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Friday, December 28, 2007

Ayn Rand Lexicon

I am not sure exactly how dedicated Presidential Candidate Ron Paul is to the tenets of objectivism. I understand that he named his oldest son Rand, but that isn't terribly convincing to me.

Granted, it is very difficult for any candidate to get his/her points across (if they wish to) in the limited amount of time the press and the audience tends to offer on any particular point. That said, if we assume that Ron Paul is a libertarian of sorts, then much of his philosophy would be correlated to some extent with that of Ayn Rand.

How to figure what Rand had to say about things? Well, one could read Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, Anthem and We the Living (about three thousand pages altogether). Moreover, Capitalism the Unknown Ideal, and much of her non-fiction work is very helpful but sometimes dense and, above all, time consuming to obtain.

Enter the Ayn Rand Lexicon, now available online here, which contains many of her statements on particular topics.

For those who think they like what Ron Paul stands for, and then by proxy perhaps what objectivism is all about, this resouce might prove helpful.

Comments:
Rand would find Ron Paul abhorrent.
 
Yes, Richard. She would find Ron Paul abhorrent. Then, she would vote for him and he would lose.

No Objectivist politician stands a chance in a Democracy. Voters consistently vote for three things:

1) Who gives free stuff?
2) Who steals less?
3) Who harms/destroys the "enemies"?

These three criteria change in their relative value over time.

An objectivist can only meet the second criterion. Competing with candidates who claim to meet all three (or at least two of three), an objectivist will always lose.
 
I am sure that Rand would find Ron Paul a disappointment and thus "abhorrent." I am sure that he doesn't adhere 100% to the Randian take on all things, and therefore would not be worthy of her "affection."

That said, he does espouse, if somewhat brokenly, many of her basic tenets: a gold standard, a repeal of income taxes, a reduction in government intrusion/regulation, a reduction in "empire", an abandoment of military intervention/support for indirect intervention, a proponent of states rights, the end of government education, and so on.

To that extent, Paul is the closest to a Randian that has run for higher office of any I am aware.

My brother and I differ substantially on whether a Ron Paul presidency would be good for the country (in a foreign policy sense), whether some of his domestic policies would be good for the country (primarily a return to the gold standard), and whether he would be able to implement much of his agenda.

My concern with Paul supporters is that they take Paul vs. the other candidates and say "that's what I want." However, those supporters would be better at defending some of his proposed policies if they understood or perhaps were made aware of the underlying philosophy that promoted libertarianism initially.

I would agree with Paul (the commentor) that Ron Paul the candidate faces an uphill battle against the other candidates (both R and D) and is unlikely to win the nomination.

That said, I hope/trust that the longer Ron Paul sticks around, the more impact he has on the general discussion. Can we take his "disband the IRS" plank and convert that to a "flat tax" plank that might appeal to more voters and move us closer to the ideals that Rand proposed.

I think ideals are generally worthwhile because they provide goals to which we can aspire. Obviously we see dramatic differences between the ideals of one group vs. another. However, in my opinion we are approaching a carthasis where the ideals of Rand might begin to make more headway, albeit for the very opposite reasons she intended; that is, for purely pragmatic rather than philosophical reasons.
 
A politician who is willing to support the validity of a state government outlawing abortion and, to boot, does not accept the theory of evolution is nowhere near thinking like an objectivist. Furthermore, if Rand were alive she would have given up on American politics by now.
 
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