I ran across the following criticism of Ayn Rand in a Facebook comment:
‘Arguably, no 20th century writer brought more people to libertarianism than Ayn Rand, but never underestimate how much damage her hyperindividualism did to the movement and to libertarians as people. Apparently, if I use the word ‘we’ or suggest that others might hold us responsible for the sins of our predecessors, I’m a ‘collectivist’ and a member of the World Council of Scholars stomping on their crude electric lights. There’s nothing about libertarianism that requires this sort of metaphysical individualism.
Living a rich and full human life requires that you recognize just how many ‘we’s’ you are part of, both those you’ve explicitly chosen and those that come as part of life.’
Libertarians of this ilk insist that we’re all members of a ‘we’ whether we like it or not. But is membership in a ‘we’ to be enforced at gunpoint, or entirely voluntary? Obama and the Big Government Republicans say, ‘There is a ‘we’ whether you like it or not.’ If that is true, then any degree of statist government, up through and including a dictatorship, is potentially justified.
Collectivism or socialism is a political principle that depends on the underlying moral principle that there is some kind of unchosen obligation to others (an assertion involving ethics). This opens the door to government initiation of force.
This quote illustrates why libertarians are getting no further with dismantling the welfare state than are the conservatives. So many years ago Ayn Rand herself pointed out that you’re not going to have a free society until you first establish the moral basis for a free society. The American Constitution was based on a morality of individualism.
Unfortunately, the Judeo-Christian ‘ideal’ of selflessness and subservience to others undercut and may yet completely destroy that individualist Constitution. What actually is the moral basis for a free society? According to religious conservatives and libertarians like the one quoted above, it’s anything other than ‘hyper-individualism.’ This term suggests that too much individualism is a bad thing. But what’s ‘too much’ as applied to government and laws?
Should there be government officials deciding, case by case, when a business is being ‘too individualistic’ or ‘too’ profit-driven? We already have that. And we’re getting more of it all the time, thanks to Obama and all the crush of government agencies and regulations he has created to further strangle business and liberty.
Libertarians claim to object to this government strangulation, yet they stick to the conventional attitude that, ‘too much individualism is a bad thing.’ In so doing, they hand opponents of liberty like Obama the tools of moral persuasion and credibility he needs to impose, right before our eyes, a democratically elected dictatorship.
You cannot be an advocate of freedom, and at the same time claim that you belong to a ‘we’ that ‘comes as a part of life.’ Metaphysical individualism is the only basis for individual rights and any degree of liberty. You are not born with any particular obligation to anyone, other than to leave them alone and not impose force on them. The minute you concede that maybe you do owe somebody anything more than that, you’re tumbling down the path of Big Government, statism or even dictatorship. Three things, incidentally, that libertarians claim to be against!
The older I get, the more I see how right Ayn Rand was about those who advocate freedom without the proper moral basis for freedom: individualism. She blasted libertarians of this type with a greater force than she ever blasted conservatives or liberals. She blasted them for promoting a political ideology unhinged from any notion of ethics. It might have seemed puzzling at the time, but those of us who lived to see the likes of Ron Paul and the conservative-libertarians trying to cut government on the basis of Judeo-Christian philosophy (i.e., service to others is the primary purpose of life) can plainly see what a futile charade it is.
If you try to establish a political movement based on the same rotten approach to morality that liberals and socialists use to justify their own politics, then you’re dead in the water. Look at the sorry scenario unfolding in the upcoming presidential election, and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
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