Ayn Rand and the Many Disguises of Fascist Nationalism
Ayn Rand understood the danger of tyranny and the importance ob liberty. Her understanding arose because she was a witness to tyranny. Her writings are a warning of the dangers of nationalism in all its many disguises.
Subject: Re: Emailing: Ayn Rand Queen of the Universe.htm
This morning I was emailed this article by a good friend but a misguided Democrat.
I am sure it is well researched and factual as it was written by the brilliant authors Thom Hartman and Sam Sacks and featured as the height of knowledgeable and informative commentary in the outstanding publication Truthout.
For those who do not know me, the above is my attempt at total sarcasm.
Many Democrats almost worship people such as Hartman and Sacks. This latest screed blithely attacking Rand is only a thin cover for an attack on, and hatred for, most of all, individualism.
Hartman and Sack's article shows a total commitment to nationalism in all its ugly phases. So I answered not each (mostly inaccurate and misrepresented) comments in the article, but rather the essence of Hartman's and Sacks's philosophy.
One thing I do not get into in my remarks to my Democrat friend is that the growing aspects of the current economic "system" the Democrat writers tag as capitalism and which so many Democrats rage against, is definitely NOT MARKET capitalism. I will save my own rant for that misunderstanding another time, but briefly what was begun many decades ago and is currently evolving is the support, favoritism and regulation of business by the State. Some call it cronyism. It is Nationalism, but the more accurate name is Fascism.
My friend quoted this sentence by Hartman and Sacks followed by his statement of agreement.
"billionaires owe their wealth to the state and not the other way around."
sums it up for me....
This is how I answered him:
If the "rich" really do owe their wealth to the State then surely you would not claim that just one separate group of people (the hated rich) are owned, but logically we all also owe all we have to the State. If that is so, then logically it follows that if the State owns the rights to all we have produced, then in essence it owns us. Logically then, it also follows that if we agree the State owns us, it is then the right of the State to determine all aspects of every person's life, even ultimately to whether they live or die. That is the essence of Nationalism...Fascism.
When Republicans constantly talk about "National Interest" that is also what they mean, so the Democrats do not have a corner on support of Nationalism.
Ironically the two slightly different "flavors" of Nationalism meet. Of course the D's and R's think they are quite different from each other, but scratch the surface and both are based on the same philosophy of State ownership of the person. I have debated with many Democrats and Republicans who dismiss the very idea of self ownership and even ridicule it as a silly concept.
We libertarians, most Austrian economists, anarcho caps, are on the other side of the equation. We think that self ownership is the defining concept that is at the core of one's life view. Either we own ourselves or we are owned by others. Of course, the "State" is merely a concept. Ownership by the State actually means, quite simply, those few humans who control the State control and own those other humans over whom they have established control.
Probably the most recent terrible examples of Nationalism are Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, China and North Korea and many countries in Africa. But also "soft," more benign examples exist. Sadly, a little bit of tyranny cannot be content. Power is ever-hungry and morphs into larger power. A close examination of those "soft nationalistic" societies show many examples of the gradual move away from personal freedom in those people's lives. Over time, the State envelopes the people and their formerly soft totalitarianism also takes on aspects of the more horrific societies.
Interestingly, in this country the founders grasped part of the concept as they stated the idea of inalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence. Later in the Constitution, the rights of the enslaved were sadly ignored.
The later insightful, ardent and consistent abolitionists developed the relationship and logic of freedom to self ownership. They intellectually challenged the absence of this idea of self ownership. They further tied it logically to one's ownership of his own labor. The next logical realization was the right to actually posses property with the personal earnings. Many abolitionists grasped that the ownership of any property was a vital element of freedom for all people, not just the slaves.
Of course, at the time the abolitionists were making their discoveries and writing about them, Lincoln was President and he hated this idea of self ownership. Probably the peaceful resolution of the slavery problem was thwarted by his animosity to the idea that black people had innate rights. This is contrary to current romanticizing of Lincoln, however a close examination of his writings and speeches and actual history (not movies) reveal his hostility to black people. Because he favored Nationalism and the ultimate State ownership of all "citizens," his totalitarian personality was not about to concede the abolitionist's insight. He gave no quarter to the idea of each person's self ownership, let alone to the blacks he scorned as less than human and wanted to deport.
The State (power hungry politicians and administrators) perhaps subconsciously, have not forgotten how much easier it was to accumulate power when the Black and Native American people were enslaved. As power accumulation is the default operation of the State, the State continues its agenda to keep them enslaved.
The various laws, regulations and benefits, whether to individuals or entities, are the means the State uses to enslave all people but neither political camp, Democrats or Republicans, realize this. Instead each camp begs for more controls over the activities of which they disapprove. Foolish folks cannot see that they are also empowering the entity that will take away the particular freedoms they personally value.
The sad truth is that people who see and grasp one aspect of enslavement, turn around and advocate for other types of control by the State. Ayn Rand was certainly not the first to see through this, but she saw through much of it, though not quite all. Would that she had been perfect, but alas, none of us are. The irony is that writers such as Hartman do not criticize her for her lack of consistency in a few areas but rather her ideas on individualism that are pro liberty.
Fortunately, the last 40 years have seen a rapidly growing body of libertarian literature and media, speakers, teachers and writers. They understand the enormous importance of the concept of self ownership. With the Internet the ideas of individualism, self ownership and self determination, are abundant. People can be awakened to the dangers of Nationalism (fascism).
The crux of the problem is the mistaken idea that we do not own ourselves but that we are owned by someone or some "thing" else.
The first important step is to grasp that the danger lies in giving more control and power to something outside ones self — the State, for example. This is, almost inevitably, the path to slavery.
No, we who have read and studied Ayn Rand never thought she was "The Queen of the Universe." We recognize her only as another human who thought logically and wrote passionately about the importance of each individual's ability to change life for the better. She understood that the opposite of individualism was tyranny of the power hungry. She had lived it. Her writings were a warning of the dangers of nationalism in all its many disguises.
The measure of a person's value of liberty is not how much liberty one desires for oneself, but how much liberty one is willing to allow others.