Sunday, March 15, 2015

Another Would-Be Critic of Libertarianism Takes on a Straw Man - Reason.com

The Fountainhead (film)
The Fountainhead (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When a critique of libertarianism consists primarily of figuratively shouting "Ayn Rand!" and tossing in the Koch brothers, Nietzsche, and Gordon Gecko (a fictional character, nonetheless), you can be assured the author isn't going to address the Nobel economists or noted philosophers associated with libertarianism on the left, right, and center. Instead of discussing the major thinkers of classical liberalism, the author will attack the caricature of "Libertarians" that has little to do with scholarly reflection.
Another Would-Be Critic of Libertarianism Takes on a Straw Man - Reason.com
How refreshing it would be for someone to set forth the strongest case for libertarianism before attempting to eviscerate it.
Sheldon Richman | March 15, 2015 
We must face the fact that criticism of the libertarian philosophy in the mass media will most likely misrepresent its target, making the commentary essentially worthless. That’s painfully clear from what critics publish almost weekly on self-styled left-wing and progressive websites. How refreshing it would be for someone to set forth the strongest case for libertarianism before attempting to eviscerate it. Is the failure to do so a sign of fear that the philosophy is potentially appealing to a great many people?
I could list a great many economists and philosophers the left (and right) ignore when attacking libertarians and (almost) classical liberals like myself. Instead of engaging Hayek or Mill or Adam Smith, instead of exploring deeply individualistic philosophers on the left and right (not that critics don't rush to call existentialism or utilitarianism childish), the critics attack Ayn Rand… because some mildly educated radio personalities might quote her. Yes, because modern talking heads are the intellectual giants of politics. (Or maybe they are, on all sides. That's a sad thought.)

I wrote in 2013:
In the comments to both articles, progressives resort to attacks on Ayn Rand (and Ron Paul, Rand Paul, and few other people). The general claim is that Rand glorified greed. I don't like Rand — she was a lousy human being, but so were many, many other thinkers across the political and philosophical spectrum. But, I at least recognize that Ayn Rand did not glorify greed: she celebrated being true to yourself. The hero of The Fountainhead is not the richest or most powerful character. It is Howard Roark, the architect with a vision, a truly great artist more concerned with the art than money. How can liberals and progressives miss such a clear argument? It isn't about money, it's about the freedom to be true to your desires and talents. Ayn Rand was not a master of subtle plots. 
Rand's villains in The Fountainhead? The rich and powerful. The media. The political elite. The hero? An artist willing to walk away from money and crush rocks rather than surrender his integrity. Seriously? Liberals don't agree with that ideal? And as I wrote above, the classic movie adaptation of The Fountainhead is the only Rand work I can tolerate.

For more on misrepresentations of classical liberalism and the variety of libertarianism:

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