Thursday, 18 March 2010

Ayn Rand Land

I've never got Ayn Rand, and "followers." To fully disclose, I have not read her, so what I have heard is second-hand. But I've read enough libertarian literature to get what she is about.
And why have I not read her? I started one (The Fountainhead), but it was badly-written, verbose and boring. And for me, that says all I need to know about her. It was self-absorbed, not really interested in the reader. Is that then "noble selfishness?"
Anyway, she supposedly venerated "capitalist" types like railroad owners (railroad owners?!) and CEOs of big corporations. Greed is good, altruism is bad, therefore these guys are heroes.
There's just one problem: Corporations have nothing to do with free markets! Never had, never will. Railroads were built through private funding? No, it was the taxpayer. They were just another piece of state apparatus. I wrote about this before, and it seems to be an idea that needs to be repeated over and over until people start getting it. Worlds such as those described by Rand are not capitalism. It's fascism. The merger of state and corporate powers.
A real free market would look something like a street market: lots of individual stalls, few brands or big hitters. But it would be busy, bustling, self-regulating and - well - happy, and sad, and messy, aspirational, and full of intent.
Dalrymple wrote about Rand, and although his criticism is not the same as mine, he still gets the same kind of vibe from her and her cultish followers. This appatrently led to quite a few hysterical comments. Hardly surprising, as they are a confused bunch. And not libertarians, at all.

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