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Ayn Rand Not a Capitalist by Her Own Definition?

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So far, nobody has been able to contest this. I do not know if this is because it is unable to be refuted or was not seen. Can anyone refute it?

By Ayn Rand's selected definition, she was not a capitalist. Here is her chosen definition of capitalism.

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Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.

According to that definition, if all property is not privately owned, then the social system is not capitalism. So, if anyone does not believe in a social system where all property is privately owned, then it is not capitalism according to that definition.

So, to my knowledge: All nuclear bombs, B-52s (not just some, but all), firearms (not just some, but all), and the Pentagon would need to be privately owned.

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In his podcast, Dr. Peikoff has discussed Miss Rand's definition of "capitalism" a couple of times. His comments might be of some help and interest:

Episode 24 - August 04, 2008 (unofficial index):

14:20: "'In Ayn Rand's definition of "capitalism," she says that all property is privately owned. Is that really true? For example, would the buildings and land that house the government, police force, and military be privately owned?'"

Listen directly here (on Dr. Peikoff's site).

Episode 91 - December 7, 2009 (unofficial index):

13:37: "'Ayn Rand's definition of capitalism is not the same as the conventional one. Conventionally: "An economic and social system in which the means of production are privately owned." Ayn Rand's: "A social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned."'"

Listen directly here (on Dr. Peikoff's site).

Edited by Trebor
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In his podcast, Dr. Peikoff has discussed Miss Rand's definition of "capitalism" a couple of times. His comments might be of some help and interest:

Episode 24 - August 04, 2008 (unofficial index):

14:20: "'In Ayn Rand's definition of "capitalism," she says that all property is privately owned. Is that really true? For example, would the buildings and land that house the government, police force, and military be privately owned?'"

Listen directly here (on Dr. Peikoff's site).

Episode 91 - December 7, 2009 (unofficial index):

13:37: "'Ayn Rand's definition of capitalism is not the same as the conventional one. Conventionally: "An economic and social system in which the means of production are privately owned." Ayn Rand's: "A social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned."'"

Listen directly here (on Dr. Peikoff's site).

Well, this did the trick. Peikoff's answer was consistent. It definitely raises many tough questions, but they are separate topics, so I will start threads on them over time.

What if not all manmade physical objects are property?

Well, I see what you are saying, but I find it hard to imagine that society would leave a nuclear bomb in the middle of a field or abandoned basement and go about their lives peacefully. I mean, is it realistic for a stockpile of nuclear weapons to be left alone by billions of people?

Edited by determinist
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Well, this did the trick. Peikoff's answer was consistent. It definitely raises many tough questions, but they are separate topics, so I will start threads on them over time.
I don't think Rand's writing as a whole can be taken to imply that the government may not have exclusive non-leased control of any assets at all. One does not start with a definition in order to understand what Rand meant by Capitalism. The definition is the last thing one does. It is purposely pithy and scrubbed down to essence. (Aside: This reminds me of "man is a rational animal" taken to mean that insane men are not men.)

I don't see anything in Rand's writing to suggest that the government may not hold gold money to pay its staff, may not own the desks and pens and paper for its judges, may not own uniforms that it intends to give its army recruits. Obviously I'd be open to references that show otherwise, and would then simply disagree. (Aside: This is really not a topic for core Philosophy anyway. It is more in the realm of the overall design of working government and of "checks and balances".)

Of course, an Objectivist would not frame Capitialism as private ownership merely of "the means of production". That is too narrow. Nor would an Objectivist want any implication that everything belongs to the king or to society in some original state, with property ownership being the means where the king or state hands ownership over to private citizens. Rather, the government is simply an agent of enforcement of property rights where originally there was no ownership at all. All property that the government needs for its operations come to it by voluntary donations from such original private owners.

Nothing I have read in Rand suggests that the government must immediately hand such property back to some private person and sign some type of long term lease from them, nor that such people may not pay voluntary "taxes" (say, in gold) but must merely make promises to be there when the government needs money...and that any such money, when eventually donated, must stay in government hands for ...well "all" would imply that it must never be in government hands right?

Wrong. A definition is simply a definition. It is a contraction by its very nature.

As you say, one can raise a lot of serious questions if one takes Rand to mean that the government may not have exclusive non-leased control of any type of asset for any duration of time. However, to assume that Rand meant this, and then to raise questions on that basis would be to attack a straw-man.

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