|Great and terrible|
|On our shelf:|
“”Ayn Rand really got away with convincing 50 years of pompous but intellectually-insecure high school students that a lack of compassion was the same thing as intelligence
“”There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.
“”What are your masses but mud to be ground under foot, fuel to be burned for those who deserve it? What is the people but millions of puny, shriveled, helpless souls that have no thoughts of their own, no dreams of their own, no will of their own, who eat and sleep and chew helplessly the words others put into their mildewed brains?… I know no worse injustice than justice for all. Because men are not born equal and I don’t see why one should want to make them equal. And because I loathe most of them.
|—Ayn Rand, We the Living (first edition)|
Ayn Rand (1905–1982), born Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, was a Russian-American novelist, screenwriter and playwright. She is the author of vast doorstop-sized tomes like Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, among other thick, boring books espousing libertarian themes and ideology. She empowered herself by trying to set the Women's movement back 50 years.
Rand claimed to be a philosopher, though she preferred the title "Objectivist." Objectivism is a political movement based on Rand's teachings. In actual fact, her simplistic versions of philosophy were misunderstandings of Aristotelian metaphysical notions formulated thousands of years ago. Whether that makes it a philosophy ("Look, it's got an '-ism' at the end!") or just an excuse for being greedy, ignorant, and selfish is, ironically, subjective.
If it hadn't appealed to so many 1950s and 1960s sci-fi fans, maybe her pernicious views wouldn't have ended up getting filtered to "ethically-challenged" people in tech who want to delete all our jobs (and, to be fair, into the American movie business as well).
Rand was born in St. Petersburg, which would later become Petrograd, then Leningrad and then finally St. Petersburg again.
When the Bolsheviks took power, it wasn't so much that they merely took her money, but that they took everything from her family; their business and home were confiscated (by Lenin of all people), and they nearly starved to death. She's fairly justified in her hatred of communism, given that it nearly killed her. Some good did arise from Lenin's revolution, as universities were finally opened to women for the first time, but Rand's bourgeois past nearly prevented her from completing her studies at Petrograd State University. Her family's wealth had supposedly been acquired by virtue of the serf system, which was one of the more substantial precipitators of communism in Russia in the first place. Some claim the family achieved their wealth legitimately, via her father's pharmacy; it's difficult to trace whether or not they benefited directly from serfdom. She eventually rustled up a visa to leave the country, but was unable to convince her family to leave with her. Somewhere between leaving the USSR and reaching the United States is when she came up with the name Ayn Rand; Ayn seems to have somehow been connected to a Finnish name, and Rand was most likely her way of shortening her given surname Rosenbaum (contrary to some popular rumors, she did not choose Rand based on the brand of typewriter she used).
Once her shoes hit American pavement in 1926, she began a short career as a successful screenwriter. Philosophical aspirations, novels, and a manifesto of sorts (For The New Intellectual) soon followed. Her work champions a pseudo-philosophy she labels "Objectivism," glorifies the preeminence of the individual's self-serving whim, condemns inhabitants of Africa and Asia as "savages", derides the failure of the modern "intellectual" to wholeheartedly endorse laissez-faire capitalism, disastrously misunderstands the meaning of the term "altruism", and, what is more, paints in dripping shades of unintended irony a portrait of an envisaged utopia not far removed from the authoritarian dystopia she fled in her youth. How her work appeared consistent inside her head is anyone's guess.
Not a cult
Talk show host Dick Cavett once commented on why he turned down an interview with Ayn Rand on his show:
“”She was supposed to be on my show; I was kind of sorry she wasn’t, because I was kind of laying for her. I did not succumb, as a kid, to being enthused by Ayn Rand, and that sense of power, as every kid was at one time until they outgrew it. The old bag sent over a list of fifteen conditions for appearing with me, or for appearing with anyone, I guess. One of them was, “There will be no disagreeing with Ms. Rand’s philosophy"... I wrote at the bottom of the list, to be sent back to her, “There will be no Ms. Rand, either.”
