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Sunday, November 06, 2011

 

Oh, Ayn Rand...

So mostly this article has nothing to do with economics, but there is a small part that I have some problems with and thought I would dish them out here. So the article is about Ayn Rand's Objectivism (by the way my 'i' key is not workng so well, it is highly probable I will miss a couple), and guiding your life by such values. Apparently she wrote a book detailing out what she means by each of the 4 objectives, however I have not read it. A friend of mine sent me this site telling me how much she thought I would love this yadda yadda. One of the problems is that she doesn't know about my feelings on Ayn Rand, but when I did read this little abstract, I found myself thinking 'Gee, Ayn Rand should have taken an Economic Freedom course'. On the surface (or rather if these two paragraphs - numbers 3 and 4 by the way), it all sounds fine and dandy, but I stopped and reread it and thought oh boy. And here's why:
First she talks about how man must do things for himself, not for others, he must act in his own rational self-interest. But this implies very little human connection. It may not be in your self-interest to loan a family member money, but you do it for them out of love. (And if this blog was about more than just economics I would go into, what is life without love?). It also implies that people know all the things they need to know in order to make 'rational' decisions, as we have discussed many times in class, this is simply not true. People do not get to have all of the facts they need when making decisions.
She also talks about how the only way to have growth in a society is by banning physical force. That is all fine and dandy (even though it is likely that we have less growth now, we still do have growth, and physical force). But, I take issue that is specfically says physical force, and then she goes on to talk about how persuasion is necessary to organize human activity. The government does not hold a gun to my head and force me to pay my taxes in that manner, but rather they force me by using persuasion that paying my taxes is better than going to jail. Also, necessary for the organization of human activity, what? I don't necessarily have anything to combat this with, but mostly because I don't understand. Perhaps we have different definitions of persuasion, and this is where these problems really lie. Persuasion to me has always had a negative connotation, people don't try to persuade you into doing things that you want to do, it is usually not a good thing. In what I have read she basically replaces 'entrepreneur' with 'persuasion' which doesn't work very well or make much sense.
Another claim she makes is quite funny, she says that capitalism is the only system which bars physical force. Ayn, did you do your homework?
She also makes a point to talk about using capitalism in order to achieve the highest moral principles of man's life. I pretty instantly get nervous whenever the word 'moral' comes into any discussion of economics. While I can hope that she simply means that the purpose of a man's life should not be to murder every person he ever sees and what not, it is still ambigous and makes me become skittish.
One last issue, Ayn rather quickly says that the state and economics should be separated, "in the same way" that the state and the church are separated. So they should be only kind of/sort of separated is what you're saying?
Maybe one day when I'm not devoting all of my time to work, school and my dog I will read this (though not very likely, I'm not an Ayn Rand fan), and I will think 'gosh how silly of me to have bashed this in such a way, this philosophy is in fact the greatest thing I've ever heard of!' in which case I will log back onto this blog (if I can) and announce my apologies, but I wouldn't hold my breath on that one. And upon reading a comment on my last blog, perhaps I should bite my tongue on my opinions that differ from these hot-shots, for Ayn Rand might come back from the grave and challenge these views I have presented in this blog.

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