National Review’s MO Regarding Ayn Rand


National Review once again attacks and tries to mock Ayn Rand and Objectivism.

As usual, they—Kevin Williamson this time—don’t specify which principle(s) of Rand’s philosophy they oppose and why.

  • Is it the principle that things are what they are and can act only in accordance with their identities?
  • Or the principle that reason (i.e., the use of observation, conceptualization, and logic) is man’s only means of knowledge and basic means of living?
  • Or perhaps the principle that man’s free will lies in his choice to think or not to think?
  • Or maybe the principle that being moral consists in choosing and pursuing life-serving values while respecting the rights of others to do the same?
  • Or could it be the principle that the proper purpose of government is to protect the individual rights of all citizens, regardless of race, sex, creed, or color?

Conservatives at National Review (and conservatives in general) never specify the alleged errors in Objectivism. They never point out where and how Rand went wrong. Rather, they lie about what she wrote and/or employ arguments from intimidation to dissuade people from considering Rand’s ideas. Williamson, for instance, says interest in Rand’s ideas is “a kind of guilty adolescent enthusiasm . . . an intellectual mullet, a stage one goes through between the ages of 14 and 20.”

How sad that Williamson assumes his readers can be intimidated by such means. (The sadder truth is that many of them are.)

Such are the attempts to dismiss Rand’s whole philosophy without addressing any of its actual principles.

Why do Williamson and company do this kind of thing? Here we can only speculate. But I suspect that it has something to do with the fact that the principles of Objectivism are contrary to the ideas these conservatives learned in their youth from their parents, preachers, and Sunday school teachers. Confronted with the prospect of a philosophy that advocates reason and egoism—and thus rejects mysticism and altruism—these conservatives say: Hell no! We were raised to believe that faith and self-sacrifice are good and are not to be questioned. So we don’t question them. And we will use any means necessary to discredit those who do.

That’s long been National Review’s MO regarding Ayn Rand. Apparently they’re sticking to it.

Here’s a question for Kevin Williamson—or anyone at National Review—or anyone who approves of their treatment of Rand: Specifically which principle(s) of Objectivism do you regard as false, and why?

I’d love to hear an honest, intimidation-free answer. Is that too much to ask?

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