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Ayn Rand Was NOT a Libertarian

Many people assume that Ayn Rand was a champion of libertarian thought.

But Rand herself pilloried libertarians, condemning libertarianism as being a greater threat to freedom and capitalism than both modern liberalism and conservativism. For example, Rand said:

All kinds of people today call themselves “libertarians,” especially something calling itself the New Right, which consists of hippies, except that they’re anarchists instead of collectivists. But of course, anarchists are collectivists. Capitalism is the one system that requires absolute objective law, yet they want to combine capitalism and anarchism. That is worse than anything the New Left has proposed. It’s a mockery of philosophy and ideology. They sling slogans and try to ride on two bandwagons. They want to be hippies, but don’t want to preach collectivism, because those jobs are already taken. But anarchism is a logical outgrowth of the anti-intellectual side of collectivism. I could deal with a Marxist with a greater chance of reaching some kind of understanding, and with much greater respect. The anarchist is the scum of the intellectual world of the left, which has given them up. So the right picks up another leftist discard. That’s the Libertarian movement.


I’d rather vote for Bob Hope, the Marx Brothers, or Jerry Lewis [than a candidate from the Libertarian Party].


[The Libertarian Party is] a cheap attempt at publicity, which Libertarians won’t get.


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She had some good points to make but also some that were bad for freedom. I am happy if she is not associated with the liberty movement.

Lord Acton, Lord Chief Justice of England, 1875 - "The issue which has swept down the centuries and which will have to be fought sooner or later is the People v. The Banks."

Ayn Rand was great

Her contribution was and is necessary. It's influence will be well regarded in future times.

But she wasn't a perfect thinker. More than anything else, there is only so much one person can do, and she didn't leave much room for others to help.

Rothbard should win out over Rand only because of his academic background. Anarcho-capitalistic thought is more academic than it is realistic. One day, when we're living in a minarchist setting, we can fully litigate the debate. Likewise, in an anarchic situation, there would be no need to impose minarchy on happy and successful voluntaryists. It's almost a moot point.

The philosophical differences do matter, though. More than anything, the differences should be explored and discussed rather than debated.

Rand was wrong because she failed to correctly apply objective moral truth to subjective human behavior. Man best serves himself while he acts rationally, but man doesn't always act rationally. Why? I don't see Ayn Rand ever seeking an explanation. Instead, she offered only critique.

Her objectively moral system is excellent, but there needs to be a larger theory uniting it with 'human reality'. That may sound nauseating to an objectivist, so let me explain. Human values are best served when humans pursue objective values. That can be true at the same time the fact that humans have inborn incentives to pursue subjective values. Yes, natural designed man non-rationally.

For example, nature seems to have designed man to be jealous and promiscuous at the same time. The presence of both traits has a net evolutionary benefit for the species. But men suffer from this.

Reason is just one source of man's nature, and if he can master it, he will be happier and achieve more of his values - theoretically ceterus paribus. But other factors drive human action.

Economics and politics reflect real human action, not idealism. And one lesson of REAL economics and politics is that legalism cannot impose ideal conditions on humanity through coercion.

That's the key. Are Rothbardians perhaps wrong in clinging to religion and playing softball with altruism? Yeah, probably. But their academic perspective is in advance of Objectivist thought.

Rand was influenced by the marxist legalism of her upbringing. Though she rejected it, her position was more reactionary. She was pretty right about hippies.

Drug use is not moral, and it is destructive to a productive society overall. But individuals can freely pursue it, there's no problem with that. The problem would be the legal institutions enforcing behavioral norms.

At the end of the day, Anarcho-capitalists are in fact lovers of law. A capitalist society requires law up the wazoo. That's a different thing than a MONOPOLY on law through the government.

That's why I can't accept the

That's why I can't accept the anarcho-capitalist philosophy. Capitalism requires an objective application of the rule of law.

"When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic." Ben Franklin

I can hear the leftists say

I can hear the leftists say "social contract" too.

Why don't we drop this "rule of law" shit and encourage the other side to drop their social contract crap.

Do we sign onto any stupid social contracts? Doubt it.