Rand had an acknowledged open relationship with husband Frank O'Connor, and with her closest "pupil," Nathaniel Branden, from 1955 into the 1960s. This Canadian psychotherapist is best known today as the father of the self-esteem movement. What isn't so well known about his seminal book about his theories, The Psychology of Self-Esteem (1969), is that many of the chapters in the book are merely fleshed-out versions of columns that Branden had written for Rand's newsletter over the previous 18 years, although he said as much in his autobiography. She justified her affair with nonsense, and the stress of it steadily turned Frank into an alcoholic, but when Branden was caught sleeping with a model and used the same justification, she beat the shit out of him, shut down her schools (because this guy funded it), and generally went off the deep end. She allegedly said, "If you have an ounce of moral decency, you'll be impotent for the rest of your life!" She then excommunicated him from the Objectivist movement.
Branden later apologized for his part in "contributing to that dreadful atmosphere of intellectual repressiveness that pervades the Objectivist movement." Mens rea, mens rea.
“”I believe Ayn Rand's first love poem went: Roses are red/violets are blue/finish this poem yourself/you dependent parasite
While working as a screenwriter, Rand alerted her supervisors to subtle pro-Soviet messages being snuck into mass entertainment. The first public cause to which Rand donated her own money was the state of Israel.
For all her iconoclasm, her philosophy leaves intact the entire edifice of Protestant morality, but lops the head (God) off and calls it an exercise in rationality. Her opinions on art, homosexuality, gender, marriage, etc. were pretty much equivalent to Phyllis Schlafly's ...minus her pro-choice stance and, despite her hatred of homosexuality, calling for it to be completely legal. Rand, an atheist, took a dislike to the religious right and its grinning avatar, Ronald Reagan.
She was not a force for feminism, either. Her interview with Phil Donahue is a classic: she gets asked point-blank if she would ever vote for a female president, and she straightforwardly answers that she would not, under any circumstances. The sexism lessened a bit over the years, as shown in "About a Woman President", but she still concluded that women are not fit for it because of how evolution has shaped human species.
While we're on that topic, Rand had a really odd fixation with women's bodies and overtly feminine appearance, hence the boy haircuts. She herself was only 5'2", and even Nathaniel Branden described her as "squat", plus she insisted on keeping a page boy haircut and smoking absolutely wrecked her teeth. In her earlier novels, whenever she wants to shorthand that a woman is average and dumb and a commie she just writes that she has big tits. Or if she wants to shorthand that a man is average and dumb and a commie she writes that his wife has big tits. When a noted economist relayed through a third party that she "reasoned like a man", she replied "Really?! He said those exact words?" And walked around the rest of the day with the biggest shit-eating grin on her face.
Rand fiercely opposed all types of Social Security, including Medicare, of which she and her husband were willing, if at first grudging, recipients. She grumbled out an explanation for this later, but it's still dumb.
“”Although Objectivism has never incorporated itself as a religion under American law (Rand was an eloquent atheist), its theological reclusiveness as regards opposing argument, and the Star Chamber arbitrariness of its internal workings during its pomp some decades ago, mark this belief as unmistakably analogous to Scientology in general.
|—The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction|
While Rand considered her philosophies to be so well-reasoned as to be completely objective (and even called her philosophy Objectivism), it is generally agreed that what she really created was a highly moralistic personality cult, which was later complete with shunning of dissenters and highly screwed-up sexual politics. Rand summed up her philosophy with the following principles:
- Metaphysics: Objective reality
- Epistemology: Reason
- Ethics: Self-interest
- Politics: Laissez-faire capitalism
- Aesthetics: Whatever sort of art Ayn Rand happened to like. Does not include Monet.
...and with the one-liner "To live, man must hold three things as the supreme and ruling values of his life: Reason, Purpose, Self-esteem."
Detractors feel that Rand considered all those properties to be perfectly expressed in herself. Whatever the case may be, Objectivism is essentially libertarianism with hangups, usually disguised as pseudologic. Not every Objectivist is a Rand fanatic, but those that are not are shunned by the mainstream Objectivist movement led by Leonard Peikoff's Ayn Rand Institute (ARI).
