Changing Your Mind: From Ayn Rand to Hillary Clinton
A conversation with Bulwark members.
Programming note: Thursday Night Bulwark is back tomorrow (9/14) starting at 8pm in the East. My newest colleague(!) A.B. Stoddard will join Mona, Joe and me to discuss what My Kevin is up in the House. If you missed A.B.’s note about why she joined The Bulwark, check it out here. We’re ecstatic to have her officially join the family. I know you are going to love her. Look for TNB location details in your inbox later today.
Bad news: We have 418 days until we re-run the 2020 election.1 It’s going to be hard to find interesting election-related things to talk about.
Good news: That leaves us lots of time for interesting non-election subjects. Today I’d like to talk about changing your mind. And I’d like us to talk it through together.
What have you changed your mind about?
Today we’ll talk about the broad view of this question—about conceptual shifts we’ve made. Later in the week we’ll talk about the narrow view—about specific policy questions. I’ll start by sharing some of my thoughts. In the comments you can share your own evolutions and continue the discussion.
For me, if you go back far enough, my change list gets pretty long. In college I was super jazzed by Ayn Rand. It took me a couple years in the real world to learn that in vivo, if John Galt invented free energy, he would never charge Dagney Taggart just enough to keep her in business. He’d destroy her business and vertically integrate it in pursuit of monopoly power. In the process he would use every rent-seeking trick his money could secure him.
Rand believed that there were only two classes: “Real Capitalist Heroes” and “Blood-Sucking Rent Seekers.” But that’s not the truth, because there are no “free” markets. Any capitalist hero who becomes successful enough becomes a rent-seeker hoping to gain a monopoly.
In my youth, I was attracted to free market capitalism because my vision of it was utopian. It was only once I saw how deeply compromised markets are by externalities that I became suspicious of capitalism and convinced that if government didn’t exert some regulatory pressures on the market, then capitalism would deliver suboptimal outcomes.
My shift on capitalism is one broad change. Another is my view of the nuclear family.