Ayn Rand and Indians

Ayn RandThe first year I was in graduate school up in Oregon, I drove back and forth to the Bay Area a large number of times. One of the things I remember was hearing conservative talk radio. It was surprising to me just how often people would mention John Galt.

For those of you who have not read the novels of Ayn Rand (I don’t recommend it), John Galt is the hero of Atlas Shrugged. He’s an unapologetic capitalist who is rich because he is morally superior to the little (read: poor) people. And because the society is not licking his boots enough, he’s going to take his toys and go home. It really is that ridiculous, but if you want to see the hero rape the heroine, you’ll have to read Rand’s other opus, The Fountainhead (’cause chicks just love that).

I bring this up, because Ayn Rand’s presence in conservative politics has grown from the freaks on the fringe to the mainstream of the Republican Party. Who is John Galt? Mitt Romney is John Galt! (Paul Ryan just thinks he’s John Galt.)

Because I was once forced to marry a woman who was an Ayn Rand fan, I’ve read pretty much everything she’s ever written—at least in book form. And I think people miss the true horror show that is Ayn Rand when they focus just on her pseudo-free market beliefs. As bad as these are, there are even worse things

Let’s Play “Ayn Rand and Indians”!

In her Address to West Point in 1974, Ayn Rand had the following to say about the theft of Native American lands:

They didn’t have any rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using… What was it that they were fighting for, when they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their “right” to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or a few caves above it. Any white person who brings the element of civilization has the right to take over this continent.

Okay, okay: this is vile. And it is racist. But that’s not even what I want to talk about here. This undercuts Rand’s basic philosophy in two ways.

First, this goes against Rand’s often stated claim that she was against violence. She often talked about the need for a “revolution of thought.” But here she is making a clear “might makes right” argument. “We don’t like what you’re doing with the land so we’re taking it.” Second, she is claiming that some outside authority knows better than a land owner what his land should be used for. Her thinking could as easily be used to justify the Nazi confiscation of Jewish property. You are either for the rule of law or you are not. Rand was not.

The End of History

What most strikes me in the quote above are the scare quotes around the word “right.” This is necessary for her to make her argument: our rights are real and their “rights” are illusory. But what kind of future does that provide for her philosophy? After all, aren’t other people going to come who don’t accept our “right” to exploit the land as we do?

The subtext of this is that we have reached the end of history. No better system of government could possibly be created than the one that Rand now sees. And this goes to something I often talk about: the libertarian (or conservative, more generally) belief that their preferred system is “natural.” The truth is that it is not. Humans naturally exhibit individualistic and communal tendencies and these are constantly jockeying for prominence. But even if the cut throat libertarian ideal were natural, is that good? Murder is natural. Rape is natural. But I wouldn’t want to base a society on them.

Rand, however, does want to base a society on them. She explicitly put rape as a positive act in one novel and one play. And murder by other means (e.g. starving the “moochers”) is found throughout her writing. But as we see in the case of the Native Americans, she was also for murder in a more explicit way.

And now some horrible combination of Ayn Rand and Old Time Religion are the core of the Republican Party.

29 replies on “Ayn Rand and Indians”

  1. Brian says:

    If you don’t conceive of rights, how can you have a claim to them?

    The Indians did not have any conception of property ownership or exclusivity that comes with the concept of ownership. If one tribe was sitting on land that another tribe wanted, the other one would come in and try to take it by force.

    Are you saying that you expect other people to enter into the arrangement and engage in exchanges of property completely foreign to the original inhabitants? How should they have proceeded? It’s not as if the Indians kept property records at a local courthouse.

    No, the Indians lost their land on their terms. That’s why Rand is saying that. Because the terms of property ownership were negotiated on the sharpened end of a tomahawk, you can’t cry foul when some other people come in with sharper tomahawks. And more advanced civilizations tend to produce sharper ones, therefore those who won the land by force were the moral and rightful new owners of the land, ON THE TERMS OF OWNERSHIP ALREADY IN PLACE.

  2. admin says:

    @Brian – I’m glad to have someone defend Rand. However…

    You are making the same mistake that Rand makes: you are making invalid assumptions about the native people who lived in the Americans at the time of western immigration. To start with, there was not [i]one[/i] conception of property rights. What’s more a number of tribes (most notably the Cherokee Nation) tried to play by the new rules of the westerners and were simply ignored.

    You seem to want to make the argument that the Indian idea of property rights was "might makes right." The very fact that tribal violence existed indicates that they [i]did[/i] have the concept of property rights. The fact that the entirety of human civilization is one property war after another does not excuse my taking my neighbor’s property just because I am stronger.

    The argument you and Rand are making is anti-libertarian. It goes against the basic tenets of libertarianism and objectivism. The basis of both is that you don’t have the right to tell your neighbor what to do. It doesn’t matter what you or Rand think what your neighbor is doing.

    This entire argument really shines a light on the paucity of intellectual rigor in Rand’s thinking. But this comes as no surprise to me and it should come as no surprise to you. Rand’s writings are filled with convenient little exclusions like this. Her argument to allow objectivists to work in government comes easily to mind.

    The only way that Rand can make this argument is by claiming that the Indian cultures (Plural!) were inferior to the westerners’. You know the westerners: the ones who were hanging people because of witchcraft. Anyway, the problem is that Rand [i]never[/i] argues from facts. She argues from theory and that doesn’t work very well–especially given she doesn’t try to maximize happiness. She maximizes some strange notion of freedom that just doesn’t happen to include anyone she doesn’t like.

    Be careful with Objectivism. It is an appealing philosophy until you drill down into it. And Rand very rarely lived up to its ideals anyway.

  3. George says:

    Certainly, I agree things could of and should of been handled differently in the Americas, but that does not invalidate libertarian principles.
    As to how primitive the Indians were, a dominant Indian nation, the Inca, did not have the wheel. And the Aztecs are considered among the most bloodiest cultures in history. And these two are considered among the most advanced of all Indian cultures.
    Furthermore, many Indian tribes were at war with each other. This, for example, is why a handful of Spaniards, could defeat the Incas and the Aztecs. Various other Indian groups allied themselves against these tribes and with the Spaniards in order to defeat them.

  4. admin says:

    @George – Libertarianism is something I’ve written about in many articles, this article only deals with one thing in particular. As for the state of native cultures after the western invasion, you are making gross generalizations. I don’t think this applies to most tribes. Regardless, if being at war is what makes a culture savage (and I’m open to that idea), then the United States is the most savage nation ever.

    I’m bothered that you seem to be making an apologia for Rand. If you scratch the surface even a little here, her argument comes down to "might makes right." She always argued for property rights–except as in this case where it wasn’t convenient. People have a right to use their property as they see fit as long as someone else doesn’t come along who thinks it should be used differently? That’s outrageous! She was a sloppy thinker who started with her conclusions and worked backwards. The fact that Rand is so big in libertarian circles is an indictment of the movement. BTW: Rand [i]hated[/i] libertarians. But that’s not a surprise. She was basically a cult leader who would not brook even the most minor of heresies. Hence the intellectual lapdog that is Leonard Peikoff.

  5. Victor walter Nahbexie. says:

    Glad lie’s are being exposed,and truths are coming out,as a first nations person.Am still wondering,why do you’s peoples,not claim accountability.

  6. admin says:

    @Victor walter Nahbexie – You mean for the genocide? Some of us do. As I wrote yesterday in, [url=http://franklycurious.com/index.php?itemid=8802]Try to Be Better on Memorial Day[/url], "The treatment of Jews and other ‘undesirables’ by the Nazis was inhuman, but other than being more concentrated it was no different than what we did to the native peoples of America." America has many sins to ask forgiveness for, but most people won’t even admit to the sins–especially this one.

  7. Froi Vincenton says:

    I was about to make a long rebuttal to all your illogical responses to the well-thought-out, well-reasoned replies to your sophomoric, anti-logic analysis until I read this: "…the United States is the most savage nation ever."

    That explains why your entire analysis is flawed, invalid, illogical.

    Before you describe be as an apologist for America or Ayn Rand, lemme tell you something, creature. I am a Filipino and my nation was once occupied by Spain for 300 years. There were forced labor, oppression, racism, atrocities, wars, unjust taxation, genocide, you name it throughout the three-century rule of the Spaniards.

    And oh! Don’t ever forget the defunct Ottoman empire that perpetrated some of the worst genocides in human history.

    I like the reasoning of Brian and George better.

  8. admin says:

    @Froi Vincenton – I didn’t say the US was the most savage nation ever. I said that if being at war makes a nation savage then we are the most savage nation ever because we are constantly at war.

    If you want to talk about colonization, I consider the Portuguese (I am ancestrally Portuguese) the worst. What this has to do with the conversation, I have no idea.

    As for genocides, I know of none to compare with the US government’s genocide of the native population.

    If you prefer Brian and George’s reasoning better, then you didn’t read very careful. Nothing I’ve written here is an attack on libertarianism necessarily. It is an attack on Rand’s philosophy that claims that every individual has rights to his property, unless Ayn Rand doesn’t like what they are doing with their property. A careful reading of Rand will show that there is a great deal of fascism in her thinking. (And I don’t use that word loosely.)

    Finally, don’t come to my website and call me "creature." I’m not the one who said a large scale theft and genocide of the native population was not only acceptable but the white man’s "right." Regardless, name calling from you won’t be accepted from you in the future. Not that I expect there to be a future, given you don’t seem to have anything to say. Your comment deceptively quoted me and then noted that there have been other violent cultures. Bravo! Brilliant observation!

    And describing my analysis as "flawed, invalid, illogical" doesn’t make it so. You need to provide an argument why it was right for the Europeans to steal the land of the natives. You haven’t even tried.

  9. Froi Vincenton says:

    " I didn’t say the US was the most savage nation ever."

    See? I don’t think it’s proper to deal with you since you utterly dishonest. FYI, I simply copy-pasted that quotation.

  10. Froi Vincenton says:

    Now here’s my final response…

    To explain Rand’s statement, just consider the following facts:

    1. The Native Indians were invading, annihilating each other for years.
    2. They were individual tribes in "some" parts of America.
    3. They didn’t have a concept of one nation– or they didn’t establish a single nation– that would have justified their "ancestral" or even "collective ownership" of the entire USA as we know it today.
    4. They didn’t have or implement property rights.
    5. They didn’t discover some parts of America. Which means they were merely occupying a particular territory.

    From the above-mentioned facts, what kind of terms of ownership did they put in place? The term of ownership was a collective one and characterized by brutal invasion and genocide. It’s you against my tribe.

    That’s the term of ownership and rights established by the Indian tribes. That means that their tribes are open to any outsiders for invasion. I am not saying I support invasion, but that was the established system or mentality throughout that period. Any tribe or group, which has the more efficient weapon and strategy could be the rightful owner of the territories. Keep in mind that were a lot of undiscovered territories by the Native Indians themselves. This means that those territories were open for outsiders. It so happened that the Europeans had better weapons and modern technologies and were able to develop the territories. Thus, the warmongering Native Indians were defeated on their own "ownership" terms and tribal concept of "rights".

    But suppose Columbus and the Europeans didn’t discover and populate the New World. Perhaps it is safe to speculate that the Native Indians would have continued invading and killing each other until "outsiders" (not necessarily White people) came to conquer and subdue the war victor or the remaining tribes.

    The critics of Ayn Rand tend to forget that early human history is all about migration and invasion. There would have been no early inhabitants in places like Southeast Asia without the migratory early Malays. We don’t exactly know where they came from, but the Malays were not the "original settlers" of places like, say, Philippines. Did they displaced those who came before them like the Aetas, Manobos, etc? Yet things changed when Ferdinand Magellan discovered the territory and the Spaniards ‘united’ the scattered tribes and territories through invasion and brutal occupation.

    To summarize, the Native Indians established an ownership and "rights" system based on territorial invasion. They lost their lands on the terms they established. Hence they no longer had any rights to the land and "there was no reason to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using." The same principle would have applied if the Incas or Aztecs invading and occupied all their rival tribes.

    We can apply the same line of reasoning to today’s problems. If your society established oppressive, invasive and imperialistic "ownership terms" or system and started conquering other nations, then that means any freer society is justified to invade and occupy that oppressive and imperialistic nation.

    Too bad the Native Indians did not grow into big empires like the Egyptian, Ottoman, British, Prussian, Spaniard empires and other European empires did in the past. Because if they did, they would have started exploring new world and invading new territories like the Europeans did 100 to 500 years ago.

  11. admin says:

    @Froi Vincenton – Copying half a sentence that totally distorts what I wrote is wrong. You are dishonest.

    Your longer comment just comes down to might makes right. You determine what are the proper uses of property rights. Your comment that one nation has the right to conquer another if that society established "oppressive, invasive, and imperialistic ‘ownership terms’" justifies any nation doing anything at anytime. Even Ayn Rand would find this argument abhorrent.

    You also seem to be under the assumption that the US is [i]not[/i] an imperialistic country. Just because it doesn’t look like 19th century empires, does not mean it is not one. I used to think you were just an Ayn Rand worshiper. But you seem just to have cherry picked what she’s written. Your philosophy is just authoritarian under the guise of libertarianism.

    BTW: why do you guys keep bringing up the Incas and the Aztecs. We’re all Americans here. I’m talking the things like the Cherokee Nation–you know, the nation that took the US to the Supreme Court, won, and then the executive (under that great libertarian Jackson) refused to abide by the law.

    I have no use for you. Go back to your website where no one criticizes you because no one reads you.

  12. admin says:

    PS: Read about the native nations. Everything you said about them is wrong. I am so tired of you would-be libertarians coming around here talking garbage. This is apologetics pure and simple. You want to justify what Rand said, so you lie about the hundreds of Indian nations. Learn a little history. Read something other than Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek.

  13. Froi Vincenton says:

    You said: "…the United States is the most savage nation ever." You did not say "one of the most…" I may be a bilingual speaker, but I understood that statement very, very clearly.

    Then you said: " I didn’t say the US was the most savage nation ever."

    LOL! That’s hilarious, man.

    Lemme re-post my comment, since I made minor changes, to explain the points I made…

    Here’s the complete quotation: "Regardless, if being at war is what makes a culture savage (and I’m open to that idea), then the United States is the most savage nation ever."

    The Ottoman empire was also at war with many nations and was very, very imperialistic. Is USA more savage than the Ottoman empire? C’mon…

  14. Froi Vincenton says:

    Let me re-post what I stated above, since I made minor changes to clearly, properly explain the points I made.

    Here it is:

    To explain Rand’s statement, just consider the following facts:

    1. The Native Indians were invading, annihilating each other for years.
    2. They were individual tribes in "some" parts of America.
    3. They didn’t have a concept of one nation– or they didn’t establish a single nation– that would have justified their "ancestral" or even "collective ownership" of the entire USA as we know it today.
    4. They didn’t have or implement property rights.
    5. They didn’t discover some parts of America. Which means they were merely occupying a particular territory.

    From the above-mentioned facts, what kind of terms of ownership did they put in place? The term of ownership was a collective one and characterized by brutal invasion and genocide. It’s you against my tribe.

    That’s the term of ownership and rights established by the Indian tribes. That means that their tribes were open to any outsiders for invasion. I am not saying I support invasion, but that was the established system or mentality throughout that period. Any tribe or group, which has the more efficient weapon and strategy could be the rightful owner of the territories. Keep in mind that there were a lot of undiscovered territories by the Native Indians themselves. This means that those territories were open for outsiders to occupy. It so happened that the Europeans had better weapons and modern technologies and were able to develop the territories. Thus, the warmongering Native Indians were defeated on their own "ownership" terms and their own tribal concept of "rights".

    But suppose Columbus and the Europeans didn’t discover and populate the New World. Perhaps it is safe to speculate that the Native Indians would have continued invading and killing each other until "outsiders" (not necessarily White people) came to conquer and subdue the war victor or the remaining tribes.

    The critics of Ayn Rand tend to forget that early human history is replete with stories of migration and invasion. There would have been no early inhabitants in places like Southeast Asia without the migratory early Malays. We don’t exactly know where they came from, but the Malays were not "original settlers" of places like, say, Philippines. Did they displace those who came before them like the Aetas, Manobos, etc? Yet things changed when Ferdinand Magellan discovered the territory and the Spaniards ‘united’ the scattered tribes and territories through invasion and brutal occupation.

    To summarize, the Native Indians established an ownership and "rights" system based on territorial invasion. They lost their lands on the terms they established. Hence, they no longer had any rights to the land and "there was no reason to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using." The same principle would have applied if the Incas or Aztecs invaded and occupied all their rival tribes.

    We can apply the same line of reasoning to today’s problems. If your society established oppressive, invasive and imperialistic "ownership terms" or system and started conquering other nations, then that means any freer society is justified to invade and occupy your oppressive and imperialistic country. However let me clarify that invasion or intervention is only justified in case of national self-defense.

    Too bad the Native Indians did not grow into big empires like the Egyptian, Ottoman, British, Prussian, Spaniard empires and other European empires did in the past. Because if they did, they would have started exploring new world and invaded new territories like the Europeans did 100 to 500 years ago.

  15. Froi Vincenton says:

    You said: "Your comment that one nation has the right to conquer another if that society established "oppressive, invasive, and imperialistic ‘ownership terms’" justifies any nation doing anything at anytime. Even Ayn Rand would find this argument abhorrent."

    Don’t misread or distort my comment. I said that if your nation adopted imperialistic foreign policy and started invasion nations, then your nation has opened itself for invasion or retaliation. I only support war in self-defense.

    "Even Ayn Rand would find this argument abhorrent."

    Obviously you didn’t read Rand’s works. That’s actually what she said. You better her her article "The Roots of War" to properly inform yourself if your goal is to critique Rand’s philosophy and politics. It’s available online. Also, what I said is actually in line with Rand’s philosophy and foreign policy. Read her Playboy interview.

    Here’s an excerpt:

    PLAYBOY
    What about force in foreign policy? You have said that any free nation had the right to invade Nazi Germany during World War II . . .

    RAND
    Certainly.

    PLAYBOY
    . . . And that any free nation today has the moral right—though not the duty—to invade Soviet Russia, Cuba, or any other “slave pen.” Correct?

    RAND
    Correct. A dictatorship—a country that violates the rights of its own citizens—is an outlaw and can claim no rights.

    PLAYBOY
    Would you actively advocate that the United States invade Cuba or the Soviet Union?

    RAND
    Not at present. I don’t think it’s necessary. I would advocate that which the Soviet Union fears above all else: economic boycott, I would advocate a blockade of Cuba and an economic boycott of Soviet Russia; and you would see both of those regimes collapse without the loss of a single American life.

    So, if you’re behaving like a murderous bully in the international community, then you have opened yourself for retaliation or possible invasion. Rand did not support humanitarian war (an unnecessary, self-sacrificial war to free the people in communist countries).

  16. Froi Vincenton says:

    You said: "You also seem to be under the assumption that the US is not an imperialistic country."

    You’re making hilarious assumptions. You don’t know my position on US foreign policy.

    I believe I cannot post links here… You better search this Facebook group– Tanggulang Demokasya (a Filipino group)– to know my position on American imperialism.

    Just to prove you’re trying to misrepresent my comments/views and making lots of unfounded, baseless assumptions.

    Here’s what I told a Muslim guy and the group members:

    1. "the American imperialist DEMOCRATS (they were party mates of Barack Obama), oppressed Filipinos, both Christians and Muslims."

    2. "Nobody denies the atrocity of American democrats to Filipinos, both Christians and Muslims. Catholic Spaniards oppressed "indios" for more than 300 years as well. Americans do not deny the imperialism and crimes committed by the Democrats in the past century. On the other hand, Muslims always deny the atrocities committed by their own Islamic empire."

    3. "I said many times before that I am against American occupation of the Philippines. My position was: America should not have occupied and HELPED us. It should have let us occupied by Japan or any other imperialist empire in Asia or in Europe. In fact, the occupation perpetrated by the Democrats was UNCONSTITUTIONAL."

    4. "Over 100 years ago, the political party that was IMPERIALISTIC and pro-occupation or "spreading of democracy" throughout the world was the Democratic Party. This is why, if people keep electing warmongers, you will have an expansionist country and politicians who continuously trash your own Constitution."

    5. "Originally the Democratic Party is the party of expansionism or imperialism. Democratic leaders were hell-bent on "spreading democracy throughout the world". But after WW2, the politics and platform of Democratic Party and the Republican Party became very indistinguishable. Both parties became imperialistic. They were for invasion of Vietnam, Iraq, etc. for the sake of "spreading democracy". They SACRIFICED the lives of their own children in the name of DEMOCRACY. They intervened in Vietnam and in the Korean war in the name of democracy and to get rid of Communism. It WAS DONE IN GOOD FAITH. But I still oppose it. They had no business there. If the Vietnamese wanted communism, then so be it. In the end, they chose DICTATORSHIP and they suffered for their collective idiocy."

    So, please stop imagining things.

    You said: "But you seem just to have cherry picked what she’s written. Your philosophy is just authoritarian under the guise of libertarianism."