Most philosophers today would dispute Randroid claims that Rand is a philosopher of any importance. The reason is simple: neither Rand's metaphysics nor her epistemology answer many of the probing questions that philosophers might demand of it. Rand's metaphysics boil down to platitudinous pieties: "Existence exists," "Existence is identity," that consciousness is relational, nothing exists without having some properties and the law of identity applies ("A is A"). These are all perfectly fine positions to which there are no fundamental objections, but they don't seem to go far enough to satisfy the inquiries of even the most minimally trained student: for instance, Rand's view seems to be incompatible with the traditional Aristotelian substance-attribute view of the relationship between particulars and properties. Similarly, 'identity' as it is used by Rand seems to shift meanings often - between the sort of meaning one might use when describing Leibniz's law of the identity of indiscernibles and the day-to-day meaning ('my identity' etc.).
Similarly, for Rand's epistemology — she claims that "reason" is the foundation. Despite the label, Rand's epistemology is empiricist. The sort of questions which exercise contemporary epistemologists (to pick a few: resolving Gettier problems, weighing up foundationalism and coherentism as a response to the Agrippan trilemma, the closure principle) are given scant attention in Rand.
Rand claims that all of the elements of her philosophy run together — being an Objectivist means accepting all of the five components of the philosophy. Quite what in the perfectly acceptable, if a little unoriginal, metaphysics and epistemology (reality is all there is, don't bother with belief) necessitates acceptance of the ethics and political philosophy, or indeed the aesthetic worship of railway tycoons and large, phallic buildings, is never explained. The existence of many millions of non-Objectivists who hold without too much of a mental struggle either to a broadly naturalistic metaphysics and epistemology without the Randian ethic, or to a Randian or libertarian ethic and a non-naturalistic metaphysics (perhaps some kind of religion, orthodox or New Agey), seems to suggest that the two halves of Rand's philosophy aren't bound by necessity. This seems rather obvious to anyone with a brain, but does bear repeating for the Randroids, who seem to think that anyone objecting to their politics is automatically rejecting all components of their worldview.
As many of Rand's followers have demonstrated, taking the Objectivist philosophy to its logical conclusions often leads to conflicts with mainstream science.
What an Übermensch!
In the late 1920s, Ayn became interested in murderer and fraud William Edward Hickman, who was known for kidnapping and brutally dismembering a 12-year-old girl. Rand wrote working notes for a fiction novel called The Little Street in which she based the main character Danny Renahan, not on Hickman himself, but on the particular traits which Hickman 'suggested to me' (describing Hickman himself as a purposeless degenerate) and saying "Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should,” and “[He had] no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel ‘other people.’” In other words, he was a psychopath. Howard Roark, the "hero" of her later novel, The Fountainhead, was described in a similar manner. Rand never bothered completing the novel however, becoming disillusioned with Nietzsche, whom she later described as "a mystic" and "an irrationalist", and criticising him for having made "a saint out of Attila". The character of Wayne Gale in her first bestselling novel, The Fountainhead was created specifically as a refutation of Nietszche. The book was adapted into a film starring Gary Cooper as the leader character, Howard Roark, and the film was to be banned in Nazi Germany and Mussolini's Italy due to its anti-fascist themes.
It is the philosophy of the criminally insane (Rules do not apply to me); you might not agree with the underlying rule system, but there is no existential debate about it. The government is real, society is real and it is only a dogmatic delusion to bother questioning this fact.
Here's a fun game you can play at home with Rand's Journals: Child Murderer or Hero?
- a) "[he] has learned long ago, with his first consciousness, two things which dominate his entire attitude toward life: his own superiority and the utter worthlessness of the world."
- b) "What are your masses [of humanity] but mud to be ground underfoot, fuel to be burned for those who deserve it?"
- c) "It is the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul."
- d) "He had a brilliant mind, a romantic, adventurous, impatient soul and a straight, uncompromising, proud character."
ANSWER KEY[note 1]
If you got more than two right, congratulations, you're now ready to advance to Austrian Economics 201 - Institutionalizing Your Own Sociopathy.
