Objectivism, Libertarianism and Anarchism
In her own lifetime, Ayn Rand disavowed the use of the term "libertarian" to describe her own ideas. She was also harshly critical of anarchism. However, some people who consider themselves Objectivists disagree with these positions. Some claim that "libertarianism" is the best term to describe the Objectivist political theory. Others argue Rand's ethics lead naturally to anarchism, rather than to a limited government. The links below reflect different positions in these two areas.
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Are Objectivists Libertarians?
Ayn Rand's own attitude about "libertarianism" was negative. Rand's comments on libertarianism can be found in the Ayn Rand Biographical FAQ. However, that has not stopped some from arguing that the term is the best description of the Objectivist theory of politics.
- Libertarianism: A Reply to Peter Schwartz by Ari Armstrong -- Armstrong considers Schwartz's arguments from "Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty" and concludes that "Schwartz makes one very strong argument but also a number of serious errors."
- David and Leviathan by Robert Bidinotto -- Bidnotto's review of the book Libertarianism: A Primer also discusses the relationship between Objectivism and libertarianism.
- Libertarianism vs Objectivism: A Response to Peter Schwartz by Walter Block -- Response to Schwartz's essay, "Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty." Originally published by in Reason Papers.
- Objectivism and Libertarianism by Nathaniel Branden -- Discusses Rand's rejection of the term "libertarianism," and argues that Objectivists should give in to the common usage of the term to describe them.
- "Is Libertarianism Evil?" Revisited by Scott D. DeSalvo -- Response to the essay "Is Libertarianism Evil?" by Joseph Rowlands (see link below).
- Invitation to Libertarians by Joel Katz -- Criticizes libertarianism as lacking adequate philosophical grounding, and invites libertarians to become Objectivists instead.
- What Is the Objectivist View of Libertarianism? by David Kelley and William Thomas -- Kelley and Thomas argue that "If we exclude anarchism, we can say that libertarianism is the Objectivist position in politics. But Objectivism includes more than politics."
- Peter Schwartz's 'Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty': A Restricted Critique by Kevin McFarlane -- Partial response to Schwartz's essay, "Libertarianism: The Perversion of Liberty." Originally published by the Libertarian Alliance.
- Is Libertarianism Evil? by Joseph Rowlands -- Argues that some Objectivists' criticisms of libertarianism are "childish."
- Libertarianism and Moral Disintegration by Joseph Rowlands -- Criticizes libertarians who treat non-coercion as the only standard of morality. "By treating this moral principle as a complete moral system, the libertarians create a number of problems for themselves."
- Why I Am a Libertarian by Peter Saint-André -- Article favoring both libertarianism and the Libertarian Party, originally published in Full Context. The author prefaces the online version with a caveat that he no longer agrees with much of it.
- The Libertarians' Albatross by Butler Shaffer -- Encourages libertarians to "free their minds from the albatross of Objectivism, whose moralistic self-righteousness has turned it into everything it purported to oppose."
- Libertarianism and Objectivism: Compatible? by William Thomas -- The Atlas Society responds to the question "What are Objectivist views on Libertarianism, and what are the similarities and differences between the two?"
- Rand the Libertarian by Daniel Ust -- Argues that Rand was a libertarian, despite her disavowal of the term.
Should Objectivists Be Anarchists?
Ayn Rand rejected anarchism in her essay "The Nature of Government" in The Virtue of Selfishness. However, some claim that anarchism is the natural outcome of her ethical theories about rights and the proper use of force.
- The Contradiction in Anarchism by Robert J. Bidinotto -- Argues against anarchism, in favor of Rand's "legal monopoly" government.
- Anarchism Vs. Objectivism by Harry Binswanger -- This reprint of a Q&A from The Objectivist Forum supports limited government and dismisses anarchist ideas of private defense agencies as "purile fantasies."
- The Epistemological Basis
of Anarchism by Roy A. Childs, Jr. -- A previously unpublished essay, written in 1969, in which Childs expands and revises the arguments for anarchy presented in his "Open Letter" (linked below).
- Objectivism and the State: An Open Letter to Ayn Rand by Roy A. Childs, Jr. -- One of the most famous anarchist criticisms of Rand's politics. Childs argues that her more fundamental philosophical principles should have led her to support "free market anarchism," which he asks her to belatedly endorse. (She did not.)
- Mrs. Logic and the Law: A Critique of Ayn Rand's View of Government by Nicholas Dykes -- Originally published by the Libertarian Alliance, this article argues that Rand's support for limited government is both internally inconsistent and contradicts her more fundamental ethical theories. Written from an "anarcho-capitalist" perspective. Also available in PDF format .
- Internal Inconsistencies in Arguments for Government: Nozick, Rand, and Hospers by David Osterfeld -- In this essay for the Journal of Libertarian Studies, Osterfeld argues that Rand (as well as Nozick and Hospers) has failed to provide a consistent argument for why there should be a government.
- Anarchism is evil by Leonard Peikoff -- This brief excerpt from Peikoff's discussion of anarchism in Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand says that anarchism is a form of subjectivism.
- A is A; Anarchism is the Arbitrary by Lindsay Perigo -- Editorial that supports Rand's views on the need for government.
- Freedom vs. Anarchy by Lindsay Perigo -- Rejects anarchism and argues for the "objective origins and functions of government."
- In Defense of Rational Anarchism by George H. Smith -- Like Roy Childs' "Open Letter" (see above), this essay argues that Rand's ethical principles actually support anarchism rather than the limited government actually proposed in her political theory.
- Anarchism is not a form of capitalism (author anonymous) -- Responses to anarchy-related questions in the "Capitalism FAQ" at the Capitalism Site.
About the Objectivism Reference Center
The philosophy of Ayn Rand, a twentieth-century novelist and philosopher, is known as Objectivism. The Objectivism Reference Center provides resources about Rand, her ideas, her works, and places where those are discussed and debated. Visit the Site Information page for details on site policies. Suggestions for additional materials or additional links are welcomed.
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