Thursday, August 10, 2006

Ayn Rand idiocy

As a book on Ayn Rand is about to be published in India, my attention has been drawn to the following quote by her:

"Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom; a free mind and a free market are corollaries."

This is typical of the sort of nonsense that she was so good at: elegant style giving superficial plausibility to content that seems persuasive at first sight but does not hold up to scrutiny.

If Rand's statement were true, then no tradition of dissenting writing could ever have existed, from John Bunyan through Alexander Solzhenitzyn to dissenters in contemporary China such as Yu Jie.

It is also a fact that economic freedom can exist without political freedom - Communist China has been and is one outstanding example, Russia is another. In history, the longest-lasting example was probably India, where the intellectual and political bondage of the caste system guaranteed a free market to people of my caste (vaishyas or banias) with the result that millions of people were oppressed politically and economically for centuries (millennia?)

However, the liberating truth is that free minds usually precede and are the necessary condition for free markets as well as free polities.

"Free minds" do not of course come free - they are the result of tough intellectual labour combined with the willingness to pay the price of taking unfashionable, unpopular and disliked positions in public. Sphere: Related Content

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