An excellent article appeared in The Wall Street Journal in Saturday by Senior Editor of Reason Magazine Brian Doherty, helping to celebrate 50 years since Ayn Rand first published her magnum opus, ‘Atlas Shrugged’. Like many (most?) libertarians, I am immensely grateful for Rand’s contribution to 20th century political discourse. Doherty’s article highlights the tensions between Rand and the Moral Right:

“Rand’s insistence that all values be rationally chosen made her “bad,” in modern conservative terms, on the family and on religion. But if the GOP can contemplate nominating twice-divorced Rudolph Giuliani (who agrees with Rand on abortion rights), conservatives should realize political movements can no longer demand agreement on matters of faith and family. They need to recognize — as Rand was, ironically, mocked for failing to recognize — that metaphysics and religion are extra-political.”

It’s an oft-repeated libertarian criticism of both the Left and the Right, that neither is consistent in their treatment of freedoms. The former want to be free morally while opposing economic freedom and the latter want to be free economically while opposing moral freedom. It falls to libertarians alone to advocate both types of freedom simultaneously and consistently, both personal and fiscal (and everything in between). And it fell to Rand to spearhead that movement, lonely as it was:

“Her message of political freedom was enthusiastic, and optimistic, and immensely popular. No major American political party has embraced her message in full. But millions of Americans have voted for her with their pocket books, and hundreds of thousands continue to do so every year.

“On the 50th anniversary of her greatest novel, her advocacy of the still “unknown ideal” of truly free market capitalism is something that America, and the conservative movement, needs to reconsider.”