Donald Trump

Donald Trump vs. Howard Roark: Who Could Build a Classier Building?

Dyspeptic presidential candidate reveals love for Ayn Rand novel The Fountainhead, but no understanding of its political implications.

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Who would have thought Donald Trump had great love for books? (Besides his own Art of the Deal and The Holy Bible, of course.)

He now tells USA Today that he's:

an Ayn Rand fan. He said of her novel The Fountainhead, "It relates to business (and) beauty (and) life and inner emotions. That book relates to … everything." He identified with Howard Roark, the novel's idealistic protagonist who designs skyscrapers and rages against the establishment.

When I pointed out that The Fountainhead is in a way about the tyranny of groupthink, Trump sat up and said, "That's what is happening here." He then recounted a call he received from a liberal journalist: "How does it feel to have done what you have done? I said what have I done. He said nobody ever in the history of this country has done what you have done. And I said, well, if I lose, then no big deal. And he said no, no, if you lose, it doesn't matter because this will be talked about forever.

"And I said it will be talked about more if I win."

Yes, in an abstract way, The Fountainhead's hero, architect Howard Roark, is fighting "the tyranny of groupthink." But more specifically, he's standing up for an expansive vision of the rights of a creator over his property, and by extension everyone's right to their justly owned property and liberty.

Rand was an artist and storyteller, but she deliberately crafted Fountainhead as a volley in a cultural war over individualism and political liberty and property, and it was seen by alert libertarian individualists in the cultural wilderness as a great blow in that cause, along with two nonfiction works by two of Rand's friends and influences that came out in the same year of 1943, Isabel Paterson's The God of the Machine and Rose Wilder Lane's The Discovery of Freedom.

So it is not the sort of novel that should resonate with a fan of eminent domain and the power of government to tax or prevent free trade such as Trump. Still, he's certainly not alone among prominent people who express love for her novels without seeming to support her Objectivist philosophy and its political libertarianism in a rigorous way. 

Someone who fully understands Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, Craig Biddle at the Objectivist Standard, astutely notes that Trump the politician sounds more like any number of Ayn Rand villains.

The Atlas Society compiled a list of other celebrities who have declared love for Rand the novelist or The Fountainhead without necessarily seeming to have grasped the libertarian political implications of its artistic individualism. That list of all-stars includes Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Vince Vaughn (who is also an avowed Ron Paul fan), Christina Ricci, Eva Mendes, Sharon Stone, Mayim Bialik, Rob Lowe, Jerry Lewis, and even leftist hero Oliver Stone.

While Rand herself, and a significant subset of her fans, understood Fountainhead to have a deliberately libertarian political message, it is admittedly less obviously about the moral and practical dangers of Big Government than its follow-up, Atlas Shrugged.

It has been an enduring mystery of Rand's work how the libertarianism she saw as inherent in it, and its libertarian admirers see in it, is so easily missed by so many readers. A bit of an exaggeration, but given the enormous number of readers she's had as a popular novelist, if she were as effective as injecting readers with her philosophy as she wanted to be, we'd already all be living in Galt's Gulch.

Rand once wrote in an introduction to one edition of The Fountainhead of men of prominence who would privately admit to her, or to others in a way that got back to her, of a deep and enduring admiration for her work that they would never speak of publicly.

Nathaniel Branden, for many years Rand's primary intellectual disciple, told me of appearing on TV with some prominent '60s leftist radicals who raved to him about their adoration of Rand, which confused him. But to them her message was just one of fighting the power and doing one's own thing, regardless of one's vision of the proper role of government

Trump's version of "business, beauty, life and inner emotions" has a lot less respect for the rights and achievements of other individuals than Rand's. Fountainhead's architect hero Roark was precisely a success to Rand as an artist because he wasn't "successful" in terms of wealth and acclaim that obviously mean the most to Trump. Roark for most of his career was the opposite of a Trumpian "winner."

Rand's enemies have often accused her work as being essentially an excuse for being an asshole. This is not true, though statements like Trump's make it harder to convince those who haven't actually read or thought about Rand of that.

As I wrote in my book Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, it's certainly true that the vast majority of her many millions of fans as a novelist either didn't get the political part, or were able to enjoy her skills as a builder of plot and character without worrying about it. (I can imagine this being more possible with Fountainhead; how any non-libertarian can read Atlas without feeling like a bad dog having his face shoved in a pile of poop he left on the nice carpet is frankly beyond me, but it obviously happens.) Trump is not the first avowed fan of Rand to not understand her, and he won't be the last.

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  1. it is admittedly less obviously about the moral and practical dangers of Big Government than its follow-up, Atlas Shrugged

    That’s also why it’s a better book.

    1. Atlas Shrugged is preaching to the choir. Page after page of repetitive lectures on liberty are not going to appeal to anyone except those who already believe. Rand was a philosopher who saw the power of storytelling but really wasn’t very good at it.

      1. Kinda sorta OT: I’m in the middle of writing a romance novel in which libertarianism comes up in one of the subplots. I include no lectures on liberty; instead, I show how a politically correct, mainstream-LGBT statist falls under the wheels of her own juggernaut.

        1. Good! If libertarianism is ever going to have a real moment this is the sort of thing that will create it. Learn from the Fabians! They are the most successful long range political plotters ever, and their technique was simple. People form their personal beliefs based on experiences unconsciously, and the subconscious does not distinguish real experiences from stories. If you get enough storytellers pushing your narrative you get believers.

      2. Like Houdini, John Scarne and Petr Beckmann, Ayn Rand exposes the slimy tricks altruists and collectivists use to deactivate a person’s natural defenses against parasites. Her teachings, like Newton’s Laws, boil down to three simple phrases none dare try to disprove, despite the wealth and fame their fellow looters would shower upon them:
        1. Think and discover facts rather than believe assertions.
        2. Neither a sucker not a predator be.
        3. Nobody has a right to rob or brainwash others.

    2. The Fountainhead is not really a libertarian book. It is a book about individualism. The two are not always the same (exhibit A: yokels). It is also an anti-capitalist book in a way, because Roark does not want to give the consumers what they want. Following his artistic vision is more important that satisfying customers. Sometimes, the two coincide (exhibit B: Tool). Often, they do not, and the product and service fail on the market.

        1. And THEN. YOU. BOUGHT. OOOOOOOOOOONE!

          1. Shut up and buy!! Buy my new record! Don’t just watch it on youtube.

            1. Maynard needs to make 4 or 5 more Puscifer records before he has time to make a new Tool record for us to steal on youtube.

      1. Capitalism is not about fundamentally about “giving consumers what they want”. It is about private ownership and unencumbered agency. It is about the sanctity of the contract and free association.

        1. Sorry, delete the first “about”.

        2. What I said is a necessary condition for trade and you can’t have capitalism without trade. If everyone just sits around enjoying their private ownership, I would not call that capitalism. And how will you have contract, and who will associate with you, if you don’t give them what they want? It’s silly to say that you can have trade without giving consumers what they want.

          1. It is not a necessary condition for trade. A baker can refuse to use white flour in his bread even though his customers want a white flour bread. Just as Roark can refuse some ornamental facade on his building even though his customer may want it.

            Just to clarify, I said capitalism is not “fundamentally” about giving customers what they want.

            1. He can refuse, but he will not sell any bread, then. So, no trade. And if the customers buy the bread anyway, then they really did want white flour bread. Preferences are only discoverable through action.

              As for fundamental or not, if something is a necessary condition, is it fundamental? If you want to say no, that’s fine, we can disagree about that and I can rephrase my original statement to say that giving customers what they want is a necessary condition for trade and hence for capitalism.

              1. It worked for Steve Jobs.

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  2. Trump’s buildings are pretty much the antithesis of class. His buildings are basically just expensive bad taste, like what you’d get from the Mafia or an Arab oil sheik.

    1. He just liked the rapey part.

      1. And he liked Howard Roark’s long fingers.

    2. There’s a great Russian word with no English translation “poshlust” (pronounced pozh-LOWST) that describes the particular form of bad taste you get when someone lower class tries to act upper class without the cultural background necessary to do it properly.

      Trump is pretty much the posterboy for poshlust.

      1. The pronunciation is actually POSH-lust, with the vowels sounding like the O in post and the U in, well, lust.

  3. Also, Zack Snyder is apparently interested in doing a TV adaptation of The Fountainhead. So you can pretty much kiss your Libertarian Moment goodbye.

