Category Archives: Daniel Hannan

April 11, 2017

The new age of Ayn Rand: how she won over Trump and Silicon Valley

Her novel The Fountainhead is one of the few works of fiction that Donald Trump likes and she has long been the darling of the US right. But only now do her devotees hold sway around the world.

As they plough through their GCSE revision, UK students planning to take politics A-level in the autumn can comfort themselves with this thought: come September, they will be studying one thinker who does not belong in the dusty archives of ancient political theory but is achingly on trend. For the curriculum includes a new addition: the work of Ayn Rand.

It is a timely decision because Rand, who died in 1982 and was alternately ridiculed and revered throughout her lifetime, is having a moment. Long the poster girl of a particularly hardcore brand of free-market fundamentalism – the advocate of a philosophy she called “the virtue of selfishness” – Rand has always had acolytes in the conservative political classes. The Republican speaker of the US House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, is so committed a Randian, he was famous for giving every new member of his staff a copy of Rand’s gargantuan novel, Atlas Shrugged (along with Freidrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom). The story, oft-repeated, that his colleague in the US Senate, Rand Paul, owes his first name to his father Ron’s adulation of Ayn (it rhymes with “mine”) turns out to be apocryphal, but Paul describes himself as a fan all the same.

Not to be left out, Britain’s small-staters have devised their own ways of worshipping at the shrine of Ayn. Communities secretary Sajid Javid reads the courtroom scene in Rand’s The Fountainhead twice a year and has done so throughout his adult life. As a student, he read that bit aloud to the woman who is now his wife, though the exercise proved to be a one-off. As Javid recently confessed to the Spectator, she told him that if he tried that again, he would get dumped. Meanwhile, Daniel Hannan, the Tory MEP many see as the intellectual architect of Brexit, keeps a photograph of Rand on his Brussels desk.

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March 9, 2014

Daniel Hannan: European Tea Party Movements Becoming Mainstream

On Breitbart News Saturday on Sirius XM Patriot channel 125, Daniel Hannan, a member of the European Parliament who represents the UK Conservative Party, said that so-called Tea Party movements against the European Union and Brussels are becoming “mainstream” in Europe.

Speaking to co-hosts Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow and Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon live from CPAC, Hannan blasted the so-called “Party of Davos” and said that the “Davos corporatists are at odds with the people in every country.” He said that they are all “indistinguishable” and united in their “distrust of the electorate” and regular people. In many ways, the global elite are not distinguishable from the permanent political class in Washington, D.C.

What’s worse, according to Hannan, is that there are bureaucratic institutions set up in Europe “where these guys are immune to the ballot box.” He stated that being “pro-market and pro-business” are two “completely different things” and that every big corporation “starts behaving like a nationalized industry.”

Hannan expressed that they all “love regulation because it raises barriers to entry and it disadvantages competitors,” and that they are “all for the European Union” because they have “spent so much lobbying the system that they want to preserve it.” He also said that the global political elite are more pro-business than pro-markets and want to work with government to rig the system against true entrepreneurs.

“The entrepreneurs are all against the EU,” he said. “The trouble is they are against a blob of corporatists, consultants who are spending tons of money.”

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November 29, 2013

An interview with British Member of European Parliament Daniel Hannan

Bullish on the Anglosphere despite impending defaults and revolt-worthy tax levels.

In a wide-ranging interview with Blaze Books in connection with his newest title, Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World, outspoken British MEP Daniel Hannan provided his insights on American exceptionalism, Western governmental defaults, why he is bullish on the West in spite of such defaults, and a whole host of other topics. Below is our interview, conducted via email. The interview has been slightly edited for clarity.

What would you say to critics who argue that there are strong bedrock principles that have come from cultures outside the Anglosphere (or to paraphrase the President, that he believes “in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism”)?

Hannan: The President was right about one thing. Most Brits do indeed believe in British exceptionalism. But here’s the thing: we define it in almost exactly the same way that Americans do theirs. We believe it resides in certain values and institutions, such as the rule of law, free contract, secure property, jury trials, personal liberty, regular elections, habeas corpus, and uncensored newspapers. In Greece, as in pretty much the rest of the world, people expect – indeed demand – far more intervention from the state. That’s why they’re in the mess they’re in. Come to think of it, maybe it wasn’t a coincidence that the President, back in 2009, cited Greece in that answer: with a $17 trillion national debt, he seems pretty keen on taking America in that direction.

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July 23, 2013

Statism is turning America into Detroit – Ayn Rand’s Starnesville come to life by Daniel Hannan

Of Detroit’s $11 billion debt, $9 billion is accounted for by public sector salaries and pensions. Under the mountain of accumulated obligations, the money going into, say, the emergency services is not providing services but pensions.

Look at this description of Detroit from today’s Observer:

What isn’t dumped is stolen. Factories and homes have largely been stripped of anything of value, so thieves now target cars’ catalytic converters. Illiteracy runs at around 47%; half the adults in some areas are unemployed. In many neighbourhoods, the only sign of activity is a slow trudge to the liquor store.

Now have a look at the uncannily prophetic description of Starnesville, a Mid-Western town in Ayn Rand’s dystopian novel, Atlas Shrugged. Starnesville had been home to the great Twentieth Century Motor Company, but declined as a result of socialism:

A few houses still stood within the skeleton of what had once been an industrial town. Everything that could move, had moved away; but some human beings had remained. The empty structures were vertical rubble; they had been eaten, not by time, but by men: boards torn out at random, missing patches of roofs, holes left in gutted cellars. It looked as if blind hands had seized whatever fitted the need of the moment, with no concept of remaining in existence the next morning. The inhabited houses were scattered at random among the ruins; the smoke of their chimneys was the only movement visible in town. A shell of concrete, which had been a schoolhouse, stood on the outskirts; it looked like a skull, with the empty sockets of glassless windows, with a few strands of hair still clinging to it, in the shape of broken wires.

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September 11, 2012

Judges now get to decide what we can wear at work by Daniel Hannan

In their determination to champion designated victim groups, rather than apply coherent principles, human rights activists are regularly forced into doublethink.

In an open society, the state’s powers should be limited and contingent, the individual’s expansive and residual. To put it more prosaically, the government shouldn’t boss us around more than is absolutely necessary. It certainly shouldn’t tell us what to wear – as, for example, the Taliban and French regimes do (the one requiring burqas, the other banning them).

An open society also implies free contract. You may apply for work where you please. Likewise, if you own a company, it’s yours. If you want to employ only graduates, that’s your own silly fault. If you want to impose a uniform code on your staff, that’s between you and them.

These things were taken as read until a generation ago. The idea of passing laws specifying what people of different faiths might wear would have seemed like a throwback to the era of the Test Acts. Left-wing secularists would have been loudest in their condemnation, and they’d have had a point: the demerger of our civil and religious spheres is one of the things that made possible the miraculous advance of the West.

The trouble is that lobby groups in the 1970s approached the issue as one of minority rights rather than of conscience. Because new laws were initially demanded on behalf of immigrants – Sikhs not wanting to wear motorcycle helmets, Muslims wanting to wear veils – the debate was framed in terms of race rather than creed. For many Lefties, anti-racism is the highest card in the deck, trumping everything else.

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