A Liberal Ayn Rand?

Norm Stansfield

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#1
An article for The Huffington Post, by Onkar Ghate from the Ayn Rand Institute:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/onkar-ghate/ayn-rand-politics_b_2066189.html
It's no secret that the right is awash in Ayn Rand. Tea Partiers carry signs like "Who is John Galt?" and, astonishing for a novel published 55 years ago, sales of Atlas Shrugged topped 445,000 last year.

All of this has prompted researchers like Yale historian Beverly Gage to wonder, "Why is there no liberal Ayn Rand?" Good question. Liberals today, Gage observes, have no long-term goals or vision, no big ideas, no canon.

Here's a radical thought. Instead of liberals dismissing Rand's appeal to the American spirit of individualism and independence, as President Obama recently did in his Rolling Stone interview, why don't liberals make Rand part of a new canon? Why let conservatives monopolize her?

Rand herself I suspect would have welcomed this. In a talk in Boston in 1961, she lamented the fact that both liberals and conservatives were ideologically bankrupt, with too many liberals turning sympathetically to unlimited government and too many conservatives turning back to the Middle Ages. She was seeking to address, she said, "the 'non-totalitarian liberals' and the 'non-traditional conservatives'" in the audience.

Her message that night was the need for a principled, uncompromising fight for a moral ideal she thought long abandoned by both sides, the rights of the individual. This means life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness: your moral right to follow your own reasoned judgment in earning your way in the world and achieving your happiness.

Religious conservatives like Paul Ryan have to distance themselves from Rand's philosophy. Theirs is an inconsistent position. Ryan, for instance, wants to be seen as an advocate of individual rights while simultaneously making a mockery of a woman's right to the pursuit of happiness by proposing to force her to bring a pregnancy to term even in the case of ****.

Rand rejects such medievalism. Precisely because raising a child is a personal and immense undertaking, a woman must have the freedom to judge whether and when to have children. To equate an embryo with a human being, a potential with the actual, and then to declare the willful ending of a pregnancy murder, is to abandon reason and science in favor of mystical Church dogmas. No government, Rand argued, should have the power to dictate to a woman in such matters; it's her life and her decision.

The same principle -- the individual's moral right to his own life -- put Rand on the side of other supposedly liberal causes: she was a staunch defender of free speech and immigration and a staunch opponent of racism. But this very principle led Rand to reject what too many liberal-leaning people seemingly dare not even question: the modern regulatory-welfare state.

What in the end is the regulatory-welfare state but a massive and growing attempt to override our reasoned choices and decisions: to dictate to us whose permission we must obtain to drive a taxi or serve alcohol in a restaurant, what questions we're allowed to ask in a job interview, whose health care we must pay for and in what way, how much we must "save" for retirement (which the government then proceeds to spend), and on and on and on.

Take the case of but one regulatory agency, the FDA. The FDA wasn't created to outlaw fraud, which was already illegal. It exists to tell us which drugs we can buy, companies which drugs they can sell, how those drugs must be tested and how manufactured. What if people rationally disagree with the government's dictates? What if a company thinks it has developed a better way of testing for efficacy or an unconventional but superior manufacturing process? What if a patient is willing to risk known and even unknown side effects because of the unusual severity of his disease? If the decision about abortion should be left to a woman (in consultation with her doctor), why shouldn't these important decisions be solely between the individuals involved? Because they are economic in nature, and therefore subject to majority vote?

This is precisely one issue on which Rand challenges modern liberals: whether it's consistent to advocate an individual's intellectual and personal liberty while denying him economic liberty.

It wasn't always so. Liberals in the nineteenth century were champions of science and at the forefront of abolishing slavery and securing a woman's individual rights. But they were also champions of private property, free trade and economic liberty. It is this combination that produced the individual's unprecedented progress in that century. Modern liberals, however, abandoned the right to private property in favor of various socialistic visions, which have since faded with awareness of what socialism and communism actually wrought. The result is what Gage notes: modern liberals bereft of an ideal.

Any liberal-leaning person today who seeks long-term goals and a new vision, but will not touch the political right because of conservatives' anti-evolution, anti-immigration, anti-abortion platforms, would do well to remember nineteenth-century liberalism. Perhaps the two alternatives confronting us, a government with virtually unlimited power to dictate our personal lives or our economic lives, are both defective.

For anyone willing to explore this possibility, I can think of no better place to start than with Ayn Rand.
Methinks that's a bit much to ask from the collection of braindead socialists who call themselves "liberal" these days, but can't blame the guy for trying, I guess....
 

Polack

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Aug 25, 2005
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#3
You can't have a liberal Rand because they contradict each other. Liberals want someone to watch over society and Rand is against a large government. The reason conservatives like Rand is for this very reason. I think Rand would laugh if she knew that a group of faith based followers were putting her on a pedestal. To me, of everything I've read by her and about her she was closest to a libertarian.
 

