Ayn Rand's View of Liberals...

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Liberty -vs- Tyranny


Yesterday I ran a piece briefly introducing Ayn Rand's views on conservatives. Today, for the purpose of clarification with respect to her view of liberals, and liberalism in general I offer the following... In her words

“Liberals”

The basic and crucial political issue of our age is: capitalism versus socialism, or freedom versus statism. For decades, this issue has been silenced, suppressed, evaded, and hidden under the foggy, undefined rubber-terms of “conservatism” and “liberalism” which had lost their original meaning and could be stretched to mean all things to all men.

The goal of the “liberals”—as it emerges from the record of the past decades—was to smuggle this country into welfare statism by means of single, concrete, specific measures, enlarging the power of the government a step at a time, never permitting these steps to be summed up into principles, never permitting their direction to be identified or the basic issue to be named. Thus statism was to come, not by vote or by violence, but by slow rot—by a long process of evasion and epistemological corruption, leading to a fait accompli. (The goal of the “conservatives” was only to retard that process.)

The most timid, frightened, conservative defenders of the status quo—of the intellectual status quo—are today’s liberals (the leaders of the conservatives never ventured into the realm of the intellect). What they dread to discover is the fact that the intellectual status quo they inherited is bankrupt, that they have no ideological base to stand on and no capacity to construct one. Brought up on the philosophy of Pragmatism, they have been taught that principles are unprovable, impractical or non-existent—which has destroyed their ability to integrate ideas, to deal with abstractions, and to see beyond the range of the immediate moment. Abstractions, they claim, are “simplistic” (another anti-concept); myopia is sophisticated. “Don’t polarize!” and “Don’t rock the boat!” are expressions of the same kind of panic.

In the 1930’s, the “liberals” had a program of broad social reforms and a crusading spirit, they advocated a planned society, they talked in terms of abstract principles, they propounded theories of a predominantly socialistic nature—and most of them were touchy about the accusation that they were enlarging the government’s power; most of them were assuring their opponents that government power was only a temporary means to an end—a “noble end,” the liberation of the individual from his bondage to material needs.

Today, nobody talks of a planned society in the “liberal” camp; long-range programs, theories, principles, abstractions, and “noble ends” are not fashionable any longer. Modern “liberals” deride any political concern with such large-scale matters as an entire society or an economy as a whole; they concern themselves with single, concrete-bound, range-of-the-moment projects and demands, without regard to cost, context, or consequences. “Pragmatic”—not “idealistic”—is their favorite adjective when they are called upon to justify their “stance,” as they call it, not “stand.” They are militantly opposed to political philosophy; they denounce political concepts as “tags,” “labels,” “myths,” “illusions”—and resist any attempt to “label”—i.e., to identify—their own views. They are belligerently anti-theoretical and—with a faded mantle of intellectuality still clinging to their shoulders—they are anti-intellectual. The only remnant of their former “idealism” is a tired, cynical, ritualistic quoting of shopworn “humanitarian” slogans, when the occasion demands it.

Cynicism, uncertainty, and fear are the insignia of the culture which they are still dominating by default. And the only thing that has not rusted in their ideological equipment, but has grown savagely brighter and clearer through the years, is their lust for power—for an autocratic, statist, totalitarian government power. It is not a crusading brightness, it is not the lust of a fanatic with a mission—it is more like the glassy-eyed brightness of a somnambulist whose stuporous despair has long since swallowed the memory of his purpose, but who still clings to his mystic weapon in the stubborn belief that “there ought to be a law,” that everything will be all right if only somebody will pass a law, that every problem can be solved by the magic power of brute force.

The majority of those who are loosely identified by the term “liberals” are afraid to let themselves discover that what they advocate is statism. They do not want to accept the full meaning of their goal; they want to keep all the advantages and effects of capitalism, while destroying the cause, and they want to establish statism without its necessary effects. They do not want to know or to admit that they are the champions of dictatorship and slavery. {Reference - Ayn Rand Lexicon}

It has been said Rand is one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century. It has also been said that Rand is perhaps one of the most despised individuals of the 20th century. As one reads the two short pieces on her views of both conservatism and liberalism it is easy to envision why. She challenged both conservative and liberal dogma, and always on the basis of reason. Reason void of emotionalism, mysticism, or altruism. She viewed reason as the only absolute.

Ayn Rand had her shortcomings. All humans do. Above all else Rand strove to live her life based on reason and objectivity. Wherever she may have failed it certainly was not for the lack of strenuous effort to achieve the ideals she believed in. The ideals of individualism, true liberty, and a society based on voluntary exchange and trade between free people.

That and the belief that mankind's greatest moral purpose and value was in men and women seeking and achieving their own happiness.

To dismiss Ayn Rand out of hand because of what you may have heard about her is unfortunate. To fully understand Rand as a person as well as her Objectivist philosophy requires an open mind and the willingness to study. As well as thinking for oneself.

