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Jerry Biggers

Jennifer Burns: election is referendum on Ayn Rand

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The author of Goddess of the Market, a genuinely interesting and useful bio on Ayn Rand, writes in Bloomberg that if Mitt Romney loses, it will be the end of the Republicans' and the conservatives' fascination with Ayn Rand. No,...really. (see link, below)

And you thought that Mitt was a me-too, middle-of-the-roader closet liberal! Nope. Just because he chose Ryan as his running mate that makes him an advocate of Objectivism (even though Ryan dis-avowed his allegiance to Ayn Rand,

Yup, Mitt a loyal lifelong member and one-time "Bishop" of the Mormon church (whose religion bears no similarity on ethical stances with those of Ayn Rand), was really preaching Objectivism all along. Disguised so well that bona fide Objectivists did not recognize it.

How do we know?. Well, wasn't Paul Ryan a one-time admirer of Rand? And werent there Rand admirers in the Republican Party who ultimately backed Mitt as an "anything-but-Obama" alternative. Anyway, Dr. Burns so asserts. Probably just what the crony-capitalists at Bloomberg would want to hear.

.http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-06/will-this-election-settle-republicans-ayn-rand-debate-.html

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How can someone who has obviously spent time with the subject be so clueless on something like this?

She comes across as either clueless or dishonest.

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Whew!

From comments on her book, it seemed she understood Objectivism and displayed good

faith about "libertarian" Rand. Are these now, her true colors? Talk of a Trojan Horse!

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Ms. Burns can kiss my lilly-white bottom.

I met Jennifer at a Cato Insitute function, along with Anne Heller, both starting off on their own book tours.

Ms. Burns used her PhD dissertation as the basis for her book. Her book does not convey the implicit disapproval that her article in Bloomberg shows.

I can attest that she is very attractive..... :rolleyes:

However, as to her possible reaction to your proposal, I do not care to speculate.... :unsure:

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Jack Kemp was a Rand admirer too, and was overall quite similar to Paul Ryan especially in his religious right credentials. He ran for VP in 1996 and lost. Why wasn't that a referendum on Rand?

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The factual claims are mostly accurate, and this will be a straightforward prediction to test over the next few years. We'll see.

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Yup, Mitt a loyal lifelong member and one-time "Bishop" of the Mormon church (whose religion bears no similarity on ethical stances with those of Ayn Rand), was really preaching Objectivism all along. Disguised so well that bona fide Objectivists did not recognize it.

How do we know?. Well, wasn't Paul Ryan a one-time admirer of Rand? And werent there Rand admirers in the Republican Party who ultimately backed Mitt as an "anything-but-Obama" alternative. Anyway, Dr. Burns so asserts. Probably just what the crony-capitalists at Bloomberg would want to hear.

Jerry,

It may have something to do with the venue for which this piece was written.

I'm not too sure, though, that I'd want to read Jennifer Burns' philosophical diagnosis of Barack Obama. Would I recognize the guy from it?

Robert Campbell

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I have seen both Heller and Burns discuss their books on Rand at conferences, in print, websites, and on several TV shows. Both of them adopt their presentations to please the audience that they are addressing.

In the examples that I have seen or read, Heller is more blatant in playing to the audience. At an Atlas Society conference several year's ago, Heller was a guest speaker. Rather than give a presentation on a specific topic (which is what was listed in the printed conference Agenda), she just took questions from the audience. I happened to be somewhat annoyed by her flippant answers in several interviews (e.g., claiming that Rand had such an unpleasant personality,that even as her biographer, she would not have wanted to meet and interview her). I found this to be an incredible statement from a biographer and asked her if she held to that statement. As I recall, she said that her secondary sources were "adequate." Uh-huh, sure, Anne.

In defense of Jennifer, I think she gave a much more even-handed discussion of Rand's supposed fascination with the child murderer,Hillman, pointing out that it was not unusual for an author to become infatuated with criminals, citing examples from Truman Capote and Norman Mailer.

Now, if Romney had won, would there have been a similar, though much more favorable, article by Ms Barnes appearing in a periodical? My guess is yes, but probably not in Bloomberg. . .

Among other motivations, of course,they do this to promote and sell their books. Understandable, but not especially admirable.

Regarding Jennifer's piece on Bloomberg, much of it seems to be boilerplate that she has used in several of her articles. In this case, it looks like she rearranged segments and wrote for her assumed Bloomberg readership.

