoism, or any other ethical approach for that matter, is not a logical given. Put simply, there are many valid choices out there that might be perfectly reasonable alternatives.

However, I have to say that I was sorely disappointed in the association you made between the ongoing economic crisis and Randian philosophy. I don't want to dwell on this, but suffice it to say that there is an inherent logical contradiction in identifying both rational egoism and Alan Greenspan (chairman of a monetary state monopoly) as the causes of the crisis (Greenspan was a "Randian" when he wrote this http://www.constitution.org/mon/greenspan_gold.htm, which is in exact contradiction with what he said and did when he became a central banker).

I'm a big admirer of Ayn Rand, to say the least, and I'm pro free market and minimal state, but I too believe that rational egoism is not the only logical option. Having said that, the beauty of rational egoism -if interpreted with a certain degree of flexibility (i.e. respecting that it's not the only possible logical approach) - is that it is the bare-minimum basic foundation on which any kind of complex ethical structure can be built. This is because the statement behind rational egoism is that "we, human beings, do not owe each other thing just because we are of the same species, ethnicity, religion, geographical location or family". In your book, you rightly point out by means of several examples that, in fact, this is not necessarily true, and there are many conceivable instances when any of us could feel an interest in the well being of another person. However, the point is that just as conceivably we might not feel such an interest.

Yes, a person may identify his "self" with the country she was born in. Or she might not. Your neighbour may sympathize with the homeless person living on the corner of your block, or with all the homeless and hungry people of the world he has never met. Or not. It's their choice, and I think it's unfair to dismiss whatever they "choose" to feel as wrong.

The great thing about rational egoism - I insist, if interpreted flexibly, - is that, if accepted as the bare minimum, it allows for people of radically different ethical persuasions to coexist in peace. The most selfish egoist, who is physiologically incapable of sympathizing with any living creature on planet Earth, is left alone to pursue his personal glory or whatever, and the most selfless altruist is free to dedicate her life to solving world hunger. The only condition is that the selfless altruist does not impose her ethical standard on the selfish egoist, and vice-versa. And rational egoism allows precisely for that, because it starts with the bare minimum of reciprocal obligations (which is to say none).

On the other hand, any ethical approach that starts with a load of reciprocal obligations, leaves behind the selfish egoists - whose ethics, from a rational point of view, are just as respectable as that of a selfless altruist.

In practical terms, free market (based on rational egoism) does not prevent a group of like-minded individuals (or a certain collective, if you prefer), from organizing the equivalent of a social security system among themselves on a voluntary basis; it allows for selfless altruism. A welfare state (based on reciprocal obligations), however, does not allow for selfish egoism (you can't opt out of social security).

Bottom line is that if we agree that rational egoism is as valid as any other ethical approach, we have to agree that rational egoism provides much better grounds for peaceful coexistence of radically different ethical systems than any other.

Thank you for writing the book and for reading my comment.

by Levi Asher on

Thanks for your comment, Igor -- I find what you say very reasonable. It's refreshing to be able to discuss this philosophy without hyperbole, and I find it's much easier to understand the other side's point of view when approaching it in this way.

To rephrase what I think you're saying: rational egoism is valuable because it can serve as a "lowest common denominator" with which disparate people, groups and nations can find shared moral currency. Yes, that makes a lot of sense. I think that way of looking at it emphasizes the "rational" in "rational egoism", and this is an approach I can live with.

Recently in a different discussion of Ayn Rand on this blog, a reader from India pointed out that it's strange that Randian philosophy is associated with conservativism in the USA, because (he said) it's associated with liberalism in India. I think that's a very illuminating point -- in fact, I hadn't realized that. Further proof that we ethical thinkers around the world have big gaps in common understanding to bridge before we can even begin to communicate at a high level. Fascinating stuff!

by Igor Kokorev on

Yes, that's exactly what I meant - you have formulated it very nicely.

I think that much of the unnecessary and noisy hyperbole surrounding Rand's philosophy comes from the erroneous perception that she was not a philosopher, but rather something else (a political ideologist?), and the consequent discussion on whether she was absolutely right or absolutely wrong. This doesn't happen usually when discussing philosophers, because we naturally assume that they are not in the possession of the absolute truth, and instead focus on the usefulness or interest of their contribution to philosophy.

As any philosopher before or after her, Ayn Rand was never in the possession of the absolute truth - but she did make a very significant contribution, among other things because she found the "lowest common denominator" for a rational ethical system.

