Ayn Rand, of course, was not an anarchist: it is not necessarily inconsistent for her to have supported government actions combating a deadly contagion. In 1962, Rand penned the following:
If someone has a contagious disease . . . against which there is no inoculation, then the government has the right to quarantine him.,, [But] before the government can properly act, there must be an objective demonstration of an actual physical] danger. To quarantine people who are ill is not a violation of their rights; it merely prevents them from doing physical damage to others.
So Rand would have supported quarantines (essentially "lockdown") against diseased people. Presumably, she would not have supported lockdowns of the healthy; nor would she have countenanced vaccine mandates (although I assume she would likely have been pro-Covid19 vaccine). This all seems fairly straightforward and not inconsistent with Rand's basic political principles. Where things get a bit more complicated is when we consider the position of Objectivists towards vaccine mandates implemented by "private" businesses. ARI is apparently insisting that employees working at this year's Objectivist Conference be vaccinated. Ms. Hanson seems to think this is "immoral" and contrary to Rand's philosophy. But in this she is mistaken. Under Randian laissez-faire, businesses have the right to make all sorts of demands of their employees. If their employees don't like, they can always quit.
But there is a deeper principle here that demonstrates a possible flaw in the Objectivist outlook on this issue. America's ruling elite contains a substantial plutocratic element. The sociologist Vilfredo Pareto denominated that the plutocracies that arise under representative systems of government as "demagogic plutocracies." Because of the psychological types that tended to dominate this form of plutocracy, once a government became significantly infiltrated by such a faction, it was only a matter of time that the society would be completely and thoroughly looted. If you examine what has happened in this country over the last three decades, that is precisely what is happening. The country is almost thirty trillion in debt and there's no end in sight. A handful of big Wall Street "investment" firms has used the Federal Reserve's easy money policies to turn the stock market into a giant casino rigged in their favor. They have turned the pandemic into a scheme to make themselves even richer. While small business owners and the working class become increasingly impoverished, the ranks of billionaires swells.
Now it would be easy for orthodox Objectivists to claim that they are opposed to corporations that make use of government to get rich at the expense of hard working Americans -- but their opposition to such businesses tends to be restricted to theory rather than practice. Again and again, Objectivists support the right of corporations to do as they please. Big Tech can sensor anyone they disfavor because, after all, YouTube and Twitter and Instagram are private property, and one can do with one's property as one sees fit. But is it really true that the property of corporations is "private." After all, the corporations themselves are "public," with their ownership spread among many people (at least in theory). So whose property is it really? The stakeholders or the managers of the corporations? The fact is, corporations are hybrid institutions that don't really fit into the free market model. They often involve a very dangerous separation of ownership and management. And they have become very powerful within our society.
Because Objectivists regard corporation as private institutions (i.e., non-governmental), they don't object when corporations behave like despotic governments. If corporations, on their own initiative, decided to enact vaccine mandates, no one over at ARI could possibly object. But how is that any different, in practical terms, to government despotism. Whether I'm oppressed by a bureaucrat or a corporation, it's all the same in the end. Imagine, to provide an example of this in practice, an individual who lives in an area where all the grocery stores and banks within fifty miles are owned by corporations, all of which have implemented vaccine mandates for all their customers and employees. Practically speaking, such corporate-imposed mandates would be nearly as onerous as government imposed ones. In either case, the individual would not be entirely free to use his own reason to determine whether the vaccine makes sense for him.
Corporations are beginning to take on the functions of government and ARIians seem incapable of noticing this. Neither Rand nor any of her followers seem to have ever taken heed of Berle and Means or Joseph Schumpeter or James Burnham, all of whom made predictions about corporations and the managerial state which, even if initially seemed unwarranted, have nevertheless over the years become , increasingly prescience. Whether you are mistreated by a government bureaucrat or a monopolistic corporation, it's all the same in the end.
This brings up another issue -- namely, ARI's firm pro-vaccine stance. Nothing wrong with it, of course, except it could be argued that it doesn't come from a particularly good place. Of course I understand that Objectivists will claim they support vaccines because of "the science." The only trouble is that I'm not sure they're be entirely honest with themselves when they make such a claim. Orthodox Objectivism has a kind of troubled relationship with "the science." If "the science" supports global warming, for example, then they're no longer for it. And let's not forget Dave Hariman. Yes, I know he's no longer affiliated with ARI -- but for a time he was very much involved with that institution spreading his smart ass objections to quantum physics and relativity. The fact is, Objectivism isn't really necessarily down with "the science." If "the science" seems to challenge their literalist, dice and billiard balls physics or their blank slate view of human nature or their insistence on laissez-faire, then they want nothing to do with it. So ascribing their pro-Covid19 vaccine stance to "the science" just doesn't pass the basic smell test.