Objectivism Eats Itself

Comments

1
The only good objectivist is one that's lying cold dead and unheralded dead in their grave.

For that matter, since one's works are supposed to be more important, why are we wasting land on keeping their non-useful corpses in the first place?
2
This is like blaming lenin for all the bad things that "communism" in russia turned into.
3
So let me get this straight: The fed was following Ayn Rand back in the 60's and 70's when the top marginal tax rate was 90%, interest rates were through the roof, and regulation was rampant, and it stopped following Ayn Rand in the 80's and 90's when government oversight and taxation were drastically reduced?

It makes sense. You see, Randism leads to prosperity. Therefore our current lack of prosperity can only be the result of insufficient adherence to Randian ideology. Like Communism, it will work brilliantly if only we get the right people in charge next time!
4
Anyone who wants to return to the economic climate of 1913 is out of his cotton-pickin' mind. The average American is something like five times better off now than then. All of these things -- regulation, government spending, yadda yadda -- have created BY FAR the greatest economic expansion in the history of mankind. Most Americans in 1913 lived in conditions of abject dirt-scrabbling poverty by today's standards.
5
Well, we also lived on farms then.

Now we live in cities.
6
Not having to get up at 4:00 a.m. to slop the hogs is nice.


Has anyone mentioned that today is animal castratin' day?
7
What you need most of all is to make the mandate of the federal reserve to do one thing. Interest rates should not be a tool to stimulate "economic growth" or rather debt expansion with diminishing returns and reckless behavior.
8
Putting all the blame on the Fed Reserve is wrong. Sure, the interest rates encouraged people to borrow too much, but did banks stop them and say, "no, you shouldn't borrow that much." Hell no, the banks' greed was legendary. Similarly, the people were too short-sighted to stop themselves from getting into so much debt.

Everyone shared in the problem, there's no single entity to blame.
9
This seems like the "no true Scotsman" defense. Greenspan's Randian credentials are retroactively removed when his actions are shown to have resulted in an unfavorable outcome: "Well, no true disciple of Ayn Rand would do that."

Therefore Rand's (absolutely unproven, pie-in-the-sky, transparently self-serving and myopic) "philosophy" remains unblemished by its spectacular failure in practice, even though its implementation was overseen by of one of its leading acolytes.

Next!
10
Even suggesting that Objectivism MIGHT have a flaw really brings them out of the woodwork.
11
What about Objectivism (other than this Greenspan matter) would you connect to the recession? If it's just that, then I'd like to hear how it is that in recent decades he could be characterized as an Objectivist.
12
Ayn Rand is one of my favorite Romance writers. Right up there with Barbara Cartland.

If you ignore the dreary speeches (usually by men) not only will you find the novels much more enjoyable, it will cut them down by a hundred pages or so.

Anyone beyond a particularly sheltered and spoiled teenager who actually believes her "philosophy" needs some psychiatric attention. Poor things....
13
Most Objectivists have been slogging Greenspan as a traitor long before the financial collapse. So this isn't anything new.

@9 hit the nail on the head. "Orthodox" Objectivism frequently enjoys purity purges. (Here's but a small taste.)

Rand used to rail against socialists who defended "true" socialism in the face of its practical failures. Metaphysician, heal thyself.
14
Don't anybody accuse me of being an apologist for objectivism - i.e., go right ahead - but objectivist philosophy is very much at odds with any such thing as the federal reserve.

Any institution which facilitates the lending of money at below-market rates must get that money from somewhere, and that somewhere is sure to be either taxes or inflationary effects, both of which are viewed by objectivism as intolerable infringements upon the sovereign man, etc., etc.

So, even we non-objectivists can see that Greenspan was in control of a very anti-objectivist institution. I imagine they found him preferable to the alternative of having a non-objectivist in his place.

Now, about the cause of the housing bubble: the root cause was most definitely the artificially low interest rates.

Lax lending standards were an aggravating factor, but even if they had been reasonable, the massive artificial infusion of purchasing power into the market would still have inflated the price of housing. Maybe not so much so rapidly, but drastically nonetheless.
15
This crisis was neither a failure of laissez-faire capitalism nor Ayn Rand's ideas, it was a failure of intensive regulation —with Greenspan's hypocritical contributions. From The American Competitive Enterprise Institute:
While the Dow collapses, we have a bull market in government regulations. The 50-plus departments, agencies and commissions are now at work on 3,882 rules; 757 will affect small businesses. More than 51,000 final rules were issued from 1995 to 2007.