    1. “Also, Zack Snyder is apparently interested in doing a TV adaptation of The Fountainhead”

      Get ready for Howard Roark’s rippling abs! I bet the scene where he demolishes his own building will go on for 30 minutes and will annihilate half the city.

      1. I thought the building was owned by someone else, and he merely designed it.

        1. He designed it and let someone else take official credit for it.

          1. so the land and strcture was not his, meaning that he blew up someone else’s property because the lines on the paper changed from the time it left his desk until the steel went up.

            What an egotistical ass.

            1. Which probably explains why Trump is a fan.

            2. He only agreed to design it if it was built exactly according to his plans.

              1. Yeah, but that deal was between him and Keating, which means that breaking the contract was a dispute between only those two. Roark still didn’t have any legal claim to dispose of the buildings themselves.

    2. Hopefully it stars Mayim Bialik.

      “Don’t fight the feeling, you know you want to have a good time.
      And in my opinionation, the sun is gonna surely shine.”

  4. Rand’s enemies have often accused her work as being essentially an excuse for being an asshole. This is not true, though statements like Trump’s make it harder to convince those who haven’t actually read or thought about Rand of that

    It is much easier to have an opinion on the book, and Rand in general, then it is to actually read the book.

    1. I like Rand’s essays. She is one of the best essayists and shrewd observers of the left in the entire 20th Century. I think Rand understood and criticized the left better than George Orwell.

      I cannot for the life of me get through her novels. Her prose is well nigh unreadable in long form. And her philosophy is juvenile nonsense.

      1. “I cannot for the life of me get through her novels. Her prose is well nigh unreadable in long form. And her philosophy is juvenile nonsense.”

        John’s looking at the man in the mirror, etc.

        1. No it is juvenile nonsense. She and her followers can’t seem to understand that reason is value neutral. You can reason your way into anything, even monstrous evil, if you start with the right assumptions. And you can’t just reason your way into your assumptions. There is this guy we like to call Kurt Godel who came up with something called the incompleteness theorem that established that there is nothing absolute about reason. Reason is just an abstract system you apply based on whatever assumptions you wish to make about the world.

          So you are not “reasoning” your way to any ultimate truth. What you are going to do is reason what you think is the truth or what you want to be the truth based on whatever set of assumptions you choose. How anyone who has read Western Philosophy can look at Rand and not laugh is beyond me.

          1. John, I agree with what you say to a certain extent. It is true that reason is value neutral. However, certain assumptions are nigh universal. This means you will be hard-pressed to find someone that disagrees with certain assumptions.

            I don’t like Objectivism, but I certainly learned things from it. I think there is value in studying it.

            1. Meh. A lot of Objectivism is, from the philosophical point of view, a repeat of 13th-century scholasticism’s errors about the limits of logic/reason as well as sharing some of the problems of deontology, moral egoism, and Lockean thought without applying corrections to any of these viewpoints to address those problems. Very undercooked and shallow philosophy, as far as it goes.

              Still, no less than Rawlsian philosophy — which tends to be held up as much more intellectually viable when it really is no such thing.

              1. Rawlsian philosophy is far more intellectually valuable. Even if you don’t agree with the conclusions, the purpose/methods behind it could quite easily be used by libertarians to restore themselves back to the classical liberalism of Henry George. The last libertarians who understood George were Buckley and Friedman.

                The fact that Trump can cite Rand is not really a misreading of Rand at all. Corrupt plutocrats everywhere cite Rand. And a big reason modern libertarianism is so off-track and economically unappealing to most people is because modern libertarians have an irrational infatuation with Rand.

            2. However, certain assumptions are nigh universal.

              Sorry but “well nigh” doesn’t cut it. They are either universal or they are not. And there are no assumptions that are. If there were, philosophy would have ended with Descartes.

              1. It sure does cut it. There is no such thing as certainty or perfection, yet we seem to get on just fine. It is downright silly to worry about absolutes or universals. Most people agree that killing is wrong. Does everyone? No. But most everyone does to the extent that we don’t have to worry about people murdering each other all over the place. For all practical purposes, there is consensus on murder being wrong.

                1. Most people agree that killing is wrong.

                  No they don’t. Few people are outright pacifists. Even you don’t agree with that statement. Do you think killing in self defense is wrong? What about killing in a just war? There are millions of Marxists in the world who would tell you killing to achieve a more just society is right.

                  We do need universals. If something isn’t universal, then there is no way to say one assumption is better than another. All we can say is we like this one better.

                  1. Even if many people may say that killing in certain situations is justifiable, they would still agree that it is wrong. And if you just asked the question “is killing other people wrong?,” most people would answer “yes” and would not rattle off a long list of exceptions. And in any case, these exceptions are just that, rare exceptions. In most situations, killing is wrong and most people would agree. Once again, not a universal. You are doubly proving my point.

                  2. Yeah, even my hippie “no war is ever justifiable/warfare is literally satanic” religion teaches that killing is permissible in self defense.

          2. That’s not a particularly accurate characterization of Rand’s position. She did hold the position that reason is value-neutral, she just didn’t think you could “reason your way into anything”. In her view, reason led you to one spot: Objectivism. If you ended up anywhere else you made a mistake somewhere down the line.

            The incompleteness theorem also doesn’t apply here, as she did not characterize reason as a formal system, but a method.

            1. The incompleteness theorem also doesn’t apply here, as she did not characterize reason as a formal system, but a method.

              It totally applies. It says you can’t use your rational system to justify the assumptions you make. So there is no “right” answer. There is only an internally consistent system based on whatever set of assumptions you make. That renders Rands claim that reason if properly done must lead to objectivism complete nonsense. Reason can lead to anything. It all depends on how you want to construct your system. Reason only demands that it be internally consistent.

              1. Actually, Godel’s theorem does not talk about assumptions. Rather, Godel’s theorems states that in any formal system, there will be undecidable statements, meaning statements within the formal system that are true but not provable. You don’t need Godel to demonstrate that assumptions cannot be proven within a formal system, since the assumptions are a priori outside the formal system. Everyone accepted that long before Godel.

              2. Ugh, I am reminded why I dislike debating philosophy on the Internet. I made the mistake of assuming you were using a more specific definition of “reason”, but that is now clearly not the case.

                Talking more generally about Rand’s epistemological system, no, G?del’s theorem doesn’t apply, because she doesn’t try to prove the system with itself. She went with Aristotle’s method of picking fundamental axioms based on what must unavoidably be assumed. In other words, proposition P is axiomatic if it must be assumed by any rebuttal of it.

                You don’t have to like or agree with her philosophy or conclusions, but it’s a mistake to brush her off as juvenile nonsense.

                1. She went with Aristotle’s method of picking fundamental axioms based on what must unavoidably be assumed. In other words, proposition P is axiomatic if it must be assumed by any rebuttal of it.

                  And Aristotle’s’ ethics looks nothing like Rand’s. What Rand did was choose a set of axioms that were chosen in order to pick the end she had in mind. That is fine I suppose. But it makes her claim that Objectivism is some kind of irrefutable conclusion a bit hollow.

                  Talking more generally about Rand’s epidemiological system, no, G?del’s theorem doesn’t apply, because she doesn’t try to prove the system with itself.

                  That is true and it just further proves my point. She didn’t try because she didn’t even realize she had to. She just assumed that her axioms were obvious and universal. All she did was say “my assumptions are the truthful ones and yours are not”. That is of course begging the question. Godel applies because he shows that she could never prove her axioms even if she were bright enough to realize she needed to try.

                  1. I find it interesting that your quote transcribes Col. Chestbridge’s use of epistemological as epidemiological. (I mean that literally, not as a veiled critique)

                    And Godel’s theorems are characteristics of formal systems, not statements about ultimate truth. The fact that a single formal system cannot demonstrate its own consistency and that there will be some statements possible under the system that are valid but not provable, does not mean there is no ultimate truth, just that you need more than formal logic to get there.

                    As far as Rand, I think she claimed too much for her philosophy, but I think it is possible to justify self ownership from the fact of sapience, and from self ownership I believe you will inevitably end up in some form of the NAP.

                  2. She just assumed that her axioms were obvious and universal.

                    You completely missed my point. She didn’t assume, she just used a different method of proof. Hence my reference to Aristotle. And while I would say Aristotle’s ethics looks at least somewhat like Rand’s, you are right that they do not come to the same conclusions. Presumably that means at least one of them was wrong.

