Ayn Rand — a psychopath and perverter of American History

21 Jun, 2016 at 17:12 | Posted in Politics & Society | 2 Comments

Now, I don’t care to discuss the alleged complaints American Indians have against this country. I believe, with good reason, the most unsympathetic Hollywood portrayal of Indians and what they did to the white man. They had no right to a country merely because they were born here and then acted like savages. The white man did not conquer this country …

Since the Indians did not have the concept of property or property rights—they didn’t have a settled society, they had predominantly nomadic tribal “cultures”—they didn’t have rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights that they had not conceived of and were not using …

What were they fighting for, in opposing the white man on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence; for their “right” to keep part of the earth untouched—to keep everybody out so they could live like animals or cavemen. Any European who brought with him an element of civilization had the right to take over this continent, and it’s great that some of them did. The racist Indians today—those who condemn America—do not respect individual rights.

Ayn Rand, Address To The Graduating Class Of The United States Military Academy at West Point, 1974

It’s sickening to read this gobsmacking trash. But it’s perhaps even more sickening that people like Alan Greenspan and Paul Ryan can consider Ayn Rand an intellectual hero

That Alan Greenspan is a bad economist we already knew. But he’s also a bad person. For what else can one think of a person that considers Ayn Rand — with the ugliest psychopathic philosophy the postwar world has produced — one of the great thinkers of the 20th century? A person that even co-edited a book with her — maintaining that unregulated capitalism is a ‘superlatively moral system.’ A person that in his memoirs tries to reduce his admiration for Rand to a youthful indiscretion — but who actually still today can’t be described as anything else than a loyal Randian disciple.

Ayn Rand and her objectivist philosophy has more disciples than Greenspan. But as Hilary Putnam rightfully noticed in The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy (Harvard University Press, 2002), is it doubtful if it even qualifies as a real philosophy:

It cannot be the case that the only universally valid norm refers solely to discourse. It is, after all, possible for someone to recognize truth-telling as a binding norm while otherwise being guided solely by ‘enlightened egoism.’ (This is, indeed, the way of life that was recommended by the influential if amateurish philosophizer – I cannot call her a philosopher – Ayn Rand.) But such a person can violate the spirit if not the letter of the principle of communicative action at every turn. After all, communicative action is contrasted with manipulation, and as such a person can manipulate people without violating the maxims of ‘sincerity, truth-telling, and saying only what one believes to be rationally warranted.’

This blog post is in loving memory of my brother Peter ‘Uncas’ Pålsson — truly ‘a red man deep inside.’


  1. There are so many things wrong with Rand’s psychopathic philosophizing that I wouldn’t know where to start, and so many things evil and tragic about the displacement and attempted genocide of native Americans that I wouldn’t know where to start on that either. Rand’s Hollywood characterization of lawless savagery is pure conquistadorism — the white men had more powerful weapons, therefore they are more moral. It’s not for nothing that the victims of the Trail of Tears are called the Five Civilized Tribes. But I do want to defend the countryside where they ended up. Far from being a “barren wasteland”, northeastern Oklahoma, which was Indian Territory before statehood in 1907, is forested hills called “Green Country” by regional marketing organizations. It’s not that different from the Cherokees’ original home in Georgia except with the localized destruction of tornadoes instead of the broad devastation from Atlantic hurricanes. You should stop by some time.

  2. For a nice analysis of the origin of several of the connected views Rand is parrotting, read Edward Keene’s “Two Patterns of Order in Modern World Politics: Toleration and
    Civilization”, chap. 4 in Beyond the Anarchical Society: Grotius, Colonialism and Order in World Politics. Cambridge University Press, 2002, pp. 97-119.

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