That’s nearly 54,000 NEW regulations, added to what was there before, in only 12 years!

That is hardly Rand's laissez-faire capitalism; that’s massive socialist/fascist government interference! At root, those are the very ideologies Rand spent her lifetime hoping to save Americans and America from. Now, when the effects of those destructive ideologies from Washington hit the fan, everyone is blaming laissez-faire capitalism instead. They are ridiculous, uninformed, or dishonest.

Greenspan dropped any pretense of understanding Rand's arguments well before he became head of the Fed., and he then became a major part of the problem. His monetary policy and suppression of interest rates (1%!!), when Rand would have said “let the market decide”, were an appalling government intervention. Add in the HUD, CRA, CDS, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the recipe for a catastrophically distorted market, including the trading of derivatives, was complete.

Edward Cline wrote, "Reason and rationality flee when force becomes a factor in men’s decisions, to be replaced with the pragmatism of punishment-avoidance or a risk-free shot at easy money."

So imagine YOU are the CEO of a large financial organization. Your competitors are complying with the regulations and appear to be making good for their shareholders, while things are getting tight for your firm. What do you do?

You want to buy a house, and the government directly or indirectly tells your lender they will protect him from default so long as he keeps the mortgage interest low. What do you do?

You do the pragmatic thing, join in, and trusting in the state's easy money guarantee. As a CEO, if you are able to understand the fraud in the government’s game, you build yourself some protection for when the government's house of cards collapses. Most people believe the "government is here to help" (say by regulation), so they don't protect themselves.

You would not have dared to engage in the risky lending or buying that lead to the crisis, were it not for the handful of people in the US government who believed they were smarter than the free market and installed legislation to distort it. Without those people, lending rates would have adjusted themselves years ago, paper money would not have been printed like it grew on trees (e.g. “helicopter Bernanke”) and the present crisis would never have materialized.

Capitalism is the only *moral* system because it let's a man keep what he produces; it was the American system. An historical and geopolitical look at nations shows that those which are more free have citizens who prosper more by their own effort, and live more peacefully. Free markets made America great, from 1776 to the late 1800's, and then serious regulations began. Even America's poor were wealthy compared with the middle class of other nations. Ayn Rand was right, and should not be blamed for a protegé's failures.

***

Consider carefully reading, or re-reading “The Virtue of Selfishness” & “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal”, to see how, rational egoism is the essence of business. and is the reason for Individual Rights —specifically, the right to use your own money as you see fit.
16
The only thing wrong with Constant's post is calling Greenspan a Rand disciple in the present tense. That is the wishful fantasy that Greenspan himself is promoting in trying to blame his Fed policies on Ayn Rand. It is good to see a quote from an actual Objectivist in this discussion.

No, the fed was not adhering to "randian" philosophy in the 70's or at any other time. That's not possible, since its existence is a violation of the free market. The only way for the Federal Reserve, the FCC, or the FDA to adhere to free market principles would be to abolish themselves.

#4: It's true that we're much better off now than we were in 1913. There's been substantial economic growth since then. Americans in 1913, looking back to 1821 could see much greater economic growth in that interval thanks to the post-civil-war decades when there was no federal reserve. You can see that growth too in any economics textbook. Since 1913, regulation of banking, of immigration and other things has slowed, but not completely strangled our economic growth. A return to the economic climate of 1865 with all the technological progress that we've seen in the interim is what I am in favor of, only I would also privatize the roads and amend the constitution to get government out of road building and strictly limit it to the protection of individual rights.
17
@Jay Andrew Allen

I knew Richard 7 Geneivieve Sanford. At first I believed they were both staunch Objectivists, properly representing the philosophy. In the end, both were a huge disappointment to me. Though I had nothing to do with it, it was clear that they deserved their dismissal. The link you provide is to arguments by those who did not understand the Sanfords' undermining of Objectivist principles, with out of context letters by such as Robert Stubblefield, who did.
18
man - who knew so many objectivists read slog?

or did word get out?
19
Ayn Rand was a pathetic twat that only frigid women and men with small penises can appreciate. A true hack, a hack for the ages. We might as well have a school of thought based on Jacqueline Susann.
20
#18 A lot of Objectivists mistakenly see suburban conservatism as the closest thing to an ally that there is in today's culture. In fact, life in the city is better than in the suburbs. The Suburbs are the product of social engineering, not the free market. That Kuntsler fucker, unhinged though he is, made this point very effectively in his "home from nowhere" article a while back.

