Home > Uncategorized > I Me Mine: The Unholy Trinity Of Ayn Rand

I Me Mine: The Unholy Trinity Of Ayn Rand

By OTOOLEFAN

“Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper’s bell of an approaching looter.” – Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand was out of her Vulcan mind.

This is a simple fact that can be verified by anyone with even minimal Google skills. She was the Albert Schweitzer of Selfishness and the Mother Theresa of Greed all rolled into one. This, naturally, makes her a hero to the Right and qualifies her for sainthood. Too bad she was an Atheist.

Her philosophy, so she said, was one of pure reason, unstained by taudry emotion. But as sane people know, one of the quirks of being a human is serving the heart as well as the mind.  Ayn Rand believed you should only serve yourself. In her world, everyone was free to agree with her version of individual freedom and all others were worthy of contempt and scorn. She considered altruism immoral and selfishness a virtue.

Ayn Rand called her philosophy “Objectivism”. For the layman, “Objectivism” is Latin for “I don’t give a shit about anyone but myself.” It’s self-absorption with a bow on top. She makes the Kardashians look like Anna Karenina.

“The best aspect of Christmas, is that Christmas has been commercialized.” – Ayn Rand

Her most famous and last novel is “Atlas Shrugged”, a 1200 page Caligula of Capitalism set slightly in the future of America. In this tome, the heroes are all titans of industry and anyone else with less talent or less money is referred to as a “looter”. Aren’t these the same looters that made these titans wealthy? Thereupon is one of the biggest disconnects in the novel, that these wealthy supermen somehow attained their fortune in a vacuum.

To show the world how unappreciated they are, and how the country couldn’t get along without them, the novel’s chief hero, John Galt, organizes a strike. (how Leftist of him!) Galt somehow manages to convince the rest of the country’s titans to follow suit , causing the collapse of the entire economy and untold suffering. And this, dear readers, is the HERO. Drive safely.

Did I mention that Ayn Rand was out of her Vulcan mind?

Before she created her own idealized superman characters, let’s take a look at someone in real life who was able to win the admiration of this little sociopath: Serial Killer William Hickman.

In 1927, William Edward Hickman made national headlines when he kidnapped a 12 year old girl from her school, raped her, and dismembered her body, which he then sent to the police in pieces.

She wrote in her notebook that Hickman had “no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul. Other people do not exist for him and he does not see why they should. “

She also wrote of Hickman, “He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel other people.”

As sick as all of this is, why any of this matters is because of the high philosophical perch Ayn Rand now holds in our nation’s psyche. The book has also been praised by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and her own cult. The Ayn Rand Institute distributes 400,000 copies of “Atlas Shrugged” to high schools each year, sort of like a scholastic Gideon’s Bible. According to the Library of Congress, “Atlas Shrugged” is the most influential book in America, second only to the Bible. Indeed, “Atlas Shrugged” is the Bible of Assholes. How schizophrenic is it that in this country the top two books couldn’t be more at odds with each other. One book is a tribute to greed and selfishness and the other book contains the teachings of the biggest “Collectivist” of them all, Jesus Christ.

“Collectivism means the subjugation of the individual to a group — whether to a race, class or state does not matter. Collectivism holds that man must be chained to collective action and collective thought for the sake of what is called ‘the common good’.” – Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand’s current influence can be seen directly in the form of GOP Rep Paul Ryan, the latest “Wonder Boy” to be trotted out by Republicans as the one who will save us from our debt crisis. Philosophically, Paul Ryan is Ayn Rand’s Jimmy Olsen, trumpeting her sick message to a new generation.

“The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”

At the Rand celebration he spoke at in 2005, Ryan invoked the central theme of Rand’s writings when he told his audience that, “Almost every fight we are involved in here on Capitol Hill … is a fight that usually comes down to one conflict–individualism versus collectivism.”

Ryan is so enthralled with Rand that he requires all of his staffers to read “Atlas Shrugged”. I’m guessing most buy the Cliff Notes. Joining Ryan in this obsession is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who requires his staffers to read Ayn Rand as well. Check, please!

Ryan has also said “Rand makes the best case for the morality of Democratic Capitalism.”

That Ryan was inspired by Rand to go into public service tells you all you need to know about his values and worldview. This is the same wunderkind who wants to privatize Social Security and turn Medicare into a voucher program. Paul Ryan is playing a philosophical game of “Dungeons & Dragons” with people’s lives. If this doesn’t scare the hell out of you, it should.

One of the central tenents of Ayn Rand’s philosophy is that “taxation is theft”. This same attitude can be seen in the Tea Party today who believe the same thing. The ultimate irony, however, is that this bunch that sees taxation as theft are the biggest looters of them all. These are the people who truly want something for nothing. They believe they exist independently of the government and that somehow roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, even firemen and police just magically manifest themselves free of charge. They are the ultimate something for nothing gang. And yet, these are the very people who brag about what rugged individuals they are and call anyone else who believes otherwise a “Statist”. It’s a sad dance.

