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Ayn Rand to Occupy Wall Street Mob: Anti-Rights, Anti-Morality

October 15, 2011

“Two world wars, three monstrous dictatorships—in Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Red China—plus every lesser variant of devastating socialist experimentation in a global spread of brutality and despair, have not prompted modern intellectuals to question or revise their dogma. They still think that it is daring, idealistic and unconventional to denounce the rich. They still believe that money is the root of all evil—except government money, which is the solution to all problems.” — AYN RAND

Here’s what philosopher and free market capitalism advocate Ayn Rand would say about the Occupy Wall Street mob:

From “The Cashing-In: The Student ‘Rebellion,’” Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal  (p. 256):

Civil disobedience may be justifiable, in some cases, when and if an individual disobeys a law in order to bring an issue to court, as a test case. Such an action involves respect for legality and a protest directed only at a particular law which the individual seeks an opportunity to prove to be unjust. The same is true of a group of individuals when and if the risks involved are their own.

But there is no justification, in a civilized society, for the kind of mass civil disobedience that involves the violation of the rights of others—regardless of whether the demonstrators’ goal is good or evil. The end does not justify the means. No one’s rights can be secured by the violation of the rights of others. Mass disobedience is an assault on the concept of rights: it is a mob’s defiance of legality as such.

The forcible occupation of another man’s property or the obstruction of a public thoroughfare is so blatant a violation of rights that an attempt to justify it becomes an abrogation of morality. An individual has no right to do a “sit-in” in the home or office of a person he disagrees with—and he does not acquire such a right by joining a gang. Rights are not a matter of numbers—and there can be no such thing, in law or in morality, as actions forbidden to an individual, but permitted to a mob.

The only power of a mob, as against an individual, is greater muscular strength—i.e., plain, brute physical force. The attempt to solve social problems by means of physical force is what a civilized society is established to prevent. The advocates of mass civil disobedience admit that their purpose is intimidation. A society that tolerates intimidation as a means of settling disputes—the physical intimidation of some men or groups by others—loses its moral right to exist as a social system, and its collapse does not take long to follow.

Politically, mass civil disobedience is appropriate only as a prelude to civil war—as the declaration of a total break with a country’s political institutions.

From “The Left: Old and New,” Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (p. 67):

Old-line Marxists claimed [falsely] that they were champions of reason, that socialism or communism was a scientific social system, that an advanced technology could not function in a capitalist society, but required a scientifically planned and organized human community to bring its maximum benefits to every man, in the form of material comforts and a higher standard of living . . . .[T]oday we see the spectacle of old Marxists blessing, aiding and abetting the young hoodlums [of the New Left] (who are their products and heirs) who proclaim the superiority of feelings over reason, of faith over knowledge, of leisure over production, of spiritual concerns over material comforts, of primitive nature over technology, of astrology over science, of drugs over consciousness.

From “The Anti-Industrial Revolution,”   Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (p. 281):

If concern with poverty and human suffering were the collectivists’ motive, they would have become champions of capitalism long ago; they would have discovered that it is the only political system capable of producing abundance. But they evaded the evidence as long as they could. When the issue became overwhelmingly clear to the whole world, the collectivists were faced with a choice: either turn to the right, in the name of humanity—or to the left, in the name of dictatorial power. They turned to the left—the New Left.

Instead of their old promises that collectivism would create universal abundance and their denunciations of capitalism for creating poverty, they are now denouncing capitalism for creating abundance. Instead of promising comfort and security for everyone, they are now denouncing people for being comfortable and secure.

Smelly: Trash builds up at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations

Smelly: Trash builds up at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations

“The Anti-Industrial Revolution,” Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (p. 281):

Intellectually, the activists of the New Left are the most docile conformists. They have accepted as dogma all the philosophical beliefs of their elders for generations: the notions that faith and feeling are superior to reason, that material concerns are evil, that love is the solution to all problems, that the merging of one’s self with a tribe or a community is the noblest way to live. There is not a single basic principle of today’s Establishment which they do not share. Far from being rebels, they embody the philosophic trend of the past 200 years (or longer): the mysticism-altruism-collectivism axis, which has dominated Western philosophy from Kant to Hegel to James and on down.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Jeffrey Garten permalink
    October 15, 2011 3:38

    Yeah, does Ayn Rand talk about the schizophrenia of Capitalism? That there are those that labor, and those that profit off of the labor?

    What about the idea that Western Philosophy creates binary oppositions, like Rational/Emotional and separates them, when they are actually intertwined, overflowing?

    Those that produce and are considered great, are they really so great without others that need them?

    Can you justify a belief in reason, through reason?

    Isn’t that a bit like, saying God exists, for it is written?

    Also, what about the whole, earth being destroyed by capitalism, where do you stand on that?

    • October 17, 2011 3:38

      Jeffrey, you are mistaken it is not “profit off of labor”, it is profit from the organization, coordination and underwriting of labor.

      There is nothing more difficult than the encouraging and coaxing of men to work in harmony towards a common cause, to dismiss that as “profit off labor” is either an attempt to deceive, or ignorance.

      What would the typical “laborer” produce if his tasks were not set out for him, if the apparatus of his labor were not designed, created, built, and maintained by others, if structure was not provided for him, what would he do? If he was creative, or self-determining, persistent, or resolved, would he find himself occupied in the machinery of production of another man’s product? All systems are like a living organism, a mass of individual organs and system, but controlled and made whole by a nucleus, or brain.

      Capitalism is a system much like nature: The more intelligent, or powerful, the effort; the more reward… Those who expend effort are usually rewarded, although, sometimes, not immediately… Those who fail to expend effort are eliminated from the system, as behavior, or lack of it, has consequence, the wolf that refuses to hunt, is refusing to live, and will perish. No natural system exists where the organisms are not required to produce effort to exist, the only existence of such a system is in the mind creation of man

  2. jason permalink
    October 16, 2011 3:38

    Jeff,
    I’m writing because I’m not sure if you’re being sarcastic. The issues you just raised are EXACTLY the topics that Atlas Shrugged tackles. I would highly recommend that you read it. Even if you end up disagreeing with her, it is a great way to examine your own philosophy from a different light.
    For instance, to answer one of your questions…
    “…there are those that labor, and those that profit off of the labor?”
    There are those who “profit off of the labor”, but in reality, the laborers profit much more immensely off of the capitalists. Inventions, intellectual property, and logistical structure are the products of the labor of the capitalists. These products in turn make it possible for more “common” people to derive more value from the work of their own hands. For instance, a blacksmith can make very little money nowadays because it is much cheaper to buy equivalent products from a machinist. Who designed the machine that made it possible for all the blacksmiths to increase their production? A scientist, a manager, an engineer — a capitalist.

  3. TuffsNotEnuff permalink
    October 18, 2011 3:38

    Where do Ayn Rand mention organized criminal activity? The massive scams like the two cycles of Dot.com fraud, followed by $7-trillion stolen during the 2003-2008 Big Bubble.

    Where does free money from The Fed come into your worship of this fiction writer?

    Capitalism has no intrinsic limits to rein in dishonesty. There is no “John Galt” in real life — instead people such as oil baron Doheny and the modern Larry Summers and Treasury Secretary Paulson.

    Taxes ??? The price of civilization. And when there’s a systemic recession/depression we have tried the crap about cut taxes/cut spending. That’s called The Great Depression. Japan’s Lost Decade is documented by Dr. Koo thoroughly — same blunders.

    A Hollywood party gal becomes the Right’s biggest thinker ??? If you must….

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  1. My Libertarian Hedge Fund Employed Perspective on Occupy Wall Street » A Blog, by Craig

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