So, as an objectivist, I like life in the city and I love the prospect of Seattle embracing density. I also love live music, and all those satanic anti-family things that you don't find in the family valuing suburbs. I grew up out there and I know how completely evil and soul -destroying suburbs are.

The suburbs don't have any equivalent of the Slog, because all they do is read NYT and Wall St. Journal.
21
The economic meltdown in the U.S. was essentially caused by government intervention and regulations, not their lack thereof. For many years now, banking, housing and insurance have been the most regulated areas of the economy.

As to Mr. Greenspan, the philosophy he put into practice is the opposite of capitalism. Back in the 1960s, Ayn Rand taught him why capitalism requires that there be a wall of separation between economics and state, and why the Federal Reserve, as the state’s central economic planner, must be abolished. Yet Greenspan went on to become the Fed's leader and champion -- keeping interest rates artificially low and manipulating the money supply. So he long ago rejected Miss Rand's philosophy of Objectivism -- and now he and all of us are paying the price for it.

JOSEPH KELLARD
East Meadow, NY
22
Ideology trumps facts, even when that ideology is a complete and utter failure. Republicans did away with and actively prevented regulation by the Fed, so now it's a failure of regulation. That is the most convoluted "thinking", but not expected, coming from a delusional right wing, I've ever heard. And that's saying something.
23
I can make a better case that the current financial crisis is the result of the ethics of Christianity, that the cause is need, not greed.
24
A Specific Application of Employment, Interest and Money

Abstract:

This tract makes a critical analysis of credit based, free market economy, Capitalism, and proves that its dysfunctions are the result of the existence of credit.

It shows that income / wealth disparity, cause and consequence of credit and of the level of long-term interest-rates, is the first order hidden variable, possibly the only one, of economic development.

It solves most of the puzzles of macro economy: among which Business Cycles, Stagflation, Greenspan Conundrum, Deflation and Keynes' Liquidity Trap...

It shows that no fiscal or monetary policy, including the barbaric quantitative easing will get us out of depression.

It shows that Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, Karl Marx and Alan Greenspan don't contradict each other but that they each bring a meaningful contribution to a same framework for understanding macro economy.

It proposes a credit free, free market economy as a solution that would correct all of those dysfunctions.

In This Age of Turbulence People Want an Exit Strategy out of Credit, an Adventure in a New World Economic Order.


Read It.
25
So the answer to Rand's capitalism is Hitler's Germany. Ok, I get it. But I certainly don't want it. We've seen the result of fascism. And so we are rolling headlong into it. After we line up the corpses and expose the evils (again) what will we turn to; more of the same (again)? You people (on this blog) don't seem to understand that the only basic choice is between freedom (capitalism) and slavery (socialism, fascism, interventionism). It has nothing to do with Rand and everything to do with how we will live. The Founding Fathers got it right and they never heard of Rand. Now you, blind followers of blind ideas, think that ad hominem aimed at Ayn Rand will somehow make what is impossible under your view(prosperity) possible.
26
goodwin alert!!!
27
Why don't Objectivists ever talk about the controlled collapse of WTC 7? What are they hiding?
28
I appreciate that all these objectivists are willing to sign their full names to their opinions. It shows that they have the courage of their convictions. It also makes it easier to google their manifestos.

Apparently they all share a deep, abiding love for something called "freedom." Must investigate.
29
Oh, to better answer the question about why would Objectivists be reading the stranger, it was Savage's story on Aaron Palmer a few years back that turned me into an avid reader. Then there was the follow-up. I'm not sure that better articles on the evil of prohibition have ever been written. Then there was the opening chapter of skipping towards Gomo… wherein Savage pointed out that conservatives are actually quite a bit more anti-American than leftists, but they get called on it less. It's the most eye-opening comment on the state of present-day politics that I've ever read by a non-Objectivist.

If you want me to go away, quit publishing articles like these. In all seriousness, I think the Stranger is the only real newspaper in America in spite of how wrong most of the writers are about most things.
30
@19 for the win.
31
So much hatred for ideas rooted in principles and facts. No wonder our country is drowning in an orgy of irrationalism. All one needs to do is read the comments on this list. I feel like I a reading comments from 10 year olds who haven't even read Rand or taken the time understand the idea. Just attack all that you know nothing about. Sad, really sad.

Long live lady liberty
32
Objectivism is just a body of sophistic "arguments" designed to justify all of capitalism's worst excesses. See above comments from objectivists for examples. The sooner their ideology dies, the better off we will be.

