Ayn Rand, the anarcho-capitalist

I’m not saying it, Johann Hari is

But Rand’s rabid anarcho-capitalism has clearly tapped into something primal in American conservatism: it is revealing that she is almost invariably described as an “idealist”, rather than a maniac. She appeals to the ugliest side of Americanism (contrasting with its many, many strengths): a fear and hatred of the state, even in its most democratic form, and of wider collective action. Rand has only one conception of liberty -freedom from government. As one of her heroes, Howard Roark, says, “The only good which men can do to one another and the only statement of their proper relationship is – hands off!” Like most of the American right, she has no conception of positive liberty. When asked how free a man in Harlem with no healthcare insurance and a kid with cancer is, she has no answer. She cannot see when hands have been kept too far off.

For those who are not aware of what anarcho-capitalism is, it is a libertarian political philosophy invented by Murray Rothbard. To say that Rand hated statism is one thing (and is correct). To say that she demanded the elimination of government – anarchy – is a) a big lie, or b) insufficient research. And yes, Rand did not believe in the so-called “positive liberty”. If you want positive liberty, stick to people like Rawls. As for “how free a man in Harlem with no healthcare insurance and a kid with cancer is” she did not believe that X’s misfortunes gave X the right to demand that Y support him. See, she did have an answer.

There are more such outlandish statements in the article (and Hari uses “in fact” where there are no facts). Anyone who knows Rand and is familiar with her works will burst out laughing on reading it. While Rand was not “perfect” or “absolutely right” on every issue she spoke on, her ethics are on pretty solid ground. All people have to do is go and read. But then, nothing can convince a man who does not want to be convinced – particularly a left-leaning intellectual who is for “positive liberty”, socialism and a re-distributive state.

If you missed the riots in Calcutta in Feb ’09 thanks to an all-India media blackout, you should know that Hari’s article on Islam triggered it.

[Found the link to the article here. I am surprised that I didn’t see it earlier. Seems none of the bloggers/ sites I follow like The Huffington Post.]

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