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On Ayn Rand on Racism

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Published on Sep 12, 2012

Ayn Rand repudiated collectivism in all forms, but she reserved her most strident and sweeping condemnation for what she regarded as collectivism applied to racial identity. She wrote, "Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man's genetic lineage..."

This oft-quoted passage from The Virtue of Selfishness is, of course, intended to be an affirmation of individualism. But, as I shall argue forthwith, Rand's overly broad conception of racism affirms premises of political correctness that stifle independent thinking.

According to Rand, asserting that race carries moral or social (which subsumes political) significance constitutes racism. A Black Panther who advocates killing white babies is surely, then, a racist, insofar as he regards whites as morally less deserving of a right to life than blacks.

But a racist in Rand's lexicon, as in the Orwellian lexicon of political correctness, can also be anyone who studies racial variation honestly and in full context, taking into account aspects of it that are socially significant. An evolutionary biologist who offers an explanation for the disproportionate success of sub-Saharan Africans in sprinting, based on their longer limbs and higher centers of gravity as compared to other races, risks facing the same charge as a militant Black Panther: racist. (Though for political correctness' most militant adherents, only the scientist would be considered racist. Blacks, they say, can't be racist, and ethnocentric blacks are automatically deemed civil rights activists.)

Racial variation in athletic ability arguably doesn't -- or shouldn't -- carry much social significance. But racial variation in intelligence -- the very attribute that distinguishes the human species from all others and makes wealthy, free societies possible -- surely is socially significant.

Revised full text:
http://libertarianrealist.blogspot.co...

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