Ayn Rand

What Liberals Don't Understand About Ayn Rand

Critics of the Russian-born writer miss what's important in her ideas.

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Ayn Rand, the Russian-born writer and self-styled philosopher who died three decades ago, is back in the news as a favorite author of Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. In recent years, the passionately individualist, pro-capitalist Rand has been embraced as a champion of freedom by many conservatives and libertarians, and denounced as a prophet of greed and narcissism by many liberals. Yet, if Rand admirers tend to ignore the flaws of her vision, her detractors reduce her to grotesque caricature—and invoke her popularity as proof of right-wing nuttiness.

One major misconception is that Rand worshipped the rich and saw moneymaking as life's highest goal. In fact, most wealthy characters in her novels are pathetic, repulsive, or both: businessmen fattened on shady deals or government perks, society people who fill their empty lives with luxury. (There are also sympathetic poor and working-class characters.)

In The Fountainhead, Rand's first bestseller (and best novel), the hero, architect Howard Roark, describes "the man whose sole aim is to make money" as a variety of "the second-hander" who lives through others, seeking only to impress with his wealth. Roark himself turns down lucrative jobs rather than sacrifice his artistic integrity, at one point finding himself penniless.

Rand extolled "selfishness," but not quite in its common meaning. (To some extent, she was using the now-familiar confrontational tactic of turning a slur against a stigmatized group—in this case, true individualists—into a badge of pride.) Roark's foil, the social-climbing opportunist Peter Keating, gives up both the work and the woman he truly loves for career advancement. Most people, Rand says, would condemn Keating as "selfish"; yet his real problem is lack of self.

To Rand, being "selfish" meant being true to oneself, neither sacrificing one's own desires nor trampling on others. Likewise, Rand's stance against altruism was not an assault on compassion so much as a critique of doctrines that subordinate the individual to a collective—state, church, community, or family.

Was Rand's individualism too radical? Yes. Her hostility to the idea of any moral obligation to others led her to argue that, while helping a friend in need is fine, doing so at the expense of something it hurts you to give up is "immoral." In her fiction, even private charity as a vocation is despised; so, mostly, is family. Rand made little allowance for the fact that some people cannot help themselves through no fault of theirs, or that much individual achievement is enabled by support networks.

Yet great insights can come from flawed thinkers. Rand's anti-altruism tirades often turn their target into a straw man, but she is right that the knee-jerk habit of treating altruistic goals as noble has aided evil—for instance, blinding well-meaning Westerners to communism's monstrosity. When pundits alarmed by Rand-style individualism scoff at the "myth" of individual autonomy, we should remember that this "myth" gave us freedom and human rights, and unleashed creative energies that raised humanity's welfare to once-unthinkable levels. Rand's work offers a powerful defense of freedom's moral foundation—and a perceptive analysis of the kinship between "progressive" and "traditionalist" anti-freedom ideologies.

Rand's ideas apply to the personal as well as the political. One needn't go to Randian extremes to agree that the valorization of "sacrifice" and the accusation of "selfishness" can be potent weapons for users, manipulators, and family despots—or that dependency is not the path to healthy relationships. (In Rand's words, "To say 'I love you,' one must first know how to say the 'I.' ") A common critique is that Rand appeals to adolescents who think they're self-sufficient, special, and destined for great achievement. Yet surely the world would be poorer—materially and spiritually—without people who carry some of that "spirit of youth," as Rand called it, into adulthood.

Attacks on Rand have also focused on her person, from her disastrous extramarital affair with a much younger protégé to her brief infatuation, at 23, with a notorious killer she described as an "exceptional boy" warped by conformist society. Ugly stuff, to be sure; but plenty of other intellectuals had a sordid personal lives and romanticized murderers as rebels.

Rand is best viewed as a brilliant maverick. But there are reasons this woman attracted hordes of followers, influenced many others, and impressed smart people from journalist Mike Wallace to philosopher John Hospers. Those who treat Rand as a liberal bogeyman will forever be blindsided by her appeal.

This article originally appeared at the Boston Globe.

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  1. No one who thinks that wealth is the end goal in life writes a novel where the hero is an architect. It is really not that hard to understand that she was a romantic and had romantic aesthetics.

    1. It is really not that hard to understand that she was a romantic and had romantic aesthetics.

      One might reasonably infer that from the fact that she wrote a book on aesthetics called The Romantic Manifesto, yes.

      1. But liberals have no idea she ever wrote anything beyond The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. And they don’t know anything about those.

        1. you’re asking liberals to read and comprehend, which is so much like thinking that it interferes with their feeling. Much easier to say that if she supported the creative/productive class that she just favored rich, greedy, evil capitalists who hate children and puppies.

          1. As opposed to those intellectual Bible-beating conservatives?

            Remember, Paul Ryan was forced to disown his devotion to Ayn Rand by conservative pressure.

            1. Re: Palin’s Buttwipe,

              Remember, Paul Ryan was forced to disown his devotion to Ayn Rand by conservative pressure.

              Indeed, all sorts of fascists hate Rand. For instance, there’s you, and….

              1. I love Ayn Rand, you idiot. I have nothing but praise for her.

                I am just realistic and see no future for her rational (secular) prescriptions for remedies in the USA. Taxes and religion are here to stay.

          2. “you’re asking liberals to read and comprehend, which is so much like thinking that it interferes with their feeling”

            Big smiles!

          3. But the president ATE A DOG!

        2. Nor do they care. In most Liberals’ book, people like Thomas Jefferson (and Ayn Rand) should be completely discredited and dismissed because they have a “mortal sin” on their records. In Jefferson’s case, his sin was owning (and fucking) slaves during a time when many people owned (and fucked) slaves. It’s abhorrent by today’s standards, but it doesn’t mean he didn’t have key insights regarding freedom/liberty…he just couldn’t extend it to his slaves due to personal faults, hypocrisy, and pressures of the time. Moreover, even if someone is a hypocrite, that doesn’t mean their advice/guidance is not valid.

          With respect to Rand, her ‘mortal sin’ was using a word (‘selfishness’) in a way that is scary and confusing for many many many stupid (publicly-educated?) people. When it comes to family as a support group etc. my takeaway from Rand was that, in Rearden’s case, his family was a bunch of abusive degenerates who deserved to be starving on the street because of how they treated their biological benefactor. I can’t remember what happened to them, but I think they were proper/justly fucked over by the end.

          1. Nietzsche said the same thing. But claiming to be a Nietzchean won’t get you kicked out of many faculty lounges. Being an objectivist sure will though.

            1. The day I find myself in a (public school/University) faculty lounge is the day I take a razor to my wrists so I can see color and feel something real a final time before I pass into oblivion.

            2. I don’t know about that. By the time I was in college, academia had turned on Nietzsche as well. It didn’t make me very popular.

              1. you can blame a fish called wanda

                1. Apes don’t read philosophy.

                  1. They do Pro Lib, they just don’t understand it.

              2. That’s what I was thinking. I mean Nietzsche = Hitler in a lot of circles.

                1. I three quarters jokingly made the argument to my uncle who is very much a Catholic that Bloom’s soda ban would hamper the evolution of the human species. Sure, many people will die as a result of their 32 oz. sugar water, but those who survive will pass along genes resistant to diabetes, and in a few generations we will have super babies who can tolerate consuming whole bags of sugar at a time. Could you imagine the increase in brain power from a race of men who can process a hundred grams of glucose instead of a mere five to ten per hour?

                  He said it sounded, ‘highly Aryan’ in his words.

                  1. I agree about humanity needing to evolve to be able to make more use of sugar.

                    Of course, I probably carry such genes myself – I can eat a LOT of sugar without any ill effects.

                    And it turns out that my name may be a corruption of the word “Aryan”, so ‘highly Aryan’ indeed. 😉

              3. Out of all the philosophers my professor went over, Nietzsche was my favorite, because he didn’t try to tell people what to think. He just tried to offer an alternative narrative.

                Also, my professor was very adamant about properly explaining Nietzsche, and not confusing his philosophy with, say, a pure anti-religion manifesto. There were things Nietzsche appreciated about religion, and there were things he criticized.

                1. Probably my favorite part of Nietzsche was that he thought Mill was a “blockhead”.

                  1. Oh yeah, and my professor didn’t make the mistake of thinking Nietzsche or his philosophy was pro-Nazism or anything like that. He (my professor) made a point of mentioning Nietzsche’s distaste for anti-semitism.

                    1. The professor was a cool guy. One the first day of class he used Ron Paul as an example of someone standing up for unconventional ideas.

                  2. Nietzsche also called Plato “a bore.” Hilariously accurate.

              4. Well the problem is that most academic philosophers are analytically minded, so sitting down to read a bunch of baseless aphorisms and conjecture is decidedly pointless. And that’s primarily the problem with both Nietzsche and Rand, is that their works are not philosophical. For instance, Rand wrote, “Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” What does this even mean? I’ll tell you, it’s an entirely senseless aphorism written by an idiot who has mastered sophistry as opposed to formal logic.

                1. If you’ll concede that there is an objective reality, then ,no, contradictions cannot exist. Contradictions can only exist in your perceptions, which aren’t likely to correspond in detail with objective reality.

                  1. You’ve made my point. And by the same token, you’ve suggested that correspondence is impossible because truth lies in the eye of the beholder.

                    Rand writes, “People create their own questions because they are afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and see the road, and when you see it, don’t sit looking at it?walk.”

