Down With Randian Warmongers!

That screaming and foot stamping you hear is the sound of the War Party throwing a tantrum.

They went to such trouble to get their neoconservative brothers into positions of power within the Bush Administration, and yet they still can't get war with China.

Our 24 spies are home, the American people are happy the whole mess is over, and President Bush looks (for now) like the embodiment to reason and restraint.

It is no surprise then that the crown princes of the War Establishment, Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan, are apoplectic. These two chicken hawks, who think boot camp is just a reality show on Fox, are always eager to send young Americans to die for “National Greatness,” their current euphemism for Empire.

Only slightly more surprising are the bellicose statements coming from the lunatic fringe: the unreconstructed followers of novelist Ayn Rand.

From the statements coming out of the Ayn Rand Institute, you would think the Randians are petitioning the neocons for readmittance into the conservative movement, from which William F. Buckley exiled them decades ago. If anything, the Randians are more eager to drop bombs (on China, on anyone) than even the Weekly Standard crowd.

In a bloodthirsty press release, Andrew Lewis, one of the nonentities on the ARI payroll, writes: “China is the guilty party. The fact that China poses a military danger to America is what makes our surveillance missions necessary. It is China's status as a potential aggressor that created the perilous situation in the first place.”

This is the sort of loopy reasoning we used to get from Rand herself, like when she hilariously declared big business America's “persecuted minority.”

China is no threat to the United States, and it won't be one for several decades, if ever.

Like all authoritarian countries, China is a threat to its own people, but the only international threat on the scene today is the United States.

Western democracies, somewhat restrained from killing their own citizens, are the countries forced to sate their bloodlust abroad.

It isn't China, after all, that goes around dropping bombs on any country that dares defy the U.S. State Department. China didn't wage an air campaign on behalf of the Marxist Kosovo Liberation Army; we did. They didn't bomb our embassy in Yugoslavia, but we did bomb theirs.

Yes, China does rattle its sabers with regard to Taiwan, which it regards not as a sovereign nation but as a breakaway province. But what would the United States do if, say, Alabama decided to break off and go its own way?

Oh, wait. We already know the answer to that question, don't we?

Of course, Randians love Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, so maybe they are just being consistent. After all, Rand's muddleheaded insistence that there could be such as thing as “objective” government led her to advocate giving the state a monopoly on the use of force, as anti-freedom a doctrine as you could imagine, taken to its logical conclusion.

Why worry about what the Randians think? That's a good question. The orthodox Randians, huddled around their stereos listing to taped lectures from ARI, are just a small cadre of cultists, taken seriously by no one.

But many libertarians, myself included, became the anti-war activists we are today after spending time in the Randian camp. It still shocks us, although by now it shouldn't, when someone like Leonard Peikoff, Rand's heir, goes on radio and calls for bombing the Middle East back into the Stone Age just to get Osama Bin Laden.

Meanwhile, Lewis' tirade descends further into madness.

He complains that China “ruthlessly suppresses all dissent.” Now, excuse me, but anyone from ARI who complains about anyone else stamping out dissenting views is a hypocrite. I could list all of the people purged from ARI's ranks for various thought crimes, but I'm not interested in wearing my fingers down to nubs.

Of course, China is repressive. So what? Lots of countries are repressive, but that doesn't make any of them a threat to the United States.

Lewis says the United State should recognize Taiwan as an independent state and arm it to the teeth. He never considers that many in Taiwan are skeptical of independence, which is a notion supported there mostly by ethnic Japanese and Japanese-backed political hacks.

I would like to think that this insane, warmongering talk is confined to ARI, but actually it seems to carry the day in other, more moderate neo-Randian enclaves as well.

The Daily Objectivist published its own “letter of apology” to the Chinese, containing this little gem:

“We are very sorry that you are a totalitarian communist government that oppresses its people and poses a continuing security threat to other nations, including the United States of America. We are very, very sorry and deeply regretful about the fact that we have to waste so much money on flying surveillance missions and other national defense measures thanks to outlaw nations like yours.”

Apart from the fact that the folks at The Daily Objectivist don't know the difference between “authoritarian” and “totalitarian” – China is not totalitarian, as the dissent within the Chinese government over this whole spy-plane matter demonstrates – they continue to spread the myth that China is a threat to the outside world. I await the evidence.

China managed to live in relative peace with the West under the murderous Chairman Mao. It took a United Nations expeditionary force right under Mao's nose to get China into the Korean War. So why should China suddenly be a threat now that it is 100 times less repressive than under the Gang of Four?

Some relatively levelheaded Randians have been allies in the past when it comes to defending freedom at home. But when it comes to restraining the sprawling American Empire, they are the worst of the worst. And it's time to stop being surprised by their bloodlust.

April 17, 2001

Franklin Harris, a former Randian who is feeling much better now, writes for THE DECATUR DAILY in Decatur, Ala. When not worrying about politics, he obsesses over sci-fi and horror movies at his Web site,