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Rand’s message isn’t accurate anymore

November 1, 2009

Ayn Rand

The thoughts of an expatriate are regaining importance to many Americans this week, as a new Ayn Rand biography is released. Rand, whose philosophies have come to represent an entire generation of conservatives, is closely followed by modern conservative power brokers such as Glen Beck and Alan Greenspan.

Many of Rand’s ideas involve thinking that government is little more than a concentrated power sucker and that individual freedoms are central to living life as it is. Ironically, however, Rand refused to allow her followers to think for themselves, meaning that she didn’t follow the typical notion of practicing what you preach.

Rand’s philosophies may have some merit in modern America, as it is beginning to look more and more like a country in desperate need of hope may have crowned a false messiah. The basic problem with Rand’s ideas, though, is that when put into effect result in little more than chaos, not some paradise where all men are created equal.

Rand’s ideas are so popular because they emerged from the fringe, from a spot where a young girl watched her father’s pharmacy taken from under his nose by the government that was supposed to be protecting him. They did not, however, anticipate a world with the complexities and sophistication that ours has. It isn’t an understatement to say that the last decade have been the busiest in human history.

Unfortunately, nobody quite knows the answers to the questions that need to be asked about the economy, or the environment or other tricky issues. Part of this is that we are still figuring out the questions that need to be asked.

Unfortunately for Rand and her followers, though, the answer is not a return to some archaic mode of thought. The world isn’t going to get any simpler, as the webs that link us all are going to become more and more intertwined in the near future. The answer to solving the weaknesses in those webs is not to burn them down and walk away, but to take a step back and realize what needs to be solved.

Rand makes some valid points, but ideas that may have made sense in a cleaner world only further muddy the scene today.

Originally posted at On Popular Culture

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