                    So a proposition is true if and only if ‘straight’, i.e., objectivity, is the same direction as Ayn Rand’s. Otherwise, according to the above, one doesn’t understand. Anything.

                    Well thank god we’ve finally established Ayn’s omniscience.

          2. Ayn Rand loved to shock. When asked by a fan of hers who knew the way she used the term, why she used the word “selfishness”, she replied “For the same reason you’re afraid of it”.

        3. Do you even have a meaningful definition of the category “liberal”? Or is that just an empty term that you fill with whatever you want?

          This is a liberal nation. The United States was born of a liberal revolution against the privileges of a nobility, monarchy and aristocracy. It was a rejection of centralized political power and overweening economic power. (Have any of you read the documents on which Rand built her arguments about American identity? Locke…Trenchard…Gordon…Paine…etc.?)

          It was Ayn Rand’s essay on the smear as a tactic of political discourse that taught me to recognize when a term was being drained of meaning for the purposes of political obfuscation. I’ll assume it’s just ignorance on your part.

          I’ve read everything Rand wrote (except the dry as dust “We the Living”) and unlike most of the Randroids that enjoy tossing around “liberal” as a mark of shame – I understood it.

          If all you’ve got is name calling and self-serving smear terms Rand would cast you into the outer darkness with everyone else she disagreed with.

          1. Just curious…if you’ve never read “We the Living”, how do you ascribe the attribute “dry as dust” to it? Kinda screws up your whole gig there, brother.

            1. Nope. Just found the first chapter to be dry as dust (main character riding somewhere in a railcar, if I recall correctly) and I don’t claim to have “read” something that I haven’t finished.

              Are you really suggesting that a subjective evaluation regarding a subject, which you could not parse out because it was only of minor significance to my larger statement, would “screw up [my] whole gig”?

              Just curious…do you regard your comment as a significant observation that has any real relevance to the substance of what I said?

          2. Kip,
            I’m sure you realize that the left hijacked the term “liberal” some years ago to serve its own purposes thusly, use of the term requires context to be understood in its intended meaning. Double entendre is easy to achieve with Orwellian use of common language…

            1. RPeter,

              At best your construction is partly true. The roots of “liberalism” are coupled with the extension of liberty from a rarified privileged group to an ever wider number of people in any given society. In terms of American history liberalism has represented the extension of the franchise from propertied, white males to universal white male suffrage and thence to universal adult suffrage. Economic “liberalization” involved the development of free markets, etc.

              No “hijacking” was involved in the current usage of liberal. This change is better understood as a parting of the ways between those who viewed the continued development of American liberty as served via statism and those who saw statism as a break with that course. People say “liberal” when what they mean is statist. People also seem to imagine that “conservative” is somehow the antithesis of statist. This is a load of crap. It’s not Orwellian, it’s just shoddy thinking detached from a firm grasp of history. To the extent that the OP’s post perpetuates that problem “What liberals don’t understand” – along with everyone else playing the “liberal” bashing game: You’re part of the problem.

              Use accurate terms and force the discourse to adopt them. Stop perpetuating the use of anti-conceptual language.

      2. You know who else wrote a manifesto…

        1. Senators Josiah W. Bailey and Arthur H. Vandenberg?

        2. Anselme Bellegarrigue?

        3. Dr. Freydun Atturaya?

        4. Oswald de Andrade? (the most underrated manifesto author ever)

        5. Hugo Ball?

        6. Meat Beat?

          1. I registered so I could tell you that I did get the coffee out of my keyboard after reading this while drinking. Thank You

    2. No one who thinks that wealth is the goal of life writes a novel.

  2. The key to Atlas Shrugged is understanding that the central character is Eddie Willers. But no one every does. Not even Ayn Rand.

    1. Here is what I have never gotten about Rand. The Fountainhead is in many ways a totally Nietzschean book. You choose your morality and your aesthetic and you live and die by it no matter the consequences. If people don’t get your building and want to misuse it, you burn the damn thing down rather than see it abused. That is real superman stuff there.

      But Nietzsche and all of the romantics rejected reason. I guess Rand was just daffy enough to think that you could somehow get a corner or rationality, reality and the perfect aesthetic. But her aesthetics and philosophy don’t really go together very well.

      1. But her aesthetics and philosophy don’t really go together very well.

        Oh, poppycock, John. She wrote a whole damn book explaining why one follows from the other.

        1. Sure it works if you are daffy enough to believe that human beings have access through sheer power of reason and will to any kind of ultimate truth. Nietzsche understand what bunk that was and rightfully concluded truth is whatever the hell you will it to be.

          1. Sure it works if you are daffy enough to believe that human beings have access through sheer power of reason and will to any kind of ultimate truth.

            How do you expect to find truth, other than by reason?

          2. “A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.” –Nietzsche

          3. John’s Platonism is coming out again.

            1. You mean his head plate is loose again.

          4. John, Rand would happily concede that her philosophy is invalid if reason isn’t effective and if there is no truth (or no truth that can be known).

            She would merely say that, having used this to argue against her, you have lost your reason and truth privileges and can no longer offer any argument on any OTHER point that employs the concepts of reason or truth, or any subordinate concept that is dependent on reason and truth (i.e. every other concept known).

            1. She once said she could summarize her philosophy standing on one foot. Metaphysics: Objective Reality
              Epistemology: Reason (evidence of the senses)
              Ethics: Self Esteem
              Sociopolitics: Capitalism
              Aesthetics: Romantic Realism

              I don’t know if she was actually standing on one foot.

              1. See, this is probably why I am not an objectivist.

                It’s BORING.
                Seriously.

                Is “A is A” really all there is to say about metaphysics? Fuck that shit.
                Even though I’m not religious in the slightest, I can certainly think of more to talkabout about regarding the nature of reality than a blanket statement of hard determinism.

                Leave some fucking room for wonder and discovery.

                1. Saying something is what it is hardly closes the door on “wonder and discovery.” If it did, we’d still be living in fucking caves.

                  Think before clicking the submit button….

              2. At a sales conference at Random House, preceding the publication of Atlas Shrugged, one of the book salesmen asked me whether I could present the essence of my philosophy while standing on one foot. I did as follows:

                1 Metaphysics: Objective Reality
                2 Epistemology: Reason
                3 Ethics: Self-interest
                4 Politics: Capitalism

                http://aynrandlexicon.com/ayn-…..ivism.html

                I don’t know if she was actually standing on one foot.

                In the movie “The Passion of Ayn Rand”, based on the book by Barbara Branden, she was standing on one foot.

      2. You’re missing the point of The Fountainhead. The Fountainhead is about ‘sense of life’ and society’s (awful) attitude toward the unconventional original and excellent.

        1. I get the point very well. The point of life is to create the original and excellent. And that is a very romantic notion.

      3. But her aesthetics and philosophy don’t really go together very well.

        Actually, her aesthetics and her philosophy go together extremely well; what doesn’t go together well is her aesthetics and actual aesthetic experience as it is lived.

        If her theory of aesthetics is correct, most art ever produced is worthless and I should hate it. But I don’t. I am therefore forced to conclude either that I am morally defective, or that her theory of aesthetics is flawed or incomplete.

        Rand considered it a telling (and compelling) argument against altruism the fact that no one can actually consistently live it. I consider the similar difficulty attempting to consistently live Objectivism would create to be similarly telling.

        1. Of course people can actually live altruism. It is just really hard. But I wouldn’t say no one has ever actually done it. They are just very few and far between.

          1. Not even Christ actually lived altruism.

            To actually live altruism, you’d have to not satisfy any need of your own before the needs of all others not you had been satisfied first.

            You’d die within 72 hours.

            1. Of course Christ did. Altruism doesn’t mean not eating. Your eating doesn’t necessarily deprive someone else of eating. Sure if we are both starving and there is one piece of food, I have to give it to you. But if there is only the two of us and there is enough for both of us, it is nothing that says I can’t eat too.

              But at a deeper level, yes, because people are not altruistic and are sinful, it is impossible to live a perfect life. That is called original sin. We can’t help ourselves. Life is so complex and we have such a lousy grasp of the truth, even when we try to do right we end up doing wrong. In fact the more we try to do the right thing the more dangerous we become. Road to hell and all of that.

              1. Your eating doesn’t necessarily deprive someone else of eating.

                Yes it does, because in the time you could have been helping someone, you were going to the refrigerator to make yourself a sandwich.

                1. Huh? Not eating ensures your death which precludes you from helping anyone. (I am hoping your reply was facetious.)

              2. Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, “To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.” When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, “Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.” — Matthew 26:6-11

        2. That’s because actual aesthetic experience is inherently irrational. What appeals to a particular individual is necessarily personal and emotional. I’d argue that art can’t be properly experienced without suspending rational judgement to some extent. For film and theater this is “suspension of disbelief”. But you have the same type of experience with books and music and other art. The experience of becoming detached from the rational and “getting into” the emotional/aesthetic universe of the art.

      4. Yeah, you can’t really describe Roarks actions in The Fountainhead as “rational”. Not even by Rand’s usual standards, really. I think she contradicts herself on that point.

        Romanticism is necessarily irrational or anyways, it’s no fun unless you indulge in some irrationality.

        1. Heck, romanticism isn’t even romanticism unless you indulge in some irrationality.

    2. I don’t agree, but will meet you halfway:

      The story is a philosophical And Then There Were None where a very large group of characters is “picked off”, one by one, by a “killer”.

      Eddie Willers is the sole “survivor”.

      Unfortunately for Eddie, surviving was the wrong move.

