New Revelations About Ayn Rand Suggest She Probably Died of Irony

Posted on by Jeremy Clymer (jclymer)
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It was recently reported in The Huffington Post that Ayn Rand accepted Social Security and Medicare payments toward the end of her life. This raises new questions about Rand and her libertarian ideals, which have inspired a whole movement of people who believe the government has cooties and should be avoided at all cost. Did she actually believe in her own philosophy or was she a prototypical Glenn Beck, saying whatever she thought would get her the most attention? Or was this government assistance forced upon her by some shadowy cabal of collectivist conspirators in order to discredit her?


Here lies Ayn Rand's dignity.

A lifetime of smoking and amphetamine addiction would cause anyone a good deal of health problems, so it's no real surprise that Rand was in need of such assistance. It probably comes as a shock to many of her followers, though, that she took it. She certainly did not broadcast the fact that she was taking part in the very system she railed against so frequently and vehemently. That would be like Karl Marx gloating about all the royalties he was making from writing Das Kapital. Everyone needs ideals to believe in, even if they only believe in them in theory and not in practice.

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?I'm not seeing the hypocrisy here. You don't have the legal right to opt out of income tax. You also can't avoid paying into Social Security (unless, of course, you happen to work for the government). Rand herself argued in some of her writings that since you can't opt out of the systems that, in her eyes, took money from you, then you had the right to recoup your losses by taking the benefits of the system that took the money from you in the first place. Some people are seeing sneaky sneaky behavior because Rand used her married name "Ann O'Connor", but, uh, that was her legal name. As in, the name that would be filed under the government.. No one faults Marx for coming from a rich family and living off of his family's fortune while he wrote his seminal works, since that really couldn't be avoided.

It's a fairly common game that we play, anyway. Libertarian and classical liberal dispositions are asked to live up to a standard that no one else does. You can do it with virtually anything. If someone with a libertarian disposition sends a letter through the U.S. Postal Service, it's very easy to chastise and mock them for hypocrisy. But you look at the history, such as with libertarian anarchist Lysander Spooner who tried to start a postal service that competed against the government and got shut down by the government, and you see that it's very hard to live without government services simply because the government is just so omnipresent in our lives. Plenty of left-liberals extol the virtues of and believe in boosting public education, but plenty of them send their children to private schools. Hypocrisy? I wouldn't say so. Plenty of conservatives say anti-gay things, and then are discovered to be engaging in some gay hanky-panky. Hypocrisy? Okay, yeah, that's pretty hypocritical.

Anyway, all I'm saying is that this serves as a great "gotcha", but libertarian ideas more or less remain untried in a modern society that has government in nearly every corner of it. You cannot avoid it. Rose Wilder Lane, who is the godmother of the Libertarian Party, aggressively tried to avoid it, and even she couldn't completely.

Posted By jogden,

I agree that there is no hypocrisy in Rand's decision. She was still, however, a complete asshat.

Posted By Brash Equilibrium,

hypocrisy?

Posted By lockheed40,

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