How Ayn Rand’s Philosophy Supports the Welfare State
Religion & Liberty Online

How Ayn Rand’s Philosophy Supports the Welfare State

The paradox of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, James Joseph explains, is that her defense of individual freedom provides a “self-defeating apologia for the American welfare state.”

Here we have Ms Rand’s answer to the murder-fueled regimes of mid-century communism: The Individual is the sole scale of value, individual freedom is necessary to the individual survival, she says, and my survival is the sole end of my existence. Community, in this scheme of values, is entirely without meaning, or at least without objective claims upon the individual.

Rand’s reasoning has utility when arguing with Stalin, but the claims of the American state are not those of Soviet Russia – not that an American Leviathan is good, but it defends itself on different grounds. In fact, American statism’s apologia is the individual freedom so touted by Ayn Rand, complete with her denial of the claims of the community on the individual. One need look no further than the ‘Life of Julia’ campaign to see that American statism is built around the idea of highly independent, atomized individuals that cannot be bothered with claims from direct community.

‘Julia,’ a hypothetical American woman, is shown to be independent from birth to death. She needs no husband, no father or mother, no connection with adult children in her old age. None of these people are necessary to her survival and flourishing, and none of these people are obligated to her for their survival or flourishing. The ad-campaign shows that, with a bit of government help, she is more independent than anyone has ever been able to be.

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Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).