Was Ayn Rand Right About the Ultimate Minority?

Let’s examine one of her famous quotes

Brian Tubbs


Closeup of a photo portrait credited to “Talbot” (though not on original dust jacket). Published by the Bobbs-Merrill Company. (Retrieved via Wikipedia)

In 1961, economist Alice O’Connor, known by her pen name “Ayn Rand,” gave a controversial lecture titled “America’s Persecuted Minority.” She claimed wealthy business owners were being targeted and unfairly discriminated against — often in the name of justice and protection of minorities.

Already famous for her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, Rand argued that America’s antitrust laws put an unfair burden on America’s business leaders. She claimed that “every ugly, brutal aspect of injustice toward racial or religious minorities is being practiced towards businessmen.”

This lecture was later developed into an essay which became part of her nonfiction work Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.

In the interests of full disclosure, I am not an avid Rand disciple. I agree with her sometimes and disagree with her sometimes.

In the case of her quote above, I don’t believe that America’s anti-trust laws represent a “brutal” assault on individual liberty. On the contrary, in a free society, some regulation of Big Business is necessary. But I don’t want to get into the nuts and bolts of anti-trust laws.

For now, I just want to focus on one quote that reportedly came from Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal — and can be found all over the Internet. And that quote is…

“The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights, cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”

Do you agree with that quote?

In a day and age, when many are openly calling for the curtailment of individual rights in favor of group rights, it seems to be a quote that is worthy of consideration and discussion.

To the extent that it represents a full-on, unconditional endorsement of extreme libertarian autonomy with no checks or balances, I disagree with the quote.

For one thing, only a fool (and I don’t think Rand was a fool) would deny that some individual rights should be denied. Or are we going to say that an individual has the absolute and unconditional…