Her philosophy is sort of a photonegative of Leninism. If Lenin believed that capitalist exploitation of the farmers and workers of the world is killing them, then Rand says that capitalists producing value is the only thing keeping the farmers and workers of the world alive. If the Communist ideal is collective ownership, then Rand is going to say that there is no such thing as society, only individuals. It's possible Ayn herself was aware of this: in an equivalent of Lenin, Galt spends an exhaustive 12 years hiding from the police and building his spy network.
Here's the funny thing, though: in Atlas Shrugged you have a small group of men in charge of the whole economy. They are above the law, they can even kill those who stand in their way so long, as the phrase goes, as the trains run on time. Which, of course, is similar to how the Soviets ran their economy. She just replaced Politburo-appointed apparatchiks with strong-jawed Captains of Industry. (Like Russia is now, come to think of it.)
“”The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.
|—Howard Roark, The Fountainhead|
If there was a summary of Russian history thrown into one sentence, this would be it. The only way to maintain an empire as large as Russia since the Mongols conquered it was to appoint a "strong man" (which usually implied an extremely brutal person), even if that wasn't the end-goal. "Leninism" and "Objectivism" were bound to turn out the way they did because of cultural norms:
“”Yes, at first I was happy to be learning how to read. It seemed exciting and magical, but then I read this: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I read every last word of this garbage, and because of this piece of shit, I am never reading again.
|—Officer Barbrady from South Park|
“”This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.
“”I had to flog myself to get through Atlas Shrugged.
|—William F. Buckley|
Actually reading this novel has been compared to pushing one's head through a light-year of refrigerated saltwater taffy (sort of like a libertarian Das Kapital, but for the fact Ayn Rand hated libertarians).
To save you reading over a thousand pages of turgid prose, here is Atlas Shrugged, abridged (no "spoiler" alert is necessary):
- All the heroes are attractive geniuses, with angular jaws, and speak and act without any consideration for others (including those in their life). The villains are all unattractive, fat, sickly, with poor complexion. Basically, if you were to take two cardboard cutouts of Darth Vader and paint one white, you would have two more nuanced characters than any who appear in Atlas Shrugged.
- One of the heroes rigs a death trap in a mining town because the Mexican government confiscates his land (this hurts the workers, specifically). Another blows up an oil field, murders a legislator, and tosses a loan officer down three flights of stairs just for offering him government money.[note 2] Another man cheats on his wife and resents her for daring to believe that, just because he married her, she can demand his time or emotional energy (she criticizes him for working instead of attending a family dinner he had promised to attend beforehand, and is met with sneering contempt). These actions are presented as the correct and moral things to do and Rand makes every effort to make this clear.
- In a fictional universe where markets apparently don't have boom and bust cycles, a Byronesque 'hero' named Galt invents a perpetual motion machine.
- When one of the Socialist leeches mentions the slogan "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need", Galt and his bazilllionaire 'friends' wail like babies, and flee in a huff to live in the mountains.[note 3]
- All the decent folk who helped them make those bazillions of dollars running trains, forging steel, actually working, etc., are left behind to rot.
- The world is like North Korea, but quite a bit less fun. Lucky for our heroes, their mountain hideout is a land of colorful plenty, and is hidden away from the world using a form of holographic projection that is never fully explained.
- When Ayn writes about steel mill train bridges, one notices a weird and silly passion in her prose.
- Protagonists have romance-novel sex with other capitalist boors, but can't commit due to being too busy. Aside from interrupting the flow of events every few pages with a ridiculously long speech, Rand pauses nearly as frequently for yet another sex scene (there's a good chance she was writing these portions with one hand... you're welcome).
- Ayn Rand's expy starts getting it on with what can only be described as Fabio in a rather creepy manner, but he doesn't need to ask because he knows she wants it. Because Rand has a nuanced grasp of human relationships, Fabio and Superindustrialist are totally cool with Ayn Rand cheating on them with both each other and their best friend.
- Everyone in the world is miserable except our heroes, as they're busy having fun driving their groovy trains up and down their incredible mountain hideaway far from the Gubmint. And the hideaway can't be seen from the air, so it's, like, seekrit. Planet Earth goes to hell in a hand-basket.