“Love like money, has to be earned.” – Ayn Rand

To put all of this in proper historical context, we need only to look at Alan Greenspan, the “Maestro” of the American economic collapse. In the 1950’s

Greenspan was not only a big admirer of Ayn Rand but was a close friend as well as a member of her inner circle. (Some even suggest boy toy.) Greenspan and Rand remained friends until her death in 1982. He even invited her to the Oval Office to stand by his side at his swearing in when he joined the Ford administration in 1974 as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors. He should have stuck to jazz.

In “Atlas Shrugged” Ayn Rand’s hero purposely collapses the economy to show the evils of government regulation. But the joke was on her, because in reality, John Galt turned out to be Alan Greenspan, who actually collapsed the economy by applying her economic principles. Atlas Shrugged? More like Atlas Mugged.

Can we all sue Ayn Rand for whiplash?

The final nail in Ayn Rand’s irony casket came when she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1974, years after urging all of her followers to smoke because it represented “man’s victory over fire.” Rand had dismissed medical studies proving smoking caused cancer as nothing more than Communist propaganda.

Nothing says rugged individualism like nicotine addiction.

This fierce critic of FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society, who called all government programs a drain on society, quietly signed up for and received Social Security and Medicare under her married name. She died alone in 1982 of lung cancer.

And the atlas shrugged.

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  1. January 24, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    If you share such convictions (or have simply an interest in such things) I request a link back. I would love a discussion with you and your web visitors about these tyoes of things

  2. Frank
    December 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    As the vast majority of online blogs go, this article is geared towards the attention span of the average reader. Not very long. It is no surprise that the result is suggestive, superficial,
    and laced with undocumented ‘facts’, namecalling and labelling. Tabloid model rules. In the comments, also no surprise, the polarized mudslinging twitter style is the norm, with a few positive exceptions. Thanks Mathieu, for taking the time to put some things in perspective, without jumping to black/white conclusions.
    For those interested: there is an interview with Ayn Rand by Mike Wallace. Google it. Explains a lot without having to read her books.
    Her philosophy is thought provoking although it is by no means fit to be used as a blueprint for any society. It is about the age old struggle of collectivism against individualism. Just like the current political struggle. The know-it-all-already crowd on both sides of the aisle, with your pre-conceived opinions based on flimsy articles likes this should allocate some time to understand where the philosophy from the other side is coming from. If only to be able to come up with a good argument as to why their thinking is flawed. By the time you actually know what you are talking about, if that ever happens, somebody might listen. Or you can just persist in calling others ‘evil’, because they don’t agree with you. I’m sure it soothes the mind and saves you the time, but it is leading absolutely nowhere.

  3. W. H. E.
    June 26, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Like the notion government, any -ism or -ocracy, is illusional. I do not know Ayn Rand, and probably very few of her readers do. I have read her novels the Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and they are fictions… I think she is a horrid fiction writer, yet, had some good seeds of ideas. But the core or the key ideas she attempted to bring forth are usually misconstrued and interpreted in any which way from Sunday. There is something underlying her ethics, her morality, her economic theories, etc. that is worthwhile — but it’s been skewed under her image (as she presented it and as others have elevated it). I think that in this opinion-slinging-fest (this post, comments, and general political-social climate) the real issues we’re upset about have been lost. I think that Ayn Rand is not really the point.

    I wish we could scrap Ayn Rand, FDR, Jesus, morality, money, and all that jazz. Scrap all these ideas, images, and systems we create — these things we worship with our thought and energy by living for them and supporting them — and deal with reality, ourselves? It seems we are so insecure with ourselves that we need to cling to pre-existent terms and concepts in order to communicate our identity, or even feel as though we have one. Recognize something for what it is, understand why it’s in your head and what you are doing with it.

    Whatever it is we are doing, apparently isn’t working. We need to change something, it’s about identifying what needs to change (not deciding first how to change it). Usually, it’s the problem itself that will show you the way to fix it. And if both sides think there’s a different problem — then those problems probably exist, but aren’t the true root of the matter.

    A lot of the proposed methods from the multitudinous sides of this struggle are all operating around the same basic issues — control, power, and allocation of such, etc. It’s how we create that power and what is done with it that actually matters. I know little about money, economics, or politics, but I think this current economy is bunk whether its vehicle swings capitalist or socialist — there seems to be an inherent flaw, because it doesn’t work very well no matter what agenda you dress it in.

    This is all, of course, only my opinion.

  4. lester
    March 24, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Jesus wasn’t a collectivist. Jesus’s followers were there of their own volition, they could leave any time they wanted. Collectivist use the power of the state to coerce from you what you may or may NOT want to give. That may not seem like a big difference to you but it’s all the difference in the world to some.

    “They believe they exist independently of the government and that somehow roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, even firemen and police just magically manifest themselves free of charge”

    the bulk of what you send to the federal government doesn’t go to these things. There would be no libertarian movment or Ayn Rand for that matter if our government actually spent our money on things we need or even wanted. Instead they spend it on wars that some people want, subisidies for corn that they and the people they give it to want, the beaurocracy to run it all and even that isn’t enuogh so they inflate the hell out of the currency and borrow.

    Maybe out and out anarchy isn’t the answer but certainly we can come up with a package deal of some sort where we are not spending 1/3 of our paycheck on just junk that we have no connection to making people in and around DC wealthy.

    I don’t see why people who don’t support the iraq war shuld pay for it, for example.

