Friday, September 26, 2008

Source of Ideology

This is a history lesson, not a political rant.

Over the past few years, I've noticed that people talking politics often insult other people by calling them Randians or Objectivists or other names derived from Ayn Rand's ideology. Personally, I think this is a bit unfair: there are a lot of naive political ideologies out there, and I don't see when Ayn Rand's should merit special condemnation. If anything, it's less deserving, because it hasn't been adopted and abused anywhere.

So I'm going to talk a little bit about Ayn Rand herself. That's probably the absolute best way to understand her ideology, where it came from, what lies beneath it. And when you hear someone getting called a Randian or an Objectivist, maybe you'll feel something about it.

Ayn Rand was from Russia, left for here in the late 1920s. She lived through the Russian revolution, when it went from tzarist to communist. She didn't apparently like it very much, and was only too happy to leave.

When she got here, she found pre-depression America. She married an actor and lived through the depression with apparent ease.

It sounds ethnocentric, but comparing and contrasting America to Russia at the time, America was flat out better at everything. We manufactured more, of higher quality and variety, lived better, had more freedoms, and even when times were at their hardest during the depression, we still had a better economy than Russia. Ayn Rand was not on the bottom of the pile: although a poor immigrant, she was educated and intelligent, and didn't have too much trouble getting a solid job scriptreading/writing.

That is what caused her ideology.

Imagine yourself living through the same thing. You live through the rise of communism in your country, with them blaring propaganda about the evils of capitalism. You see that things aren't terribly good under communism, you remember the days of the previous government a bit fondly.

You leave for this devil-land full of evil capitalist swine and find it to be very nearly a paradise.

What are you going to think?

I would wager you would think the exact same thing as Ayn Rand: Capitalism is good, and more of a good thing is even better.

Putting aside her gender role beliefs, that's more or less the core of her belief system. Why it came to be.

And now you understand more about objectivism than most people who have actually read her books.

This lesson was brought to you by the letter Aaaaayyyyyy.


DmL said...

It's funny but when I read her originally (in HS) I didn't even consider her economic ideas... her gender role stuff was too... just too much. Although nowadays it's funny, being something of a libertarian, to find myself even secondarily compared to someone I spent much of my early adulthood despising. : )

Christopher Weeks said...

That's awesome. So Ms. Rand's ideology can be forgiven due to her context. What about her followers? :)

Craig Perko said...

Her followers are just like the followers of any naive political theory, except with the advantage that their beliefs haven't killed hundreds of thousands of people yet. :P

I have the strong feeling that once you understand where a theory came from, it loses that "miraculous appeal". Then it can be allowed to stand on its own by its own merits and flaws, like scientific theories ought to.

Smashmind said...

You can find the same thing here in the good ol' US of A. Everyone is born thinking Christianity is the true path and the president is always right. I'm not saying any of their beliefs should be questioned, I'm just saying if their great-great-great grandaddies were Buddhist, than most likely, the entire bllodline would be Buddhist too. That's how they have been taught.

Craig Perko said...

I'll say it, then: their beliefs should be questioned.

Blind faith is responsible for the vast majority of our problems.