Sunday, March 22, 2009

Is Rand Relevant?

The National Review asks "Is Rand relevant?" A bunch of smart people answer. Read their answers here.

The difference between a Conservative and an Objectivist boils down to two just issues: religion and altruism. Rand viewed both as poison. Conservatives praise both as virtue.

F. A. Hayek -- who famously declared himself not a conservative -- struck something of a compromise. Yes, individual reason is a useful guide for human action, but it can quickly be perverted into the hyper-rationalist claims of a scientific state (see his book The Counter-Revolution of Science).

On the other hand, tradition is a kind of reason, too. It is literally "the wisdom of the ages,"an evolved body of knowledge drawn from human nature, including such human behavior as altruism. But tradition, too, can be perverted into the mindless protection of ideas and institutions. 

The Hayekian view acknowledges the important role that tradition in general and religion in particular plays in human affairs, while acknowledging that social adaptation is essential for social groups to respond to a constantly changing environment. 

In other words, there are two kinds of prisons of the human spirit. The first is the prison of hyper-rationality. The second is the prison of unalterable tradition.

Today, the greatest threat to freedom is hyper-rationality, the belief that top-down economic planning is better than bottom-up growth, the expectation that Congress and the President can solve personal problems. Rand is still an effective weapon against this threat. No one else has attacked collectivism as successfully, as intelligently, and with such wide appeal. Compared to Rand, Rush Limbaugh is an amateur. Long after Rush is forgotten, people will be reading Rand.

Book sales tell us all we need to know about her relevance. Ayn Rand is the best weapon we have.

1 comment:

Mark Van Schuyver said...

Ayn Rand is the best weapon we have because truth so well spoken cuts through the statist's fog like a hot knife through butter.

"The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man's rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, and to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law." - Ayn Rand