And "rule of law" - whenever I hear that, usually from some fake conservative - I check my ammo. Rule of law in America now means "enough stupid people wanted it this way and passed a law now you got a gun to your head and you better obey it".


One thing I learn from these forums is that we are looking for a solution from the same people who are part of the problem. Guess not all zombies are libtards.



Excellent Article on Objectivism

Here is an excellent analysis of what Objectivism is:


My Dad was a Ayn Rand Objectivist

He had all her books and would get her newsletter, and if we wanted to talk to him, we have to read one of her books. He was also a subscriber to Playboy magazine, and I would read the articles, whi9ch back in the 70s were libertarian as in, "This is my body and I will do what I want with it". One of the advertizers was NORML, National Organization for the Reform of marijuana laws. And this is how I came to register Libertarian in 1976. I was one of those "hippies" Ayn Rand was talking about. Our motto was , Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll".. and drug legalization was our big issue. You've maybe seen the video from back in those days where Ron Paul is on a panel and he defends drug decriminalization?

I enjoy Ayn Rands work. I don't agree with her 100%, I am Catholic and I adore my Church, my Lord Jesus Christ.

100% with you on this one.

Although I am GENERALLY a big Ayn Rand fan, Objectivism has some fatal contradictory flaws.

Let me simplify the one greatest glaring one.
A. Rand: Do whatever you want, except for religion (even if your religiousity does not impact anyone else adversely)
Me: Well what if I happen to LIKE religion because it makes me happy and provides me with positive marginal utility each time I engage in it?
A. Rand: You cant do that. Or if you do, you're not an objectivist.
Me: So, you are the sole determiner of objectivism
A. Rand: No, you should do whatever increases your marginal utility, adds value, and does not adversely impact anyone else.
Me: So, I derive personal marginal utility from taking 5% of my income and feeding the homeless because I feel like it and am so motivated to do so out of my religious belief. That satisfies your standard.
A. Rand: Except it's religious motivation.
Me: So, then there's another standard which you did not state, which is that you have decided if a person meets all other criteria except you are religious, then you can't be an objectivist?

and round and round we go......

Not quite ...

A. Rand: Do whatever you want, except for religion (even if your religiousity does not impact anyone else adversely)
Me: Well what if I happen to LIKE religion because it makes me happy and provides me with positive marginal utility each time I engage in it?

No, Rand did not accept the idea of hedonism (do whatever you want). She said do what is in your RATIONAL SELF-INTEREST (which she often referred to as "selfishness" just to piss people off -- and make them think).

If you like religion, that is fine. But you have no rational basis for believing in it, you probably have conveniently ignored the massive harm it has done to people for thousands of years, and you cannot claim to be a rational thinker or even moral if you advocate for a system of thought that has a hatred of rational thought. Rand would say that religion's hatred of rational thought is akin to hating mankind for what mankind is (a rational being). Religion is abusive. She would (and did) say these things.

If you like religion, do you also like the harm it has caused millions of people throughout history? Do you like what religion is doing to people in the Middle East and elsewhere today?

Something to think about.

A. Rand: You cant do that. Or if you do, you're not an objectivist.
Me: So, you are the sole determiner of objectivism

Well, yeah, she created the philosophy. However, it is a philosophy that *should* be able to stand on its own because it uses the proper means for determining what is true: logic.

A. Rand: No, you should do whatever increases your marginal utility, adds value, and does not adversely impact anyone else.
Me: So, I derive personal marginal utility from taking 5% of my income and feeding the homeless because I feel like it and am so motivated to do so out of my religious belief. That satisfies your standard.

She said that you should not SACRIFICE yourself to others, nor should others shame you into sacrificing yourself for them (i.e. collectivism). There is nothing wrong at all with helping others in any way you freely choose, and you probably will gain a lot of satisfaction in doing so.

A. Rand: Except it's religious motivation.
Me: So, then there's another standard which you did not state, which is that you have decided if a person meets all other criteria except you are religious, then you can't be an objectivist?

No, you are not an Objectivist if you do not adhere to logic as your means of knowledge.

