Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Atlas Shrugged and Virginia Tech

A post from Carol Iannone on National Review:

"I'm not a fan of Ayn Rand's writings or ideas but she has a long section in one of her novels about a train wreck which kills many people that seems apropos today. Everyone says of the train wreck that nothing could have been done to prevent it, but she goes over the whole buildup to the accident, every little piece in the chain, and shows how human choice, action, and decision-making accumulated step-by-step until culminating in the horror. That's how the Virginia Tech Massacre appears to me. No one thing might have prevented it, but it was caused, or permitted to happen, by a long accumulation of faulty actions and perceptions, of denials and mistakes, of bad decisions and assorted other failures. The only thing is to try to learn from it all. "

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Radicals for Capitalism

My copy of this new book hasn't arrived, but I did come across this rather snide review in the New York Times by David Leonhardt.

Here is a sample:

"MOST troubling, Doherty merely catalogs the movement’s failings rather than grappling with them. He relates that Rand 'notoriously testified' before the big-brotherly House Un-American Activities Committee in October 1947, when the committee was investigating Hollywood, where Rand had worked as a screenwriter, but the episode receives only two paragraphs. He skates over other questionable matters, too: for instance, that Friedman advised the murderous Pinochet regime in Chile; that Merwin Hart 'infected his free-market thought with anti-Semitism'; and that Rothbard supported Strom Thurmond’s segregationist campaign for president in 1948 (because, Doherty casually observes, 'he admired Thurmond’s states’ rights position'). The book fails to ask why people who claim to love freedom have so often had a soft spot for those who would deny it to others."

A few comments:

1. Yes, Rand testified before the House Un-American Activities Commitee, but to discuss the role of commies in the film industry. Not the wisest decision perhaps, but Leonhard leaves the impression that she was turning people in for prosecution.

2. Who is Merwin Hart? I've never heard of the guy and I'm pretty much up on the libertarian movement. And in case Leonhardt didn't know, the main libertarians (Rand, Friedman, Rothbard and Mises) were all Jewish.

3. Friedman advised the Pinochet regime. That appears to be something of an exaggeration. In any event, does it bother Leonhardt that Friedman also gave advice to the Red Chinese or the Yugoslavian communists?

4. Rothbard supported Strom Thurmond in 1948. Yes, but Rothbard throughout his career tried to make alliances with people who shared some of his ideas. Of course, one might question the widsom of this approach, but let's not forget the context either.