          3. “No it is juvenile nonsense”

            I didn’t disagree with you. I just implied you are guilty of the same verbal diarrhea.

            1. If you think something I said was wrong, explain why. Maybe you have a point. I can’t tell if you do when you use stupid and meaningless terms like “verbal diarrhea”. If that is the best you can do, stop wasting my time and move onto another thread.

              1. I (again)didn’t say you are wrong, just as Rand is often not wrong. I said that you often use 1000 words when 100 will do. That is verbal diarrhea, as if you don’t already know. This is based on reading millions of your words and frequently having to abandon threads due to your verbosity. Not unlike a person unable to finish a Rand novel. Understand yet?

                1. My original post was less than 300 words long. I don’t know what to tell you.

          4. There is this guy we like to call Kurt Godel who came up with something called the incompleteness theorem that established that there is nothing absolute about reason.

            No, Goedel’s incompleteness theorem states that “all consistent axiomatic formulations of number theory include undecidable propositions”. It has absolutely squat to say about Atlas Shrugged.

            I HATE when non-STEM people try to take a narrow result from physics or mathematics and trying to say it proves some general philosophical principle which has nothing to do with the original problem space based on the non-technical meanings of some of the words.

            1. I think John is mixing up a few different arguments. G?del’s theorem does have philosophical applications, but really only when talking about logic systems — I was actually introduced to it in a class on symbolic logic. John’s argument is more about the proof of axioms than the incompleteness theorem (which admittedly does have some on-the-surface similarities).

              At least that is my impression. But I’m just an eagle-headed colonel, so what do I know?

              1. Yes, it’s has applications in formal logic systems, which is again a technical term which doesn’t really match up with what people really mean when they talk about “logical reasoning” in a broader sense.

                It’s like the old joke: “Nothing would be better than ultimate happiness. But a ham sandwich would be better than nothing. Therefore a ham sandwich would be better than ultimate happiness”. The “proof” is based slipping between two largely unrelated meanings of the word “nothing” that just happen to be denoted by the same string of characters.

                And by the same process we end up with philosophy majors talking about how the Theory of Relativity “proves” moral relativism, Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle means we can’t ever know anything, etc.

                1. Yes, it’s has applications in formal logic systems, which is again a technical term which doesn’t really match up with what people really mean when they talk about “logical reasoning” in a broader sense.

                  Applications? It is entirely about formal systems. And formal logic is the methodology of logical reasoning. The distinction is that logical reasoning adds semantic content, and you are of course correct that it if you use the same symbol for multiple meanings, manipulating that symbol will produce nonsense.

                  I agree with you about the foolishness of philosophy majors claiming that edge cases in physics somehow map onto and decide epistemological questions, but I think some of that is a reaction to various scientists arguing that mechanistic physics disproves free will and the reality of consciousness.

      2. Atlas Shrugged was just in dire need of a strong editorial hand. A third of it could’ve been cut and it would’ve been an exponentially more powerful novel.

    2. Fountainhead heroine Dominic Francon protects Howard Roark by steering a pathetic, senile prohibitionist away from the architect. The Fountainhead is a denunciation of stodgy, mystical prohibitionism as practiced by the sort of cowardly collectivists that operate through trade associations to ban innovation and competition. Interestingly, between the lines one can make out an endorsement of “Whiskey Al” Smith, the NY governor who ran against Herbert Hoover and later resisted new populist and collectivist encroachments on the Democratic Party. Al Smith was the most libertarian politician running at about the time Ayn married Frank.

    3. Compare the description of the Stoddard Temple to the UN Secretariat building in NY… The name Stoddard also has dtrong ties to Darr? in pre-WWII nationalsocialist circles. The lady is more complex than her mindless detractors (and some wannabee fans), that’s for sure.

      1. Compare the description of the Stoddard Temple to the UN Secretariat building in NY…

        Fountainhead 1943
        UN secretariat building started 1947

        It is ok that you love Rand. I did at one time and I still am in agreement with much that she said. But this smacks of worship.

    4. It baffles me when someone complains about Atlas Shrugged, but later brags about how much she enjoyed James Joyce’s Ulysses.

  5. Don’t know if this has made the rounds yet: Psychologists and massage therapists are reporting ‘Trump anxiety’ among clients

    “I literally can’t sleep because I just thought about how Trump may actually win the Presidency and now I’m having a panic attack.”

    …..

    “It’s like a hurricane is coming at us, and I don’t have any way of knowing which way to go or how to combat it,” Taylor, 27, a Democrat, said in a phone interview. “He’s extremely reactionary, and that’s what scares me the most. I feel totally powerless, and it’s horrible.”

    …..
    Mary Libbey, a psychologist on Central Park West, isn’t hearing about Trump from her patients. But she finds herself expressing her own anxiety about him to friends and colleagues.

    “It helps me to talk about it,” she said. “I’m terrified that he could win. His impulsivity, his incomplete sentences, his strange, squinty eyes ? to my mind, he’s a loosely held-together person.”

    1. his strange, squinty eyes

      Creep alert! LOL!.

      1. “his strange, squinty eyes”

        He is just narrowing his gaze.

    2. His impulsivity, his incomplete sentences, his strange, squinty eyes

      OK, the first thing I can understand. But the rest???

    3. “It’s like a hurricane is coming at us, and I don’t have any way of knowing which way to go or how to combat it,” Taylor, 27, a Democrat, said in a phone interview. “He’s extremely reactionary, and that’s what scares me the most. I feel totally powerless, and it’s horrible.”

      Typical Democrat, doesn’t know what to do for a hurricane.

      1. Maybe if the progressives would stop doing evil overbearing nonsense in the name of soshul justus we wouldn’t have reactions that end up doing evil overbearing nonsense in response.

        1. Look, it isn’t that they disapprove of evil overbearing nonsense.

          They just disapprove of certain brands of evil overbearing nonsense.

          What’s really terrifying them is that they didn’t expect a Republican to use the tools they lovingly gave away forever when it was their prince on the throne.

      2. Proper federally approved hurricane behavior is to wait in place until instructed by authorities who have already hauled ass. After hurricane, survivors are encouraged to loot and, when apprehended, blame obstructionist republicans in congress.

      3. Here is a terrible business idea: microaggression insurance.

        1. Hmm, as long as you define actual harm, under the policy, in a rational way I think it would be the safest bet ever made

      4. Reactionary? Pot, meet kettle.

    4. “his strange, squinty eyes”

      I’m glad she bases her political opinions on such important issues.

        1. And Crusty ought to know from creepsters.

          1. Let me take your picture.

    5. Well, with a Trump victory, the weakest of the species will be hiding behind the couch, too frozen in fear to mess around with the rest of us so much. So there’s that.

    6. Everything Trump touts is in the Republican platform of 2012. It is almost as though he is testing its appeal before the Go-Pee intelligentzia and cogno-scented skunks.

    7. Yet another reason to love Trump.

  6. Critiques of objectivism and Rand’s philosophy aside, the worlds in which The Fountainhead and especially Atlas Shrugged take place were startlingly accurate predictions of Western civilization today.

    1. Take a(nother) look at The Road to Serfdom.

    2. Just as startling is the German movie Die Weisse Rose. When I watched it before September 2001 it was German… after that it became an Amerikan movie, especially with the warnings about packages in airports.

  7. Howard Roark was (is?) a rapist, therefore Trump is worse than a rapist.

    (I’ll get that job at Salon!)

    1. See, Rand even presaged the 50 Shades phenomenon.

      1. Not something to be proud of.

      2. That’s… that’s not false. I think Stefan Molyneux made a similar remark years ago.

      3. 50 Shades of Orange Hair?

  8. Rand was an artist and storyteller, but she deliberately crafted Fountainhead as a volley in a cultural war over individualism and political liberty and property…

    Good to know messagefic is just as boring when we do it.

  9. This morning there was a post about how Ohio University is considering mandatory “Cultural Sensitivity” classes in response to someone writing “Trump 2016” and “Build the Wall!” on the “Free Speech Wall”. In the AM Links someone posted about an SJW who berated some staffer at a restaurant because he presumed which gender bathroom the author wanted to enter.

    You don’t have to go any further than reading about these occasions to understand why Trump is so popular right now. And yes, Trump’s view of Fountainhead is actually germane here.

