Monday, June 28, 2010

Objectivism & Politics, Part 56

Ayn Rand contra Libertarianism 1. Rand’s view of libertarianism speaks volumes about the Objectivist politics. When asked, “Why don’t you approve of the Libertarians, thousands of whom are loyal readers of your works?” Rand responded:

Because Libertarians are a monstrous, disgusting bunch of people: they plagiarize my ideas when that fits their purpose, and they denounce me in a more vicious manner than any communist publication, when that fits their purpose. They are lower than any pragmatists, and what they hold against Objectivism is morality. They’d like to have an amoral political program.

Here’s some of Rand’s other choice remarks about Libertarians:

All kinds of people today call themselves “libertarians,” especially something calling itself the New Right, which consists of hippies, except that they’re anarchists instead of collectivists. But of course, anarchists are collectivists.... [Libertarians] sling slogans and try to ride on two bandwagons. They want to be hippies, but don’t want to preach collectivism, because those jobs are already taken. But anarchism is a logical outgrowth of the anti-intellectual side of collectivism. I could deal with a Marxist with a greater chance of reaching some kind of understanding, and with much greater respect. The anarchist is the scum of the intellectual world of the left, which has given them up. So the right picks up another leftist discard. That’s the Libertarian movement.

[The Libertarian Party is] a cheap attempt at publicity, which Libertarians won’t get...

Further, [the Libertarian’s] leadership consists of men of every of persuasion, from religious conservatives to anarchists. Moreover, most of them are my enemies: they spend their time denouncing me, while plagiarizing my ideas. Now, I think it’s a bad beginning for an allegedly pro-capitalist party to start by stealing ideas.

Now here is a party that plagiarizes some of my ideas, mixes it with the exact opposite—with religionists, anarchists, and just about every intellectual misfit and scum they can find—and they call themselves Libertarians, and run for office. form a new party based in part on half-baked ideas, and in part on borrowed ideas—I won’t say from whom—is irresponsible, and in today’s context, nearly immoral.

These remarks are so intemperate and over-the-top that it is hard not to suspect that Rand is merely looking for a pretext to despise and hate Libertarians. Summed up, here are what her allegations against Libertarianism amount to:

Libertarians are bad and evil because:

  1. Libertarians are a “monstrous, disgusting bunch of people.”
  2. Libertarians are “plagiarists” who stole Rand’s ideas without giving credit.
  3. Libertarians are anarchists.
  4. Libertarians are anti-intellectual collectivists, worse than Marxists.
  5. Libertarians are hippies and scum and intellectual cranks.
  6. Libertarians are worse than the New Left, because they want to combine anarchism with capitalism.
  7. Libertarians are led by men of various persuasions, including “religious conservatives and anarchists.”
  8. Libertarianism is based, in part, on “borrowed ideas.”
  9. Libertarians denounce Rand when it fits their purpose.
  10. Libertarians would like to have an amoral politics.
  11. Libertarianism is a cheap attempt at publicity.

Let’s examine each of these charges one by one:

1. Libertarians are a “monstrous, disgusting bunch of people.” This is merely an ad hominem slur with no logical or objective value whatsoever: simply Rand letting off emotional steam. But for someone who prides herself on rationality and objectivity, this sort of display hardly inspires trust or admiration. It makes one, rather, suspect that Rand’s hostility to Libertarianism has its root in irrational passion.

2. Libertarians are “plagiarists” who stole Rand’s ideas without giving credit. This is a deeply problematic charge against Libertarianism, especially considering the goal of Objectivism to spread Rand’s philosophy as far as possible. If Rand were merely complaining that Libertarians misrepresented her, that would be one thing, but the fact that she actually uses the word plagiarism raises questions as to Rand’s ultimate commitments. If Rand had to choose between (1) achieving widespread influence for her ideas but not being given credit for them, or (2) never suffering plagiarism but never achieving widespread influence, which would she choose? Her bitter complaints about plagiarism suggest that she would prefer the latter, that, in other words, unless she were given credit for her ideas, she would rather her ideas had no influence at all.

