New Republic: Ayn Rand Made Me a Communist

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I am not a Randian. I am more of the Murray Rothbard school of politics. A school which though libertarian is noticeably, and famously (in some circles anyway) not Randian.

But I have respect for Ayn Rand and her Objectivist movement. I was honored to speak at the Crony Awards which were sponsored by the Atlas Society, an Objectivist organization last summer. One would be hard pressed to find a group of smarter people on average. Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged deals with many of the themes we explore here every day. She was one of the first to identify the dangers of crony capitalism. Rand has much to offer and I would say that everyone is better off for having read her.

The author of the attached article, a supposed “communist” (though after reading his essay I have serious doubts) would probably agree with my sentiment. The author’s interest in Objectivist thinking early in life encouraged other questioning which drew him down other roads. (I would say dead ends.) Regardless I found the below piece interesting and fair.

Anyone who dismisses Ayn Rand out of hand because they’ve been told it is “right-wing” tripe simply doesn’t know what they are talking about. Just because the Daily Show says something isn’t valuable doesn’t mean that it’s true. Rand is by far the most influential woman writer of the last 20th Century and deserves to be read. If one can’t read something with which one disagrees one is an intellectual coward. Too many on what is called the “Left” are intellectual cowards these days. They need “safe spaces.” Below however is an example of real live intellectual curiosity. Jacob Bacharach might be wrong, but he does not appear to be a coward. And that counts for a lot in my book.

(From The New Republic)

As for me, I’ve never quite figured where to place myself on a left-right spectrum: a moralist but a moral relativist; a queer atheist with an enduring affection for the most traditional of religions; an anarchist by intellect but a collectivist by sentiment. I do count myself a radical, and even if my later development as a political writer and thinker owed a great deal more to Didion and Vidal and Ishmael Reed and a lot of crackpot early-aughts bloggers, then it would still be no exaggeration to say that my earliest, most formative, and most enduring encounter with a radical politics was the high priestess of The Collective herself, Ayn Rand.

“Individual rights are not subject to a public vote; a majority has no right to vote away the rights of a minority; the political function of rights is precisely to protect minorities from oppression by majorities (and the smallest minority on earth is the individual).” Get it, girl! It was Ayn Rand who suggested to me that there existed a place for political thought and political affinity beyond the meager push-pull of American electoral politics; that perhaps Clinton-Dole or Bush-Gore did not in fact express the widest range of thinking about the proper structure and operation of a human society. Words that appear nowhere in her major works: Democrat, Republican. It’s another ironic truth that her utter and absolute commitment to the supremacy of individual rights, including a total rejection of a notion of the common good, made me more receptive to the ideas of Marx or Prudhon, because she taught me, in the same year as I was learning the opposite lesson in A.P. American Government, that the electoral viability of this or that Congressional candidate was not the be-all and end-all of a person’s politics.

Click here for the article.