Oh dear, I’m supposed to be writing an evaluation of teenage movies right now but screw it, Victorian!Rand is way more interesting!
As an apologist for capitalism and industrialisation, Ayn Rand would probably beat Andrew Ure to writing The Philosophy of Manufactures, and she’ll spend her time alternating between writing anti-Dickensian novels and penning angry letters to The Times about how Parliament should stop interfering with how business-owners run their factories and to STOP PASSING THOSE FACTORY ACTS.
This August 1854 article in the Times sounds exactly like her, though unlike the writer, who had intended it as satire, I bet she’d actually mean it:
Haha, I can’t say that’s a couple I’d ever thought of before. I don’t know though, I think comparing their positions relative to the cultural contexts of their times, they don’t have that much in common outside of being very comfortable in their iconoclasm, but with differing areas of primary interest. If Ayn Rand were around in the 19th century I have a hard time seeing her being involved with parliamentary reform or Ireland or India, all of them being causes that would seem to involve a degree of altruistic action on behalf of an Englishman whose financial situation enabled him to already have a vote. (Isn’t the whole concept of being able to ‘buy’ a seat in parliament the ultimate example of the free market at work? Mind you, not that politics today functions any differently, though everyone likes to pretend it does.) The very, very small state, outside of war and empire and the law, was the 19th century default, so it seems a little too convenient to put the old free-trading peace radicals into the modern concept of right-libertarianism. He wasn’t a socialist, but you couldn’t exactly call him a pure classical liberal, or even a Gladstonian Liberal (though to be fair even Gladstone had some ideas about situations that would necessitate state involvement—he seemed reasonably keen on the idea of nationalising the railways and deliberately kept that open as an option for the future).
On a similar note though, I think the actual Richard Cobden bears a bit of a resemblance to the (mostly) fictional Ron Paul everybody seems to want to vote for…
Bradlaugh is a darling in his own little way, really not deserving of all those attacks on his morality from total cads like Randolph Churchill. It does seem unfair to assume that someone should be a socialist just because he rejects institutions like religion or monarchy, because he really is being consistent to his own beliefs. He certainly had no serious ill-will towards all socialists as a whole because they had some similar aims, but different ideas about how much the individual should be subjected to the will of others. (c.f. his statements* on Robert Owen, ‘conced[ing] that the movement had an enormous value, if only as a protest against against that terrible and inhuman competitive struggle, in which the strong were rewarded for their strength, and no mercy was shown to the weakest.’ Not terribly Randian sentiments!)
To be honest, I have no idea what Objectivism would make of the Victorian state, since there was still an expectation that the government would not give you anything, but private groups were to pick up the slack. It reached sort of ridiculous levels sometimes, like Robert Peel’s semi-secretive famine-relief measures funded out of his own pocket while he was PM (as opposed to the Whigs who just sort of…left Ireland. God will fix it, right?)
There is nothing a man hate so much as being cleaned against his will or having his floors swept, his house whitewashed, his pet dungheaps cleared away. It is a fact that many have died of a good washing. We prefer to take our chance with cholera than to be bullied into action.
[…] the governments should let people get on with their lives without telling them what to do.
Politically, I think she’ll be in her element as a Palmerston acolyte; she would heartily approve of Pam sending gunboats to defend “free trade” and to purportedly set up a free market in China. And I suppose she would cheerfully support the foreign powers’ invasion China as she explicitly stated that free nations have the moral right to invade oppressive states (“Collectivist Rights”, The Ayn Rand Reader) — and pre-1911 China was as oppressive as, if not more so than, czarist Russia: absolute monarchy; no individual property ‘cause the Emperor/state owns all the land; government monopoly on most things including salt and rice; no legal guarantee of individual rights, etc.
She would probably support a more aggressive British foreign policy in India, since her views of the Native Americans indicate she was kind of an imperialist in the “White Man’s Burden” tradition, that is “WE MUST BRING THE GIFTS OF CIVILISATION TO THESE SAVAGES!!! WOOH CAPITALISM! FREE MARKET! INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS!!!”. There’s little doubt then that she’ll firmly support the British in the 1857 insurrection, and not least because her own impressions of the Indians would be unfavourable, influenced by The Mysterious Valley, a racist as hell story that she loved as a child, which featured Hindu shamans and mutinous sepoys kidnapping British officers via trained Bengalese tigers and attempting to kill them as a human sacrifice.
As for buying a seat in Parliament — well, I don’t think she’ll see the point! She always denounced the common man ( variously called “the masses”, “the mob”, “the little people”, etc.) in her books, and basically said that rulers of men and men who chased after power were the worst second-hander scums on Earth… so yeah, she wouldn’t approve of anyone who bought a seat, not because it’s a corrupt practice, but because she can’t comprehend why anyone would want to spend money to represent the great, unwashed masses who are “mud to trod underfoot, fuel to be burnt” (We the Living, 1936 edition)… and that’s enough about Victorian!Rand.
Seriously though her sadomasochistic views of sex would be perfect for the Victorian era, where flogging was prevalent?
I’ve heard Charles Bradlaugh being described as a ‘liberal individualist’, which does seem to fit him better than ‘classically liberal’ since the latter is associated with total laissez-faire? And say, isn’t Randolph Churchill the douche who tried to bankrupt Bradlaugh? Aghhh I really need to read up on darling Chas.