Libertarian History/Philosophy

Ayn Rand and The Daily Show

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Here's Jennifer Burns, author of the new book Goddess of The Market, on The Daily Show.

Go here for Brian Doherty's review of Burns in The Washington Times and go here for my take on Burns and Anne C. Heller's Ayn Rand And The World She Made in The Wilson Quarterly.

From November 2 through November 12, Reason.tv will be debuting Radicals for Capitalism, an eight-part series about the enduring power of Ayn Rand's legacy. Go here to watch a promo trailer and for more details.

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  1. it only works for exceptional people… so, since everyone’s not exceptional… what? chains all around?

    1. haha…don’t laugh

    2. “A totalitarian state of individualists.”
      Stewart actually said that.
      What little credibility he might have had is now gone forever.

      1. I know. That statement doesn’t even make sense.

        1. Stewart, in his blinkered lefty way, has bought into the shopworn, hackneyed notion that Rand’s concept of rational self interest must somehow lead to dictatorship. Fear the individualists! For they will…take over…the world? Stewart could not have better demonstrated his ignorance, if not his malice.

          1. Exactly. It reminds me a little of the whole Naomi Klein/Milton Friedman thing from about a year ago. Somehow the promotion of free market ideas was supposed to have lead to totalitarian regimes in Chile and Iraq. These kinds of argument aren’t even self-consistent.

            1. That doesn’t make them any less influential, unfortunately.

            2. I’m not sure what history books you’re reading, but Pinochet was a brutal dictator who only escaped prosecution for crimes against humanity by dying. Oh! and he was also the one who invited Friedman to Chile as an advisor on establishing a “model” free market, which amounted to nothing less than the same patronist, whoever has the money makes the rules, kind of system that oddly seems to lead to mass disappearances and murder. As for Iraq, we’ll see.

    3. No, her philosophy is NOT just for exceptional people. Her philosophy is for anyone who looks for a moral code that is consistent with existence and man’s nature (and therefore his own nature)and which can be applied CONSISTENTLY ( the more of it applied the better in REAL terms ). She does not demand that everyone be a genius, but rather that everyone live up to his full potential instead of sacrificing himself to other people (or sacrificing other people to himself which would make him a moron as well). Yes, everyone HAS a choice to be irrational or not, but he SHOULD bear the consequences of his irrationality. Right now, rational people are forced by law to bail out irrational people. Therefore, NO, not ‘chains all around’, just let everyone (exceptional or not) bear the consequences of their own choices (beneficial or not), that’s all.

  2. too bad Ayn Rand wasn’t incredibly hot…

    1. And a better fiction writer.

      1. Yes, the shortcomings of her looks and her novel writing capability. Two completely valid condemnations of her philosophical integrity, certainly.

        1. Her lack of writing talent, to me, indeed does reflect her lack of ability to think deeply and coherently.

          If you are incapable of seeing and feeling the results of your actions on other people, or inversely of seeing how your own prosperity was aided by the actions of others (We are after all, speaking of a woman that mooched off of family in Chicago for a year, never paying off her debts, yet believed she owed no one and no one owed her.), then of course you can’t write about people. The very philosophy she espouses is in fact wrapped up around her inability to write persuasively or create characters of any personality or depth.

          So- well, yeah.

          1. And where in either of her books do you find the concept that men can exist alone?

          2. Her writing quality isn’t poor, and at the very least it has nothing to do with her ability to “think deeply and coherently.” English wasn’t her first language.

            Do yourself a favor and read something.

            1. I have – read three of her books (One out of curiosity before college, two as assignments in college).

              Her characters are wooden characters who have, according to their self-evaluations, never benefited from any assistance from others – despite the extraordinary unlikelihood of that for anyone not raised by a pack of wolves.

              She is intellectually dishonest, her logic doesn’t follow in real-life, her characters wooden parodies presented as ‘uber-men’.

              She wrote the economic equivalent of porn, as out of touch with any reality in it’s own way as any fantasy written by Marx and Engles, without the virtue of at least attempting to help others. Heck L. Ron Hubbard writes better and despite completely ridiculously bad plots overlaps reality enough to be considered (badly written) parody – she’s not even *that* close.

              Sorry – as a writer she sucks, as a philosopher she’s worse. It’s certainly possible I’m overreaching to say these two lapses are connected by her utter lack of empathy, but although it’s speculative, it seems to me to be an entirely logical conclusion.

        2. “Two completely valid condemnations of her philosophical integrity…”

          Oh, yeah, and too bad she wasn’t a philosopher. Thanks for reminding us.

    2. I’ve read that in her younger days she was drop-dead gorgeous. Supposedly when she arrived in America she was hanging outside a movie studio when some director saw her and whisked inside.

