Noted American philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand has graciously cleared her hectic social schedule to answer a few questions about the MLS cup, David Beckham, and also her philosophy of “objectivism.” Please note that while I am a fan of MLS and respect Mr. Beckham’s sporting endeavors, I do not intend for this post to serve as an implicit or explicit endorsement of Ayn Rand’s philosophy. Or their implications for MLS. Nevertheless, as an intellectual celebrity, we were delighted to get a few words in with her.
Even if they don’t really clarify much of anything.
Editor: Ayn, few people know that before becoming a philosopher, you were actually a screenwriter in LA and playwright in New York. As such, MLS fans obviously want to know – were you secretly hoping for a LA Galaxy vs. NY Red Bulls final?
Ayn Rand: Everybody always wants to see the most productive geniuses at the highest level and to achieve greatness we must create systems that do not reward mediocrity. My attachment to those two clubs, though, comes purely from reason and the reason that the strongest, fastest, and swiftest must prevail or we as a society are collectively strangling them in the worst ways imaginable. The fact that I geographically occupied the same region should not be read as some sort of moral or emotional attachment. Only reason must drive the individual, and the individual’s attachment, or success will be unattainable.
Editor: So, um, with that in mind, do you think the MLS playoffs are okay? Should we just disregard geography entirely like they already sorta do? Or do you think the playoffs need to be tweaked? New York playing LA early on and in a Western conference game is kinda weird, right? But at least you must love the fact that both teams have lots of designated players and therefore have put serous pressure on the concept of a salary cap. Do objectivists dig the direction of the league? Do the “haves” in MLS not “have” enough?
Ayn Rand: The “haves” never “have” enough. The Beckham Rule was just the beginning of the inevitable – be it in Russia, or even now in Cuba. The strong will not be shackled for eternity by the mediocre demands of a weakly collective. The runts of the litter will enjoy their teet of milk for only so long, but they will die as the stronger thrive.
Editor: So you think eventually the designated player rule will swallow the salary cap and the Columbus Crew will cease to exist? Interesting. Now, changing gears, your philosophy of ‘objectivism” was pretty popular stateside but largely ignored by the intellectual elite as stubbornly nativist. The basic problem was that you just kinda assumed an objective reality existed free of language, and then built a philosophy on that. Similarly, MLS has arguably built a single entity-franchise model built on Wal-Mart principles that has failed to attract a whole lot of international attention. What do you have to say for you and MLS’ detractors?
Ayn Rand: Philosophers have always lashed out at me for a simple reason – science and technology have supplanted their importance and threatened their livelihood. The old guard of philosophy was built upon mysticism and faith, yet the industrial revolution improved medicine and extended the length and quality of life. Capitalism has rendered the average man incredibly intelligent and self-sufficient. The 21st century man and I have no time to squabble with ivory tower academics that preach blindness to an objective reality everybody can see but them. And as for MLS, the proper laissez-faire policies could allow the producers of greatness to do what they do best – produce greatness. Attention will then follow greatness – it always does.
Editor: Wow, so you’re for no salary cap? Then more international eyeballs will catch an MLS Game? But surely European debt problems at major clubs show that without any check on competition, the owners will spend themselves to death, right? Surely sport is distinct from other enterprises – in PCs, if we are left with only Microsoft, we’ll survive, but if we are left with only Manchester United in soccer, who the hell will they play?
Ayn Rand: I find your lack of faith disturbing. Where you see a monopoly, I see greatness personified atop a mountain’s peak. Do you really enjoy watching Manchester United play against Norwich on a cold Saturday morning? Regardless, you sound like the most cynical of social workers. Even mid-table teams don’t need coddling. The opposite is in order. For example, in terms of MLS, the elimination of a salary cap would allow the teams to recruit top players to then obtain more profit from people paying to see the improved product that they produce. How would that spell a death knoll? Your condescension and lack of faith in the producers belies your cynicism and is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Editor: Um, what about the NASL? But that debate is beyond the scope of this interview and you sound like Data from TNG anytime somebody pokes a hole in your libertarian ideals. Thus, here’s a more practical topic: in terms of the actual MLS Cup Final, who did you expect to win – the LA Galaxy or the Houston Dynamo? Why?
Ayn Rand: Based on the past, often a poor rubric for predicting the future and success, one would think LA was more likely to produce the best product. LA also had a significantly higher investment in assets (players) and was playing the game in the comfort of their own designated industrial production zone (stadium).
Editor: Speaking of that “zone”, Los Angeles, I know that you have long argued that air pollution is a “scientific” problem, not a “political” one. However, anybody who’s flown to LAX can see the cloud of smog. I was in LA for a week and didn’t realize there were surrounding mountains. Surely Chad Barrett would be a step faster if he could breath during games, right?
Ayn Rand: Yet Chad Barrett had a good season and has never doubled over from a coughing attack. I do not blame you for imposing your-concerned-social-worker values upon a professional athlete, yet the freedom of labor and movement offer the solution. If one is not happy in their wonderful industrial metropolis, then the world offers many others full of fruitful occupations.
Editor: On that topic, in terms of the mobility of labor, MLS has continued to rely on the college draft to pick-up talent. However, in Europe, they usually sign teenagers and then send them to elite soccer-focused academies. You’ve come down pretty hard on American high schools and colleges – you believe they only confuse young minds and leave them in a state of disbelief. However, many professional athletes who have avoided this “land of disillusion and poor education” and made mad bank are poor within a few years of retirement. Can we agree that education at least teaches people to not be total idiots with their money?
Ayn Rand: No. Once again, your narrow-mindedness attempts to cleverly graft a sense of value upon flawed institutions. Who are you to judge the spending of another? Who are you to say that Mario Balotelli’s iPad does not bring him immeasurable joy? He has worked hard for his wages and has an objective right to spend them as he sees fit. The individual’s right to autonomous decisions, including the spending of wages acquired for production of soccer playing, should never been subject to such naive “altruistic” and “collective” considerations.
Editor: Alright, I figured you’d say as much. Now, and lastly, this is the most important question – now that his contract is up, will David Beckham re-sign with the LA Galaxy?
Ayn Rand: Maybe.