Ayn Rand

Rand, Rand Everywhere, and Not a Drop to Drink


Everybody is reviewing Anne Heller's Ayn Rand and the World She Made, and Jennifer Burns' Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right.

and you thought the Gandhi/Rand mashup was horrifying

Capitalism magazine has a roundup of reviews, but leaves out GQ's purgative anti-Rand rant (sample line: "Fuck you for turning some of the most open and interesting people I ever met into utopian dickheads"). Quoted in the piece—along with Reason contributor Todd Seavey and BB&T chairman John Allison—is our very own Nick Gillespie, who may have swiped some of Momma Rand's amphetamines before he talked with the reporter:

"In terms of literary influence, only Kerouac compares," says Nick Gillespie, editor-in-chief of Reason.com and Reason.tv…Pointing out that Atlas Shrugged and On the Road were both published in 1957, he adds, "Kerouac has had a more diffuse influence on American culture. He created a broad-based conception of what was cool and hip. Rand hasn't brushed the culture as widely. She touches individuals—immensely and deeply. It's useful to think about her impact in terms of Catcher in the Rye, another novel of individuation. Everyone agrees it's beautifully written, but it's losing its grasp on the public imagination. Same with Catch-22. Yossarian was a perfect antihero for the '60s generation, but does anybody give a shit about him now? Or about Portnoy? A few days ago, I was watching an old clip of Andrew Dice Clay's stand-up act from 1987. He made a joke about jerking off into a liver, and no one in the audience knew what he was talking about. Think about that. You can still make Howard Roark jokes that play, but it's been at least twenty years since you could do that with Portnoy. Portnoy's dead. Philip Roth is a great writer, but his signature character has had far less purchase on the collective imagination than Galt or Roark. No matter what you think of Rand, there's no denying that the woman just swings a really big dick."

Next week is Rand week here at Reason, so go buy a T-shirt, and brace yourself for a whole lot more where that came from.

NEXT: Yankees Lose Game 1, Bronx Business Owners Lose Every Game

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “Everyone agrees it’s beautifully written”

    I got distracted while reading this and thought he was talking about ‘Atlas’. Didn’t know Nick had drunk the koolaid.

    1. I don’t think Nick has drunk the koolaid, but he’s right about Rand’s influence, especially among libertarians. You may not like Rand, but you will have to deal with her.

      1. Yeah, how sad is that? Of all of the “libertarian” works produced over the years by so many interesting thinkers, it’s the most doctrinaire and humorless works that exert the most influence. It’s a fucking shame. As a proud cosmotarian and Heinleinist it makes me sad to see that “Galt” is the watchword of the moment.

        1. Rand never produced a “libertarian” work in her life.


          1. By the quotes I meant to include all those works that fell within the modern libertarian tradition, broadly construed. That Rand had no use for Libertarians is well known, but clearly her works still fall within the broad tradition. Unless you’re a big-o Objectivist, of course.

          2. Harry Browne said Ayn Rand was a major influence on him. I’d have to concur with the feeling, though I agree with Norton that it’s a shame she’s such a keystone these days.

        2. “…the most doctrinaire and humorless works …”

          Hey: look around you. If your principal value these days is humor, then you’re a fucking imbecile.

          1. As it happens, I honestly believe that the greatest obstacle to the ecofreaks or neo-Puritans taking over this country is how dour and cheerless they are. More broadly, aesthetics are important to a political movement, which is one thing that Rand lacked in spades.

            1. “As it happens, I honestly believe that the greatest obstacle to the ecofreaks or neo-Puritans taking over this country is how dour and cheerless they are.”

              {cackle} Right. Why, how well I recall the stories of how the Prohibitionists of old were rollicking funsters, and if the New Deal aesthetic wasn’t festive then there’s no such thing.

              You’re as big an idiot as Lindsay Perigo.

            2. I also think the anti-altruism, anti-cmmunitarian, anti-relgion schtick does not play well in a country well-steeped in Judeo-Christianity. Libertarianism will always remain marginalized in the U.S. as long as it’s more wedded to Randian values than Hayekian ones.

