Archived Story

Ayn Rand or Socialism?

Published 9:38am Friday, September 28, 2012

This election season has explored the philosophical differences of the two major political parties in ways often muted by campaigning excess and unforced verbal errors.

But still, under the “noise” of campaigning there are differences in visions from the prospective parties.

Paul Ryan, Republican VP candidate, is an open admirer of the 1950s fiction writer, Ayn Rand, an advocate for the virtue of selfishness, creative independence and, well, greed.

American conservatives have embraced Rand’s convictions as reflections supporting the historical and romanticized vision of “rugged individualism” as support for small government and as an expression of support for entrepreneurism.

Democrats have, for the most part, advocated the importance of community in contributing to all that has made America great, citing the accomplishments of society such as the Hoover Dam, the Apollo space missions, and our highways and airports as examples of all that Americans have done together.

As it turns out neither view is able to support its claims. As is often the case, the simplicity of such an either/or proposition lacks an appreciation of the details that connect us to each other while valuing our individualism.

Consider the real world example of Walla Walla in Washington State.

With a moderate climate and rich soil, Walla Walla had a long and successful history as an agricultural community.

But with globalism came change, as it has across the nation, crushing the independent farmers with forces beyond their control. The historical wheat, onion and apple industries were changed forever by lower priced farm imports and the small town of Walla Walla (32,000) faced economic chaos, closed stores and a diminished quality of life.

There were few jobs and fewer entrepreneurial opportunities in Walla Walla.

But Walla Walla had a spark, a window of opportunity, and from it came economic and community renewal.

A small wine growing industry was emerging to replace the lost agricultural base, and that gained the attention of the local community college, who decided to lend its resources to support the growth and expansion of the emerging potential wine industry.

Today Walla Walla has more than 170 local wineries, from 19 in the 1980s. And many of those wineries are staffed by the graduates of Walla Walla Community College’s renowned Vintner Program. Some of the wineries, 25 as of September 2012, are owned by graduates of the program.

The growth of the community has not stopped there. The community college has also created programs for water management and wind energy.

More than 5,000 wind turbines produce energy for industry and the community, while the water management program ensures ecological balance for industry and the community.

With the growth of the wine industry have come 29 tasting rooms for tourism, many new restaurants, inns and gift shops. All brought about by the merger of individual creativity and hard work, with community support, education and government engagement.

Walla Walla will receive $3.67 million this year as part of an Innovation Partnership Zone in Washington State, funding dedicated to support the continued growth of the community with focus upon training and hiring wind engineers to maintain the turbines that power industry in Walla Walla.

Could the Rand hero Howard Roark have created this community success? No. No single person could have accomplished what collaboration from the local community, the state, and the federal government contributions have done in Walla Walla to re-invent a town and give opportunity to its hard working people.

But the story is also about individual effort, like those of partners Jody Middleton and Jeremy Petty, two graduates of the wine program who began their own label by harvesting last season’s flawed grapes rejected by the wineries, found some old oak barrels, and created some 300 cases of new wine with their skills and hard work.

American success takes hard working people given fair opportunity in communities determined to support innovation and take risks.

It takes a village.

 

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.

 

  • mickakers

    Noesis; Your comment “that they initially practiced communism.” What is the source of your information? I reiterate, please read the two articles in Wikipedia to become more informed. You are attempting to oversimplify a complicated situation. Socialism was not the cause of their problems or “Communism” as presented by the individual you are quoting. Please do a search on Gov. William Bradford, also, Of Plymouth Plantation (his writings). The “capitalistic system” was not their salvation.

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  • Noesis

    Mick: Noesis; Wikipedia has two good articles on Plymouth colony, quite interesting, worth a read to become more familiar with the social makeup and all their difficulties and problems.
    ——————

    Chief among them Mick was that they initially practiced communism.

    “Governor Bradford’s own history of the Plymouth Bay Colony over which he presided is a story that deserves to be far better known—particularly in an age that has acquired a mania for socialism and communism, regards them as peculiarly “progressive” and entirely new, and is sure that they represent “the wave of the future.”

    Most of us have forgotten that when the Pilgrim Fathers landed on the shores of Massachusetts they established a communist system. Out of their common product and storehouse they set up a system of rationing, though it came to “but a quarter of a pound of bread a day to each person.” Even when harvest came, “it arose to but a little.” A vicious circle seemed to set in. The people complained that they were too weak from want of food to tend the crops as they should. Deeply religious though they were, they took to stealing from each other. “So as it well appeared,” writes Governor Bradford, “that famine must still ensue the next year also, if not some way prevented.”

