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Is Rand Paul’s Love of Ayn Rand a ‘Conspiracy’? (Chait: Why Ayn Rand is Evil)
New York Magazine ^ | Jonathan Chait

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 Obama’s 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 Libertarian’s 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 Atlantic’s 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 Paul’s 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. Friedersdorf’s view is certainly far more nuanced and considerably more positive than mine. He’s a nice, intelligent person and a good writer, but we’re not going to agree on this.

Friedersdorf waves away Rand’s (and Rand Paul’s) 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 Friedersdorf’s premise that Rand’s theories are a variant of democracy, any more than Marx’s 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.


TOPICS: Editorial
KEYWORDS: aynrand; johnathanchait; jonathanchait; objectivism; randpaul
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1 posted on 06/20/2013 12:48:09 PM PDT by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

Ayn Rand got it very very right on capitalism.

She got it dreadfully wrong on social conservatism and God.


2 posted on 06/20/2013 12:50:58 PM PDT by SoFloFreeper
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To: nickcarraway

Philosophy aside, both Ayn Rand and Rand Paul are butt-ugly individuals.


3 posted on 06/20/2013 12:52:28 PM PDT by humblegunner
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To: SoFloFreeper

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?


4 posted on 06/20/2013 12:52:30 PM PDT by warchild9
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To: humblegunner

So is Supreme Court Justice Ginsberg!!! (Butt ugly that is.)


5 posted on 06/20/2013 12:54:50 PM PDT by jayrunner
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To: nickcarraway

“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.


6 posted on 06/20/2013 12:55:31 PM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion (Gone rogue, gone Galt, gone international, gone independent. Gone.)
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To: nickcarraway

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”.


7 posted on 06/20/2013 12:55:56 PM PDT by MIchaelTArchangel (Have a wonderful day!)
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To: warchild9
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?

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.

8 posted on 06/20/2013 12:56:41 PM PDT by Maceman (Just say "NO" to tyranny.)
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To: warchild9

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.


9 posted on 06/20/2013 12:57:44 PM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion (Gone rogue, gone Galt, gone international, gone independent. Gone.)
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To: nickcarraway

I believe in the concept of capitalism within a Representative Republic. Why do people keep insinuating that the U.S. is a Democracy?


10 posted on 06/20/2013 12:57:49 PM PDT by mmichaels1970
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To: SoFloFreeper

She also nailed the Left so very perfectly, which is why they hated and still hate her so much.


11 posted on 06/20/2013 12:59:15 PM PDT by cdcdawg (Be seeing you...)
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To: humblegunner

An FR intellect.


12 posted on 06/20/2013 1:00:01 PM PDT by Misterioso (It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing - Duke Ellington)
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To: aMorePerfectUnion
To not honestly confront ideas and focus on personalities is lame.

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.

13 posted on 06/20/2013 1:00:47 PM PDT by Maceman (Just say "NO" to tyranny.)
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To: nickcarraway

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.


14 posted on 06/20/2013 1:01:02 PM PDT by altsehastiin
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To: nickcarraway

Rand’s writing (fiction) was so ponderous and silly, I couldn’t care less what her politics were.


15 posted on 06/20/2013 1:02:51 PM PDT by Trailerpark Badass (There should be a whole lot more going on than throwing bleach, said one woman.)
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To: humblegunner
humblegunner: "Philosophy aside, both Ayn Rand and Rand Paul are butt-ugly individuals."

None of us are as beautiful as we used to be, or as b*tt-ugly as we will be... someday, FRiend. ;-)


16 posted on 06/20/2013 1:03:39 PM PDT by BroJoeK (a little historical perspective....)
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To: warchild9

http://www.aynrandanswers.com/2012/12/was-ayn-rand-social-darwinist-did-ayn.html


17 posted on 06/20/2013 1:04:51 PM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion (Gone rogue, gone Galt, gone international, gone independent. Gone.)
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To: Trailerpark Badass

tl:dr

Herp derp...


18 posted on 06/20/2013 1:05:21 PM PDT by Dead Corpse (I will not comply.)
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To: Maceman; warchild9
Maceman: "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. "

Your memory is accurate.
FRiend warchild9 is just a bit, ahem, confused.

19 posted on 06/20/2013 1:07:01 PM PDT by BroJoeK (a little historical perspective....)
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To: aMorePerfectUnion

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.”)


20 posted on 06/20/2013 1:07:02 PM PDT by warchild9
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To: humblegunner

gunner...

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...


21 posted on 06/20/2013 1:07:04 PM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion (Gone rogue, gone Galt, gone international, gone independent. Gone.)
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To: warchild9

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!


22 posted on 06/20/2013 1:07:42 PM PDT by cdcdawg (Be seeing you...)
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To: nickcarraway

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.


23 posted on 06/20/2013 1:08:04 PM PDT by Colonel Kangaroo
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To: BroJoeK

Besides, I never said she was evil.

I do say she was a hypocrite.


24 posted on 06/20/2013 1:08:07 PM PDT by warchild9
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To: warchild9

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.