There is another side to this question as well. By complaining about plagiarism, Rand is implying that ideas are the exclusive property of their originators, but this is not the case at all. In the first place, there are very few new and original ideas out there: most ideas are simply the elaborations of other ideas. There is very little in Rand’s political thinking that is altogether new. Moreover, Rand seemed to have gotten many of her ideas, both political and otherwise, from Isabel Paterson. Rand’s entire theory of history (which is very important aspect of her politics) is merely an elaboration of what she learned from Paterson. [See Goddess of the Market, 112]

3. Libertarians are anarchists. This is merely guilt by association. Some libertarians are anarchists, therefore Rand implies that all Libertarians are anarchists. Basic intellectual honesty necessitates making this obvious distinction.

4. Libertarians are anti-intellectual collectivists, worse than Marxists. Really? While it is not entirely impossible that at least a few Libertarians are anti-intellectual, the notion that Libertarians are collectivists is simply absurd. Are the Cato institute, the Reason Foundation champions of collectivsm? Are Charles Murray, Milton Friedman, Ludwig Von Mises, Friedrich von Hayek, and Robert Nozick collectivists? Rand made a number of questionable assertions during her career as a polemicist. I can’t recall anything more dubious and irresponsible than this assertion.

5. Libertarians are hippies and scum and intellectual cranks. More ad hominem chatter which reveals more about Rand than it does about Libertarianism. That she must resort to name calling reveals the poverty of her claim to be a champion of reason and rationality.

I’ll cover 6-11 in my next post.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Kiss Of Death

Yes, it sucks. That appears to be the critical verdict on the never-before-produced 1934 Rand play "Ideal", currently off-Broadway. New York Post review here, New York Times here, Backstage here.

Hat tip Michael Prescott.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Objectivism & Politics, Part 55

Ayn Rand contra Conservatism 9. In the essay “Conservatism: an Obituary,” Rand’s main complaint against conservatism centers, not on what conservatives believe, but on the arguments that conservatives put forth to defend those beliefs. In other words, Rand acknowledges that conservatives favor capitalism and freedom. Their error, in her mind, is that they defend these ideals with bad arguments, that is to say, arguments lacking the “correct” philosophical premises. However, the capitalism and freedom that conservatives favor are not identical to what Rand herself favors; and it is important to grasp what the differences are. Many conservatives fail to understand these differences; and (I suspect) Objectivists are incapable of understanding them.

Objectivists frame the difference between themselves and conservatives in terms of basic premises. Since Rand believed human character stems from ideas, ideas become paramount. Conservatives take an entirely different approach. They tend to discount alleged differences in basic premises and instead focus on the practical consequences of a specific ideology. It is facts, not opinions, results, not premises, that are of most importance to the conservative. Conservatives favor a type of freedom, a form of capitalism that works in the real world, not merely one that works according to the speculative “logic” of this or that intellectual.

In Rand, we find a type of individualism, a type of freedom, that is at odds with basic facts about the human condition. Rand posits as a moral ideal defining the relations between individuals her “Trader Principle,” which contends that “The principle of trade is the only rational ethical principle for all human relationships.” [“The Objectivist Ethics,” emphasis added]

The notion that trade can define most human relationships rests on the tacit assumption that the individual is a kind atomistic unit without any bonds or ties to the community at large which will profoundly influence his behavior. This view simply doesn’t accord with the facts of human experience. As economist Frank Knight pointed out:

...the freest individual, the unencumbered male in the prime of life, is in no real sense an ultimate unit or social datum. He is in large measure a product of the economic system, which is a fundamental part of the cultural environment that has formed his desires and needs, given him whatever marketable productive capacities he has, and which largely controls his opportunities. Social organization through free contract implies that the contracting units know what they want and are guided by their desires, that is, that they are “perfectly rational,” which would be equivalent to saying that they are accurate mechanisms of desire-satisfaction. In fact, human activity is largely impulsive, a relatively unthinking and undetermined response to stimulus and suggestion. Moreover, there is truth in the allegation that unregulated competition places a premium on deceit and corruption. [Ethics of Competition, 41-42]

Knight’s view is amplified by philosopher Richard Weaver, where the distinction between “anarchistic” individualism and “social bond” individualism is elucidated. Consider Weaver’s description of these two types of individualism:

