Ayn Rand’s Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal is a collection of fascinating essays, including Alan Greenspan’s famous defence of free banking, Gold and Economic Freedom, which I believe he has never repudiated.

Today, I found in it a section of Rand’s critique of the student rebellions of the 1960s which put me in mind of the Whips’ office:

If there is any one way to confess one’s own mediocrity, it is the willingness to place one’s work in the absolute power of a group, particularly a group of one’s professional colleagues. Of any forms of tyranny, this is the worst; it is directed against a single human attribute: the mind — and against a single enemy: the innovator. The innovator, by definition, is the man who challenges the established practices of his profession. To grant a professional monopoly to any group is to sacrifice human ability and abolish progress; to advocate such a monopoly is to confess that one has nothing to sacrifice.

The Whips exist to ensure the Government gets its business and gets it without undue inconvenience. It’s their job to know who thinks what, to procure helpful words and actions and to suppress dissent. They desire obedience, not independent thought. Indeed, I recently overheard one Whip say, “Don’t think for yourself. It will only make you unhappy.”

I doubt this is truly the worst tyranny but maybe the suppression of individual thought and action is somewhere at the heart of those appalling tyrannies which spring to mind. I certainly recommend the book as food for thought, albeit thought with a merciless clarity.

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