Thursday, March 12, 2009

I am not a Communist and Ayn Rand is not a prophet.

When I was in college I had to read Ayn Rand's "Anthem". That started a love affair with her writing, and it also started a deeper look into the idea of capitalism, or as Ayn Rand put it, "The Virtue of Selfishness". All of her heroes--Hank Rearden, Dagny Taggert, Gail Wynand, Peter Roark, etc are idealized and romanticized as industrious, dedicated, fair, hard working, ethical champions of self made success. All of the characters tirelessly fighting against Government regulation and restrictions, fighting off legislation that would hijack the spoils of their genius and toil and redirect them to "better serve the society" as a whole, ultimately undermining well deserved personal reward and discouraging free thinking minds. Rand's writing is very engaging, although, she is writing novels based on her ideal society, just like Marx was. But, let's get a few things straight!

First of all, Ayn Rand was brought up in Communist Russia, so immediately there emerges an environment which would influence anyone with a creative mind. Second, being that she is both a fictional writer and a philosopher, she manipulates the environment in which her characters exist, creating a setting that is very realistic in certain terms, it still avoids the complexities of human nature, which becomes very colorful in a sprawling society. Like any other political or philosophical ideal, it is perpetuated in a very presumptuous way, assuming that people will behave a certain way, according to conditioned stereo types that were tattooed on the writer or thinker over a number of years. Rand's ideas are definitely valid, and should always be considered in socio-political discussions involving labor, industry and economics, although, if one takes into account her ideas, then one must also take into account the ideas of Marx, Machiavelli, Adam Smith, Keynes, etc. I'm sure you get the idea.

I'm only writing this because I saw some Fox news pundits, and other conservatives hailing Rand's ideas as a prophecy that has come to past with the emergence of "Socialism" being put in place by Obama. This is ridiculous. Haven't any of these people read even one copy of the International Socialist Review, or even one article on But let's assume for the moment that Obama is a socialist, it is only being implemented as a reaction to the economic downturn we find ourselves in, which is a result (in one way or another) of the policies of deregulation that have been in place over the last 8 years, policies that were being played out under democratic AND republican guard. It is a necessary reaction. Ayn Rand's characters thrive in a FAIR environment, one in which corporate greed, the undermining of competition and manipulation of markets is not a reality. Her characters are ones of honesty and integrity, they are welcoming of new ideas, even if they threaten their own industry. Her worlds are created with out special interests, without corrupt lobbying, without Bernie Madoffs, without the marriage of business and politics. For the purpose of her message, she ignores aspects of reality. Basically, similar to any other political or philosophical idea, it is catered and edited.

The overlying annoyance in this whole thing is that Obama is not a socialist, nor (under a normal climate) would he even be able to implement socialist policy. The only reason this is an issue is because the media is pathetic, the economic climate is so dire, and because Obama isn't the Gipper. The actions of the administration are set against an environment which evolved out of a deregulated era of industry, which allowed a wild, dangerous and careless behavior to thrive. I think it's funny that Capitalism is thought of as an idea that ultimately generates competition, in a way it does, but it is a competition that can exist at the expense of the consumer and the the laborers. Oh! how communistic I must sound!! Although, why do anti-trust laws have to exist? I was listening to NPR a while ago and a guest on one of their shows brought up a very good question--how do companies become "too big too fail?" Isn't that a failure of ideal capitalism and the free market? Or is ideal capitalism a system in which that phenomenon is encouraged...a system in which progress is made while climbing a ladder with rungs that are made up of small business, politicians, colleagues, working families, competing industries, etc?

The point is this, Ayn Rand's philosophy, would never exist as she imagines because of that consistent interruption of humanity. Her world is based on good behavior, accountability, honesty and stoic, ethical self idea that ALL NEW IDEAS are encouraged if they represent a more efficient model of production, and in turn, those new developments will play out in a way that benefits everyone, because it encourages everyone to keep pushing. Her ideal is based on the love of work and ingenuity, not the end goal of wealth. In her world, wealth is a coincidental result, and the ultimate drive for industry is personal creativity and love of that trade which gives them a sense of pride.

In closing, I wish I was Peter Roark, although, I can't imagine his character being played by any one other than Conan O'Brian.


Blogger Ezekiel James said...

I'm far more scared of Capitalism than I will ever be of Socialism or it's darker counterpart, Communism. I'm also not afraid of Ayn Rand...and from the looks of it, neither are you!

3:19 PM

Blogger Ezekiel James said...

Speaking of anti-capitalism...I'm very sure we share a mutual acquaintence in Chad Johnson, I'm curious as to what you think of his new label?

3:22 PM

Blogger David said...

i actually haven't really heard much about it, nor have i checked it out. i'll have to do that though, chad is awesome.

4:24 PM

Blogger Melanie said...

I am probably closer to Ayn than you are, although she is far more laisse faire than I am. Capitalism needs controls, but the expansiveness of the social programs Obama has approved are pretty costly, and let's face it, a study on Crickets in UT will do very little for our economy. So who should have the most influence the individual or the state? I agree that things are often over simplified on both sides. I have a hard time seeing how we will pay for Obama's plan mainly. I really can get us temporarily out of financial difficulties by borrowing more money, but in the end, someone will pay for it.

BTW, I just saw an interview with Ayn Rand. pr at least one part of an interview. Kevin Max posted it on facebook. It was interesting. I want to find the rest and listen.

I sometimes wonder if the year of Jubilee was instituted if it would correct the markets. But it would be pretty impossible implement so far into an existing system. LOL

1:37 AM

Blogger David said...

I'm holding my tongue Melanie :-)

6:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

you mean howard roark? :)

9:41 PM


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home