Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Politics of Objectivism

Rate this topic


Rory98
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hi, I have recently become very interested in objectivism. I have a large interest in public policy, and am aiming for a career related to public policy/economics. 

 

I live in a heavily democratic/blue area, and everyone in my family is a Democrat. I myself consider myself a Democrat, and proudly support many of the Democratic party's social policies and various other Democratic ideas However, I am also highly supportive of free markets, individualism, laissez-faire, and have become highly intrigued by objectivism and Ayn Rand. I was wondering, can I be both a Democrat, and agree with various Democratic party ideas - but yet also be an objectivist, and support many of Ayn Rands ideas? Or are they both incompatible? I don't really have any interest in 3rd parties, though I find the 2 party system hugely flawed.

 

Also, which political party do most objectivists support - or are members of? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...can I be both a Democrat, and agree with various Democratic party ideas - but yet also be an objectivist,...

One can agree with specific ideas of anyone, if those ideas are right. Most people have all sorts of ideas, we will typically agree with some and also agree with much of the derivation they use, we will agree with others but disagree significantly on the derivation (making the agreement thin), and will disagree with others (sometimes even if we agree with much of the derivation behind it). 

 

I don't know how parties work, but I assume that if one wants to progress in a party, one has to agree with most of the important aspects of their platform. Otherwise, how will one start getting votes? You probably know more about this; but, that's the type of thing I'd be concerned about: whether you -- with your particular mix of ideas -- can make it in the Democratic party, in the type of public-policy role you seek. And, not just make it by faking it, but make it in a way that satisfies you in the long term.

 

Also, which political party do most objectivists support - or are members of?

I have not seen many Objectivists say they're members of the two major parties, though a certain segment has been involved with the Libertarian party at some point. My sense is that most Objectivists have serious problems with both major parties, and also with the Libertarian party. Between the two major parties, I would guess actual votes skew toward the GOP by a significant margin.

Edited by softwareNerd
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It would seem to me you are at the beginning of your journey exploring Objectivism.  You are going to have to continue doing that and be prepared to check contradictions, which you will have when looking at your current philosophy while exploring a new one.  We have all done this to one degree or another.  Mine was pretty tough and it consumed a good chunk of the 90's.  Even after that I spent another ten years really exploring the nuances from there when I can to the conclusion that I was an Objectivist.  

 

The good news is that you're in a good place to ask questions and get good feedback.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure about the Democratic Party in the U.S. specifically, but if you want to say something like, can I have these broadly left wing commitments, or what would generally be considered left wing commitments (like supporting social safety net, mutual aid, poverty relief, worker solidarity, anti corporatism, anti racism/sexism/bigotry, LGBT rights, anti war/militarism, pro choice, etc.) and at the same time support a freed market and individual rights, including private property rights, then the answer is a resounding YES.

There is a rich tradition of individualists in the English, French, and American liberal tradition who have historically been supporters of economic freedom and at the same time supporters of left wing causes. Some have even embraced the term "socialist" in opposition to its association with totalitarian governments. Ayn Rand herself, while having a more right wing strain mostly in the later part of her life, has a distinct left wing legacy in her thought as well. Murray Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises also have left wing strains in their thought, Rothbard allied with the New Left in the mid 60's against the Buckyleite right wing (Rand also broke the the same generation of neoconservatives), and Mises work on liberalism bears a book of the same name.

These writers embraced social cooperation and tolerance, upheld the rights of marginalized groups, fought vigorously against chattel slavery in the 19th century (Tucker, Spooner, Garrison), supported the burgeoning feminist movement and women's rights (Patterson, Wilder, and Rand), and upheld a market economy against government planning and corporate capitalist management.

A lot of Rand's ideas can appeal to someone would is broadly left wing, in this kind of way, that sort of believes that there is all kinds of injustice and massive power centers, corporate and governmental, that are unaccountable and pushing people around, and has a general pro reason and anti authoritarian bent. But there's another kind of leftist, who is more establishment in attitude, the kind that would look up to, say Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren, and has more of an attitude of, there's all these things we want to change about the world, we have a blueprint of how we want things to be, and we're going to use the government to forcibly and violently impose our blueprint on the world. This kind of statist liberal, no I don't think can be compatible with a Randian or libertarian point of view.

For more info, there is a Wikipedia article on left libertarianism that you might want to check out. You might be interested in the book "Markets not Capitalism" edited by Gary Chartier and Charles Johnson, it's online for free in .pdf form, or the website Alliance of the Libertarian Left, http://praxeology.net/all-left.htm .

