Michael Lind’s Twist on Rand and von Mises

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The prominent distorter of truth, Michael Lind, has graciously posted another serious writing disguised as a spoof on the pages of Salon: ”How Did Ayn Rand Become a Hero to Right-Wing Nerds Everywhere?”

The article is full of strategically placed quotations from a few Rand bashers, set up to make Rand appear to be an aloof crackpot, with no redeeming qualities as a writer, let alone a human being. Lind lumps together Tea Party Republicans, Paul Ryan, L. Ron Hubbard, Objectivists, libertarians, and proponents of Austrian economics. Apparently, the facts of these respective movements and their intellectual roots are a nuisance for Lind, so he didn’t bother to cite them. Alas, the “sophisticated conservative intellectual” Bill Buckley is spared Lind’s revulsion, and only because Buckley declared his social-democratic movement to be anti-Randian.

Most notably, I find Lind’s use of a quote from Ludwig von Mises to be comical, that is, if it weren’t so irresponsible. From the article:

Rand’s conceited Nietzschean elitism was shared by another libertarian hero, Ludwig von Mises, who wrote to Rand: “You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the efforts of men who are better than you.”

Lind’s case for Misesian “elitism” fails miserably when one actually reads the whole letter that Mises sent to Rand in 1956, congratulating her on publishing Atlas Shrugged. Mises had described the “masses” as the elitist intellectuals, assorted coercionists (elitist academics, disingenuous scientists, and politicians), and their followers. The letter appears, in full, on the ISIL website as such:

Dear Mrs. Rand:

I am not a professional critic and I feel no call to judge the merits of a novel. So I do not want to detain you with the information that I enjoyed very much reading Atlas Shrugged and that I am full of admiration for your masterful construction of the plot.

But Atlas Shrugged is not merely a novel. It is also (or may I say: first of all) a cogent analysis of the evils that plague our society, a substantiated rejection of the ideology of our self-styled “intellectuals” and a pitiless unmasking of the insincerity of the policies adopted by governments and political parties. It is a devastating exposure of the “moral cannibals,” the “gigolos of science” and of the “academic prattle” of the makers of the “anti-industrial revolution.” You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the efforts of men who are better than you.

If this be arrogance, as some of your critics observed, it still is the truth that had to be said in this age of the Welfare State.

I warmly congratulate you and I looking forward with great expectations to your future work.

Sincerely,
Ludwig von Mises

6:22 pm on August 13, 2013