Faith is not a valid form of knowledge, and since all religions rely exclusively on faith to "prove" themselves, they cannot be taken seriously.

That is Ayn Rand's position. Please, if you disagree, don't use strawman arguments. Debate what she said, not what you dream she said.

You missed the point entirely.

Is it NOT rational self-interest to "invest" your personal time and resources in things that increase your marginal utility from that investment? Yes, it is. That's classical austrian economics.

You might like to invest X% of your time in entertaining yourself, if your marginal UTILITY from the investment is positive. Another person might PREFER to invest x% in feeding the homeless as a result of a religious motivation.

PROVIDED IT RAISES THEIR MARGINAL UTILITY, then it is perfectly rational. If you do not believe that premise, then you do not believe in laissez faire, free market economics, given that it is one of the necessary basic tenets.

As far as your completely separate subject about the "harm" religion has done, nice collectivization. If you for example, were a Catholic, did you burn witches? Nope. So, explain how you are liable for errant witch burning 400 years ago, then. You personally.

What hypocracy from you - extolling the virtues of the individual then turning immediately around and collectivizing people.

You are hung up on marginal utility

Marginal utility is not the same as rational self-interest.

Why don't you do both of us a favor and explain what Ayn Rand meant by rational self-interest. And by that, I mean what SHE meant and not what you make up as you go along. I suspect you don't really understand what she meant and yet you are trying to discredit what she meant (which you obviously can't do if you don't understand it).

Regarding religion, if you deny the harm religion has caused througout history, you are conveniently ignoring same seriously nasty sh-t. You might ask yourself why you ignore such things.

tommy. i do think you are

tommy. i do think you are missing his/her point.

ayn rand is not logical in offering any "should" or "should not" in regard to rational self interest. "self interest" can only be determined by self. how else could it be "self interest."

Desire is by nature subjective. How could it be anything else? If I desire something there is a reason I desire it. It has a value for me that I place above something I might have in its place.

Desire comes from the subject- the person- not the object- the thing desired. There is a REASON for desiring something. A personal, subjective reason. If I desire to practice my faith there is something I find of value in that. I value that over something else I could do.

Can Ayn Rand determine what every single persons desires "should be" in order to fit into her philosophy? Or does true self interest have to stem from the actual desire of the person choosing?

Desire is always rational. Meaning- there is a reason for it.

Desire is not ALWAYS rational.

It can be rational. It depends on the relative marginal return vs. the return on alternatives as measured by personal utility.

Extreme example, to a Buddhist monk desire is NEVER rational.


Marginal utility is the BASIS of human economic rationality. There's nothing to confuse. They are one and the same, inseparable, inalienable.

This was the flaw in Randian logic, a gap in understanding this basic economic principle.

As far as religion goes, I disagree with you by and large, but my OPINION is irrelevant. The FACT is that I did not live 400 years ago, therefore, there is no way to assign any of that liability to me. If you attempt to do so, you are a collectivist.

You're mistaken

You seem to imply that only an Objectivism is some sort of political party. It's a philosophy.

One of its primary tenants, Metaphysics: objective reality, would be completely thrown out the window if you were follower of religion. That's one of four tenants gone. You can’t call yourself a follower of a philosophy if you don’t adhere to the primary pillars of its definition.

You also suffer from the belief that those who aren't Objectivists are seen as lesser, immoral, beings. What mattered was seeking your happiness, being productive, living at no others expense. Pursuing your own –rational- self-interest. As for your example of giving 5%, Rand would only be against that if your religious convictions drove you to do so despite a personal preference not to, or if doing so would take food away from you or those you love. There is nothing wrong with aiding that which you hold value in, even if it’s anonymous homeless, just as long as you are not harmed (physically, emotionally, financially) in doing so.

That's impossible.

The measure of "rationality" in any human endeavor is marginal utility and marginal return on investment.

If you do not believe that, you honestly have no concept whatsoever of economics and certainly do not believe in the free market, despite whatever protestations you might have to the contrary, your basic ignorance of why those things are required for a free market means you cannot believe in it.