    3. I think I got that.

      At least Eddie was my favorite character, and the one that I could most identify with.

  3. Attacks on Rand have also focused on her person, from her disastrous extramarital affair with a much younger prot?g? to her brief infatuation, at 23, with a notorious killer she described as an “exceptional boy” warped by conformist society.

    From everything I have read by her, I think the woman was a raging narcissist, who managed – through sheer force of will – to achieve for a brief time the dream of having a circle of admirers who adulated her every word and deed.

    Which is why she makes such a convenient Goldstein for the left; the absurdities of her behavior and pronouncements are legion.

    1. Read BY her, or read ABOUT her?

      1. Read by her – I have five of her books, including the one with the essay by Alan Greenspan.

        My 13 year marriage with someone with BPD has made me alert to the signs. Read the DSM IV description of of NPD:

        A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

        (1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

        (2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

        (3) believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

        (4) requires excessive admiration

        (5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

        (6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

        (7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

        (8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

        (9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

        (cont)

        1. This might be a good time for me to point out that narcissistic personality disorder is bullshit.

          Politically-motivated bullshit.

        2. I think this interview really shows some of these properties:

          Q: Libertarians advocate the politics you advocate. So why are you opposed to the Libertarian Party? [FHF: “Egalitarianism and Inflation,” 1974]

          AR:They are not defenders of capitalism. They’re a group of publicity seekers who rush into politics prematurely, because they allegedly want to educate people through a political campaign, which can’t be done. Further, their leadership consists of men of every of persuasion, from religious conservatives to anarchists. Moreover, most of them are my enemies: they spend their time denouncing me, while plagiarizing my ideas. Now, I think it’s a bad beginning for an allegedly pro-capitalist party to start by stealing ideas.

          Q: Do you think Libertarians communicate the ideas of freedom and capitalism effectively? [QA following LP’s “Objective Communication,” Lecture 1, 1980]

          AR: … I’ve read nothing by a Libertarian (when I read them, in the early years) that wasn’t my ideas badly mishandled?i.e., had the teeth pulled out of them?with no credit given. I didn’t know whether I should be glad that no credit was given, or disgusted. I felt both. They are perhaps the worst political group today, because they can do the most harm to capitalism, by making it disreputable.

          1. Her real issue with libertarianism is that she believed it to be based on moral relativism.

            “Nobody knows what the good is, therefore nobody should try to impose the good on anyone else.”

            She considered this philosophically and morally erroneous, as well as doomed to failure. And anyone who watches the left for ten minutes knows that the real value they see in moral relativism is that it allows them to say that rights don’t exist and they can do whatever they want, so she was probably right that moral relativism will only serve to empower the left in the end, and that it’s a stupid way to try to get people to embrace freedom.

            1. That wasn’t her objection.

              Her objection was that the libertarians weren’t proclaiming her their leader.

              1. Her objection was that the libertarians weren’t proclaiming her their leader.

                In her own words:
                Above all, do not join the wrong ideological groups or movements, in order to “do something.” By “ideological” (in this context), I mean groups or movements proclaiming some vaguely generalized, undefined (and, usually, contradictory) political goals. (E.g., the Conservative Party, which subordinates reason to faith, and substitutes theocracy for capitalism; or the “libertarian” hippies, who subordinate reason to whims, and substitute anarchism for capitalism.) To join such groups means to reverse the philosophical hierarchy and to sell out fundamental principles for the sake of some superficial political action which is bound to fail. It means that you help the defeat of your ideas and the victory of your enemies.

                The woman had plenty of flaws to pick at. No need to make them up post mortem.

                1. tarran can’t help himself. Objectivists are a tired dying cult with bad philosophical foundations that tarran has to lie about and obsess over. We’re so irrelevant he has to sell his integrity just to manufacture a dig at us.

            2. I think the left uses moral relativism to smack down any sense of Western or American superiority to other cultures, even ones that are demonstrably barbaric. It’s always the political with the left.

              For example, they condemn Israel without fail while siding with the Arabs or other Muslims, willfully oblivious to how the latter treat women, gays, and other allegedly liberal interest groups.

              1. Not true for most liberals.

                See Chris Hitchens, Bill Maher, and Oriana Fallaci among others.

                1. Dude, only you could include Maher with Hitch and Oriana Fallaci. The stupid just never stops.

                  1. They have a lot in common. All rationalists (secular atheist) and all hate fundamentalist religions (Islam in particular).

                    All liberal too.

          2. In the end, of course, Ayn Rand’s personal problems are irrelevant to the validity of her ideas.

            I think a lot of the ideas that are original to her are rationalizations motivated by her desire to be adulated – but that doesn’t necessarily make them invalid: a narcissistic physicist can still do great physics for example.

            It’s just that turning her into a strawman and caricature and attacking that are easier than actually tackling her ideas.

            Since the modern progressive movement is incapable of admitting that there are legitimate philosophical ideas opposed to them, strawmen and caricatures are all they have.

            1. They’re not the only ones apparently…

            2. Since the modern progressive movement is incapable of admitting that there are legitimate philosophical ideas opposed to them, strawmen and caricatures are all they have.

              the irony is that they purposely turn a blind eye to similar failings within their ranks. It’s why they think Todd Akin should be burned at the stake for saying something stupid, but they ignore the abusive if not criminal actions of Clinton, Kennedy, Edwards, et al.

          3. From an interview of his wife, I learned that Rothbard wasn’t booted from the Inner Circle because he refused to divorce his Christian spouse, that was just the excuse. His real sin was reusing one of Rand’s ideas in an article without paying for it. Nevermind that the ideas wasn’t original to begin with.

            Objectivists always say “examine your premises”. Ayn Rand should have examined hers when it came to intellectual property.

            1. In either Barbara Brandon or Nathaniel’s biography of Rand, probably Barbara’s, they report that Rothbard took an idea from Barb’s thesis and used it in an article or book. It was a fairly standard or simple idea as I recall and Rothbard thought it was not something that needed a reference.

              Here are a few reports on it.

              http://lewrockwell.com/orig/stromberg4.html

              http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/essays/obj_cult2.html

        3. Sounds like Obama.

        4. I hate to point this out, but there’s a difference between one’s personality and one’s espoused political views. I know TONS of people who espouse views they do not live up to.

          There are a shit ton of liberal progressives who in their personal lives are selfish assholes. And plenty of conservatives who are extremely generous. There is virtually no correlation between what people claim to believe and how they actually act.

          Maybe that’s why we had to invent the word “integrity”. Because os few people actually behave according to their principles.

          So, it’s entirely possible that a narcissit could go around talking about how altruistic they are in order to be loved and praised by those around them.

          I’d argue that a lot of people who go in for progressive political activism, or become nuns, suffer from exactly this problem.

          1. Maybe that’s why we had to invent the word “integrity”. Because os few people actually behave according to their principles.

            Oh, they behave according to their principles alright – it’s just that the principles they espouse are not necessarily the ones they live by but are the ones they hope others will live by.

    2. It’s projection time…

    3. Yeah because liberals hate writers like Vidal or Mailer who were ego maniacs.

      Some of that is just sexism. No one gave a shit that Gore Vidal fucked anything that didn’t fuck him first. But somehow Rand is a villain because she was a Cougar before anyone knew the word meant something besides a large feline.

  4. What Liberals Don’t Understand About Ayn Rand: anything.

    1. What Liberals understand: nothing

      1. What? Nothing!

        1. well, they quite clearly understand govt-sponsored theft of other people’s money, of using force/coercion to instill certain beliefs, and of the necessity to attack personally anyone who disagrees.

          1. I suggest that you and John read Carl Sagan’s book The Demon Haunted World, Science as a Candle in the Darkness.” In it, Sagan pointed out 10 BS detectors, among them the strawman argument- attribute things to your adversary that are untrue, then knock him down. Its easy. Liberals hate Gore Vidal. (In fact, I think he was brilliant.) Liberals understand govt-sponsored theft of other people’s money. No, we just know where the money is really going, do you? Force to instill beliefs? Where do you get this drivel? Name a liberal who supports force to instill beliefs, please. Attacking personally anyone who disagrees? All I see in your post is personal attacks.

            1. Welcome to the boards, Freddo. Thank you for your literary recommendation, but I imagine that most posters here read Sagan years ago.

              To answer your objections: Taxation. Mandatory education. Internet leftists.

              Look forward to seeing you around.

  5. As has been pointed out repeatedly, Rand’s philosophy instantly fails the libertarian purity test with Howard Roark’s destruction of someone else’s property being hailed as heroic.

    1. Not to me, it doesn’t.

      If there was a class of citizen who had been declared beyond the reach of the civil courts, and a citizen from that class committed a tort against me and I had no available civil recourse, I’d either destroy their property or kill them (assuming I could get away with it and wasn’t too big a pussy) and my conscience would be entirely clear.

      I don’t see any contradiction between Roark’s action and libertarianism at all.

      1. Roark wanted to control his art AFTER he had sold it. True, there was a minor breach of contract, but that’s not an excuse for blowing up someone else’s property.

        You only get to match force with equal force. You don’t get to kill anyone over a breach of contract, regardless of how un-pussy you are.

        1. Since the specific terms of the contract were that the designs would not be changed, how is that different than some other form of payment, like money? Since he was expecting to be “paid” with sole control of his work, how can you say he was paid? We agreed to $2M but here is $5 you have been paid?

