Ayn Rand hated Libertarians

Ayn Rand (1905-1982) was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter, who’s famous for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism.

Rand is almost idolized by Americans who call themselves libertarians and even by some conservatives for her championing of unfettered capitalism, although Rand’s brand of philosophy is decidedly amoral and the conduct of her personal life was correspondingly amoral and immoral. While married, Rand carried on an adulterous affair with a much-younger acolyte, Nathaniel Branden. Rand also favored abortion “rights.” A lifelong smoker, in 1976, after she underwent surgery for lung cancer and despite her lifelong opposition to statism and her insistence on radical individualism, she “reluctantly allowed” her attorney to sign her up for Social Security and Medicare. Rand was also an atheist who opposed anything she regarded as mysticism or supernaturalism, including all forms of religion.

Given Rand’s near-idol status among libertarians, the revelation that not only did Rand not consider herself a libertarian, she actually loathed libertarians, is downright fascinating.

Ayn Rand

George Washington writes for ZeroHedge, Nov. 29, 2012, that although many assume that Ayn Rand was a champion of libertarian thought, “Rand herself pilloried libertarians, condemning libertarianism as being a greater threat to freedom and capitalism than both modern liberalism and conservativism.”

Washington quotes Rand:

All kinds of people today call themselves “libertarians,” especially something calling itself the New Right, which consists of hippies, except that they’re anarchists instead of collectivists. But of course, anarchists are collectivists. Capitalism is the one system that requires absolute objective law, yet they want to combine capitalism and anarchism. That is worse than anything the New Left has proposed. It’s a mockery of philosophy and ideology. They sling slogans and try to ride on two bandwagons. They want to be hippies, but don’t want to preach collectivism, because those jobs are already taken. But anarchism is a logical outgrowth of the anti-intellectual side of collectivism. I could deal with a Marxist with a greater chance of reaching some kind of understanding, and with much greater respect. The anarchist is the scum of the intellectual world of the left, which has given them up. So the right picks up another leftist discard. That’s the Libertarian movement.

Rand so loathed libertarians that she vowed, “I’d rather vote for Bob Hope, the Marx Brothers, or Jerry Lewis” than a candidate from the Libertarian Party.

Rand’s loathing is returned by some contemporary libertarians. As examples, Sandeep Jaitly of Fekete Research says that real libertarians do not follow Rand’s philosophy. Murray Rothbard – founder of modern libertarianism, chief academic officer of leading libertarian think tank the Mises Institute, and one of the most important thinkers in the Austrian School of Economics – argued in 1972 that Rand was a champion for her own aggrandizement, not for liberty or reason. In fact, in a long but must-read essay, Rothbard accused Rand of being a cult leader. Here are some choice quotes by Rothbard:

The Ayn Rand cult … flourished for just ten years in the 1960s…. It also promoted slavish dependence on the guru in the name of independence; adoration and obedience to the leader in the name of every person’s individuality; and blind emotion and faith in the guru in the name of Reason.

***

Since every cult is grounded on a faith in the infallibility of the guru, it becomes necessary to keep its disciples in ignorance of contradictory infidel writings which may wean cult members away from the fold.

***

Just as Communists are often instructed not to read anti-Communist literature, the Rand cult went further to disseminate what was virtually an Index of Permitted Books.

***

In a development eerily reminiscent of the organized hatred directed against the arch-heretic Emanuel Goldstein in Orwell’s 1984, Rand cultists were required to sign a loyalty oath to Rand; essential to the loyalty oath was a declaration that the signer would henceforth never read any future works of the apostate and arch-heretic Branden [Rand's number 2]. After the split, any Rand cultist seen carrying a book or writing by Branden was promptly excommunicated.

Read the rest of Washington’s instructive and sobering article here.

~Eowyn

8 responses to “Ayn Rand hated Libertarians

  1. Thank you Dr. Eowyn for this most interesting post! It is remarkable that she shunned and detested libertarians, given their adoration of her. Nevertheless, she violates her own alleged “atheism” by constructing her own cult and set of rules. A Catholic priest once taught in philosophy class that “An atheist is one who finds God the hard way.” There you go.

  2. James L Habermehl

    Regardless of any of the rest, this quote certainly strikes a pure chord with me, as I often think the same thing as I read so many of the posts by these whelp Johnny-and-Janey-come-latelys to supporting Ron Paul for president, who whine how they can’t support Rand for being “impure”:

    “All kinds of people today call themselves “libertarians,” especially something calling itself the New Right, which consists of hippies, except that they’re anarchists instead of collectivists.”

  3. I am a God-fearing Constitutionalist! To bad we don’t have a Political Party. Libertarians as a political and social block/party concern me as they have no Principals just preferences just like Progressives and Liberals.
    Richard

  4. I wouldn’t be so quick to say libertarians have no principles. I have quite a few and am solidly libertarian. The point about libertarianism is that it does not **mandate** what society’s morality shall be, beyond the catchphrase “the law of non-aggression”. It is not the government’s business to dictate morality outside of that sphere. For a specific example, a libertarian would not support abortion because abortion does harm, taking a life that is clearly human, causing suffering, and devaluing life in general. Further, a libertarian government has no interest in marriage, leaving the matter to the states or individuals. The ONLY reason it’s an issue now is because of the income tax, which is unconstitutional.

    • boat,

      Thanks for telling us what kind of libertarian you are. I’m glad you don’t support abortion, although I do know libertarians who do.

      By the way, my post is about Ayn Rand and her amorality and moral inconsistencies. I don’t know enough about libertarians to generalize.

      • You’re quite welcome. I should have hit Reply to Richard to clarify I was responding more to his comment.

        Of course, there are always inconsistent followers of any ideology. I would consider abortion a violation of core libertarian principles, so then we get into how many points a person has to believe to wear the label.

  5. I know few people whom I’ve met who can truly say they read “Atlas Shrugged” from front to ending, as well as the rest of her oeuvre. I found it best read and understood as a kind of speculative fiction [I do NOT write 'sci-fi' as it isn't in that genre]. Between it and “The Fountainhead” the full range of adolescent mental and emotional experiences can be found. If one persisted in following her line and became a convert to her world-view, then they flowered into full-blown narcissism and an inability to relate to others, except they be cult members. In the end, she became as Nietzsche did, a terribly disappointed atheist who simply couldn’t believe that his/her beliefs were not enough to contain the universe and all us lesser beings.

    Well, Nietzsche and Rand are both dead, and God lives on in each of us.

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