The Limits Of Self-Reliance

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 26 2012 @ 11:57am

Rose Wilder Lane, the daughter of Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder and a best-selling writer herself, claimed to be a "fundamentalist American." Lane believed in "a frontier democracy—a Republic of the Fittest—with no handouts or entitlements, and minimal taxation." She came to these tenets after experiencing the ravages of the Great Depression, and such political sympathies brought her into contact with Ayn Rand. Judith Therman details the revealing correspondence between the two libertarian women:

Lane and Rand exchanged collegial letters for a while in the late nineteen-forties and early nineteen-fifties. But when Lane invoked the Biblical imperative to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” and protested that “without some form of mutual coöperation, it is literally impossible for one person on this planet to survive,” Rand “tore apart [her] logic” and denounced it as collectivist heresy. That sort of impulse, she concluded (to help your neighbor save his burning house, for example) led inexorably “to the New Deal.”