...if we are interested in rescuing individualism in this age of conformity and actual regimentation, it is the [social bond] kind which we must seek to cultivate. Social bond individualism is civil and viable and constructive except in very abnormal situations. Anarchic individualism is revolutionary and subversive from the very start; it shows a complete despite for all that civilization or the social order has painfully created, and this out of self-righteousness or egocentric attachment to an idea…. It is charged with a lofty disdain for the human condition, not the understanding of charity. It is not Christian to accept such a view; or, if that is too narrow, it is not politically wise; or if that is too narrow, it is just not possible. Such a view ends in the extremism of nihilism. The other more tolerant and circumspect kind of individualism has enjoyed two thousand years of compatibility with institutions in the Western world and is our best hope for preserving human personality in a civil society. [The Southern Essays of Richard M. Weaver, 102-103]

Now the “anarchistic individualism” analyzed by Weaver describes, in many respects, the sort of individualism we find championed in Objectivism. In Rand and many of her disciples we find a lofty disdain for the human condition and an egocentric attachment to an idea. But does the Randian form of individualism end in the extremism of nihilism, as Weaver suggests? There is every reason to believe it would, if it ever could become universal. Objectivists benefit from the social bonds in the society around them, many of which they regard as irrational (such as the bonds defined by common law, family “duty,” social “obligations,” etc.). But if (per impossible) Objectivism became dominant in a society, many of those bonds would be dissolved. The result would be a social order in which most people (including, perhaps, many Objectivists) would not wish to live. It would be a society dominated by intellectual bullies who would use their aggressiveness and their ability to rationalize their (unconscious and unacknowledged) need for respect and status to manipulate and stomp over their weaker brethren.

Even on small scale and within the broad context of a “normal” society, Objectivism hardly inspires hope that it can solve the many problems that arise when human beings attempt to live among each other within a social order. Objectivism attempts to solve these problems by denying that they are essential and ineradicable features of the human condition. But such denials only make these problems worse. We see this all too clearly when we turn our attention to Objectivist communities that have arisen among followers of Rand's creed.

Even under the best of circumstances, when relations between human beings are governed by the wisest precepts and customs, it is difficult for individuals to handle the inevitable disagreements and conflicts that arise between them. Within the social world of Objectivism, the belief that the “rational interests of men do not clash” renders it nearly impossible for Objectivsts to settle differences amicably. Instead, sharp differences always lead to ostracization. This is how Rand’s various disputes with her disciples inevitably concluded; and it is how such disputes end among her orthodox followers.

Within the tacit social rules that govern behavior among Objectivists, there exists no sensible or wise method through which to resolve disputes. The Objectivist ideal of solving conflicts impartially via reason is simply not workable, because disputes inevitably involve clashing sentiments and desires, neither of which are amenable to “reason.” Moreover, precisely because Objectivists tend to regard all disputes as arising out of contradictory fundamental premises, personal disputes are framed as philosophical disputes involving metaphysical, epistemological, and moral arcana. Once a personal dispute has been translated and rationalized into philosophical abstractions, there is no way it can be solved for the simple reason that the abstractions conceal the real causes of the dispute. Hence, the Peikoff-Kelley split is explained by on one side as a dispute over fact and value, and by the other as a perversion of objective moral judgment. But the real reasons are probably far more complex and far more personal than anyone would be comfortable admitting.

The dangers arising from Rand’s atomistic form individualism go well beyond the unsavory conflicts and schisms that have arisen among Objectivist luminaries. In the case of Ellen Plasil, we have a chilling example of what happens in a community where the social bonds have been weakened and perverted. Plasil was an Objectivist who was sexually manipulated and abused by her “Objectivist” therapist, Lonnie Leonard. When she exposed Leonard as a fraud, the community of Objectivists either ignored her or treated her as the culprit. No one in the Objectivist community other than boyfriend stood by her. Fortunately for Plasil, the Objectivist community is only a small sliver of society: there was a larger non-Objectivist community that she could appeal to for justice and support. But where would she have turned in a society dominated by Objectivists, where Objectivists ran the courts and administered justice? Ponder that question and you will understand why most people do not want an Objectivist society and are in fact repelled by it.

