Watching and listening to the admittedly intelligent, supposedly Libertarian Ron Paul and to the rantings of his less educated son gave me pause. Only yesterday, after reading about Paul Ryan I actually began re-studying the philosophy of Ayn Rand. After reading descriptions of her ideas by various august philosophical authorities, some of whom could not seem to write an intelligible sentence, I decided to review the lady’s actual essays and novels again. To my amazement I found Ms. Rand to be a rather clear thinking libertarian, while I have my doubts concerning Mr. Paul and his offspring.
I found that her concept of “objectivism” and the celebration of the “individual” to coincide with libertarian principles. Even more interesting were her views on capitalism, which she saw as a means to raise the “individual” to new heights of accomplishment. On the other hand, she saw uncontrolled corporate power as an enemy equal to the dictatorship in her old country, the USSR. Just like her countrymen, the early neoconservatives, she acknowledged the need to try to elevate the poor. What she was not willing to do, was to lie to herself and say that this was to be done through a God-given feeling of “altruism.” On the contrary, this was to be done for either the exceptionally good feeling that one may have been relentlessly taught to experience or more likely, the potential benefit that would eventually ensue for virtually all individuals, including oneself.
At any rate, watching Ayn Rand’s movies and scanning her literature, some readers might not absorb much more than the confused idea that “selfishness” and “egocentrism” are the same thing. “Selfishness” is usually taught as a psychological term signifying that it is necessary to come to terms with and appreciate oneself before one can appreciate other people or things. This is not the same as “egocentrism,” the childish notion that the whole world revolves around oneself or one’s socio-political group. Rand’s notion of “ethical egoism” appears to relate much more closely to the psychological concept of “selfishness” than that of “egocentrism.”
Meanwhile, Ayn Rand seems to maintain a consistency with libertarian ideals that Ron Paul does not. Something of a religious extremist for a “libertarian,” unlike Ms. Rand and that other libertarian rascal, Barry Goldwater, Paul would arbitrarily ban abortion and gay marriage. He would also relegate the Constitution to a “moral” rather than a “social” and “legal” document. As some of us have pointed out before, for example, there are very few religions, perhaps only Christianity, that blindly disallow elective abortions in the first trimester. Whatever one’s moral views on abortion, it is a stretch to “legally,” as opposed to”morally” forbid first trimester elective termination of pregnancy. By the same token, I seriously doubt that the Constitution would “legalize” killing (notice I didn’t say “aborting”) a viable 8 month fetus because its “carrier” had a “bad hair day.” In fact, unlike thirty years ago, even if the six month fetus is aborted, it probably will survive in a top notch neonatal facility. Would you want to be the “hit man” assigned to murder the surviving fetus instead of sending it to that neonatal ward????
Similarly, the issue of gun ownership is clearly a legal one. The Constitution generously gives one the authority to carry a gun. Thus it may be a legitimate libertarian view that one has some sort of right to carry one. However, there is no moral right to carry much more dangerous weapons, especially those designed for only one purpose, to kill multiple human beings in a very short period of time. Ironically, most hypocrites stupidly bragging about their “Second Amendment” rights, would be (figuratively) slapped silly by their “Savior,” Jesus Christ, for even insinuating that it was He who had given them the “moral right” to carry a needless weapon, purposely endangering innocent people. While the people on both sides of the abortion issue are clearly not advancing “stupid” arguments, “Second Amendment” “crusaders” are!
The real problem for these brainwashed “Jihadists” is the necessity to invoke the Constitution in defense of a “legally” indefensible position against more strict gun control laws. The same Constitution that permits the carrying of a gun, entrusts the federal government with the responsibility of protecting the individual, something which Mr. Paul has invoked many times along with the duty to “mediate disputes.” In this country, except for disease and automobile accidents, guns are responsible for more mortalities than any other cause. They are responsible for more purposeful deaths than any other cause. The lame argument that “guns don’t kill people, that people kill people,” may sound cute to the paid sociopaths representing the NRA, but most members of the association do not believe such drivel.
My advice to Mr. Paul is to reconsider whether he is truly a Libertarian, as I believe Ayn Rand and Barry Goldwater were, or if he is some sort of confused right wing Christian who claims to be a libertarian when it suits him? I believe it would behoove both Mr. Paul, as well as certain of his colleagues,” to re-read” some of Ms. Rand’s work to learn something about both the libertarian perspective and the true principles of her “objectivism.”
Al Finkelstein, 9/14/12