One of the ways critics try to dismiss Ayn Rand and the entire free market position more broadly, is by labeling it “anti-government.” Since government is obviously necessary, the charge is meant to paint the free market position as crazy and out of touch.
It’s a bizarre characterization. Rand, for instance, penned an entire essay—available for free on the web even—in which she explained why we need government. Far from a necessary evil, the pro-capitalist view regards government as a necessary good.
The key issue is: what kind of government? The capitalist position recognizes that some governments aren’t good. When government stops protecting its citizens and starts seizing their wealth and taking away their freedom, that government is neither necessary nor good.
The critics paint free market thinkers as anti-government because of the kind of government they, the critics, support: the wealth-taking, rights-violating regulatory-welfare state. But equating “anti-statism” with “anti-state” is like saying that a person is anti-computer because he’s against using them to hack into people’s bank accounts.
If Ayn Rand was anti-state because she opposed rights-violating governments, then so were the Founding Fathers. After all, they, like her, believed that government’s function was crucial but strictly limited. In Jefferson’s immortal words,
a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.
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