          1. There was breach of contract, but that does not justify dynamiting the building. The bricks were not Roark’s, the girder’s were not Roark’s, the drywall was not Roark’s, the paint was not Roark’s, etc.

            Let’s say I take my car in for an oil change and they fail to top off the windshield wiper fluid as was specified in the agreement. Am I justified in blowing up the repair shop? OF COURSE NOT! Even if I can’t get satisfaction from a court I STILL DON’T have the right to blow it up!

            It’s time libertarians, especially atheist libertarians, stopped treating contracts as the absolute supreme moral imperatives of the universe.

            p.s. Or if you want to look at from another angle, he blew up a building over copyright infringement.

            1. Brandybuck, what is a contract?

              1. A formalized exchange, a transaction.

                They most definitely are not a mechanism to control someone else’s actions after the terms of the exchange have been met.

                Suppose I printed in fine print on the menus of my restaurant that anyone ordering and eating my food could not ever get married. Under your theory of contracts I’d be justified in killing the person that subsequently violated those terms.

            2. Contracts are a consensual agreement between two parties regarding how they interact with each other. Few people would argue the morality of interacting with other people on the basis of consent.

        2. “Roark wanted to control his art AFTER he had sold it. True, there was a minor breach of contract, but that’s not an excuse for blowing up someone else’s property.”

          Ardent intellectual proprietarians often have a blind spot for the physical property rights of those they do business with (viz, Sony rootkit debacle).

        3. True, there was a minor breach of contract,

          Hardly minor – it was virtually the only term or consideration in the contract.

      2. By your argument, if Cindy Sheehan has Dick Cheney killed, you’re okay with it?

    2. Ehhh….I always thought of that as some sort of contract between him and Keating. Keating broke the terms of the contract, Roark broke the building. Of course…that shit wouldn’t hold up in court…but maybe he somehow recorded their agreement?

      I thought it would have been more interesting/crafty if Roark had designed the building with a subtle structural fault that could have been compromised without the Shock-and-YALL of full on dynamite. That way, Keating would have been blamed for designing a piece of shit of building that collapsed on its own. No Fuss, No Muss. Moreover, the super-secret-double-probation contract between the two would have been enforced without involving interlopers.

  6. In fact, most wealthy characters in her novels are pathetic, repulsive, or both[.]

    “We’re all pathetic and cweepy and can’t get giwls. That’s why we fight wobots!”

    1. Not “westauwant,” westauwant!

      1. I’m sorry Bawwy. I don’t understand “Not westauwant westauwant.”

    2. I came because I undewstood thewe was going to be a waffle?

    3. It really is pretty cruel that rhotacism starts with an r sound. Funny, but cruel.

  7. One thing I’d like to put out there:

    Ever notice that although liberals hate all conservatives, the one they choose to unleash the most personal abuse on is Rand?

    I’ve never seen a single column by anyone anywhere ever saying that if you’re dating someone and find that someone has Hayek on their shelf you have to break up.

    I’ve never seen anyone insert a completely superfluous scene in a major motion picture where the reason a minor character makes a dick move is because they read a William F. Buckley book.

    Heinlein was a hack science fiction writer, but I’ve never seen anyone ever put any effort into trying to convince people that since he was the worst writer evuh nobody should read their books.

    I could almost believe that Ellsworth Toohey was real, based on how the left has – somehow – grouped itself around this one point, and the level of horror they show over this one person.

    1. It is weird. The other thing is that there are damn few Objectivists out there. Conservatives and Objectivists generally don’t get alone. Hell a lot of Libertarians and objectivists don’t get along. And I don’t think there is a single significant academic who calls himself an Objectivist. In contrast, even though academics are almost all liberal, there are a few of them who would call themselves Burkean or certainly followers of Hayek or the Austrian school of economics.

      Yet, liberals still obsess over Rand. It makes no sense.

      1. Significant academic? Can you list the top five in that category? Because the ones coming immediately to my mind aren’t significant because of their positive influences, to say the least.

      2. They obsess over her because in their souls, they intuitively recognize an intellectually mortal threat. Conservatism? 50 years of failure with no change in sight? Libertariansism? More potent and dangerous but still lost. Objectivism? It turns over the very moral of Liberals and so threatens them at a fundamental level.

        1. Ok then why no vitriol for Nozick? He’s the antipode to Rawls.

          1. http://www.slate.com/articles/….._scam.html

            http://www.slate.com/articles/…..art_2.html

            I’ll not forget these because I ended up losing a friend (he’s a absolutely massive jackass now but he used to be a nice guy) arguing over them.

            1. I remember those. Hardly vitriol, I mean where’s the bit where the girl has to gtfo because ASU is on the coffee table?

          2. In the Sopranos, they did show Carmela Soprano reading Nozick…The State and Anarchy, I think it was.

      3. It is weird. The other thing is that there are damn few Objectivists out there. Conservatives and Objectivists generally don’t get alone. Hell a lot of Libertarians and objectivists don’t get along.

        It’s because Objectivist is a dying religious cult. They make a very convenient target for the two-minutes hate. How many German soldiers were spitting babies on their bayonets in WW-I? Damn few, yet the hatred of the baby-spitting Hun motivated a bunch of people to go down to the post-office to enlist.

        1. Did an Objectivist run over your dog or something?

          1. No.

            I just am not going to walk on eggshells to avoid pissing off members of a totalitarian religion that can’t tolerate anybody disagreeing with them.

            1. No.

              I just am not going to walk on eggshells to avoid pissing off members of a totalitarian religion that can’t tolerate anybody disagreeing with them.

              “Watch out guys, we’re dealing with a badass over here!”

          2. An Objectivist chick wouldn’t give it up for him college because of his weak chin, would be my guess.

            1. “…his weak chin…”

              Or maybe she was just waiting for him to rape her.

        2. If we’re such a dying “cult”, why obsess over us?

          1. If we’re such a dying “cult”, why obsess over us?

            Because your death-throes are so very loud and everyone assumes that horrible noise is coming from us.

            1. Do we sound like dying giraffes?

              1. A little. The anarcho-capitalists are even worse, if you find that takes the sting out of it. Especially Episiarch.

                1. I am an individualist anarchist, not an anarcho-capitalist, you slime!

                  1. See what I’m talking about?

                    1. Oh, we’re the worst. I wasn’t disputing that, you knucklehead!

            2. death-throes

              “Death-throes”. Is that what they’re calling it now?

      4. It makes a little sense. She still sells an awful lot of books, so that automatically makes her an enemy they have to continue to deal with. Hayek? 99% of the left have never heard of him.

        1. The only Hayek they’ve heard of is Salma.

          1. It is hard to think of the other one, after seeing Salma.

            Actually, it is hard to think, after seeing Salma.

      5. Who is a significant academic? Paul Krugman?

      6. It makes perfect sense when you consider that she wrote pitch perfect left-wing villains. Her heroes can be a little too comic book or Byronic, but her villains… well, if somebody reads her books, and then looks at the current leadership of the Democratic party and its various NGO affiliates, they’re going to see a lot of very unpleasant parallels.

        And it’s not like she just looked at Elizabeth Warren or Paul Krugman and wrote a twisted caricature, because the books are old — as a result, it sounds less like a paranoid political thriller, and more like a prophecy, or a least a profound insight about human nature.

    2. Saying that Ayn Rand has been influential to American conservatives is accurate, describing her as one when she actively disavowed the label and wrote pieces like “Conservatism: An Obituary” isn’t.

    3. Re: Fluffy,

      Ever notice that although liberals hate all conservatives, the one they choose to unleash the most personal abuse on is Rand?

      Liberals will never accept they were being gullible dopes for believing that accepting the benevolent state makes them good people.

      Here comes this Rand person telling them that they could’ve kept their stuff, feel less guilty and still be good people. That’s like telling a New Ager that there’s no such thing as Karma. That’s why they attack her and others that think like her as if they were blasphemers and heretics. Socialism is a religion, after all.

      1. That’s like telling a New Ager that there’s no such thing as Karma.

        Excellent quip.

    4. Ellsworth Toohey is the morality of evil incarnate. He is the perfect representation of altruism as the enemy of freedom.

      1. Many years ago, when I was in Pearl Harbor, one of the base chaplains struck me as Ellsworth Toohey incarnate. Don’t let anyone tell you that none of Rand’s characters are realistic.

    5. Ever notice that although liberals hate all conservatives, the one they choose to unleash the most personal abuse on is Rand?

      There are several reasons for this:

      1) Ayn Rand in her hey-day got a lot of attention. Neither Hayek, ROthbard, Mises, Heinlein, Hazzlit, Rose Wilder etc were the flamboyant publicity hounds that she was. Famous people attract the heat.

      2) Ayn Rand is more vulnerable – her philosophy is on shaky ground and makes really grandiose claims that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

      She’s really perfect for the role of lightning rod.

      1. You are absolutely tiresome today.

      2. Ayn Rand is more vulnerable – her philosophy is on shaky ground and makes really grandiose claims that don’t stand up to scrutiny.

        Please demonstrate.

    6. 1. It’s a lazy way to hate. Rand has brand recognition that no libertarian possesses.

      2. Most people encounter her when they are teenagers, if they read her or not. So she can be dismissed as being popular with people who don’t know better yet, meaning that adults that like her must be emotionally juvenile. (See the hatred for Catcher in the Rye and On the Road, for example.)

      3. She is frighteningly easy to caricature because she made one out of herself in the last part of her life, especially since bombast was an integral part of her work and world-view.

