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Ayn Rand and Compromise

In his new book, The Man Who Knew, Sebastian Mallaby describes Ayn Rand:

Compromisers, Rand insisted, were worse than outright enemies. "There are two sides to every issue." she had claimed in Atlas Shrugged. "One side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil."

Rand's point of view is ridiculous.

Taking positions in politics usually involves measuring circumstances and accepting something between the extremes. It is usually not so simple as deciding between either side of a coin.

Ayn Rand cheered Barry Goldwater's statement at the 1964 Republican convention that "extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice ... and that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." Senator Goldwater was opposed to the Roosevelt administration's New Deal. He had denounced the Eisenhower administration as a "dimestore New Deal." But during the general election as the Republican party's presidential candidate, Goldwater, writes Mallaby,

...attempted to tack toward the center... Having set himself up as the anticompromise candidate, Goldwater destroyed himself by compromise.

As Election Day approached Rand grew disenchanted. She declared that Goldwater should show more confidence in his conservative convictions.

In life outside her fiction, Rand never found her successful and uncompromising political leader. In reality they don't exist. Republican congressman Paul Ryan is known as a follower of Ayn Rand's philosophy, although he has defended compromise in passing legislation, and he has compromised regarding the candidacy of Donald Trump. This year (2016), Donald Trump's supporters have denounced Eisenhower Republicanism and "Establishment" politics, but it is doubtful that Roosevelt's New Deal will be overturned. And today we are reading about tax money being applied to saving jobs in Indiana, where the Vice President-Elect is still governor – a half-deal compromise regarding Trump's promise about ending businesses exporting jobs to Mexico.

 

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