14 comments:

  1. Rand was a crank. My problem with her was that she engaged mainly in hyperbole and make believe. She did nothing but dump on every philosophy but her own for the sake of selling her creation. Her blind hatred of religion really exposed how shallow her views were. They were so fragile, they couldn't accommodate much of anything that made the modern world she inherited.

    She was right about a lot of things, but most serious people are. Stopped clock and all, yaknow. :)

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  2. Rand was a crank, really? Everybody is entitled to their opinion. No mater how shallow it may be.

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  3. You of all people should know.

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  4. And for what it's worth, I'm not knocking her as a person. That's too easy a target. She was a wretched human being to which most of those who knew her have attested. I don't think that necessarily says anything about her body of philosophical work. I think most of the people who worship Ayn Rand do so on the basis of her novels, though. She was first and foremost one of the best writers to ever live. Even the little excerpt above shows it, and that's pretty dry stuff. Thing is, an objective analysis of the cause she named Objectivism, shows it to be pretty damn nutty. She was a genius; and like most geniuses, she was an insufferable weirdo. She openly referred to William F Buckley as her enemy. And why? Because he wasn't an Atheist. That to her was a disqualification. That's how dogmatic and closed minded she was.

    The world is better off for her having been in it, but she isn't worthy of the veneration she receives from some quarters today. A veneration, you can bet your ass she'd never have afford anyone.

    Selah

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  5. Chuck, Ive been following your comments on a couple of sites now...and I am curious...just who and what do you believe in?

    Hyperbole and make believe... huh? Rand predicted what is happening right now.

    Rand was a helluva lot more right than wrong. She was a stone cold atheist. So what? Her calls on statism and government takeovers, regulation, stifling business, rising prices, shortages...all correct and taking place as we write..

    LCR may have nailed it in the last couple sentences. I call that- contempt prior to investigation.

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  6. And you do so out of abject ignorance. You know nothing about me other than you find yourself unable to counter the truth Ive written. I'd wager you have done no serious study of Objectivism at all. I have.
    Some of you people have serious issues with reading comprehension. Did you read anywhere a criticism of her atheism by me? No. You made it up. Because it felt good and it jibed with the story you had already written in your head. Rand and about ten million other people have predicted what is going on now. If that is your basis for worshiping her, you've got a whole litany of other people to canonize along with her.

    Some of you folks really need to engage in some self examination. A little honesty would raise you IQ considerably.

    Best,
    Chuck.

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  8. A perfect example of what I'm referring to, Brian, is your post itself. I did nothing but explain my opinion of Rand's philosophy. Why you and that other flake would take that personally is beyond me. I guess because I'm not a celebrity worshiper. Thing is, even in defending Rand, you did so in a completely facile manner. Hell, I could make a much better case for her ideas than you apparently, and I'm the one saying she ain't all she's cracked up to be. Maybe you're simply more interested in attacking a stranger than defending your own beliefs, but that doesn't really put you in a better place intellectually. If your grasp on what you believe is so weak that it can't handle even mild critique, you might consider asking yourself if you really believe the things think you do.

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  9. One thing I notice about Rand, is that no matter what she writes about epistemology, philosophy, logic whatever, its that she does it so well that you buy it just because of how well written it is. Her use of imagery was wonderful. The Witch Doctor versus Hun was a brilliant device, but she made that device her whole world view. She sort of made her own cage and refused to ever leave it.

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  10. Chuck you can't lure me into a flame war. You made some allegations that are simply not supported by the facts as they exist.

    Brother you are entitled to an opinion... but you are not entitled to your own set of manipulated facts. As for your ad hominem attacks, please don't waste the time. Stay on subject, on point, bring something useful to prove your point. Otherwise, shut up. Calling people names...most of us quit that around 3rd grade.

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  11. A lot of myth surrounds Ayn Rand. Both liberal and conservative non reasoning collectivists are primarily responsible for this.

    The obvious reason WAS and REMAINS to destroy her and her philosophy.

    This link below is a source for factual responses {answers} to false myths the non reasoning conservatives and liberals have spread. Use it to debunk the lies.

    http://www.aynrandmyths.com/

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  12. ". Otherwise, shut up. Calling people names...most of us quit that around 3rd grade."

    And again you go the extra mile to prove me right. Why?

    What name were you called, Brian? Self righteousness isn't an argument. I'm happy to have a discussion about the merits of Rand's ideas. You seem desperate to avoid it. Flame war? Really?

    There are some seriously fragile psyches around here it seems. I don't mind that, but if you require that others defer to your ideas, it means either you don't think your ideas are worth defending or that you consider yourself beneath the task.

    I don't mind being attacked personally. It's just that is depresses me. Why not address the substance? Why not deal with the real meat of the subject? What are you afraid of? A stranger on the internet?

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  13. "A lot of myth surrounds Ayn Rand."

    And a lot more truth. Her life wasn't exactly shrouded in mystery. I think she was the Voltaire of her age. (Truth be told, I think Voltaire was her inspiration.) She lauded Victor Hugo, but I think her hero was Voltaire.

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