An Open Letter to the Objectivist Community on Behalf of Ron Paul


  Read More Open Letters    

The reasons why the Objectivist community should support Ron Paul's Presidential campaign seem obvious to me. However, what is obvious to one person is not always obvious to another. In light of the vicious and somewhat childish attacks on Ron Paul recently by so-called leaders of the Objectivist movement, this open letter has become necessary to answer some of the charges made against him.

Regarding Barry Goldwater's Presidential candidacy in 1964, Ayn Rand wrote: "In an age of moral collapse, like the present, men who seek power for power’s sake rise to leadership everywhere on earth and destroy one country after another. Barry Goldwater is singularly devoid of power lust. Even his antagonists admit it with grudging respect. He is seeking, not to rule, but to liberate a country. In a world ravaged by dictatorships, can we afford to pass up a candidate of that kind?" Goldwater exchanged several letters with Rand, admitting that he enjoyed Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged.

This is exactly what Ron Paul will do, as his voting record in Congress clearly demonstrates. He is the only candidate who will end the war on drugs, cut taxes and spending, and eliminate entire agencies and regulatory bodies. He is the closest thing to Goldwater to come out of the two interchangeable parties since Goldwater himself.

Consider the following:

"Ron Paul doesn't like NAFTA." It is certainly true that NAFTA has lowered tariffs. However, this is not a free-trade agreement, but a regulated trade agreement. These agreements create multi-national bureaucracies which are unelected and accountable to nobody. This is hardly free trade. It is, in fact, the worst kind of regulated trade.

"Ron Paul is pro-life." But a Ron Paul Presidency will have little impact on Roe v. Wade. No matter who is appointed to the Supreme Court, the Nine Monkeys are not going to reverse a past decision, because such a reversal would simply expose the court for the joke that it is. Ron Paul can appoint judges, but this is hardly the only issue he will consider when making appointments to the bench.

"Ron Paul is a federalist." He sees local, state, and federal governments as separate entities with distinct powers. They are intended to check and balance each other. Paul opposes the consolidation which has corrupted this system and resulted in a large loss of liberty overall. Roe v. Wade is just one of many ways that this consolidation has been promoted by the courts since the days of John Marshall.

"But I read an article in The New Individualist. The Atlas Society doesn't like him. Leonard Peikoff doesn't like him." This says nothing about Doctor Paul. It says a great deal about how low the "leadership" of the Objectivist movement has sunk.

Ayn Rand ghettoized herself around 1950. She broke with her mentor Isabel Paterson and soon gathered a group of followers which Random House editor Bennett Cerf called "sycophants." The two main wings (quite hostile toward each other, but practically the same) of the Objectivist movement have largely done the same thing in the modern era.

Peikoff was one of the sycophants who Rand had not alienated when she died in 1982, so he got her entire estate. He later founded the Ayn Rand Institute. This wing actually talks and writes very little about political candidates. They focus mainly on political issues and philosophy.

In response to many questions, Peikoff did discuss Paul in a recent podcast. He admitted to knowing nothing about him. He quoted Yaron Brook on the issue. Brook is the current president of ARI. He was also born in Israel and served in their military. Not surprisingly, Brook is an advocate of US interventionism and deifies Israel.

The other wing of the Objectivist movement is not much better. The Atlas Society bills itself as the "tolerant" and "open" wing of the movement. The organization is currently run by Ed Hudgins, who used to work for one of the strongest advocates of U.S. government intervention abroad, Dick Armey.

They have been more open about attacking Doctor Paul. Atlas has recently published an article in their magazine, The New Individualist; Robert James Bidinotto, the editor, has also attacked Congressman Paul on his personal blog.

On a positive note, some past speakers at their events have come out in support of Doctor Paul. These include George Smith, Larry Sechrest, and Lester Hunt. The names of the latter two can be found on this list here.

While the leadership has either sold out or just freaked out, a significant portion of people who call themselves Objectivists still do see Doctor Paul as by far the best hope in 2008. But one has to wonder how long these people will stick with the Objectivist movement and how many good people will turn away from it over this issue.

