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An Old but New Attack on Ayn Rand

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I would love to have some help refuting everything in this article. It is pretty hard hitting and many of my friends are asking me about it.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2022/8/1/2113850/-How-a-Child-Killer-Set-the-Stage-for-Today-s-Republicans-to-Revel-in-Cruelty

I do have a refutation of the murder (Hickman) issue here

https://aynrand.no/did-ayn-rand-admire-killer-william-hickman/

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29 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

The most important response to something like this is to explain, as fully as necessary, what Ayn Rand's philosophy really is.

It would take a long time to refute every error in this rant, and I'm not sure how worthwhile such an effort would be.

The problem is that explaining her philosophy has been done repeatedly and this type of thing happens.

It is in fact necessary, to answer questions, when they appear. This idea that the audience will read something that is comprehensive is not true. They want their questions answered more than anything. And when we don't answer them and expect them to read or hear reams of information that might answer their specific question, we loose.

Why not simply say read these books and you'll understand the problems with the article. This is putting your head in the sand.

Refuting even one paragraph is going to make far more of a difference than giving a bibliography to read.

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And as you say this isn't a new attack.

In the refutation you linked is a link that directs to a discussion in 2013 here on OO and in that thread is a link to a similar discussion from 2010 on OL.

Your refutation link should help reframe the 'issue' for any parties worth being concerned about.

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The best refutation is to say it is simply a hateful hit piece.

Refutation is for people of reason and good will, not for scribbles on bathroom walls or the equivalent.

Don't be goaded into dead-end discussions framed by the enemy.

 

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3 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

It is in fact necessary, to answer questions, when they appear.

And ... "It is pretty hard hitting and many of my friends are asking me about it."

 

What specific questions are friends asking that you could use help answering?

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In each of the following your friends may have additional questions, so try to be prepared to answer such.

"Ayn Rand’s raped-girl-decides-she-likes-it novel, “The Fountainhead.”"

"Rand’s hero Roark, in fact, “raged” so much in her novel that he blew up a public housing project with dynamite."

It can help in both these cases to provide context from the novel.  Also, make the point that the encounter between Roark and Dominique is an unusual encounter between unusual people, not a guide to ordinary relationships.

"Only billionaires should rule the world, Trump has suggested.

And he tried to put it into place, installing a billionaire advocate of destroying public schools in charge of public schools, a coal lobbyist representing billionaires in charge of the EPA, an billionaire-funded oil lobbyist in charge of our public lands, and a billionaire described by Forbes as a “grifter” in charge of the Commerce Department. Trump’s chief of staff said that putting children in cages and billionaire-owned privatized concentration camps (where seven so far have died) would actually be a public good."

No one should rule the world.  Such positions should be eliminated, not just filled by someone from a different faction.

"Trump’s chief of staff said that putting children in cages and billionaire-owned privatized concentration camps (where seven so far have died) would actually be a public good."

Neither "illegal" immigrants nor anyone else should be put in cages or concentration camps.  Imprisonment should only be for people convicted of serious crimes, which does not include "illegal" immigration, and should be done in a properly thought-out manner, especially if children are involved. 

Rand's personal life is not relevant to evaluating her philosophy.  If anyone insists on digging into her personal life, we need to sort out actual imperfections from smears.

" Rand believed that a government working to help out working-class “looters,” instead of solely looking out for rich capitalist “producers,” "

The working class are producers, not looters.  The looters are politicians who seize people's wealth.  Government should not "help" anyone at anyone else's expense.  Its sole proper function is to keep physical coercion out of it, leaving everyone free to produce and trade and to enjoy the fruits thereof.

 Of course Ayn Rand disagrees with the traditional Judaeo-Christian ethic of self-sacrifice, for reasons which she has explained.  It might be helpful to explain about metaethics here, for those people that are willing to listen.

"Ironically, when she was finally beginning to be taken seriously, Ayn Rand became ill with lung cancer and went on Social Security and Medicare to make it through her last days. She died a “looter” in 1982,"

Government takes a lot more from us in direct and indirect taxes and reduced economic efficiency than it ever gives back.  Anyone who leads a basically productive life and does not vote or advocate for government handouts is entitled to take whatever government is willing to give back to them.  Ayn Rand first explained this in "The Question of Scholarships", written long before she got cancer.

"over a million dead Americans from Covid"

I don't think Ayn Rand would be a vaccine denier or a vaccine skeptic.

Lockdowns kill people too.

"an epidemic of homelessness, and the collapse of this nation’s working class."

This is the result of mixed-economy statism, certainly not of laissez-faire capitalism, which we haven't even approximated for a long time.  (Here you may have to persuade people that this is a well-thought=out position, even if they still don't agree.)

