Obama Thinks Ayn Rand is For Teens (For Predictably Childish Reasons)

President Obama is asked perhaps the most important question he could ever be asked by Rolling Stone: what does he think of Ayn Rand? After saying that "sure" he's read her, his answer:

Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we'd pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we're only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we're considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that's a pretty narrow vision. It's not one that, I think, describes what's best in America. Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a "you're on your own" society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party...

Reducing Rand's message of liberty and achievement to one of a narrow "you're on your own" individualism shouldn't be a surprise coming from the president, though it's still sad that the leader of the nation that attracted Rand to escape the Soviet Union at some risk would say such a thing.

There is nothing "narrow" about Rand's vision except in that it created moral boundaries in which most of the functions of Obama's government would be seen as illegitimate, because they use threats and violence against non-aggressors to achieve social goals. As Rand summed up her own philosophy once, it really amounts to: "Gentlemen, leave your guns outside!"

That alas is something Barack "drones away" Obama will never do.

Nathaniel Branden, Rand's ideological lieutenant in the 1960s, sums up well the problem with most people trying to blithely critique Rand as Obama does. It can be found quoted on page 542 of my book Radicals for Capitalism, which contains the story of Rand's life and achievements.

Branden noted that Rand's detractors rarely deign "publicly to name the essential ideas of Atlas Shrugged and to attempt to refute them. No one has been willing to declare: 'Ayn Rand holds that man must choose his values and actions exclusively by reason, that man has the right to exist for his own sake, that no one has the right to seek values from others by physical force--and I consider such ideas wrong, evil and socially dangerous."

My own 2005 take on what Rand actually stands for for her fans, "Yours is the Glory." Some key parts that Obama elides:

Despite common misunderstanding based on her use of the phrase "the virtue of selfishness" (used intentionally to shock), Rand's vision was by no means purely selfish in the sense that she wanted only herself to be happy. She was motivated by love and admiration for what she saw as best in humanity and her desire for a world that encouraged and rewarded that greatness...

Rand's critics who hear only hate and heartlessness in her are themselves tone-deaf to peals of glory. As Barbara Branden wrote, "In Ayn's presence, and in her work, one felt that command: a command to function at one's best, to be the most that one could be, to drive oneself constantly harder, never to disappoint one's highest ideals." As Rand herself put it, the "essence of life is the achievement of joy, not the escape from pain." ....

That is the positive side to what is sometimes seen as libertarianism's purely negative vision of restricting the state. It is a valuable addition to the libertarian movement's "sense of life." The heart of Rand's appeal is not contempt but her passionate belief in the possibility of individual glory and greatness, and her burning admiration for it....

....her books will doubtless stay in print and continue to capture and thrill future generations—and, through her romantic evocations of heroic individuals, continue to lead a certain observant, thoughtful percentage of readers to really see, and really feel, how personal liberty and limited government are necessary for such heroic striving to reach its zenith.

Reason TV on Ayn Rand:

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  • WWNGD?||

    He wanted government out of his life until he decided to become government.

  • Mike Laursen||

    It sure seems these days that the best bet for someone who wants to avoid being subject to a whole lot of rules is to be inside the government.

  • The Hammer||

    "Well sure, a classless society where each person is free to do as he sees fit is great, but you know what'd be even better? A caste system with Me on top!"

  • Suki||

    At least he did not use the boiler plate "all women who read Rand are insane" crap. One point for originality does not erase the -100 for idiotic.

  • Sudden||

    So let me get this straight, Obama thinks Rand is unworthy of serious consideration because her work focuses only on the self? This from a guy who has written two books about no other than HIMSELF????

  • ||

    Dude: he's TEAM BLUE. His entire world view is based on completely self-unaware projection.

  • pmains||

    Hey, I'm not projecting! You're projecting!

  • ||

    You're a towel!

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    PWND!

  • BarryD||

    This pretty much sums up Obama's campaign strategy, and his history, all in three words!

  • tarran||

    I think narcissists don't like competition from other narcissists. :)

  • ||

    ZING

  • ||

    Wait, so he's making the puppets dance?

  • Suki||

    +100

  • Killazontherun||

    Make that three books. The latest mostly pictures of himself.

    http://www.politico.com/news/s.....html?hp=l4

  • Suki||

    Is he from Kenya in this one too?

  • Paul.||

    Well, yeah, a Himself who is going to dedicate His life to helping you. Think of it as his Mein Kampf of progressivism.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    You know whow else wrote a book called "Mein Kampf"...

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Max von Sedow?

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Do tell...

  • Suki||

    Mel Brooks?

  • BarryD||

    Bill Ayers?

  • ||

    He wrote an autobiography of himself when he was a state senator. What does that tell you?

  • Paul.||

    He had ambition?

  • IceTrey||

    Dude, Bill Ayers wrote "Dreams".

  • Bee Tagger||

    Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we'd pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we're only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else,

    The abundance of "we": just a way of criticizing without sounding critical or representative of a default way of thinking in terms of the collective?