    So the colonists, he continues, “began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length [in 1623] after much debate of things, the Gov. (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. . . .

    “And so assigned to every family a parcel of land. . . .

    “This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Gov. or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content.

    “The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness, and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

    “The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years, and that among godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients, applauded by some of later times; — that the taking away of property, and bringing in community into a commonwealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.

    “For the young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children, without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. . . .

    “And for men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it. . . .

    “By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God. And the effect of their particular [private] planting was well seen, for all had, one way and other, pretty well to bring the year about, and some of the abler sort and more industrious had to spare, and sell to others, so as any general want or famine has not been among them since to this day.”

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  • mickakers

    Noesis; Wikipedia has two good articles on Plymouth colony, quite interesting, worth a read to become more familiar with the social makeup and all their difficulties and problems.

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  • mikehaney

    Even after four years of policies that bring America to her knees, Obama and Mitt Romney are running neck and neck in the polls.

    We need a miracle for the most crucial election of our lifetime, and the miracle exists somewhere within the 77.7 million who declared themselves Catholic in 2011 (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate).

    The 77.7 million Catholics represent a significant 24.9% of the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimated population for last year and are the body of the church who has fought all forms of marxism, of which communism is one, for centuries.
    ——————————-
    Let’s hope,along with every christian in this country voting.
    Then you have so-called catholics that won’t vote across party lines. Then pro-life african american pastors that suggesting they won’t vote,period.
    We are in trouble “folks”.
    And lets not forget,”profit” is an evil word.

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  • mikehaney

    They are the enemy at the gate who will goad Obama on to the continuing destruction of America should the worst happen on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

    We have been in the dark before but never has the dark been so dangerous as now when Marxism and radical Islam have joined forces to deliver world populations over to the One World Order-driven United Nations.

    The world thought the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall ushered in the end of communism. Few knew back then that Communism would join radical Islam to begin in earnest smothering the freedom of the West in 2012.

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  • Noesis

    Mick:True unadulterated socialism has many advantages over rampant Capitalism.
    ———-

    What do you mean, “True unadulterated socialism?

    Are you talking about the type practiced at the Plymouth colony which almost caused them to starve to death until… they went to a capitalistic system?

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  • mickakers

    deist; You are presenting what Paul Ryan said in 2005. This is 2012 (seven years later). Is there a possibility that his thought’s have changed or matured in this time frame? You say, he was speaking to a “convention of Rand followers”, politics will be politics! I am not inferring this is the proper mode of conduct, but reality. A more in-depth look at a candidate is required to arrive at an educated and informed opinion. His professed adherence to Roman Catholicism and it’s teachings enter the equation in regards to Ayn Rand’s philosophy.

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  • mickakers

    Noesis; Winston Churchill was referring to Atheistic, Communist Socialism as represented by Joseph Stalin and Russia at that time. True unadulterated socialism has many advantages over rampant Capitalism. The longest and most lasting institutions or societies are socialist as demonstrated by Monastic and Religious communities. We owe a debt of thanks to the Monastic communities (Socialist) for the preservation of Western Civilization and Culture.

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  • Noesis

    “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”

    Winston Churchill

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  • deist

    Paul Ryan said, “I grew up reading Ayn Rand, and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are,” the congressman told a convention of Rand followers in 2005. Rand was “the reason I got involved in public service.” A passionate convert to her black-and-white, apocalyptic worldview, Ryan also became a missionary for her ideology. He required his congressional staff to read her novels as an introduction to real-world, free-market, and monetary theory. “We start with Atlas Shrugged,” he said in 2005. “Then we move on, and we require [Austrian economists Ludwig] von Mises and [Friedrich von] Hayek as well.” “Few followers of Rand ever go on to read Dickens or to question the idea that government support of education, transportation, health care, farming, or aid to the poor is a form of authorized “looting” and “mooching,” as Atlas Shrugged depicts it. That is the problem. Paul Ryan built who he is on her philosophy and wants to pass it on as national policy. The only reason why he is backtracking a bit, is he knows it is political suicide if he does not. Imagine a world truly like Atlas Shrugged. That is not, was not and never will be the true America.