,

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Now, if Romney had won, would there have been a similar, though much more favorable, article by Ms Barnes appearing in a periodical? My guess is yes, but probably not in Bloomberg. . .

Among other motivations, of course,they do this to promote and sell their books. Understandable, but not especially admirable.

,

Jerry,

Spot on. I'd give long odds she had two versions of the referendum article ready.

There's no expediency like an author promoting sales.:)

So I was a little too hard on her. But how that apparently adroit tie-up with a national

referendum on AR begins to look hollow when one considers the voting figures! (not the won or lost election).

If one goes by Dr Burns' theory, 1 in 2 Americans is enamored of Rand. Hm. Heads, I win, tails you lose...

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The author of Goddess of the Market, a genuinely interesting and useful bio on Ayn Rand, writes in Bloomberg that if Mitt Romney loses, it will be the end of the Republicans' and the conservatives' fascination with Ayn Rand.

Jerry,

I just read Jennifer's article. The only part I could find that matched your statement was at the end:

Rand’s division of Americans into moochers and producers, dependents and independents, is no longer controversial -- it reflects conventional wisdom in the Republican Party. This election may well determine if that philosophy can withstand the scrutiny of American voters.

I don't equate this with "the end of the Republicans' and the conservatives' fascination with Ayn Rand."

I do believe she makes a mistake in looking to a single election to wonder about the continued public scrutiny of a philosophy. She's an historian and knows better. Take the "philosophy" of Christianity. How many Christians were fed to the lions in public--and for how many years under how many different Roman leaders--before the "philosophy" took over the Roman Empire?

She should know that you don't take one political loss of one leader as an indication of the philosophical "scrutiny" activity of the population.

But that's a far cry from claiming that conservatives will end their fascination with Rand.

Just a simple look at Amazon's sales indicators--including those for her own book--should be enough to show her some voter fascination. The fact that she was writing for Bloomberg at all is an indicator of voter fascination with Rand.

It seems reasonable to presume she knows this (albeit I can't say for sure).

Voter fascination--and, yes, scrutiny--of Rand is not going anywhere. How this will translate into action is something else. I, personally, believe Objectivist and libertarian ideas are on the upswing and are becoming a solid element in the American mainstream. And I believe this will be reflected in politics. Slowly and painfully, but unequivocally there.

One part of me is actually hoping for Obama's administration to persecute free-market capitalists and producers. I won't like it in terms of watching good people be persecuted, in fact I will hate it, but I do predict it. And I will like the backlash on his worldview. Nothing solidifies the public scrutiny and acceptance of a philosophy like real victims the press can show and write up.

Even back when the only press to speak of was tribal meetings and public lion-feedings.

Michael

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From the article: http://www.bloomberg...nd-debate-.html

"Among the many ironies of Ryan’s attraction to Rand is that “Atlas Shrugged” depicted politicians as among the worst moochers of them all, followed closely by their business allies." (Jennifer Burns)

Another irony is that conservative Christian politicians who praise Rand's philosophy seem to blank out her pronounced atheism.

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I do believe she makes a mistake in looking to a single election to wonder about the continued public scrutiny of a philosophy. She's an historian and knows better.

Michael,

No kidding.

Compare Jennifer Burns' treatment of the 1964 election.

Robert Campbell

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The author of Goddess of the Market, a genuinely interesting and useful bio on Ayn Rand, writes in Bloomberg that if Mitt Romney loses, it will be the end of the Republicans' and the conservatives' fascination with Ayn Rand.

Jerry,

I just read Jennifer's article. The only part I could find that matched your statement was at the end:

Rand’s division of Americans into moochers and producers, dependents and independents, is no longer controversial -- it reflects conventional wisdom in the Republican Party. This election may well determine if that philosophy can withstand the scrutiny of American voters.

I don't equate this with "the end of the Republicans' and the conservatives' fascination with Ayn Rand."

I do believe she makes a mistake in looking to a single election to wonder about the continued public scrutiny of a philosophy. She's an historian and knows better. Take the "philosophy" of Christianity. How many Christians were fed to the lions in public--and for how many years under how many different Roman leaders--before the "philosophy" took over the Roman Empire?

She should know that you don't take one political loss of one leader as an indication of the philosophical "scrutiny" activity of the population.

But that's a far cry from claiming that conservatives will end their fascination with Rand.

