Endangered Species Act & Sierra Club

Michael Gochfeld gochfeld at eohsi.rutgers.edu
Mon Mar 8 23:45:52 EST 2004

I like Ayn Rand's writings but not  her philosophy. She was very much a
libertarian which I can appreciate, but not when it came to nature.
She called her philosophy Objectivism and its principal tenets were rational
egoism and laissez-faire capitalism. Much of it was an unveiled attack on
Soviet Socialism based on her years living in the Soviet Union. Egoism and
glorification of human "spirit" could certainly involve destruction of

She was very much an urbano-phile, holding up human activity as prime and
the conquest of nature as a desirable goal.  Countryside for her usually
meant big private estates.

Actually her writings are mostly devoid of nature.  I haven't read anything
for years, but I don't recall much mention of birds, animals, flowers, or
lots of mention of buildings, factories, quarries, and parties. Her heroes
didn't go hunting or fishing much less chase butterflies or birds. I'm
confident that nature didn't matter to her at all.  Even animals weren't
prominent.  Not much in the way of dogs.  A few rats for local color.  An
occasional horseback ride.  She seemed to like rich people who could do what
they want to whomever they want.  .

She would certainly be in the anti-regulation camp and she stated that
unregulated capitalism was an ultimate good in and of itself.   The world
would be a better place if rich people were allowed to do what they wanted,
build what they wanted, make what they wanted, destroy what they wanted.

It would be interesting if she had had a chance to write about
multinationals.  She would not have like NAFTA (neither do I).

I don't recall conservation attacked per se, but I can well imagine that she
would have been very much anti-conservation since she clearly revered the
conquest of nature.
Anyway she was a brilliant writer, but not necessarily a good commentator.
She saw things through darkly tinted glasses.

Ayn Rand sure didn't like the idea that the endangered species act would
constrain a person's use of their private property.  "Those who knew her say
that empathy and openness were  not strong elements in her character."  She
diedin 1982 at age 77.

I certainly doubt that Ayn Rand's views on conservation would have been the
basis of anybody's suspicions. She wasn't writing for a popular audience.
Stan, my guess is that the informant was thinking about the Ayn Rand
Institute which IS carrying on a vigorous anti-environmentalism campaign.  I
don't know how effective the campaign is since I've never received
prosyletizing from them.

The growth of conservation in the mid-20th century focused on soil
conservation (after the dust bowl), water, and wildlife (championed by
hunters), with emphasis on the planting of vegetation rows as windbreaks and
habitats and the use of crops and cultivation techniques to retard erosion.
All good things needed at that time. She might have approved of that kind of
conservation is she'd given it any thought.

Mike Gochfeld

"Stanley A. Gorodenski" wrote:

> About 2 or 3 years ago in another list related to another one of my
> interests there was a post related to the issue of property rights.
> Someone on this list brought up this subject today and I wanted to add
> to it, but my email-browser crashed before I could. My restore is 5 days
> old and I do not remember who this 'someone' is.
> The person in this other list (about 2-3 years ago) provided some
> information concerning Ayn Rand that appears to be the basis of the
> 'suspicions' many hold of a conspiracy and fear of the conservation
> movement (part of the conservation movement includes declaring some
> species as endangered). According to this individual, Ayn Rand held a
> philosophical position that there is an elite group of individuals (not
> named) who are bent on taking away our freedoms and suppressing us.
> According to Rand, the issue of conservation is being used, and maybe
> was even created, by the elite group to further their objectives. Does
> anyone know more about this? I may have some of my facts wrong, or the
> other individual may have misinterpreted Ayn Rand.
> Stan
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