This may be of interest to some people, re Rand and her military industrial complex denial. I found an exchange between Roderick Long and Chris Sciabarra, from 2003, on the rebirthofreason site. (SOLOHQ, at that time).
" I have the following question for Chris.In "Philosophy: Who Needs It," which was (not coincidentally) an address at West Point, Rand says two thing that seem wildly out of keeping with the analysis of neofascist foreign policy that Chris rightly finds in Rand's writings. First, she claims that the United States "has never engaged in military conquest," a historically bizarre statement. Second, she denies the very EXISTENCE of the "military-industrial complex," calling it "a myth or worse." THAT'S the Rand that I'd thought of myself as breaking away from on these issues. So my question for Chris is, how should the relation between those remarks and her critique of neofascism be understood? Was she simply inconsistent, or did she have some intermediate view I've failed to grasp?
Sciabarra: Roderick raises some very important issues with regard to certain inconsistencies in Rand. He asks about the relationship between her critique of neofascism and her remarks in the essay, “Philosophy: Who Needs It” (where she denies the existence of the “military-industrial complex” and the belief that America ever embarked on imperial conquest). Roderick wonders if Rand was being inconsistent, or if she had “some intermediate view.” Before answering that question, let me present the full passage in question. Rand writes:“There is a special reason why you, the future leaders of the United States Army, need to be philosophically armed today. You are the target of a special attack by the Kantian-Hegelian-collectivist establishment that dominates our cultural institutions at present. You are the army of the last semi-free country left on earth, yet you are accused of being a tool of imperialism—and ‘imperialism’ is the name given to the foreign policy of this country, which has never engaged in military conquest and has never profited from the two world wars, which she did not initiate, but entered and won. (It was, incidentally, a foolishly overgenerous policy, which made this country waste her wealth on helping both her allies and her former enemies.) Something called ‘the military-industrial complex’—which is a myth or worse—is being blamed for all of this country's troubles. Bloody college hoodlums scream demands that R.O.T.C. units be banned from college campuses. Our defense budget is being attacked, denounced and undercut by people who claim that financial priority should be given to ecological rose gardens and to classes in esthetic self-expression for the residents of the slums.”A few interesting things about this passage should be noted. First, this was addressed to the graduates of the military academy at West Point in 1974. Rand may have opposed the Vietnam War, but her criticisms were leveled at the political leaders and intellectual architects of that war, not at the troops who fought it. In a letter to Doris Gordon (30 May 1973), Rand once argued: “One is free to disagree with the government of one's country on any issue, including its foreign policy, but one has no right to express one's sympathy with the enemy in wartime, because this amounts to sanctioning the killing of one's countrymen.” So I think that Rand’s comments here should be contextualized by this general attitude toward the U.S. military. I also think that we can’t abstract her comments from her intense opposition to the New Left underpinnings of those who typically protested the Vietnam war (hence, her noting of the conflict between expenditures on defense, a legitimate function of government in Rand’s view, and expenditures on ecology, a tribalist “anti-industrial” movement in Rand’s view).Still, I think that the passage in question is problematic given her broader views. For example, in “The Roots of War,” Rand clearly recognizes that while “capitalistic imperialism” is a myth, since capitalism as such is based on free trade, the “repressive” elements in the mixed economy will drive statist policies toward conquest of foreign markets. She also recognizes the statist underpinnings of the policies of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, and endorses Arthur Ekirch’s view of “the spirit of imperialism” that dominated the foreign policies of the “collectivist reformers.”Rand was also aware of the jingoistic roots of the Spanish-American War (another exercise in the distortion of truth; see my previous message above), which even “conventional” historians view as imperialist. In her notes while writing THE FOUNTAINHEAD, for example, Rand draws from many of the concretes in the life of William Randolph Hearst as she crafts the character of Gail Wynand. She writes on 12 December 1938:“Hearst started agitating for the Spanish-American War in order to create ‘live’ news. There was a story, unproved, but considered possible: Hearst sent special correspondents to Cuba, one of whom was Frederic Remington, the eminent artist, who drew notable sketches of Spanish cruelty. After a short time Remington sent this telegram from Havana: ‘W. R. Hearst, New York Journal, NY: Everything is quiet. There is no trouble here. There will be no war. I wish to return. Remington.’ This is the answer Hearst is said to have written: ‘Remington, Havana: Please remain. You furnish the pictures and I'll furnish the war. W. R. Hearst.’”On the broader issue of the “military-industrial complex,” I suspect that, because Rand places this phrase in scare quotes, she’s reacting against the portrait put forth by New Leftists who pinned the blame on “capitalism” rather than its opposite. Rand may also be interpreting “imperialism” narrowly as physical, military conquest, rather than, the kind of “socialism for big business” that was internationalized in the “New Fascism,” which she, herself, saw as the root of much global conflict.Interestingly, of course, it was not the New Left that first warned of the dangers of the military-industrial complex; it was none other than President Dwight D. Eisenhower. And, writing ATLAS SHRUGGED in the era of Ike, Rand herself recognized the incestuous and corrupting relationships among government, business, science, and the military (see, for example, her portrait of “Project X”).It is perhaps ironic that Rand’s fictional critique of this military-industrial-science nexus may have actually inspired some of the rebels of the 1960s student antiwar movement. In his book, IN PRAISE OF DECADENCE, Jeff Riggenbach writes:“Did the young people of the ‘60s hold a dim view of the ‘military-industrial complex’? Well, they certainly found nothing in ATLAS SHRUGGED that would be likely to make them reconsider that attitude. In fact, if one were to judge the worlds of government, big business, and the scientific establishment purely on the basis of reading ATLAS SHRUGGED, one would have to conclude that almost all big businessmen are parasitic incompetents who owe their profits to special deals worked out for them by politicians, that the scientific establishment is nothing but an arm of government, and that the principal function of government is to employ stolen resources in the invention of loathsome weapons of mass destruction.”