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Why Objectivists Hate Anarchy

Given the portrayal of an anarchist utopia (Galt’s Gulch) in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged–given the unavoidable conclusion of anarchy given the pro-individual, pro-rights, anti-state views Rand shared with libertarians–it is a bit mystifying why so many Objectivists despise anarchy. Okay, granted, Rand hated it, so many Objectivists feel compelled not to question it–but why would Rand be so hostile to it? Her own novel portrays anarchy positively.

I think I have it figured out. First, note the extreme, almost Galambos-like importance they attach to intellectual property. For example, she actually wrote: “patents are the heart and core of property rights.” I kid you not. (See Rand and Marx.) One pro-IP Objectivist even equates humans-as-inventors to “gods” (Inventors are Like Unto …. GODS…..). (The Randians’ deification of intellectual creation reminds of Galambos, who believed that man has “primary” property rights in his thoughts and ideas, and secondary property rights in tangible goods; see Against Intellectual Property.)

Objectivists are also astute enough to realize that you can’t have IP without a state–hell, you can’t have it without legislation. Thus, not only are Objectivists not opposed to a state, they are not opposed to its use of legislation as a means of “making” law (see Regret: The Glory of State Law).

So: patents and IP are the most important of all rights. And you can’t have IP in anarchy, since IP comes from artificial edict by the legislature of a state. So, we must have a state. QED.


Stephan Kinsella

Stephan Kinsella is an attorney in Houston, director of the Center for the Study of Innovative Freedom, and editor of Libertarian Papers.