Trump Administration Reeks of Objectivism and Empowers Ayn Rand’s “Acolytes”
Opinions poured in as the incoming Donald Trump’s administration is stacked by Ayn Rand’s “acolytes” at the top levels of the United States government. Trump’s authoritarian instincts and promises have planted doubts in the minds of many American intellectuals who are associating it with the philosophy of objectivism propagated by author Ayn Rand. However, before we dig deeper into the subject, let’s see who actually is Ayn Rand.
Who is Ayn Rand?
Ayn Rand, born in 1905, was a Russian-American author, screenwriter, philosopher and a playwright. She is popularly known for her two novels, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. She pioneered a philosophical system called Objectivism, which holds significance in a number of political and economic spheres in the United States of America.
She moved to New York in 1926 and produced plays and a few unsuccessful novels. However, she rose to fame after the release of her books, The Fountainhead in 1943 and Atlas Shrugged in 1957. later on she turned to non-fictional media to promote her philosophy, publishing magazines and essays until her death in 1982. She supported ethical and rational egoism and laissez-faire capitalism, and repudiated altruism, anarchism, statism, and collectivism.
What is objectivism?
Ayn Rand propagates the philosophy of Objectivism, which according to her, is a concept of man as a heroic being, with the moral purpose of his life being his own happiness, and reason as his only source of knowledge. In her novels, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand dramatizes her ideal man who believes in his own efforts. She garnered appreciation from a number of followers who follow her message of individualism. Rand repudiates the idea that free markets such as monopolies yield undesirable results.
The premise of objectivism is that there is greater moral purpose than one’s own happiness. Achieving happiness is not possible by one’s wish or whim, rather it requires rational respect for the facts of reality. Politically, objectivism advocates laissez-faire capitalism, in which the government protects the rights, liberty and property of people, and forbids the initiation of force towards one another. Objectivism holds optimism by propagating the belief that the universe is open to human happiness and achievement, and each individual has the ability to live an independent and fulfilling life.
How is Ayn Rand’s philosophy relevant to the Trump Administration?
Ray Dalio, the founder of world’s largest hedge fund firm Bridgewater Associates, says that a major shift in the economic system is expected under the incoming Trump’s administration. The shift relates to Ayn Rand’s objectivism philosophy, and would highlight the mindset of the cabinet, which would comprise of Rand’s objectivism followers.
The new administration expresses a dislike towards unproductive, weak, socialists people and policies, and favors strong, go-getter, profit makers. Dalio even adds that the shift to the new administration will be more significant than the 1972-82 shift from a socialistic to a capitalistic economy in the U.K, US and Germany under the reign of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Helmut Kohl. He dubs the administration as “highly conservative” in the economic sense.
The impact of the shift on US economy
The new administration is likely to impact the US economy in a big way. The impact is certainly more than what one can calculate on the basis of tax and policy changes; it could spark animal instincts and attract productive capital. The move out of cash to risk-on investments could be a huge leap if the administration sparks a virtuous cycle. Investors and businessmen could move very quickly from unfriendly environments to hospitable ones if Trump’s policy changes come in place, thus attracting productive capital. The US, with its pro-business rules of law, political stability, protection of property rights, and expected favorable corporate tax structure, offers a profitable environment for those who have the required financial resources. Trump’s policies will negatively impact certain sectors of the US economy.
How Trump Differs from Rand’s Philosophies?
As trump intends to stack the cabinet with Ayn Rand’s “acolytes”, certain key facts that show the difference between Rand’s and his ideologies emerge to the forefront. Rand’s novel The Fountainhead resonates with the power of government to levy tax or prevent free trade and eminent fans like Trump. Albeit being a fan of Rand’s novels, Trump seems to oppose her philosophy of objectivism and her message of political libertarianism.
He differs greatly from The Fountainhead’s primary character, Howard Roark who stood for property rights over public good till the very end. Donald Trump believes that private property can and ought to be taken away from owners for “public good” decided by a bunch of random bureaucrats, even if the public good implies just profits for politically involved companies.
What objectivists think about Trump?
Most objectivists apparently opposed Donald Trump and definitely don’t consider him as one of their own. Many objectivists consider him a pragmatist in the worst sense. They believe that Trump is someone who lacks fixed principles and conventions, and does not have sense in his dealings. Paul Ryan is an illuminating example of someone who is making persistent efforts to dismantle the redistributive functions of the American government and bring an end to regulations that are meant for public good.
However, debates are still on to establish the fact that Trump is following Rand’s objectivism philosophy as his presidency regime. Trump’s narcissistic and self-confident image still stands strong in public’s mind as many believe that he is gathering a group of like-minded people to stake the country’s good for personal interest.