The New Republic vs. Ayn Rand

Jonathan Chait of The New Republic recently took on Ayn Rand and her philosophy, and thus he took on the entire intellectual edifice of the right, which is built on Rand’s view that any restrictions on the activities of capitalism ubermen is a moral abomination.

Chait critiques Rand on moral and logical grounds, but he is strongest when he subjects Rand’s worldview to withering factual criticism (see page 3 of his article). Alan Greenspan, a famous Randian, recently admitted that his free-market ideology was wrong. Passages like the below, from Chait’s article, should convince more Randians of the error of their ways:

“In reality, as a study earlier this year by the Brookings Institution and Pew Charitable Trusts reported, the United States ranks near the bottom of advanced countries in its economic mobility. The study found that family background exerts a stronger influence on a person’s income than even his education level. And its most striking finding revealed that you are more likely to make your way into the highest-earning one-fifth of the population if you were born into the top fifth and did not attain a college degree than if you were born into the bottom fifth and did. In other words, if you regard a college degree as a rough proxy for intelligence or hard work, then you are economically better off to be born rich, dumb, and lazy than poor, smart, and industrious.”

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One response to “The New Republic vs. Ayn Rand

  1. Libertarian theory is just that. Interesting yes, but it makes some assumptions about human nature that just don’t fly. Mrs. Rand’s entertaining ideology assumes that selfish interests are beneficial to all and that just doesn’t work. Ask shareholders, bondholders, employees and customers of companies badly run and gone belly up.

    Some policing and regulation are needed and history is replete with catastrophic examples of why that is so. I pity the naivete of ideologues who truly think that big biz is ever to be trusted. After the disasters of these last couple of years it should be clear to even the most obtuse that crooks and predators move in all circles and strike when opportunity allows.

    The other topic you are addressing is that of accrued privilege. Privilege was seen as deserved and needed in rural, feudal societies, but it’s abolition, particularly of the entirely illegitimate form that inhibits economic growth and opportunities, is clearly in order. It is clearly a drag on modern societies, a disease really, that leads to exclusion and abuse. We would do well to continue to suppress the rise of de facto privilege wherever it can be curbed.

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