  • ||

    Barack Obama only got halfway through Anthem.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    I finished in a day and I was pacing myself...

  • tarran||

    I doubt Obama actually read Atlas Shrugged.

    Honestly, most of the progressives who sneer at Rand have 0 clue what she actually wrote about. They haven't read her, and have only a cartoonish knowledge of what she advocated. The 'facts' they know are like the 'facts' anti-semites know about Jews as published in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

    The few who do read her stuff do not argue that she has no point and is appealing to people going through some teenage angst.

  • Brett L||

    Fuck, Vonnegut wrote "Harrison Bergeron" and supported the people who were and are working to make it true. I don't understand the liberal intellect at all.

  • Zeb||

    I would hardly call Vonnegut typical of the liberal intellect. He did have some dumb things to say later in life, though and had a weird soft spot for socialists. I wish artists could just shut up about politics.

  • Brett L||

    Eh. He was probably more self-aware than most, but he still had these giant blind spots between what he wrote in fiction and what he supported in life. But why, being able to write a tight story to look at the idiocy of attempting to equalize outcomes, would you support the people who want to equalize outcomes? I don't get it.

  • Tim||

    I do too know, she wanted to build some fucking train and then it crashed in a tunnel...

  • Enough About Palin||

    So it's a sex book.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Man, if you liked that one, read "The Fountainhead"...

  • tarran||

    Actually, Rand wanted to force the daughters of poor people to have crooked teeth by requiring that girls' braces be made only out of gold.

  • MJGreen||

    But why would you even bother reading that filth? Do you not know that she idolized a serial killer!?1

  • alex griggs||

    Friend of mine is a college professor and writes a reasonably well read history blog. He routinely critiques Rand -- and in his mind all libertarian ideas by proxy, but that's another story -- while simultaneously admitting he hasn't read The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged. It's crazytown. I asked him if he would accept scholarship from his students purporting to critique ideas without reading the source material. He always changes the subject when I bring that up.

  • hotsy totsy||

    I've had professors like that. They'd sure insist that people who criticized Karl Marx had never actually schlogged through Das Kapital, and if they'd only READ it....

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    Gotta love it, considering most people who go that route have never even picked up the Manifesto, they just KNOW that it's warm and fuzzy because they were told so.

  • BarryD||

    Obama probably read a few chapters of Atlas Shrugged, got a big grin on his face and wild eyes, and decided to get into politics.

  • AReasonableMan||

    I agree that he hasn't read it.

    He only knows the standard liberal talking points about it.

  • BarryD||

    Think what he might have done if he hd read it. Lots of ideas in there. I think Chu has read it.

  • robc||

    I was already a libertarian and about 25 or 26 before I picked up my first Rand.

    Ive found the people who talk about Rand as some sort of teenage thing are idiots.

  • The Hammer||

    They're not idiots, they're...well, mostly idiots, but they think talking about it as some teenage thing gives them gravitas and credibility while making anyone who actually believes in what Rand believed seem childish and unserious. This, of course, exempts them from having to actually counter Rand's ideas or the arguments of people who support them. It's the same reason Tony and Shrike resort to ad hominems and straw men every time they feel that someone here has impugned the honor of the progressive state: If there is a rational, logically coherent objection, they are not smart enough to come up with it.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    I was coming up on 30 when I first heard about Objectivism and Libertarianism while on a FIDOnet BBS. I already had a lot of the ideas, but having no idea what to call it, referred to myself (half-jokingly) as a "moderate anarchist." I wanted people to left alone as much as possible, but didn't see violence as a viable option so long as there was an open political solution.

    Rand was a real eye-opener for me. She made me understand why reading the Declaration of Indenpendence was the nearest thing I've ever had to a religious experience.

  • The Hammer||

    the nearest thing I've ever had to a religious experience.

    Nick, is that gonna be on the dust jacket of the next edition?

  • Rasilio||

    I'm 43 and I've still never read Rand. I had my "religious" moment reading The Moon is a Harsh Mistress when I was 19.

  • ||

    I've never read her either, even though my mom has several of her books. I own Atlas Shrugged now too, so I should probably read that at least.

  • acidovorax||

    I couldn't begin to finish Atlas or The Fountainhead. Pages of drawn out dialogue and very 2 dimensional characters. But her non-fiction works like The Virtue of Selfishness and For The New Intellectual were great. Far easier to read the concise version of her ideas rather than 1000+ pages of story.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    "I couldn't begin to finish Atlas or The Fountainhead."

    Ever pick up Anthem or We, the Living? They're shorter, and much more accessible and readable, and get many of the same ideas across.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    It's actually quite entertaining if you're not all "Republikanz!11111!11!11!!" to it and you don't mind a slow buildup. My advice is to read it again after you get done; it will pull together much better the second time.

  • IceTrey||

    Start with "The Virtue of Selfishness". Most people start with "Atlas" and it puts then off. I'd never recommend "Atlas" to a noob.

