Friday, September 14, 2007

Commentary Smears Ayn Rand—Again

By Joseph Kellard

After publishing an essay on Ayn Rand two Septembers ago, Commentary magazine is again employing its smear tactics against her, this time in a highly muddled essay on libertarianism:

The author does correctly point out that libertarianism basically adheres to the subjectivist morality of "do whatever you want." But then, as a typical conservative is wont to do, her essay boils down to essentially criticizing libertarians for not recognizing that capitalism is based on "tradition" and "family values."

Here's one of many examples:

"Children do not come into the world respecting private property. They do not emerge from the womb ready to navigate the economic and moral complexities of an 'age of abundance.' The only way they learn such things is through a long process of intensive socialization-a process that we now know, thanks to the failed experiments begun by the Aquarians and implicitly supported by libertarians, usually requires intact families and decent schools."
Virtually the only morals and qualities as a basis for capitalism that the author offers throughout her essay are "self-discipline," "respectability" and "self-responsibility." That she further has no understanding of this basis is evident in promoting "socialization," i.e. social conformity, as "the only" means of learning a "respect" for property rights. Also, what makes schools "decent"? I guess that they primarily aim to "socialize" children.

Oh, brother! And this is presented as an alternative to libertarianism, an intellectual and political movement that the author does not, and likely cannot, identify as essentially amoral and thus anarchist.

During her attempts to tie Ayn Rand to libertarianism, calling her a "guru" of the movement because libertarians cite her as a political influence, the authors takes this shot at her (and note, again, her stress on "the family"):

"Libertarianism was complicit, too, in the vociferous attack during the 1960's on the bourgeois family. After all, blood relationships are involuntary, and parents with anyinterest in rearing and educating their children are unlikely to look for guidance in Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand was predictably wary of kinship ties and, like radical feminists, saw the family as a soul-killing prison ..."

The paragraph continues, but that's all the author has to say here about Miss Rand. No explanations are given for her conclusions.

Anyway, I hope you will join me in writing a letter to the editor at Commentary.

Please post a comment about this article. For private comments, email Joseph Kellard at

Copyright © 2007 Joseph Kellard

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