Most individuals do not want to be placed in a position where they might find themselves without any social support at all. Nor do they want to find themselves at the mercy of hordes of self-absorbed atomistic individualists who rationalize all their desires and are incapable of empathizing with others. But this is precisely what tends to happen wherever atomistic individualism prevails and the social bonds are weakened. Strong familial and community bonds fostered by Weaver’s social bond individualism provide a support system which enable individuals to seek redress against the Lonnie Leonard’s of the world. The law itself is a creature of this support system and would not exist without it. But when individuals become exclusively preoccupied with their “self-interest,” the practical results of this kind of self-absorption tend to result in the type of individual who can’t be bothered with maintaining the social bonds that strengthen justice and provide the glue that holds society together. So Ellen Plasil is left to fend for herself. Indeed, in such a society, everyone would be on their own and those who could not fend for themselves would be regarded with contempt, as Plasil is among Objectivists to this day. Who would want to live in such a world? Other than individuals like Lonnie Leonard, hardly anyone. It is not a world fit for normal human beings. As the best conservative opinion has long maintained, no social system can work which is exclusively based on voluntary interaction (i.e., the “trader principle”) guided solely by short-run utilitarian ends (i.e., “rational self-interest”). Yet this is where atomistic individualism leads in practice.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Epic Fail.

Some on-set footage apparently from the forthcoming multi-part Atlas Shrugged movie:

Budget for Part 1? A totally awesome $5m.

Update: Neil Parille offers this link.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Objectivism & Politics, Part 54

Ayn Rand contra Conservatism 8. I detailed in my last post the differences between Objectivism and the Tragic Vision of non-ideological conservatism. I now examine the extent to which Rand’s philosophy accords with Sowell’s “unconstrained” vision, which Steven Pinker renamed the Utopian Vision:

In the Utopian Vision, psychological limitations are artifacts that come from our social arrangements, and we should now allow them to restrict our gaze from what is possible in a better world. Its creed might be “Some people see things as they are and ask ‘why’?; I dream things that never were and ask why not?’” The quotation is often attributed to the icon of 1960s liberalism, Robert Kennedy, but it was originally penned by Fabian socialist George Bernard Shaw (who also wrote, “There is nothing that can be changed more completely than human nature when the job is taken in hand early enough”)….

In the Utopian vision, human nature changes with social circumstances, so traditional institutions have no inherent value. That was then, this is now. Traditions are the dead hand of the past, the attempt to rule from the grave. They must be stated explicitly so their rationale can be scrutinized and their moral status evaluated. And by that test, many traditions fail….

Radical political reform … will be more or less appealing depending on one’s confidence in human intelligence and wisdom. In the Utopian Vision, solutions to social problems are readily available…. If we already know the solutions, all we have to do is choose to implement them, and that requires only sincerety and dedication. By the same logic, anyone opposing solutions must be motivated by blindness, dishonesty, and callousness. [The Blank Slate, 289-292]

While at first glance Rand may not be exactly a perfect fit for the Utopian Vision, she does have several points in common. Indeed, we could argue that she represents a unique position within the Utopian Vision fold. Whereas most Utopians tend to be collectivist in orientation, Rand swings to the other extreme, adopting an atomistic form of individualism. Another important difference is that Rand explicitly rejects the social determinism of the Utopian Left. Yet these two divergences on Rand’s part, instead of pushing her closer to the Tragic Vision, merely lead her to refashion the Utopian Vision to suit her own personal tastes. Instead of human nature changing with social circumstances, for Rand, human nature (i.e. the psychological attributes widespread and distinctive within the human species) changes via the philosophical premises that dominate society. Human beings may have free will, but, according to Rand, most people fail to make use of it. Because they don’t sufficiently focus their minds, they end up letting themselves become pawns of the dominant intellectual trends of their age. If a man refuses to think for himself, he becomes a dupe of those who do. And since the premises that are most critical in developing the character and beliefs of the individuals who make up society must ultimately have been developed by some philosopher, philosophy becomes the prime determinant of character and society. Hence, Rand shares with Utopians on the Left the belief that there exist few if any biological constraints to the development and even the direction of psychology. She simply differs with the Left on how means by which an individual’s psychology is determined.