  • hotsy totsy||

    I'd start with "Philosophy: Who Needs It?"

    Ayn Rand loved to shock, which is why she used the word "selfishness" maybe a bit too freely. What she meant by selfishness and what is commonly understood to mean selfishness had very little in common.

  • BarryD||

    Same here. I had heard of Objectivism, but I picked up some Rand because I was a libertarian, not vice versa, and I was way past college when I did.

  • Killazontherun||

    Other words, he is winging it from opinions he obtained at cocktail parties without ever opening one of her books.

  • ||

    "We" is just another was of saying "Me, where you do what I say".

  • ||

    There is nothing "narrow" about Rand's vision except in that it created moral boundaries in which most of the functions of Obama's government would be seen as illegitimate...

    I'm not an objectivist by any means and have my own critiques of that philosophy (none of which correspond to the Chairman's), but that statement I think sums it all up very nicely.

  • Paul.||

    Isn't Obama's bedrock of support from 'young people'?

  • The Hammer||

    Obama's bedrock of support is sycophantic idiots and cronies.

  • ||

    If only TEAM RED was full of fucking Objectivists. Christ, what a child this man is.

  • ||

    It is not required that Team Red is full of Objectivists. It is only required that Team Blue thinks that Team Red is full of Objectivists.

  • Paul.||

    *golf clap*

  • tarran||

    They'd be assholes and do nutty things like send Seal Team Six to whack Kim Dotcom, but there would be very little crony capitalism.

  • Cytotoxic||

    There'd be a trial in there somewhere, and no SOPA/PIPA.

  • Randian||

    They'd be assholes and do nutty things like send Seal Team Six to whack Kim Dotcom

    Look who's acting just like Obama.

    Aren't you Middle Eastern? You'd think you would know better than to stereotype so blithely and moronically.

  • tarran||

    ^^^^^^ HUMOR IMPAIRED

  • ||

    Stop stereotyping.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Stop resisting

  • Randian||

    Fuck your John Stewart Maneuver, tarran. Bagging on Objectivists is one of your hobby-horses around here.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Smoking would become mandatory.

  • tarran||

    ... but only of particularly rational brands.

  • Brett L||

    Like I'm going to let my intellectual inferiors tell me how to feel about literature. Sorry, not today.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Obama's take on Ayn Rand starts off on solid ground. A lot of teenagers and young adults do go through an Objectivist phase. I don't think anybody would dispute that.

    But from there, he's just trying to work his way to his talking point's goal of dragging the Republican Party into it, even thought he Republican Party has fuck all to do with Ayn Rand.

  • robc||

    Obama's take on Ayn Rand starts off on solid ground. A lot of teenagers and young adults do go through an Objectivist phase. I don't think anybody would dispute that.

    I disputed it up above. Well, not the way you worded it, but the way he did.

  • BakedPenguin||

    What? They're not pro-choice athiests? The devil you say.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    A lot of teenagers and young adults do go through an Objectivist phase. I don't think anybody would dispute that.

    I don't know about that. Maybe it depends on where you are raised, but I knew of one person growing up who bothered to read Atlas, and to the rest Rand wasn't even considered a serious author.

    The left tends to equate "Objectivism" with being self-involved, so naturally they assume people who follow it are teenagers or haven't matured enough emotionally to want to give all their money to the government.

    If at least one of her books--like the Fountainhead or Anthem--was typically assigned reading in high school, I could see your point. But most teachers are far to leftist, especially these days, to include her in the curriculum.

  • H. Reardon||

    I learned nothing of Rand or her books in High School or College (not a Liberal Arts student).

  • ||

    I find it very difficult to believe that Obama has ever read anything by Ayn Rand, or any political or philosophical tome for that matter. Especially during the height of his involvement with the "CHOOM GANG", which is what he seems to be implying here.

  • triclops||

    Casual lies like that one about reading Rand are perfectly acceptable in politics.

  • hotsy totsy||

    From the quote, he doesn't really say he did, just "a lot of us", whoever that is, but they are probably misunderstood and lonely and almost certainly eating too much fat and sugar too.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Teenage Obama with Rand's collected works:

    "Wow, man, she's a smoker, too!"

  • Drake||

    I'm sure he has read plenty of political literature. Marx, Saul Alinsky and his types were probably popular reads while Obama was under Frank Marshall Davis' tutelage.

  • ||

    Obama never read any fucking Marx. He might have made it through some Cliffs Notes of Das Kapital. Maybe.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's called The Communist Manifesto.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I could see him getting through a book-on-tape version narrated by Redd Foxx. It would help him practice his N-dialect that Harry Reid is always complementing him on.

  • Zeb||

    I don't know. I was chooming it up pretty good when I read Rand in high school. I still doubt he has read more than a summary of any of it though. I'm kind of amazed I made it through the Fountainhead.

  • H. Reardon||

    My first attempt at Rand was Fountianhead and I gave up after 100 pages. I didn't find Rorak a believable character, an the relationship between him and the lass was ridiculous.

