Saturday, June 18, 2011

Robin Hood is the most Immoral

I've been reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, and I've noticed that every chapter seems to contain one extended speech.  Not that its a bad thing, because the topics these speeches cover are fantastic, and Rand writes them beautifully.  
I've decided to go somewhere different today in my blog and post one of my favorites from the book., a speech by the Pirate Ragnar Danneskjold to Protagonist Hank Reardon:

"[Robin Hood] is not remembered as a champion of property, but as a champion of need, not as a defender of the robbed, but as a provider of the poor. He is held to be the first man who assumed a halo of virtue by practicing charity with wealth which he did not own, by giving away goods which he had not produced, by making others pay for the luxury of his pity. He is the man who became a symbol of the idea that need, not achievement, is the source of rights, that we don’t have to produce, only to want, that the earned does not belong to us, but the unearned does. He became a justification for every mediocrity who, unable to make his own living, had demanded the power to dispose of the property of his betters, by proclaiming his willingness to devote his life to his inferiors at the price of robbing his superiors. It is this foulest of creatures – the double-parasite who lives on the sores of the poor and the blood of the rich – whom men have come to regard as the moral idea." ". . . Do you wonder why the world is collapsing around us? That is what I am fighting, Mr. Rearden. Until men learn that of all human symbols, Robin Hood is the most immoral and the most contemptible, there will be no justice on earth and no way for mankind to survive."

This is just a glimpse of the speech, go check out the book if you want more.
What are you're guys thoughts on this speech, or Rand in general?  I know she might not be the most liked person today, but I don't think anyone can discredit how radically different her ideals were

I think Rand is gravely misunderstood in her views on Altruism.  Atlas Shrugged takes things to the extreme to try to get her points across.  Its like how fables have messages that are told through the grandest of ways.  Rand didn't have much of a problem with charity, her real problem is when the gov't or any organization forces charity.  For instance, she felt that something like foreign aid was a problem because it forced people out of there money to help those without it.  This is why she had such a problem with communism, as wealth is generated by need rather then skill. 


  1. I agree with the previous poster. I never really thought of it that way.

  2. The problem is Ayn Rand never read Robin Hood, the original at least (which isn't all that surprising of a Russian immigrant to the US).

    If she had she would know that Robin Hood is a royalist story honouring the newly emergent merchant middle class. Who else would appreciate so many references to Lincoln greyne.

    My only thoughts concerning Rand herself are those of wonder. I imagine the American film stars of her era must have been very thick, to think hedonism is a new idea.
    Her version of hedonism though, is rather short sighted. Most of what society calls "altruism" does benefit the altruist.

    Democritus and Spencer, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

  3. At least the book is not forgotten, that's all that matters

  4. @Salted Plum

    A very interesting point. When Rand is refering to the Hood myth, I don't think shes looking at the symbolism, or content behind the story, but rather what we think of when we think of Robin Hood. The first thing people think of when we here Robin Hood is he "takes from the rich and gives to the poor". I'm adding an addendum to the post on you're second part :)

  5. Rand had the expected anti communist stance of someone who escaped the USSR.
    Apart from her books however in interviews she made it consistently clear that she did not support charity of any kind, and even occasionally went so far as to say that the "weak" or " unsuccessful", the poor, shouldn't mate.
    These ideas are not dissimilar to what was seen under another neighbouring totalitarian regime.

    I think her most unfortunate misunderstanding was her belief in capitalism. Because she was so starkly anti communist, she assumed that the capitalist system was a meritocracy that awarded skill. She never understood about inheritances, or social class, or much less the truth that the most successful businessmen are not the ones with the best products but with the best lies.

    I don't think any of Rand's followers would've considered Bernard Madoff to be a strong man, just a cheat. They probably wouldn't support defending the people who were stupid enough to be fooled by his scams though.