Ayn Rand’s The Voice of Reason

Rand, Ayn, Leonard Peikoff, and Peter Schwartz. The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought. The Ayn Rand library, vol. V. New York: Meridian Book, 1990.

Rand pushes for a political economy based solely on merit (meritocracy), rather than one based on the needs of others, where a socially “desirable” distribution of wealth is put into effect, despite the abilities of those who are being usurped, and the inability of the looters.

Ayn Rand is quite interesting for capturing the forerunners of American neoliberal ideology. She writes against racism, which she sees as a reversion to tribalism, the product of irrationalism and collectivism. The choice of the “tribe” of race is entirely arbitrary when one considers the merits of a “racial heritage,” that simply because this ethnicity did exist, somehow once existing qualifies it to its own system of morality, put on an equal plane with every other morality, even those values derived from logic.

To Rand, ethnicity is worse than racism, because it denotes both this arbitrary alliance, as well as a sterile tradition–the utter horror of a way of living that does not change from generation to generation.

“Conformity to a racist tradition does not constitute a human identity. Just as racism provides a pseudo-self-esteem for men who have not earned an authentic one, so their hysterical loyalty to their own dialect serves a similar function: it provides a pretense at “collective self esteem”.

To Rand, bigotry is evil, but so is constituting one’s self identity with a racial group, and therefore acting in the caricature that bigotry believes envelops all beings of a single race. To Rand, The United States is the archenemy and the destroyer of ethnicity.

It is the same with racial quotas, where if a young man is barred from school or a job because the quota of his race is filled, then he is barred by the reason of his race and no other. Telling him that, as in identity politics, his “representatives” will speak in his name, simply because they share the same race, to Rand, adds insult to injustice. Such systems she sees as racist, in that their basic assumption is that a select number of a race can speak for the race as a whole.

Rand also sees in Multiculturalism a reversal to Soviet Russia (and modern China), where ethnicities are broken up into a number of racially different states, each with its own language, folk songs, commemorative postage stamps, yet this is only flattery and poses no danger to the rulers, but serves to distract the public from the fact that the state itself allows no ideological diversity under its oppressive regime. The idea of “ethnic collectivity” is merely a distraction from the bigger picture, and serves to complete the identities of those willing to live under oppression.

Finally, Rand’s followers combat the inflation of her ideas with Libertarianism, which has no values except freedom, and therefore sees the state as an arbiter of truth that must be brought to its knees. Rand wants to separate economy and state, and be satisfied with a limited government, while Libertarians want the government to take a backseat to absolutely every cultural institution and property value, as in the roads, and wants no constraints on their behavior, the opposite of what Ayn Rand’s morality seeks to achieve.

I need a break from Rand, back to the realms she considers irrational. Oh well.

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