Liberal or Conservative?

How closely do you link Ayn Rand to the conservative icons that the New York Times despises so much? I am seeing her quoted so often both on the air and in the critics’ responses.

Frank Rich in yesterday’s op-ed said this:

Beck has notoriously defamed Obama as a “racist,” but the race card is just one in his deck. His ideology, if it can be called that, mixes idolatrous Ayn Rand libertarianism with bumper-sticker slogans about “freedom,” self-help homilies and lunatic conspiracy theories. (He fanned Internet rumors that FEMA was establishing concentration camps before tardily beating a retreat.) It’s the same crazy-quilt cosmology that could be found in last weekend’s Washington protest, where the marchers variously called Obama a fascist, a communist and a socialist, likening him to Hitler, Stalin, Castro and Pol Pot. They may not know that some of these libels are mutually exclusive. But what they do know is that they need a scapegoat for what ails them, and there is no one handier than a liberal, all-powerful president (who just happens to be black).

Beck is not alone. O’Reilly, Limbaugh, and others are with him. I’m not sure if I’d call them “fans” of Ayn Rand, but they do quote her quite often to make a positive point. On the other hand, I’ve heard Leonard Peikoff say something to the effect that “no self-respecting Objectivist could vote Republican.” Furthermore, in a recent article by The Christian Post suggesting that libertarians may align more with liberals on the social issues, unless we do something to engage and forge relationships.

In The Soul of Atlas and in my interviews, op eds, and blog posts (not to mention my participation in digital forums all over the internet), I have been making the case that there are more commonly-held values between Christian conservatives and secular libertarians: certainly more than would be suggested by the limited interaction between the two groups.

As always, I appreciate your best thoughts. Where does Rand fall in the spectrum of today’s liberal and conservative?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

10 thoughts on “Liberal or Conservative?

  1. Ah, the ‘race card’. His skin is dark therefore people don’t like him because he’s black.
    Couldn’t possibly be because of ideological reasons. Of course not…

  2. Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute is on Glenn Beck frequently and they seem to hit it off. Though I am by no means an expert on these matters I would find Beck more aligned to Rand than Limbaugh. I enjoy Beck’s program and I find him non partisan, and maybe sometimes foes of Obama may go over the top…I generally think Obama is about as bad as they come. I think Beck is doing a great service with his daily show. But would Rand like him? That I cannot say.

  3. I grew up in a multi-racial area where white folks were the minority. I have learned that often accusations of racism generally say more about the person claiming racism than anyone else. I’m not saying there aren’t racists out there, because I have seen that first hand with my parents and others. But in this case, the protests don’t seem to have much to do with race and I think we’re all getting a little tone-deaf to this accusation.

    I’ve also learned that a lot of dysfunctional people use shame to intimidate and bully others. The excessive use of this accusation is nothing more than trying to shame those who protest into being quiet.

    I realize the original question was about where Rand might stand politically. But I just had to vent a bit.

    Sadly, I used to think the Libertarian party was about the closest to what might match her philosophy. However, I’ve been very disillusioned by that party over the last few years and I don’t think they reflect those values anymore.

    Personally, I wish people would start looking beyond party affiliations and vote for candidates whose record and apparent values reflect what they would like to see in service to them, not just vote along party lines.

    Just my two cents’ worth.


  4. Where does Rand fall in the spectrum of today’s liberal and conservative? I don’t think she does, except where she departed from her truly objective principles and endorsed or rejected a moral idea or political policy based on her emotions. Which she rarely did.
    Liberals just want to use government power to force the rest of us to live the way they think we should live.
    Conservatives, on the “other hand”, just want to use government power to force the rest of us to live the way they think we should live.
    Rand wants to do the same thing of course, but her use of force was almost always confined to the very limited scope of enforcing individual rights. *That’s* the difference between liberal/ conservative politics and Rand’s politics, and that’s why I’d greatly prefer an Objectivist government to a Liberal or Conservative one. It wouldn’t be perfect (power corrupts Objectivists just like it corrupts everyone else), but it would be one hell of a lot harder to get away with pushing your unmoored political feelings into other people’s lives if individual rights were the basis for “the law of the land”. You know, like they used to be…for about 10 minutes back in the late 1700’s.

