Nuggets of Wisdom

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Open Thread Thursday: Ayn Rand Was NOT a Libertarian

Before I begin, I must clarify that I am not a Randian. I have not read any of Ayn Rand’s books or her writings. I have watched videos of her, and from what I have seen, she was a very intelligent thinker. I don’t agree with all of her ideas or beliefs, mostly because she was an atheist, and I am a Christian. (I especially take umbrage with her thoughts on Christian charity.) But for the most part, I somewhat admire her.

What I find most intriguing is how many of the people who admire Rand and her philosophy tend to be people she hated. For example, many Republicans (especially Paul Ryan) laud her for her economics, even though she despised the Republican Party and urged her followers not to vote for Ronald Reagan.

Also, many libertarians claim her as their own, even though she not only disagreed with libertarians, but outright hated them. Washington’s Blog elucidates with the following quotes:

All kinds of people today call themselves “libertarians,” especially something calling itself the New Right, which consists of hippies, except that they’re anarchists instead of collectivists. But of course, anarchists are collectivists. Capitalism is the one system that requires absolute objective law, yet they want to combine capitalism and anarchism. That is worse than anything the New Left has proposed. It’s a mockery of philosophy and ideology. They sling slogans and try to ride on two bandwagons. They want to be hippies, but don’t want to preach collectivism, because those jobs are already taken. But anarchism is a logical outgrowth of the anti-intellectual side of collectivism. I could deal with a Marxist with a greater chance of reaching some kind of understanding, and with much greater respect. The anarchist is the scum of the intellectual world of the left, which has given them up. So the right picks up another leftist discard. That’s the Libertarian movement.

***

I’d rather vote for Bob Hope, the Marx Brothers, or Jerry Lewis [than a candidate from the Libertarian Party].

***

[Libertarians] are not defenders of capitalism. They’re a group of publicity seekers who rush into politics prematurely, because they allegedly want to educate people through a political campaign, which can’t be done. Further, their leadership consists of men of every of persuasion, from religious conservatives to anarchists. Moreover, most of them are my enemies: they spend their time denouncing me, while plagiarizing my ideas. Now, I think it’s a bad beginning for an allegedly pro-capitalist party to start by stealing ideas.

***

Now here is a party that plagiarizes some of my ideas, mixes it with the exact opposite—with religionists, anarchists, and just about every intellectual misfit and scum they can find—and they call themselves Libertarians, and run for office. I dislike Reagan and Carter; I’m not too enthusiastic about the other candidates. But the worst of them are giants compared to anybody who would attempt something as un-philosophical, low, and pragmatic as the Libertarian Party. It is the last insult to ideas and philosophical consistency.

***

[Question] Why don’t you approve of the Libertarians, thousands of whom are loyal readers of your works?

[Rand] Because Libertarians are a monstrous, disgusting bunch of people: they plagiarize my ideas when that fits their purpose, and they denounce me in a more vicious manner than any communist publication, when that fits their purpose. They are lower than any pragmatists, and what they hold against Objectivism is morality. They’d like to have an amoral political program.

***

The Libertarians aren’t worthy of being the means to any end, let alone the end of spreading Objectivism.
You would think that, as a libertarian, I would be disappointed but this, but personally, I’m not. If anything, this only proves how much Ayn Rand was a champion of independent thought.

Too often, we libertarians pride ourselves as being “individuals,” but when it comes to political philosophy, we tend to be highly collectivist, if not cultish. By criticizing libertarians, Rand proved that she was a true independent thinker who refused to succumb to group think, and for that, she truly is admirable.

But I want to know what you think: What are your thoughts on Ayn Rand? How do you feel about her opinions on libertarians and libertarianism? Does it change your perception of her at all? Do you agree with her assessment or not? Feel free to post your response in the comments below.