Skip to comments.Is Rand Paul’s Love of Ayn Rand a ‘Conspiracy’? (Chait: Why Ayn Rand is Evil)
Posted on 06/20/2013 12:48:09 PM PDT by nickcarraway
My item on Rand Paul the other day, predictably, went over quite badly in the libertarian community. The Insomniac Libertarian, in an item wonderfully headlined Obama Quisling Jonathan Chait Smears Rand Paul, complains that my Paul piece never discloses that [my] wife is an Obama campaign operative. A brief annotated response:
1. I question the relevance of the charge, since Rand Paul is not running against Obama.
2. In point of fact, my wife is not an Obama campaign operative and has never worked for Obamas campaign, or his administration, or volunteered for his campaign, or any campaign, and does not work in politics at all.
3. I question the headline labeling me an Obama quisling, a construction that implies that I have betrayed Obama, which seems to be the opposite of the Insomniac Libertarians meaning.
4. For reasons implied by points one through three, I urge the Insomniac Libertarian to familiarize himself with some of the science linking sleep deprivation to impaired brain function.
A more substantive, though still puzzling, retort comes from the Atlantics Conor Friedersdorf, a frequent bête noire of mine on subjects relating to Ayn Rand and Ron or Rand Paul. Friedersdorf raises two objections to my piece, which traced Rand Pauls odd admission that he is not a firm believer in democracy to his advocacy of Randian thought. Friedersdorf first charges that the intellectual connection between Paul and Rand is sheer paranoia:
Chait takes the quote and turns it into a conspiracy As I read this, I couldn't help but think of Chait as a left-leaning analog to the character in Bob Dylan's "Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues." Those Objectivists were coming around/They were in the air / They were on the Ground/ They wouldn't give me no peace. For two thousand years, critics of unmediated democracy have warned about the masses abusing individuals and minorities. The American system was built from the very beginning to check democratic excesses.
But if Rand Paul distrusts democracy he must've gotten it from Ayn Rand.
A conspiracy? Am I imagining that Rand Paul has been deeply influenced by Ayn Rand? Paul himself has discussed the deep influence her work had on his own thinking. In college he wrote a series of letters and columns either quoting Rand or knocking off her theories. He used a congressional hearing to describe one of her novels at tedious length. How is this a conspiracy? Friedersdorf proceeds to argue that Rand is not really very militant anyway:
It's also interesting that Chait regards Rand's formulation as "militant." Let's look at it again. "I do not believe that a majority can vote a man's life, or property, or freedom away from him." Does Chait believe that a democratic majority should be able to vote a man's life or freedom away?
In the political press, it happens again and again: libertarian leaning folks are portrayed as if they're radical, extremist ideologues, even when they're expressing ideas that are widely held by Americans across the political spectrum.
Well, here we come to a deeper disagreement about Ayn Rand. My view of her work is pretty well summarized in a review-essay I wrote in 2009, tying together two new biographies of Rand with some of the Randian strains that were gaining new currency in the GOP. My agenda here is not remotely hidden, but maybe I need to put more cards on the table. I've described her worldview as inverted Marxism a conception of politics as a fundamental struggle between a producer class and a parasite class.
What I really mean is, I find Rand evil. Friedersdorfs view is certainly far more nuanced and considerably more positive than mine. Hes a nice, intelligent person and a good writer, but were not going to agree on this.
Friedersdorf waves away Rands (and Rand Pauls) distrust of democracy as the same fears everybody has about democracy. Well, no. Lots of us consider democracy imperfect or vulnerable, but most of us are very firm believers in democracy. Rand viewed the average person with undisguised contempt, and her theories pointed clearly in the direction of cruelty in the pursuit of its fanatical analysis. A seminal scene in Atlas Shrugged described the ideological errors of a series of characters leading up to their violent deaths, epitomizing the fanatical class warfare hatred it's embodied and which inspired Whitaker Chambers to observe, From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: 'To the gas chambers go!'
Randism has never been tried as the governing philosophy of a country, so it remains conjecture that her theories would inevitably lead to repression if put into practice at a national level. But we do have a record of the extreme repression with which she ran her own cult, which at its height was a kind of totalitarian ministate. You can read her biographies, or at least my review, to get a sense of the mind-blowing repression, abuse, and corruption with which she terrorized her followers.
