Thoughts on economics and liberty

Why Ayn Rand will always remain on the fringe, as a pop-capitalist. No serious policy work can be based on her intuitions.

I’ve critiqued Rand (who was quick to attack superb economists like Friedman) on a blog and on my FB page:

On Anoop Verma’s Blog:

Ayn Rand did go to some extremes, on occasion. She is very good at an intuitive level but remains only tangentially relevant to the actual governance of any society because she has very poor foundations in the theories of economics, nor a sense of economic history or political history.

She thought she had invented something new. Actually not. There were many precedents to her way of thinking, and many people had gone into much greater depth on a number of issues. She – being ignorant and arrogant in many ways – couldn’t understand them and simply trashed their views.

Ayn Rand was a promoter of pop capitalism; and a very good one at that. But no, no one should base their ideas on serious and complicated issues based on her views.

Friedman, Mises, Hayek, Buchanan, etc. operated on an entirely different plane which she could not even begin to grasp.

On my FB page:

Ayn Rand operated on intuition, not on analysis. Her intuitions were mostly right. Her problem is that since she is not constrained by the reality of actual governance, she went off on many a tangent, making her essentially irrelevant to the actual governance of any society.

You definitely need to understand serious economics before bringing Ayn Rand into the picture. She brought no new insight into economics, nor understood the concept of economic analysis.

Just like no textbook on philosophy will acknowledge Rand, so also no textbook in economics will do so. Her problem was that her intuition was good but she repeatedly failed in the rigorous analysis of anything. Her views on taxation are a joke. Her support for bribery of government by businesses is contemptible.

Rand has a place in life, mainly to give a shock to people smitten by socialism. But she has no solutions for the real world.

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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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3 thoughts on “Why Ayn Rand will always remain on the fringe, as a pop-capitalist. No serious policy work can be based on her intuitions.
  1. AV

    Actually Ayn Rand has created a complete and closed system of philosophy consisting of positions on: Metaphysics, Ethics, Politics, Epistemology and Aesthetics. Her philosophical system is the first complete system of philosophy of reason.

    However, Rand was not an economist. Her ideas in economics can be derived from the positions that she has taken in the areas of ethics, politics, and also metaphysics (because you have to know reality), and epistemology (because system of knowledge is important)

    She was close to Mises in matters of economics, the point of difference was that Mises did not consider “ethics” to be important in deciding what is the moral reason for which we should pursue good economics ideas.

    And Ayn Rand, being an objective philosopher, has insisted that all political and economic decisions must be based on the moral principle that man must do what is necessary for the survival of man qua man. Essentially Rand has taken the position that free market ideas are good because they enable man to survive qua man.

    Traditionally the free market economists have been using the philosophy of altruism to defend their free market ideas. Ayn Rand has rejected altruism, which lies at the core of all socialist, religious and communist ideologies.

    She has chartered a new territory by trying to defend good economics on the basis of morality or ethics.

     
  2. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Anoop

    Unfortunately, I can see through Ayn Rand’s work. It is very good in places, and extremely shallow – and UNETHICAL – in other places.

    I recommend a wide and deep understanding of other – many who are more outstanding – thinkers; and evaluate Rand’s work on its merits.

    I still rate Rand very highly, but nowhere in the league of serious thinkers in politics and economists. Her ethics – of course – is her weak link; a sham.
    s

     
  3. AV

    Ayn Rand was a system-builder. She has created a fully complete and closed system of philosophy. Her writing on Ethics are quite interesting and controversial because it is totally different from what other thinkers in history have written.

    Many of her essays are available on the net.

    Rand has rejected the philosophy of altruism, which mankind has been believing for thousands of years, and has based her ethics on ideas that allow man to survive as man. “The standard of value of the Objectivist ethics—the standard by which one judges what is good or evil—is man’s life, or: that which is required for man’s survival qua man.”

    Her other point of difference with the Austrian school is in the area of epistemology. The Austrian school believes in ‘a priori’ knowledge, which is a Platonic and Kantian idea. All the major statist ideologies like socialism, Nazism, etc., are based on ‘a priori’ epistemology. So the ‘a priori’ epistemology is the fatal flaw in Austrian school.

    Ayn Rand like, Aristotle, has proposed the ‘a posteriori’ system of knowledge. In the area of economics, the free market ideas can be best defended on the basis of knowledge which proceeds from observations or experiences.

    This is just to give an idea. I can’t type out all the details here.

     
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