ARI has almost no friends. They survive largely because they can place business-reply cards in every Rand book that is sold. The folks at the Atlas Society have some friends at Reason and Cato, lukewarm supporters of Ron Paul at best, but this organization has been almost completely irrelevant since its founding in 1990. One of its largest financial supporters is Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider, who also serves on the board of the Middle East Forum and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Atlas is located in DC currently. ARI operates out of Irvine, California, and recently announced that it will be opening an office in DC as well.

The attack on the World Trade Center was a tipping point. Before then, a person could actually make a negative comment about Israel in Objectivist circles without being shouted down. Today, such a comment will bring about the immediate charge of "racist," "anti-Semite" or "anti-Jew." The complete failure of the war on terror has not changed anything, as these are some of the most stubborn people I have ever encountered. Ricky Fitts in the movie American Beauty summed up this attitude best: "Never underestimate the power of denial."

To understand the advocacy of war by some Objectivists, one has to understand their psychology. Many of these people have an obsession with punishing "evil." For Rand, it was Communism and the Soviet Union. Since 9/11, the bogyman has been Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism.

Great moral stories often tell a story of how good people become bad. These good people often go bad because they fall into the trap of punishing evil. They move from celebrating and defending the good to fighting out of revenge.

For example, in the Star Wars movie series, it was how Anakin Skywalker drifted to the dark side and became Darth Vader. He started out by murdering an entire tribe that had been responsible for his mother's death. In the last film, Luke Skywalker is on the verge of killing a defenseless Vader. Luke then realizes that he will become just as bad if he gives into his anger. The evil Emperor also realizes this and roots for Luke's anger. Vader finally asks Luke to remove his mask. Vader becomes Anakin again and dies. George Lucas said it best: "A jedi would never seek revenge."

Anger lives in all of us. Like fire, it is a useful servant. But it is a horrible master. History teaches us that angry, vengeful people can do tremendous harm, especially for liberty. People obsessed with punishment become Hitler, Stalin, Lenin, and Mao. They do not become Jefferson, Cleveland, or Washington.

Perhaps more troubling than their new love affair with war is the apparent indifference of the Objectivist movement to things like the PATRIOT act, possible election fraud, Sibel Edmonds, Israel's "experiment in famine," and a federal deficit pushing $10 trillion. If you can find any references to these things in their recent literature, please send them to me.

Rand had somewhat of a valid excuse for her anger. She saw the atrocities of the Bolsheviks first hand. Because of this experience, she also respected our bill of rights and constitutionally-limited government. She did not see government as the root of all evil, as some libertarians do. But she understood the harm that bad leaders have done.

The Randian hero is not a general, a politician, a secret agent, or even a police officer. The hero is a person like Thomas Edison, Ben Franklin, Frank Lloyd Wright, Maria Montessori, Louis Pasteur, Henry Ford, or George Washington Carver. Both Rand and Ron Paul understand that a free society allows such people to thrive. A free society makes their achievements possible.

No other Presidential candidate in the two interchangeable parties understand this. This certainly applies to the likes of Objectivist leaders such as Peikoff and Bidinotto.

Perhaps the most powerful reason for supporting Ron Paul is that Objectivist ethics is based upon the non-aggression axiom: man has the right to use force only to repel (or punish, or retaliate against) prior aggression; it is improper, entirely improper, to initiate violence against those not guilty of so doing first against us. There is nothing in the Objectivist philosophy that would support attacking nations that never even threatened us, let alone attacked us. And, becoming policeman of the world should be dismissed by all logically consistent Objectivists as nothing less than altruism or socialism. Ron Paul is of course not a pacifist. He favors a strong military. But, one limited to protecting us; and this does not include dissipating our limited strength to every corner of our troubled world.

Ron Paul is not an isolationist; he opposes needless interventionism. He favors laissez faire capitalism and free trade with all nations of the world. His policies may not be 100% congruent with that of the Objectivist philosophy, but when compared to all the other candidates in both parties, he comes so close as to almost require support for him from this community.

February 11, 2008