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Ayn Rand was a libertarian Russian novelist and philosopher. She wrote her most influential works in the 1930s. Her work was significant for exploring the consequences of a moral code based on fairness, rather than tradition or religious roots. She advocated a minimalist government and strict capitalism.

Her work resonates particularly well among those who feel that social and governmental restrictions have hindered their ability to succeed. She was a positivist politically speaking (preferring positive / participatory freedoms rather than constraint based freedoms such as rules of protection)

See also ResponsibilityAssumption, AntiAuthoritarian.


I don't think there is a single geeky place on the Internet that is not crawling with techno-libertarians (CryptoNauts) inspired by AynRand, and in my many experiences so far, I would classify them mostly as people to be highly cautious of. They are generally anti-BarnRaising, AntiAuthoritarian, and anti-social. AynRand was a cynic and elitist, who disliked other people, definitely distrusted them, and was neurotically "rationalist" to the dearth of the richness of the human condition. To the extent that compscis are described by Wiki:OrphansPreferred, her philosophies resonate strongly amongst programmers, particularly those who want to build MultiVac?-styled command & control systems. This is ironic since they are also the first people to clamour for the reduction of others' influence over their own lives. It seems to me from experience that if someone is talking about AynRand, they are really looking for personal gain at the expense of others, and thus they should be treated as distrustfully as they treat you. After all, since most of them do not value other people, they will think little of hurting you for personal gain. Maybe this is why they distrust other people, as a form of projection of their own internal belief systems onto others. And those of us into "BarnRaising"--i.e. a positive, friendly, convivial, communal atmosphere that we are trying to construct online in our spare time for our personal enjoyment--may simply be too alien for them to empathize with (even if empathy is discounted in favour of rationalism). -- SunirShah

My, I must have hit a nerve. Not all techno-libertarians are inspired by AynRand since many of them limit their reading of fiction to fantasy and graphic novels. And I think many, if not most, of those who hold her ideas in high regard are mentally recovering from an authoritarian PrescriptiveCulture? or have suffered in an environment where their form of excellence is condemned (e.g. bright, creative young people at many public high schools). The real answer, of course, is one of balance; Ayn Rand's ResponsibilityAssumption and the stoic determinism and acceptance exemplified by Sartre and Hemmingway are endpoints on a continuum. --Steve

"mentally recovering from an authoritarian PrescriptiveCulture?" -- sounds about right. The libertarian posture of "I'll support those less well-off than myself, but only by choice, not if I'm MADE to do it" seems particularly childish to me.

Contrast the communist dictum that "charity under capitalism is like using a sticking plaster to cure cancer" - the posture of "I'll support those less well-off then myself, but only if I'm made to do it". Equally childish?

You're still operating within the Libertarian notion that taxation is an imposition rather than a social contract.

A more accurate and less judgmental word might be "adolescent" and that such personalities are suffering from an adjustment disorder, i.e. unresolved Oedipal conflicts. In both examples above, the libertarian and the communistic, the individuals' relation to the phallus is oppositional. He or she has a dysfunctional relation to power and the human condition of lack. Unwilling or unable to accept being a limited person in a limited universe they act out. Tearing down authority objects is highly attractive to these personalities but little thought is given as to what might come afterwards. Who will fill the power vacuum? Not them since, by definition, there would have been no need to destroy those in power had they held it themselves.

There are only two responses to this dilemma. Either you replace those who were once in power and become the very thing you revolted against. A common fate of many a would-be revolution. Or on the other hand, one can strike a position where you never quite succeed in bringing down your opposition. Settling instead for an eternal war against abstract and nebulous enemies.

Either way, the less well off get no support.

"Who will fill the power vacuum? Not them since, by definition, there would have been no need to destroy those in power had they held it themselves." I don't follow this: they can only fill a power vacuum after rebellion if they were in power before?

In the interest of acuracy one should read "objectivists" where this page spells "libertarians". - yes, agred that libretarian is a branch of objectivism, which is more accurately what ayn rand was. One thing of import - There are always more than two options (subsuming self to power or replacing that power). Ayn Rand did not promote "power"; she advocated personal sovereignty. The ability to create a life for oneself is primary. The ability to choose whether or not to help others is secondary. See another "pre"objectivist philosopher: "A true Philosopher King does not want to rule". - Plato


This pretty much sums it up for me -- MatthewMorris


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