            3. I also think the anti-altruism, anti-cmmunitarian, anti-relgion schtick does not play well(or rather does not play deeply and widely…it can reach a fairly large but still marginalized cult audience) in a country well-steeped in Judeo-Christianity. Libertarianism will always remain marginalized in the U.S. as long as it’s more wedded to Randian values than Hayekian ones.

      2. I’ve got to say, Gillespie in print is an order of magnitude better than Gillespie on TV. All he can say on TV is “decentralized.” In print he’s rantastic as the commenters here have noted.

  2. God WHY? Why do you hate us?


    1. Bleach turned out to be ineffective, but the Drano seems to be helping.

  4. From the obnoxious GQ article, on Rand fans:

    now spend their days in the bowels of the Cato Institute, stroking hairless lap cats and smirking sourly as they develop strategies for deregulating the law of gravity.

    Good thing that cat is hairless, because we all know how much libertarians hate cute fuzzy pets and rainbows.

    1. I can only imagine the whole rant was written in quick bursts between deep hits off of an asthma inhaler.

      1. I mean, I know people are really, really scared of us heartless libertarians, but the Cato Institute-as-bogeyman? Really?

        1. It’s ridiculous. Cato is pretty much the mainstream face of libertarianism.

          I daresay GQ is more interested in the repeal of gravity. Yeah, feel that aging, bitches.

        2. We’re the villain of the week. Something shiny and new will distract the illuminati’s attention soon enough.

          1. Libertarians are fascists, don’t you know? ‘Cause we believe in limits to the voracity of hope.

            1. I thought we were anarchists? All we want is cheap smack, greater choice in hookers, child slavery and the fall of civilization?

              1. We’re fascists that want to force other people to eat fatty foods, do drugs, utilize prostitutes, and to buy lots of other stuff.

              2. -child slavery
                but cheap smack and prostitution doesn’t sound so bad.

                1. How do you think the pimps first entice underaged girls into child slavery, if not via cheap smack and prostitution?

              3. I call bullshit. We also want cheap legalized market priced MJ, and, at least for some Reason staffers, to regularly “cry during receptive anal sex”.

        3. Cato’s mainstream-iness is precisely why Cato’s the target. Mustn’t let people get the idea that libertarians might actually be rational.

    2. While this guy sits in his office stroking his hairless lap flounder.

      1. That’s a strange expression, Bruce!

    3. I didn’t even know there were articles in GQ. The last time I leafed through one at a newsstand all I saw were ads for suits, watches, and cologne.

      1. So very, very true.

    4. I fail to see how that’s an insult. Lil’ help here?

  5. Nick Gillespie gushing….

    It seems the super powers of the leather jacket are limited.

  6. KMW is the visual equivalent of SugarFree.

  7. Great pic for the article though

  8. deregulating the law of gravity

    Cripes, they think government regulation is what keeps us all from being flung screaming into space?

    1. Yes. Yes they do.

    2. Interesting fact: The Earth’s rotation is powered by the Founders spinning in their graves.

      1. I thought it was 9-year olds in Asian sweat shops.

        1. What the hell are they doing on that project when they are supposed to be making the new Victoria’s Secret collection!

          [slams door with whip in hand]

  9. Actually, i shouldn’t be surprised. I KNOW that’s what Edward/Lefiti/Morris/Oscar believes.

    1. WTF do YOU think regulates gravity? The free market? Now THAT’s magical thinking.

  10. I couldn’t read the GQ article. It’s like a weak pathetic piece of Matt Taibbi fan art. The author bio, “Andrew Corsello is a subnormal nonentity.” got it exactly right.

  11. When did Nina Hartley start wearing black wigs?

    1. LOL. But seriously, that’s an insult to Nina Hartley, young or old.

      1. I don’t know there counselor. We are working on a Nina Hartley collection for the blog and if she dared to wear that outfit (in the picture above) today she would not even look that good. There is a link to her “walling” technique on the blog someplace (sometime in May) in a post about torture. She is pretty smart about what she wears these days.