If, for example, it increases your marginal utility to see a movie, or take a walk, or smell a flower, it is perfectly rational to invest X amount of your resources in doing so, PROVIDED YOUR MARGINAL UTILITY IS POSITIVE from doing so.

Similarly, if, for example, I can derive positive marginal utility from investing Y amount of my time and resources in order to feed the homeless, which may or may not be religiously motivated, then it is perfectly rational for me to engage in that activity.

The motivation is IRRELEVANT to the RATIONALITY of the return vs. investment as measured by utility.

Again, if you do not believe in the above, then you cannot possibly believe in the free market as that is one of the 3 underlying tenets of the free market.

This is the fatal flaw in Randroid logic, that they set themselves up as the final arbiter of rationality, WITHOUT REGARD TO UTILITY, in direct contradiction to the fundamental principles of laissez faire economics.

"The motivation is IRRELEVANT

"The motivation is IRRELEVANT to the RATIONALITY of the return vs. investment as measured by utility."

How can this be? The motivation is desire. It is ALWAYS desire.

Desire makes an act rational. If I desire inner peace and I feel that when I feed the poor- then I feed the poor. If I desire a new coat and I have to choose between that and feeding the poor- I have to weigh out my greatest desire.

I may need that coat and rationally decide to buy it. Or, I may decide- I will feed the poor and then hope the universe gives me a coat so I can enjoy the inner peace I always feel. Or- I don't need a coat. I'd rather feel peace.

Whatever choice I make- it reflects my greatest desire in the moment I act.

Absolutely wrong.

Desire can be rational or irrational.

Desire for the next pizza may be perfectly rational. A desire for the 100th pizza within 24 hours would be LESS RATIONAL than the 99th pizza eaten within 24 hours.

You absolutely can measure ration of PERSONAL desire through utility. This is a basic tenet of free market economics.

In the primitive example I just provided, it is quite a MEASURABLY NEGATIVE MARGINAL UTILITY from eating your 100th pizza during a 24 hour period because you'll likely be dead afterward. However, eating that first pizza is POSITIVE because you require food to survive and you were hungry. The marginal utility of the 1st pizza eaten in the 24 hour period was POSITIVE and, hence, rational. The marginal utility of eating the 100th pizza in the same timeperiod was NEGATIVE and IRRATIONAL as it put you in the grave.

However, if you go purely off DESIRE, the DESIRE may have been constant for the 24 hour period. Did it make the desire rational? No. At the beginning it was rational, at the end the same desire was NOT rational.



I get voted down for explaining basic fundamental principles of laissez faire economics. And on daily paul of all places. Awesome.

i don't think that's why you were voted down :)

Freedom of the market means freedom of the consumer and the producer.

Both have to weigh out what their greatest desires are and make the choices that they believe will best lead them to the realization of those desires.

There cannot be a moral judgement from a system point of view. We can judge each other. But the system- if it free- cannot judge us. Or it will not true freedom

Desire doesn't change the facts.

That doesn't make any sense. How does it address what was in question?

Ayn Rand made one of the greatest contributions to mankind

She correctly identified that reality is OBJECTIVE, and is not subjective based on anyone's consciousness.

This is why she called her philosophy Objectivism. Reality is objective, not subjective. The human mind must use facts, reason, and evidence to correctly identify what is true.

This great contribution to human understanding does not mean she was perfect or had everything correct.

There can be no doubt that Ayn Rand was a minarchist, that she believed that there should be a government and that it should ONLY consist of military, police, and courts.

She also believed in free-market capitalism.

Now, any comments she made must be viewed within context of this. Any attempt otherwise is either ignorant or dishonest.

The Libertarian Party was established in 1972, when Nixon took the US Dollar off the gold standard. The Libertarian Party, as it was orginally founded by Dick Nolan, was certainly very close in ideal to Rand's view of minarchism.

Her references to left-anarchism are correct, but she thought that government was absolutely necessary. Anarcho-Capitalists (which are not left-anarchists) disagree with her on that one.

There are two things we know with 40 years of hindsight.

First, the Libertarian Party has not accomplished a damn thing, so far.