I wonder if in India the term "liberalism" has kept its original meaning - from a quick search on the web it appears to be so. In Spain, where I currently live, the word liberalism still means classical liberalism (laissez-faire). I think that in the earlier 20th century proponents of state welfare in the US and the UK preferred to call themselves liberals so as not to be called socialists so as not to be confused with communists. Talk about confusion!

by Levi Asher on

I haven't, Kanabe, but I'll read it now -- thanks.

by Josh on

I think the people that her ideas work well for are those with sociopathic tendences.

by Josh on

Bought the book, read it. Enjoyed the mental excercise. One thing that seems to stand out to me is that so many people place too much emphasis on Rand's characters. She had stated herself that the characters only represented the "ideal" to her, and not the practical.this is also evidenced in her minarchist approach to government; whereas a consistent application if her philosophy would support market anarchism.

Just an observation. Like others commenting, I enjoy thought provoking dialogue and respect even where people disagree.

by Mike on

Ayn Rand has a much closer appreciation of what motivates people than any liberal or socialist idealist has. In essence, mankind (and women) are selfish in nature to some degree or other and their lies the problem for an egalitarian world where we might share everything equally.

It doesn't matter whether you are to the left or right in your social thinking as everyone will normally be incentivised to improve their 'lot' in life through whatever means at their disposal and that is the essence of Rands thinking.

In the case of business leaders and the support 'staff' below them, they all expect to be rewarded for their efforts according to their skills and their commitment to the company both in work terms or financial terms. However, in a caring society we don't want the less fortunate to suffer and provide welfare benefits to help them.

The original rationale behind this was to offer a short term bridge until the unemployed could find work again. Problem is, that in countries like the UK the generosity of welfare benefits now exceeds by a large margin what a low paid worker can get for actually working. As a consequence there is no incentive for many to even look for work and the taxation to pay for ever increasing benefits has actually impoverished the middle classes who do work.

Rand's writings predicted that very outcome that we see today in some socialist countries where the state controls everything, it taxes the entrepreneurs and companies that actually produce something and the tax take from business and workers can no longer support the welfare benefits.

In summary, all across Europe today and in America to some degree, we see liberal socialist governments being kicked out of office when the countries debt exceeds its capability to service the interest alone. These governments just like the one in Atlas Shrugged instead of cutting back when times are tough as prudent families are doing, they continue borrowing more and more to create an illusion that everything is fine.

Socialism failed in Russia and its failing now in the EU, when will the left accept that its a lost cause that's been proved to fail every time its been tried.

by james on

Dear Levi,
I know you tried very hard, but you failed. I was looking for intelligent disagreement, but there was none to be found. You fail to even understand Ayn Rand, the author you are trying to debate.

Your own theory is flawed too. You state, "Rather than considering the first a case of direct experience and the second a case of indirect experience, we should consider them both to be cases of direct experience. When you see a person you care about in pain, there is no intermediate step during which your brain parses the observation of external pain into a transmittal of internal pain. Rather, your sense of self simply extends beyond the reach of your physical body." By your theory I should be able to feel a family member's pain when they were being tortured, if I observe the torture. Humans would feel mental pain (anger, fear,empathy), but humans would not have a shared physical experience.

Overall, this author lacks full understanding of the Objectivist point of view and has a poor philosophy of his own. I would not recommend this short book.

by Bruce on

Having recently read The Fountainhead followed by this essay I am struggling with the concept of the rigid philosophies Objectivism (Egoism) and Collectivism (Group-Think). Instead I think of these as the extreme points of a scale.

Whilst the intention of your essay was laid out very constructively to counter the Ayn Rand ethical doctrine of rational self interest, it came across as their being one camp or another. George W. Bush - "you're either with us or against us". It seems to me that life is more dynamic, and that we are making self interest or group focused decisions all the time.

Thanks for the insightful essay.

by Levi Asher on

I think that's a worthwhile point, Bruce -- thanks. I'll have to think about that one a bit.

by Mårten Berglund on

I have to agree with Igor regarding the mentioning of Alan Greenspan, it is a contradiction in itself when he (or you) label himself a "Randian", you both must have confused objectivism with something else.

by Levi Asher on

Marten, several readers have made the same point about my mention of Alan Greenspan. I see that this is a sore point for Objectivists, and I do recognize that Greenspan had ceased to be a card-carrying Objectivist (or to run the Federal Reserve Bank as an Objectivist) late in his life.

However, I am sure I do have the right to associate Alan Greenspan with the philosophy of Ayn Rand, at least circumstantially. It's clear from his public biography that he called himself an Objectivist for many years. He and Ayn Rand were close personal friends, and were part of a tight group of young followers of Ayn Rand that gathered regularly in New York City. He mentions his involvement with Objectivism warmly (and slightly piquantly) in his autobiography. It seems to have embarrassed him as he rose within the banking field, but he never denied that it was a big part of his life when he was younger.

Since I do not falsely represent Alan Greenspan's relationship with Objectivism anywhere in "Why Ayn Rand is Wrong", and only discuss him tangentially within the book, I really don't see what you are objecting to.

by Mårten Berglund on

Okey, fair enough.

