The Horror File Gets Bigger And Bigger

Submitted for your consideration: “Ayn Rand is not a supporter of free markets”

That agonized screaming you hear inside your head after reading the linked paragraph is a trillion neurons shrieking in pain.

Okay, let’s look at the entire lynchpin of the case made in the linked article:

“The idea of promoting oneself at the expense of others, advocated by Rand, is consistent with taking advantage of whatever support one is able to get from the government in this process.”

The error in the quote is “advocated by Rand.”

Anyone that has actually read Rand knows that Rand emphatically rejected self-advancement at the expense of others. She believed that one should neither sacrifice themselves to others nor others to themselves.

This isn’t some subtle point squirreled away in a footnote. She states it repeatedly in “The Virtue of Selfishness” and reiterates it repeatedly in her fiction.

“The Objectivist ethics holds that human good does not require human sacrifices and cannot be achieved by the sacrifice of anyone to anyone. It holds that the rational interests of men do not clash—that there is no conflict of interests among men who do not desire the unearned, who do not make sacrifices nor accept them, who deal with one another as traders, giving value for value” (The Objectivist Ethics, p31 in VOS).

“Altruism permits no concept of a self-respecting, self-supporting man—a man who supports his life by his own effort and neither sacrifices himself nor others. It means that altruism permits no view of men except as sacrificial animals and profiteers-on-sacrifice, as victims and parasites—that it permits no concept of a benevolent co-existence among men—that it permits no concept of justice” (Introduction, p ix in VOS).

“The Objectivist ethics holds that the actor must always be the beneficiary of his action and that man must act for his own rational self-interest. But his right to do so is derived from his nature as man and from the function of moral values in human life—and, therefore, is applicable only in the context of a rational, objectively demonstrated and validated code of moral principles which define and determine his actual self-interest. It is not a license “to do as he pleases” and it is not applicable to the altruists’ image of a “selfish” brute nor to any man motivated by irrational emotions, feelings, urges, wishes or whims.

This is said as a warning against the kind of “Nietzschean egoists” who, in fact, are a product of the altruist morality and represent the other side of the altruist coin” (Introduction, p ix in VOS, emphasis mine).

“The egoist in the absolute sense is not the man who sacrifices others. He is the man who stands above the need of using others in any manner. He does not function through them. He is not concerned with them in any primary matter. Not in his aim, not in his motive, not in his thinking, not in his desires, not in the source of his energy. He does not exist for any other man—and he asks no other man to exist for him. This is the only form of brotherhood and mutual respect possible between men” (from Roark’s Speech, The Fountainhead, emphasis mine).

So how on earth can someone actually make accusations as utterly, monstrously boneheadedly false as alleging that Rand advocated “promoting oneself at the expense of others?”

Rand’s repeated explicit rejection of doing this makes an honest misreading simply impossible. There are only two alternatives:
1) He didn’t do any research at all, and/or just recycled what he has heard other people say about Rand. This makes him an idiot and a second-hander that won’t even bother to read what she actually said.
2) He knows that what he’s saying is false, but he’s more than happy to lie. Which makes him intellectually dishonest, an evader, and a lying liar that lies.

Jacob Sullum at Reason magazine posts a fantastic response here: ( and (quite correctly) describes the linked comment as being “head-smackingly clueless.”

I’m tempted to suggest that Sullum, by calling the comment “clueless” rather than “offensive, misleading, and a clear attempt to defame Objectivism,” is being excessively charitable.

One thought on “The Horror File Gets Bigger And Bigger

  1. Amusingly enough, the DVD of the film ‘Atlas Shrugged’, had to be re-covered when the distributor advertised it as a ‘courageous tale of self-sacrifice’! I think I read about that at Mises Economic Blog. I think it is just low-level stupidity- they seemed to be heroic, so he just naturally put the buzz-word ‘self-sacrifice’ in there, because the customers expect to see it.

Comments are closed.