Ayn Rand vs. Libertarian Party

Posted by WWJGD 11 years, 7 months ago to Philosophy
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Not sure whether to post this under "Economics" or "Philosophy," as it pertains to the intersection of the two. Oh well, here it is under the latter.

I presume it is already well-known to the readers here that Ayn Rand despised the Libertarians. I've never seen anything from her that explained why, other than a vague quote about license that seems more of a Straw Man to me than anything else.

Now allow me change the subject.

It is clear that Ayn Rand understood economics, and especially the economics of the USA, better than probably any non-economist of her time. As far as I know, she had no formal training in the field, no credentials, and I've never seen her claim that she did.

Any yet, she explained the superiority of Capitalism just as well as Friedman, Hayek, Mises, and others of the Austrian School. In my mind, they explained the mechanics of why and how free-market Capitalism works, while she explained its moral superiority.

So she had a lot of friends (in the sense of "like-minded folks") in the Austrian School. Heck, Alan Greenspan even studied under her. Then abandoned all of his principles, but that's a whole 'nother story.

But then there's Murray Rothbard.

He's the so-called "Anarcho-Capitalist" that founded (or co-founded?) the Libertarian Party. As far as I know, he's generally considered to be an Austrian.

I have a theory that it's a certain subset of Rothbard's ideas that are the crux of Rand's hatred for the LP.

I want to see what other people here know about the rift between the Objectivists and the Libertarians before I mention what my theory is. I don't want to skew the results I get.

Anybody know anything?

Thanks in advance.

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  • Posted by kennon 11 years, 7 months ago
    The Libertarian Party started business in 1972 created by David Nolan (organizing) and Michael Gilson (goals and philosophy) who both invented modern libertarianism: Murray Rothbard opposed it and Rand, friends with Gilson who was a staunch Aristotelian and objectivist and so Rand also according to old-timers, supported it cautiously as premature . I've had the opportunity to talk to a lot of the old timers who sadly are dying off and encourage them to post.

    Then for several years USLP fell under the control of anti-Rand and anti-abortion 'constitutional' conservatives on-and-off so Rand's impatience was obvious. The anarchists and voluntarists led by Gilson kicked these guys out in '83 after Rand died, but the right-wing keeps infiltrating every 10 years or so. Check on the web for some old-timer memoirs but what is commented here is basically the reverse of the truth. The LP ran a good candidate for Prez this year after again kicking out the conservatives.

    Rothbard was also Gilson's friend and wrote extensively on libertarian-direction ideas. The US LP is libertarian-direction BTW--see the bottom of the site. You have to realize what KIND of anarchist or libertarian Rand was discussing--until 83 it was a pretty flexible term until Gilson got people in line. Context! See http://www.libertarianinternational.org Libertarianism is now a world cultural and civic movement in every country under the LIO.
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  • Posted by BenjaminGrimm 11 years, 7 months ago
    I would say that the thing which put Ayn Rand against Libertarians of her day, especially Mr. Rothbard, was their support of anarchy, the "Anarcho-Capitalism". Also, Rothbard was back and forth with Rand. First he was with her, but then bashed her in the mid 1950s, claiming Rand's ideas weren't original. He went crawling back to her after Atlas Shrugged, only to have another falling out with her over his anarchist beliefs. "Mozart Was a Red" didn't help any.

    As for why Rand despised Libertarians, there are several quote from her on the subject here:


    But, Shrugger has a point. Today's Libertarians, like Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, don't promote anarchy. I don't know if Rand would approve of the party today, as it seems Rothbard soured her on their stance with his back and forth.

    I agree that they most closely align with the tenets of Objectivism that the other political parties.

    I'm looking forward to reading your theory.
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    • Posted by 11 years, 7 months ago
      Thanks, Benjamin, for the info, and especially for the quotes -- none of which I had seen before. They do shed a little bit of light. And, they are authoritative since they come from ARI which (according to themselves) is the "one, true Objectivism." Ya, we've all heard THAT line somewhere before, eh?

      The quotes also seem to lead away from my theory -- except for one small, cryptic aside, which is fascinating. But only if my theory is true. I'm still not ready to mention it.

      Good to hear of the on-and-off relationship between Rothbard and Rand. I wonder how much of her animosity is purely personal?

      You know that Ayn excommunicated Nathaniel Brandon (whom you might call the "other, unauthorized" branch of Objectivism -- we've heard that one before too, eh?) for making a speech to a Libertarian Party meeting, right?