    Made it through Atlas, except for Galt's monologue, in my late 30's and identified with a lot of the themes. Certainly wasn't fine literature, though. More like crudely fictionalized philosophy.

  • benji||

    Being an asshole and posting here so I don't forget, if someone wants to paste it in the P.M. Links, that'd be cool as I probably can't, will try to hit A.M. Links:

    Apparently if you're trapped in Michigan, you can write-in Gary Johnson and it will be counted.

    MI LP site has how to do it "properly." Gary Johnson/James P. Gray
    http://www.michiganlp.org/ENew.....ite-in.jpg

    There will be no Libertarian candidate for President, Scott Bowman for Senate will be the ballot status candidate. But the write-ins for Johnson/Gray will be counted as they got the number of signatures for that.

  • robc||

    What happened to the other Gary Johnson being on the ballot?

  • benji||

    GOP Secretary of State didn't allow it.

  • The Hammer||

    Because those are THEIR votes, and if they can't have them, no one can.

  • benji||

    Extra bonus because they put Gary on the GOP Primary ballot after he dropped out!

    THEN SORE LOSER LAW

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Lots of people loved the novels, but as they got deeper into the nuances of her philosophy they said "no thanks." Or they don't know all the kinky details.

    The Team Blue talking point, though, is that anyone who likes the novels is an Objectivist who sneers at even voluntary charity, etc.

    Don't want to seem too postmodern, but a reader can get useful stuff out of a novel without following the author's intent in every detail.

  • Zeezrom||

    Dog bites man.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Cop Shoots Dog bites man

    fixed

  • John||

    http://newsninja2012.com/bombs.....d-request/

    Clinton leaned a memo that shows DOS ordered more security at Bengazi and Obama denied the request. I wonder if maybe the recent "Bill Clinton is to blame for Obama losing" stories had anything to do with this?

  • NoVAHockey||

    This is the best part of the election season. the backstabbing. Why Obama thought he could defeat the Clintons is beyond me. I suppose he does believe his own hype.

  • sasob||

    I suppose he does believe his own hype.

    Well he seems to anyway. But you got to wonder sometimes who he's trying to convince - everyone else or himself.

  • alex griggs||

    He defeated the only one that mattered when it mattered most. I don't get this "Obama won the battle but the Clintons are winning the war" horseshit. Hillary lost the primary and had to settle for being SOS. That was the war.

  • tarran||

    This makes no sense!

    Why would Obama override State on the matter?

    I keep hearing this assertion, but I can't figure out what Obama would gain from doing this. Obama's modus operandi is to allow his underlings to run around with free reign being all governmenty.

    I'd like to see some proof.

  • NoVAHockey||

    Jesus didn't enter the city with soldiers, but on an ass. Turns out, Obama's the ass.

  • John||

    Don't under estimate how stupid people are. My guess is that some nitwit in the White House, Mrs Sunstein maybe, vetoed it because they thought it would look bad and look too aggressive.

  • tarran||

    Don't under estimate how stupid people are.

    I believe you have hit upon a big reason why I have failed to find my fortune. ;)

  • BakedPenguin||

    I can't figure out what Obama would gain from doing this.

    This is the part I don't get. If true, this is such a moronic move it beggars belief. The only possible motive I can think of is he was afraid acknowledging the unrest would call into question his previous Libya "policy".

    If this is true, our previous assumptions about it being amateur hour in the white House barely scratched the surface.

  • ||

    I have a feeling that our previous assumptions about it being amateur hour in the White House barely scratched the surface. Bigtime.

  • BakedPenguin||

    I'm starting to wonder if they have full time make up people to cover up the marks and cuts they get from using forks while eating.

  • Brett L||

    "Mr. President, don't take the cork off the fork."

  • ||

    OKLAHOMA OKLAHOMA OKLAHOMA

  • Killazontherun||

    The same people who would not allow marines to carry live rounds on embassy property. I can believe it.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I keep hearing this assertion, but I can't figure out what Obama would gain from doing this.

    I totally agree that this is a reason for skepticism. However, BO has done many things that made no sense on any level over the past four years.

  • ||

    If this is true, it's hilarious. Did Obama think Hilary wouldn't have her revenge for 2008? From hell's heart, she stabs at thee.

  • ||

    HILLARYYYYYYY

  • ||

    I've done far worse than kill you, President. I've hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her; marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead Senate seat...buried alive! Buried alive!

  • ||

    Joachim: Our opinion polls are dropping.
    Hillary: Then raise them!
    Joachim: [pounds fists on console] I can't!
    Hillary: The media override. Where's the media override?!?

  • JW||

    Hillary: By the book?
    Obama: By the book! Regulation forty-six A, 'If transmissions are being monitored during an election...'
    Hillary: '...no uncoded messages on an open channel.' ...You lied.
    Susan Rice: I exaggerated.
    Obama: Hours instead of days, Hillary, now we have minutes instead of hours.