- The heroes pop up in public suddenly and torment the miserable hordes with interminable, boring speeches that go on and on and on for about one hundred pages and have only one point: "You need me, I don't need you, and I refuse to make bazillions of dollars anymore, so you're all fucked. Ha Ha!"
- We find one last monologue (which has never been read aloud in less than three hours) in which Rand evangelizes you, the reader, regarding her political beliefs. As if she hadn't already made them clear.
- The reader contemplates suicide after over 100 references to the word 'torture.'
- The reader falls into a deep coma. Odds of survival have been recorded at 3%-5%.
- The reader starts to read the Fountainhead.
- Repeat cycle.
- Trolls start posting the ridiculously long opening of the novel, Who is John Galt?, all over the internet. This is an actual thing, and is referred to as John Galting.
- Back to the actual book, due to carelessness from the train magnate the government manages to find John Galt and unsuccessfully tries forcing him to speak.
- This compels the government to try and torture him into surrendering his secrets, but (in one of the only fairly accurate parts) the torture process makes the torturers go apeshit and gives the other Good GuysTM a convenient chance to rescue Dear Leader.
- As they go back to their mountain hideout they see the electricity completely fall apart, then keep on going so they can have a circlejerk about how they're all Totally Awesome at successfully plunging everyone else on earth into what they consider to be almost certain death.
The moral of the tale appears to be that capitalism/self-interest will always triumph over socialism/altruism if 1) some enterprising capitalist invents a perpetual motion machine and 2) every few weeks capitalist heroes run around and break more of socialism's infrastructure. Critics condemned it for 1) its abhorrent message, 2 ) its flimsy literary style, and 3) the fact that it is an objectively bad novel. See what we did there?
For those interested, Adam Lee of Daylight Atheism has read Atlas Shrugged, so you won't have to. Don't miss the excellent "Atlas Shrugged: The Cobra Commander Dialogues", where Daylight Atheism commenter and jet-setting billionaire playboy author Sneezeguard has Cobra Commander trolling John Galt & Co. - with amusing results (“Why do I feel like I’m arguing with a small child and not the supposed smartest man in the world?”).
A number of conservatives apparently hold Atlas Shrugged in high regard, which is strange, since they've already got a foundational text that is even longer and almost as preachy. Rush Limbaugh frequently referred to it. Glenn Beck started reading it in early 2008, but in 2010, it became painfully clear that he had finished only the first few pages and didn't even get those right.[note 4] It taught the Young Cons "conservative love," but unfortunately, not how to rap.
The book probably would have been much shorter if ol' Ayn had laid off the bennies.
The Box Office Shrugged (zing!)
|“||The actors are slightly more charismatic, but they still have to sound like Vulcans as they talk about how greed is good and how fairness is illogical. If it isn't already clear as to who this movie appeals to, you see it through the cameos in the film. Sean Hannity appears as Sean Hannity talking about the free market and we even get Teller from Penn and Teller in a brief speaking role. If you think it would be interesting seeing Teller talk, it's not. I found it incredibly sad to see an otherwise smart person with the glazed over look of a person who has drank [sic] all the Kool Aid and can't see this poorly produced dog shit for what it is.||”|
The book's film adaptation languished in Hollywood development hell for decades, at one point attracting Angelina Jolie, before being made at an obviously low budget in 2011. The filmmakers, not appreciating just how awful the book is, had the audacity to divide it into a trilogy. Part 1 was released in 2011, playing to small audiences in a small number of theaters; Part 2 followed in 2012, to coincide with the US election, and fared even less well; Part 3 came in September 2014. The movies have been predictably popular with hardcore Randroids, panned by film critics, and were either ignored or went unnoticed by the wider public. That they're so long, so god-awful boring, and so utterly insignificant probably diminishes any real need to dissect the blatant anti-Semitism and sexism on screen.
Don't believe us? Rotten Tomatoes gave Part 1 an 11% approval rating, Part 2 a 4% rating, and Part 3, released as Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt? (apparently Atlas Shrugged III didn't work), scored a solid zero.