      1. I’ve seen several photos of her taken in her twenties; she wasn’t bad looking.

    3. She was hotter than Rachel Maddow.

  3. Was Rand in reality a SovietSpy, working undercover as part of a program to make Communism attractive by comparison?

  4. Kind of the same way you’re an OpenBordersSecretAgent, convincing people that anyone who wants immigration controls is a monomaniacal, hypocritical, raging cuntsore conspiracy nutjob?

    ShutTheFuckUp, Lonewacko.

    1. That’s “pus swelled, oozing, syphilitic, raging cuntsore on a crack whore” my Spheniscidaen friend.

  5. There’s no way someone that cute is a libertarian. She’s just confused.

    1. Bigot. /?b???t/, SAMPA: /”bIg@t/

      1. one who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices

      1. Sounds like somebody needs a little sense-of-humor tune-up!

        1. We supreme Randroids do not suffer the idealist need for a sense of humor.

        2. Shit! I’m actually reading Ed Begley Jr’s posts in Ed Begley Jr’s voice.

          Ehrlich!

  6. Ayn Rand may not have been all that hot, but Jennifer kinda Burns.

  7. And libertarians aren’t?

    1. Aren’t what, confused? Hot? Pus swelled?

      Hitting the “reply to this” button allows us to consider your comment in something resembling a context.

  8. Is LoneBoner in reality a MexicanSpy, working undercover as part of a program to make Steve Smith attractive by comparison?

    1. I think he’s a NAMBLA spy.

  9. I, for one, welcome our new Rape-overlords.

  10. “…a totalitarian state of individualists.” – Jon Stewart

    What the fuck does that even mean? Anyone?

    1. It’s a meaningless non sequitur, merely a moment of Jon Stewart displaying his lack of understanding. This isn’t really an attack on Stewart (I actually enjoy the man’s perspective even if sometimes I don’t agree), but my point is that he, like all of us, has his areas of ignorance.

    2. I don’t think he RTFB, any of Rand’s books, that is. I’m not sure he quite understands her point in any non-leftist talking point way. It’s not about talent so much as effort.

      I’m also not sure he understands that populism is not a right political bent, but an unfortunate combination of the worst of both parties.

    3. Pick a democracy. Any decomocracy.

      1. decomocracy? Is that democracy in the 30’s?

    4. I think Jon Stewart means it in the same way that one of the lefties here on H&R (I think it was MNG) was arguing that requiring 90% approval to pass legislation would be “minority rule”, because the majority would be unable to oppress the minority without their consent.

      By this logic, the majority being almost entirely incapable of oppressing anyone would be a near-totalitarian state, because individuals could resist theft and coercion by an overwhelming majority.

      I see how Stewart thinks this way, while totally disagreeing with him.

      1. You’re giving Stewart way too much credit. There is no way that thought process went through his head.

    5. I don’t think it’s even worth thinking about. He just likes to say big words.

    6. A totalitarian state of freedom. People, living how they want without centralized control. Why do you hate America?

      1. If there’s anyone who hates freedom, someone who cracks about a totalitarian state of individualists probably qualifies.

        “Go away you jackbooted individualists and stop oppressing me with your liberty!”

        1. Stewart is a collectivist. He believes in the “power of the people,” as long as the right people are wielding that power. He himself seems to believe in a benevolent, compassionate, democratic sort of totalitarianism, run by the good and just and smart people. You know, his friends.

    7. It means a state so totalitarian as to refuse the influence of people like him.

      I.e., it ties the busy-bodies, thieves, and social engineers into strait-jacket.

    8. I’ve heard people make this argument. A few times, they were able to back it up with something that didn’t make me want to become a whacked out survivalist in Wyoming, but only a few times.

    9. In Rand you’re only worthy to rule if you have the right thoughts. It’s authoritarian elitism with the patina of individualism. Stewart is simply and rightly pointing out that Rand’s philosophy is stupid and contradicts itself.

      1. You havn’t actually read anything by Rand, have you Tony?

        1. Anthem, Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged.

          1. I suppose you must have skipped the part where Galt refuses to “rule” anyone.

            1. Tony = James Taggart.

            2. People seem to have missed her much more prolific non-fiction.

          2. Ah, thanks, I was trying to remember the third book I had read in college – Fountainhead.

            Didn’t get any better did it – {G}

  11. That means the Individual will have total,dictatorial control over the poor subject,himself.Without the mediating compassionate hand of the Wholly Benevolent State.

    1. Wholly Benevolent State. I like that terminology. Well, perhaps without the W for wholly; it’s then just BS.

  12. STEVE SMITH RAPE STEWART!

  13. As an atheist I think Ayn Rand over-emphasizes the importance of atheism.

    It should come to no surprise that non-atheists who agree with much of her politics such as Rush and Beck often ignore her emphasis on it as well.

    What is really interesting though is how important atheism is among many libertarians. It is not as if tons of Christians come here and post about the importance of Jesus, but it is near impossible to throw a stone here and not hit a zealot of atheism.

