Saturday, June 20, 2009

Quick thoughts on Objectivism

Like many libertarians, I am a big fan of Atlas Shrugged, and have some Objectivist leanings. However, I don't normally call myself one. Why not?

First of all, I'm not a kool-aid drinker. Objectivists are far too cult like and ideologically lockstep for me. I don't think every line Rand ever wrote was gospel, and don't need anyone else to tell me what my opinion is on something. Objectivists are also very hostile toward "libertarianism" (or at least their strawman version of it), believing it is "evil" or something, which is just ridiculous.

Objectivists also have a lot of authoritarian leanings. Most contemporary Objectivists are hard-core warmongers. Even Bill O'Reilly was frightened by their foreign policy frightened that he said they weren't much different from the Nazis.

Yes, my friends, when coupled with an Objectivist, O'Reilly is the voice of reason. Is that horrifying, or what?

These pro-war and anti-civil-liberties views seem completely at odds with Rand's opposition to foreign interventionism, war, and statism. Unfortunately, Rand herself was pretty inconsistent on those issues. Looks like she should have "checked her premises," because contradictions don't exist! (For a great parody of Objectivism, see The Ideal Randian State, by Anthony Gregory.)

Objectivists also cling to the state myth and "social contract" that Lysander Spooner and others have completely refuted.

Rothbardian anarcho-capitalism (or free market anarchism, or whatever you want to call it) is fully compatible with the best parts of Objectivism, while rejecting all of the war crimes, torture, and authoritarian tendencies that have come to be associated with the philosophy.
Objectivists fall into the same warmonger trap that conservatives fall into. Their logic goes like this:

1) Enemy X is totalitarian, collectivist, and statist.
2) Therefore, Enemy X is a threat that cannot be reasoned with. So "we" must blow it off the map.

Premise 1 is usually true. Most of the US' past and present enemies are (or have been) totalitarian, collectivist, and statist. Nobody with half a brain thinks I'm a supporter of radical Islam, or Communism, or whatever.

Premise 2 is where the warmongers fall into severe error. Yes, there are plenty of monstrous ideologies around the world, but we should never let the state exploit them in order to recklessly expand its own power. There will always be a limitless pool of "bad guys" out there, but that does not give the US government the right to bomb civilians, set up torture dungeons, repeal civil liberties, loot the US taxpayers, wrap its tentacles around the economy, and impose puppet governments all over the entire world, in a vain attempt to make the world one big peaceful utopia.

A state that looks for "monsters to destroy" is one that will always become a monster itself.

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