Written by Frank Li
To understand Libertarianism and American Conservatism, one needs to study Ayn Rand, which is what this post is about.
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1. Who is Ayn Rand?
Below is an excerpt from Wikipedia – Ayn Rand.
Ayn Rand (/aÉªn/; born Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum;[a] February 2 [O.S. January 20] 1905 – March 6, 1982) was a Russian-American writer and philosopher. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she named Objectivism. Educated in Russia, she moved to the United States in 1926. She had a play produced on Broadway in 1935 and 1936. After two early novels that were initially unsuccessful, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel, The Fountainhead. In 1957, Rand published her best-known work, the novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward, she turned to non-fiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own periodicals and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982.
Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected faith and religion. She supported rational and ethical egoism and rejected altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force as immoral and opposed collectivism and statism as well as anarchism, instead supporting laissez-faire capitalism, which she defined as the system based on recognizing individual rights, including property rights. In art, Rand promoted romantic realism. She was sharply critical of most philosophers and philosophical traditions known to her, except for Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and classical liberals.
Literary critics received Rand’s fiction with mixed reviews and academia generally ignored or rejected her philosophy, though academic interest has increased in recent decades. The Objectivist movement attempts to spread her ideas, both to the public and in academic settings. She has been a significant influence among libertarians and American conservatives.
2. Ayn Rand – Her philosophy in two minutes
Watch the video below.
3. Why does Ayn Rand matter?
The image below is worth more than 1,000 words.
The image below illustrates how Libertarians and Conservatives are joined at the hip via extremists like Ayn Rand.
4. Ayn Rand’s first TV interview
Watch the video below.
5. My assessment
Ayn Rand was an extremist – the worst kind of Libertarian who wants absolute liberty, [almost] totally free from the government (aka “a necessary evil”), with the assumption that there is such a thing called “objectivism” and most people reason rationally.
Unfortunately for Ayn Rand, the world is not binary (i.e. 0 or 1), but with a lot of fuzziness in between. Three examples:
- The world is not black or white, but mostly gray.
- There is a lot more between selfishness and altruism.
- The world is not filled with rational people, but most people are irrational (and inadequately educated). For an example on voters, read the quote below.
Overall, while both her hatred of the government in the USSR, her native country, and her love of conservatism in America, her adopted country, are understandable, she carried both to the extreme.
Two main reasons against her extremism:
- It was intellectually flawed, because the USSR (e.g. a collective society with a planned economy) was not totally bad, while America (e.g. individualism with a “free market” economy) is not totally good, not to the extreme as Rand depicted or understood, at least.
- If she did it for making a better living in America, it speaks loudly about her and/or America’s inadequacy in terms of greatness.
Let me elaborate on each …
5.1 The USSR vs. the US
Two main points:
- Like China under Mao (1949-1976), the USSR was a disaster. However, the USSR could have not only survived, but also thrived like China, if only it had been lucky enough to have a great leader like China’s Deng! For more, read: Mikhail Gorbachev vs. Deng Xiaoping.
- America is deeply in trouble today, although it might not be as obvious in Rand’s days as today. For more, read: America: Towards a Tyranny of the Majority?
5.2 Making a better living in America?
Like Ayn Rand, many intellectuals in America have become victims of American extremism, for intellectually incomprehensible reasons other than making a good living in America.
One prominent example: Milton Friedman. He was totally absurd in passionately preaching “free market”, which is a lie! Two informative readings:
Two living examples:
- Thomas Sowell. His writings are ridiculously extreme right.
- Clarence Thomas. He has been one of the most conservative justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Now, what about the extreme left?
No comment is necessary, as I am center-right.
Time is the best judge for everything, including Ayn Rand.
While she was obviously a very successful novelist, her works on philosophy were questionable at best. However, because it was her extremism in philosophy that made her famous and relevant in politics today, it’s time to clearly denounce her extremism!
Extremism is bad, and America has been deeply hurt by extremism.
Three informative readings:
- Extremism in America.
- America: A Great Country Without A Working Government?
- President Trump’s Major League Score: 0:4.
Now, let’s discuss two topics:
- Ayn Rand vs. me.
- The most accurate diagnosis for America and the best solution.
6.1 Ayn Rand vs. me
Like Ayn Rand, I escaped from a communist country and have succeeded in America, our adopted country. For more, read: My American Dream Has Come True!
Unlike Ayn Rand, my native country, China, has had a remarkable comeback over the past few decades, while her native country, the USSR, tanked all the way to 1991, when it became disintegrated.
This reality, I believe, is a key difference between her and me.
Another key difference between her and me is this: I have Chinese sophistication while she seemed to have Russian simplicity.
Finally, while she seemed to take extreme positions in many things, I am not an extremist in anything, always seeking a balance between Yin and Yang.
It is these key differences that have separated me from her, leading to the next topic …
6.2 The most accurate diagnosis for America and the best solution
Read my last book: American Democracy – Why is it failing & how to fix it?
Ayn Rand was a successful novelist. But her works on philosophy should be irrelevant, because they are too extreme, thus more wrong than correct.
Now, please sit back and enjoy the long video below – Was Ayn Rand losing it?
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