Monday, August 23, 2010
- Being Thoughtful About Ayn Rand
In my experience the biggest fans of Ayn Rand are those people who know that they don’t like the collectivist, PC, ‘shut up and do what your betters tell you to do’ world of the political left, but they don’t know any of the other options. They aren’t going to wade through the kind of dry reading required to establish a base in economic thinking, so instead they’ll do what they consider the next best thing, and read Ayn Rand.
My daughter’s Karate teacher is an excellent example. In his day job he’s a special Ed teacher who works with ‘at risk’ kids who also have a history of using violence toward authority figures. I like him personally and he’s a great karate teacher. But economics has very little to do with his choice of careers. He’s of more or less average intelligence and hasn’t had any other cause, so he’s never really taken any interest in the ups and downs of economic thinking. And without the basics, it can be tough to see a big difference between Frederich Hayek and Alan Greenspan.
But he’s a big fan of Ayn Rand. He calls “Atlas Shrugged” his favorite book and can quote long stretches of it from memory. But his problem where Atlas Shrugged is concerned (and it’s one that he shares with many of Rand’s other fans if you ask me) is that he thinks it teaches him something that it really doesn’t.
I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, I enjoyed most of Rand’s work. She definitely touched on something important and that the self congratulatory left perpetually ignores. She was a breakout thinker and I even like the story line. But it always seemed to me that for an idea to be workable it needs to intersect reality more firmly that Rand’s ideas ever seem to manage to.
Give me a choice between a world run by Ayn Rand or one run by either Nancy Pelosi or Mike Bloomberg, and I’ll choose Rand’s world in a second. But I think she underestimates the multitude of issue which she hasn’t address that won’t shoehorn well into her worldview.
I’ll get into it in more detail another time. In the meantime though, here is a very thoughtful criticism of Rand’s world from Jason Lee Steorts at NRO:
The Greatly Ghastly Rand