    “John Galt turned out to be Alan Greenspan, who actually collapsed the economy by applying her economic principles”

    Greenspan destroyed the economy, and you are corrct it was he, by artificially lowering interest rates to pump up the housing bubble.

    It was his own inflationary economy planning, a hallmark of collectivism not free markets that did it.

  5. February 16, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Me tweet exchanges with you have revealed a real lack of knowledge about what Objectivism says and does not say (posted below). Let’s get into it, shall we?

    When Ayn Rand appeared on Donahue, she publicly, emphatically distanced herself with the conservatives in office. Watch the whole thing, it’s entertaining (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6jkQKAv13A&feature=related). The Right will find the love affair w Ayn Rand one sided.

    Your analysis of selfishness is really off the mark. Try reading “The Virtue of Selfishness” one time and find out what she’s talking about before you spew foam at the mouth.

    As far as Medicare and Social Security, when she died in 1982, she was no longer lucid. It’s like saying Christopher Hitchens had a deathbed conversion. I’d very much like to see your evidence/source for her signing up for such benefits, as this is the first I’ve heard that.

    “This is a simple fact that can be verified by anyone with even minimal Google skills.”

    Minimal Google research on this curse-filled, frothing hatred essay of yours.

    NewYorkCreator Ryan Hoffman
    @OTOOLEFAN she distanced herself from conservatives on NATIONAL TELEVISION w Donahue. She calls RATIONAL selfishness a virtue, NOT me first.
    6 minutes ago

    NewYorkCreator Ryan Hoffman
    @
    @OTOOLEFAN You haven’t read anything she’s written, and don’t grasp the basic principles/arguments so how would you know?
    9 minutes ago

    OTOOLEFAN Don Millard
    @
    @NewYorkCreator Calling Ayn Rand’s ravings a philosophy is like saying L. Ron Hubbard was a prophet.
    12 minutes ago

    NewYorkCreator Ryan Hoffman
    @
    @OTOOLEFAN Pick up a book next time you want to take a shot at a philosophy. You’ll do better.
    14 minutes ago

    OTOOLEFAN Don Millard
    @
    @NewYorkCreator That’s goes for me, too. Goodbye.
    16 minutes ago

    NewYorkCreator Ryan Hoffman
    @
    @OTOOLEFAN rule 1 of debate: know the source material. You have not read it. It is painfully obvious at this point. I’m not wasting my time.
    17 minutes ago

    OTOOLEFAN Don Millard
    @
    @NewYorkCreator What would you call someone who viewed selfishness as a virtue & altruism as immoral??
    21 minutes ago

    NewYorkCreator Ryan Hoffman
    @
    @OTOOLEFAN wow… You have no idea what you’re talking about.
    22 minutes ago

    OTOOLEFAN Don Millard
    @
    @NewYorkCreator There’s a word for people who think compassion is a weakness: sociopath
    24 minutes ago

    OTOOLEFAN Don Millard
    @
    @NewYorkCreator what is factually incorrect about it?
    25 minutes ago

    NewYorkCreator Ryan Hoffman
    @
    @OTOOLEFAN Your article is factually incorrect and it reminds me of someone who hasn’t read any source material.
    26 minutes ago

    OTOOLEFAN Don Millard
    @
    @NewYorkCreator Don’t need you to tell me what my article was about. Her philosophy is pure poison. And she was a hypocrite.
    42 minutes ago

    NewYorkCreator Ryan Hoffman
    @
    @OTOOLEFAN if your article were on Republicans who have blatantly misapplied her philosophy, I would be in complete agreement. But it’s not.
    43 minutes ago

    NewYorkCreator Ryan Hoffman
    @
    @OTOOLEFAN It was not, sir. It was a personal attack on her state of mind. Your republican comments are a sidenote. Please don’t insult me.
    43 minutes ago

    NewYorkCreator Ryan Hoffman
    @
    @GodsDontExist @OTOOLEFAN I hate to say it, but it seems like he never read any of the sourc. Typical psychopath, hinckley, right strawmen.
    45 minutes ago

    OTOOLEFAN Don Millard
    @
    @NewYorkCreator My article was about how those on the right have adopted Ayn Rand’s philosophy. Case in point: Paul Ryan.
    45 minutes ago

  6. Jenifer Johnson
    February 13, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    >One saves the child’s life becouse it pleases one’s “self” to do this.

    Exactly.

    The difference between the individual perspective and the criminally insane collectivist mentality is the direction of control.

    Individual freedom is where the control goes from the individual to the group for the benefit of the individual.

    The criminally insane collectivist mentality thinks the control should goes from the group to the individual for the benefit of the group.