Just a simple look at Amazon's sales indicators--including those for her own book--should be enough to show her some voter fascination. The fact that she was writing for Bloomberg at all is an indicator of voter fascination with Rand.

It seems reasonable to presume she knows this (albeit I can't say for sure).

Voter fascination--and, yes, scrutiny--of Rand is not going anywhere. How this will translate into action is something else. I, personally, believe Objectivist and libertarian ideas are on the upswing and are becoming a solid element in the American mainstream. And I believe this will be reflected in politics. Slowly and painfully, but unequivocally there.

One part of me is actually hoping for Obama's administration to persecute free-market capitalists and producers. I won't like it in terms of watching good people be persecuted, in fact I will hate it, but I do predict it. And I will like the backlash on his worldview. Nothing solidifies the public scrutiny and acceptance of a philosophy like real victims the press can show and write up.

Even back when the only press to speak of was tribal meetings and public lion-feedings.

Michael

Michael,

You think only her last statement, (which you link), matches my characterization? How about the first?

Whoever prevails in today’s election, the 2012 presidential campaign should go down as a referendum on the long conservative fascination with Ayn Rand, the controversial libertarian novelist and philosopher.

I think that is a pretty clear statement of the intent of her article. I do not think she proves her case, but I think it is written as fodder for Bloomberg readers and/or their editorial staff, who have excoriated Rand on a number of occasions within the last several years (roughly from the time that the MSM noticed the Rand references on Tea Party placards, and started launching a series of virulent, ad hominem attacks on Rand)..

In my opinion, the Bloomberg media continues to follow the philosophy of their founder, the current erstwhile Mayor of New York. It is no surprise that they would not look with any favor upon Ayn Rand's view of the separation of government from the economic realm. You may have noticed that Michael Bloomberg does not follow a hands-off view of government involvement with business.

Whether Professor Burns "knows better" than to attempt to equate the results of a single election, is not the issue. The first sentence is the bait to attract those wishing to feast on the demise of Randian influence among conservatives. When it comes to providing the meat backing up her statement, the meal is clearly short on nourishment..

She only returns at the end to her original thesis, but has not demonstrated that the victory or defeat of Romney-Ryan equates to a "referendum" on Objectviosm by Republicans and conservatives. or voters in general.

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Jerry,

I agree with Jennifer that it was a "referendum on the long conservative fascination with Ayn Rand." I happen to see that as a gain, since Rand's name has never been mentioned on the ticket before like it was with Paul Ryan.

I don't agree that calling it a referendum equates meaning "the end of the Republicans' and the conservatives' fascination with Ayn Rand."

Sorry, I just don't see it.

I do agree, however, that in a conservative venue, she probably would have written her article in a more laudatory tone toward Rand.

Michael

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Jerry,

I agree with Jennifer that it was a "referendum on the long conservative fascination with Ayn Rand." I happen to see that as a gain, since Rand's name has never been mentioned on the ticket before like it was with Paul Ryan.

I don't agree that calling it a referendum equates meaning "the end of the Republicans' and the conservatives' fascination with Ayn Rand."

Sorry, I just don't see it.

I do agree, however, that in a conservative venue, she probably would have written her article in a more laudatory tone toward Rand.

Michael.

I would agree that there would have been some reason to refer to the election as a referendum on Rand, if her name came up in the debates, but even Joe Biden's manic performance in his "debate" with Ryan (where ridicule, exageration and distortion were his tactics), he did not mention Ryan's alleged fascination with Rand

I think the only time that Rand was referred to was when Obama gave his very brief, boilerplate, denunciation of Rand in his Rolling Stone interview. I dont recall Romney ever mentioning Rand. The only other time was when Ryan gave an interview to National Review Online, and in that case, heminimized his interest in Rand's philosophy and denied having his staff read Atlas Shrugged. Both statements are falsehoods (we were both at the 50th Anniversary of Atlas Shrugged, held by the Atlas Society in Washington, D.C., where he was a guest speaker and emphasized his interest in Rand) . He told NRO that he rejected Rand's philosophy in exchange for Thomas Acquinas (So, those books carried around by his staff were really the Summa Theologica, cleverly disguised with Atlas Shrugged book.

jackets?).

I am afraid that the great mass of the voting populace went into the booth and never considered to what extent the candidates agreed or disagreed with Rand.If some did, it was probaly very small and was insignicanta fwas very small. Most probably had no clue who Rand was.

.