    It is absolutely true that Trump is bad on Property Rights. But we have gotten to the point where we aren’t even talking about property. We have vocal minorities and their sympathizers in power who want to deprive you of the right to your own wrong THOUGHTS. Not the property that springs from your mind, but the mind itself.

    Trump is most definitely the wrong standard bearer for this cause. The problem is that he is really the only one leading that charge.

  10. There is a part of me that wishes Trump would come out as some huge Rand fan and start telling the world how fabulous she is. The response from Randian idiots like Cytoxic to such a development would be some of the best comedy in decades.

    1. I think the media would finally faint from all the outrage, Rand is just too far.

      1. It would be fainting couches all around.

  11. Speaking as a developer, if Howard Roark blew up one of my buildings because he had to compromise with regulators, making a winded speech in front of a jury would be the last thing he needed to worry about.

    I work with architects all the time. I want the features market driven. I know what the market wants better than the architect. He better tell me when I’m wrong and why, but he better compromise with my market concerns and the concerns of my broker, too. Nothing worse than an architect who wants to build a monument to his own genius despite what the city wants–at the expense of his clients and their investment.

    Working with an architect who has experience getting designs approved through a specific city is a real bonus. I’ve heard architects say, and I quote, “Constraints are the heart of design”. What the planning commission and city council will approve is really just another constraint–like designing around a geological feature. Great entrepreneurial developers and architects don’t let city bureaucrats keep them down.

    There’s a term for architects who can’t design excellent buildings for me and my investors and get them approved through the city with their features intact–“shitty architect”. A hero is someone who blows up someone else’s investment? What was Ayn Rand thinking?!

    1. The entire 20th century is littered with horrible buildings that are worse than useless for the people who built them or try to use them and are horrible eyesores on the city sky line but were built by various architects fulfilling their “artistic vision”.

      I have never understood how Roark is considered an heroic figure. He was pursuing his own selfish vision with other people’s money and then burned the building down when he couldn’t get what he wanted.

      1. Yeah, Rand always had a difficult time understanding property rights. She basically appears to have thought that destroying someone’s property is totally cool provided that person doesn’t have the government do it.

        1. And Objectivists always claim to be all about capitalism and property rights. And then one of their great literary heroes spends his life using other people’s money to build his personal artistic vision. I never understood that.

          1. And Objectivists always claim to be all about capitalism and property rights.

            Objectivists’ conception of property is incredibly flawed. essentially, they opine that at the root of rights to physical property are ‘intellectual’ property rights. They believe a person can own the concept of tractor and thus have a claim to every instantiation of tractors on Earth (or possibly even the universe).

            Patterns, being non-rivalrous, are not really ownable. The only way to make them rivalrous is to use force (or threats of force) to prevent unapproved people from replicating the pattern.

            Thus it didn’t matter who owned the material or what agreements Howard Roark had entered into in order to build his building. He owned the idea for that particular skyscraper and thus owned the building as well.

            1. In fairness, property rights are easily the most difficult and least philosophically justifiable part in all of classical liberalism. No one has a particularly spectacular argument or conceptualization in their favor such that it encapsulates all of the things that society does with private property. Paraphrasing Milton Friedman, private property regularly outperforms in practice what its theoretical justifications are in theory.

              1. Re: The Immaculate Trouser,

                In fairness, property rights are easily the most difficult and least philosophically justifiable part in all of classical liberalism.

                Property Rights stem from the self-ownership principle. I don’t understand how you can argue that PR lack justification if the argument against private property runs against the problem of committing a perfunctory contradiction, as in “whose mouth spoke the words, then?”

                Intellectual Property is not justifiable because the concept is based on the notion that something is yours because you thought it. That is not how property works. Something is yours because you acted upon something to make it yours. When it comes to your body, you were born with it. When it comes to your clothes, you traded money for them, or you made them yourself from materials. But simply thinking it is not an action per s

                1. Your brain is a muscle. If thought is even only partly the result of this muscle being worked, thinking is surely an action as much as flexing your bicep is. Moreover, since it is by the special property of thinking that humans can even grasp the notion of permanent ownership as apart from possession, these items cannot be as detached as you claim. Even if we grant self-ownership (which may very well be a category error; perhaps humans, much like “intellectual property”, aren’t in the category of things that can be owned?), “mixing of labor” and homesteading requires certain axioms outside of self-ownership that are assumed. (In John Locke’s system, some of these axioms are addressed through the idea of humans as God’s special representatives on Earth, set here to steward in the first place — it is unclear what replaces these in a secular system of classical thought.) Labor theory of property is incredibly weak (and doesn’t quite match with what we see in the real world); first possession theory is much closer to the reality of the thing but isn’t particularly justified outside of the utility in letting this type of acquisition naturally continue.

                  1. Re: The Immaculate Trouser,

                    Your brain is a muscle.

                    No, it is not.

                    since it is by the special property of thinking that humans can even grasp the notion of permanent ownership

                    That may be so but there’s a difference between arriving at a conclusion after a process of logical deduction and quite another to wish something were true. IP is wishful thinking.

                    these items cannot be as detached as you claim.

                    Sure they are. If I invent a new can opener, I don’t own all can openers – they’re completely detached from me. I only own the one I purposefully built. One thing is the result of action while the other is the result of wishing.

                    “mixing of labor” and homesteading requires certain axioms outside of self-ownership that are assumed.

                    You can’t mix your labor with something owned by someone else. That’s a logical conclusion. You don’t have to know it beforehand.

                    Labor theory of property is incredibly weak

                    Labor Theory suggests anything you give your imprint is your property by default but that’s not the case. That’s looking at things backwards. The good must be unclaimed, untouched, then they can become yours. Property already owned by someone cannot be yours.

            2. He owned the idea for that particular skyscraper and thus owned the building as well.

              That’s lunacy. I could just as easily say I own the idea for steel girders and thus I own the building.

            3. “Patterns, being non-rivalrous, are not really ownable. The only way to make them rivalrous is to use force (or threats of force) to prevent unapproved people from replicating the pattern.”

              Oh, no, a Kinsella groupie!!

              Kinsella spouts nonsense. His theory of property is actually very Objectivist. Which makes sense, considering that is where he came from.

              Property rights are not objective and intellectual property is a valid form of property recognized by most people.

    2. I find his actions less face-palm-worthy if you think of them more as a philosophical metaphor, and less as actual career advise. Though even then she probably could have come up with a better way of getting her point across.

    3. Re: Ken Shultz,

      Speaking as a developer, if Howard Roark blew up one of my buildings because he had to compromise with regulators, making a winded speech in front of a jury would be the last thing he needed to worry about.

      Indeed, it wasn’t his money. And he took the risk when he gave away his design to his no-talent friend as a favor. My guess is that Rand needed a reason to have his hero give the speech she wanted him to give, and having him blow up the building to force the court scene seemed like a good idea.

    4. The Fountainhead was a philosophical metaphor. Roark is a symbolic hero, not a real world person. What are you thinking?

    5. “if Howard Roark blew up one of my buildings because he had to compromise with regulators”

      That’s not what happened. He agreed to design the building only if it was built exactly according to his plans. It was the developers who made the changes not regulators.

  12. how any non-libertarian can read Atlas without feeling like a bad dog having his face shoved in a pile of poop he left on the nice carpet is frankly beyond me

    Well, Brian, that’s one reason why don’t read Atlas.

  13. That list of all-stars includes Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Vince Vaughn (who is also an avowed Ron Paul fan), Christina Ricci, Eva Mendes, Sharon Stone, Mayim Bialik, Rob Lowe, Jerry Lewis, and even leftist hero Oliver Stone.

    I admit I’m not completely up on my TMZ subscription, but are all of these celebrities effectively commies? None of their Venn diagram of beliefs overlap at all with libertarian or objectivist ideals?

    1. Rob Lowe is kind of a conservative and Vaughn is a libertarian.

      1. Jolie is apparently a bit of a closet libertarian on a lot of things as well if I remember correctly.

      2. Rob Lowe is very fiscally conservative and socially liberal. Pretty much a libertarian. A lot of his political Tweets have to do with money-grubbing gubmint.

          1. He’s prettier than I normally go for, but put him in the would column for me.

            1. Ditto. He’s not “pretty, vacant”.

      3. Rob Lowe? Totally would.

  14. Trump just liked the rape scene.

    You can’t spell “scyscraper” without “rape.”