  7. Margaret Kleinfeld
    February 13, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I do not subscribe to the politics or economics of Ayn Rand, but I would rise to her defense as a philosopher and novelist. Her concept of “selfishness” is widely misunderstood. Saving a child at the cost of one’s own life would be a selfish act in her concept of selfishness. One saves the child’s life becouse it pleases one’s “self” to do this. It is not a “sacrifice” to give one’s life for another if one values the other’s life more. In “Tale of Two Cities” the hero who gives his life for his friend says “it’s a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done..” He does what he does because he wants to do it. In that sense it is selfish. I think “We The Living” is her best novel. I like it very much. And “The Gountainhead” is the best explanation of her philosphy, and also a good novel. I have read it many times. Her concept of the authentic person who has a direct relationship with experience, as opposed to the “second-hander” who only gets satisfaction from impressing other people is insightful and very well presented in that novel. I like “Atlas Shrugged” less because I don’t agree with her economic theories completely. But she does have a point. The individual must be respected. Creativity and innovation come from individuals. We must remember that she experienced the opression of life under communism, which colored her views.

    • kelly543
      April 20, 2011 at 11:07 am

      *edit* Colored [and clouded] her views. There are much more profound and talented writers that exist to rise and defend -writers that won’t bash you over the head with a heavy-handed hammer of self-righteousness. Philosophically speaking, she would berate you for picking and manipulating what you find agreeable, while ignoring some grander components of her character -such as her economic theory. It’s all or nothing with Ayn Rand and she created that dichotomy. Look at the sacrifices Howard Roark makes in The Fountainhead? Saving a child’s life at the cost of one’s own life is the very definition of altruism and an idealistic misunderstanding of selfishness and egoism.

  8. Jenifer Johnson
    February 13, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    >They believe they exist independently of the government

    Government is nothing more than a fiction in reality for the criminally insane to hide behind, in order to get the individual to do what they could never get them to do by their consent. Claiming there is such a thing as government, is analogous to claiming there is an Easter Bunny. Pure insanity.

  9. Jenifer Johnson
    February 13, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    >One of the central tenents of Ayn Rand’s philosophy is that “taxation is theft”.

    “taxation is theft” isn’t a philosophy, it is based in reality. To think one has a right to someone else’s money without their consent, is criminally insane.

  10. Jenifer Johnson
    February 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    FYI, Rand Paul not Paul Ryan.

  11. Jenifer Johnson
    February 13, 2011 at 4:46 pm

    >other book contains the teachings of the biggest “Collectivist” of them all, Jesus Christ.

    The bible is nothing more than a operations manual for creating an illusion of authority in order to justify one’s own criminality.

    Reality is the ultimate authority and the final arbiter, the REAL GOD! Reality dictates what one can and can not do, which establishes right from wrong. Because everyone only a perception of reality, only the individual can establish what is left versus right, for themselves.

    The whole objective of the Abrahamic religion is to subvert reality by creating a fiction in reality called “God of Abraham” in order to project power and authority on to one’s words that it is impossible to have, in order so the criminally insane can establish their own idea of right from wrong or left versus right used to subjugate someone else, which is a direct violation of one’s individual rights and sovereignty, perpetrating a crime against humanity and the real god, TRUTH!

    This criminally insane mentality is today manifested in “Government said”. Moses was nothing more than a sociopathic tyrant criminal creating the Abrahamic Mentality of sociopathic tyrant criminals promulgated by the collectivist mentality.

  12. Jenifer Johnson
    February 13, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    >For the layman, “Objectivism” is Latin for “I don’t give a shit about anyone but myself.”

    Actually, “Objectivism” is the antithesis to “I don’t give a shit about anyone but myself.” which is pure subjectivism.

    There are only two states of being, true and false. Reality is the state of being true. Reality is independent of individual thought, which makes reality “objectively” established.

    Anything that requires individual thought is “Subjectivism” which is the antithesis “Objectivism”.

    Reality is the default setting that no one can deny. To defy reality one is a criminal and to deny reality one is insane. To advocate “Subjectivism” is criminally insane.

  13. Jenifer Johnson
    February 13, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Everyone comes to the truth from all directions and are at all levels of understanding.

    >Too bad she was an Atheist.

    Without theism there could never have been atheism, which makes atheism just the controlled oppositions in the left right paradigm of control. The concept of race “born a Jew” is a theistic belief that has no basis in reality.

    Ayn Rand, as a self proclaimed Atheistic Jew, either didn’t understand objectively herself or was just another agent provocateur used as the controlled opposition in the collectivist paradigm of illegitimate control.

  14. Jenifer Johnson
    February 13, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Selfishness is reality. The only way anyone can get someone else to do what they want is to provide a positive benefit in order to get their consent. Otherwise, through fraud, deception or manipulation, is criminality.

    “I love you”, is, I love you “because”, without the because there is no love.

    Anyone that claims that selflessness is a virtue, and that “you” have to abide by their battered wife syndrome, has one hand patting your head, with the other hand groping you, hoping you won’t notice you have been conned.

  15. Jenifer Johnson
    February 13, 2011 at 5:00 am

    Run for your life from anyone that claims they know and have only your best interest in mind. It is the leper’s bell of an approaching blood sucking leech with a god complex.

  16. Jenifer Johnson
    February 13, 2011 at 4:42 am

    The biggest con known to mankind is, “God said, come follow me, I can save you from yourself”. Pure delusions of grandeur from their psychotic “god complex”.

    That problem with the collectivist mentality, it takes someone that is pure criminally insane in order to think their collectivist mentality knows what is best for everyone else.

    NO matter what form collectivism is manifested, it is a declaration of war on the individual. Nothing more than gang rape by a pack of criminally insane tyrants.

