Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ayn Rand, Racism

            In this chapter Racism, Ayn Rand names racism as a byproduct of collectivism. Rand begins by introducing the absurdity of racism as an ancestral and chemical bias. We are judged by the genes and actions of our ancestors. To her it seems wrong that if our relatives were intelligent or moronic, then we should be deemed intelligent or moronic, respectively. After establishing her opposition to slavery Rand suggests the solution to racism: individualism and capitalism. These would eliminate racism because they allow rights of a group to be limited to the rights of its individual members. However, she argues that our individualist notions, which can account for the rise of the West, were negated when collectivism began to surface. Rand says that over time our society has gravitated toward the belief that authority and power should belong to the group. And that our tendency was to join the “least demanding” collective: race. Because of this, our individualism was no more. When Rand looks at the people responsible, she does not single out a certain group, she deals blame to both the oppressor and the oppressed. Her claim that “there can be no such thing as the right of some men to violate the rights of others” has not been followed by our society. Instead Negro leaders are contradicting their cause by establishing racial quotas, conservatives (mostly southern) claim to be “defenders of freedom, yet advocate racism”, and liberals defend minorities but support the sacrifice of individual rights to majority rule. Together those three contradictions have culminated in the Civil Rights bill, something Rand despises. Ultimately to Rand it is a Laissez-Faire capitalistic-individualistic government that we need, not a bill which “breaches property rights.”
            Although initially Rand’s piece on racism seemed sort of crazy, I am starting to agree with some of her arguments. The main point she makes, which I agree with, is that with collectivism comes the tendency to join groups. By lowering the significance of the individual and raising the importance of a whole, we segregate ourselves into bigger groups (usually racial groups). Instead if our approach was entirely individualistic, we would have a different minority group for every person on the planet, no grouping would be necessary. Her whole idea of eliminating the sense of one’s own inferiority is something I agree with, and is something that contributes to the idea of individualism. I also agree with the three main contradictions she points out involving liberals, conservatives, and Negro leaders. It helps people understand problems with racism and segregation.

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