Don the Radio Guy

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#4
She didn't like libertarians either. She was really just a miserable cunt of a woman. Lots of good ideas,a few bad ones, and a penchant for writing books that are too long.
 

OccupyWackbag

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#5
She didn't like libertarians either. She was really just a miserable cunt of a woman. Lots of good ideas,a few bad ones, and a penchant for writing books that are too long.
You just hate her because she's pro choice.
 

Lord Zero

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#7
She didn't like libertarians either. She was really just a miserable cunt of a woman. Lots of good ideas,a few bad ones, and a penchant for writing books that are too long.
She was a cult leader too. If anyone in her circle disagree with her philosophy, they were shunned from the group.
 

OccupyWackbag

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#8
I didn't say I hated her. I said she wasn't a nice person.
You know she also pushed for outlawing organized religion too. In a speech she said "religion is a leach that feeds on the ignorant and simple and is one of the few problems so large that the federal government should be tasked with it eradication."
 

Konstantin K

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You know she also pushed for outlawing organized religion too. In a speech she said "religion is a leach that feeds on the ignorant and simple and is one of the few problems so large that the federal government should be tasked with it eradication."
Are you sure that wasn't Andrew Ryan?
 

Norm Stansfield

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#13
You know she also pushed for outlawing organized religion too. In a speech she said "religion is a leach that feeds on the ignorant and simple and is one of the few problems so large that the federal government should be tasked with it eradication."
I'm thinking you might be trying for a bit of some kind. But if this is a serious post, you're probably the most retarded person on this board. Even Kirk could probably tell that that's not a real quote.
 
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Norm Stansfield

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#14
She was a cult leader too. If anyone in her circle disagree with her philosophy, they were shunned from the group.
What was this "group" called, and who were the "members"? As far as I know, she was just a regular person with friends, with whom she'd fight on occasion (sometimes over her work, but more often because of personal issues like sex).

If I tell one of my friends to go fuck himself because he's being a cunt, am I also a cult leader who's "shunning people from the group"?
 
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Creasy Bear

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#16
She was hideous, but I would've banged her just for the story.



Then I could've bragged like, "...I said to her, "I got yer fountainhead, Ayn... right here!" and then I pulled out and blew my load right in her eye."



And there's my contribution to this thread.
 

Floyd1977

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#17
She didn't like libertarians either. She was really just a miserable cunt of a woman. Lots of good ideas,a few bad ones, and a penchant for writing books that are too long.
She did inspire "2112"
 

Don the Radio Guy

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#18
Ok, what criteria are you using to decide if an idea is good or bad?
Advocating what amounts to a stateless society is not realistic. Government of some sort is absolutely necessary. The trick is to keep it as small as possible while providing only those services that government is able to provide in a manner better than the private sector. That list is very short, but it does exist. As an extension of that, she opposed all taxation. That's also not realistic.

Her ideals are great for libertarian circle jerks, but just remember she hated libertarians too.

http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=education_campus_libertarians

Q: Why don’t you approve of the Libertarians, thousands of whom are loyal readers of your works? [FHF: “The Age of Mediocrity,” 1981]
AR: 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.
 

Neon

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#19
Is it me, or does the left hysterically overestimate Ayn Rand's influence on the right? Honestly, I hear about her far more from liberals than I do from conservatives.
 

whiskeyguy

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#20
Is it me, or does the left hysterically overestimate Ayn Rand's influence on the right? Honestly, I hear about her far more from liberals than I do from conservatives.
Grossly overestimated. Rand is by no means a Bible for most people who agree with a lot of her concepts... to me when I read Atlas Shrugged (ten years ago) it just represented a bunch of my frustrations played out with obnoxious examples. I heard it called libertarian porn before and that makes sense... because like porn it's great to fantasize about it, but if you really think that exact scenario is going to happen you're delusional. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't strive to make the world closer to that hypothetical one.

I think the biggest appeal of Rand is her concepts represent what many people on the right see as completely opposite of where we're headed (which they don't agree with)... while most on the right would actually be happy with a more moderately right America (opposed to a fanatically libertarian one)... they want the tides to turn their way, so Rand is seen much like people view Fox News (the one "right" channel in a very liberal media). Reagan's philosophies have much more influence over the right than those of Rands in American at the moment, and they were extremely different people.

Although I think the right is certainly turning more libertarian every year (and I'm using libertarian to describe Rand's philosophy just for simplification, I know there are differences between the two).
 

Lord Zero

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#21
What was this "group" called, and who were the "members"? As far as I know, she was just a regular person with friends, with whom she'd fight on occasion (sometimes over her work, but more often because of personal issues like sex).

If I tell one of my friends to go fuck himself because he's being a cunt, am I also a cult leader who's "shunning people from the group"?
No, but how often do you end friendships because the friend doesn't think you, though?
 

Don the Radio Guy

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#22
Is it me, or does the left hysterically overestimate Ayn Rand's influence on the right? Honestly, I hear about her far more from liberals than I do from conservatives.
The left over simplifies and exaggerates everything. It's what they do.