    1. “As an atheist I think … it is near impossible to throw a stone here and not hit a zealot of atheism.”

      Are ye without sin? Ye be one clever bastage.

      1. Are ye without sin? Ye be one clever bastage.

        I am far from a “zealot of atheism” and have very little trouble with other not being atheists.

        I don’t believe in god simply because I don’t believe in god…i see no reason to get up in to other peoples faces about it.

        Furthermore it seems odd to me to get upset about Christians who essentially invented, built and maintain the semi-libertarian secular liberal democracy that i live in and allows me to be an atheist without many (if any) limits to my liberty.

        1. Oh, perhaps I could have been more clear. I do agree with you on most everything you state–especially the second comment. I just got a kick out of the way you phrased your initial comment.

          I too am of your ilk; rationally unbelieving, but neither dogmatic or zealous in that unbelief.

          1. I too am of your ilk; rationally unbelieving

            I am not sure my unbelieving is rational.

            Perhaps that is the difference between me and your typical atheist.

            It could very well be that i am an atheist simply because a particular portion of my brain does not ‘ping’ as often as it should.
            While other atheists silence it through careful reasoning my “god box” simply never worked in the first place.

            The inverse could be true as well. The point being that i have no fucking clue why i am an atheist so i simply do not try to figure out why others are not….and my assumption about them and their motives, without a coherent model to explain my own non-belief, should rationally be benign.

            1. While other atheists silence it through careful reasoning my “god box” simply never worked in the first place.

              Yet you’ve heard of God. When you heard of him and said, “Well, that sounds highly implausible.” That was your reasoning.

              1. When you heard of him and said, “Well, that sounds highly implausible.” That was your reasoning.

                And those that say “well that sounds highly plausible” lack reasoning?

                I have some magical shit detector that others lack?

                And is that shit detector innate to my brain? cux if it is then my reason for non-belief is then irrational.

                1. They also have reasoning, it just seems faulty in this case.

                  I don’t think bullshit detectors are purely inborn, because they definitely seem to grow out of experience.

            2. I’m agnostic, and while I understand all the arguments for atheism and find many moderately convincing, I think it’s an untenable philosophical position. I think of humans as flawed, feeble and limited creatures who live maybe 100 years on one little planet in the boondocks of one galaxy out of hundreds of billions of galaxies, in a universe that (we think) is 14 billion years old. And that’s just what we think we know, in the last few decades. So it seems to me that atheists are claiming to know a negative about something almost infinitely beyond their knowledge and powers.

              1. I totally agree. The only way I can explain strong “I know for a fact” atheists is that some people just have an intense desire to buck the trend and distance themselves from the crowd as much as possible. Being first or just being in the new group is more important than having a principled argument for doing so. It’s almost as if these contrarians take delight in the smaller, like-minded crowd that forms around them. IMHO the slower you are to arrive at important philosophical positions, the better.

              2. Perhaps you’ve only met atheists. I’m an a-theist, which is a rather different proposition.

                I don’t pretend to know things I don’t. But I do insist on putting the whole discussion in proper context: the burden of proof falls upon he who asserts.

                What makes you think there is a God or gods?

                I find the “evidence” and “rationale” for saying there is one, to be pretty weak at best, and more often categorically irrational.

                Like for example the argument by design. “Look at people, they’re so complex they couldn’t possibly have just evolved. Something must have created them.”

                But if that’s true then, whatever created “people” must be even more complex still — and people are “too complex” to have simply evolved? Then it is doubly impossible for “God” or “gods” to have simply evolved.

                At some point existence exists, uncreated. Christians try to tell me that level of existence is “God”. But God must be more complex than humans, therefore it would be easier (thus more likely) that humans are the level at which existence simply exists.

                I am an a-theist. If you can understand what that means — and it does not mean assuming that I know things I couldn’t possibly know. On contrare, I refuse that gambit.

                There is no God or gods until and unless someone provides proof positive. No such proof has ever been given.

                Until then, I could assert that there’s a little green man living inside the moon, and it would be just as plausible as saying there is a “God”.

                I can understand believers. I can understand atheists. I’ve never been able to understand agnosticism.

                1. Your hyphen is nice and all, but that’s the definition of atheism. No more, no less.

                2. There is no God or gods until and unless someone provides proof positive. No such proof has ever been given.

                  You sound like a birther.

                3. I think that what you just described is agnosticism.

              3. The existence of deities is very highly unlikely. That’s technically all atheists claim. But it’s not fallacious to disbelieve in something that lacks evidence. There is an infinite number of things you don’t believe in because there is no evidence for them–it is cumbersome to be agnostic about every possible thing, no matter how infinitesimally unlikely. To me agnosticism tends to give deities more implicit legitimacy than they deserve given the evidence.

