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Libertarianism: What it isn't

March 30, 2007

Re "What's not to like about Libertarianism?" Current, March 25

Brian Doherty has it wrong when he says that Barry Goldwater's libertarian ideas cost him the 1964 presidential race.

What cost him the race was his speech supporting "extremism in defense of liberty." Those words sound relatively harmless in today's world, but in 1964 they answered the question of whether the Republican candidate would support attacks on civil liberties to rid the country of communists.

Change the word "communists" to "terrorists" and you have today's administration. Isn't there an old saying that people who don't study history are doomed to repeat it?

ROGER CLAPP

Rolling Hills Estates

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Ayn Rand did not write novels of "uncompromising libertarianism." In her view, libertarianism has no philosophy to uphold uncompromisingly. Libertarianism rejects the need for a consistent, objective, philosophic defense of liberty and regards politics as primary. Rand was a defender of reason and recognized that political freedom requires a philosophy of reason and egoism. That is why Rand repeatedly condemned the libertarian movement, regarding herself, instead, as a "radical for capitalism." For further explanation, see Rand's novel of uncompromising objectivist, not libertarian, ideas -- "Atlas Shrugged" -- celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

JEFF BRITTING

Irvine

The writer is an archivist at the Ayn Rand Institute.

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