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  • mickakers

    keta; Thank you for pointing out that Ryan “doesn’t agree with her philosophy.”, but “claims her novels are interesting”. And by the way keta, have you ever read any of her novels?, or are you passing judgement without due process? I don’t know about you, but I have gleaned insight and understanding from many sources, atheist, Pagan,Jewish,Christian not to mention Hinduism and the other eastern beliefs. Thanks to the Jewish people we have a monolithic view of God. I know, I’m wandering. God’s Speed keta.

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  • keta

    I do not believe he is an advocate of her philosophy
    ——————————————————–
    Oh, good grief. Ryan often speaks of her influence on his thinking. “I grew up reading Ayn Rand, and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value system and beliefs are. It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff”, he said when Rand’s fan club, the Atlas Society, invited him to speak. He gives her books as Christmas gifts to his staff. Then it occurred to some reporter somewhere that Rand is an atheist, and says greed is moral and social programs are evil. Now Ryan claims her novels are interesting, but he doesn’t agree with her philosophy. Shake that etch-a-sketch! Same stuff, different day.

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  • mickakers

    I feel there is an over emphases being placed on the influence of Ayn Rand’s philosophical beliefs on the thoughts of Paul Ryan. Is there a possibility that Ryan’s admiration is directed at her abilities as a fiction writer? I do not believe he is an advocate of her philosophy.

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  • mikehaney

    3.67 million tax dollars for Walla Walla. Well there goes success of Walla Walla.
    ———————————-
    SoloPower closed on a guaranteed government loan of $197 million last August, about the time another solar panel manufacturer, Solyndra, filed for bankruptcy. The failure of Solyndra cost U.S. taxpayers more than a half-billion dollars.

    The second solar panel maker that received a loan from the Department of Energy, Abound, is also now in bankruptcy. Based in Longmont, Colo., Abound spent $70 million of its green energy loan and next week will auction off its equipment in hopes of paying some of that back.

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  • keta

    Ayn already addressed this issue Keta
    ———————————————————-
    Sure did, and she addressed American health care, too – accidentally. A heavy smoker all her adult life, when her health began to fail in ways that a smoker’s health generally fails, she took social security and medicare pretty quick. To, uh, make sure her money wouldn’t be claimed by the welfare state, of course. :)

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    • Noesis

      And she drove on roads paved by the government (gasp!).

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  • deist

    Ayn Rand was an Atheist, and she is the guru for Paul Ryan. She believed that have nots were only here to serve the haves. Look at Paul Ryan and Mitt Romneys plan , and it has Ayn Rands fingerprints all over it. It is a redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top. Rand attacked anything and anyone who questioned her ideas on objectivism, by simply dismissing them as irrational or simply wrong. Wonder is a ‘sin’ to her. Helping is a sin to her. Hers is an egotist life. I have mine , now go get yours. Hers is a lonely life, of constantly looking over your shoulder, because somebody might ask for help. There is no help for anyone in Rands world, and Romney and Ryan espouse her views. Cut SS, Medicare, Pell Grants, all social programs to give benefits to the very wealthy. To her it is a waste of resources helping the poor and the sick. But as a previous writer stated , the irony for this parasite is she collected SS. Her ideas are frightening when the thought that they could possibly be instituted on a national scale in this country through Romney/Ryan.

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  • keta

    Ayn Rand is against socialism because it doesn’t work
    ——————————————————-

    Rand isn’t for or against anything; she’s been dead for thirty years. It’s fair to say she WAS against socialism, until she needed some herself. She collected both social security and medicare, just like the “moochers” and “parasites” she despised.Obviously, it DOES take a village, even if you’re Ayn Rand.

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    • Noesis

      Ayn already addressed this issue Keta:

      It is obvious, in such cases, that a man receives his own money which was taken from him by force, directly and specifically, without his consent, against his own choice. Those who advocated such laws are morally guilty, since they assumed the “right” to force employers and unwilling co-workers. But the victims, who opposed such laws, have a clear right to any refund of their own money—and they would not advance the cause of freedom if they left their money, unclaimed, for the benefit of the welfare-state administration.

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  • mickakers

    Jim Crawford; I found insight in your comment “No single person could have accomplished what collaboration from the local community, the state, and the federal government contributions have done in Walla Walla to re-invent a town and give opportunity to it’s hard working people.”

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  • Derbecu

    The article Ayn Rand or Socialism shows the extent government actions interfere with the market place. The premise is socialism works! This premise as well as It takes a village is wrong. The money given to the community programs came from people who produce and are forced to pay taxes! The producers generated the money for the “community”. It is a form or redistribution.
    Ayn Rand is against socialism because it doesn’t work. Look at France a 75% tax rate.

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