Sunday, October 12, 2008

Capitalist Shrugged

Ayn Rand Saw This Coming

Objectivist are a strange group, serving as minions to a personality cult all their own but in this crippling economic situation they may just have a valid point. As a quasi egalitarian, I personally don't find much buggaboo in socialist politics and am content to stop pretending free enterprise is always best. However, Bush's approach has been predictably half-assed and Ayn Rand would surely shout so from beyond the grave, if she believed in an after-life that is. So I'll make a point in her absence, if we as a country believe in free markets we need to embrace capitalism wholly. Let it carry the day with all of its faults and let people, and companies, pay the price for poor judgement, poor luck and poor timing. That's just the way the cookie crumbles.

As far as book reviews go, Atlas Shrugged is a damn fine yarn. Pick up a copy at your local fire sale.

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Anonymous said...

Ayn Rand was a nazi

Anonymous said...

Objectivism is not a cult a-hole.

Michael M said...

Thank you. This I have waited for. As the socialists have raced each other to declare laissez-faire dead (again for the umpteenth time), I had more than a hunch that when the air cleared post-meltdown, Rand would look more and more like the prophet.

The efficacy of the knowledge she showed us lies in grasping that it is the ideas underlying our principles on which the success or failure of our lives depend. Atlas concretizes the ideas underlying capitalism, the only political system proper to govern men who have a fundamental need to live and work and trade as a team of independent humans. To that end, her brand of radical laissez-faire needs but one principle:

No man may initiate physical force to gain, withhold, or destroy any value owned by another.

While praising your objectivity in opting for the rule of principle over the quasi-egalitarian tugging on your emotions, I have to ask how any concept could be more egalitarian than this one principle. And I mean not only in the abstract, but also in the concrete result. That principle allows the creators and producers the potential of amassing the limitless wealth that will enable them to finance the limitless productivity that benefits everyone.

Back in the 1960's while Lyndon Johnson was initiating his egalitarian - essentially socialist - war on poverty, the owner of a five-and-dime store in Arkansas declared his own capitalist war on same. When he died, Sam Walton was the wealthiest man in America, and his creation, Walmart, had done (and continues to do) more to raise the living standard of the poorest than all of the government programs and charitable endeavors ever pursued in that interim.

So, now that you have read Atlas and you grasped it, you have to choose between the socialist egalitarianism that calls for the government to mandate equal wealth at the point of their gun, or Rand's egalitarianism that calls for the government to mandate equal freedom from coercion at the point of their gun. Which do you think will make the poorest richer?


Now a word on the "cult" thing. The substance of your comment belies the a-hole charge. But you should rethink it nonetheless. Calling Objectivism a cult is a red-flag that signals you are a sucker for hearsay and that, though you might have read a book or two and encountered a slew of unbelievably fervent students of the philosophy, you clearly know zero about the philosophy itself. It labels you as one who is unable to distinguish the self-certainty that derives from reason from the faked self-certainty that comes with copping out to faith. Cults are not generated by a philosophy that demands intellectual independence. Cult-like behavior of Objectivist newbies is no more than the overblown enthusiasm of youth. It will pass. And so should the accusation lest the honesty of your mind become infected.

Howard "that just the way I" Roar said...

On the Media did an excellent program on the enduring legacy of Ayn Rand and her personal philosophy. You can read and listen to it here.

JJ said...

Michael M. here is a libertarian take on what many have subsequently noted about Ayn Rand's personal dominance of Objectivism. The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult

Personally, I think she was a ballsy old dame though a bit of a grouch.

Michael M said...

If the behavior of philosophers and their fans was that relevant to the value of a philosophy, we would be hard pressed to evaluate Aristotelianism knowing nothing of the behavior of the master himself and his followers.

Fortunately, however, a philosophy is a body of ideas that stand or fall on their relationship to the nature of existence and not to the idiosyncracies of those who agree with them. Neither you nor I have any way to validate Rothbards slurs and don't need to. We both have access to the ideas themselves and the capacity to validate and evaluate them.

Libertarians, whose politics is notoriously a- and anti-philosophical are the last people one should consult when forming judgments of a philosophy like Objectivism.

Anonymous said...

My, My.. To think it was so shocking to hear MDC shout " Socialism for the RIch! Capitalism for the REst of you! I train you, then drain you; THen COMplAIN ABOUt you!" All those years ago.
YOUrs etc.. JAson
P.s I find the comments on this topic curiously entertaining. Some how I perseve paralles within this dialectic one might find at a sci-fi convention. As a matter of preference, I found Atlas SHrugged to be rather tiresome. The FOUntain HEAd was much more to my liking.

devilstower said...

John Galt


the running mule

the running mule