I do agree with you that Ayn Rands philosophy has no more bearing than other philosophies thou hers are closer to "the truth" in my opinion, thats the conclusion; In my opinion.
In the last sentence you may discover why people take it personaly when you attack Ayn Rand, her followers are more dogmatic, and see her thougts as an absolute, then your avarage "hobbyphilosopher".

// Libertarian - yes Narrowminded "Randian" - no

by Will on

I am interested in the discussion of the initial establishment of a society, and its subsequent, stepwise, development. When I hear arguments for or against aspects of a political system, I always find myself wondering if the same arguments would be considered at the onset.

The idea of a cushion for those who fail (temporarily) is not offensive. The idea of some people working to support the society in general does offend. Under this 'initial condition', these institutions (welfare, in this example) may be more subject to appraisal upon rational (fair) standards. Those making the judgement could choose to establish a society, or not. To me, this presents a "you cut it, he chooses" forum, imposing fairness rather than compromise.

I am by no means a philosopher, and I'd like to see some developed discussions, and they must be out there. Also I'm afraid you've been comment thread-jacked, sorry but this discussion hasn't degraded into internet feces slinging, yet. Rare opportunity.

by Levi Asher on

Hi Will -- well, that's exactly the kind of discussion I'm hoping to keep up here on Litkicks. And I'm glad you noticed that there's no "feces slinging" going on here -- yes, despite widespread popular belief, it is possible to maintain intelligent, polite and respectful open debates on the Internet. We've been doing it here for years, glad to have you join us.

by Chris on

What about things everybody needs, like highways, for example? Why should a rational egoist get to drive on a highway even if they do not feel like paying for it? Shouldn't the state be able to make certain demands on individuals in order that we may all enjoy their benefits? It is simply not possible to "coexist" without sharing in the benefits provided to us by the state, that is, unless we all fly little helicopters to and from our individual utopian compounds.

I can't accept that rational egoism is has any basis in life as it actually occurs.

by James on

All human beings use philosophy. It is inescapable except by means of slamming one’s mind shut expressing no ideas and dying. The very act of reading this invokes the use of your philosophy. Philosophy is composed of five primary branches of logic and scientific discipline:

1. Metaphysics- The field of Philosophy that deals with reality.

2. Epistemology- The field of Philosophy that deals with Knowledge.

3. Ethics- The Field of philosophy that deals with Morality.

4. Politics- The field of Philosophy that deals with Economics and Government.

5. Aesthetics- The field of Philosophy that deals with Art and Creativity.

For a philosophy to be logically consistent and integrate all aspects of man’s mind, body and reality it must reconcile the above five points without contradictions. There are NO other philosophical systems that have accomplished this other than Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

The reason people want to discredit Ayn Rand is the fact that they would like to justify enslaving other men for their ends and means and as a valid solution to their problems. All products of our current and abundantly embraced Christian ideologies that see sacrifice as a valid solution, when it is a corrupt solution. Only necessary when one lacks a scientific understanding of our world. Corrupt thinking and philosophies will always equal corrupt worlds, our World Holds a very corrupt ideology for the most part, our world currently reflects that reality, only when humanity finally wakes up and chooses a rational philosophy will we have a world that reflects that realty.

by Mike Veronie on

"Yoko Ono ... is as super-liberal as Ayn Rand is super-conservative."

Ayn Rand is conservative? Are you SURE you've read much of or understand Ayn Rand? Do you realize that she wrote a chapter in "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal" titled "Conservatism: An Obituary"? And she wrote, among other things, that "today’s “conservatives” are futile, impotent and, culturally, dead. They have nothing to offer and can achieve nothing."

Ayn Rand would not ever identify as a conservative. She felt that they had no integrity, and said that they were con-men who had no moral code and who end up retreating into the realm of mysticism.

I also take issue with your characterization of objectivists as merely "circling the wagons" in response to our critics. In my experience, most people who are objectivists read their critics, seek to understand their positions well, and then seek to apply rationality in responses to criticisms. Conversely, it's rare to find a critic of Ayn Rand who has actually bothered to read her non-fiction works or correctly characterize her beliefs.

by Levi Asher on

Mike Veronie, I am speaking broadly when I describe Ayn Rand as conservative. You are right that this is not a particularly good characterization of her politics, though it is a fact that she is often championed by current conservatives. I prefer not to get bogged down in broad labels -- yes, the belief system in question here is Objectivism.

by moxy on

The beauty of a free country is that you can continue your philosophy and convince others to live their lives as you claim they should ..
while we unwashed masses defend our rights as well..
no politician required, and those who see us as tools to be controlled can stay in their hell
Snobbery?
We who think for a living do not need patronization, nor bribes
Nothing at which the "Amerikan Liberal" should wince about that

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