  12. Does anyone read GQ? Last I check mags like Maxims were kicking its ass.

    1. I dunno. I mean Stuff and FHM went out of business (in the US print form at least).

    2. Do they still publish GQ?

    3. GQ should be renamed DM.

    4. I highly recommend Mental Floss

      1. Yeah, Mental Floss is good.

  13. i gotta say gillespie is full of it. jokes about ayn rand have a bit of mileage, sure, but jokes about her characters? c’mon. i know he’s got a station to push and all but c’mon!

    1. Gillespie’s been hanging out in Reason offices or insider libertarian circles too much. Most people I talk to have never heard of Howard Roark or John Galt so a joke about them would fall on deaf ears. Let’s see Letterman tell a joke, or maybe even do a top ten list on Roark or Galt. I bet the audience would barely even manage a shrug.

  14. now spend their days in the bowels of the Cato Institute, stroking hairless lap cats and smirking sourly as they develop strategies for deregulating the law of gravity.

    As opposed to say Krugman who strokes fluffy cats as he tried to develop regulations for gravity.


    1. That’s adorable.

    2. you know gravity unfairly impacts the poor, right?

      1. Not the poor, the fat.

  15. So Howard Roark, Wesley Mouch and Dr. Robert Stadler walk into a bar…

  16. I just Photoshopped Nick and Katie’s heads into the illustration. It totally works. Totally.

  17. …and Mouch says, that’s not a duck, that’s Cuffy Meigs!

  18. Rand, Rand Everywhere, and Not a Drop to Drink

    So you’re saying she didn’t self-lubricate?

  19. That GQ article actually made me sick to my stomach.

  20. Citizen: the duck gets pseudo-raped between those ellipses, right?

  21. But he totally wanted it, X. Totally.

  22. I wonder if Alan enjoys the hot slash of gray Russian labia on the back of his neck, the scent of cigarettes and voluntary exchange hanging in the air. Maybe she’ll pee a little on his bald spot, just to get the night started.

    Or maybe, like the legion of closeted gay Republicans, sexual turn-ons are the opposite of professed ideology. Alan asserting a positive right to demand a rimjob. Ayn declaring her vagina commons and daring Alan to make a tragedy of it.

  23. Actually, X., it looks like a Vanneman comment between the ellipses. Draw your own conclusion.

  24. CN,

    Dont leave us hanging.

  25. Draw your own conclusion.

    Well, we both know he was pseudo-raping a duck while he typed, so my comment stands.

  26. Love the Iron Maiden reference

  27. OK, so I’m reading The Fountainhead for the first time. Two questions: 1. Do you have to love Frank Lloyd Wright to love freedom? (Cuz I don’t, and the type of architecture the book exalts at great length reminds me of nothing so much as housing projects in both the U.S. and U.S.S.R.) 2. If Rand is such a capitalist, how come the good guys are always like, “Fuck the customers! Why should I care what the customers want?”

    1. That’s one of my biggest problems with the book. What’s so damned moral about that particular school of modern art? I mean, come on–there’s only one proper aesthetic for architecture? I suppose Greek-style statues are out, too? As are paintings, since we have photographs?

      I also am dubious about her position on free markets. Note that her supermen never seem accountable to shareholders or anyone else. I’m not saying that she wasn’t in favor of capitalism, etc.; I’m just saying that her message gets tangled up in other stuff in her novels.

      There’s also her desire to be raped and subjugated, which I think others have addressed elsewhere ?

    2. It’s not so much, “fuck the customers”. Roark basically says, “I make the architecture I make, and if you don’t like it then find someone else.” Another dynamic present is where you have a client that likes and wants Roark’s work, but the small minds on the Board of Directors fight the Chairman and beat him into submission.

      And no you don’t have to like Wright to like freedom, but Wright made great work, and if you haven’t seen it in person you’re missing something. Except maybe Taliesin, I’m not a big fan of that. There wasn’t really anyone that made work like Wright, and his work looks nothing like Block housing. That would be more comparable to Corbusier. The one thing I will say about the early modernists like Corbusier and van der Rohe is that there work looks plain and simple in photographs, but spatially it works really well and the materials are fantastic. I have been in the Soviet block housing and it doesn’t really have much besides a superficial relationship.