It's ironic that the third part of the film trilogy was funded by a Kickstarter campaign. Rand wrote in The Meaning of Money, "Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force." And yet they still had the
Galt gall to film John Galt's speech on crowd-sourced money. With some straining it could be argued that this exemplified capitalism, in that people who wanted to see it happen put up their own money to make it happen... but that would require an end product worth watching, which it seems even those with a stake in it found lacking.
The Fountainhead is a poorly disguised biography of Frank Lloyd Wright[citation NOT needed]. Its message is to stick to your guns if you're a genius, and even though the roofs on your houses leak terribly or the decks bend, the fools who dissed you will eventually see the glory in your accomplishments. Books that actually admit to being about Wright are better, since they usually include photos and drawings of his work.[note 5] The book captures Rand in a transitional phase; the first parts of it show a distinct tendency towards elitism, but by the end she had a rather obvious populist streak. Rand's book was made into a movie, and this 5 second version tells you all you need to know. This was at least a bit more balanced, since the main villain Ellsworth Toohey displays a rather sharp sardonic sense of humor. Hardcore Randroids and Yankee fans (the film starred Gary Cooper) are probably the only ones who can find anything decent to say about the movie. Adam Lee of Daylight Atheism has done a critical reading of this one as well (talk about sacrifices for the common good). And to show how much times have changed, the idea of Dominique divorcing was too scandalous for a movie, so with Rand's consent they simply had her husband Gail Wynand blow his brains out with a revolver; that way she could happily marry Roark without being a gasp divorcée.
In The Fountainhead, Rand displays a disturbing point of view on the subject of consent. Eyes wide in terror, struggling to get away, and biting him hard enough to draw blood are apparently signs that she secretly wants it. In which case, of course, it wouldn't actually be rape, though the man is only aware of this due to near-telepathy (not something you want to count on). Given that most of the sex scenes in Rand's work tends to involve some violence with the woman being rather unsure about whether she actually wants to have sex, it is almost a certainty that Rand was incorporating her own personal fetish.
Written before Objectivism was fully fleshed out, and only 80% as preachy as her later works, Anthem tells the tale of an individual suffering under the yoke of his oppressors in a collectivist society. It's slightly hard to read because the main character refers to himself and pretty much everyone else with plural pronouns for nearly the entire book. The book ends with a long, philosophical speech from the main character, much like (though much shorter than) John Galt's in Atlas Shrugged.
Of course, many versed in Russian literature will tell you that Anthem is a direct ripoff of the first great dystopia, Yevgeny Zamyatin's We (but then, so is Nineteen Eighty-Four to a much lesser extent). It also inspired the Rush album 2112, which drummer and lyricist Neil Peart credited in the original liner notes to "the genus of Ayn Rand,"[note 6]; it is worth noting that later in his life Peart said that although Rand's ideas were of some use at the time, he stated, "the extent of my influence by the writings of Ayn Rand should not be overstated. I am no one's disciple."
We the Living
Rand's first published work is a semi-autobiographical (though heavily fictionalized) novel taking place in early Soviet Russia, about the love between the daughter of an ex-capitalist and a Communist functionary with the Communist dictatorship as backdrop. In stark contrast to contemporary musings about the Soviet Union (which swept up otherwise eminently reasonable people like Helen Keller), that were for the most part hopelessly idealistic about the Red Star Rising, it portrayed the communist regime as brutally repressive and murderous psychopaths; while it ignores the admittedly few good things achieved in those early years, her version turned out to be markedly closer to reality.
The book spawned a movie duology produced in Fascist Italy which was then banned because the Fascist bigwigs realized that if a movie attacked a Communist dictatorship, it could be used to attack all dictatorships. A single-movie version of this is available and was being co-edited by Rand around the time she died.
Generally, the work of Ms. Rand is hugely enjoyed by people with the literary sensitivities of 11-year-olds who imagine they have fierce political sophistication. These people, due to their often-slavish devotion to Objectivist principles, are often called Randroids.