      4. You only have to meet one Objectivist. Most of them are thin-skinned, argumentative, and frighteningly shuttered in how they view the world*. And most of them I’ve ever met have some sort of personality disorder. You can’t hate people who are sick, but you can hate people who are in a cult.

      5. Her name is fun to say with a dismissive sneer. “Raaaan-d.” (No, seriously.)

      6. Rand is an useful smear for “right-wingers” who are neither red-necks, hyper-rich, or God-botherers.

      *This goes for a large percentage of people who call them libertarians as well. Libertarians can often play better with others, and there’s more of us, so our crazy is less concentrated.

      1. I have a friend who was once part of Rand’s inner circle. But she is an objectivist with a small ‘o’, and not the cultist type with the big ‘O’. She has absolutely no interest in judging the purity of the lives of others.

    7. I’m a liberal, and I think its hilarious that so many conservative Christians, like Paul Ryan, have been duped into lauding someone who considers their religion a joke. Furthermore, Rand would have dissed Ryan, for being such a suck up to power.

      1. Why is that people are supposed to either worship or revile Ayn Rand?

        She wrote several popular novels that attacked the moral foundation of socialism, including AS whose villains seem ripped from today’s headlines.

        But appreciating those novels does not compel anyone to blindly follow her over baked philosophy.

        I see no contradiction whatsoever in someone saying “Atlas Shrugged was a great warning of the danger of collectivism (or socialism), you should read it” and also saying “I’m not an objectivist”.

    8. “Ever notice that although liberals hate all conservatives…”

      Ever notice that people who claim to be enlightened by an advocate of pure reason still fail to comprehend even the most basic tenets of their beloved author?

      Rand had little respect for the use of terms as empty place holders shorn of their conceptual foundations. And yet go anywhere you like on the internet and you will find disciples of Rand (and others of course) who will gabber on about “all liberals this” and “all conservatives that” as though saying something meaningful.

      Liberal with regard to what? Conservative with regard to what? These terms require a point of reference. John Adams was “liberal” in comparison with a Massachusetts Tory and “conservative” in comparison to Thomas Paine or Andrew Jackson.

      I would hope that you would embrace the liberalism of America in distinction to the illiberalism of Saudi Arabia. Turn on you intellect and turn off your tendency to bleat the prepackaged and unexamined political rhetoric you’ve absorbed.

  8. What I, a liberal, understand about Ms. Rand is that she believed that there should be no healthcare or safety nets for the Regular Joe…until she developed stage-4 lung cancer and applied for medicare under the name Ann Connor.

    I had a conservative friend a work that was embarrassed as all hell when his Daughter came out in a local news paper saying that she had an abortion…and her father paid for it.

    I don’t care for Ann Rand’s world and I don’t think we’ll live in it for long unless we have a police state. The Romney/Libertarian/Rand world of no public healthcare, eliminating pell grant, no environmental or labor laws will only lead to a violent revolution. That is, unless, we institute a police state in which the police have pension, their children have education and healthcare…which I believe is the republican way.

    1. Re: Alice Bowie,

      What I, a liberal, understand about Ms. Rand is that she believed that there should be no healthcare or safety nets for the Regular Joe… until she developed stage-4 lung cancer and applied for medicare under the name Ann Connor.

      Which means that you’re confessing to having a very limited understanding of Ms. Rand or anything she wrote or said.

      The Romney/Libertarian/Rand world of no public healthcare,

      Now you’re confessing to understanding no logic. Mitt Romney is no libertarian.

      eliminating pell grant, no environmental or labor laws will only lead to a violent revolution.

      You mean to say that the result of taking away the giveaways is revolution? Yes, that would be true. That hardly serves as justification for having any of those things, Alice.

      That is, unless, we institute a police state in which the police have pension, their children have education and healthcare…which I believe is the republican way.

      You mean like Britain’s?

      1. The Romney/Libertarian/Rand world of no public healthcare

        Why are leftist without many exceptions dishonest to the core? Everyday, reading the news, I’m bombarded by dishonesty. I could cover my own newspaper each day with a stack of posted notes with the mental corrections that I make to the phony narratives. Does it ever occur to you leftist that you are not very persuasive and people just get tired of being rhetorically shitted on day in and day out? I usually ignore most of you, but fuck, AB, you are not a troll, you can do better than that.

        1. They are idiots with a fatally paradoxical superiority complex. Must of their arguments are the rhetorical equivalent of a toddler demanded you praise him lavishly for going poopy in the potty like a big boy.

          1. Like I said in a thread earlier today, arguing with them is like arguing with a nursery rhyme.

            Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
            Jack didn’t build that candle stick.

        2. They are incredibly lazy thinkers who, as NutraSweet indicated, have a laughably grandiose opinion of their own intelligence. Since they are already utterly convinced that they are morally and intellectually superior, they need not do any research or even get facts straight, because their intentions are the correct ones and they hold the correct opinions.

        3. I blame it on public school and the lack of logic and critical thinking classes. I just had to break down all the logical fallacies in a friends argument the other day on FB. People seriously think false equivocation, strawmen, and redefining terms for rhetorical advantage is perfectly legitimate. I don’t get it.

        4. Re: Killazontherum,

          I could cover my own newspaper each day with a stack of posted notes with the mental corrections that I make to the phony narratives.

          If your paper was the Houston Chronicle, that activity you mention would’ve been a full time job!

        5. Wow, Killazontherun. That is without a doubt the most brilliantly expressed general rage at nothing I have ever read. Sounds to me like you are just mad about being proven wrong so often.

    2. “Who let the cat out of the bag?” is all I can say, as the monocle fell out of my eye and hit the dude licking the dust off my boots.

    3. Lol, you believe alternet stories. Rand took about 14k from s.s., a pitance compared to what she paid in under the self employment tax, and her estate was worth about a million dollars at the time of her death. She didn’t need the money from the government.

      1. As I find the criticism of Rand to be irrelevant, I usually ignore the SS story altogether and so know little about it, but why would she take it then?

        1. Because her position was that if you paid the taxes, you should steal back every dollar you could.

          I’m sure she would have preferred revolution, but since that wasn’t on the table…well, the second best way to deal with an irrational policy is for everyone to comply with it to the letter, and wait for the policy to fail, as it ultimately must.

          1. That and a friend kept bugging her about it so she finally gave in, gave the friend power of attorney over the matter, and said,” fine, you deal with it then.”

      2. It’s not wrong to take money from a system that took it away from you your entire working life. I understand the principled argument against it, along with the view that you’re actually taking the money of current taxpayers, but I could see it working either way as long as you are consciously making your decision.

    4. You’re understanding is very incomplete.

    5. BTW, her legal married last name was O’Connor. Applying as Ayn Rand would not have been valid.

    6. labor laws are extremely unfair, they put wages above market price and leave lots of people in the black market.

    7. The Romney/Libertarian/Rand world of no public healthcare, eliminating pell grant, no environmental or labor laws will only lead to a violent revolution.

      The Romney rethuglicans are even more evil than you suppose.

      They expect people to feed themsleves – no public nutrition care;

      and cloth themselves – no public fashion care;

      and provide their own housing – no public sheltercare;

      and worst of all, find their own sexual gratification – no public sexcare.

      99% of the population is obviously living on the edge of oblivion all so that guys like Soros and Corzine can make another billion a year by stealing from the poor.

    8. What I, a liberal, understand about Ms. Rand is that she believed that there should be no healthcare or safety nets for the Regular Joe…until she developed stage-4 lung cancer and applied for medicare under the name Ann Connor.

      You are not the first to bring up Rand’s seeming hypocrisy for taking advantage of Medicare and Social Security, and you probaby won’t be the last. But I seriously doubt that she changed her views of them even as she used them. Considering that she and her husband had been paying into both programs for nearly all of their working lives – against their will and probably an amount substantially more than “Joe” – I’m sure she just thought of it as recovering stolen property. That is exactly how I would think of it.

    9. Another example of the lies the left comes up with to discredit her: http://freestudents.blogspot.c…..ocial.html

      However, even if she did take payments from a system that she was forced to pay into, how is that inconsistent? I don’t believe in government handouts, but if I had the opportunity to get back the outrageous amounts of taxes I’ve paid, I most certainly would take it.

  9. To Rand, being “selfish” meant being true to oneself, neither sacrificing one’s own desires nor trampling on others.

    This is why Progressives choose to hammer Rand rather than, say Hayek or even Rothbard. Rand, how ever cartoonish some of her characters are, refused to submit themselves to their “betters” or the will of the herd.

  10. I will quote “Some Guy” from a while back.
    I actually think that Atlas Shrugged and the Communist Manifesto are the same book with alternate endings.

    http://goo.gl/IYT31 yes, I saved that quote.

    1. Wow. That’s hilarious.

      And for a follow-up:

      Rand and Marx both seem to think capitalists are soulless monsters who would do anything to make a buck. She just sees that as a good thing.

      1. yes, I saved both of them and actually like the second quote better but I figured show the first and let people find the second.

  11. Also worth noting – Ayn Rand hated conservatives and thought they had corrupted capitalism with their Buckleyesque Christian justification for it. For this reason she also campaigned against Reagan.

    1. shrike got one right.

      Here, shrike, I’ll throw you a bone today:

      Ayn Rand’s intellectual heir, Leonard Peikoff, endorsed John Kerry in 2004 because of Bush’s religiosity.

      1. Because being militantly anti-religious certainly isn’t anything like being religious? Gotcha.

      2. WTH?

        Also, in a 2010 podcast, Peikoff explained that he does not support the building of a mosque near the “ground-zero” site in New York City, arguing that property rights are always contextual and that preventing the construction is a wartime necessity.

