David Sirota has a really good column in Salon today: “Ayn Rand is for children” that explores the mystery of why some people think the fiction of Ayn Rand actually describes a reasonable political ideology. And his argument of why it does not can also serve as a 12-step guide to how to grow out of an immature belief in her ideological sham.
One of Sirota’s arguments rings particularly true with me — that part of the problem with Americans is that we don’t travel. We don’t ever see those parts of the world that are living in the Randian world of rampant, unregulated capitalism, with “no obvious environmental, public health, or workplace safety laws”, where there is no social safety net, and the poor don’t look like the “takers” or “moochers” that American politicians accuse them of being.
According to government data, only 30 percent of Americans even possess a passport (which is a very low rate compared to citizens in other industrialized English-speaking countries). Additionally, of those who do, only a fraction use their travel papers to visit parts of the developing world that perfectly spotlight the failures of the Rand vision.
Sirota also experienced the same thing as I did, when on visiting China realized that it is communist in name only, and “as some American CEOs will openly admit, if you want to see a more purely Randian version of a socially darwinist free market than exists in America, head straight across the Pacific Ocean to China.” Where hopefully you won’t get sick from the massive pollution problems they are having.
Sirota’s bottom line?
To be a Rand groupie is to flaunt your immaturity, your ignorance, your desperation to justify greed or your lack of international travel. It is, in other words, to admit your blindness to how so much of the world already lives, and to ignore what America would look like if “Fountainhead Shrugged” was seen as a public policy manual rather than what it really is: a dangerous farce.