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure about the Democratic Party in the U.S. specifically, but if you want to say something like, can I have these broadly left wing commitments, or what would generally be considered left wing commitments (like supporting social safety net, mutual aid, poverty relief, worker solidarity, anti corporatism, anti racism/sexism/bigotry, LGBT rights, anti war/militarism, pro choice, etc.) and at the same time support a freed market and individual rights, including private property rights, then the answer is a resounding YES.

There is a rich tradition of individualists in the English, French, and American liberal tradition who have historically been supporters of economic freedom and at the same time supporters of left wing causes. Some have even embraced the term "socialist" in opposition to its association with totalitarian governments. Ayn Rand herself, while having a more right wing strain mostly in the later part of her life, has a distinct left wing legacy in her thought as well. Murray Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises also have left wing strains in their thought, Rothbard allied with the New Left in the mid 60's against the Buckyleite right wing (Rand also broke the the same generation of neoconservatives), and Mises work on liberalism bears a book of the same name.

These writers embraced social cooperation and tolerance, upheld the rights of marginalized groups, fought vigorously against chattel slavery in the 19th century (Tucker, Spooner, Garrison), supported the burgeoning feminist movement and women's rights (Patterson, Wilder, and Rand), and upheld a market economy against government planning and corporate capitalist management.

A lot of Rand's ideas can appeal to someone would is broadly left wing, in this kind of way, that sort of believes that there is all kinds of injustice and massive power centers, corporate and governmental, that are unaccountable and pushing people around, and has a general pro reason and anti authoritarian bent. But there's another kind of leftist, who is more establishment in attitude, the kind that would look up to, say Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren, and has more of an attitude of, there's all these things we want to change about the world, we have a blueprint of how we want things to be, and we're going to use the government to forcibly and violently impose our blueprint on the world. This kind of statist liberal, no I don't think can be compatible with a Randian or libertarian point of view.

For more info, there is a Wikipedia article on left libertarianism that you might want to check out. You might be interested in the book "Markets not Capitalism" edited by Gary Chartier and Charles Johnson, it's online for free in .pdf form, or the website Alliance of the Libertarian Left, http://praxeology.net/all-left.htm .

None of this is true.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I admit I loled at Nicky ' s comment, but 20 ' post raises some really interesting questions.

To what extent is there an acceptable level of variance in the motivation for a given rational position?

All Objectivist agree on probably 99% of political policies. I'm not talking about the 1% we disagree on but how much variance there is in the 99%.

For instance, in the libertarian movement, which is far broader than Objectivism, there is generally a right and left wing dichotomy. Both sides support free markets and for most of the same reasons but for with differences in the impirtance of various reasons. Right wingers tend to stress how the government limits growth with regulations and taxes, how entrepreneurs are hindered, and how government dominated industries are inefficient. Meanwhile left wingers stress that private forces collude with the state to exploit the masses and that the poor will be best helped by private forces. To clarify, right wingers thing the poor will be best helped by private forces and left wingers think the post office is inefficient, but these factors are not the primary motivators for their views.

Can or should the same thing happen within the purview of Objectivism? 2046 is suggesting that it can and should. He is pointing out that at certain times in Rand's career, she purposefully stressed leftist goals like gender egalitarianism while still maintaining an Objectivist framework.

I'm not sure how far these boundaries can be pushed but I'm interested to hear what others think.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was wondering, can I be both a Democrat, and agree with various Democratic party ideas - but yet also be an objectivist, and support many of Ayn Rands ideas? Or are they both incompatible?

That depends.

Objectivism isn't really like Republicanism or Libertarianism or any other political party. Even though it has a political component, that's not what it's really about; it's about life. So it has a lot more in common with a religion than it does with a party (sort of the anti-Islam), which boils down to certain key insights about existence, Reason, Egoism, Capitalism and Romanticism.

Many Democratic ideals are in line with what Rand advocated, herself (such as keeping abortion legal and ending the War on Drugs). Others (such as the War on Poverty) are not; they contradict our idea of Capitalism.

However, Ayn Rand also said once that she wasn't primarily a supporter of Capitalism, except that it was the logical way to apply Egoism to society, and wasn't primarily a supporter of Egoism, except that it was the logical way to apply Reason to human life. So if our understanding of a lower subject changes then every point built on top of it must change, too (including Capitalism).