        1. Yeah, the Objectivists that align themselves most closely to Rand seem pretty nutty and hypocritical sometimes.

  12. To the extent that she championed the individual over the collective, Rand was pretty good. Ditto on her seeing how much socialism is about theft and economic destruction. After that, I’m not so sure.

  13. i got my undergrad degree in philosophy

    i don’t recall any professor even MENTION ayn rand. they weren’t hostile to her, she simply wasn’t on the radar in a philosophy program.

    in retrospect, i find that kind of amazing

    considering her impact, etc. it’s hard to fathom that out of the scores of philosophers and philosophies we studied, ayn rand and objectivism never even got a mention

    i could be forgetting some obscure mention somewhere, but i’m entirely confident she was completely off the radar. i was certainly never assigned a reading assignment by her.

    i am not claiming some kind of conspiracy to keep her out of the discourse. i’m just saying, it’s bizarre.

    the same applies to poli sci, classes, although as a philosophy major, i only took a couple of poli sci classes.

    my prof’s were pretty good at not injecting their personal political ideology into the class. i am confident it’s impossible not to have one’s personal beliefs affect one’s teaching, but i think they did a very good job of teaching philosophy, not proselytizing a particular pov.

    while i think many certainly leaned to the left (consistent with data in the national aggregate on the fact that college profs lean left of the general population), they were not hostile to conservative stalwarts like hayek, burke, etc. but rand? she never even came on the radar screen

    1. How is Hayek a conservative stalwart? He had contempt for them.

      (someone should tell Glenn Beck)

      1. You do realize the terms conservative and liberal have no fixed meaning with respect to time or place, right?

        1. sure.

          feel free to substitute better terminology.

          i am putting hayek in the camp of “classic liberalism”, that has more in common with (not neocon) modern conservative and especially libertarian philosophy.

          the reality is that conservatives are far more likely to read hayek and have a “click moment” than liberals, since his views of the role of man, the role of govt. and most importantly, the concept of evolved systemic rationality

          here’s a paper that i think expresses what i am TRYING to say, but in a much more coherent manner:

          1. I was talking to PB. I don’t think my objection applied to anything you said.

            1. oh, ok. i am confuse

          2. Burke’s and Hayek’s more exclusively political views are intimately related to their common understanding of the nature of society, an understanding deeply informed by the thought of the Scottish Enlightenment. Philosophers such as Adam Ferguson, David Hume, and Adam Smith had conceived society and its complex webwork of institutions?law, “manners,” 14 morals, customs?as the outcome of a prolonged “process of cumulative growth” 15 whereby man had advanced from a level of primitive savagery to high culture and civilization. On such a view, social order appears as a product of the interplay of historically evolved institutions, habit and custom, objective law, and impersonal social forces. In the opinion of their contemporaries, what the Scottish philosophers had done was successfully to “resolve almost all that ha[d formerly] been ascribed to positive institution into the spontaneous and irresistible development of certain obvious principles,?and . . . [to] show with how little contrivance of political wisdom the most complicated and apparently artificial schemes of policy might have been erected.” 16
            Both Burke’s and Hayek’s thought was fully informed by such views. Both thinkers understood social institutions to be the product of a complex historical process characterized by trial-and-error experimentation. They both emphasized that the conditions of human flourishing must be cultivated through comprehension of the forces that sustain social order.

      2. i just mean his philosophy, such as systemic rationality trumping the power of the individual(s) to make good decisions are key to understanding how conservatives view the world

        whatever hayek thought about conservatives, his analysis of the role of man, the role of govt. and most importantly, the NATURE of systemic rationality clearly “click” more with conservatives (and libertarians), than say the viewpoints of condorcet or rousseau

        hayek viewed this idea much like (if i can make a weird analogy) the way sagan viewed emergent properties in the scientific realm

        1. This fear of trusting uncontrolled social forces is closely related to two other characteristics of conservatism: its fondness for authority and its lack of understanding of economic forces. Since it distrusts both abstract theories and general principles,[6] it neither understands those spontaneous forces on which a policy of freedom relies nor possesses a basis for formulating principles of policy. Order appears to the conservative as the result of the continuous attention of authority, which, for this purpose, must be allowed to do what is required by the particular circumstances and not be tied to rigid rule.

          Hayek saw conservatism as fundamentally flawed with no hope of repair. This is also my belief.

          The authoritarian nature of conservatism contradicts your comment completely.

          1. again, this is simply about how conservatives and classic liberals conceptualize the nature of man, the role of govt and systemic rationality.

            the authoritarian nature of (some conservatives) just like the authoritarian nature of (some liberals) says more about their strategies, not about their underlying beliefs of (again) systemic rationality.

            thugs are thugs. but some thugs have different conceptions of the role of man, etc. than other thugs

            this different understanding helps define whether they fall into different philosophical camps

            1. You keep saying “conservatives and classic liberals” like they have something in common.

              I (with Rand and Hayek) are classic liberals and we despise everything about conservatism.

              1. He keeps saying “conservatives and classical liberals” like they sometimes find common cause or sometimes agree on things. That’s because sometimes, THEY DO. And that happens with conservatives and classical liberals far more than with modern liberals and classical liberals.

                1. OK, Obama cut Medicare subsidies/costs along with defense spending. Romney plans to reinstitute both full tilt.

                  Who is the classic liberal of the two?

                  1. OK, Obama cut Medicare subsidies/costs along with defense spending. Romney plans to reinstitute both full tilt.

                    Who is the classic liberal of the two?

                    First, sometimes does not mean in every instance. Second, what Medicare costs or defense spending has Obama ACTUALLY cut?

                  2. Who is the classic liberal of the two?

                    Obama didn’t cut shit, and neither of them are classical liberals. Fuck, you are so goddamn stupid, shrek.

                2. ^yes

          2. Order appears to the conservative as the result of the continuous attention of authority, which, for this purpose, must be allowed to do what is required by the particular circumstances and not be tied to rigid rule.

            Apparently you don’t realize that this applies much more so to the left today than it does to the right.

            As is seen every time some socialist goes on a you didn’t build that or a everyone would be poor and die young without government riff.

    2. Ayn Rand is not generally discussed in university philosophy classes because she was not a good philosopher. At best she’s a mediocre philosopher.

      1. I agree. I like and appreciate Rand, but not she’s not a philosopher. She’s more on par with someone like Gore Vidal or John Steinbeck – a novelist with strongly held political views who is known for political activism.

    3. Also had a major in philosophy, and no Rand, though my program was heavy on religion. Now that I think about it, discussing any atheist philosopher was rare. But Rand is just not considered important enough as a thinker. Her influence is not in the intellectual world, though increasingly it is in the political world, which is scary.

      I was introduced to Rand in 8th grade by lit. class. Actually it was a special presentation from guest speakers, and rather odd. I don’t know if that was because my teacher refused to teach it and it was required in the curriculum, or if the Randians sent them.

      1. Rand is not popular as an academic philosopher because she saw almost all post-Enlightenment philosophy as unnecessary and superfluous.

        She was not interested in the least in two core philosophical questions: the “ultimate” nature of reality and the sufficiency of reason to apprehend that “ultimate” nature.

        She advocated naive realism because she observed (really quite accurately) that if the reality we occupy isn’t real or isn’t the “ultimate” reality, or if reason is not capable of apprehending reality, that all the rest of the philosophy doesn’t matter. Instant and total nihilism is the appropriate response to any falsification of the premises that existence exists and that A is A. Whatever else she got wrong, she got that part dead right.

        But that means that she completely discounts 90% or more of what modern philosophy has been about. So naturally its practitioners despise her.

        1. She also discounts any possible philosophy coming after hers, because hers was the culmination of rational thought. Other philosophers have asked “what is truth”, Ayn Rand stated unequivocally “here is the truth, end of story, put in an index and close the book of philosophy”.

          1. Ragnar Danneskjold was going to be a philosopher, even after John Galt gave his speech. If that’s not saying the book of philosophy is still open, I don’t know what is.

            A few questions that Objectivism could work on answering, just off the top of my head:
            Is the epistemology of non-human intelligent beings different than our own?
            If so, how does this effect their ethics?
            If they hold different ethics, is it possible for our ethics to be aligned?
            Is collectivism (hive mind kind of things) possible for non-human intelligent beings?
            Are other terrestrial animals intelligent? Rational?
            What does Objectivism have to say about recent developments in physics?

            I’m done some (very unpublished and unpolished) thinking on some of these subjects, and I consider myself an approximate Kelleyite Objectivist.

        2. Cat is cat. Thus… laissez-faire capitalism!

          Discovering the law of identity is not a great insight.

          1. Tell it to Aristotle.

            1. In the 20th century, I should add.

        3. The practitioners of modern philosophy take no notice of Rand as a philosopher, because she’s non-academic and therefore irrelevant to their pursuits. Modern philosophers do not “despise her”; they barely acknowledge her existence. Rand’s contempt for modern philosophy is well documented.

          I make this point neither as a celebration nor as a denunciation of Rand, but simply to clarify a point of the Rand “mythology.” She’s not a *persecuted* outsider – as far as academic philosophy is concerned she’s a popular novelist and political essayist with no connection to their field. Hostility to Rand’s “philosophy” in academia stems from hamfisted applications of Objectivism by starry-eyed undergraduates in a rigorous academic setting.