                1. When you say “the existence of deities is very highly unlikely”, I read “the existence of something that created the universe is very highly unlikely”, which is logically puzzling to me. Everything we see is the effect of some cause. To say that the universe (all matter, all energy and the physical laws that govern them) is special, that nothing caused it, seems to be a real leap of faith. For all we know, it might have been a fruit fly that created everything we see, but how is discounting the power and awesomeness of that cosmic universe creating fruit fly, if that’s what people want to believe, productive? You can discount that fruit fly if people are claiming it told them to hijack jets and crash them into skyscrapers, but those claims don’t rule out the simple hypothesis that the universe must have a creator.

                  Either something gave every quark a set of properties and set them into motion with the Big Bang (or multiple bangs) or those quarks and their properties have always existed in some form or another. I only see those two possibilities and my religious upbringing and everyday experience with Occum’s Razor favors the former. But who knows? Science may change that for me one day. We always have to consider new evidence.

                  1. It is fallacious to attempt to explain complexity by introducing more complexity. To say the universe had to have had a cause, you have to also say that its cause also had to have had a cause, all the way back to infinity. God + universe is much more difficult to explain than simply universe.

                    The best guess as to why there is something rather than nothing, as I understand, is that ‘nothing’ is unstable.

              4. I have to disagree – atheism merely takes the scientific method to the next level – if you can’t prove it within the realm of science, then you have no reason to believe it exists.

                Although I don’t actually accept that, it *is* logically consistent and philosophically tenable.

                Jonnan

        2. Furthermore it seems odd to me to get upset about Christians who essentially invented, built and maintain the semi-libertarian secular liberal democracy that i live in

          Uh, minor correction here. At least half of this liberal semi-libertarian democracy you’re talking about here was invented by deists. The tolerance you speak of was their offspring. They were concerned about religious freedom because they had spent their lives persecuted by Christians of various flavors.

          The Christians who came here from England were, by and large, as intolerant as the European Christians they’d fled from.

          Just to set the record straight.

          As an a-theist I’ve always had a deep appreciation for what our deist forefathers did for us.

    2. seems many “atheists” are more properly “anti-theists”…

      1. If by “many” you mean “some small subset that gets noticed more often, just like the loudest of any group.”

    3. Rand wasn’t a militant atheist. The subject almost never comes up in her works. She considered atheism a natural state and hardly worth dwelling on. It’s her irrational theist detractors who are obsessed with the subject. She had better things to do with her time.

    4. I think there are two aspects to Rand’s philosophy that can be separated: individualism and egoism.

      The individualistic aspects of her philosophy relate to the free market and liberal democracy, political systems designed to protect the rights of individuals. That part is pretty much interchangable with libertarianism.

      The egoistic aspect is her philosophy of how one ought to live one’s own life – that one ought to live for oneself and pursue one’s own interests unashamedly. That part tends to go with the atheism, partly as a rejection of the command to obey God.

      Athough there’s obvious room for overlab, the two don’t necessarily HAVE TO go together. The more controversial aspect of Rand work is definitely the egoist part. Nobody really has a problem with individualism or liberty – they have a problem with endorsing selfishness as a personal philosophy.

      1. Bear in mind that when Objectivists say “selfish” and “altruistic”, they mean something very different than what most people mean by those terms.

        To an Oist, “selfish” means never sacrificing something you value highly for something you value less. Thus, “selfish” could mean giving up things for the sake of others, if you value those others highly enough that you interests, broadly defined, are advanced by this exchange.

        1. Some objectivists argue that, but they are confused.

          If you go that far, you eliminate all distinctions between altrusim and selfishness. For instance, you can argue that anything apparantly altrusistic is actually genetically selfish because it benefits your chances of reproduction through kin selection or social signalling.

          But then, if you accept than then you eliminate the distinction between living for oneself, and “serving God”, or society, or the state, or dying for one’s country. Even a nun would be selfish, and no objectivist would uphold the lifestyle of a nun as an objectivist ideal.

          Don’t get me wrong though. I am not dissing egoism. I think our society imposes far too many artificial moral obligations on individuals. I would go way, way in the direction of egoism from where our culture stands now. However, I think Rand goes a bit far by demanding that everyone live as a rational egoist, purely for themselves, because it seems to me to preclude the possibiltiy of love. Individuals can still be free, and free to be selfish and egoistic, and yet induldge in an irrational act of self-sacrifice on behalf of someone (or something) they love. But the difference is that it is a thing of their own choosing, not something imposed upon them by the state, or society, or the culture.

          1. Hazel — Objectivists are not confused about this issue — you are.

            Objectivists DO NOT sacrifice. They do not give up something they value for something they value less.

