Starting in the late 80’s and early 90’s Nazi sympathizer Ayn Rand became a must read in conservative circles.Rand’s “Objectivism” is little more than recycled Nazism. Including the call to genocide of non-white peoples…
In Rand’s work, you can also see the roots of conservative racial projection – ergo, anyone who identifies an act motivated by racism is a racist.
Ayn Rand is the patron saint of the libertarian Right. Her writings are quoted in a quasi-religious manner by American reactionaries, cited like Biblical codices that offer profound answers to all of life’s complex problems (namely, just “Free the Market”). Yet, despite her impeccable libertarian bona fides, Rand defended the colonization and genocide of what she called the “savage” Native Americans — one of the most authoritarian campaigns of death and suffering ever orchestrated.
“Any white person who brings the elements of civilization had the right to take over this continent,” Ayn Rand proclaimed, “and it is great that some people did, and discovered here what they couldn’t do anywhere else in the world and what the Indians, if there are any racist Indians today, do not believe to this day: respect for individual rights.”
Rand made these remarks before the graduating class of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on March 6, 1974, in a little-known Q&A session. Rand’s comments in this obscure Q&A are appearing in full for the first time, here in Salon.
“Philosophy: Who Needs It” remains one of Ayn Rand’s most popular and influential speeches. The capitalist superstar delivered the talk at West Point 41 years ago. In the definitive collection of Rand’s thoughts on philosophy, Philosophy: Who Needs It, the lecture was chosen as the lead and eponymous essay. This was the last book Rand worked on before she died; that this piece, ergo, was selected as the title and premise of her final work attests to its significance as a cornerstone of her entire worldview.
The Q&A session that followed this talk, however, has gone largely unremembered — and most conveniently for the fervent Rand aficionado, at that. For it is in this largely unknown Q&A that Rand enthusiastically defended the extermination of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
In the Q&A, a man asked Rand:
At the risk of stating an unpopular view, when you were speaking of America, I couldn’t help but think of the cultural genocide of Native Americans, the enslavement of Black men in this country, and the relocation of Japanese-Americans during World War II. How do you account for all of this in your view of America?
Rand replied insisting that “the issue of racism, or even the persecution of a particular race, is as important as the persecution of individuals.” “If you are concerned with minorities, the smallest minority on Earth is an individual,” she added, before proceeding to blame racism and the mass internment of Japanese-Americans on “liberals.” “Racism didn’t exist in this country until the liberals brought it up,” Rand maintained. And those who defend “racist” affirmative action, she insisted, “are the ones who are institutionalizing racism today.”
Although the libertarian luminary expressed firm opposition to slavery, she rationalized it by saying “black slaves were sold into slavery, in many cases, by other black tribes.” She then, ahistorically, insisted that slavery “is something which only the United States of America abolished.”
Massive applause followed Rand’s comments, which clearly strongly resonated with the graduating class of the U.S. military. Rand’s most extreme and opprobrious remarks, nevertheless, were saved for her subsequent discussion of Native Americans.
“Savages” who deserved to be conquered
In a logical sleight of hand that would even confound and bewilder even Lewis Carroll, Ayn Rand proclaimed in the 1974 Q&A that it was in fact indigenous Americans who were the racists, not the white settlers who were ethnically cleansing them. The laissez-faire leader declared that Native Americans did not “have any right to live in a country merely because they were born here and acted and lived like savages.”
“Americans didn’t conquer” this land, Rand asserted, and “you are a racist if you object to that.” Since “the Indians did not have any property rights — they didn’t have the concept of property,” she said, “they didn’t have any rights to the land.”
If “a country does not protect rights,” Rand asked — referring specifically to property rights — “why should you respect the rights they do not have?” She took the thought to its logical conclusion, contending that anyone “has the right to invade it, because rights are not recognized in this country.”
Rand then blamed Native Americans for breaking the agreements they made with the Euro-American colonialists. The historical reality, though, was exactly the contrary: white settlers constantly broke the treaties they made with the indigenous, and regularly attacked them.
“Let’s suppose they were all beautifully innocent savages, which they certainly were not,” Rand persisted. “What was it that they were fighting for, if they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their right to keep part of the earth untouched, unused, and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal?” she asked.
“Any white person who brings the elements of civilization had the right to take over this continent,” Rand said, “and it is great that some people did, and discovered here what they couldn’t do anywhere else in the world and what the Indians, if there are any racist Indians today, do not believe to this day: respect for individual rights.”
Rand’s rosy portrayal of the colonization of the modern-day Americas is in direct conflict with historical reality. In his book American Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest of the New World, American historian David Stannard estimates that approximately 95 percent of indigenous Americans died after the beginning of European settler colonialism. “The destruction of the Indians of the Americas was, far and away, the most massive act of genocide in the history of the world,” writes Prof. Stannard. “Within no more than a handful of generations following their first encounters with Europeans, the vast majority of the Western Hemisphere’s native peoples had been exterminated.”
West Point appeared to express no concern with Rand’s extreme, white supremacist views, nevertheless. A West Point official offered final remarks after her speech, quipping: “Ms. Rand, you have certainly given us a delighted example of a major engagement in philosophy, in the wake of which you have left a long list of casualties” — to which the audience laughed and applauded. “And have tossed and gored several sacred cows,” he added. “I hope so,” Rand replied.
Read the rest as well as Rand’s circular defense of racism here.