I was watching the ‘Last Week Tonight’ with John Oliver and they have a segment called “Why is this still a thing?” where weird and archaic practices that are still carried out with that particular episode focused on ‘Why is Ayn Rand still a thing’ ( link ) and how that relates to the many Republican politicians coming out of their ‘Ayn Rand closet’ to speak of the virtues that are found in her writing – too bad they chose wade in the shallow end of the paddling pool (fiction) rather than diving into the deep end (non-fiction) resting in receiving half the story and failing to understand the terms being used as defined by Ayn Rand not to mention the underlying arguments relating to volunteerism in every transaction.
The basis of capitalism in the model that is explained Ayn Rand is the voluntary exchange of goods and/or services for money (or something else in the case of barter) and the transaction that is mutually beneficially to both parties. No force has taken place during the transaction because both have mutually benefited from that transaction and thus that forms the basis of all relations between not only between citizens but also between the citizen and the state hence the rally cry ‘taxation is theft’ on the basis that the government by its definition is the embodiment of ‘force’ and the argument of a percentage of the population through the use of this ‘force’ doesn’t make that act any less of an act of violence against the individual than for example an individual robbing me at gun point. This goes to the second point – the size of government being small by virtue of its role being that of protecting private property, maintaining law and order, and protect the nation but how this is funded would have to be through some voluntary means such as a lottery, possibly an import tariff – as long as the payment is voluntary (the practicality of that she never really goes into detail other than emphasise that it cannot be funded via the traditional means).
At the centre of this is the individual and the argument that the individual owns their own body and the wealth that is created through the exercise of that boy in the marketplace of transactions that are carried out voluntarily – the exchange of labour for money, the exchange of money for product and so on. The only legitimate reason for the government to take property and/or your life from your is because it violated the rights of another other than that you an guess what that means. When it comes to property, unless you’re impacting someone else negatively through what you’re doing on your property – pollution from your factory violation the property rights of others near near by then those impacted can sue.
A lot of what can be understood can be read in her various books including the Objectivist Epistemology, The Virtue of Selfishness, The Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (collection of essays), The Romantic Manifesto, For the New Intellectual, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal and Philosophy: Who Needs It. I’d start with Objectivist Epistemology the work onto the Virtue of Selfishness then pretty much any book from then on. If you’re Ted Cruz who only read Atlas Shrugged then you’ll be sorely disappointed that if you’re a religious wing nut like Ted Cruz that Ayn Rand doesn’t have many positive things to say about you.
I’m not a objectivist supporter but I find it troubling that her name is bandied about and name dropped by certain politicians to carry favour with libertarian leaning Republicans and Tea Party folk – “look, I read the same book as you! we’re on the same page” when in reality if journalists weren’t so lazy then they would ask some obvious questions that would undermine the a lot of what they say and their claims of having understood objectivism and what arguments were being put forward by Ayn Rand. Oh, and Republicans might want to acquaint themselves to the ‘Fallacy of collective rights’ in ‘The virtue of selfishness’ given how often they love to invoke that chestnut in the name of social conservatism. Whilst they’re at it they also might want to acquaint themselves to Milton Friedman’s argument against those who try to separate ‘social rights’ from ‘economic rights’ as if some how the two were interrelated. Anyone get the feeling that the Republicans are like those who claim to be believers in a particular religious book but haven’t really studied the book they claim they’re devoted and influenced by?