Monday, January 31, 2011

Ayn Rand's Love of Big Government

A recent article over at the Huffington Post posited that, towards the end of her life, Ayn Rand began exploiting the very social services that she had railed against for her entire professional career, specifically Medicare and Social Security. Naturally the left-wing has pounced on this revelation as (if true) proof positive that Rand was a hypocrite and, as such, more easily dismissible than she already was.

It's a fascinating enough area to look into, but I'm more interested in the immediate and wonderfully poorly thought-out defense of Ayn Rand's suckling at the public teat offered by one 'Scott Connery' over at Rational Public Radio. The article is short enough to be read in under a minute, and I recommend doing so, since it offers an almost shocking lack of self-awareness, as well as off-the charts smug self-satisfaction.

Let's start with his faux bafflement at the left's habit of pouncing on Ayn Rand's writings. Offering a bombardier's maxim, he wonders why people would get so upset if she wasn't on to something. He, naturally, doesn't allow for the possibility that people like me pile on Rand not because she was a visionary and a prophet, and we pharises find joy only in denying the true revealed wisdom of prophets, but rather because people like him base their entire political philosophy on the hollow conglomeration of narcissism and exceptionalism she peddled, and we're concerned that, if allowed to go unchecked, her ideas could damage society just as surely as they've impaired the minds of her adherents.

Then Scott truly steps in it with his attempt to justify Rand's exploiting on the Welfare state by offering a quote explaining that Rand was fine with welfare. I'll excerpt it here, just has he did:

"the advocates and supporters of the welfare state are morally guilty of robbing their opponents, and the fact that the robbery is legalized makes it morally worse, not better. The victims do not have to add self-inflicted martyrdom to the injury done to them by others; they do not have to let the looters profit doubly, by letting them distribute the money exclusively to the parasites who clamored for it. Whenever the welfare-state laws offer them some small restitution, the victims should take it . . . ."

Scott imagines that this is a profound defense of Rand's actions, rather than an attack on her own ideology. According to this quote, the only difference between a good objectivist and a wholehearted supporter of socialism is that the objectivist complains while she's cashing her Welfare cheque. This is especially funny because Scott, at the top of his article, referred to Rand as the 'most principled' opposition to leftist ideology - her own writing suggests that objectivism is a school of thought entirely lacking in principles!

In case Scott was wondering, people are jumping all over Rand's hypocrisy because, like Newt Gingritch after her, this is the kind of transgression that allows someone's opponents to dismiss them outright. If you're not willing to live by your own principles, how can you expect anyone else to do so? More importantly, if you establish a system of belief that expressly instructs people not to follow it, how can you expect anyone to take you seriously?

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