But the upshot is that I strongly dispute Friedersdorfs premise that Rands theories are a variant of democracy, any more than Marxs are. In fact, I find the existence of powerful elected officials who praise her theories every bit as disturbing to contemplate as elected officials who praise Marxism. Even if you take care to note some doctrinal differences with Rand, in my view we are talking about a demented, hateful cult leader and intellectual fraud. People who think she had a lot of really good ideas should not be anywhere near power.
Ayn Rand got it very very right on capitalism.
She got it dreadfully wrong on social conservatism and God.
Philosophy aside, both Ayn Rand and Rand Paul are butt-ugly individuals.
She was also a racist and a eugenicist (the two are linked.)
And any “anti-government” type who spends a significant portion of their life living off welfare...well, who has time for hypocrites?
So is Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg!!! (Butt ugly that is.)
“But if Rand Paul distrusts democracy he must’ve gotten it from Ayn Rand.”
It is government that the Founders distrusted enough to insist on the Amendments. It is always right to distrust government and to check the abuses of power.
This is self-evident today.
The “Ch” is pronounced as if it were an “Sh”, the “ai” is pronounced as a short “i”, and the “t” is pronounced as a “t”.
Refresh my memory. I read practically every word she ever wrote while I was in college in the late '60s and early '70s. My memory isn't what it used to be. So please feel free to refresh it.
How did she live off welfare? And I don't recall her every writing anything racist, nor advocating eugenics.
So please enlighten me as to what you are talking about.
Perhaps instead of attacking Rand, you can interact with the ideas. They do not depend on her choices. To not honestly confront ideas and focus on personalities is lame.
I believe in the concept of capitalism within a Representative Republic. Why do people keep insinuating that the U.S. is a Democracy?
She also nailed the Left so very perfectly, which is why they hated and still hate her so much.
An FR intellect.
It would be lame, if it didn't work so well. That's why it's on PAGE ONE of the leftist playbook. And that goes back BEFORE Alinsky.
I do not understand why Rand’s influence on Rand Paul ought to be more controversial than Marx’s influence on Barack Obama.
And as been pointed out, the Founders did not believe strongly in democracy either.
Rand’s writing (fiction) was so ponderous and silly, I couldn’t care less what her politics were.
None of us are as beautiful as we used to be, or as b*tt-ugly as we will be... someday, FRiend. ;-)
Your memory is accurate.
FRiend warchild9 is just a bit, ahem, confused.
Considering the personality cult that has risen around the woman, her personality is a fair target.
It’s like Limbaugh; he’s an execrable person. The Viagra incident alone casts doubt on his every word.
If a person is going to preach ethics, as the Randians claim she does, that person has to be immaculate.
And I doubt anyone on this forum has plodded more than ten pages into any of her awful writing. But it’s popular to say “She’s greeeeeeat!”
Claiming to read Hayek or even Rothbard doesn’t get one any pats on the back in peasant right-wing circles.
Call “lame” all you want. I’ll bet you don’t even know who Rothbard is. (Quick, to Wiki! “Murray Rothbard.”)
To be fair, please post a picture of yourself here, so we can see what standard you are suing to judge “butt ugly”.
We can then have a quick vote to see how you stack up...
Usually one must go to Daily Kos or Democratic Underground to read that sort of thing. You are educated enough to see your ad hominem, but you and Jonathan Chait make a nice pair. Hey, this logical fallacy thing is fun!
Ayn Rand was a nut. But it doesn’t change the fact that Rand Paul is right about Syria and the NSA. If you can’t refute the message, attack the messenger.
Besides, I never said she was evil.
I do say she was a hypocrite.
Still waiting for a rationale discussion of the main Rand ideas... I noticed you avoided that again. In fact, you attacked the messenger again.
This is a lame substitute for thinking.
Summoning DU is like crying “Someone disagrees with me in MY sandbox! Waaaaahhhhh!”
She tried to write into “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” a religious supporting character who would be supporting of the various protagonists.
It was hard for her to get past the ‘why does the morality our decisions matter, if we propose and G-d disposes?’
A morality that could not be measured, could not be judged by man, could not be supported by reason, didn’t work for her.
Others look at religious teachings as good teachings. It is bad to lie, steal and murder, so any G-d that tells you to not lie, steal or murder should be on the same side as the moral people.