  14. A boy from my 8th grade “team” recently wrote a piece for TNR about his adolescent infatuation with Objectivism. It’s terrible. I was actually disappointed when I read it, since he had seemed so sharp in middle school. It seemed like a piece written by someone who had never understood what he read to begin with. This seems absurd to me, considering Rand is about the least subtle author I’ve ever read.

    But that’s not the best part. When I told my husband, “Hey, Jonas Blank wrote a piece for TNR about being an Objectivist in high school,” his immediate response was, “that’s total bullshit. He was a Democrat. He was in the Young Democrats with me.”

    Now I guess it is possible that Jonas was an Objectivist in high school and still attended Young Democrat meetings just to fuck with people. But given that he displays (in this article at least) absolutely zero understanding of Objectivism, I doubt it.

    http://www.tnr.com/blog/plank/…..t-ayn-rand

    1. He’s just gunning for a position on Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog.

      1. You mis-spelled “wank.”

    2. Re: Christina,

      his immediate response was, “that’s total bullshit. He was a Democrat. He was in the Young Democrats with me.”

      Now I guess it is possible that Jonas was an Objectivist in high school and still attended Young Democrat meetings just to fuck with people.

      What was your husband’s excuse for being in the YD?

      1. maybe he was using the PJ orourke (they are easy to get disrobed and schtup) strategy

        1. Maybe a can of worms is being opened here… unwittingly.

      2. He hadn’t met me yet. And, as he explained to me, that’s where the girls were. This is also, conveniently enough, his explanation for being in Chorus in middle school.

        1. yup. pj orourke strategy!!!

          many men joined these movements for the purposes of access to sex and drugs, not belief in the cause

          kind of like how many of the rioters at the WTO (vs. the legitimate protesters) latched on because it was an excuse to break shit, throw stuff at cops, wear a mask and be all ninja bad-ass and get away with vandalism and assault.

          i remember standing on the line and two late teens were within earshot , one saying to the other “what’s this WTO thing” and the other saying he didn’t even know what WTO was, but the SCENE was cool and maybe they’d get a chance to break some shit

    3. Well, Rand did seem to like to look down on everyone that disagreed with her on even the tiniest point as falling somewhere in between foolish and evil incarnate. I can see how that might appeal to a budding progressive.

  15. “The Romney/Libertarian/Rand world of no public healthcare, eliminating pell grant, no environmental or labor laws will only lead to a violent revolution”

    wtf?

    the romney world and the libertarian world have VERY little in common. romney is no more libetarian than obama.

    there is no such thing as a romney/libertarian world. they OPPOSE each other. they don’t compliment each other.

    i really can’t believe you made this statement. it’s just nonsensical.

    saying , for example, a “ron paul/libertarian/rand” world would at least make sense. while paul certainly is not just a rand spouting objectivist (thank god), he certainly has enough in common with libertarianism and objectivism/randism for that statement to make SENSE

  16. “To say ‘I love you,’ one must first know how to say the ‘I.’ “

    Does anyone really have a problem with this?

    Total self-interest is perfectly natural, and even more ruthless in nature than Rand would tolerate in society. She gives primacy to the organism, and nature gives it to the unthinking gene.

    And it is with an eye to total self-interest that people should support mixed economies. All good liberal/interventionist policy is aimed at improving society at large, meaning the lives of all people, and even cash handouts to the poor are justifiable on these grounds.

    Our genes make us socially concerned for selfish reasons. The redistributive components of a modern civilization are just high-order technologies that manifest our self-interested social nature in a modern way.

    And you can worship yourself all you want. You’re delusional to expect the rest of the world to do it too.

    1. Ayn Rand would reply with something like “society at large” is not a metaphysical entity, it is a man made entity. Each person has a right to his own life, and therefore to his own mind, because without a mind his existence becomes impossible.
      What she fought most against in ethics was the concept of duty, which she believed lead to altruism. She advocated an ethics of causality “Take what you want and pay for it”, and scorned Kant’s deontological (duty centered) ethics.

    2. I can’t say it’s very self-interested if it drives the country into bankruptcy and economic collapse.

      The welfare state just isn’t sustainable in the long term. The existence of even voluntary charitable support critically depends upon people being taught that it isn’t guarenteed, that it is temporary and limited, and they will have to pull their own weight eventually. Almost every society teaches this anyway. But since we evolved to a large centralized state we’ve taken it out of the hands of local communities and administered it through a centralize bureucracy, this has been lost.

      1. You’re talking about a work ethic. But in our society, most people don’t work for self-fulfillment, but to take the scraps left over after they’ve served to further enrich an economic elite. There are valid criticisms of the work ethic.

        When I talk about the self-interestedness of supporting a welfare state, I mean that it is more efficient than the alternative. Capitalism is what isn’t sustainable in its absence. You have to have a somewhat broad distribution of wealth in a society for it to be sustainable. Otherwise you get concentration then collapse.

  17. I’ve been making exactly the same point recently.
    In The Fountainhead, Roark blows up a building he designed because the design changes made by others violate the integrity of his vision. That’s hardly what one would consider a “selfish” action if your definition of “selfishness” is all about money.

    The truth is, Rand ehorted people to live according to their own values, goals, beliefs, and ideals. In We the Living, she even portrays a communist secret service officer in a positive light, for his idealism even as the system he is supporting collapses into corruption. Of course this character eventually sees the light and renounces communism, but even when he’s a die-hard communist, you can see that he is still portrayed as an admirable person – because his genuine belief in communism makes him less corruptible.

  18. Cathy: Thank you for your insightful article (once again!) on Ayn Rand and her influence. You mention the unusual appeal of Rand to adolescents and young adults and that has been my experience to a “T”. I read Rand in my early 20s before I had firm ideas about much of anything and, for over 40 years have tried to spread the word to my aging adult friends without much success. Sadly, the conclusion I have come to is that you have to get them “before they grow teeth”. People who have invested any time at all in the boiler pot of traditional left-right politics are generally just too blind or intellectually lazy to consider alternatives. So I guess that means that our only hope is indeed the younger generation, which does not bode well for America over the next decade when it need help the most!

  19. I could almost believe that Ellsworth Toohey was real, based on how the left has – somehow – grouped itself around this one point

    Read the op-eds for most big city dailies — plenty of Ellsworth Toohey clones out there.

  20. Thank you, Cathy Young. May I paste this piece in its entirety into comment sections across the blogosphere, NEXT time Ms. Rand’s name is in the news, as it was this past week?

    Man, those lefties hate Rand. The most cockamamie comments insist that she’s “authoritarian”.

    And, If I have to read that “…the other involves Orcs” joke again, I’ll scream.

    1. To be more specific, many Rand-bashers suggest that the Rand’s political philosophy is “authoritarian”.

  21. One thing I never get about attacks on Rand is the condemnations of her affair with Nathaniel Brandon.

    Her husband knew about it beforehand. Either she told him and got his permission, or she just informed him she was going to do it (don’t recall the details). Unless you are religious there’s nothing immoral about extramarital sex, and she wasn’t sneaking around behind her husbands back. So she was an independent woman, knew her own mind, and chose to pursue an affair. Shouldn’t that be admirable from a feminist perspective?

    Speaking of feminists, I don’t really understand why they have a problem with her.
    Yes, her books are kinda rapey, but aren’t we past the point today where women are always supposed to be on top in the bedroom? Whatever she wrote in her book, she was obviously a sexually liberated woman (see affair above). It’s pretty closed-minded to assume that in order to be a feminist you have to be a dominatrix or something in the bedroom.

    The only other reason has to be that Rand disagreed with the non-womens-rights related part of the feminist agenda. Namely the alliance with socialists and progressives. Obfviously this is the real reason, but it is profoundly stupid, and frankly, at base buys into a lot of sexist tropes about women being concerned with education and health. (You know, cause we’re naturally suited to be teachers and nurses, right?)

    1. Feminism was always a front for socialism.

      Anyone not convinced by ‘feminists’ openly defending Bill Clinton of groping women, rape accusations and screwing an intern should have had all doubt removed by the ‘feminists’ piling onto the misogynistic attacks on Palin in 08.

    2. Unless you are religious there’s nothing immoral about extramarital sex,

      There is if you have vowed to be faithful or exclusive. You don’t have to be “religious” to do that.

  22. I find her affair with NB as refreshingly Objectivist.

  23. “Her hostility to the idea of any moral obligation to others led her to argue that, while helping a friend in need is fine, doing so at the expense of something it hurts you to give up is ‘immoral.'”

    Where does she say this? In fact, she argues the reverse. In both Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology and the Virtue of Selfishness she argues for the morality of risking your life to save someone you love.

    And in the latter book she states that someone who buys something for himself rather than feeding a sick friend “has no business calling himself a friend.”

  24. Roark blew up a building that was not his.

    He destroyed what would be 100s of millions of dollars, in modern count, of investment by capital and effort by labor simply because his vision wasn’t being realized. Oh boo-fucking-hoo. For that you kill the night watchmen?

    He should have gone to jail, and, in the real world, or a world with justice, he would have gone. In the modern world he would have been called a terrorist and denied most of his rights.

    But at least the author of this piece has this to say:

    Rand made little allowance for the fact that some people cannot help themselves through no fault of theirs, or that much individual achievement is enabled by support networks.

    If only more libertarians recognized it. You didn’t build that road. You didn’t build the internet you are enjoying now.

    1. Fuck off, you commie nitwit.

      1. Well, you didn’t.

    2. For that you kill the night watchmen?

      You never even read the book, did you? There were no “night watchmen” in the buildings at the time they were destroyed.