            They do not “induldge in an irrational act of self-sacrifice on behalf of someone (or something) they love.” For love, they will indulge in rational acts of exchanging something they value less (such as money or time or whatever) in exchange for something they value more, such as the love and appreciation and happiness of their loved one, because they feel they are better off making this voluntary exchange.

            Altruism, a dirty word for altruists, would be, for example, giving up your time or money or whatnot to someone you don’t love, but feel obligated to do so due to societal pressure or religious dogma or whatnot, and feeling resentful or unhappy afterwards because of the awareness that you’ve made a sacrifice.

            1. I don’t think you really responded to my point. If you define selfishness so broadly that seeming acts of altruism are included “if you value those others highly enough that you interests, broadly defined, are advanced by this exchange”, then just about anything qualifies as selfish – including Mother Teresa working in Calcutta feeding the poor her whole life. It’s only altristic if she resents it afterwards? That’s totally nonsensical.

              Objectivists do sacrifice, for love, among other things. They just refuse to admit that they are behaving irrationally and instead come up with rationalizations for irrational acts of self-sacrifice. Like the above. In a way the whole objectivist “Thou shalt behave rationally, always!” commandment, is just as guilt-trip-inducing as the original Ten.

              1. I gave a narrow definition of “selfishness” as used by Objectivists — you do not sacrifice a higher value for a lower value.

                And yes, depending on what you value and how much you value them, something that to others might seem to be a sacrifice wouldn’t be to you.

                But, that’s the way markets work. There is no single fixed value for, say, an apple — it is worth whatever the purchaser is willing to pay for it.

                So, yes, whether or not something is a sacrifice depends on what the person in question deems is the value of what they are giving up compared to the value of what they are getting, and not on the value an observer places on them.

                A concrete example — if a complete stranger asks you to give up your life for their sake, and you do it out of a sense of obligation, that is an immoral sacrifice from an Objectivist standpoint.

                If, however, to save the life of your entire family, both spouse and children, you have to give up your own, and you know that letting them all die to save your own hide will lead to a life of misery and regret over this choice, then you might by your value system voluntarily choose to keep them all alive at the cost of your own life, and deem that this cost is less than what you’ve gained, and thus be acting “selfishly” and not altruistically.

                So, ironically, even though the title is “Objectivist”, the actual values and weights an individual Oist assigns to possible choices are necessarily subjective.

    5. I am one of the few Christians who come here. And you are right. I never mention religion except when some atheist talks shit about only a moron could believe in God. Then I talk some serious shit about atheists.

      I also agree with you about Rand. I don’t think you have to an atheist or even buy into her entire philosophy to see that a lot of what she said about governments and society was exactly right. No one says you have to be an atheist to buy into Hayek. And most of what Rand is saying about government and the perils of planners and central control is the same thing Hayek was saying.

    6. Her hostility to religion is just part of her hostility to irrationality in general. She had no use for “mystics”, whether they were religious or followers of charismatic politicians.

      -jcr

      1. That’s a failing. I prefer reason, and I’ll choose it above all other things. But there’s is no such thing as “rational art” or “rational love”. Rand’s aesthetics is easily the most absurd part of her philosophy, and her personal life easily the most hypocritical.

      2. ‘She had no use for “mystics”‘

        I know! Mystics such as Plato were so irrational!

        1. See “Theory of Forms” and also the fallacy of “Appeal to Authority”.

    7. I am somewhat similar to you. I strongly suspect that my atheism is more a function of my nature than my reason. I did go through a born-again atheist phase, but now I just consider metaphysics to be completely unimportant to my life.

  14. Was Rand in reality a SovietSpy, working undercover as part of a program to make Communism attractive by comparison?

    If so it back fired horribly.

    By the way lonewako this is a far more interesting line of thought then your usual truther/birther/I-hate-Mexicans line of bullshit. Good work on not sucking.

    1. I do believe LoneWhacko might be channeling the recently-bandied tale of Mussolini actually being a paid agent of the British special services. If so, I would agree that such a surprising show of cognitive transferal on the part of LoneWhacko is worthy of something resembling praise.

      Still, I think “Good work on not *totally* sucking” might be more apt.

      1. Mussolini was pro-war in general. For me, that story was kind of like hearing that House of Saud was paying William Kristol to write columns about how we should stay in Iraq.

  15. Shut the fuck up, Lonewacko. Sasquatch-rape is too good for you.

    1. gang-donkey-ass-rape > sasquatch-rape

      (and logistically much easier)

      1. Unfortunately, some people enjoy donkey-gang-ass-rape, and want to impose it upon the rest of us.

  16. I think there is a definite problem with the Elitist vs populist meme.

    Yes there is a populist surge going on with Beck and tea parties and conservatives and even libertarians. but to say it is whole sale against elitism or the elite is incorrect. The populism is more against a particular type of elitism. One that supports or gives reason behind government curtailing of individual liberty.
    Individuals among this populist surge might cringe at say the elitism of Krugman but would have no problem reading an autobiography by a skilled athlete or other successful individual. There is a difference between elites who tell poeple what to do (or what the government should tell poeple what to do) and elites who describe what you can do or describe how they became elites.