"the Republican Great Depression"

(If people want to argue with the following, you may have to research it.)  The gold standard provided a natural discipline which prevented monetary and financial matters from getting too far out of balance.  The government sabotaged the gold standard and moved further and further away from it, giving more and more control to the Federal Reserve.  In the buildup to the Great Depression, the Federal Reserve loosened money and banking up too much, creating a speculative bubble which had to burst sooner or later, creating a massive dislocation.  The specific trigger that burst it was a combination of crop failure and financial panic.  Then Herbert Hoover intervened in ways that may have been well-intentioned, but made things worse.  He propped up wages and prices, pricing people, goods, and services out of the market.  He signed the Smoot-Hawley tariff act, which restricted trade when it needed to be opened up, and provoked retaliatory restrictions from other countries.  If Hoover had been a do-nothing President as some people say, the Depression would not have lasted as long or been as bad.

"pitting Americans against each other, and literally killing people every day." 

It is mixed-economy statism that does this, not laissez-faire capitalism.  Mixed-economy statism pits people against each other in pressure-group warfare and impairs the functioning of the economy.

"get billionaires and their money out of politics"

The way to do this is to get away from mixed-economy statism and the resulting pressure-group warfare, and establish laissez-faire capitalism.

(Sorry, I can't get rid of the bolding here.)

 

 

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Stephen Boydstun provided the following as an example of the government's attack on the gold standard.

“Genuine free banking, as we have noted, exists where entry into the banking business is totally free, where banks are neither subsidized nor controlled, and where at the first sign of failure to redeem in specie, the bank is forced to declare insolvency and close its doors.”

Doug, it looks like Murray Rothbard's book The Mystery of Banking is a good resource on this controversy, including the historical record. The book is available online. Pages 197-234 of the book (220-257 in the PDF pagination) look to be exactly the pertinent material, though it is challenging and probably requires some portions earlier in the book to understand it well.

(i would suggest starting one page earlier.)

 

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23 hours ago, Easy Truth said:

The problem is that explaining her philosophy has been done repeatedly and this type of thing happens.

There seem to be some people who just irrationally hate Ayn Rand.  Every now and then one of them will come up with a hit piece like this.  As long as there are a lot of people who don't understand Rand very well, there will be people with questions as a result of such hit pieces.  We just have to keep answering and explaining as we need to.

 

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On 8/7/2022 at 11:31 PM, Easy Truth said:

I would love to have some help refuting everything in this article.

An additional problem with the article:  the burn pit bill passed.

My impression from the news is that Republican resistance was aimed at getting a vote on certain amendments; once those amendments were voted on, the measure passed.

 

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Talking about authoritarianism. Physical coercion is not all that exists, freedoms aren't lost only with the "barrel of a gun".  Modern governments have at their disposal a power to non-violently coerce minds (and therefore, bodies), through propaganda techniques not fully realized and practiced by the complicit media, until lately. By that means, a population conditioned to automatic obedience through its feelings and emotions allows an authoritarian government to expand, one seldom needing to resort to force, so, may congratulate themselves on - their 'democracy'.

"Why?"- is what everybody had to ask and seldom do. 

Why defend Ukraine? at its own human destruction, and the huge economic (etc.) costs elsewhere - and after the Kyiv Government was indeed partly responsible for the raw consequences committed upon their country - and - why steer them away from the early solution, peace negotiations - and- why prolong hostilities - to "weaken Russia"?

Why was it so hard to give Putin/Russia his, not unreasonable, demands for "security guarantees"? In that same situation, any nation would be neurotic for its future security. 

Why lock down entire populations, the healthy/young together with the vulnerable, in a pandemic that was known to be non- lethal to the former?

Why impose (untested) vaccines on all? (for the same rationale, healthy v. vulnerable?)

These past few years, cowed into submission and conditioned to dependence on "the authorities" to provide us with 'safety at zero risk' like never before, it was that orchestrated propaganda campaign during a virus, then an invasion that's 'coerced' masses of minds. It only had to shift gears, for this senseless and avoidable conflict.

Edited by whYNOT
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To represent what the protagonists of Rand's novels are like, one needs to discuss how they are in the novels. Reading and reporting instead musings the novelist jots down in her journals about a future character she is working on does not get you a satisfactory grade in a literature class. But the point of this smear-article was not to read and report the literature or the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Behind all such personal attack-pieces like this one is simply the favor of politics or religion opposed to Rand-quarter positions concerning politics or religion. It is easier to vilify persons, such as Rand or her fictional protagonists, than to argue ideas. The latter would mean reading and accurately representing what were the ideas of Rand that she argued and that she illustrated in fictional stories. After accurate representation, one would go on to argue against those ideas, making counter-arguments in support of one's opposing views. (Which is what is in my writings concerning Rand or any other thinker I take up.) If someone is already in the church of the author of this personal-smear approach to morals and politics of Rand or libertarianism, one can get bolstering by reading this article. One does not get accurate information from it, only distortions. But there are readers who think that is fine, if only they get their church and political beliefs defended, however cheaply and slovenly. Precision respecting reality and life may not be their thing. But people who are after truth, including truth about what is Rand's philosophy, what is right in it and what is wrong with it, people like that read people like me.

Edited by Boydstun
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