The Age of Selfishness



I read the first third (the biography) online, at Activate:

I didn’t know that there was a book in the works, with two more parts!


grandmother of modern libertarianism

Rand openly detested libertarians.

“All kinds of people today call themselves “libertarians,” especially something calling itself the New Right, which consists of hippies, except that they’re anarchists instead of collectivists. But of course, anarchists are collectivists. Capitalism is the one system that requires absolute objective law, yet they want to combine capitalism and anarchism. That is worse than anything the New Left has proposed. It’s a mockery of philosophy and ideology. They sling slogans and try to ride on two bandwagons. They want to be hippies, but don’t want to preach collectivism, because those jobs are already taken. But anarchism is a logical outgrowth of the anti-intellectual side of collectivism. I could deal with a Marxist with a greater chance of reaching some kind of understanding, and with much greater respect. 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.”


If she didn’t want to be associated with libvertarians, maybe she should’ve tried differing from them in some way politically or “morally”.


Rose Wilder Lane (Laura Ingalls Wilder’s daughter) is the grandmother of modern Libertarianism. Ayn Rand just provided a pseudo-intellectual justification.


I think the key word is “modern.”

In that passage, Rand seems to be writing about the almost forgotten lefty libertarians, who did have an anarchist streak.

Modern libertarians – the kind who haunt the Cato Institute and think the Koch brothers are just dreamy – do believe in the rule of law . . . at least, to the extent that it protects their property rights, helps keep union members out of their factories, and gets them tax breaks.

The moldy anarchist libertarians would probably be incensed to be compared to the new corporate-brown-nosing variety.


They might not like being referred to as “moldy” either, thanks!


I think the term “Blue Log Libertarians” has a nice ring to it.


I have a good friend who identifies as an old school, little ‘l’ libertarian. He gets very annoyed when people talk about this or that about Libertarians and clearly only mean the party and its adherents. I keep trying to tell him that the ship has sailed and he and the other old-school types need to find a new term because people only associate one group with “Libertarian.”


Cunningham explains that both personality types are needed in society but the extremes of either camp can be dangerous.

Just where are these deadly extremist Democrats? Do they have their own radio shows where they urge violence against their opponents? Are they forming militias in Idaho… or, I dunno, Vermont? I know it’s vital to keep repeating, “both sides do it equally,” but it’s just so hard to marshal any actual evidence.


She’s referring to people like John Hospers and the Libertarian Party of the 1970s. Not sure if I’d consider those folks “left libertarians.”

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It is kind of sad. The pursuit of liberty, genuine human liberty, and casting a jaundiced eye on authority toward that end, is a good and worthy thing, but for Libertarians (as in the party) it is a kind of side-show second billing to reducing regulations, lowering taxes and neutering public employee unions.


“I’ve got mine, Jack, so fuck you” is ever the Libertarian crede.


And what she hated about libertarians is…that they emphasized pragmatism(!) over philosophical (Objectivist) purity:

" I dislike Reagan and Carter; I’m not too enthusiastic about the other candidates. But the worst of them are giants compared to anybody who would attempt something as un-philosophical, low, and pragmatic as the Libertarian Party. It is the last insult to ideas and philosophical consistency."

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Purity like her social security checks?,_but_grabbed_social_security_and_medicare_when_she_needed_them


If Objectivists were philosophically pure, they would be Scientists, who are concerned about actual objective phenomena instead of primitive status rituals. And by primitive, I mean motivationally, not in the condescending colonial sense.


To Ayn Rand it made perfect sense though. She was only taking back what was stolen from her at gun point, and thus she had a moral obligation to do so. Seriously!

Long before Ayn Rand was capable of collecting Social Security though, she profited from the Works Progress Administration when she sold the rights to her play *Night of January 16th to the Federal Theatre Project so $10 a performance.


As a libertarian myself, I would totally embrace such a moniker.

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Why is it taking them so long to figure out how to accumulate, own and sell breathable air? It must just be a logistics problem. Not a moral one.


Most people seem to resist seriously considering it, but the real problem is philosophical. Ownership is just a belief that one has a special relationship with objects, and that people both acknowledge and share in this kind of relationship. But it is based upon wishful thinking. Things don’t know that you own them. The universe doesn’t care what you want. And something existing does not imply that it “belongs” to anyone. There is no rational basis for assuming that your happiness or well-being are objectively (bwa ha ha haaa!) more important than anybody elses.

It’s a fairly basic array of concepts to think through. But, like I said, most won’t - because it’s not convenient.