Ayn Rand provokes strong disagreement. Fine. But if one is to disagree, one should first get clear about the position one is disagreeing with.
On that count, Julian Edney fails to rise to the basic level of competence.
In his first three paragraphs on Rand, I count five errors.
Edney suggests that FEMA's inadequacies are an application of Rand's views. Yet obviously Rand was one of the great opponents of bloated and bungling government bureaucracies.
Edney states Rand rejects "the common good." Yet Rand makes clear that there are common goods--and that she opposes those who would sacrifice private goods for the sake of their visions of the common good.
Edney states that she prescribes not helping. Yet Rand went out of her way to explain that she opposes only sacrificial helping and the use of compulsory transfer programs to help those in need.
Edney points out that she favors "selfishness" and "greed." And certainly she does--as long as one carefully defines those baggage-laden terms--but Edney simply assumes hackneyed and prejudicial definitions.
He then identifies Rand as a follower of Nietzsche, oblivious of the fact that the major theme of her breakthrough novel, The Fountainhead, is a rejection of Nietzschean power and its consequent social darwinism.
This is journalism?
Difficult issues and subtle distinctions are at work here, yet Edney seems to have no interest in grappling with them. From the above errors he moves seamlessly to indulging himself by uncritically passing on rumors picked up from Jeff Walker's diatribe.
Edney is right about one thing: It is a battle over morality.
On one side are those who think strictly in terms of zero-sum warfare between rich and poor--and Edney seems a clear representative of that position. On the other side are those who think that free and productive individuals can trade to mutual advantage--and this is Rand's position.
Anyone can misrepresent and insult. Let's try to have an informed and honest debate.
Saturday, 28 January 2006
Wrong on Rand - Hicks
I read the piece on Ayn Rand posted here yesterday and laughed. A piece so wrong and written so poorly -- smearing Rand in an attempt to smear American values -- that I just had to laugh. Stephen Hicks however was not so amused, and he dashed off a letter to the editor in response: