What was Ayn Rand’s view of the libertarian movement?

Ayn Rand Lexicon

Ayn Rand was opposed to the libertarian movement of her time. In 1971 she wrote:

For the record, I shall repeat what I have said many times before: I do not join or endorse any political group or movement. More specifically, I disapprove of, disagree with and have no connection with, the latest aberration of some conservatives, the so-called “hippies of the right,” who attempt to snare the younger or more careless ones of my readers by claiming simultaneously to be followers of my philosophy and advocates of anarchism. Anyone offering such a combination confesses his inability to understand either. Anarchism is the most irrational, anti-intellectual notion ever spun by the concrete-bound, context-dropping, whim-worshiping fringe of the collectivist movement, where it properly belongs.

— “Brief Summary,” The Objectivist, Vol. 10, Sep. 1971

And in 1972 she wrote:

Above all, do not join the wrong ideological groups or movements, in order to “do something.” By “ideological” (in this context), I mean groups or movements proclaiming some vaguely generalized, undefined (and, usually, contradictory) political goals. (E.g., the Conservative Party, that subordinates reason to faith, and substitutes theocracy for capitalism; or the “libertarian” hippies, who subordinate reason to whims, and substitute anarchism for capitalism.) To join such groups means to reverse the philosophical hierarchy and to sell out fundamental principles for the sake of some superficial political action which is bound to fail. It means that you help the defeat of your ideas and the victory of your enemies. (For a discussion of the reasons, see “The Anatomy of Compromise” in my book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.)

— “What Can One Do?” The Ayn Rand Letter, Vol. 1, No. 7

Rand was often asked about libertarians and the Libertarian Party in the question-and-answer periods following her lectures. Here, from pp.72-76 of Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q&A, ed. Robert Mayhew, are some of those questions and her answers. (In the excerpt below, “Q” stands for question, “AR” for Ayn Rand, “FHF” for Ford Hall Forum, a venue where Ayn Rand was often invited to speak, “OC” for Objective Communication, a course given by Leonard Peikoff in which Ayn Rand participated in some of the question-and-answer periods, and “71” for the year 1971.)


Categories: Anarchism/Anti-State

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