  • Pro Libertate||

    What is the Unreliant's votefix code?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    If that really does come to pass... I think that is "too good to check". Somehow that would come out - if O! managed to win, and that got released, he'd be the lamest of ducks ever.

    Maybe the leak is being arranged in a plausably deniable way? The Clintons are practiced at that.

  • tarran||

    If true, they need to release it with about five days to go.

    Obama's decision cycle time runs about 3 days. Moreover, his initial reaction is to evade responsibility by dissembling in ways that are really disconnected from reality.

    Five days gives him enough time to shit all over himself, but not enough time for his friends in the media to wash it off.

  • Brett L||

    It wasn't even a memo. Their lawyer told a reporter that Bill is pushing Hillary to release documentation that she ordered the security, but "it was never carried out". Huh? So she's not too arrogant to listen to the people on the ground, she's just too incompetent to get her orders carried out. I honestly don't think the President bothers with a DOS security detail. Unless she asked him for regular military protection. But State has a security arm, why not just send more of them if the President said no to military?

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm amazed at how incompetent this administration is, from top to bottom.

  • NoVAHockey||

    i'm not. i've been in meetings with them.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I have an idea. Let's give stupid, venal people unlimited power over us.

  • ||

    Please elaborate. No need to name names, but some examples would be nice to help us calibrate how incompetent.

  • NoVAHockey||

    I do medicare and medicaid regulatory work. they created a process to bid for medical equipment bidding program. except they allow non-binding bids. which leads to widely unrealisticly low bid prices. then, they pay the winners the median price of all the winning bids, rather than using the clearing price.

    there is no transparency in how they determine the prices. meaning you bid, the say this is the price, and there's no disclosure on how it's set.

    this is just one aspect of one program.

  • Cytotoxic||

    What the actual fuck.

  • ||

    So utterly corrupt like I expected.

  • Brett L||

    Wow. I don't know what to say to that. Why not pick a bidder out of a hat, roll a D4, and multiply the low bid by that amount? I mean, at least then you'd have a system that worked one time in 4.

  • NoVAHockey||

    it gets better. so you have to win a bid to be a "contract supplier." and medicare patients have to get their stuff from a contact supplier (w/ some expections). so they may need to find a new one. when they call Medicare and say "i can't find a suppliers" that's not categorized as a complaint, just an inquiry. so they take the data on "complaints received" and say "no complaints, its working!" meanwhile, suppliers are going under and patients aren't getting their equipment.

  • ||

    Roland 'Prezbo' Pryzbylewski: Juking the stats.
    Grace Sampson: Excuse me?
    Roland 'Prezbo' Pryzbylewski: Making robberies into larcenies. Making rapes disappear. You juke the stats, and majors become colonels. I've been here before.
    Grace Sampson: Wherever you go, there you are.

  • Brett L||

    . when they call Medicare and say "i can't find a suppliers" that's not categorized as a complaint, just an inquiry. so they take the data on "complaints received" and say "no complaints, its working!"

    This I can totally see. That's the sort of stuff that mid-level bureaucrats are always trying to sell their bosses.

  • ||

    Holy shit, I'm legitimately shocked.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Remind me sometime when I have more leisure to describe my last three and half months in Iraq..in Baghdad working for MNSTC-I, with a quarter billion dollars to spend before close of the fiscal year.

    I hate Congress always, and I hate DoD sometimes.

  • NoVAHockey||

    and it's coming soon to an area near you.
    round 1 has been running. round 2 goes live next year.

    http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Me....._CBAs.html

    to be fair -- this started a few years ago under Bush. but they had a chance to fix it, because they fucked up the first attempt to the point with Congress canceled the contracts that were awarded, re-did the whole thing, and this is what they came up with.

  • Drake||

    If this is true... Holy Shit.

    I think Obama's going to lose, but this is a coffin nail.

  • KDN||

    New York Authorities expose $50M betting ring

    "Illegal gambling is not a victimless crime," [Queens District Attorney] Brown said at a morning news conference. "Such unlawfully earned profits are often diverted into more insidious criminal enterprises."

    Sometimes I hate this country. Always I hate New York.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Gambling is a gateway crime!!

    Next they'll be running illegal jitneys, allowing boarders to rent rooms at unregulated houses, selling food from trucks....*shudder*....

    the horror

  • The Hammer||

    How could you miss the Big Gulps?

  • LTC(ret) John||

    It is a frickin' absolute Somalia out there!

  • sasob||

    "Illegal gambling is not a victimless crime,"

    But legal gambling is victimless? Especially when it's run by the State and they get a cut?

  • hotsy totsy||

    That's why our parks and playgrounds are so cool! Lotto money!

  • T o n y||

    "Gentlemen, leave your guns outside!"

    My state is very nearly trying to outlaw this.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Watch me not care

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    So the poll averages are between a tie and +2 Obama in Ohio, and AP's coverage has the headline "Mitt Romney still hasn't given up on Ohio".