    Look who’s talking. Is that your rebuttal to my valid, well-reasoned points? LOL! If you accuse us/me of cherry-picking, then prove your case. That’s how a rational debate is done. My philosophy is "authoritarian" because of your false assumptions and stupid misrepresentations. Prove your case and accusations and don’t just make a lot of blanket accusations and baseless assumptions.

    P.S. Your rebuttal is hilarious. That shows you’ve run out of arguments.

  17. admin says:

    @Froi Vincenton – The full sentence was, "Regardless, if being at war is what makes a culture savage (and I’m open to that idea), then the United States is the most savage nation ever."

    How is this hard to understand?

    Your argument is exactly the same as Brian’s and it has been thoroughly refuted. I don’t have time to deal with people who are shallow thinkers and have nothing new to say. There are plenty of other articles around here about Ayn Rand and libertarianism. Check them out if you want. Given that I used to be a libertarian and have read everything she’s written, other than some of the minor articles in her newsletter, I know what I’m talking about.

    Has it occurred to you that there may be a reason why you’ve been running your blog for three years and still no one is reading it? You write and argue like a teenager. In the market of ideas, you are losing–badly. I haven’t the time for you anymore. I’ve been awfully nice just reading up to now.

    BTW: you are welcome to comment here, but any future comments that get broken up (because they are too long) will not be displayed. You have your own blog to babble on. And I have real writers to read.

  18. admin says:

    @Froi Vincenton – I will respond to a couple of things. Rand didn’t care what people thought of her views? I guess you haven’t read a single one of the biographies on her–most of them quite sympathetic. Her ego was so fragile she could brook no disagreement. Look at poor Leonard Peikoff: still shaking in his boots that he might say something that the master would have disagreed with.

    (By the way, I like Peikoff’s writing more than Rand’s; but his critiques of Kant are ridiculous; neither of the two understood Kant, which is forgivable. Kant is hard. But if you don’t understand someone’s thought, don’t go around dismissing it!)

    And did you not notice that I said I have read pretty much everything Rand wrote? I don’t think you read my comments. You scan for something you can rant about. I don’t dislike Rand’s work because I don’t understand it; I dislike it because I’ve studied it [i]far[/i] more than you have.

    In your argument, more and more you’ve been saying that maybe it was wrong to take Indian land but that was how people thought at the time (see previous comments). But Rand wasn’t making that argument. She was saying that now and forever more it would be right. It is not right. As I argued, this would mean that if I thought the proper use of property was only to make puppets, I have the right to take your property if you don’t make puppets. There is nothing in your or Rand’s argument that precludes that conclusion. The only way you justify this repugnant and anti-libertarian view is by falsely claiming the the Indian nations did not believe in property rights. They did; they simply didn’t have effective technology to defend them against the Europeans. Thus: if what the Europeans did was right, it was only right because "might makes right." You need to get your history from somewhere other than 1950 TV shows. Simply refusing to look at the facts and claiming over and over and over and over and over that Indians didn’t believe in properties rights doesn’t make it so.

    You project onto me what you do. You know almost nothing of what I’ve written. I’m actually rather fond of libertarianism; that’s why I’m so hard on libertarians. And you are a perfect example of why I left the movement. Most libertarians are just authoritarians. And yes, you think that progressive taxation and social insurance is authoritarian. Well, if you look at history, you will see that people are oppressed by armies and police forces, not by being taxed a couple pennies to pay for public libraries. Regardless, as a liberal, I don’t claim be against government intervention. It is the libertarians who claim to be against it, [i]except when it comes to protecting property rights[/i]. And that brings us back to the original point. An ethical libertarian would simply yield the point, "Rand was wrong about the treatment of the natives." Simple enough. But if you can’t yield that point you are no kind of libertarian and you are very likely a Rand idolator. And based upon much of the writing on your site, I think that latter claim is true. But that [i]does[/i] prove I was wrong about one thing: you do have a reader: me. But that’s over now.

    Regardless: I told you that name calling would not be allowed. Your comment has been declined. New ones on this thread won’t even be read. Move onto another article. I’m sure there are lots of other things I say that will upset you. Try putting "libertarian" in the search box. But before commenting, try to read all the words I wrote. It helps.

  19. Spencer Taylor says:

    However, on the native American quote, I’ve seen it frequently argued that "Native Americans," as if they were a single group, were superior to "Europeans," as if they were a single group, because "Native Americans" do not integrate the concept of ownership into their culture (which is not even true for all Native American tribes). If that argument were valid, then no one owned the land to begin with.