  17. Ebon
    February 12, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    There is another word for those who value their own happiness above all other considerations, who view compassion as a weakness: Psychopaths. They’re not necessarily violent but rather, have eiher a minimal or completely lacking conscience, remorse or empathy. Rand, from her works, was psychopathic and had the limitless ego to believe that everyone should think the same way as her, created training guide for psychopaths through her “philosophy”.

  18. February 12, 2011 at 11:14 am

    “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” – John Kenneth Galbraith

  19. February 4, 2011 at 10:48 am

    One thing libertarian Ayn Rand folks don’t like mentioned. Ayn Rand took quite a lot of help in her life. Her Chicago family (a hard working set of liberal working class folk) brought her over from Russia, fed, clothed and sheltered her. She drove them crazy plunking away at her typewriter all night. They had to get up early the next day to work to pay for her passage, food, clothing and shelter. She left to her fame and glory, and never gave a hoot about them again. I know this directly from my grandparents because she was their cousin. They didn’t want anything from her. They ended up just fine all by themselves by working hard and educating their kids. They just wanted it pointed out that she took a lot of help in her life and then told people not to help each other.

  20. February 1, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    An excellent analysis of where we are today in politics. I linked your post in the show notes of the latest podcast at http://timcorrimal.com show. Thank you so much for all that you do and I hope you’ll join us again soon on the show.

  21. ivanafter5
    January 30, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    I did not know that Ayn Rand collected Social Security and Medicare…what a hypocrite. Great post Don.

  22. Floreat
    January 30, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Dear Mr. Millard,

    Thank you and thank you again for telling it as it is. Ayn Rand’s influence has corrupted America and hastened its slide towards a banana republic type corrupt dictatorship. Anyone who is in doubt of this reality can watch this – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VebOTc-7shU . Yes, the sad truth is that government is just an extension of global, mega corporations, run by sociopathic CEOs like the ones championed by Rand. For the Rand apologists and rationalizes (black is white, war is peace types) take a break from the failed propaganda and open your minds to what is TRUE human nature – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Z9WVZddH9w . For more info check out http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/.

    Floreat!

  23. Mathieu
    January 29, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I’m no expert in Ayn Rand, but I read Atlas Shrugged a few months ago and my memory is still fresh. Feel free to disagree with me as I’m often wrong.

    Well, where to start? It was a good read, mostly. A little preachy sometimes (see the 40-page John Galt speech). Now, I admit to read the whole thing with my guard up after reading articles such as this. Still, I couldn’t help myself but to agree with Rand during most of the book. She is a writer of fiction; she describes her world in her own way; all I know about her world is what she tells me, so how can I possibly disagree with her? How can I possibly disagree with any fictional writer? I just can’t. Her world, her rules.

    What she told me then? In her world, a few selected businessmen are powerhouses for the economy. These men know how to choose the best employees and are administrative geniuses. They are also continuously crippled by the ruling elite made by selfish and incompetent businessmen, political partisans, academics, journalists and so on. You can’t blame the titans for rebelling, after all, what the whole political class does in Rand’s world is not worthy of approval. Many of you probably would denounce people like that in our real world. Rand describes how their policies ruin the country and, in her sandbox, everything is quite logical.

    Sandbox. That’s the word to pay attention here. Being fiction, Rand took some liberties. She created an oversimplified version of our world, not unlike a scientist stripping down a model unto its most basic components. Does this vision creates an insight into our actual real world? Yes, but it is still just an insight, a glimpse; hardly useful by itself.

    In Ayn Rand’s world, everything goes in a way to support her argument, which can be roughly translated as a “boundless pursuit for personal happiness”. Most people want to be happy, right? What can be more egoistical than pursuing your own happiness? To the moral industrialists in her world, this means pursuing their ambitions to the highest level no matter what. They don’t want any boundaries except those created by nature. They are also Übermensch, with different degrees of flawlessness. Since in Rand’s universe such man are possible, it makes perfect sense to let them do their thing as they are never wrong. Since they are also perfectly moral, they treat their good workers with respect they deserve hence they all love their leadership. Granted, if you had an Übermensch as your boss the way Rand describe, you would probably be very happy working under him/her. Now, in Rand’s world there are also the Untermensch, or the ruling class; these are the so-called parasites who use guile and personal favors to reach positions of importance they have no qualifications to occupy. Don’t we all complain about those incompetent politicians and bankers who ruin our economy with their lies and greed? Well, Rand don’t like those types too. In fact, her whole rant is against the very same elite we complain about all day all night. So, in her fictional world, Rand creates heroes and villains; the villains are much more powerful because they control the public discourse. Still, they are stupid. So stupid to the point of being half-dimensional. Rand’s lack of recognition for intelligence outside her parlour is staggering. But this is her world and in here, the laws of evolution act differently.