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    AP is also working overtime to remind everybody that a vote that isn't for Barack Obama is a vote for Racism.

    http://news.yahoo.com/ap-poll-.....ction.html

  • Brendan||

    "Reducing Rand's message of liberty and achievement to one of a narrow "you're on your own" individualism shouldn't be a surprise coming from the president, though it's still sad that the leader of the nation that attracted Rand to escape the Soviet Union at some risk would say such a thing."

    Strawman production is one of the strongest industries among the left.

    I've come to believe that they simply WON'T try to (not can't) understand the position of the other side. If the other side has some good points or some of the details are true/good/better then yours, well that can't be considered because they might be right and you wrong.

    For a party that's constantly claiming it's the educated one full of sciency types and "grownups", they certainly spend a lot of time dealing with everything in a simplistic and outright ignorance embracing manner.

  • ||

    So basically, Obama hasn't read Ayn Rand, but felt somehow compelled to lie about it and repeat a bunch of stuff about Rand that he's heard from other progressives.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    He can't very well say he hasn't read Ayn Rand... and he knows that Rolling Stone of all places isn't going to call him on the BS he spews.

  • hotsy totsy||

    Basically yes. But he does that with most other things too.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Ayn Rand holds that man must choose his values and actions exclusively by reason

    If she held that, then she must hold that man must have no values and take no actions. You can't choose anything without some nonrational input.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Been away awhile, so my snarkometer and trollometer haven't been zeroed in months, but that's silly.

    You're presuming that "rational" inputs are limited to physical value statements. What's right for the individual depends upon dozens of physical and mental aspects.

  • The Hammer||

    Tulpa said something fairly intelligent yesterday, so he's back to being a blithering idiot for a couple of weeks.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I'm presuming no such thing.

    Logic is great for chaining if-then statements. Without something to put after the first if, it's useless.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    I'm the one presuming. English, how does that work?

  • MJGreen||

    Man can take actions, as those require reason, but you and Hume are correct that values must ultimately come down to "the passions." We could be charitable and read values as instrumental values, adopted to satisfy some greater value. But what very little I know of Rand suggests that's being too charitable; didn't she say even aesthetics could be objectively ranked?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    There is a definite Aspergers odor to the details of Rand's philosophy. Even though in the big picture she did get things mostly right.

  • hotsy totsy||

    Don't think she excluded nonrational input. Just held that reason was supreme.

    She also had an explanation of nonrational as "psychoepistemology". Meaning one's psychological makeup affected one's reasoning ability.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    When I read Atlas Shrugged, I found that it saved me the difficulty to trying to reconcile my essentially libertarian beliefs and general skepticism with "being conservative."* It identified what I fundamentally believed to one degree or another, and clarified many subjects.

    Not sure how this relates to what the President said, but I thought I'd contribute.

    *Fingers feel dirty just typing that. How far I've come...

  • T o n y||

    So the response to the critique of Rand as properly the focus of angsty teenagers is, "You just don't understand!"

    It's perhaps to Rand's benefit that her definition of selfishness is ambiguous. So here's the commonly quoted distillation of Objectivist ethics:

    I swear—by my life and my love of it—that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

    That seems to fall clearly within Obama's critique. He views humans as social creatures who can (perfectly rationally) live for the sake of others, and lean on others. This is not only rational, it is our natural state.

    The reason it appeals to adolescents, one assumes, is that their brains are still in development and tend to express selfishness and idealism more than those of mature people. Once you're grown up you take into account a more complex set of variables when making decisions, including pro-social ones requiring empathy and even a sense of altruism. Sure it can all be reduced to selfishness in the Darwinian sense, but do we really need a schlocky novelist to come along and tell us that this amounts to some high form of ethics? And to top it off we are required--by objective reasoning, she claims--to have a specific, rather hellish form of society that nobody wants?

  • SugarFree||

    Fuck off, sockpuppet.

  • ||

    How pathetic is its puppeteer that it spends this extraordinary amount of time trying to lure people into arguing with it on the internet? They must have even less of a life than joe. Fuck, that's sad. Actually, it's just pathetic.

  • T o n y||

    More pathetic than incessant blog policing and proudly never saying anything of substance?

  • Cytotoxic||

    Sock off, fuckpuppet.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Didn't read all that, and I haven't the time to fight with you, but in short, what Rand says to the angsty teenagers is: "you should be."

    There are problems in the world, and irrationality is their root. Rand proposes to treat the cause, not the effects. This annoys those who love other effects. Or, to put it differently: "let me have my one irrational whim and I will be a man of reason about all else-that was the act of subverting your consciousness, the act of corrupting your mind."

    I don't claim that they don't understand. I claim that they don't bother to.

  • T o n y||

    Only some of the problems in the world can be attributed to irrationality, and I don't know of any more efficient way to combat that at its root than rigorous public education.