    1. I knew a guy in college whose two favorite novels were The Fountinhead and The Movie Goer. I always figured he must really have wanted to rape his cousin.

  15. I think this is perfectly in keeping with the rest of Trump’s campaign. He runs as a Democrat masquerading as a Republican, pulling all of the wildest and fringe ideas from that party and takes them up another couple levels. This discredits Republicans because “they’ve always believed these sort of things.” (All of this, despite the fact that Trump plays the best in states that have open primaries, where presumably, non-Republicans can vote to make it seem like he has more power than he does.)

    Now that he has thoroughly discredited Republicans, he goes after the Libertarians by saying he is an avid follower of Ayn Rand. While we all know those two things aren’t exactly apples to apples, the vast majority of the public who would view Ayn Rand as an extremist would associate her negatively with libertarian principles. Thus, he now discredits Libertarians in the long run while perhaps pulling a bit more support in the short term.

    Then, in the general election, when he is held up to embody the worst of worst traits, he is crushed by his opponent, and it’s all because he completely misrepresented the views of the people he supposedly represents.

      1. No. There is nothing extreme about saying that women should be punished for getting abortions if abortion were illegal. Pro lifers only pretended it was because they are not honest with themselves about how an actual and effective abortion ban would work and are totally unwilling to live by the logical consequences of their claim that abortion is murder.

        Either a ban on abortion will be so easy to get around it will just be symbolic or every woman who has a miscarriage will be subject to having to explain to the police that she didn’t have an abortion. That is just how it works. If pro lifers don’t like that, they need to rethink their comitment to bannign abortion.

        The truth is abortion is one of those great evils that is done in the dark where only God and you knows the truth. There is no way to effectively ban it without resorting to some very heavy handed and intrusive measures and even then you still won’t stop it.

        1. I think most prolifers would be happy with no planned parenthood or federally funded abortion.

          Investigating abortions would be a lot more difficult than investigating murder. The causes of most miscarriages are unknown, even when they’re investigated.

          Women weren’t investigated for miscarriages before Roe v wade, why would they be today?

          1. Women weren’t investigated for miscarriages before Roe v wade, why would they be today?

            Two reasons. First, the gennie wasn’t out of the bottle. It is a lot harder to control something that has never been legal than it is to stop something that happens a million times a year and has been illegal for 40 years. Women were not investigated then because there was much more of a societal wide revulsion than there is now.

            Second, I think abortions likely happened a lot more pre Roe than we like to admit. I think the ban was largely symbolic even then.

            1. I dont disagree that abortion probably happened more than we know and I’m not sure why that is supposed to be a counterpoint.

              Show me any culture anywhere in history that has routinely investigated miscarriages and I might believe you that it could happen here. Until then, no way. Something like 10-20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Half the population would not put up with that scrutiny for each one, especially in our culture. It would be like launching an investigation every time a 90 year old dies in their sleep.

              1. Not to mention the fact that it helps to know the person exists before you decide if their death is natural. Is the government going to mandate routine monthly pregnancy tests to keep track then issue an ss# in the womb? That is just laughable

                1. The dirty secret is that most of the things that we would consider worthy of criminalization are not effectively enforced. Theft is criminalized, but the vast majority of thefts are impossible to provide justice to. Ditto infanticide (# of infanticides? Believed to be in the hundreds of thousands. # of successful trials? In the hundreds). In even the most basic of functions, it is humanly impossible to provide justice for all or most of these cases. Justification for laws or any other type of human action in these events is reasonably to *reduce* these cases and/or to penalize the wrongdoers by appropriate action; that is to say, justice. If these measures are not perfect that is not a flaw but a reality of human action. Judging from the successes of developed countries with anti-abortion laws, I would say that these laws pass that threshold for people who believe that abortion is inconsistent with justice.

                  The main question revolves around the “personhood” of the fetus, not so much on unattainable standards that are not in place with our current laws.

                  1. Yes, TIT, laws are never 100% effectively enforced. But that doesn’t diminish my point. My point is that if you want to claim abortion is murder, then be prepared to treat it like murder or any other serious crime.

                    Child murder is a crime too right? Because it is a crime to murder your child, parents occasionally have to explain to police why their kid turned up injured or dead. And parents who hire hitmen to murder their children, don’t get a free pass because they have been through so much. If abortion is murder, then we should treat it as such. If that is something that we are unwilling to do, then perhaps it is not so clear that it is something that should be criminalized.

                    1. I’d agree with that, I just don’t think that a Poland-style law (penalizing abortion providers rather than abortion seekers) would be a step in the wrong direction. On the contrary, it would be appropriate — just not as much as a law penalizing both would be. The logic for why this would be the case is the same as the logic for why a law penalizing late-term abortions as opposed to all abortions would be in the absence of abortion laws, or any other state in which a law falls short of an ideal execution of justice while improving the current provision of such.

                    2. I don’t disagree Trouser. But if you are willing to take that half a loaf, you probably have lost the ability to claim abortion is murder and have much authority doing so. Such is the price of politics.

                    3. I’m willing to take half a loaf when no one else is offering anything more filling.

                      Nothing is ever accomplished perfectly. While I will agree that philosophically, we should assent to the reductio ad absurdum of our own ideas that doesn’t ever work with implementation. Unless you are satisfied with having none of your ideas implemented, you’re gonna have to be happy with the half loaf.

        2. Re: John,

          No. There is nothing extreme about saying that women should be punished for getting abortions if abortion were illegal.

          Any suggestion that we increase the power of the State is extreme.

          Pro lifers only pretended it was because they are not honest with themselves about how an actual and effective abortion ban would work[…]

          I would argue that most don’t know any better, John. They do not know the power that shunning and ostracism have on individuals who transgress. Just like their Progressive brethren, they want the State to impose Paradise on Earth and make Man virtuous by force.

          1. “Any suggestion that we increase the power of the State is extreme.”

            I wonder if any southerners used that to perpetuate the practice of slavery.

        3. Jawn should know. Heed th’ wurr-ds iv a ray-publican infiltraitor hell-bint on forcin’ thim bitches ta squeeze out pups to populate the Hitlerjugend an’ Wehrmacht an do Darr? an Lothrop Stoddard proud! It’s ta vollyntears th’ likes iv him thit the Dimmycrats an’ Rapyublicans raise their glasses whin iver th’ LP gets 3% iv th’ vote an’ it’s repoorted as the wan percent.
          It’s a sad thing whin a man cain’t get it up, or feels cheated iv th’ pretext to stone a Jezebel in th’ publick square with th’ help of brawny uncles and cousins. Thim medical doctorrs that helps thim grrrls cheat on th’ German Marriage Laws and the German Beer Purity Laws, they’re th wans Jawn and the rest iv the Master Race has it in f’r. Still… as th’ immortal Han Solo p’inted out–better thim than us…

      2. The worse thing is that by refusing to admit the problems of banning abortion, the pro life movement has engaged in all sorts of politically motivated and irrational compromises that have robbed them of much or their moral authority. They are just another political interest group wanting their pony. Sorry, but don’t tell me how abortion is murder and an American holocaust and then tell me that you want to criminalize it but not punish the women who get abortions. It makes you look like a fool who doesn’t really believe what you say. If you can’t stomach punishing women who get an abortion, admit that it is a moral issue and walk away from trying to use political power to criminalize it.

        1. Politics is messy.

          In the real world, there is a dispute between people who believe that professional baby-killers belong in prison and people who want those baby-killers to get federal subsidies.

          The idea that professional baby-killers, whose behavior can be proven, should walk around free based on alleged defects in the prolife movement, is to cater to the progressives and gullibly fall for their concern-trolling.

          Which I would have thought you would have been the last person to do.

          1. And given that there are people walking around alive today because of the activities of prolifers, I intend to give them some slack, even if the prolife movement has some views I might dispute with them in a philosophy seminar room.

            1. Given that we have a million abortions a year and abortion is even more morally acceptable today than it was 40 years ago, I cut them no slack. They are a sorry ass pathetic movement that has accomplished virtually nothing. I say that as someone who loathes abortion. But the numbers are what they are. The pro life movement is a terrible failure. They traded their moral authority to pursue a completely unattainable political goal.