Rand also shares the Utopian’s derision of any tradition or customary usage that can’t provide an explict rationale. Consider Rand’s take on Common Law. "Common law is good in the way witchdoctors were once good,” she once insisted: “some of their discoveries were a primitive form of medicine, and to that extent achieved something. But once a science of medicine is established, you don't return to witchdoctors. Similarly, common law established--by tradition or inertia-- some proper principles (and some dreadful ones). But once a civilization grasps the concept of law, and particularly of a constitution, common law becomes unnecessary and should not be regarded as law. In a free society, anyone can have customs; but that's not law." [Ayn Rand Answers, italics added]

Compare that to Hayek’s view of common law, as elucidated by Peter J. Boettke:

[Hayek’s] political and legal theory emphasized that the rule of law was the necessary foundation for peaceful co- existence. He contrasted the tradition of the common law with that of statute law, i.e., legislative decrees. He showed how the common law emerges, case by case, as judges apply to particular cases general rules which are themselves products of cultural evolution. Thus, he explained that embedded within the common law is knowledge gained through a long history of trial and error. This insight led Hayek to the conclusion that law, like the market, is a “spontaneous” order—the result of human action, but not of human design.

Rand’s rationalism blinds her to the wisdom and experience embedded in common law, while at the same time making her over-estimate the degree to which “reason” can figure out the complexities involved in developing the laws necessary to maintain and free and prosperous social order.

Adherents of the Utopian Vision tend to regard their those who don’t share their vision as guilty of stupidity or dishonesty. We find a correlate of this view in the Objectivist view that everyone who disagrees with them is either guilty of an “error of knowledge” or “evasion.” In practice, Objectivist tend to believe that most people who differ with them are guilty of evasion and hence are worthy of moral condemnation. Although a reasonable person might have doubts at to whether a given individual is guilty of an error of knowledge or an evasion (after all, no individual can get inside another person's head), Objectivists seem to believe that they have special powers in this arena, and don't shrink from drawing conclusions about the inner psychology even of people they hardly know. As Peikoff explained:

[Errors of knowledge] are not nearly so common as some people wish to think, especially in the field of philosophy. In our century, there have been countless mass movements dedicated to inherently dishonest ideas — e.g., Nazism, Communism, non-objective art, non-Aristotelian logic, egalitarianism, nihilism, the pragmatist cult of compromise, the Shirley MacLaine types, who “channel” with ghosts and recount their previous lives; etc. In all such cases, the ideas are not merely false; in one form or another, they represent an explicit rebellion against reason and reality (and, therefore, against man and values).… The originators, leaders and intellectual spokesmen of all such movements are necessarily evaders on a major scale; they are not merely mistaken, but are crusading irrationalists [and therefore are evil]. [“Fact and Value”]

So, in conclusion, although Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism do not perfectly accord with the sort of Utopian Vision advocated by the political Left, the similarities are more striking and important than the differences. Rand accepts the view, common to utopian leftists, that human character is malleable and perfectible; she demands a rationale for everything in law and morality, even when this is either impractical or inappropriate; and she (and her orthodox followers) tends to demonize her opponents as evil. It is no exaggeration to suggest that Objectivism, in at least some respects, dangerously veers toward the Utopian Vision.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Objectivism & Politics, Part 53

Ayn Rand contra Conservatism 7. In A Conflict of Visions, Thomas Sowell attempts to explain the underlying differences between “conservative” and “liberal,” right and left. He explicates two main visions, which Steven Pinker renamed the Tragic Vision and the Utopian Vision. These two categories of visions underlying ideological differences can help clarify the differences between Objectivism and conservatism.

Steven Pinker describes the Tragic Vision as follows:

In the Tragic Vision, humans are inherently limited in knowledge, wisdom, and virtue, and all social arrangements must acknowledge those limits. “Mortal things suit mortals best” wrote Pindar; “from the crooked timber of humanity no truly straight thing can be made,” wrote Kant. The Tragic Vision is associated with Hobbes, Burke, Smith, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, the jurist Oliver Wendell Homes Jr., the economists Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, the philosophers Isaiah Berlin and Karl Popper, and the legal scholar Richard Posner…

In the Tragic Vision, ...human nature has not changed. [Pareto: “The centuries roll by, human nature remains the same!”] Traditions such as religion, the family, social customs, sexual mores, and political institutions are a distillation of time-tested techniques that let us work around the shortcomings of human nature. They are as applicable to humans today as they were when they were developed, even if no one today can explain their rationale. However imperfect society may be, we should measure it against the cruelty and deprivation of the actual past, not the harmony and affluence of an imagined future. We are fortunate enough to live in a society that more or less works, and our first priority should be not to screw it up, because human nature always leaves us teetering on the brink of barbarism. [Blank Slate, 287]

How does Rand’s vision of human nature and the human condition compare with that projected by the Tragic Vision of conservatism? Let’s examine this in a bit more detail.

