Rand’s Philosophy Needed to Guide Budget Reform…and Much More

Quote from novelist Ayn Rand.

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Amidst all the turmoil over the budget and how to make prudent cuts that will avoid further hindering a jobless recovery, Yaron Brook and Don Watkins of the Ayn Rand Institute’s (ARI) Objectivist Academic Center (OAC) peel back the top layer of the onion to suggest that perhaps what is lacking from the budget debate is a sound political philosophy from which to base one’s decisions.  The issues of whether to cut defense or entitlements, to increase taxes, or to raise the debt-ceiling alone does not entail one with a political philosophy.  That is to say, simply agreeing that one should cut entitlement spending to help balance the budget does not imbue one with a philosophy all his own or of that of a particular party.  I think implied in Brook and Watkins’ article is that we must work from a philosophy rather than to a particular set of prescribed beliefs that are usually determined by a narrow set of party tenets or guidelines.  And particular to Rand’s ideas is that her philosophy is based from the single axiom of man’s natural right to exist and to provide for that existence free from any external or undue burdens.

In morality, [Ayn Rand] argued, a man who truly lives and works for his own sake neither sacrifices himself to others nor others to himself–he produces the values his life requires. In politics, a limited government that protects an individual’s right to the product of his own effort does not sacrifice “the needy”–it refrains from sacrificing anyone by protecting the freedom of everyone. Cut Social Security? To do so is, in reality, to stop depriving men of the wealth they’ve produced.

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Our current economic troubles have given a renewed vitality to Rand’s ideas.  Almost daily now, one can easily find an article either promoting or repudiating her philosophy.  Yet as with most controversial or vivacious ideologies, Rand has been falsely grouped with an already well-established (and faltering) Republican platform, as well their new affiliated Tea Party.  In fact, Rand herself warned of this very fallacy herself, that of association.

Since early childhood, [men’s] emotions have been conditioned by the tribal premise that one must “belong,” one must be “in,” one must swim with the “mainstream,” one must follow the lead of “those who know.”…

There is a crucial difference between an association and a tribe.  Just as a proper society is ruled by laws, not by men, so a proper association is united by ideas, not by men, and its members are loyal to the ideas, not the groups….All proper associations are formed or joined by individual choice and on conscious, intellectual grounds (philosophical, political, professional, etc.)

“The Missing Link,” in Philosophy: Who Needs It

Moreover, as I read articles around the web discussing her vision, I am disappointed at how ideologically and emotionally misguided some people’s comments are.  For example, this author from Outside the Beltway blatantly dismissed Rand’s ideas while imbuing her with “the intellectual pretensions of Hegel.”  If individuals express their beliefs pronounced from judgments they themselves make, they would not be so quick to group Rand with characters of the likes of Hegel, as Rand dismissed him outright as an intellectual fraud (see Philosophy: Who Needs It).

So the point of my musing is that if there is one thing one need take from Rand, it is that her philosophy, unlike many others, necessitates that one think for oneself.  It says that since man must provide for his own existence, he must be afforded the right to use his mind as he sees fit.  This tenet of Rand’s is the very essence of freedom.  Without our minds and the conscious act of judgment, we cannot hope to achieve a true state of liberation from those of others.

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About Jeremiah Dow
I have a B.S. in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics with a minor in Economics. I finished school in 2010 and am currently working on independent research in various areas including political and economic philosophy, government, and history. I am also currently looking for work in research, particularly the social sciences dealing with public policy work. I aspire to a top-level graduate institution, but would first prefer some professional research experience. Some of my primary influences are Ayn Rand, Noam Chomsky, and Howard Zinn among others.

4 Responses to Rand’s Philosophy Needed to Guide Budget Reform…and Much More

  1. dcmartin says:

    Obviously you failed to comprehend what you read ( or simply did not read the entire post)………. the right wing evangelical republicans have been who waxing poetic about Ayn Rand don’t seem to get that she would still hold them in contempt because of their overpowering religious dogma.
    Or was the “Anton LeVey/Jesus thinks you’re a dumbass” juxtaposition to subtle?
    To dislike my post is one thing, but to totally misrepresent it is another. I made fun of their self-deluded trumpeting of themselves as her standard bearers, I did not “falsely associate Rand’s philosophy with that of the right-wing Evangelical Republicans”.

    • Jeremiah Dow says:

      Nobody gains from misrepresentation. I assure you that was not the case. I still find your post a bit obscure in its satire, but my apologies. I will gladly retract the statement.

  2. dcmartin says:

    Thank you, Jeremiah….I’ll work on honing my satire skills.
    No harm, no foul!

    • Jeremiah Dow says:

      No problem. I apologize again. So to get this straight, your stance is against Rand, but you were pointing out the irony and hypocrisy of the right-wing Evangelical Republicans in citing her philosophy??? If this is the case, then while I do favor Rand’s philosophy, I think we agree on the ridiculousness of the right in using her to bolster their cause. Let me know if I have this right.


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