33
@20, it's hilarious how dismissive Slog is of suburbs and rural communities, as if urban living is somehow the pinnacle of human experience
34
Lack of regulation? Did you see the post about 54,000 regulations ADDED in the last decade and a half? What deregulation? All the leftists can point to in the way of deregulation is the repeal of Glass-Steagall--one little loosening. Compare that not only to the 54,000 added regulations, but just to one that dwarfs it: Sarbanes-Oxley.

I knew Alan Greenspan (very slightly) when he was in Ayn Rand's circle. I concluded in 1970, yes 38 years ago, that he had departed from the philosophy. That conclusion was certainly solidified by his "saving" Social Security--by extending the government's power--when he headed that commission on SS in the mid '80s.

As I professional philosopher, I judge Objectivism to be not only valid, but the most original and comprehensive system since Aristotle's.
36
#34, "professional philosopher" HA HA HA -- it's like someone boasting about being a "noted clown"
37
Although Alan Greenspan was associated with Ayn Rand and her philosophical system, Objectivism, during the sixties and seventies, he clearly states in his own recently published biography, that he later abandoned Objectivism for pragmatism.

Setting up a "strawman" to attack and knock down, is the weapon of those who wish to deceive the naive. This is so much safer than stating what Ayn Rand really taught and attempting to counter her arguments. I think the writer of the article knows this.

Too bad Ayn Rand isn't around to answer her critics..... Oh, wait! She is! Read her answers, "Ch. 19, "The Argument from Intimidation" in her book, "The Virtue of Selfishness" and Ch. 17, "Extremism - Or the Art of Smearing" in her book, "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal"
Then YOU decide.
38
Brooks is essentially correct. If the human species were genuinely interested in relating to all others with respect, in complete fairness with reason as their guide in all things, capitalism and the free market - the fair and voluntary exchange of value for value - is the only rational political (read: "economic") system. Unfortunately, it is still a reality that most human beings are NOT genuinely interested in relating to others reasonably and respectfully allowing for mutually guaranteed liberty to exercise self-determination. In other words, most human beings are something between partial to complete asses. I have no objection to the principles as fully outlined in Ayn Rand's philosophy and dearly wish it was implemented in the thinking and actions of every human being. Nevertheless, just as we need some authority to protect our liberty to make our own choices reasonably respecting that same liberty for others - a police force, a military, a government, so too do we need some policing of the market for one reason only - to ensure that individuals refrain from the tactics and strategies of the brute when dealing with others politically (read: "economically). Unfortunately, government involvement in the marketplace is generally as incompetent as its involvement elsewhere in our lives. It regularly oversteps its only rightful role as protector of individual liberties and instead becomes their greatest threat.

Brook is right - the marketplace's current chaos is greatly the result of government incompetence and overstepping its rightful role, however, it is far more the fault of individual incompetence and overstepping one's own rights to the point of grossly interfering in the rights of others regularly. Fault, in the end, rests on the head of all who refuse to value their own lives and the lives of others rather than seeing life as disposable, to value accurate observation and consistently logical reasoning over carelessness, apathy and sloppy thinking, and to value rational individualism over the irrational tribalism perpetually widespread in human cultures.

Objectivism is a philosophy for grown-ups. Sadly, there are very few of those.
39
The "we're wealthier now and we have more regulation now ergo regulation=prosperity" line is a ridiculous post hoc argument. Do you really think that the endless bureaucracy has created wealth and not, say, the spectacular new technologies that we have now and didn't have 100 years ago? Wealth is not created by the likes of John McCain and Nancy Pelosi, but by people like Edison, Ford, Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, etc. If the regulation-wealth link were as some commenters have claimed, countries like North Korea or Iran would be wowing the world with their mind-blowing wealth.

The childish and endless ad hominems - against both Rand and other Objectivists - seem like the kind of tactic meant to obscure the fact that you don't know the first thing about Rand's philosophy. Seriously, guys - small penis jokes?
40
Ah, you can always spot a fledgling Objectivist by their incessant need to insert things like "straw man," "ad hominem" and "post hoc" into their arguments, as well as by the tendency to quote Rand chapter and verse. It would be cute, if they weren't so serious.

I expect that somewhere in a hidden valley in the mountains of Colorado, some wealthy Objectivist is building John Galt's Ultimate Objectivist Hideaway village, where all the Objectivists who want to keep all their toys for themselves can go to hide until the financial crisis passes. Sign up now, women! All those Objectivist men who haven't outgrown their adolescent tendency to think the world revolves around them and who have convinced themselves via Rand that all the social issues that have plauged them since middle school are the result of other people's ineptitude rather than their own are waiting to love you like Howard Rourke in their palaces of gold.