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Thursday, September 09, 2010

• • Fruit flies in a bottle 
Ayn Rand was profoundly and dangerously mistaken when she proclaimed that “there is no such entity as ‘the public,’ the public is merely a number of individuals. On the contrary, that which is good for each, may not be good for all. United we stand, divided we fall.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

• • If it’s good for General Motors, is it good for the rest of us? 
I refer above to “costs to society.” The libertarians neatly dispose of these embarrassments by asserting that “there is no such thing as society” (Margaret Thatcher) and “there is no such entity as ‘the public’” (Ayn Rand). It then follows that if “society” and “the public” do not exist, there is no public interest, no social responsibility, no social injustice.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

 The virtues as plus-sum: Why libertarianism fails as a social policy 
Egoism  | History has taught us that when a society officially embraces what Ayn Rand calls “the virtue of selfishness” and greed becomes the controlling force in community life, wealth and power do not “trickle down” to the masses, they “percolate up” to those in control, leaving those masses impoverished and disenfranchised.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

• • • Ayn Rand’s excellent proposal 
Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism  |Egoism  | In Ayn Rand’s sprawling novel, Atlas Shrugged, ubermensch industrialist, John Galt, infuriated over the “theft” of his property by the parasitic government, calls upon his fellow “captains of industry” -- the “producers of wealth” -- to go on strike which, we read, brings down the entire economy. He then proposes that these elite “producers” leave the wreckage of the old “collectivist” order behind and establish their own utopian society. What a splendid idea! I’m all for it! So let’s suppose that each and every CEO of the fortune 500 companies suddenly disappeared, along with Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, Robert Benmosche of AIG, and all those other bankster executives who claimed $150 billion in bonuses last year. (Supplied, by the way, by us taxpayers). Would the US economy collapse? Well, maybe not.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

 Theory vs. reality: Why market absolutism fails 
Capitalism  | In neo-classical economic theory, “economic man” is a hypothetical individual who is a complete egoist, motivated solely by the self-interested desire to maximize his “preference satisfaction.” [....] Clearly, “economic man” exists nowhere outside of Ayn Rand’s novels and, perchance, on Wall Street. And this is fortunate, for we wouldn’t want him for a neighbor.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

• • Why liberals are not libertarians 
Capitalism  | Are there public goods? Ayn Rand, let us recall, believes that there are no public goods because, "there is no such entity as 'the public' -- since the public is merely a number of individuals -- any claimed or implied conflict of the 'public interest' with private interests means that the interests of some men must be sacrificed to the interests of and wishes of others." The liberal, of course, vehemently disagrees. As evidence of the existence of "public goods," consider a parable. Two communities are situated on opposite banks of a great river: on the right bank (appropriately) is "Randville," and on the left bank is "Rawlsburg."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

• • An absence of empathy 
The Fountainhead  |The Virtue of Selfishness  | The foundational doctrines of regressivism are [...] devoid of empathy. For example, Ayn Rand: "Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy.. the process of setting man free from men." (The Fountainhead) And “Man must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.” (The Virtue of Selfishness).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

 Climate reality bites the libertarians 
The typical libertarian is steadfast in his [belief] that "there is no such thing as a public" (Ayn Rand).

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

• • The great regression—and the road back 
Capitalism  | Margaret Thatcher endorsed "the private society" with stark simplicity and brevity, when she proclaimed: "There is no such thing as society, there are only individuals and families." Also Ayn Rand: "There is no such entity as 'the public,' since the public is merely a number of individuals." The implications are stark. If there is no such thing as society, then there are no social problems, there is no social injustice, and there is no social progress, and government has no business trying to address these fictions. [....] When this conception of "the private society" was celebrated a generation ago by the novelist Ayn Rand, it was generally regarded as too outlandish to be taken seriously.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

 Privatized hell revisited 
The determined regressive might [say] that [a] neighborhood could avoid the "this house but not that house" problem [of private fire fighting] by agreeing to hire a single private fire fighting company. [....] All members of the neighborhood would then be required to pay a fee to the company – "required," because those who might otherwise not pay would nonetheless be at least partially protected by the fee-payers, i.e., they would be "free riders." Hence a "coercion" (and implied "theft of property") detested by Ayn Rand and the libertarians.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The public interest and the the limits of volunteerism 
The libertarian Right insists that so-called "public goods" and "public interest" are nothing more than simple summations of private goods and interests. Indeed, as Ayn Rand put it, "there is no such entity as 'society,' since society is only a number of individual men... The common good" (or "the public interest") is an undefined and undefinable concept..." ("The Virtue of Selfishness"). In fact, and contrary to libertarian dogma, in numerous identifiable cases [...], the individual pursuit of optimum personal freedom and benefit can be detrimental to society at large.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The right and the left, in a nutshell 
Most regressives tend to believe that the ideal society is merely a collection of autonomous individuals and families in voluntary association. In fact they assert that strictly speaking, as Dame Margaret Thatcher once proclaimed, “There is no such thing as a society -- there are individuals and there are families,” and Ayn Rand, “There is no such entity as ‘the public’ ... the public is merely a number of individuals.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A moral philosophy for progressives 
An argument for moral relativism.
When we see ourselves as equals in a community of equals, with basic rights no greater or less than those of the others, we are able to assume the perspective of a benevolent but unbiased observer of that community – what philosophers call "the moral point of view." From this perspective, moral quandaries may be readily resolved – the same quandaries that are insoluble from the egocentric point of view preferred by regressives and celebrated by Ayn Rand and her disciples.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

• •Bird flu is real - and you’re on your own 
The regressive right and its captive media have been pounding these doctrines of privatism and market absolutism into our heads since the heyday of Ayn Rand and the founding of Bill Buckley's National Review, fifty years ago – doctrines devoid of evidence and sound argument, contrary to both practical experience and the historical record, and "proven" by little more than constant repetition by right-wing propagandists.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Who lost New Orleans? 
The free-market absolutist libertarian right proclaims, in Ayn Rand's words, that "there is no such entity as .. 'the public' ... only a number of individual men." (Rand: The Objectivist Ethics.) Thus the optimal society emerges "automatically," through an unregulated free market, from the self-serving economic activity of individuals and families.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Why should I pay for someone else’s education? 
Defending public education.
Ayn Rand's totally self-made and self directed John Galt type of entrepreneur is a myth. As even Bill Gates must appreciate, there is no Microsoft without the myriad of publicly educated "micro-serfs" on the payroll.