          2. The idea that professional baby-killers, whose behavior can be proven, should walk around free based on alleged defects in the prolife movement, is to cater to the progressives and gullibly fall for their concern-trolling.

            I am not saying he should. What I am saying is that if you are going to throw him in jail, you better also be prepared to throw the woman who hired him in jail. You are doing it again. If he is a “professional baby killer”, then the women who hire him murder their children. Is there anything worse than someone who murders their own child? How can you be so morally outraged by abortion and then give the women who get them a pass? It makes no sense and it makes the pro life movement look ridiculous.

            And yes, politics are messy. That is why you should stay out of them if you want to have any moral authority about anything.

            1. “What I am saying is that if you are going to throw him in jail, you better also be prepared to throw the woman who hired him in jail.”

              OK, I’m talking about what you would do with the professional baby-killers if there’s enough evidence to prove them guilty. Would you abandon the babies to their fate because “that should teach the prolifers”?

              1. Again, there are people alive today because of prolifers – whether because they reached women in front of the clinic and got them to change their mind, or because they succeeded in “limiting access to abortion” – and their opponents admit they have often succeeded in doing just that!

                I’m not going to defend the political genius or philosophical consistency of the prolife movement, but without them people now alive would be dead.

                1. A progressive is someone who thinks that the alleged mistakes and inconsistencies of the prolife movement are of greater moral significance than the fact the saved human lives.

              2. No. But I would go after the women who hired him. Why wouldn’t you?

                1. I would. But I don’t run the prolife movement, and they wouldn’t. But I’m not going to abandon the movement because of a philosophical disagreement while they’re actively saving human lives.

                  I think I’m more philosophically correct than they are, but I don’t think I’m morally better than people who rescue human beings from death. That would be absurd.

                  1. But I don’t run the prolife movement, and they wouldn’t.

                    That is because they are hypocrites who have traded their moral authority for dubious political goals. And I will happily walk away from a movement that accomplishes little at the price of cheeping the moral case against abortion.

                    1. Seriously? You’d allow professional baby-killers to operate with impunity to punish the prolife movement?

                      It’s not that babies’ fault that prolifers made political and philosophical errors.

                    2. Seriously? You’d allow professional baby-killers to operate with impunity to punish the prolife movement?

                      How is it just to punish abortionist and not punish the women who hire them? If society is unwilling to punish women as well, there is no point in punishing abortionists. Moreover, there is more to life than crime and punishment in this world. You claim to be a Christian yet seem to operate under the assumption that crime and punishment given by man means anything. The abortionists and the women will have to answer to God just like we all will. And the fact that they were or were not punished in this life won’t make any difference to God.

                      There is no effective or just way to criminalize abortion. And trying to do so just causes you to make concessions that take away your moral authority in arguing against it. So, frankly, I have no interest in criminalizing it.

                    3. “How is it just to punish abortionist and not punish the women who hire them?”

                      It’s *not* just – the mainstream prolifers are wrong.

                      Wrong about that issue.

                      But they’re right about defunding Planned Parenthood and “restricting abortion access” with clinic regulations.

                      And the more they do along these lines, the more people walking around alive instead of being dead.

                    4. And I agree. I think they should worry about those issues. I think they need to walk away from the Quixotic quest to criminalize abortion. They need to admit that an effective ban is not something that could ever be achieved. They need to say up front that is not and will never be their goal. Then they need to concentrate on the issues you list and also making the moral case against abortion in general.

                    5. Again, I think that the choicers acknowledge that at least in some places the prolifers have succeeded in “reducing abortion access” – that’s criminalization, eg, making it a crime to have an abortion clinic which doesn’t meet code, etc.

                      But effective or not, I deny that legalizing abortion is a legitimate option, any more than legalizing lynching would have been back in the day when certain lynchers enjoyed a de facto immunity from prosecution.

                    6. Well, OK, then, but the prolifers are doing stuff besides call for criminalization.

                      They’re exercising the moral suasion you call for – they can walk and chew gum at the same time!

                      “You claim to be a Christian yet seem to operate under the assumption that crime and punishment given by man means anything.”

                      I never said I was a *good* Christian, and right now it’s not me I’m primarily defending, but again I think you are a tad sweeping in your conclusions, with all due respect.

                    7. I will admit I had never really thought through what an actual criminalization scheme would necessarily look like until the whole Trump kerfuffle. And when I worked through it, I quickly realized that it would either be totally meaningless or involve some very vicious invasions of privacy. I don’t think many pro life people have thought it through or really understand how criminal law actually works well enough to realize that. If they did, they would walk away from it as a goal. The point is to stop making people pay for it and to get people to realize how brutal and immoral it is. And pursuing a criminal ban doesn’t do that. IN fact, it makes achieving that harder.

                    8. I think there’s a third option besides your either/or dichotomy of totally useless versus viciously invading privacy.

                      That third alternative is that the laws will reduce the number of abortions, and that there will be people alive who would have been killed if the law weren’t there, but at the same time a wealthy and clever person would probably be able to arrange an abortion without being caught.

                      It would be kind of like the 14th Amendment in the Jim Crow south – the law would be widely disobeyed, but there would be enough enforcement that things would be a tad better than if the law didn’t exist at all.

                    9. Now, recognizing abortion as a human-rights violation, and a violation of the positive law (again, the 14th Amendment), precludes explicitly legalizing it or accepting express legalization.

                      In fact, purported “legalization” is void and unconstitutional.

                    10. And then of course there is the ever present “except in cases of rape and incest”. How exactly do you plan to determine if the pregnancy is the result of rape? Take the woman’s word? If so, then the law is a dead letter. Make her file charges? Yeah, create an incentive for women to make false rape charges to get abortions. That will work out well. And since there is no way to properly adjudicate a rape before the pregnancy goes to term, what happens if the defendant is acquitted? Do you punish the woman for the DA losing the case?

                      I could go on. These laws would be totally impractical to ever enforce.

                    11. That third alternative is that the laws will reduce the number of abortions,

                      That is where you are wrong. There is no way those laws would reduce the numbers of abortions unless they were enforced. And there is no way to enforce them without invading people’s privacy.

                      Suppose we were able to pass a law tomorrow banning all abortions past 15 weeks. What would it look like? Understand that sometimes abortions really are necessary for a woman’s health. Would you exclude those? If so, how? Who decides what is necessary? If it is the abortionist, the abortionists just say every abortion is necessary for the woman’s health and the law is a dead letter. You could have some kind of committee and due process before saying it was so, but again, there is no way to make these committees any better. And even if you could, what is “necessary for the woman’s health?” A 5% chance of death? A 50%? Hell I don’t know and neither does anyone else.

                    12. The “rape exception” isn’t a prolife idea, it’s a concession to the muddle of public opinion. And as people like Rebecca Kiessling publicize their stories, then God willing, public support for killing children for the sins of their fathers will be reduced.

                      Returning to my analogy of the 14th Amendment in the Jim Crow South – and the 15th Amendment too, for that matter – racists with enough sophistication could generally evade it. But *blatant* and *undisguised* racism – as with the Grandfather Clause and some of the criminal prosecutions – was sufficiently obvious that even under Jim Crow the courts would step in and stop it.

                    13. And the choicers constantly complain about how prolife laws are restricting access to abortions. These complaints are too frequent and longstanding to be fabricated – for once the choicers are telling the truth, prolife laws, inadequate as they are, *do* get in the way abortion.

                    14. And you still haven’t answered my question of how a ban could ever be effective unless it was inflexible and strictly enforced. What about cases of the mother’s health? There is no way to deal with that issue without either giving up on a meaningful ban or telling mothers they are expected to die for their unborn children. Those are the only two options.

                    15. Returning to my analogy of the 14th Amendment in the Jim Crow South – and the 15th Amendment too, for that matter – racists with enough sophistication could generally evade it.

                      Those amendments were meaningless after we were no longer willing to keep the South under military occupation. And they remained meaningless until the federal government was willing to take the drastic step of curtailing the right to free association. Your examples prove my point. Abortion would be the same. Any ban would be meaningless absent drastic steps to enforce it.

                    16. “And they remained meaningless until the federal government was willing to take the drastic step of curtailing the right to free association.”

                      Wrong amendment – freedom of association was curtailed under the Commerce Clause. Not even the Warren Court was willing to use the 14th Amendment for that purpose (with the unfortunate exception of the Reitman line of cases, by which a state statute or ordinance restricting free association takes precedence over a pro-free-association amendment to the state constitution).