      Anyone else know anything else?
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  • Posted by RightinLA 11 years, 7 months ago
    My issue with the Libertarian Party is its isolationist policy. That may have been fine in a pre-WW1 world, but with the rise of fascism, communism, Islamic extremism, the advent of nuclear weaponry, and ICBM's it is a philosophy that I have a problem with. An objectivist philosophy, as I understand it, is highly pragmatic. By definition, it looks at the world very objectively. This is where it is superior to other philosophies which tend to remain stagnant.
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    • Posted by gblaze47 11 years, 7 months ago
      To me military policy is extremely complicated, on one hand I believe we should not be get involved in everything unless it impacts us as a nation. On the other hand, if we do not show force then the some errant nations see us as weak and open to attack, or at the very least emboldens them to feel like they can do what they want without fear of retaliation.
      Somewhere we need a balance somewhere in-between.
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  • Posted by Shrugger 11 years, 7 months ago
    In the early years of the Libertarian party, a large contingent of its members were actually anarchists. They wanted to strip the Federal Government of virtually ALL its power, leaving us more or less a collection of loosely associated states.

    Ayn Rand wrote about the evils of anarchy (I don't have an actual citation yet but will look it up)... equating it to "mob rule" and she discussed the Libertarian Party of her day as a group of anarchists.

    The platform of the Libertarian Party of today is vastly different from that of its earliest years. While there are still a small number of individuals that espouse anarchist views, the vast majority are for a "LIMITED" federal government. In fact, most Libertarians today are staunch supporters of the Constitution and want to limit the Federal Government to the powers enumerated therein.

    I believe, if Ayn Rand were alive today, she would agree that the Libertarian Party more closely promotes the tenets of Objectivism than any other political party in our nation's history.

    I do not agree with EVERYTHING in the Libertarian Party platform, though I do agree with most of it. That being said... there is absolutely NOTHING in the Libertarian Party platform that I could construe as evil. I can't say that about any other political party... and I am confident Ayn Rand would agree with that assessment.
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    • Posted by Shrugger 11 years, 7 months ago
      I noted above my lack of citation for the assertion that Ms Rand's disdain for the Libertarians of her day was due to her belief that they were actually anarchists in disguise. I correct that deficiency now:

      "I disapprove of, disagree with, and have no connection with, the latest aberration of some conservatives, the so-called “hippies of the right,” who attempt to snare the younger or more careless ones of my readers by claiming simultanteously to be followers of my philosophy and advocates of anarchism."

      Ayn Rand “Brief Summary,” The Objectivist, Sept. 1971, 1

      "Above all, do not join the wrong ideological groups or movements, in order to “do something.” By “ideological” (in this context), I mean groups or movements proclaiming some vaguely generalized, undefined (and, usually, contradictory) political goals. (E.g., the Conservative Party, which subordinates reason to faith, and substitutes theocracy for capitalism; or the “libertarian” hippies, who subordinate reason to whims, and substitute anarchism for capitalism."

      Ayn Rand “What Can One Do?” Philosophy: Who Needs It, 202

      Both of these quotes can also be found in the Ayn Rand Lexicon. The following link might prove helpful:


      If someone has any additional information regarding Ayn Rand's dislike of the libertarian movement I would be anxious to see it.

      More importantly... if anyone here has ANY objective criteria that might dissuade me... or any advocate of reason... from supporting the libertarian movement in general, and the Libertarian Party specifically... please be kind enough to provide it.
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  • Posted by $ jmlesniewski 11 years, 7 months ago
    Ayn Rand disliked libertarians for lacking principles.

    Remember, politics are an application of philosophy. Libertarianism differs from Objectivism in that it takes the applications of philosophy as the primary, thus seemingly having hidden premises.

    In other words, most libertarians arrive at the superiority of freedom based on epistemology--relativism. Since no one's truth is superior to anyone else's, the government has no right to impress any one truth on the populace. Relativism comes from the primacy of consciousness, which directly contradicts Rand's base premise of primacy of existence. Embracing relativism and freedom makes decisions pragmatic (and arguably hedonistic). Note how many libertarians even today embrace the (what I would call childish) idea that "because I can do something, I should do something.)
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    • Posted by Epistemology1000 11 years, 3 months ago
      I would agree. Libertarians (the party) are in bed with religious conservatives who advocate state intervention along the lines of Christian values. Libertarians and Teabaggers are anti-philosophical, so it is obvious why Rand would oppose them.
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  • Posted by itisntluck 11 years, 7 months ago
    AR: The anarchist is the scum of the intellectual world of the left, which has given them up. So the right picks up another leftist discard. That’s the Libertarian movement.
    [FHF: “The Moratorium on Brains,” 1971]
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