I hope that you are just as bugged as I am about the way the so-called “defenders of Capitalism” – the Conservatives – have been pointing to the dramatic resurgence in popularity of Ayn Rand’s publications – most notably Atlas Shrugged – as evidence that the American people are with them in their struggle to retake Washington from their arch-enemies – the Liberals. Well in case you don’t know what a huge lie this is, I’d like to remind everyone that Ayn Rand was not a conservative and was never a supporter of the conservative agenda.
While it may be true that Ms. Rand spoke positively of some statements made by Ronald Reagan back when he was campaigning to be Governor of California, and it is also true that she included essays by Alan Greenspan in a couple of her books, it is also true that it was Ms. Rand herself that labeled the conservatives as “the so-called ‘defenders of Capitalism'” when she pointed out the falseness of their position. If I’m not mistaken, it was in her book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
I’ve spoken against this type of “history re-write” on this blog before – most notably in The Real Reagan Legacy, and there have always been those whose voices I looked to, as well, for their help in maintaining this very important distinction between Capitalism and Conservatism. But the neo-cons have even managed to convince the likes of John Stossel, a voice of reason I’ve always appreciated hearing – and who’s articles I’ve always looked forward to reading at The Atlasphere, to preach the virtues of Ayn Rand and Capitalism – on the network that is so deep in the Republican Party’s pocket that they haven’t seen daylight for years!
Now I can’t say that I actually disagree with anything Mr. Stossel said in this piece. And it could be that he’s at Fox News because that’s where he thinks a rational mind is needed most. But his presence there seems to fit disturbingly well within this trend I see of otherwise Libertarian minded people siding with the right-wingers out of fear of the diabolical “Liberal Agenda.” And need I remind you of what happened to another reasonable sounding guy who took the same path: Will The Real Glenn Beck Please Stand Up?
I would certainly welcome a transition to rationality at Fox News, but I’m not holding my breath. Regardless of how that turns out, I hope that John Stossel continues to maintain a presence at The Atlasphere, because I’m certain that the conservatives would love to get a foothold there. Which is why I was so pleased to read the latest posting on that site by Marsha Enright and Gen LaGreca, entitled Can the Free Market Survive without Rand?
In this beautifully written essay, Ms. Enright and Ms. LaGreca make the best argument I’ve read in recent times in support of the moral justification for Capitalism. An argument that is sorely lacking in the neo-cons alleged “defense” of Capitalism:
It’s been a year since Stephen Moore’s article, “Atlas Shrugged: from Fiction to Fact in 52 Years,”seemed to ignite an explosion of interest in Ayn Rand. Sales of this prescient novel tripled; two Rand biographies have been selling like hotcakes; and references to her in the media have skyrocketed.
Yet, some free-market defenders continue to repudiate her and her ideas, as they have for decades. It used to be conservatives such as William F. Buckley of National Review trashing “Atlas Shrugged;” now the critics include libertarians, such as Heather Wilhelm of the Illinois Public Policy Institute, who penned “Is Ayn Rand Bad for the Market?”.
But in their rush to distance themselves from Rand, they succumb to a deadly philosophic trap. It results from their anxious desire to apologize for the individualistic, self-interested motives that actually drive free markets. This anxiety prompts them to defend capitalism on the opposite premise: that capitalism is good only because it is “other-directed” — i.e., that it grants certain groups, such as the poor, opportunities to acquire wealth and power.
But why take their word for it? Or mine for that matter? Let’s get it straight from Ayn Rand herself:
From where I sit, the true threat to my freedom comes from those who want me to sacrifice my right to peacefully pursue my own ends to their political ambitions – in the vain hope that I’ll get a share of the loot if I do.
Well, whether they’re promising to protect my freedom of choice at the expense of my right to keep what I earn, or if they’re promising to protect my right to keep what I earn at the expense of my freedom of choice, I want no part of either camp.
I want ice water.
More from the In Her Own Words volume