    I am an elite and therefore i know how to run your life vs I am an elite and this is what you can do to make your live better.

    1. Leading by example versus leading by decree.

      1. Whenever I’m feeling uncertain about the nature of people, I always think of pro-athletes. Instead of being condemned out of jealously for their skills, they are held up and admired for their exceptional talent. I think people have no problem with celebrating excellence and recognizing someone’s elite status. They just don’t want those people telling them what to do. This also probably explains why Actor’s become less popular when they get all preachy and political.

        1. I’d like to see what would happen if pro athletes started becoming more politically active. Like, after scoring a touchdown, start shouting about how we need to give more to the poor and how Bush ruined this country. See what sort of reaction that would get.

    2. Also, the increasing micromanagement by the state of people’s personal choices – such as soda taxes – makes the elitism much more apparant.

      There’s basically a group of people out there that think you aren’t qualified to decide what to eat, and they feel qualified not so much to tell you, as to manipulate you into eatign what they think you should.
      For your own good. Can’t get much more patronizing than that.

      1. An economics professor of mine was recently going over the benefits of cash transfers vs. food stamps (assuming consensus on the need for making some sort of resource transfer to impoverished people), and one of my many liberal class mates came away with the thought that our professor “is building up to the revelation at the end of the course that poor people suck.”

        Presumably, because he’d rather make cash transfers then prescribe what exactly they may spend their cash on. I’ve never found anything more patronizing than proscribed resource transfers. And then when you try to suggest a way to inscribe some dignity to the process, such as the negative income tax, you hate poor people. Fucking insane.

  17. The question Stewart should ask himself is whether average people are better off in a system where exceptional people are allowed to flourish or whether they are better off in a system where exceptional people are held back.

    Of course a respect for liberty should render the question pointless but that kind of argument is lost on people like Stewart.

  18. Uh, yeah they notice.

    They don’t care.

  19. I think Stewart’s response kind of spells the weakness of progressive philosophy. It’s really hard to sit there and in response to someone saying “You can be mediocre as long as you are independent. You can be the hero of your own life.” say “You know, that really only works for extraordinary people”.

    You can sell giving away free shit to people. Not to easy to sell “Ya know, you mediocre people really need to be dependent on the state.”

    1. Wow, well said.

      I read The Fountainhead and loved it. I’ve been scared to try Atlas Shrugged, but I’ll give it a whirl.

      1. I actually found Atlas more enjoyable.

        1. My favorite is ‘We The Living’

      2. I found Atlas to be easier reading than Fountainhead.

    2. Quite a few Objectivists do hold this “only the elite can be Oists” idea, but you could be a low-functioning Down’s Syndrome person and still be an Objectivist.

      You simply have to decide no one else owes you anything you haven’t earned, and you’re in the club, whether you recognize it or not.

    3. Sadly enough, it seems all to easy to sell. The people in the audience at least didn’t seem to mind being condescended to like that.

    4. I have a T-shirt displaying the following statement:

      “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for yourself.”

      One of my progressive friends read it and pronounced it “offensive”. I asked her what was offensive about asking people to think about ways they can be more self reliant. She had no answer.

      One does not need to be an ?bermensch to do what he can for himself.

      1. “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for yourself.”

        I’ve been saying that for years. It’s a nice twist on JFK’s famous call to self-sacrifice. People think his statement is noble without considering for a moment what it really means. Then again, it’s only a variant of what their priests have been telling them for centuries.

        1. I hate that quote (the original JFK). I’ve always hated that quote — even when I was a Democrat. It’s just this disgusting sort of blind nationalism that, so soon after WWII, I refuse to forgive.

          We don’t need any more blind nationalists. We need more rational individualists.

    5. You can sell giving away free shit to people. Not to easy to sell “Ya know, you mediocre people really need to be dependent on the state.”

      I don’t know, the Democratic party seems to be doing quite well and that’s basically what they’re selling.

      1. I disagree. I think they did well in the last two elections because people heard “We’re not selling what those guys over there have been selling for 8 years.” And then they assumed it must be a superior product.

        Now that they’re in power, people are finding out what the product is, and I don’t think they’re liking it. Unfortunately that means they’ll probably just start buying from the republicans again.

      2. Well, no, they’ve been selling “Look at all the great free shit we’re going to give you!”

        Unfortunately, once you start running out of free shit to give away and have to narrow it down to just the poor and “needy”, then you lose the support of the middle class and wealthy retires people. That’s the bind the Democrats are in. They can’t shift from giving away cookies to rationing cookie consumption for people’s own good.