    The other problems in the world (I would say the majority) simply come from nature. That covers everything from natural disasters to class inequality. Rand claims a particular type of society (minarchism--though some think Objectivism only allows for anarcho-capitalism) leads inevitably from reason, but that's just a claim. Reason doesn't tell us how we should live, it tells us how to achieve certain ends we decide we want. Philosophy has been grappling with the question "how should we live?" for centuries, and Ayn Rand certainly didn't come along and solve it in one fell swoop. I say we pick out a "problem in the world," say, hunger, and then use reason to figure out how to solve it. Solving that and many others could very reasonably entail means anathema to Rand.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Solve hunger: easy, capitalism. There's more than enough calories on this planet, and the free market is a much better organizer because of the profit motive.

    Rand called it "a philosophy for living on earth" for a reason...

    Reason gives us the ability to overcome the problems set up by nature. Irrationality prevents people from solving those problems, and introduces new ones.

    Public education (forcing individuals to pay for the schooling of other individuals children, often without competition between schools for quality) is an egalitarian program. Egalitarianism is irrational in that it supposes that all individuals are interchangeable. It is a contributor to our problems because it reducing young individuals' rational development.

    Did I cover everything?

  • A Serious Man||

    He views humans as social creatures who can (perfectly rationally) live for the sake of others, and lean on others. This is not only rational, it is our natural state.

    He also believes the great statist fallacy of assuming that a welfare state government is needed for a society to function.

  • T o n y||

    Define function. You know of any place you'd like to live that doesn't have a welfare state?

  • Calidissident||

    Chicken or the egg. Though there are places with minimal welfare states that would be desirable to live

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Mars

  • ant1sthenes||

    I wouldn't want to live somewhere without a safety net, but I wouldn't be upset if it was run by non-profits instead of government.

  • The Hammer||

    First of all, calling it a "critique" is extremely generous. Secondly, if someone actually doesn't understand, and you try to explain it to them, which is what Doherty is doing here, it is very different from a snide dismissal, which is what Obama is doing here. And yes, the snide dismissal is obnoxious and immature, I agree with you completely there. And your quote is correct: You cannot live for the sake of others. It is not possible. You can help others, but only if your own needs are met. A bunch of people starving to death trying to feed each other is not a functional society.

  • T o n y||

    A bunch of people starving to death trying to feed each other is not a functional society.

    Exactly. But even a rich man doesn't want to live in a society in which there are large numbers of starving people. I would agree that people cannot but act self-interestedly. But a) that's is vs. ought and b) there is every reason in the world to think that, say, a redistributive society accords with people's individual rational self-interest. Even if most people are immoral moochers in their hearts, they're not especially motivated to be productive if they're starving, and that makes wealth harder to come by, especially if we care about maximizing access to the opportunity to become wealthy by fair and noncoercive means.

  • The Hammer||

    Do you read what you write?

  • Cavpitalist||

    "But even a rich man doesn't want to live in a society in which there are large numbers of starving people."

    Then the government better take his money to flail around inefficiently trying to stop it from happening.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Then the government better take his money to flail around inefficiently trying to stop it from happening.

    They're pretty efficient at filling up SNAP cards to people who are clearly too fat to require them.

  • hotsy totsy||

    Actually adolescents are much more prone to groupthink than adults.

    In large part because they actually ARE dependent, and have little experience of the world.

    A typical experience is to feel all warm and fuzzy "saving the planet" and "helping the downtrodden" until that is, they see the tax deductions from their first paycheck.

  • Mensan||

    Often Sometimes Once I wondered how Barry rationalizes his Marxist ideals to make them compatible his narcissistic personality (disorder).

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Someone has to be at the front of the Vanguard of the Proletariat.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Maybe Obama's childish for wanting everyone else's stuff.
    So neener neener

  • ||

    I find it very difficult to believe that Obama has ever read anything by Ayn Rand

    He might have read parts of Atlas Shrugged as a how-to manual for implementing statism and crony capitalism, and viewed Wesley Mouch as the protagonist.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    Came across an OWS youtube video that did something similar, quoting 1984.

    They somehow managed to come away with what little snippets they'd perused or heard about thinking that Orwell meant "Freedom is Slavery" in all sincerity.
    Leave it to a Ouccpier to read 1984 conclude that Big Brother was the protagonist.

  • ||

    T o n y| 10.25.12 @ 4:00PM |#

    It's perhaps to Rand's benefit that her definition of selfishness is ambiguous. So here's the commonly quoted distillation of Objectivist ethics:

    I swear—by my life and my love of it—that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

    Ummm, you said her definition of selfishness was ambiguous -- which it FN isn't -- then immediately quoted her unambiguous definition.

    Do you think before you type?

  • ||

    Can sockpuppets "think"? I think not.

  • T o n y||

    This very article restates the common response to criticisms of Ayn Rand's alleged valuing of selfishness, that "she didn't mean it in the way you think."

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    "You see, Miss Taggart, man is a social animal, but not in the way the looters preach."

    Atlas Shrugged, approximately.

  • ||

    This very article restates the common response to criticisms of Ayn Rand's alleged valuing of selfishness, that "she didn't mean it in the way you think.

