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white_wolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 11:31 AM
Original message
Objectiveism and Libertarianism.
I'll admit I've never read Rand's books, I don't could stomach them, but from what I've read about Objectivism, it is very similar to Libertarianism. So I'm wondering is there a difference, do they overlap, or are they just different terms for the same thing?
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Taverner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 11:34 AM
Response to Original message
1. Actually, there is
Libertarianism is the idea of limited government. It can go as far as pure anarchy, or it could be just turning over government-run operations to corporations. It's a spectrum, like Socialism or Democracy.

Objectivism is Rand's new name for an old philosophy: Might makes right, and altruism is harmful to our species. Pure social darwinism. If someone is rich, then they deserve all that money as well as yours. Suck it up and take it like a man. Religion is bad because God not only doesn't exist, but Religion makes people altruistic, which is bad. Avoid empathy, sympathy and kindess, replace with confidence, intelligence and luck.
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Siouxmealso Donating Member (89 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 11:41 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. Close
You had an honest answer going there until you included "then they deserve all that money as well as yours" in your description. They don't care what you do with your money and you're not expected to care what they do with theirs.

You may agree or disagree but you owe it to the questioner to at least define their beliefs honestly, as misguided as they are.
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Taverner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 11:44 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. In theory you're right...
However if they take your money 'via the market' then its OK, and this happens more than not.

Think of the "titans of industry" getting together in a room, and fixing prices. Rand had no qualms about monopolies or price fixing. There are a myriad of ways they can take your money. Take pensions - the money is subtracted from your check as you work, and then hopefully given back to you when you retire. Except when "the house" loses that money by playing the Wall Street Casino.
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Brigid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 11:43 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. To me, Objectivism is Libertarianism on steroids.
Edited on Thu Apr-14-11 11:49 AM by Brigid
Classic libertarianism is pretty much about keeping government out of our lives and as limited as possible. However, such a libertarian would be unlikely to object if you chose to be kind or compassionate. Objectivism is about complete selfishness, with no room at all for such wasteful concepts as kindness or compassion. Sharing? Helping others? That only weakens them, according to the Randians. Only your own needs or desires matter, and if you push somebody out of the way to get what you want, it's their fault for being unable to stop you. It's about having a society of sociopaths.
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Siouxmealso Donating Member (89 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 12:17 PM
Response to Reply #3
8. I think that's the atheism connection
Some libertarians have religious beliefs which would lend themselves to being compassionate towards others. But they would help others through private gifts and donations, not through government.
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Brigid Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 12:20 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Yes, exactly.
A libertarian might well make such a choice. A Randian, not so much.
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 01:00 PM
Response to Reply #8
15. Congratulations on insulting atheists
Was that really necessary? To say that a lack of compassion indicates atheism, and that if libertarians are compassionate, it must be religious belief that does it? Were you just not thinking, or is that really what you believe?
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notesdev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 11:49 AM
Response to Reply #1
5. correction
Libertarianism cannot by definition go as far as pure anarchy; it presumes a government, just a very minimal one. Anarchy by definition is absolutely zero government. One cannot be both a libertarian and an anarchist, just as one cannot be a democrat (small 'd') and a monarchist; the concepts are incompatible.
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Siouxmealso Donating Member (89 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 12:22 PM
Response to Reply #5
10. I agree
Libertarians believe in a limited government whose primary role is to protect your constitutional rights, which means the need for law enforcement, the courts, etc.

Anarchists believe in no government and they don't care about anyone's constitutional rights being protected because they don't believe in a constitution that defines the role of government because they don't believe in government.
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white_wolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 12:25 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. Anarchy, unless you mean anchro-capitalism, is a different beast
than libertarianism. Anarchy is a left wing movement, usually included with communism and socialism as part of the radical left. The only examples I can think of to give are the anarchist communities set up during the Spanish Civil War.
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notesdev Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 12:37 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Not sure I agree on that characterization
There really isn't any "left" and "right" in anarchy; it's just another word for the default state of nature. Nature itself not having any politics, anarchy doesn't particularly lend itself to the left-right political spectrum.

Left and right politics presumes a government, so the terms don't really have a meaning under anarchy.
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Taverner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 12:23 PM
Response to Reply #5
11. Good point - the 'minarchist' school of government
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mweathermay Donating Member (16 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 01:21 PM
Response to Reply #1
16. correction
Some of what you say here is correct, however ...

Rand never made a case for "might makes right" and frequently condemned that mode of thinking. She also never said that you are entitled to other people's money: I don't know where you get that idea.

Objectivism is largely based on Aristotelian philosophical ideas along with some Romanticism thrown in. As a philosophy, it argues against:

1. Irrationalism: the idea that the universe is inherently incomprehensible, that language is always ambiguous, if not altogether meaningless (Derrida, et. al.), and that values and ethics are subjective and without rational foundation (the point of view of the sociopath). Rand hated irrationalism, and spent her entire life attacking it. Rand maintained that we have to have objective standards of ethics and law.

2. Collectivism: the idea that the will of the majority is more important than the will of its individual members. Rand hated racism, which she called the lowest form of collectivism.

3. Altruism: which to Rand led to the "sanction of the victim." The idea here is that other people have a claim to our lives and resources, and Rand felt that altruism led to situations in which we are victimized through our values. This is her most controversal position. Rand argued for "rational self-interest."

The problem with Rand is that she elevated capitalism to an ethos, or an ideal, and this is why I am not one of her followers. Nevertheless, she had some good ideas, and she is poorly understood by many.
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EstimatedProphet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 11:57 AM
Response to Original message
6. Objectivism is libertarianism for the intellectually lazy.
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EstimatedProphet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 12:09 PM
Response to Original message
7. Addendum: this link talks about why Rand should in no way be considered a philosopher
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Jack Rabbit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 12:43 PM
Response to Original message
14. Yes, there ae similarities
So a libertarian friend of mine in high school (that was a very long time ago) explained. It's really an overlap. Both favor the primacy of the individual over society. Both favor capitalism as an expression of individual liberty and want to reduce government to the size of a pea. Like Lenin (of all people), they both see government as an instrument of oppression, but as an oppression of the individual rather than an oppression of the lower social classes by a ruling class. Both see a capitalist as one who will make rational decisions with profit in mind, and consequently both believe that regulation of the markets is unnecessary, intrusive and oppressive.

Libertarians are for legalizing drugs, prostitution, etc. In a television interview with the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate (again, this was a long time ago), the reporter asked the candidate questions about such laws and his answer was always the same: There should be laws to protect children; for adults, the rule should be liberty.

Objectivism is largely silent on these matters, preferring instead to emphasize philosophical underpinnings of what Ayn Rand considered the capitalist ideal, while libertarians are silent on such matters. Consequently, the objectivists take a dim view of "altruism" and embrace atheism. There is no room for faith, hope and charity in Ayn Rand's world. While libertarians believe in freedom of religion, objectivists are particularly contemptuous of Christianity for its emphasis on compassion and charity (i.e., altruism).

My own philosophical/political objections to objectivism/libertarianism are expressed elsewhere on DU, going back to 2001.
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