    Lets compare now Rand’s world with our bigger, and more complex one. In her world, there are Supermen. In our world, there is no such perfect people; even our biggest genius commit awful mistakes. In her world, there are sub-humans who rule nations and whose only objective is to get rich while ruining the nation; they are incapable of having long-term thoughts or see they are killing the chicken that laid golden eggs. In our world, this is pretty much what happens although the people doing it are often fairly intelligent and three-dimensional (and a lot of them are fans of Ayn Rand). In her world, common people repeat the ruling class discourse while at the same time abominating it; they cheer for the persecuted industrialists. In our world, much of the same happens; people cheer for those fighting corruption or standing against impossible odds. In her world, companies are managed by single owners who use their names whenever it is possible; no stocks and stockholders in Rand’s world. In our world, companies are managed by hired CEOs, have boards, have stockholders and Wall Street is a big casino. In her world, only man-made things are great; there is no acknowledgement of environmental impact or whatsoever. In our world, we are getting increasingly screwed for not paying due attention to the environment. In her world, there are no tired, sick or old people. In our world, there are plenty. In her world, complex human relations are reduced to the rational “what-do-you-do” and “do-you-do-it-well?”. In our world, human relations are irrationally ruled by kinship, friendliness, emotional bonds, work bonds etc. In her world, personal will is power. In our world, nobody cares about your will. In her world, great men will naturally lead lesser men to greatness. In our world, great men will lead lesser men to a wide variety of places and accommodations, some of them really bad. In her world, people bring out ideas out of the vacuum of themselves. In our world, people conceive ideas by sharpening his mind-stone into the mind-stones of others.

    I could go on and on with this, but that seems pointless now. Ayn Rand created fiction and labeled it reality. Does her work can be regarded as positive? It seems it can; many liberal and leftists bloggers can find a lot of common ground with her if they read the books without labels attached. Her ideas are thought provoking, even if her focus is sometimes obnoxious and her prose dull. Even so, it would do good to regard her books as fiction. The author seems to have forgotten about this detail. For her, she wrote a portrait of reality but not our reality. The whole Objectivism movement derives from her frantic attempts to turn our reality into her reality, despite all the constraints we are forced to have here. The biggest one is our own species. Rand does not acknowledge the diversity in thought, culture and form amongst humans. She had little to none sociological or anthropological knowledge; her history lessons were also botched. Also, the use of simple logical formulas such as “if there is no government, then society will be prosperous” fail into dynamic and massively variable systems such our Universe. Her own mantra of individual infallibility makes her blind to productive dialog with others, effectively insulating all flaws in her world-view from exposure and correction. From someone who preaches flawlessness in execution and design, this is a big blind spot.

    I could go on for hours about the many flaws of Rand’s philosophy, but that’s not the intention of this commentary. The intention here was humbly suggest that perhaps Otoolefan’s view was a little biased. Just a little. See, Rand wants for herself and humanity the same things we want: peace and prosperity. However, her arguments to reach this point are unorthodox and debatable. She speaks some valuable things, but also a lot of valueless ones. She is in favor of human happiness, welfare and community life; yet, by the way she describes, this can only work in her world. Hence, an interesting way to counter her arguments would be to expose her fantasy world comparing to ours; to explain why real people are different from fictional ones; how her solutions, although noble in principle, can only lead to endless suffering this side of the Universe.

  24. Susan
    January 29, 2011 at 4:02 am

    I read “Atlas Shrugged” a couple of years ago, and I was like, “Whut?” The idea that the world keeps running because of a small number of super-competent people is just wrong. I’ve worked in a variety of companies and industries for the last 25 years, and that’s not what I’ve seen. Most people are reasonably competent at what they do, and that’s why things keep going.

    Somehow the kinky sex scenes slipped my mind…I do remember not caring much for the relationship the female protagonist was involved in. Oh, and that’s another thing. I found it extremely unlikely for the time and place protrayed that a woman would be the head of a major railroad. Look how few female CEOs there are now.

    • Susan
      January 29, 2011 at 4:03 am

      Oops, sorry, portrayed.

  25. January 26, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    That “second most influential book EVAR, so sez the Library of Congress” business is not as meaningful as it might at first appear. It comes from a 1991 survey of two thousand Book-of-the-Month members. Well, five thousand surveys got mailed out (classic example of an opportunity sample) and 40% of them came back, so the list they got reflects the preferences of the people who were most motivated to write in, for whatever reason (response bias). It’s basically a meaningless non-result.

  26. January 25, 2011 at 5:12 am

    the really odd thing is that she wrote We The Living and Anthem…and the Teabaggers have not embraced either of these works…and if they read either work they would be horrified..and exposed for the fools that they are….anyways-this is a great post….thoughtful, insightful and critical thinking exposed…and that is a good thing….

  27. January 24, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    With limited time yet so many things wrong with this article, I’ll do my best to offer an intelligent response.

    You criticize Objectivism yet you obviously know nothing about the philosophy, which holds that the proper moral purpose of a person’s life is the pursuit of his or her own happiness (aka rational self-interest). How do we attain happiness? By seeking out, obtaining, and maintaining the things that we value. These are not merely objects but also people, principles, etc. For example, if I am married I value my wife or if I have friends I value their friendship. Because I value them, I necessarily “give a shit” about them and their well being. Their happiness is of value to me.