Alan Greenspan is known to be one. That his tenure as Chairman of the Fed coincided with one of the largest economic crashes in recent history is probably coincidental ... probably. So is U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R - WI), who was the Speaker of the House and second-in-line to the presidency, and fortunately lost when he ran for Vice President. Outsiders perceive them as greedy, callous wankers with economic fetishes. Insiders know they are greedy, callous wankers with economic fetishes.
There appears to be a trend in certain political circles to name-drop Ayn Rand and her fictional works as influences when opportunities arise to present oneself as some kind of capitalist with deep understanding of market theory. Some of these politicians seem not to know Rand's work are indeed fiction, and not expository essays, analysis or treatises of any kind. It's also the subject of some skepticism whether any of her fans have actually read Rand's overly lengthy and laborious works. In the last 20 years, Rand's books may be second, albeit a very distant second, to the Christian Bible as a source that is cited by so many, yet actually read by so few.
Enron also had its share of Ayn Rand zealots. Greg Whalley's, the de facto leader of Enron's traders, favorite book was The Fountainhead, and he and his group were hardcore believers of the gospel of the free market. They held that maximizing profits wasn't just a nice thing to do, but inherently good, and dismissed factors like emotions and personal relationships as "noneconomic". Whalley himself once programmed a robot to trade futures contracts in attempt to see if it was possible for a market to run itself, with no human control whatsoever; the almost literal Randroid ended up losing a million dollars.:214-217
Wikipedia honcho Jimbo Wales once described himself as "Objectivist to the core," and named his daughter Kira after Kira Argounova in We the Living. These facts may clarify a few things for experienced Wikipedians. In its first weeks, Wikipedia had a disproportionately detailed coverage of the works of Ayn Rand compared to the works of all other authors combined. It's odd seeing that Wikipedia can be viewed as an example of common ownership, which is some upper-stage pinko-shit (Marx says it is). Ayn Rand would be ashamed at you for not being selfish enough, Jimbo.
LaVeyan Satanism is self-described as "having far more in common with Objectivism than with any other religion or philosophy." However, it is supposedly a full religion, complete with magical, cultural, and emotional rituals which "enables the Satanist to codify his life beyond the ethical and metaphysical straightjacket which Objectivism unfortunately offers."
Her fan club is founded on the premise that "A is A." Arguing about Aesthetics in an Armchair while Assuming that "Anarchism is Anathema" is Actually the same As Activism And Action.
Comic book artist and writer Steve Ditko (artistic creator of Marvel Comics' Spider-Man) was a self-professed Objectivist, and even created the character "Mr. A" (named after "A is A") for small press run comics to promote the ideology, such as the indecipherably dogmatic and didactic book Avenging World. He also created a similar character called The Question: a detective in the DC Universe who also espouses objectivist philosophy. Thankfully he doesn't do that as much as his small press counterpart Mr. A. In the superhero deconstruction Watchmen, writer Alan Moore presented his take on The Question and Mr. A in the form of the character Rorschach, an obsessive, extremely violent, right-wing moral absolutist whose personal politics are described by Moore as being "completely mad."
A 2014 attempt to establish a "Galt's Gulch Chile", a libertopia in South America, appears to have collapsed with some of the investors accusing the developers of fraud. Huh. Who knew money would win out over principle in a libertarian society?
A Counterpunch article on Ayn Rand shows that corporations are pouring millions of dollars into popularizing her by funding the Ayn Rand Institute — on its own, the movement would have died a quiet death. This is not a surprise; the only social problem, according to Ayn, is that the government regulates business and is unfair to the wealthy. As Greenspan, a devotee of Rand, infamously stated before the 2007 global financial crisis: “It is precisely the ‘greed’ of the businessman or, more appropriately, his profit-seeking, which is the unexcelled protector of the consumer.” ARI claims to have put this money to good use: "more than 1.4 million copies of these Ayn Rand novels have been donated to 30,000 teachers in 40,000 classrooms across the United States and Canada. — we estimate that more than 3 million young people have been introduced to Ayn Rand’s books and ideas as a result of our programs to date."
