The Real Ayn Rand

Today’s Denver Post published four letters about Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, three of them negative. But the negative letters don’t actually offer any arguments against Rand’s ideas, or even correctly summarize them. So I left the following online comments:

I want to clear up a few basic misconceptions about Ayn Rand’s work. As Anders Ingemarson advises, read Atlas Shrugged for yourself, rather than assume that its detractors correctly summarize Rand’s message.

Dick Sugg seems never to have read Atlas Shrugged. Regardless, he completely misrepresents its theme. The book is NOT about “winners… who make their fortunes by exploiting the losers.” Instead, Rand favors a free society in which people cooperate to mutual advantage while respecting individual rights.

In the novel, Rand presents “honest, intelligent, hard-working people” as morally virtuous, productive members of society who make their own way. The exploiters, on the other hand, are the political looters and power-lusters who control the producers of all levels of ability.

Contrary to Sugg’s claim, Rand did not oppose charity, and she certainly advocated just “regard for other people.” Atlas Shrugged is filled with examples of virtuous friendships.

It is interesting that both Peter Johnson and Cathy Davis claim — without a shred of evidence or logic — that capitalism created the economic crisis. In fact political controls caused the economic crisis by promoting risky lending. For details, see the Ayn Rand Institute’s web page devoted to the matter:

As an aside, Ayn Rand opposed the libertarian movement, and Johnson’s “libertarian” antagonism toward capitalism and his failure to grasp the destructive consequences of political economic controls help illustrate why.

Thanks, -Ari Armstrong