25 posted on 06/20/2013 1:08:45 PM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion (Gone rogue, gone Galt, gone international, gone independent. Gone.)
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To: cdcdawg

Summoning DU is like crying “Someone disagrees with me in MY sandbox! Waaaaahhhhh!”


26 posted on 06/20/2013 1:09:00 PM PDT by warchild9
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To: SoFloFreeper

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.”


27 posted on 06/20/2013 1:09:20 PM PDT by donmeaker (Blunderbuss: A short weapon, ... now superceded in civilized countries by more advanced weaponry.)
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To: warchild9

“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.


28 posted on 06/20/2013 1:10:11 PM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion (Gone rogue, gone Galt, gone international, gone independent. Gone.)
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To: aMorePerfectUnion
To be fair, please post a picture of yourself here


29 posted on 06/20/2013 1:11:01 PM PDT by humblegunner
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To: Maceman

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.


30 posted on 06/20/2013 1:11:10 PM PDT by warchild9
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To: aMorePerfectUnion

Read my #30, babe.

You people take anonymous commenting on internet forum much too seriously.


31 posted on 06/20/2013 1:12:07 PM PDT by warchild9
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To: warchild9

“an” internet forum

I hate this laptop


32 posted on 06/20/2013 1:12:45 PM PDT by warchild9
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To: nickcarraway
her theories would inevitably lead to repression if put into practice at a national level.

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.

33 posted on 06/20/2013 1:14:09 PM PDT by mjp ((pro-{God, reality, reason, egoism, individualism, natural rights, limited government, capitalism}))
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To: warchild9

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?


34 posted on 06/20/2013 1:15:10 PM PDT by cdcdawg (Be seeing you...)
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To: aMorePerfectUnion
We can then have a quick vote to see how you stack up...

Wait, what?

Are you suggesting that I have to be physically attractive to assert that someone is butt-ugly?

Really?

So if you drive past a road-killed skunk you wouldn't say it stunk unless you stunk just as bad yourself?

35 posted on 06/20/2013 1:15:17 PM PDT by humblegunner
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To: cdcdawg

I don’t really care.

Just screwing with you.


36 posted on 06/20/2013 1:16:48 PM PDT by warchild9
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To: warchild9

Unwilling to address your fallacy? I don’t blame you, it was pretty blatant.


37 posted on 06/20/2013 1:17:20 PM PDT by cdcdawg (Be seeing you...)
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To: BroJoeK
I was going to post some pics, but of all THREE (including the original poster of the odd comment).

I think you just saved me from myself.......

:-)

38 posted on 06/20/2013 1:17:33 PM PDT by Lakeshark (!)
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To: Maceman; warchild9
I too would like some of that enlightenment. The only time I remember Rand saying anything about racism was something to the effect that employers hurt themselves with discriminating. That business owners should hire the most qualified person for the job.
39 posted on 06/20/2013 1:18:43 PM PDT by Razz Barry (Round'em up, send'em home.)
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To: warchild9

“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.


40 posted on 06/20/2013 1:19:43 PM PDT by CSM (Keeper of the Dave Ramsey Ping list. FReepmail me if you want your beeber stuned.)
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To: warchild9

“It’s like Limbaugh; he’s an execrable person. The Viagra incident alone casts doubt on his every word.”

LOL


41 posted on 06/20/2013 1:20:53 PM PDT by Borges
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To: cdcdawg

“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!


42 posted on 06/20/2013 1:22:14 PM PDT by warchild9
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To: humblegunner

... well, you are judging, but we don’t know what your Beautiful to Ugly scale is.
Only by viewing you can we be sure...


43 posted on 06/20/2013 1:22:46 PM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion (Gone rogue, gone Galt, gone international, gone independent. Gone.)
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To: nickcarraway

And this thread has become yet another exercise in feeding the troll.


44 posted on 06/20/2013 1:23:13 PM PDT by cdcdawg (Be seeing you...)
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To: nickcarraway
This from the guy who was the first to think it was good to "hate" George W Bush.

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.

45 posted on 06/20/2013 1:23:56 PM PDT by Lakeshark (!)
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To: warchild9

Why are you on a conservative website...? You can’t even discuss ideas... “babe.”


46 posted on 06/20/2013 1:24:12 PM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion (Gone rogue, gone Galt, gone international, gone independent. Gone.)
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To: CSM

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!”


47 posted on 06/20/2013 1:24:17 PM PDT by warchild9
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To: aMorePerfectUnion

Bump for later. Thanks!


48 posted on 06/20/2013 1:24:44 PM PDT by Razz Barry (Round'em up, send'em home.)
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To: Maceman

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.


49 posted on 06/20/2013 1:24:50 PM PDT by ozzymandus
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To: humblegunner

OK Gunner, you too are butt ugly. You are qualified to make a legitimate judgement about the butt ugly standard.


50 posted on 06/20/2013 1:25:08 PM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion (Gone rogue, gone Galt, gone international, gone independent. Gone.)
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