  5. I need to know more about Ayn Rand and how she believed. Then I can make a judgment about where she might fall within the ranks of liberals and conservatives. Frankly, I do not think that any ofus are consistent enough to be classified completely one way or another. Beck has his glaring inadequacies even with such important things like his faith. Mormonism is so fraught with discrepancies that poor Beck is a blind man following the blind. And how could he know, he has most likely never been told. Limbaugh is just in it for the money and changes with the wind from druggy to gourmet lush.

  6. In very broad terms, the two groups that I believe will be attracted to Objectivism are: 1) Socially liberal 2) Financially conservative. The social liberals will identify with the freedom from government in terms of not restricting people’s choices in their personal pursuit of happiness (i.e. same-sex marriage, smoking pot, anti-draft, etc). The financial conservatives will identify with the Government not redistributing people’s personal worth to others. Libertarians seem to be both social liberals and financially conservative, which is a natural fit for Objectivism. Religions conservatives, though, will have serious issues with the liberal social aspects, which I don’t believe can be divorced from Rand’s believes. Likewise, social liberals will have a hard time with not having a big government role in providing financial and other services widely to everyone. All things considered, I think that only libertarians (in all respects) can fully be objectivists. BTW… Your discussions of Rand have made me more libertarian. 🙂 One last thought, I do think that it’s easier for secularist to be Objectivists. ‘An it harm none, do what ye will’ However, I do believe that certain aspects can be applied for religious folks, like your discussion of selfishness in love of God.

  7. I think you’re spot on, Joe. Well articulated too. For the reasons you mentioned, I think many libertarians consider Ayn Rand to be the “patron saint” of the party. Thanks for your thoughts. Do you think there is such a thing as Christian Libertarianism?

  8. It seems to me that “Christian Libertarianism” would need to be tied to one’s theology and world-view. For example, does a person see Christianity from mostly an individual-relationship-with-God
    basis, meaning that everyone should be given the liberty to do what they want, but are only responsibility to God for their actions (like the story of Adam and Eve). Contrarily, do one’s beliefs
    make them feel as though they should be affecting society, through secular laws, in order to align society with their view of God’s will? I have known people at both ends, some of which could be called libertarian. Where do I fall? From a secular government perspective, I believe that one of its primary goals should be to ensure the rights of people to pursue their version of happiness and to congregate as they wish. Although it might be tempting for Christians to “Christianize” the government, I believe that the actual implementation would not be satisfactory for anyone. I know of people that strongly believe that only certain versions of the bible should be used. There are strong disagreements on women pastors (let along Gay). Etc. The right to congregate in different church, based upon shared beliefs, seems to be the best option. Also, as a father, I get the greatest joy when my kids do things for me out of their love for me – not because they have
    to do it. I believe God gave us freedom for the same reason; otherwise, we’d be programmed like robots.

    BTW… There are Christians that seem to be moving towards libertarian goals, like the push towards smaller government and state-rights. Maybe I’m being too cynical, but I believe that it’s tied to political strategies to get the laws that they want, rather than true libertarianism. Fearing losses at the federal level, they believe that they have a better chance at local levels – for example, pushing for male-female-only marriage laws. I believe that many of the people pushing for state’s rights would much rather see these laws at a federal level if they could. I believe that true libertarians would say that the government should not have a say in personal, consensual relationship laws. However, though all of this, I do believe that libertarian thoughts are getting through like gun rights and defeating the Affordable Care Act seems like its libertarian. But, unlike true libertarians, I do believe that many who are raising the libertarian flag do so as a defensive measure, but would really like their wanted laws enacted on everyone.

    Sorry if this is rambling and/or not intelligible. This is just a quick, off-the-top-of-my-head
    reply. I’ll have to read it again later
    to if it’s all really what I think.

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