      1. A minor quibble. What legal claim did Roark have to the development? If he wanted to sue Keating for breach of contract then fine but that’s not what happened.

  25. HogWash! I read Ayn Rand just last year for the FIRST TIME and I din’t come across with her “worshipping the rich” at all.

    I saw the book as a warning for just a time as this! A time when our own DEar Leader wants to put everything under the control of Big Bro’ Gov!!

    Thats all I saw.

    Romney/Ryan 2012

  26. I am not a “liberal” in the empty, fill-in-whatever-you-want sense that that term now fulfills in political discussion. Rand, had she lived, might have invoked her essay on the tactic of the Smear to describe the emptiness of the modern term which people now toss about without a moment’s thought.

    I resent the presumption about what people have or have not read regarding Rand. I resent the assumption that “liberals” are merely ignorant about Rand. That’s a load of crap. If this were a bunch of “liberals” running down “conservatives” I’d say the same to them: labeling other Americans like this is detrimental to the political health of the Republic! Put forward your best case for what “should be and what should not”. Stop wasting your time with self-serving “liberal” bashing that assumes the ignorance of your opposition. Just using the term as you do reveals profound ignorance about our historical development as a liberal society.

    Lastly – OP the “myth” of individual autonomy did not “give us freedom and human rights”. Crack open some primary sources. Read *all* of the essays in Cato’s letters. Read *all* of “Common Sense.” The founding generation balanced individualism with the concept of “commonwealth” and were far more able to grasp the importance of individualism in a social context than most Americans seem able to do at present.

  27. All I see in this thread are a bunch of Ayn Rand snobs calling liberals names. Congratulations, you’ve accomplished Ayn’s visions of the dialectic, comprised entirely of ad hominem and lacking any coherent or logical structuring.

    This is my rebuttal to Ayn’s entire philosophy, if you would even call inconsistent aphorisms philosophical! “Look, the people you are after are the people you depend on. We cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances. We guard you while you sleep. Do not fuck with us!”

  28. For all we know she landed on our shores because the Communists saw her destructive potential as a whisperer of sweet nothings to the appalling.

  29. “Self-styled”? What does that even mean? Perhaps you meant “self-described”? Either way, if others see you as a philosopher, doesn’t that negate the “self-styled” attribute?

  30. Altruism is a characteristic of individuals and cannot be a characteristic of governments–everything a government does to preferentially benefit some is done at the expense of others. That’s not altruism.

    The pernicious fallacy of the Left is that it’s acceptable to punish some in order to benefit others. A truly just government treats everyone equally.

    1. A truly just government, then, cannot recognize any crime, as it would mean treating criminals differently from non-criminals for the benefit of the latter.

      1. Not true. When you commit force or fraud against others, you give up your rights. Stealing from some (in the form of taxes) in order to punish criminals is unjust. But the punishment of criminals in and of itself is perfectly just.

        1. a “truly just” government cannot exist, any more than a “truly square” circle.

          If an organization is offering a service in a competitive environment in which I am free to choose my provider, then it’s just a business.

          If an organization is imposing it’s “service” upon me, and forcibly preventing others from offering alternatives, then it is a violent gang.

          To put it more simply: If it’s not forced, it’s not government; and if it’s forced, it’s not just.

          1. But nobody wants to live in anarchy, and to impose anarchy on people would be unjust, so where does that leave us?

    2. It is a pernicious fallacy of the so-called “Right” that taxation is a punishment. Your taxes can be high, or low, but the reason for their existence is not punishment.

      Neither would it make any sense for a government to “treat *everyone* equally” under all circumstances. Sometimes fairness is served by recognizing meaningful distinctions. We do not hold juveniles to the same legal standards as adults. We do not hold the mentally incompetent to the same standards as the mentally competent. We recognize preferences for those who have served in the armed forces. We permanently sanction convicted felons who have otherwise served their term of incarceration.

      All incarceration is based on the concept of punishing those who engage in behavior designated as criminal (some) in order to benefit others.

      While it is debatable whether any given policy of government is good or ill, there are few who argue their adoption or continuation as a matter of altruism. Greater good and social utility are more typical rhetorical approaches.

      1. You’re quite right, taxation is not punishment. Its the forcible seizure of my property. To put it more simply, it’s theft.

        1. Rubbish! You don’t live in a dictatorship. You live in a society with an elected representative government. If you want to alter your taxation then do so by means of the ballot box and through the use of reasoned argument.

          Calling taxation “simply theft” is to deny that there is any valid function of government whatsoever. It is an appeal to emotions, not reason. What is arguable are what the proper role and limits of government should be. Taking “taxation is theft” as your starting point is an attempt to hijack a meaningful political discourse for one that doesn’t get past the amygdala.

  31. This is one of the first mainstream articles about Ayn Rand that I’ve found to be coherent. Not entirely correct, mind you, but “coherent” is a good first step.

    The one particular part I disagree with is this: “Her hostility to the idea of any moral obligation to others led her to argue that, while helping a friend in need is fine, doing so at the expense of something it hurts you to give up is ‘immoral.'”

    That’s not true. The idea she’s referring to comes from Galt’s speech. The thrust of the argument was that if you value helping your friend more than the time, money, and/or possessions you donate to him, then there is no sacrifice involved because you got a greater value in turn for giving up a lesser one. But if you value your time/property more than helping your friend, then being forced to give up those things is a violation of your rights. It’s the FORCE in that case that’s immoral, not the helping of your friend.

    1. The OP is substantially correct. The concept of a moral obligation is a complex one for Rand. If a moral obligation is the product of a conscious act of reason – it’s acceptable. If it is externally derived it is immoral regardless of whether force is involved or not. It’s an act of intellectual self-destruction by default.

      Giving up something you value because you’ve been led to believe it is your moral obligation was as odious to Rand as someone holding a gun to your head and imposing their choice on you.

  32. It is a fine article for the Boston Globe…Here…?..eh.
    Ayn did not have hostility toward the idea of individuals having moral obligation for others. Its just a silly thing to say, and then to use it as the basis of the assertion that her individualsm is too radical…I believe some actual evidence is required. (What the hell does it mean to be “too radical” anyway?)
    The author’s choice to use the words “hordes” and “followers” is more than unfortunate, it seems intended to insult. I mean, who wants to be a follower or a member of a horde? Maybe next time you write about Ayn Rand you could use “her admirers are legion”…?

  33. In The Fountainhead, Rand’s first bestseller http://www.maillotfr.com/maill…..22_35.html (and best novel), the hero, architect Howard Roark, describes “the man whose sole aim is to make money” as a variety of “the second-hander” who lives through others, seeking only to impress with his wealth. Roark himself turns down lucrative jobs rather than sacrifice his artistic integrity, at one point finding himself penniless.

  34. In the early stages of a relationship with a guy 25 years my junior (I am 45, he is 20), when we met on cougar dating site,Cougarkissing//c0’m I have to say that the comment about these guys unable to get with a girl their own age has to be way off. My man is very sexy, hot and popular and I’m amazed that he wants to be with me?but also believe he does. My main concern is not other people but my family of 3 children age 10 to 17, do any others have stories of “what the family thinks”?DFGSED

  35. As a libertarian, I just find Ayn Rand to be a lousy writer. I wish she wasn’t a figurehead for the libertarian movement.

    1. All the wishing in the world won’t make it so. She is not the figurehead…She is more like the fountainhead. She is the originator of the metaphysics and epistemology that give rise to the ethics that offer your political views the support they need to survive and prosper.

  36. Her hostility to the idea of any moral obligation to others led her to argue that, while helping a friend in need is fine, doing so at the expense of something it hurts you to give up is “immoral.” In her fiction, even private charity as a vocation is despised; so, mostly, is family. Rand made little allowance for the fact that some people cannot help themselves through no fault of theirs, or that much individual achievement is enabled by support networks.

    1. It wasn’t her “hostility” it was her conclusion. Also, she would never say that if something “hurts” you…The reality is this – If someone or something “asks” more of you than they / it are worth to you and you see it that way yet move forward to trade a greater value for a lesser one, that’s immoral / a bad idea. She did not despise charity as a vocation, she just didn’t understand it. The idea was totaly foreign to her. I believe that if you were efficaciously administering a charity and getting meaningful results (were actually helping people) Ayn would give you a moral thumbs up. What about her stated ethics would lead you conclude otherwise?

  37. “Rand made little allowance for the fact that some people cannot help themselves through no fault of theirs, or that much individual achievement is enabled by support networks.”

    This exactly what liberals “get” about Rand, that she herself did not.

    Her entire conceit all boils away to vapor because human cooperation isn’t a suicidal impulse. It’s enlightened self interest. We give aid, cooperate, and communicate, not based on greed or utter selflessness, but on an understanding that we all swim in the same bowl, whether we have aquiline features and formulas for special steel, or sweep out the toilets.

    Rand locked onto a disingenuous, *irrational* concept, and sold it to hordes of shallow thinkers itching to validate an unearned sense of superiority.

    It’s hilarious seeing her obvious little intellectual blind alley even discussed in the same context as Nietzsche. She thought she was in agreement with real philosophy, because, like Otto in A Fish Called Wanda, she just didn’t understand it.

    It’s almost too simple to even state, but even the poster knows it. Thus the attempt to dispose of the painfully obvious truth as swiftly and glibly as possible at the top of the piece.

    Liberals understand just fine.

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