    Just as you’ve read nothing about the philosophy behind Atlas Shrugged, you’ve also apparently never read the novel. Yes, the titans of business are presented as the heroes and the victims. However, the looters you mention are not those with less talent, in general, but those with less talent who begrudge the titans for creating the very things the looters desire (but for which they don’t wish to pay). As the titans begin to drop out of this destructive society that penalizes them for their success (which is built upon providing the things all of society cherishes), the government-run society begins to collapse. The untold suffering befalls a society that lays claim to the successes of others, demands productivity without reward, and virtually acts a societal zombie prepared to suck the brains out of every useful human being until none are left and the zombies starve to death. During this time of suffering, the leaders of industry and intellect have created their own little utopia where people work for money, trade with money and services, and nobody does anything without some form of trade. There they stay until the ways of the looters have passed and they begin society again. Yes, I would consider them the heroes in this story.

    The reason Ayn Rand is enjoying such a resurgence in popularity is because we are seeing what happens when you live in a society like that which was foreseen in Atlas Shrugged. Government’s ever growing hands officiously intermeddling in private enterprise has not helped out nation but instead has been proven to harm it. Yet, just as in the the novel, the answer we’re given is not a free market but more meddling.

    And just like the antagonists in the novel, here you are calling freedom and productivity out to be greedy and evil while defending the morality of looters and government con-men. It would certainly behoove you to read up on the philosophy of Objectivism as well as the novel it produced.

  28. Gee
    January 24, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Before you burn a book, you should try reading it. Why is it the left is so obsessed with Rand but never bothers to actually read the book? It is a form of anti-intellectualism.

    If you read it then you could address what she actually said, rather than linning up a bunch of strawmen.

    • Ebon
      February 12, 2011 at 10:30 pm

      You presume, as Rand did, that we criticise from lack of understanding rather than because we understand throughly and have decided that Rand’s “philosophy” (really, just another of mankind’s endless defences of limitless greed) is wrong, dangerous and morally evil.

  29. January 24, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I never understood why Anon is going after the Scientology a cult started by a bad Sci-Fi writer, when the much more dangerous cult is the “Objectivism” created by a writer WORSE than L. Rob Hubbard. I too rejoice when the truth is revealed about what a sociopath Rand was. And her followers are. I agree with the previous poster:
    Ferengi yes, Vulcan not so much. Rules of acquisition could have been a Galtian concept.

    http://italianforant.blogspot.com/2010/11/war-is-peace-freedom-is-slavery.html

  30. jason
    January 24, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Greenspan advocated a gold standard, and was by any measure, an austrian economist in his youth. He did however deviate greatly for the Keynsian school of economic thought, probably to advance his career.

    OTOOLEFAN, you seem to have left this detail out and this stinks of dishonesty. Present your points, fine, but dont support them with half-truths and outright lies.

  31. joe
    January 24, 2011 at 10:34 am

    I could never bring myself to bother reading her epic monstrosities. Thanks for the great article.

  32. Nora Devin
    January 24, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Thank you for a rational assessment of the pathological ideologies of Ayn Rand. It is a disturbing testament to our current state of affairs that Rand-ism is enjoying a resurgence, as it only serves as a multi-level detriment to our society. It comes as no surprise, however, since it naturally appeals to reactionaries who embrace self-serving misinformation and lack any inclination towards truth or logic.

  33. January 24, 2011 at 9:32 am

    I remember, too, reading “Atlas, Drugged,” as a high-schooler. There was a short list of books that passed among us, having certain salacious passages suitably sexual as to be deemed “naughty.” Such were the somewhat animal scenes of passion in Ms. Rand’s otherwise tired, preachy, deadly-dull tome.

    I suspect most kids are the same. “Atlas Shrugged” still gets read by the cool kids in school for one reason: those kinky S&M-laced scenes between the female protagonist and whomever that other poor schmuck of a character is. Some truths are eternal: that adolescents will seek out adolescent writing is one of them.

  34. Michael
    January 24, 2011 at 9:24 am

    In simple terms individual choice is the crux of Ayn’s work. I choose, rather than chosen for me by force. I give to charity to help the needy rather than it be given for me through tax, I am kind to my fellow man because it gives me joy not because it is expected by social norm. The opposite is also true, don’t give to charity, don’t be kind to your fellow man because on the most fundamental level that is what freedom truly is, choice.

  35. janice murphy hartman
    January 24, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Great post Don. Makes us want to look forward to hearing from Paul Ryan Tuesday night w/ the GOP rebuttal to SOTU Address. Can’t wait.

  36. ignatzz
    January 24, 2011 at 8:21 am

    I’ve always notice that Ayn Rand’s fans tend to be Juniors in high school – kids who live off their parents and never shown “rugged individualism” in their lives. Rand is very appealing to adolescent self-absorption. “Huh? You means it’s GOOD to be a selfish asshole? And I’ll get hot girls, too?” Pathetic.

  37. Ocahm's Razor
    January 24, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I have one complaint with this article. The abuse of the word “Vulcan”.
    Rand is more like a Ferengi. Get your sci-fi metaphors fight.

  38. Peter
    January 24, 2011 at 8:14 am

    I love how the ad served up by Google is for The Ayn Rand Institute.

  39. cj kuefler
    January 24, 2011 at 6:09 am

    As many others did, I read Ayn Rand in highschool and was fascinated by it. Then the real world hit, and we all grew up. What’s wrong with Paul Ryan? Start building those shelters.