  20. At least Stewart pronounced her name right — something I rarely hear.

  21. Jennifer Burns said that Rand goes through periods of popularity (never mind that her books have remained in print for 60 years). She cited FDR’s term as one period, then LBJ’s as the next. That’s 20 years. A little book called Atlas Shrugged was published in between.

    Burns must be an idiot, a journalist with no comprehension of Ayn Rand’s achievements. She couldn’t counter Stewart’s most ignorant jabs. I won’t be reading her book.

    1. You know she is an idiot by the title of her book. Since when was Rand ever important to the Right? I don’t mean that as a slam on Rand or objectivists. It is just that conservatives have dominated the American right not objectivists.

      She is an idiot. And you are right not to read her book.

      1. conservatives have dominated the American right not objectivists.

        True, but she was still a big influence, even among people not willing to go the whole nine yards with her philosophy.

    2. I thought she did OK, but was trying too hard to be polite in the face of massive ignorance.

      1. Stewart is so ignorant I don’t see how you could ever have an intelligent conversation with him. He is the best example I have ever seen of an idiot who drags his opponents down to his level and beats them with experience.

        1. Stewart has become the partisan hack that he once denounced.

    3. If you watched the video you would know that she is an assistant professor somewhere in Virginia, not a journalist. She also struck me as too polite to nitpick Stewart’s statements about Rand’s work. Moreover, your point about Atlas Shrugged being published between FDR and LBJ doesn’t make any sense. So what if it was published between those two administrations? How does that negate Rand’s surging popularity during those times? And are you seriously saying that an author can’t have surges in popularity even though his or her work remained in print during periods of lesser popularity?

      You make no sense. At least John makes a valid point about Rand’s importance to the right before calling Burns an idiot.

  22. I found it very easy as a Christian to accept and respect Rand’s philosophy. When she states that man’s highest value is his mind and reason, I can agree. I just think that God created it. And it isn’t that she didn’t believe in charity or good works, she simply didn’t think people should be feel guilty and manipulated into giving. It should be a rational choice. She showed that using one’s mind and body in pursuit of one’s highest possibilities is the best thing for a person as well as society. I could pray all day that someone get a job, but faith without works is dead right? If I pursue my goals I can create a company that employs people, or I can give someone advice on how to obtain the job they want.

    1. ‘I found it very easy as a Christian to accept and respect Rand’s philosophy.’
      What do you think about ‘Altruism’ then (selfless concern for the welfare of others) ? I thought Altruism and slelflessness are the corner stones of Christian morality ? How do you reconcile this with Rand’s philosophy which teaches selfishness ( act in your own interest for your own benefit, don’t sacrifice yourself to other people and don’t sacrifice other people to yourself ) ?

  23. “A totalitarian state of individualists.”

    Stewart may be in idiot, but I can see the makings of a slick super hero novel here.

    John Galt invents in physics, and Rand in philosophy, what the common peasants cannot. Why should politics be any different?

    There are at least a few of us who realize that democracy is what’s killing the U.S. now.

    Why should the Randian Super Ruler not impose his will upon the masses? By creating a nation ruled by lassiez faire capitalist economics, and a legal system based on individual rights? “Imposed” meaning “non-negotiable, I’m the fucking dictator and this is how we do it here.” Of course.

    Most people really don’t want war, and they really don’t want to fight revolutions. You probably could pull this off, under the right circumstances.

    If only I were a novelist…..

    Think about. I lead R&D teams, where everybody has their opinions on what we should do to move the project forward. Most of those opinions, most of the time, are half-right at best.

    What makes politics any different? Why should the John Galt of politics not be the Supreme Ruler, imposing his will on the masses? Because let’s face it, ruling is all about imposing when you get down to it.

    1. Mencius Moldbug is probably right up your alley…

      http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/

    2. ruling is all about imposing

      Not in a republic. Not yet.

    3. Don’t forget that in the book, they begged Galt to become their ruler, and he refused to do so. That would be antithetical to Objectivism.

      1. Exactly. Rand was pretty much saying “No, fuck you all, we’re not going to rule you even if you think you need it. You’re on your own. Learn to life for yourselfs, and respect others as neither masters no slaves. “

  24. ‘Rand wasn’t a militant atheist. The subject almost never comes up in her works. She considered atheism a natural state and hardly worth dwelling on. It’s her irrational theist detractors who are obsessed with the subject. She had better things to do with her time.’

    The ‘irrational theists’ you mention seem to include Neil Parille, writing in the Objectivist Web site Rebirth of Reason, who said: ‘Among authors and philosophers, Ayn Rand is noteworthy for her atheism and uncompromising opposition to religion. Unlike many non-believers who see utilitarian value to religion, Rand is somewhat unique in seeing (with minor exceptions) virtually no value to religion. . . . It is important to keep in mind that Rand opposed religion at its most basic level. That is to say, she believed that it was untrue in all its manifestations and that its consequences were disastrous. . . . While Rand would later emphasize the irrationality of belief in God, the impression from her writings is that her principal objection to belief in God was a moral or psychological one.’ (Parille also argues that Rand would have rejected agnosticism as a cowardly evasion)

  25. Other ‘irrational theists’ obsessed with Rand’s atheism include the Ayn Rand Institute and the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, which both highlight atheistic quotes from Rand on their Web sites.

