Conjecture 1: Logical deduction from Rand’s basic premises. Rand’s admirers would have us believe that her views of Libertarianism are merely deductions from the principles of Objectivism. From Rand’s views of history and psychology, she concluded that bad arguments do more harm than outright opposition. This being the case, Libertarians really are “worse” than Marxists and communists, because their bad arguments cause more harm to freedom and capitalism than outright opposition.
While it may be true that Rand’s hostility toward Libertarians was, in part at least, motivated by this factor, it still doesn’t explain why Rand made so many bad arguments against Libertarians. Indeed, it seems altogether anomalous. If bad arguments are worse than outright opposition, then Rand, if she were consistent, would not compound the fault by issuing bad arguments against Libertarianism. If she opposed Libertarianism because its apologists refused to provide good arguments for capitalism and freedom, she hardly did her own cause any favors by issuing even worse arguments against Libertarianism.
Conjecture 2: Vanity motive. Rand had a very high opinion of her ability to persuade people. She regarded her conviction that capitalism requires a “moral base” (i.e., that capitalism should be defended with moral arguments) as a special insight which would allow her political ideals to triumph. However, Rand struggled to find other prominent supporters of capitalism and freedom who shared this view. When Rand’s essay “Textbook of Americanism” was passed around among the donors and staff members of FEE, the first libertarian think tank, few were impressed with Rand’s arguments. One reader complained of Rand’s “illogical jargon,” while another complained that the “line of logic” which Rand used in the essay was “very weak.” [Burns, Goddess of the Market, 119] In short, even those who sympathized with Rand’s political ideals found her arguments unpersuasive. Imagine how galling that must have been to Rand that even people who shared her political convictions found her arguments unconvincing!
Perhaps, then, it was merely disappointed vanity that set Rand against libertarians. Since they refused to bow down and let her be their intellectual leader, following and agreeing with her every pronouncement, she concluded they had to be her worst enemies.
Conjecture 2: Jealousy. Perhaps Rand simply resented that some defenders of freedom and capitalism had more success or were taken more seriously than she was. In the forties, the most successful book defending freedom was Hayek’s Road to Serfdom. Rand hostility toward Hayek was immediate and vitriolic. She regarded Hayek as “pure poison” and “an example of our most pernicious enemy.” “The man is an ass,” she wrote, “[The Road to Serfdom] had no base, no moral base. This is why my book is needed.” [ibid, 104-105] This final boast suggests that Rand regarded Hayek as a rival, and that jealousy may have played a role in her overwrought denunciations of his book.
Perhaps Rand’s hatred of Libertarians was fueled, at least in part, by jealously of other intellectuals such as Rothbard, Hospers, and Nozick. Perhaps this explains her bitter contention that Libertarians were merely cheap publicity seekers. Maybe she resented that they were getting more attention than she was, or less negative attention, as the case might be.
Or perhaps Rand merely resented that Libertarians were be given credit for ideas that Rand thought she herself was responsible for. Maybe she was jealous that she wasn’t being given all or most of the credit for these ideas.
Conjecture 4: Resentment against excommunicated Objectivists. Many Libertarians were former Objectivists; a few were even close disciples of Rand. Perhaps Rand resented that Libertarian these former Objectivist apostates a safe haven.
Now which, if any, of these conjectures is true (or at least true in parts) I will leave to the reader to decide. Apologists for Rand might insist that conjectures two through four must be wrong, because Rand was incapable of vanity, jealousy, and resentment. This, however, is a rather implausible assertion difficult to find creditable. Vanity, jealousy, and resentment are emotions deep within the warp and woof of human nature. Denying these emotions on the ground that this human nature doesn't exist only encourages thinkers like Rand to ignore and repress what they really do feel, rather than confronting these troublesome emotions and taking effective psychological counter-measures against them. It is precisely those who deny human nature that are most vulnerable to its less pleasant manifestations. Rand’s claim that she didn’t have these disagreeable emotions because, after all, she was a woman of self-made soul, is no more creditable than someone denying that his or her organism produces disagreeable body odors. Ironically, it’s precisely the individual who makes such a claim who winds up stinking. The rest of us, recognizing that are bodies, if left to their own devices, will inevitably produce unpleasant odors, resort to such effective counter-measures as bathing and deodorant.
Note: this will be the last post in the current "Objectivism and Politics" series. Although there exists a great deal more territory that could be covered relating to politics, I think we have touched most of the major issues and can proceed to other areas of Rand's philosophy.