So why did you paint this piece?
It is based on a small novella that Ayn Rand wrote as she took a “break” between writing her two larger novels “Fountain Head” and “Atlas Shrugged”. This painting is based on the novel “Anthem”, which deals about a pure socialist future world where one individual rediscovers individuality, creativity and electricity. She was addressing the encroaching socialism under the FDR administration in the 1930s.
How is this relevant today 70 years later?
Well, recently we have seen the spectacular failure of socialization of medical insurance under ACA aka Obamacare. You are seeing a failed running of massive bureaucracy, consumer fraud rising, doctors kicked off insurance plans and consumers faced with less choice. All basically less liberty and freedom of choice vs. forced government care or tax penalties.
100s of Gulag sites in USSR
Why was Rand so anti-socialist in the 1930s US?
Well, originally Rand grew up in Russia pre-revolution and actually witnessed the descent into Communism. Her family lost their pharmacy business to be run by the state and she fled the country. Millions were executed by Lenin and then Stalin in state purges while they set up slave labor prison system called the Gulag with 100s of prisons all over the USSR. After seeing the misery, poverty and cruelty under state socialism she made it her mission to write against it and form a philosophy called “objectivism”.
What is Objectivism?
Basically, she said laissez-faire capitalism with minimal state intervention was the base of social morality. In essence, when you buy a good or service, you are free to choose the vendor and whether to buy it at the price stated. You can bargain if possible and both parties transact at a price both parties agree to. She also believed no individual owed her fellow man anything except via voluntary charity. Governments sole role was to dispute arguments arising between individuals or arrest thieves. Socialism was actually like letting the thieves run government as it is based on forced wealth redistribution: social security tax, estate tax, etc.
There is a fabulous interview on the Phil Donahue show, which really exposes her mindset and how the TV show hosts of the time really wrestled with her very solid positions that some thought extreme.
Part 1 of 5 Interview
How would Ayn Rand have interpreted Obama as a leader?
I think she would point out his socialist tendencies. One statement that came out that she would ferociously argue against is his statement:
Obama was trying to talk about the good of the government and its positive influence on society, but also saying the workers more than the owners of the original ideas were responsible for that business. This is an extreme falsehood. Only the original founders and idea creators of a business cause it to thrive. Hence she would defend the creator’s right to most of the profits because the workers had the choice to work there or elsewhere.
Another point she may make is about charges of racism of their opponents like the tea party. This is classic demonization of the opponents to grab more power.
See any parallels here?
Do you think socialist capitalism could slide into autocratic socialism?
It already has. In the 1930s, Germans voted in socialists to pass laws on social security, elder assistance, socialized medicine, etc. In many ways, Germany was leading the world in socialism within a capitalistic society. Paired with the debilitating WWI debt and economic collapse, this led to the rise of Nationalist Socialists ie. Nazis. They were elected in to solve the problem of a non-functioning socialist democracy with autocratic methods. After they were in power, the Nazis slower dissolved any democratic feedback into the system which led to war, euthanasia, medical experiments, demonized minorities, robbed minorities and eventually drove the Holocaust with 6 million dead.
Rise to power
Ghettos lead to Death Camps
Do you see any other societies falling into the terrible demonization of minorities?
Troubling enough, if you look at Israel, which was founded as a refuge after the Halocaust and specifically to defend against its recurrence, you see signs of extremism. The state is founded on religion with little Palestinian input. You see the power of the fundamental Jews gain more and more power. The whole of Palestine was put into a massive Ghetto via the wall. Now you see strict separation of the two peoples driving more racism and brutality and even theft of property of the Palestinians over time.
Confiscate Palestinian Land and Property
Form a country wide ghetto
Border crossing like caged animals