                    17. No UGC. They used to commerce clause to allow the Congress to end Jim Crow. Jim Crow didn’t end and the 14th and 15th Amendments were essentially meaningless until Congress took the drastic step of infringing on the right of free association.

                      You misunderstand my point.

          3. This. Pro lifers know that Roe v Wade is very unlikely to ever go away and federal funding of abortionists is more likely to increase than decrease, so the idea that they must be focused on extremely marginal compromises because they’re hypocrites is ridiculous.

            There are probably some who think women who have abortions should go to jail, but if they think that would or could ever happen they haven’t thought about it for more than 5 seconds

            1. If all they want is federal funding stopped, then why isn’t that all they are asking for? And if these issues are marginal, why are they wasting their time on the political process instead of making the moral case about abortion?

              They need to stop worrying about planned parenthood and start worrying about why it is a million women every year think it is okay to get an abortion. And moreover, stop acting like those women are victims or their decision somehow morally excusable.

              1. “why are they wasting their time on the political process instead of making the moral case about abortion?”

                *facepalm*

                They’re doing both, John. Really, they are very nice people, you might even like them despite their philosophical errors.

                1. They’re doing both, John. Really, they are very nice people, you might even like them despite their philosophical errors.

                  Double facepalm. they are trying to do both and in fact are doing neither. Their efforts at political change have caused them to make so many concessions that are inconsistent with their core belief that abortion is murder, they no longer have any moral authority to make the moral case against abortion.

                  The pro life movement is a perfect example of how humans get corrupted by politics and wind up doing evil even where they mean to do good.

                    1. In all seriousness, why not have a chat with one of these prolifers you’re criticizing? You might not agree with him or her, but you might be less inclined to think they’re evil.

                    2. I mean, I’m not typical and anyway I don’t do nearly enough.* My “philosophically pure” prolife views aren’t going to be law for the forseeable future.

                      And you know what? The nice ladies with the rosaries, persuading women to keep their babies, and actively lobbying and making it legally more difficult for those babies to be killed, are *better people than I am* because they don’t just go on the Internet to discuss theory, they take concrete actions.

                      *(I’ve been to some prolife pickets, just not recently)

                    3. I know lots of them UGCC. And I once supported them. I just can’t any longer. The results and futility of their efforts speaks for itself. Whatever the answer to abortion, that isn’t it.

                    4. They save some. I’m sure they could do a better operation and save more.

                      But you wouldn’t have to join their organizations or sing their manifestos to help them, maybe donate to specific campaigns, eg, counseling centers, etc. – you wouldn’t be giving your blessing to their overall politics.

                    5. *sign* their manifestos – look what a bad example you are. 🙁

              2. “Stop acting like those women are victims or their decision somehow morally excusable”

                Who on earth are you talking about?

                1. I know you hate all conservatives now and you have your reasons, but you’ve gone from broad brush to outright making things up

                  1. I know you hate all conservatives now and you have your reasons, but you’ve gone from broad brush to outright making things up

                    I don’t hate conservatives. I am one myself. I just can’t be associated with a group of people who seem incapable of understanding and admitting to the logical consequences of their professed beliefs. I am just disappointed in them. I really thought they were smarter and more honest than Progs.

                2. Who on earth are you talking about?

                  The various pro life opinion leaders who acted shocked that Trump would even suggest that women would be punished if abortion were criminalized.

            2. Yes but Jawn ‘n th’ other mystical bigot will use it as a ping-pong match with which to mesmerize readers innosent iv diffy-rintial equations, second dirivitives an’ the relationship between th’ ixponential growth imparted to populayshuns by trancendental functions while th’ real estate area is a fixed constant with column-inches iv roomynations on fetus-fetishism. Mark Twain observed thet they don’ make land ennymore. But given enough mystical althruistic othoritty, troops an’ artillery an’ other people’s money, the two iv thim could lead a phalanx iv th’ mystically inlightened to th’ Rapture an’ stand at Armygideon fightin f’r th’ Lawerd with Ginrul Randolph Paul an his daddy th’ midwife agin th’ evil hordes iv eighthiest dinyers. Casualties c’ud offset th’ populayshun growth. Hallalulia!

  16. Isn’t “Trump” the sort of on-the-nose name that Rand would give one of her villains?

  17. I do don’t know how old Doherty is, but the Fountainhead movie had a major impact. Both leads were highly respected. Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal. Rand wrote the screenplay which had all her main points without the lengthy treatises of her novels.

    And on strictly political terms she was a lot less extreme than most “movement” libertarians. She strongly defended incrementalism. Nothing major would happen until the society was ready to accept it. “Voluntary taxation” (a rough equivalent of today’s “repeal the income tax”) would be the very last step on the road to a free society, not the first.
    That’s how a philosopher sees the world.

    1. Lol, you really are in your 80s.

    2. So, when Rand loudly and incessantly denounced pragmatism, she was giving subliminal support to “incrementalism”? Could you offer an illustration of Rand’s support for incrementalism. A quote?

      1. So, when Rand loudly and incessantly denounced pragmatism, she was giving subliminal support to “incrementalism”?

        First consider what “pragmatism” means (formally), and WHY she denounced it.. There is a philosophy called pragmatism — whatever works, devoid of principle. Just a tad harsher than the generic meaning. This example atop Google: “ideology was tempered with pragmatism”

        Here, as elsewhere, she was a stickler for principle. On many issues, she didn’t give a fig HOW it was done, but she’d blow your head off if lacking principle..

        Could you offer an illustration of Rand’s support for incrementalism. A quote.

        Simple enough. Its from The Virtue of Selfishness: (1964) But I’ll need two parts
        .
        http://sqapo.com/complete_text…..shness.htm

        One long page has the entire book Do a page search for:
        “15. GOVERNMENT FINANCING IN A FREE SOCIETY”

        First the simple part .. after all the theory!.

        “Any program of voluntary government financing is the last, not the first, step on the road to a free society – the last, not the first, reform to advocate. … It would work only when the basic principles and institutions of a free society have been established. It would not work today.”

        Hence, most movement libertarians are too extreme for even Ayn Rand (and 91% of libertarians).. In simpler English, first change the culture.

        Now the principle.

        1. Part 2 ? Principle

          This paragraph should address your question. She’s contrasting with pragmatism (the philosophy). She stresses principle, for political philosophy. HOW to do it is, she says for the philosophy of law

          Recall I said “voluntary taxation” was, at the time (1964), the equivalent of today’s “repeal the income tax.:
          (my emphasis)

          The question of how to implement the principle of voluntary government financing – how to determine the best means of applying it in practice – is a very complex one and belongs to the field of the philosophy of law. The task of political philosophy is only to establish the nature of the principle and to demonstrate that it is practicable. The choice of a specific method of implementation is more than premature today – since the principle will be practicable only in a fully free society, a society whose government has been constitutionally reduced to its proper, basic functions.

          Also a duh — to me — but I’ve been almost entirely engaged in retail politics for several decades. Myself and dozens of other (local) candidates..

          There have since been many thoughts on on how to implement it. Almost none are literally voluntary … but they do meet her larger principle. NAP. The inevitable pissing match, of course, between anarchists and minarchists! And the fallacy that, in a free society, libertarians would NOT be just one of many tribes.. .

          Howzat? .

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  19. But doesn’t this just scream classy?

    1. Nothing says “understated class” like a cheap recreation of Capetian France.

      And did…did they…employ a wind machine for that photograph?

    2. Its not the Triumph of the Will. Its the Triumph of the Tacky.

      That picture, however, is nothing compared to this

      http://www.amanandamouse.com/b…..tripes.jpg

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  21. Most people are not capable for forming or understanding a coherent ideology. That now includes most people who call themselves libertarians.

  22. “It relates to business (and) beauty (and) life and inner emotions. That book relates to … everything.”
    he definitely didn’t just read the back

    1. Yeah, I’d say Atlas was way more about business than Fountainhead. Atlas was essentially Rand’s economic manifesto, whereas Fountainhead was her spiritual/philosophical manifesto.

  23. Nathaniel Branden, for many years Rand’s primary intellectual disciple, told me of appearing on TV with some prominent ’60s leftist radicals who raved to him about their adoration of Rand, which confused him.