  40. January 24, 2011 at 5:30 am

    I really don’t know whether I’m entitled to write any comment on this great post, for I’m a Japanese who is ignorant in political matters in the U.S. Nevertheless, I’m so moved and I wonder why. It’s mainly because you describe people and incidents vividly and criticize them sharply and justly. Your writing inspires me to learn more about people, culture and politics in the U.S. Thank you.

  41. January 24, 2011 at 1:30 am

    I find it fitting that Ayn Rand died alone, friendless, and, by her own lights, a “looter”. Just as I find it fitting that her fearless “Superman” idol, Hickman, died “yellow”, wetting himself in terror as his date with the executioner closed in. There is a karmic quality about that, somehow…

    • Travailleur
      January 24, 2011 at 3:31 am

      Do you believe everything you read?

      Ayn Rand did not “die alone” — she died a millionaire surrounded by friends and acolytes.

      And — sigh — no, I am not a Randroid. But unlike this blog author, I have read Rand.

      One gets the overwhelming feeling that the blog author — who feels free to use 5 words where two will do — should spend a little bit more time reading and researching before committing his fevered infantilism to print.

      Anybody — and I do mean EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. Who knows Randian economics (such as they are) and Alan Greenspan knows that Greenspan did not practice same — he was a practicing Keynesian.

      As for the reference to the murderer: a tip: cite source and context. You have not exactly broken open the world of Ayn Rand journalism here. You are more of a wanker. Likely an angry 26-year-old university hanger-on who can’t quite seem to “find” himself.

      • January 24, 2011 at 5:23 am

        “he was a practicing Keynesian.”

        On what planet? Are you going to tell me George Bush was not a conservative, too? You’re a self-evident Randian because you’ve regurgitated the official mythology. It’s like talking to a $cientologist about L. Ron.

      • Pat Smitt
        January 24, 2011 at 6:54 am

        You are the only misinformed, seemingly threatened conservative in this stream, sir.

        Alan Greenspan declared before a congressional hearing in 2008 that he had made a mistake in following his “laize faire” unregulated “anti-govt” randian policies.

        He testified that he was wrong. He testified that deregulation caused the financial collapse.

        Read a book.

      • mcmgrant
        January 24, 2011 at 11:04 am

        If Ayn Rand died a millionaire, she once more took advantage of the system by going on Medicare. Yes, she was surrounded by friends on her deathbed, who like her, were all looters.

  42. Sarah
    January 24, 2011 at 12:23 am

    Galen Faulkes, it’s Christians who have commercialized their own holiday.

  43. Pat Smitt
    January 24, 2011 at 12:22 am

    Thank you, Don. I read these books in the 60s but you have researched her work and influence very well for us now. DeBunking her thoeries will be much easier if we can present clear essays like this.

  44. January 23, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Great article, Don.

    This needed to be said.

    Isn’t there a word for this “philosophy”? Isn’t it called “sociopathy”?

  45. January 23, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    I actually read Atlas Shrugged. But I was eighteen. And, I followed it up with Marx. It was interesting for about 15 minutes, then lost its appeal. Great post, and your research is strongly evident. Thanks for a terrific read!

  46. January 23, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Touche, O’TOOLEFAN, well done. Did you know that Anton LaVey relied a great deal on Ayn Rand in developing the Church of Satanism and the Satanic Bible? Ayn Rand’s beliefs are mainstream Satanic philosophy and nothing original, except maybe her complete f*ck-up of Adam Smith. (See Arianna Huffington, a Cambridge ed economist, on that subject.) Odd to think so many RW Christians share so much in common with Satanists. There are however two crucial differences. First, the Satanists aren’t hypocrites, and second, the Satanists aren’t trying to ram their beliefs down everybody else’s throat.

  47. Galen Faulkes
    January 23, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    “The best aspect of Christmas, is that Christmas has been commercialized.” – Ayn Rand

    If any other Atheist had said that, they would be cheered for celebrating the removal of religion from December 25.

  48. FlippinUid
    January 23, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Yes, a good start about the evils of Ayn Rand. But for whatever reason she does suck people in, my brother as well. Course he always was a selfish, self centered pompous ass.

    And the tea-baggers have the audacity to say we are mortgaging our grand children’s future, when selfishly living in the here & now leaves nothing for the future. Corporate greed has wrecked our air, water and climate only for selfish profits in the past.

    Ayn Rand is downright evil. Very good article.

  49. Brett Ferguson
    January 23, 2011 at 9:14 pm

    A well written piece. I must say, Alan Greenspan looks better in black and white.

  50. Theresa
    January 23, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Thank you for this, it says it all.

  51. January 23, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    I read The Ayn Rand Cult after breaking up with an Objectivist (I love that my spell check doesn’t know ‘Objectivist’). Rand was insidious pernicious and twisted liar. And she couldn’t write her way out of a paper bag.

  52. Joe Santorsa
    January 23, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Well done, my friend, well done!

  53. DanVerg
    January 23, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    Your best article yet, Don. It belongs in a magazine.

  54. January 23, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    I rejoice every time I find someone has written the truth about Ayn Rand.
    Thank you! The cult followers should be exposed.

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