    3. 1. The point isn’t that that style of architecture is objectively Teh Best Evah, but that the protagonist refuses to let a bunch of second-raters ruin their work — and not only ruin it, but ruin it only because they can’t stand anyone excelling at anything.

      2. Being a free market capitalist doesn’t mean you are obliged to sell to anyone who offers to hire you, or to create shoddy work you don’t like. Ayn’s point is that free and creative people can choose to refuse to do business with people they loathe, people who don’t appreciate their work.

      1. thins would be interesting if real businessmen actually only sold to or did work for people they liked

    4. Cavanaugh? You are a great illustration of why it’s impossible to take Reason seriously in these straits or ours, now. You think you’re clever in the first question, but you’re just insipid. If the last fifty years have taught us anything, though, it’s that the ignorant can always be counted on to bolster their impertinence with snipe-cracks at That Woman.

      Is that second question supposed to be ethically incisive? Here is the proper capitalist answer: “It’s none of your goddamned business, monkey-boy.”

      I must admit, though, that for a newbie, you got that KoolKidz strut down pat in a remarkable hurry.

      1. man, you reason writers suck. Oh, and you commenters, too, who don’t agree 100 percent with everything I say (switches off computer, hides under belly roll).

  28. I’ve see some of Wright buildings–he’s worth taking a look at.

    You might be right that it was just “This is the way I work”, but I’ve read the book several times and always seem to come away with the impression that right-thinking people must like Roark’s architecture; wrong-thinking people like the more ornate stuff.

    1. I think you are supposed to get that impression, but I don’t think it is because of the work that he makes. Instead, I think it is the way he makes his work and his reasons for making the work that he does. The Modernists wanted to express honesty through their structures and use of materials. They didn’t want to confuse the eye with clever parlor tricks that were and are being used to hide poor craftsmanship. Materiality is very important. I can still imagine the Macasser ebony library wall in the Mise van der Rohe’s Brno house and the simple beauty of the dark wood in relation to the giant slab of white onyx separating the library from the living room. The sticky smoothness of that slab of stone with my reflection floating somehow inside of it still gives me goosebumps.

      I can understand why people like ornament. There is a desire for a multitude of scales within ones visual range that is supplied by ornament, but that need does not need to be supplied in a figurative way with acanthus leaves and ribbons. It can be supplied with the grain of a precious wood or stone. I do take issue with nostalgia as a driving force in those preferences, as I think wrapping oneself in the warm fuzzy blanket of an idealized past is a little sad.

      1. Let’s put it this way: I want to live in a Roman villa made of marble. I’m also a libertarian. Make of that what you will.

        I see the artistic merit of the more Spartan styles of architecture, and I even think it makes practical sense in the commercial setting. But Roman villa for me, baby!

        1. philistine 😉

        2. I’ve always wanted to live in an artistic recreation of Lothlorian, myself. I’m not sure Rand would approve.

  29. A few days ago, I was watching an old clip of Andrew Dice Clay’s stand-up act from 1987.

    Nick’d better have had a really good reason for this. ‘splain.

  30. Rand attracted a lot of people to libertarianism, unfortunately a lot of people who also have a similar intolerance for any sort of disagreement. I sometimes wistfully wonder what could have been if we had had a gentler, kinder Rand, free of that “obey me, obey me” stare and inner circle shenanigans. A Rand that just as eloquently wove themes into her novels of the value and joy of the productive/creative life and the necessity of a free society for those values to be fully realized, but who didn’t think it necessary to bash altruism or religion and who instead wove the importance of social coordination into her works. But I guess then she wouldn’t have been Rand. Still, I think that while libertarianism wouldn’t have attracted as many kooks, it would have attracted a greater percentage of the mainstream populace if Rand had embraced some of the ideas of one of her evil nemesises – Hayek

  31. Kerouac and Rand may have had an affair. See http://thedailybeatblog.blogsp…..tion.html.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.