    It’s like people’s subjective perceptions are influenced by their worldview and past experiences, and thus a particular series of words can have different meanings to people with wildly different contexts for interpreting them.

    1. I can testify that whenever the beer and marijuana smoke got really thick in hepcat circles in 1967 Dallas Texas, conversation invariably degenerated into shouting matches on the merits/demerits of Ayn Rand. At the time I was barely into Robert Heinlein, had no idea of what the fuss was about, but do recall that opposition to conscription was the one thing that restored an atmosphere of mellowness to the gatherings. One prim and well-scrubbed young writer named Ann Rand turned up at these affrays, and instantly became the center of controversy because of the similarity in names!

  24. I agree with this article, however, Trump is in the running and I do not see a true libertarian who has a chance this cycle. So my question is, who else can we vote for if we want to stop the continuing status quo, and corruption? The fact that he likes Ayn Rand is a plus even if he hasn’t gotten it yet.

    In today’s world, Objectivism is not widely accepted. While there are many Libertarians, we are not mainstream right now. Bring up Ayn Rand on most blog sites and you will be attacked. For me, I would rather have Trump elected than any of the others. He is not perfect, but he is a step in the right direction.

    Am I compromising? Yes I am. But some Ayn Rand is better than none.

    1. . While there are many Libertarians, we are not mainstream right now

      59% of the population, thousands in elected local and county office. But they are “Nolan libertarians” and 91% of them totally reject the libertarian brand (movement libertarians). THEY are mainstream, but have no voice or identity, so don’t even know where the others are. And the movement ignores them, chasing (for example) independents, who are much fewer overall and maybe 30% of independents are collectivists of some sort.

    2. The libertarian PLATFORM has a chance this cycle. All it takes is for the cognoscenti and intelligentzia to realize that the communist income tax became the 16th Amendment because the commies–tripping on altruism–had the guts and integrity to vote their platform. Waitaminnit… that’s not on teevee… people would have to actually read something for it to sink in… Nevermind. I believe Jawn or UGCC were about to share some insights on DemoGOP candidate comb-overs, cankles or email servers…
      To hell with casting spoiler votes with any integrity that pay off ten-to-one in laws repealed and Constitutions Amended.

      1. All it takes is for the cognoscenti and intelligentzia to realize that the communist income tax became the 16th Amendment because the commies–tripping on altruism–had the guts and integrity to vote their platform.

        PLEASE say that you don’t tell folks you’re a libertarian!

  25. Damn, I only just now realized that John and Michael Hihn are the reason why we can’t have nice things.

    1. John and Michael Hihn are the reason why we can’t have nice things.

      “There are no good guys. There are no bad guys. There’s just you and me and we just disagree.”
      Tolerance is a core libertarian trait.

      1. I agree, which is why I would never block, censor, or filter your comments even if I could. Also, I was mostly being allegedly funny. You’re not all bad. Though John is tedious as fuck and I don’t actually read his commentary any more.

        1. I assumed it was humor. The part about can’t have nice things earned you a chuckle. A soft chuckle, but a chuckle nonetheless. (I’m a troll who gets paid by how many times I can use “chuckle” in a comment.)

  26. Damn, I only just now realized that John and Michael Hihn are the reason why we can’t have nice things.

  27. Both people are fictional to an extent, so it’s kind of a silly question.

  28. Howard Roark, John Galt, Chris Trenton…
    http://www.amazon.com/Progress…..B003XIIZUS

  29. Gotta love the rape scene in the Fountainhead, it reminds of the beginning part of Carl Schmitt’s the Nomos of the Earth. Hard to believe Alisa Rosenbaum didn’t mean it as an allegory.

    Rosenbaum and Schmitt had pretty sympatico views on homosexuality and gender roles too: Rand asserted that “the essence of femininity is hero worship ? the desire to look up to man” and that “an ideal woman is a man-worshipper, and an ideal man is the highest symbol of mankind.”

    She addressed homosexuality in the course of an attack on feminism, stating that “[T]o proclaim spiritual sisterhood with lesbians… is so repulsive a set of premises from so loathsome a sense of life that an accurate commentary would require the kind of language I do not like to see in print.”

    In contrast, Donald Trump has taken a much more egalitarian tone on gender roles and homosexuality.

    1. One of the biggest problems with Objectivism is it’s assertion that all aesthetics is an extension of morality, forcing Rand to backform all these bullshit rationalizations as to why her personal tastes were the only legitimate ones. She can’t smoke because nicotine stimulates the pleasure center of her brain, now it has to be a ritualistic celebration of human will and anyone who doesn’t smoke is part of a vast conspiracy to destroy human civilization.

  30. I think Ayn Rand’s great contribution–in terms of her historic influence on American culture–is that she self-consciously took the Aryan/fascist romantic myth of the heroic soldier/Fuhrer and grafted it onto the industrial capitalist fighting a war of all against all in a Social Darwinist (‘classical’) liberal state, or rather, our warrior fighting against a parasitic class of collectivist “Others” [and who might they be?] trying to destroy the natural (capitalistic) order of things. Since she was Jewish, no one was too concerned about the subterraenean Anti-Semitism in her novels, so she gave us an ethnically inclusive, Nazi-lite reactionary call for a return to what Benito Mussolini characterized as the “heroic stage” of capitalism.

    Instead of all being the State, and the State being the Leader, all is the Company, and the Company is the Leader. You can see this in all the obeisance of Roark’s underlings in the Fountainhead to the Superior Man.

    You can understand Mussolini’s ideology as trying to transform Italy in the 20th Century into something like a company run by a 19th Century Robber Baron, or in reverse, see that Rand is calling for Privatized Fascism. If we look at Conservative, Inc., privatized fascism with some nods to cultural Marxism does seem to be what is on the menu.

    1. WTF.

    2. If you’re not a Progressive, you’re Racist! Racist! Racist!

      Heard it. Yawn.

  31. If you want to contrast Rand’s vision with modern libertarianism, you have to acknowledge that Rand is at heart a personalist. Her novels are all about great and noble souls (I forget the term in Sanskrit) who create great businesses based on the strengths of their personalities.

    In contrast, the modern corporation is a soul-less thing run by bureaucracy as pervasive as any government regulatory agency, and inexorably intertwined with not only federal regulations, but international rules of trade. It is all yes-men, sycophants, and mediocrities all the way down. The company man was just beginning to emerge in the mid-50’s, and the rise of the managerial therapeutic state was just calcifying at the end of her life. One has to wonder if her views on capitalism might have shifted if she had witnessed the emergence of the globalist Leviathan–or maybe having made it, and established her cult, perhaps she wouldn’t have cared in the spirit of the true virtue of selfishness.

    Anyways, I am not sure that Donald Trump is as far away from Ayn Rand as the author of this article seems to think he is.

    1. People think that Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead were about “business good, government bad”.

      But, the novels really were not much about government. Instead, they were telling businessmen how they *should* behave. In the Fountainhead she was telling people to not be like Peter Keating and Gail Wynand.

      In Atlas Shrugged, the miserable characters were the CEOs like James Taggert, lobbyists like Wesley Mouch, and socialites like Lillian Rearden.

  32. If Trump’s declaration concerning the Fountainhead causes people to read the book who hadn’t done so prior, awesome. Every step in the direction of liberty is forward motion. If the reader interprest the thesis “incorrectly,” as the article implies I can’t help but think a reader certainly will not misinterpret Howard Roark’s morality.

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  37. Sweet! This should be good for a week for conniption fits from the SJWs. Rand is about the only person that sends them into pants shitting hysteria more than Trump.

  38. I gotta wonder where the Objectivists are on this one. Rand was not a fan of libertarians and libertarianism.

    http://aynrandlexicon.com/ayn-…..anism.html

    Q
    Why don’t you approve of libertarians, thousands of whom are loyal readers of your works?
    AR
    Because libertarians are a monstrous, disgusting bunch of people: they plagiarize my ideas when that fits their purpose, and denounce me in a more vicious manner than any communist publication when that fits their purpose. They’re lower than any pragmatists, and what they hold against Objectivism is morality. They want an amoral political program. [FHF 81]

  39. Craig Biddle at the Objectivist Standard, astutely notes that Trump the politician sounds more like any number of Ayn Rand villains.

    A little Gail Wynand. Maybe he can win this time. Though I do worry that he could be Ellsworth Toohey.

    We are living in interesting times.

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