    1. Those pull-quotes prove what again? That Rand found religion irrational and harmful? That isn’t being disputed. But she wasn’t a militant atheist as practiced by O’Hare or Dawkins or Hitchens.

      1. Right, and Marx and Lenin Stalin weren’t militant atheist, either (a point of view I’ve actually encountered on H&R).

        1. “Right, and Marx and Lenin Stalin weren’t militant atheist”

          This whole time I thought communism was a class struggle. You’re saying it was something else?

          1. Don’t take my word for it.

            In an article which is, by Marxist standards, sympathetic to religious people, a Marxist publication avows: ‘What attitude should Marxists take toward religion? In both its world outlook and method Marxism is consistently materialist; consequently, it is militantly atheistic. . . . To abolish religion as the illusory happiness of the people is to demand their real happiness. The demand to give up illusions about the existing state of affairs, its condition is the demand to give up a state of affairs which needs illusions. The criticism of religion is therefore in embryo the criticism of the vale of tears, the halo of which is religion.’

          2. Or here is Lenin himself, slyly hinting at his religious views in a 1922 article entitled On The significance of Militant Materialism, where he says that the Soviet Communists should have a journal to promote atheism:

            ‘such a journal must be a militant atheist organ.We have departments, or at least state institutions, which are in charge of this work.But the work is being carried on with extreme apathy and very unsatisfactorily, and is apparently suffering from the general conditions of our truly Russian (even though Soviet) bureaucratic ways.It is therefore highly essential that in addition to the work of these state institutions, and in order to improve and infuse life into that work, a journal, which sets out to propagandise militant materialism, must carry on untiring atheist propaganda and an untiring atheist fight.The literature on the subject in all languages should be carefully followed and everything at all valuable in this sphere should be translated, or at least reviewed.

            ‘Engels long ago advised the contemporary leaders of the proletariat to translate the militant atheist literature of the late eighteenth century for mass distribution among the people.’ Etc.

            1. Sorry, not convincing. Class was always the struggle, with atheism playing a role, but more of a tool than an end. I don’t recall any book saying “well, if we don’t succeed in implementing communism, we’ll go for atheism next”, etc.

      2. Marx and Lenin *and* Stalin.

  26. By your standards of evidence, I don’t see how you can prove that Dawkins, Hitchens and O’Hair were militant atheists. After all, what evidence is there of *their* atheism besides ‘pull quotes’?

  27. Other than a few pull-quotes, what evidence is there that George Lincoln Rockwell was a militant anti-Semite – as opposed to a mere moderate anti-Semite who believed that Jews were irrational and harmful?

  28. I guess I don’t recall ever hearing Limbaugh or Beck do any bible thumping.

  29. Other than a few pull-quotes, what evidence is there that George Wallace was a militant segregationist? I mean, everyone agrees that he regarded racial integration as irrational and harmful, and there’s that pull-quote of his about segregation forever, but what evidence do you have that his segregationism was of the *militant* variety?

    1. The whole point is that she didn’t act on her atheism in the sense of forcing others (through political or coercive means) to adhere to her views. I’m not sure I’d call Lenin/Marx/Stalin militant atheists so much as militant statists or communists, since their goal was the imposition of state power on the individual, with an atheistic, materialistic worldview being a part of that.

  30. “…a totalitarian state of individualists.” – Jon Stewart

    Did any of you idiots ever think that this might be his attempt at humor? He is a comedy show host, on a COMEDY SHOW NETWORK. Literally.. it’s called COMEDY CENTRAL.

    I got the joke, so you all either take yourselves wayyyyy to serious, or just have no sense of humor.

  31. Stewart is a funny guy IMO, and I think he does have the ability to put things in perspective. My problem with him, however, lies in the fact that he doesn’t view himself as a political pundit that strictly favors liberal ideals and the democratic party. Mr. Stewart has said in many interviews that he, as well as his writers, simply point out things that they view as “absurd.” That’s what humor itself is. It’s pointing out absurdities.

    He can “attack,” that is, make fun of, anyone he wants and say afterward “Hey, I’m just joking. I’m just pointing out something that I view as absurd. I’m not a tool of any ideology like the person that I just made fun of.” Couldn’t Bill O’Reilly or Glenn Beck just say that they are simply pointing out absurdities on their shows and therefore are exempt from attacks by others?

  32. you are all the most predictable and humorless people on earth.

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