Author and philosopher Ayn Rand sat down for a fascinating interview with Mike Wallace back in 1959. While she was considered liberal on social issues, Rand’s stance on economics, limited government and the welfare state made her popular with many libertarians and conservatives.
The video below is the second segment of the interview which deals mainly with politics and economics. The amazing thing is, she could have said much of this last week.
Here’s a partial transcript:
Mike Wallace: Let’s move ahead. How does your philosophy translate itself into the world of politics? Now one of the principle achievements of this country in the past 20 years, particularly, I think most people agree, is the gradual growth of social and protective legislation based on the principle that we are our brother’s keepers. How do you feel about the political trends of the United States, the Western world?
Ayn Rand: The way everybody feels, except more consciously. I feel that it is terrible, that you see destruction all around you, and that you are moving toward disaster until, and unless, all those welfare state conceptions have been reversed and rejected. It is precisely these trends which are bringing the world to disaster, because we are now moving towards complete collectivism, or socialism. A system under which everybody is enslaved to everybody, and we are moving that way only because of our altruist morality.
Mike Wallace: Ah…Yes, but you say everybody is enslaved to everybody, yet this came about democratically, Ayn. A free people in a free country voted for this kind of government, wanted this kind of legislation. Do you object to the democratic process?
Ayn Rand: I object to the idea that the people have the right to vote on everything. The traditional American system was a system based on the idea that majority will prevailed only in public or political affairs. And that it was limited by inalienable individual rights, therefore I do not believe that a majority can vote a man’s life, or property, or freedom away from him. Therefore, I do not believe that if a majority votes on any issue, that this makes the issue right; it doesn’t.
Mike Wallace: All right, then how do we arrive at action? How should we arrive at action?
Ayn Rand: By voluntary consent, voluntary cooperation of free men, unforced.
Mike Wallace: And how do we arrive at our leadership? Who elects, who appoints?
Ayn Rand: The whole people elects. There is nothing wrong with the democratic process in politics. We arrive at it the way we arrived by the American Constitution as it used to be. By the constitutional powers, as we had it, people elect officials, but the powers of those officials, the powers of government are strictly limited. They will have no right to initiate force or compulsion against any citizen, except a criminal. Those who have initiated force will be punished by force, and that is the only proper function of government. What we would not permit is the government to initiate force against people who have hurt no one, who have not forced anyone. We would not give the government, or the majority, or any minority, the right to take the life or the property of others. That was the original American system.
Watch the video:
Her views on government are the antithesis of progressivism.