Monday, February 18, 2008
AYN RAND - WHO WAS SHE? - WHAT DID SHE BELIEVE?
As the world moves closer to a single global society, discussions of economics at high level think tanks take on a greater meaning given that a global society will require a global economy. Hence liberalism, and especially some of its extreme positions, take on a greater meaning. Having the name Ayn Rand floating around Austrian Economic think tanks should be a red flag in front of a bull, though I'm not convinced it has alarmed very many.
At the Ludwig von Mises Institute website you can read about Rand:
Her books sold in the millions and were most effective in transforming a generation of readers into ardent anti-communists and strong capitalists. There is also a connection between the Austrian School and Rand, as shown by a new symposium from The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies (Spring 2005) entitled "Ayn Rand Among the Austrians."
This is a collection of scholarly papers by some of her most serious students. If we may generalize from their conclusions, it is this: though Rand calls herself an Objectivist, and appears to reject important aspects of Austrian economics—apriorism and subjective value theory—and claims that a scientific ethics may be derived from an individual's right to life, Ayn Rand was essentially an Austrian and a Misesian. The contributors to this volume give insight into Rand's principles and offer reasons for reconciling Rand's Objectivism with Mises's subjectivism.
At a You Tube website you can hear her message to the GOP said to be "more relevant today than when it was delivered", and Presidential candidate Ron Paul's discussion of her.
Her Russianness comes through in her video. She doesn't smile much and she speaks with an accent. She appears to have unqualified belief in what she is saying, almost to the point of treating it like religious truth.
Time provides a 1960 article written about her, titled "Down with Altruism" that tells us:
she has hurled more than 1,000,000 words in two hectoring novels at what she considers the root illness of man—the tyrrany of altruism. "If any civilization is to survive," said she last week, "it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject." And why? Because this Christian virtue leads to self-immolation, tolerance of the "incompetent" common man, the welfare state, and ultimately to the slave labor camp. By hindering ego, altruism destroys human "reason." Nurtured by a small Manhattan cult, Author Rand's unaltruistic philosophy of "objectivism" is objectified by the gold dollar sign that she often wears as a brooch ("The cross is the symbol of torture; I prefer the dollar sign, the symbol of free trade, therefore of the free mind").
But this weird spiritualization of cash ("Money is the root of all good") is perhaps only an outward and visible sign. The real point of objectivism is rousing unembarrassed self-interest. For the best man is a tough-minded egoist, "a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
Some quotes from Ayn Rand at the Ayn Rand Lexicon website on the subject of War:
Men who are free to produce, have no incentive to loot; they have nothing to gain from war and a great deal to lose. Ideologically, the principle of individual rights does not permit a man to seek his own livelihood at the point of a gun, inside or outside his country. Economically, wars cost money; in a free economy, where wealth is privately owned, the costs of war come out of the income of private citizens—there is no overblown public treasury to hide that fact—and a citizen cannot hope to recoup his own financial losses (such as taxes or business dislocations or property destruction) by winning the war. Thus his own economic interests are on the side of peace. ...
Statism needs war; a free country does not. Statism survives by looting; a free country survives by production.
Ah, if it were only so. Taylor Caldwell's book CAPTAINS AND THE KING could have disabused her of such a foolish notion if she had been able to read it. War is a cash cow. Just think back to the prosperity of the 60's during the Viet Nam war. The trick for industrial wealth is to be sure the war isn't fought at the same place where the goods to fight it are being manufactured. It is every manufacturer's dream to be able to produce goods that will be destroyed immediately after purchase, necessitating replenishment. It doesn't get better financially than this for the makers of the product.