There is some hint of redemption when the government drone ‘non-absolute’ dies defending Hank Rearden’s factory, in the mind of Hank Rearden:
“Somewhere, he thought, there was the boy’s mother, who had trembled with protective concern over his groping steps, while teaching him to walk, who had measured his baby formulas with a jeweler’s caution, who had obeyed with a zealot’s fervor the latest words of science on his diet and hygiene, protecting his unhardened body from germs—then had sent him to be turned into a tortured neurotic by the men who taught him that he had no mind and must never attempt to think. Had she fed him tainted refuse, he thought, had she mixed poison into his food, it would have been more kind and less fatal.
He thought of all the living species that train their young in the art of survival, the cats who teach their kittens to hunt, the birds who spend such strident effort on teaching their fledglings to fly—yet man, whose tool of survival is his mind, does not merely fail to teach a child to think, but devotes the child’s education to the purpose of destroying his brain, of convincing him that thought is futile and evil, before he has started to think.
Armed with nothing but meaningless phrases, this boy had been thrown to fight for existence, he had hobbled and groped through a brief, doomed effort, he had screamed his indignant, bewildered protest—and had perished in his first attempt to soar on his mangled wings.”
“Summoning DU is like crying Someone disagrees with me in MY sandbox! Waaaaahhhhh!
Never the less, an accurate comparison to your approach on this thread.
Do a little reading up off the right-wing-o-sphere.
You’ll learn nothing when surrounded by personality cultists like dwell around here.
Nor will you from me. I’m just screwing around with their little minds while waiting for the wife to come home from shopping.
Read my #30, babe.
You people take anonymous commenting on internet forum much too seriously.
“an” internet forum
I hate this laptop
The politics of Ayn Rand rests on a context of
1) life is the standard of morality
2) rationality is the means of achieving it
3) rationality requires that every man should live for his own self interest
4) rationality requires that he should live by principles
5) rationality requires that he should possess integrity,and be honest, independent,just,productive and proud.
6) he should not initiate force against the innocent.
7) respect for individual rights is the minimum requirement necessary for living a rational life in a rational society.
This context is the beginning of a politics that prevents totalitarianism and repression rather than causing it.
That is a very eloquent defense of fallacious reasoning. Tell us more about Rothbard and Hayek. If we can find something about them that is distasteful, will it invalidate their views?
Are you suggesting that I have to be physically attractive to assert that someone is butt-ugly?
So if you drive past a road-killed skunk you wouldn't say it stunk unless you stunk just as bad yourself?
I don’t really care.
Just screwing with you.
Unwilling to address your fallacy? I don’t blame you, it was pretty blatant.
I think you just saved me from myself.......
“If a person is going to preach ethics, as the Randians claim she does, that person has to be immaculate.”
Therefore the only human being that was, or ever will be, qualified to speak about ethics is Jesus Christ. OK, gotcha. Hence, ethics should never be discussed.
“Its like Limbaugh; hes an execrable person. The Viagra incident alone casts doubt on his every word.”
“Blatant” is the nicest thing I’ve been called this week.
I still think Rand was an awful writer, and doesn’t deserve the personality cult that has grown here on FR.
Since I have the summer off, I’ve been considering going back and rereading the Junior Buckley, or the diaries of Reagan. I’ve got the last in my home library. Hmmm...
That’s a good idea, to think of it!
... well, you are judging, but we don’t know what your Beautiful to Ugly scale is.
Only by viewing you can we be sure...
And this thread has become yet another exercise in feeding the troll.
Oh yes, this is the first leftist to write a column about why it was good to "hate", George W. Bush. The left adores this guy for giving them the license to hate............
He's just a petty Marxist enabling journolista who has very little to say, but uses a lot of words.
Why are you on a conservative website...? You can’t even discuss ideas... “babe.”
As a non-believer, I’d expand your comment to say “Unless we’re God, we have no right to say anything.”
Being assertive does make people stand up for the opposite, doesn’t it? Better than “Oh, those awful Liberaaalllls,” or “But...but...Clinton!”
Bump for later. Thanks!
Rand collected Social Security in her old age. The left uses this to club her. Apparently so do some here. The similarity between some freepers and the MSNBC loons is amusing.
OK Gunner, you too are butt ugly. You are qualified to make a legitimate judgement about the butt ugly standard.