Second, the Democrat and Republican parties have been far worse.

Any Rand made one of the greatest intellectual contributions in the history of the world. But she wasn't perfect. So what?

Reality may be objective

but our experience of it is subjective. However, I have no qualms with her about that. Also, that is not a particularly original idea.

What I have a huge problem with is her claim that values are objective. That is destructive nonsense. Values are subjective. The other problem I have with her philosophy is the claim that man is a rational being. That is also nonsense. Man can be rational at times, but human action is primarily motivated by emotional uneasiness, which does not have to be caused by rational thought (see the first few chapters of Human Action by Mises). Furthermore, she wasn't particularly opposed to militarism and wanted to bomb the eff out of Iran. These are just a few of the problems I have with Ayn Rand as a libertarian.

“With laws shall our land be built up, but with lawlessness laid waste.”
-Njal Thorgeirsson


Realty is objective. Our own personal experiences, though different for each of us, is also objective and not subjective.

The fact that I grew up in a particular place and had a certain set of experiences is an objective set of facts. The fact that you grew up in a different place and had a different set of expriences is also objective fact.

"Objective" means it is true for everyone. "Subjective" means it is dependent upon what one thinks. This is Ayn Rand's contribution to philosophy. NOBODY in world history correctly identified that reality is objective AND that our thinking process must also, therefore, be objective in order to understand the world around us. Your personal experiences are part of reality, and are therefore also objective.

BTW: "Reality" is defined as "all that exists."

It abolultely is an original idea to Rand. No other philosopher ever identified that the MEANS OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT REALITY MUST BE OBJECTIVE BECAUSE REALITY ITSELF IS OBJECTIVE. This understanding of humanity was original to Rand.

You say that "values are subjective." This depends upon what you mean by "values." If you are talking about personal preference, such as your favorite flavor of ice cream, then it is different for you and me, but that is still objective. We can have different preferences for things, but it is objective that you like what you like and I like what I like.

On the other hand, if you are talking about morality, then you are talking about what everyone "should" do. This does not mean they do it or think they should, but that YOU think they should. And the ONLY way you can determine that in a large context of socity is by identifying objective morality.

The term "subjective" in the philosophical sense strictly means that a fact of reality is determined solely by what someone thinks it means. This is what is nonsense.

Regarding man as a rational being. Yes, man is a rational being. The Law of Identity is "A is A." If we are to identify the characteristices of what "man" is then it would include our brain. We are beings who have a requirement to use rational thought process to get through our daily lives.

You don't depend upon hopes, wishes, and dreams to get to the grocery store. You use a rational thought process, even if you don't consciously think about it.

We are also emotional, too. Our emotions are directly tied to our values, and they are our body's mechanism for feedback of stimulus vis-a-vis our values.

We often act on emotional short-term benefit rather than our long-term best interests. Rand acknowledged this human trait and this is why she always wrote about "rational self-interest." She advocated that we consider our long-term best interests even when we feel short-term emotional whim. This is another of her genius where she correctly identified our emotions as a function of our values.

Regarding bombing Iran, I agree with you on that. In fact, the Ayn Rand Institute seems to be made up of cultist followers who worship anything Rand and want to bomb the shit out of anybody who doesn't agree -- which is probably not all that damn objective.

However, regarding the philosophy, you seem to be making the intellectual error that a lot of people make. You are misunderstanding what "subjective" and "objective" mean.

If you would like to discuss that, I'm open to it.

Scientific Fact please..

Although scientific understanding tended to support Ayn's philosophy at the time in which it was written, quantifiable laboratory data has given cause for concern in accepting an "objective reality" and there is no longer any way a logical mind can claim objective reality as a conclusive fact.

In light of scientific discovery, Objectivism now takes faith, like any other axiomatic thought system. In the Objectivist religion, "God" is simply replaced with a belief (or a subjective assumption) in "objective reality."

From a purely logical standpoint, we have two competing models of reality, one which suggests an objective reality and one that denies it: Relativity and Quantum Mechanics respectively. Both models produce accurate predictions in "reality", and no "theory of everything" has yet to be postulated that resolves the apparent contradiction of the models mathematically. In short, there is no conclusive evidence to support either an "objective" reality (where perception is a subset of reality), or "fluid" reality (where reality is a subset of perception).