  20. admin says:

    @Spencer Taylor – Liberals have been some of the worst about stereotyping the native populations. I think liberalism has a bad reputation by and large because of really stupid things hippies once said.

    The issue is complex. If people are living communally off a piece of land, they have a kind of common law ownership of the land. I’m not saying this is true of any group of people–I’m just making a point. Consider then, people coming in with guns and saying, "We are defining property and this land you’ve been using is now ours." That is "might makes right." Now I totally accept that this is indeed the history of modern humans. But Ayn Rand always argued from an enlightened perspective. And here she is making what is simply a power argument, "They weren’t using the land the way we thought they should so we had the right to steal the land." That’s outrageous.

    And that’s the only argument I’m making here. I have major problems with Rand’s work, and this kind of thinking is not at all uncommon. But this is a most obvious case and I don’t see why people won’t just yield the point. No one is right all the time. And Rand fans can take heart that she said this when she was 69. It is around that age that humans experience a notable diminution in intellectual capacity. Maybe she wouldn’t have made this error at 40.

    But I would encourage you to think about this from a common law perspective. Most tribes were not nomadic, so they were indeed working particular pieces of property. Even in modern American law that implies ownership. So if the Pomo people were using the land (which they were) and the US government took the land (which it did), that was theft. There isn’t any more to the story.

  21. […] wife would argue that Rand didn’t believe in violence, for example. Well, as I discussed in Ayn Rand and Indians, this isn’t really true. Like most political radicals, she often fell into apologetics on […]

  22. […] of the United States were justified in stealing land from the native peoples. As I discussed in Ayn Rand and Indians, this is simply the claim that “might makes right.” She decided that what the native […]

  23. […] all reminds me of one of my most visited articles, Ayn Rand and Indians. It involves Rand’s authoritarian and racist comments that it was right for western settlers […]

  24. […] rights herself, Ayn Rand, could not see that her own philosophy ultimately degenerated into: might makes right. Matt Bruenig has dealt with the subject from a philosophical standpoint, Non-Aggression Never Does […]

  25. […] it does a better job than most Americans today do. (I found this in the comments to my article, Ayn Rand and Indians.) Unfortunately, I mostly just find the track sad — brilliant, but […]

  26. […] agriculture. I love reading about this stuff, because it always brings me back to Ayn Rand’s ignorant and racist claims that the Europeans had the right to take native tribal lands because they didn’t have a […]

  27. nonya says:

    Also studied Mussolini, Rand is textbook practically word for word. The only major difference is that she wasn’t remotely as intellectually honest as Mussolini, in contrast he was often explicit. The point is clear from Rand’s own thinking, If people are unequal by nature, and this justifies intentional inequality…. then why shouldn’t the ubermenchen get an authoritarian system that serves their “rational self interest”? If capitalism results in unequal distribution, based on “rational self interest” then why shouldn’t liberty be dolled out just the same? Simply put, she almost had no choice but to justify genocide. Beyond being a complete sociopath, her ideology leaves no moral or ethical reason genocide is even a problem.

    Without equality we have no justification except for fascism that is even intellectually consistent. So proto fascist? I’d actually call her Neo-Fascist, as she clearly adheres to a relativistic sense of truth. Bourgeois elitist to the core, with a Rovian sense of consistency. She provides no consistency, because she doesn’t need to, truth itself can be defined by ubermenchen.

    Traditionalists who belive in an objective truth defined by god, ala crusaders would be proto-fascist.

    Modernists who attempt intellectual consistency, like Mussolini, would be fascist.

    Post-modernists, who reject ethics and morality, and realize they don’t need to provide an actual ideology, would be Neo-Fascist.

    The end result is the same though, this they all share.

    • Frank Moraes says:

      The one thing that seems to bind them all together is a simplistic take on Nietzsche. That’s an excellent point about genocide being a necessary conclusion. Of course, there were a lot of necessary conclusions that she managed to finesse her way around. I don’t know if I wrote about it here, but her idea of “enlighted self-interest” was a tool she used constantly to get herself out of philosophical binds.

  28. […] years. The first people we have records of living there are the Ahwahnechee people. If you are like Ayn Rand and, really, most Americans, then you probably know that the Ahwahnechee people defeated Custer at […]

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