First off, Rand would probably have objected to the phrase “Tragic Vision,” which can so easily be conflated with her “malevolent universe” premise. Indeed, that would have been consistent with Rand’s typical modus operandi: she not infrequently exaggerated the views of those she disagreed with so that she could more easily dismiss them out of hand. Rand defined the malevolent universe premise as “the theory that man, by his very nature, is helpless and doomed—that success, happiness, achievement are impossible to him—that emergencies, disasters, catastrophes are the norm of his life and that his primary goal is to combat them.” Now that is clearly an exaggeration of the Tragic Vision, which merely asserts that things can go very wrong when men lose their sense of the dangers and challenges that threaten them. In the Tragic Vision, life is a struggle against evil, stupidity, arrogance, vanity, and all the other ills that flesh is heir to; yet it is a struggle that can be waged with at least a moderate degree of success.

What about the view that human knowledge faces limits? While Rand recognized some limits to human knowledge (e.g., she recognized that human beings are not omniscient), she tended to regard any insistence on such limits as an attack against man’s mind. Moreover, there is a strain of rationalism in Rand that is entirely foreign to representatives of the Tragic Vision such as Hume, Burke, Hayek, Polanyi, and Oakeshott. Rand insists on knowing the rationale for everything in society. No tradition has any worth whatsoever in her mind unless it can defend itself on the basis of “reason.” The notion that some things are too complicated to be understood by “reason” is entirely foreign to her. So on this issue Rand clearly finds herself diametrically opposed to the Tragic Vision.

Because the Tragic Vision recognizes the limitations of human knowledge, it adopts a more cautious, pragmatic approach to political questions. Whereas Rand simply declares, ex cathedra, against any initiation of coercion (which, in her mind, includes such things as involuntary taxation and military conscription), the Tragic Vision recognizes the danger of trying to make a very broad principle fit each and every circumstance that might confront a nation. As Burke put it: “The nature of man is intricate; the objects of society are of the greatest possible complexity; and therefore no simple disposition or direction of power can be suitable either to man's nature, or to the quality of his affairs.” So once again we find Rand and her philosophy at odds with the Tragic Vision.

What about the issue of the permanence of human nature? Given Rand’s repeated mantra “A is A,” isn’t it obvious that she shares the belief that human nature is fixed? After all, wasn’t it Rand who insisted that “you are not free to escape from your nature.” However, there is a large dose of equivocation in all of this, of playing fast and loose with the meanings of words. Rand defines human nature in terms of its impermanence. Human nature, for Rand, means having a “volitional consciousness.” By this phrase, Rand is not merely noting the capability of choosing, say, between chocolate and strawberry ice cream. No, human beings have the ability, according to Rand, of actually choosing their fundamental character. (Man is a being of "self-made soul.") What is innate in man is not his characteristics, nor his personality, nor his deepest sentiments, but his capacity for having characteristics. Men are a product of their premises; and they may choose which premises they please. So for all practical purposes, Rand does not believe that human nature fixed. The crooked timber of humanity can be made straight—provided humanity adopts better premises!

What about the conviction, share by those who partake of the Tragic vision, that our first priority is not to screw up and make things worse? While Rand may not have been entirely unsympathetic with this fear, she tended to frame the issue very differently. Rand was fond of viewing society through the prism of her novel, Atlas Shrugged, in which society's lapse into barbarism serves as a kind of purge, opening the way for a new social order dominated by Rand's political preference and her peculiar brand of heroism. So while Rand might have agreed that society can easily slip into barbarism, she appears to have been much more sanguine about the prospects of putting it back together again. Since all that matters is what premises people believed, and since individuals were free to choose any premises they like, there is always hope that society can be “saved.” “Ideas take time to spread,” Rand once wrote, “but we will only have to wait decades [for our ideas to triumph]—because reason and reality are on our side." [Letters of Ayn Rand, 596] Such wishful thinking does not accord well with the Tragic Vision.

So in conclusion: it would appear that Rand’s Objectivist philosophy cannot, in any meaningful sense of the word, be reconciled with the Tragic Vision. Yet if Rand is not a partaker of the Tragic Vision, does this mean she partakes of the Utopian Vision? That will be a question addressed in my next post.