There's some controversy over when the philosophy itself can be corrected, if at all, but that's not important. If you can logically show us why we're wrong on any point then our votes will reflect it afterwards.

So both as a philosophy and a constituency, the answer to your question depends on whether your Democratic ideas are logical.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
Link to comment
Share on other sites

... To what extent is there an acceptable level of variance in the motivation for a given rational position?

... ... I'm not sure how far these boundaries can be pushed but I'm interested to hear what others think.

Acceptable for what purpose? Do you mean acceptable in order to cooperate on some political task, with the other person who has different underlying reasons? Or, acceptable for some other purpose?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Acceptable by the standards of lying within the boundaries of Objectivism.

I suppose it depends what one wishes to encompass in the term "Objectivism". If one means the philosophy, rather than just the political structures it espouses, then it belongs in the broad categories of Naturalism and Egoism. If someone believes in God, and thinks man has a duty to help other men, but that the government should stay completely out of it, it is inaccurate to call his philosophy Objectivism, or a variant of Objectivism. Of course one can say that his philosophy and Objectivism espouse a very similar politics. A view like this long pre-dates Rand and her Objectivism. Perhaps we might call it "Extreme Smithian" or some such term.  

 

I can see one using a hypenated-term (XYZ-Objectivism) to describe some philosophical system that took that stack and tweaked it, or tweaked a layer or two. Either tweaked or diluted. However, if some layer of the other philosophy is the opposite of Objectivism: i.e. if its metaphysical core is mysticism and God, or if its ethical core is altruism, or if its political core is not individual rights, then naming it as if it were a variation of Objectivism would be misleading.

 

Classification matters, but I think people get overly worked up about it because they want to "own the term". For instance, some anarchists claim they're Objectivists or Neo-Objectivists, and that Objectivists who agree with Rand about the need for government are Orthodox-Objectivists. And, their opponents will retort that these Neo-Objectivists are actually preaching the opposite of Objectivism. Terms matter, but less than such arguments would have us assume. 

 

Anyway, I'll stop my comment here, because I'm not sure if my response really targets your question or is orthogonal to it.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can or should the same thing happen within the purview of Objectivism? 2046 is suggesting that it can and should. He is pointing out that at certain times in Rand's career, she purposefully stressed leftist goals like gender egalitarianism while still maintaining an Objectivist framework.

She did? When?

 

She was opposed to feminism precisely because instead of advocating for individual rights, feminists were fighting for the leftist ( = socialist) goal of gender egalitarianism (which is not equality in terms of rights, it's equality in terms of outcome).

Edited by Nicky
Link to comment
Share on other sites

She did? When?

 

She was opposed to feminism precisely because instead of advocating for individual rights, feminists were fighting for the leftist ( = socialist) goal of gender egalitarianism (which is not equality in terms of rights, it's equality in terms of outcome).

I'm not too familiar with Rand's biography, I was referring to 20 ' s claim that she stressed the importance of women's rights at certain time more than others. Women's rights doesn't have to refer to feminism. I suppose my use of "gender egalitarianism" was a bit vague and can be misconstrued.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not too familiar with Rand's biography, I was referring to 20 ' s claim that she stressed the importance of women's rights at certain time more than others. Women's rights doesn't have to refer to feminism. I suppose my use of "gender egalitarianism" was a bit vague and can be misconstrued.

Well Dormin, I wouldn't worry about the wording. While there are certainly feminists who are statists and advocate statist solutions, there are many others who don't. Right wingers are generally hostile to feminism because they may only have knowledge of the former and not the latter (Rand herself semi-jokingly referred to herself as a "male chauvinist"), but alas, you read a book, you live and learn. Ayn Rand's more classical individualist feminism should be seen as a type of, not opposition to, the feminist tradition.

But that's the point, in fact, before the 20th century, libertarians and classical liberals tended to be radical left wing individualists who were radically pro-free-market and anti-state, but also radically pro-feminist, pro-labour, anti-corporate, anti-racist, anti-hierarchy, and anti-privilege. One of the great things about Rand was she has helped to bring back a thicker conception of liberty, that there are other values to be concerned with, that philosophy is hierarchical, and that ones foundational values will have effects for other values. And that some or a lot of these ought to be (what is thought of as) left wing concerns, which if the OP comes from that point of view, he will find much more amenable than the stereotypical GOP-friendly libertarian point of view.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...