Sara Robinson of Alternet had a good idea for a Mother’s Day column – “Ayn Rand-Loving Right Is Like Teen Boys Gone Crazy” — but she got carried away and ended up arguing that Randian conservatism is, more than anything else, anti-feminist:
… Make no mistake: all this Ayn Rand libertarian me-first-and-the-rest-of-you-go-to-hell stuff – the there’s-no-government-like-no-government theology that’s now being piously intoned as Holy Received Truth by everybody, male and female, in the GOP – is, very precisely, the kind of politics you’d come up with if you were a 16-year-old boy trying to explain away his dependence on Mom.
Parents? I don’t have any parents. I raised myself, on roots and berries and small vermin I dug up in vacant lots. That lady hanging around, feeding me and nagging me and picking up my socks and driving me to practice? She’s just the nanny state. That bitch. I hate her…
Later, Robinson adds this regarding the term “nanny state”:
… It’s sexist as hell. Anti-feminist at its very core. It says that the concerns that we most identify with mothers – cleaning up your crap, minding your manners, not annoying other people, taking responsibility for your actions – are intrusive and unwarranted infringements on your essential freedom, instead of the basic adult responsibilities that are required of everybody if society is going to remain free and functional.
It says that the power and authority by which mothers – “nannies,” in this construction – set the rules within the family is illegitimate. It belittles women who are bossy enough to insist on adult behavior from men…
Amusing, but off-base. What about women libertarians, who are just as contemptuous of the nanny state as the Paul Ryans of the world? Most libertarians are men, but the number of true-believing women is on the rise. Just ask the Ladies of Liberty Alliance.
I’ve encountered libertarians up close, men and women, and they are very good at cleaning up their own crap and minding their manners. They’re extremely arrogant, but in a “reasonable” fashion. You don’t even know they’re wing nuts until you talk politics with them and they shock you with their lack of compassion for the wretched of the earth — more precisely, with their professed belief that government assistance to those in need is harmful to social order.
Robinson should have remembered that Ayn Rand ran a very strict cult. I can’t imagine Alan Greenspan and Rand’s other male minions balking when she ordered them to pick up their dirty socks.
I’m guessing Robinson’s hot-botton issue is feminism. Otherwise, she’d see that libertarianism is essentially anti-humanist, not anti-feminist.
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Libertarians are simply Republicans smoking pot.
Odd, don’t fall into the “It’s Humanist, not Feminist” trap here. A few points:
• The presence of women, even in large numbers, in a movement does not mean the movement cannot be anti-feminist in addition to other issues.
• Something can be both anti-humanist and anti-feminist simultaneously. Conflating the two under the mantle of Humanism disappears the particular and necessary points that a feminist analysis can illuminate about how injustice often effects men and women in different ways.
• It may be that ideally Libertarianism is an equal opportunity philosophy, but in practice, it can and does run with an anti-feminist MO. This may not be by design, but as a result of who the main voices are behind the movement.
• Don’t forget, Ayn Rand was not particularly feminist, despite her achievements– she was an exceptionalist.
• Because Robinson’s analysis was feminist in this case does not preclude it from being humanist. See what I did there?
Thanks for the feedback. Yes, libertarians are often anti-feminist, too, but the definitive, umbrella term for such a cold, self-serving “philosophy” is anti-humanist. Libertarianism is essentially anti-humanist.
Yes, a movement can include a lot of women and still be anti-feminist, but I think Robinson went off-track by stereotyping libertarians as bratty grown-up men who are still rebelling against their moms. Libertarians are bratty grown-up elitists — men and women — who think that anyone not in the elite doesn’t deserve government help.
To me it’s a class issue and a money issue (the same thing in this country), not a men vs. women issue. The 99 percent are, as Chris Hedges recently wrote, controlled by a small minority that continues to “strip us of our resources, keep us politically passive and enrich themselves at our expense.” One percenters can be libertarians or traditional conservatives or even neo-liberals. They can be Jesus freaks or atheists, men or women. They’re the people who enslave us. (At one time I wouldn’t have used so strong a verb, but this country has become much sicker since 2008.)