Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ayn Rand's Playboy Interview: Conservatism

By Diana Hsieh

As part of Modern Paleo's Saturday blogging on Objectivism, here's another tidbit from Ayn Rand's 1964 Playboy interview. Here's her discussion of conservatism -- sadly, still relevant today:

PLAYBOY: You are a declared anticommunist, antisocialist and antiliberal. Yet you reject the notion that you are a conservative. In fact, you have reserved some of your angriest criticism for conservatives. Where do you stand politically?

RAND: Correction. I never describe my position in terms of negatives. I am an advocate of laissez-faire capitalism, of individual rights -- there are no others -- of individual freedom. It is on this ground that I oppose any doctrine which proposes the sacrifice of the individual to the collective, such as communism, socialism, the welfare state. fascism, Nazism and modern liberalism. I oppose the conservatives on the same ground. The conservatives are advocates of a mixed economy and of a welfare state. Their difference from the liberals is only one of degree, not of principle.

PLAYBOY: You have charged that America suffers from intellectual bankruptcy. Do you include in this condemnation such right-wing publications as the National Review? Isn't that magazine a powerful voice against all the things you regard as "statism"?

RAND: I consider National Review the worst and most dangerous magazine in America. The kind of defense that it offers to capitalism results in nothing except the discrediting and destruction of capitalism. Do you want me to tell you why?

PLAYBOY: Yes, please.

RAND: Because it ties capitalism to religion. The ideological position of National Review amounts, in effect, to the following: In order to accept freedom and capitalism, one has to believe in God or in some form of religion, some form of supernatural mysticism. Which means that there are no rational grounds on which one can defend capitalism. Which amounts to an admission that reason is on the side of capitalism's enemies, that a slave society or a dictatorship is a rational system, and that only on the ground of mystic faith can one believe in freedom. Nothing more derogatory to capitalism could ever be alleged, and the exact opposite is true. Capitalism is the only system that can be defended and validated by reason.

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