Ayn Rand and Colonialised ‘Savages’

ayn-rand.jpgConservative Icon Ayn Rand Said ‘Savages’ Had No Right to Land – ICTMN.com — Native Americans did not have a right to their ancestral homeland, and white people were justified in committing genocide against them, Ayn Rand, the Russian-born conservative heroine and writer, said during a Q&A in 1974, Salon reported.

“Americans didn’t conquer … You are a racist if you object to that … [And since] the Indians did not have any property rights — they didn’t have the concept of property … they didn’t have any rights to the land,” Rand said, reported Ben Norton of Salon on Wednesday.

Objectivism’s rejection of the primitive — Objectivism’s societal examples of primitiveness
Native Americans and colonization

Rand’s Objectivism rejects primitivism and tribalism, while arguing that they are symptomatic of an “anti-industrial” mentality.[13] Rand believed that the indigenous Native Americans, who in her estimation exhibited these “savage” traits, thus forfeited their property rights in doing so.[14][15] Rand also contended that Native Americans, “having failed for millennia to create a heroically productive capitalist society, deserved to be stripped of their land.”[16] When Rand addressed West Point Military Academy cadets in 1974 and was asked about the dispossession and “cultural genocide”[14] of Native Americans which occurred en route to forming the United States, she replied that indigenous people “had no right to a country merely because they were born here and then acted like savages …. Since the Indians did not have the concept of property or property rights – they didn’t have a settled society, they had predominantly nomadic tribal “cultures” – they didn’t have rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights that they had not conceived of and were not using.”[14] Rand went on to opine that “in opposing the white man” Native Americans wished to “continue a primitive existence” and “live like animals or cavemen”, surmising that “any European who brought with him an element of civilization had the right to take over this continent.”[14]

On Columbus Day of 1992, Michael Berliner, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, reiterated this philosophical position and hailed the European conquest of North America, describing the indigenous culture as “a way of life dominated by fatalism, passivity, and magic.”[17] Western civilization, Berliner claimed, brought “reason, science, self-reliance, individualism, ambition, and productive achievement” to a people who were based in “primitivism, mysticism, and collectivism”, and to a land that was “sparsely inhabited, unused, and underdeveloped.”[17] In a 1999 follow up editorial for Capitalism magazine, Berliner, who was also senior adviser to the Ayn Rand Archives, expressed objectivism’s “reverence” for Western Civilization which he referred to as an “objectively superior culture” that “stands for man at his best.”[18] In response to Michael Berliner’s critiques of Native American society, Robert McGhee, an archaeologist with the Canadian Museum of Civilization, stated that the United States Constitution and its concept of democracy “may owe much, to the political concepts of the Iroquois and other Native peoples.”[19]

Additionally, in 2005, the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights rejected a proposal by the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to formally apologize to Native Americans, stating that the proper response from “Indians” instead should be “gratitude.”[20] The Ayn Rand Center’s remarks went on to decree the transfer of Western civilization to the Americas as “one of the great cultural gifts in recorded history, affording Indians almost effortless access to centuries of European accomplishments in philosophy, science, technology, and government”, remarking that “before Europeans arrived, the scattered tribes occupying North America lived in abject poverty, ignorance, and superstition.”[20]
Arabs versus Israel

“There is indeed a primitivism in the Middle East embodied in the Arab states. Those nations are feudal throwbacks. In contrast to the Westernized Israelis, they are tribalist clans, with no concept of individual rights.”
– Leonard Peikoff, founder of the Ayn Rand Institute[21]

Rand’s rejection of what she deemed to be “primitivism” also extended to the Middle East peace process.[15][22] Following the Arab-Israeli War of 1973, Rand denounced Arabs as “primitive” and “one of the least developed cultures” who “are typically nomads.”[22] Consequently, Rand contended Arab resentment for Israel was a result of the Jewish state being “the sole beachhead of modern science and civilization on their (Arabs) continent”, while decreeing that “when you have civilized men fighting savages, you support the civilized men, no matter who they are.”[22]

When asked about the topic during a May 1979 episode of the The Phil Donahue Show, Ayn Rand reprised her support for Israel against the Arabs under the reasoning that they were “the advanced, technological, civilized country amidst a group of almost totally primitive savages […] who resent Israel because it’s bringing industry, intelligence, and modern technology into their stagnation.”[23]

Leonard Peikoff, who was associate editor with Ayn Rand for The Objectivist, reiterated Rand’s earlier stance in a 1996 editorial for Capitalism Magazine, noting that “(Israeli) land was not stolen from the nomadic tribes meandering across the terrain, any more than the early Americans stole this country (the U.S.) from the primitive, warring Indians.”[21]

Libertarian superstar Ayn Rand defended Native American genocide: “Racism didn’t exist in this country until the liberals brought it up” – Salon.com – “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.

 

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