Logic and reason dictate that human understanding and technical acumen has not yet progressed to the point of being able to answer the question of whether or not reality is objective! Stating reality is objective is not logical when observable phenomenon within the so called "objective" reality provides contradictory data.

I AM is all that is. Everything else is malleable.

Disagree that quantum mechanics is contractictory to objectivism

People like to cite schroedinger's cat or the "fact" that an electron can be in more than one place at one time depending on one's "perspective".

Recent quantum field study shows that the field function of an electron is what causes to "appear" in more than one potential location when a photon interacts with the electron field, i.e. when the electron is "observed".

In other words, does the simultaneity of location of the electron really mean that it's location is "relative"? Or does it mean that really we still don't fully understand all of quantum field theory yet?

Speaking scientifically? The probable answer is the latter.

None of the above is contradictory to objectivism.


The double slit experiment has been duplicated enough times that it is considered experimental fact and the study that you cite (which I do not believe exists as a peer reviewed paper) would have to be replicated a few dozen times before refuting superposition and entanglement of particles. I'm not sure where you got your info, but I would bet money it wasn't from a Physics book/site/reference.

The most recent experiments that I have studied are confirming the Heisenberg uncertainty principle like never before. We now have data supporting charge-parity violation, in which quantum time reversal has been directly measured and scientists have successfully quantum teleported an electron over 88 miles. From a practical standpoint, superposition is so thoroughly proven that quantum computing has leveraged this unique facet of the particle for the last 20 years. I'm not sure how anyone looking at the facts could possibly deny superposition.

I AM is all that is. Everything else is malleable.

Nice try.

You are ignoring that an electron is not ONLY a particle.

There are double slit experiments measuring the WAVE FUNCTION ONLY of the electron field and it demonstrates the WAVE going EQUALLY through both slits at the same time with a probabilistic distribution of how it hits the wall, in the observed scenario and in the unobserved scenario.

If you were to see a visual representation of that, it would make immediate sense to you as it's so obviously visually easy to understand.

In the double slit experiment with observation you are ACTING UPON the field (photon) when you observe. Please recite the basic laws? When you apply a force to an object what happens? It's position CHANGES.

What's different in the double slit experiment? Nothing. When you ACT UPON the field through observation of course you get a different result. What's different between that and any non-quantum science experiment? Nothing but a curiosity.

I think it's hilarious someone voted my reply down.

What's to disagree with? That electrons are or are not relatively positioned?

GOOD LORD (eyeroll).

Start with the Axioms

An axiom is a statement that must be true and connot be refuted.

A few of Ayn Rand's axioms are:

- Existence exists (this means "reality" is defined as everything that exists, and it actually does exist, it is not an illusion).

- A is A (the Law of Identity, from Aristotle, says that a thing is what it is and not something else, within the same time, place, and context).

- We perceive reality through our senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell), and we form abstract thoughts based on our senses.

- The Validity of the Senses (our senses are valid and it is up to us to interpret what they mean)

These cannot be refuted. If you think nothing exists, then you are part of nothing and you do not exist, which of course is absurd. If something can be what it is and also something else at the same time, then I would like to see it (there is no such thing as a square circle). If your senses are not valid and do not give you accurate information, then you cannot read this nor can you reply or even undertand the abstract ideas these digital images are presenting to you.

From these basic set of ideas, we can start the logical process of learning about the world around us.

The idea that reality (that which exists) can be a function of perception is flat wrong.

The existence of planets, for example, is not dependent on what you or I think. Those planets were there (and discovered) long before you and I came along. They probably still be there long after all of us are gone. Therefore, their existence cannot be based on what you, I, nor anyone else thinks.

This is the thinking PROCESS that is Ayn Rand's contribution. The ONLY means of human knowledge is logic (i.e. reason). It makes no difference that there are many in the scientific community who themselves are irrational, propagandists, and otherwise nonsensical thinkers.