Robert Heinlein: Ayn Rand fan


strangerIf the science-fiction bestseller Stranger in a Strange Land (1960) feels to you like an adaptation of the main points in Atlas Shrugged repackaged for regular idiomatic American consumption, that is probably no accident. Robert Heinlein was an Ayn Rand fan before it was even fashionable. 

Way back in 1949,* Bob Heinlein wrote his agent Lurton Blassingame to tell him “Specifically” that he would “like to do a job somewhat like Ayn Rand did in The Fountainhead, but with modern art, specifically pictorial art…”, as its theme. Heinlein himself had one of his protagonists advise the younger generation to “Beware of altruism. It is based on self-deception, the root of all evil.” **

Heinlein admired the gal enough to emulate her, and it all fits together. Bob was primarily earning a living by entertaining readers and Ayn did that while striking at the root of the Soviet and National Socialist empires. Both writers clearly identified altruism (not tough choices for loved ones) as an evil incompatible with human life. Contemporaries, they’d witnessed the Crash and Depression (backdrop for Atlas Shrugged), and the rise of German National Socialism, made possible in part by Herbert Hoover’s “Moratorium on Brains.”

Anyone able to meet Rand’s three main points (see poll) head on and disprove them would reduce her entire life’s work to rubble and make money doing it. No one has attempted it yet. Likewise, no one has ever attempted to show by what objective or verifiable standard of value altruism could possibly be a good thing rather than an evil meme.  Both writers are appreciated by organizers of the Libertarian Party, which has adopted a terse pledge as a sort of guideline for setting priorities, that members “do not advocate the initiation of force for political or social purposes.”

The non-aggression pledge is patterned after one penned by Ayn Rand in 1947, while National Socialist war criminals were still being tried and hanged in Nuremberg, Germany. It is the exact antithesis of what those ideologues advocated, namely, “Positive Christianity” and “unlimited authority” for “a ruthless fight” to enforce “the common good before the individual good”… “if necessary at the cost of their lives.” To this Josef Goebbels added his disparagement of “Disgusting personal egotism” while shrilly proclaiming “We are socialists!” ***

From the statements they published from 1918 through 1945, it is clear that in order for national socialism to be “right wing,” it simply has to mean altruistic religious socialism entirely opposed to free markets. Here is a thought experiment:

Which would you rather keep, the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights, or the Sixteenth Amendment, copied from plank 2 of the Communist Manifesto of 1848? Nationalsocialists quickly imposed Kristallnacht gun laws. But when was the last time you heard of them cutting taxes or eliminating restrictive trade regulations? Socialists disarm slaves to make them easier to tax.

*Grumbles from the Grave, Ballantines/Del Rey Pb. pp. 109-110.
**”  Time Enough for Love (1973).
***” Nazi Ideology Before 1933 (UT Press 1978  81-2)

 

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One thought on “Robert Heinlein: Ayn Rand fan

  1. Pingback: Political Contributions for Freedom | libertariantranslator

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