    Well, if people like you don't get Rand's unambiguous definition of "selfishness", and misstate it, and others point out that these comprehension-impaired folks have misstated it, and possibly misstate it themselves, that doesn't make her definition ambiguous.

    It just means that a lot of people have difficulty with reading comprehension, especially when the work in question challenges their worldview.

  • ||

    and b) there is every reason in the world to think that, say, a redistributive society accords with people's individual rational self-interest.

    The millions of dead North Koreans would beg to differ with you if they hadn't fucking starved to death.

  • T o n y||

    Because our only choices are anarcho-capitalism or totalitarian Stalinism?

  • The Hammer||

    Considering the accelerating slide we're on toward totalitarian Stalinism, and the fact that Greece, Italy, Spain, France, etc., are a little further down that slide than we are, it's possible that those are essentially the only choices. Because statist idiots like you seem to have a voracious, all-consuming greed that in no way matches your value.

  • T o n y||

    Uh, Stalinism needs to be specifically set up. How exactly are we or other democratic countries on an accelerating slide to it?

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Debt and Inflation. The two led to fascism in Germany after WWI. Fascism and communism are only significantly different in that the first pretends to respect property rights.

  • ant1sthenes||

    I would say that the main difference is that fascism entrenches the dominant power structure and institutions, whereas communism overthrows them. But pretending to property rights (for the well-connected, that is) is one means of doing that.

  • tagtann||

    This makes a whole lot of sense dude.

    www.Anon-Days.tk

  • ||

    It looks like anonbot doesn't read material he comments on either.

  • AntonDrake||

    The central hypocrisy is, and Paul Ryan is literally its poster boy, is that Ryan tossed around the Ayn Rand meme freely for years, in reference to his budget and "fiscal ideals," without ever really getting into any of the meat of Rand's philosophy, at least publicly.

    NOW, he has come forward to say (see: Chris Wallace interview, Fox News) that while Rand had some good financial ideas (?) he in fact wholly rejects her philosophy of Objectivism, stating specifically that he finds her atheism unacceptable. And he has "come out," so to speak, as a biblical literalist Catholic, who is 100% in favor of outlawing both abortion and birth control, two proposals that would make Ayn Rand spin in her grave, AND is currently hedging and dodging regarding to what degree rape, a gross violation of a woman's personal rights and liberty, may actually be "the will of God" and whether a woman should therfore be obliged to carry a rape-fetus to term, on religious principle.

    This is plainly grotesque, and it is the more so because Ryan has trumpeted himself as embracing "Randian" ideals of libertarianism. So, my view on this is, if Ryan and the Republicans fancy Ayn Rand or her objective philosophy, then admit it, discuss it, take a stand on it. Otherwise, stfu about it, and admit that they are hypocritical religious nuts who in actuality seek to engage in the worst kinds of crony capitalism and corruption.

  • Mr Whipple||

    So wait, Obama thinks that A=A is not true?

    Liberals (and conservatives) hate the fact that they cannot refute the basic axioms of logic.

  • Lowmetal||

    Anthem is what will happen if Atlas shrugges.

  • Kennon||

    George McGovern liked Rand and worked with Libertarians. See more at http:// www.libertarianinternational.org in coming weeks or present tributes at LIO Friends FB. Go figure...

  • ||

    So if he had read the Koran as a muslim child in Indonesia, would he have grown out of it? What about all the kids in Sunday school? Does having read something as a kid mean that as an adult you can disregard and misinterpret it. Does the reading of something in High School by a 17 year old really understand or comprehend difficult and complicated philosophy?

    The list of great literature and words read by folks in high school includes Shakespeare, Socrates, and other classic literature. So is all this stuff crap now and can a person character the themes and then misinterpret the point of them?

    All these questions lead me to think that unfortunately otherwise smart folks are incredibly closed minded when it comes to people with differing opinions. To misunderstand and then accuse of being childish and simple rather than really trying to understand leads not to wisdom but to nonsense and bad ideas propagating.

  • Tom1234||

    Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a “you’re on your own” society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party.

    Damn right I want to be left alone and live my own life with the government telling me how much to eat, drink, or go to the bathroom.

  • some guy666||

    Rand's book may be ok when your young, but as you get older you realize the world is more complicated than her simplified self help philosophy. Calm down libertarians, she is just a novelist who created a fantasy. Its not real.

  • شات عراقنا||

    thank you

  • Devin Thompson||

    Well considering Obamas political affiliations he has but no choice to respond the way he did. And besides, Rand essentially alienated all political parties - shockingly even Libertarians.

    For instance:"Ayn Rand condemned libertarianism as being a greater threat to freedom and capitalism than both modern liberalism and conservativism. Ayn Rand regarded Objectivism as an integrated philosophical system. Libertarianism, in contrast, is a political philosophy which confines its attention to matters of public policy."

    Source: http://aynrand.co/objectivism/.....bertarians

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