Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Silicon Valley Throws Ayn Rand Under the Bus

By Andrew Leonard
Is libertarian ideology losing its shine in Silicon Valley?
Valleywag’s Nitasha Tiku noticed Tuesday morning that Travis Kalanick, the CEO and founder of the fast-growing Uber car service, changed his Twitter avatar from the cover of Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” to an image of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton.
To borrow a revolutionary-era analogy; for hardcore libertarians, this is the kind of move one would normally associate with Benedict Arnold.
Ayn Rand, of course, is herself one of the fountainheads of modern get-rid-of-government libertarianism. But Alexander Hamilton was something quite different. The first secretary of the Treasury not only created the nation’s first central bank, but was also the earliest and most forceful advocate of a strong government role in developing the U.S. economy. In his “Report on Manufactures” he laid out in painstaking detail a program for industrial policy arguing that if the United States was to compete with the established nations of Europe and make the most productive use of its labor possible, the government needed to get involved. America’s budding manufacturing start-ups needed help!
“To be enabled to contend with success, it is evident, that the interference and aid of their own government are indispensable,” he wrote.
To this day, hard-money libertarians are aghast at Hamilton’s strong advocacy of issuing government debt to pay for infrastructural improvements and other measures that would implement federal economic policy.
Want to know what libertarians think of Hamilton? Try this excerpt from a column by Thomas DiLorenzo, published by the Austrian economics-adoring Ludwig Von Mises Institute.


  1. Makes sense in a way, as these entrepreneurial companies are morphing into crony capitalists, that they would start to shed their libertarian skins.

  2. Salon engages in wishful thinking. The people here in Silicon Valley are getting seriously upset with Democrats, and quite a few started to look for a different paradigm, Which, for all practical purposes, means libertarianism.

  3. UPDATE: Andrew Noyes, Uber’s top press contact, responds:

    “Travis loves to read and tends to use social media to highlight interesting fictional and historical characters he finds in literature. He updated his Twitter avatar several months ago after reading Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton.”

  4. Successful, rich,famouse people usually try to appease the masses(of admirers particularly) ,besides famous ones are affraid of the free competition of millions of the activists.To the contrary they often dream of the role of advicers and friends of the red dictators(remember Hemingway,Isaac Babel ).So they "hate capitalism" that enriched them.