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[J. Burns]: http://www.bloomberg...nd-debate-.html

But he [Paul Ryan]has been profoundly shaped by the binary picture of the world she first created in “Atlas Shrugged.”

We might be standing at the threshold where binary, enemy/foe pictures don't work anymore because they don't cover the complexities of life in our contemporary society.

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[J. Burns]: http://www.bloomberg...nd-debate-.html

But he [Paul Ryan]has been profoundly shaped by the binary picture of the world she first created in “Atlas Shrugged.”

We might be standing at the threshold where binary, enemy/foe pictures don't work anymore because they don't cover the complexities of life in our contemporary society.

Why?

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We might be standing at the threshold where binary, enemy/foe pictures don't work anymore because they don't cover the complexities of life in our contemporary society.

Why?

Because the awareness of just how 'connected' we all are in our global village has substantially increased in recent years.

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We might be standing at the threshold where binary, enemy/foe pictures don't work anymore because they don't cover the complexities of life in our contemporary society.

Why?

Because the awareness of just how 'connected' we all are in our global village has substantially increased in recent years.

This comment is not up to your usual standards, Xray.

Has the nature of reality changed in recent years? Has the source or nature of human rights changed? Life is no more complex than it used to be. In fact, it is much simpler in many ways. If you don't believe me, take a trip to the supermarket and buy a dozen eggs, and then compare that to the labor, effort and complexity that would have been required in the good ole' days to accomplish what in these "complex" times takes less than 5 minutes.

One could argue that the entirety of life is "binary": i.e., either you are alive, or you are dead. Binary isn't necessarily bad.

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Has the nature of reality changed in recent years?

It depends on what you understand by 'nature of reality'. Take the internet for example: it has created a new reality that didn't exist before: the possibility to directly exchange one's thoughts with people all over the world in a matter of seconds; it enables us to quickly find information that in former days would have taken a lot of time to dig up.

Has the source or nature of human rights changed?

I'm not sure what you mean by 'source' of human rights. Do you mean fundamental human needs that have provided the basis for declaring certain rights inalienable?

One could argue that the entirety of life is "binary": i.e., either you are alive, or you are dead. Binary isn't necessarily bad.

True, but Jennifer Burns was specifically referring to the binary picture of the world Rand created in Atlas Shrugged.

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Has the nature of reality changed in recent years?

It depends on what you understand by 'nature of reality'. Take the internet for example: it has created a new reality that didn't exist before: the possibility to directly exchange one's thoughts with people all over the world in a matter of seconds; it enables us to quickly find information that in former days would have taken a lot of time to dig up.

Has the source or nature of human rights changed?

I'm not sure what you mean by 'source' of human rights. Do you mean fundamental human needs that have provided the basis for declaring certain rights inalienable?

One could argue that the entirety of life is "binary": i.e., either you are alive, or you are dead. Binary isn't necessarily bad.

True, but Jennifer Burns was specifically referring to the binary picture of the world Rand created in Atlas Shrugged.

I was commenting, since this is an Objectivist website, from an Objectivist perspective. When I mentioned the "source" of human rights, for instance, I was referring to Rand's formulation of man's life being an end in itself and as the standard of value, etc. etc.

Mainly, I was riding one of my favorite hobby horses, i.e., that, contrary to conventional wisdom, our lives have gotten simpler, not more "complex". People are fond of saying how "complex" life has become, and they usually do so in a comfortably heated room with a steaming cup of coffee or brandy at their side, while wearing finely honed reading glasses, usually within 30 feet of a toilet that flushes with the mere pull of a handle, and staring into a computer that gives unlimited access to whatever information they deem interesting--all in an environment of luxury and safety that would have astounded the kings and queens of previous generations. Is this what you mean by life being "complex"? Would you prefer the simpler days of living in squalor and subject to the whim of that same king or queen referred to above?

I notice that you didn't address my carton of eggs example. Do you have any specific examples of how life has actually gotten more complex? (btw--your internet example actually proves my point, not yours...)

I would genuinely like to hear an example.

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Do you have any specific examples of how life has actually gotten more complex?

Taxes?

I agree that the government-created tax code is complex, but that doesn't mean life is more complex.

Query, however, whether it is more complicated to comply with the current tax code than it is to walk with your family--mostly barefoot with a tiny little Messiah in tow and the smell of donkey shit in the air--from Galilee to Jerusalem to have your head counted and render unto Caeser that which is Caeser's... :cool:

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