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Primer Series
Ayn Rand & Libertarianism
by   Richard   Rieben
First Posted – 1 January 2004
In the mid-twentieth century, author/novelist Ayn Rand formulated a philosophy called Objectivism. This has been a popular cornerstone of the libertarian movement. Rand, however, is the true mother of the libertarian movement. It is her bastard child, and she rightly repudiated its slipshod, unprincipled attempt to disconnect philosophy (foundation) from politics (application). Due to this disconnect, libertarianism pivots on the dilemma of a contradiction: that collectivists can never bring about individual political liberty. They are conflicted, personally and philosophically. Their goal of political liberty is an impossible fantasy (ideal) where individual liberty exists alongside collectivism, patriarchy, hierarchy, and even aristocracy (all of which are opposites of liberty).

While philosopher Rand could not accept the bald contradiction of libertarianism, novelist Rand stoked the fantasy – and then tried to talk her way out of it.

Rand was a perfectionist and a bit of a megalomaniac, who claimed that if people would follow her philosophy, consistently, they would be rewarded with a fulfilled and happy life. Her philosophy, however, was muddled with her fantasies – both in her works of fiction and in her worship of both liberty and aristocracy, a truly Nietzschian combination.

In many particulars, Rand hit the nail on the head, especially in regard to how philosophy affects every aspect of our lives. But her grasp of politics, economics, sexology and most other applications, were rooted in a murky European, domination value-system. Her strongest asset may have been her epistemology, though not her metaphysics or ethics. The rest of her philosophical applications are likewise mixed and muddy, but her fictional "spin" talents made her a powerful rationalizer of the compromises and contradictions of her philosophy and her personal values.

This detour into Ayn Rand's accomplishments and failures is to distinguish Reciprocian philosophy from Objectivism, both in its origins and its expectations. And to distinguish the Reciprocian identification and advocacy of liberty from Rand's bastard child, libertarianism.

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copyright © 2005 by Richard G. Rieben