You will be assimilated
Currently, her ideology is being promoted by ARI, which describes itself on its website as to be working "to introduce young people to Ayn Rand’s novels, to support scholarship and research based on her ideas, and to promote the principles of reason, rational self-interest, individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism to the widest possible audience." Because there is no shortage of irony in this article, the institute is registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
“”Her ideas didn’t really appeal to me, but they seemed to be the kind of ideas that people would espouse, people who might secretly believe themselves to be part of the elite, and not part of the excluded majority.
Basically, everyone. If you like to lie in bed a bit late on a Saturday morning, you're a hater. If you like to tip your waiter (in the US anyway), you're a hater. If you've ever paid any kind of tax without wringing your insides at the injustice of the thing, you're a hater. If you haven't created a global multinational corporation and extracted every last cent of resources, labor and profit from multiple countries, you're a hater. If you don't think children under the age of twelve can do a decent 12 hour day's work and earn their keep, you're a hater. Even if you're a raving lunatic American evangelical Christian conservative, you're a hater.
- Social Darwinism
- Ethical egoism
- Pamela Geller
- Terry Goodkind was a randroid who did for fantasy what Rand herself did for sci-fi (i.e. creating cardboard characters and simplistic plots as preachy vehicles for serving ideological viewpoints with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the forehead).
- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - Rand is a lot like Solzhenitsyn in that they both represent the hard-right reaction against the Soviet system.
- BioShock, a game that is inspired heavily by Atlas Shrugged.
- Burns, Jennifer. Goddess of the Market : Ayn Rand and the American Right. Oxford University Press, 2009. ISBN ?978-0199832484
- Ayn Rand Private Access TV Show
- Mike Wallace interview with Ayn Rand (1959)
- Ayn Rand and Slavoj Žižek read "Barbie Girl" by Aqua (Speech Synthesis) - "I’m a blonde bimbo girl in a fantasy world" in Ayn Rand's voice is.... something.
- Ayn Rand in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- A libertarian critique of Rand's thinking from Reason magazine
- The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult by Murray Rothbard - another libertarian critique of Rand, pointing out the cultish aspects of her movement.
- "Big Sister is Watching You", a 1957 review of Atlas Shrugged by Whittaker Chambers that led Rand to ban the mention of his name in her presence.
- Don't give to tsunami victims: the message of the American right's Philosopher-Queen and How Ayn Rand Became an American Icon, by Johann Hari
- If lifeguards were Randoids...
- Four part take-down of Atlas Shrugged at Buffalo Beast
- "Wealthcare" by Jon Chait
- This is completely relevant.
- Ayn Rand's Adventures in Wonderland
- Ayn Rand Worshippers Should Face Facts: Blue States Are the Providers, Red States Are the Parasites
- From Cracked: It must have happened and Four horrible schools that would make Ayn Rand proud Ken Krawchuk.
- The Bookshelf, sheeple.
- Ayn Rand Institute (If you're really that curious.)
- Adam Lee's ongoing in-depth dissection of Atlas Shrugged
- From Activate Comix: Biographical comic strip on Ayn Rand by Darryl Cunningham
- Atlas Snubbed: Promotional site for Ken Krawchuk's "pastiche parody sequel to Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, weighing in at approximately a third its size."
- Jennifer Burns. Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right. Oxford University Press, 2009.
- a) Hero, Howard Roark b) Hero, Kira c) Killer, William Edward Hickman d) Killer, William Edward Hickman
- It is ironic, in hindsight, how much Ayn Rand loved trains, considering how efforts to install HSR in her adopted country have stalled for fifty years due to her philosophy of never conceding anything, under any circumstances, to the government, even when it would improve your life and that of everyone around you. Indeed, Rand claimed a real-world inspiration for "Taggart Transcontinental" on the Great Northern Railway, built by James J. Hill "without any" public backing through buying up and linking smaller railroads—such as the Saint Paul and Pacific Railroad, originally funded with land grants and state investment.
- Incidentally, the 2007 video game BioShock has been described by some reviewers as a repudiation of Rand's conception of a meritocracy of the elite, and a similar arrangement is played for laughs by Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where Golgafrinchan society is wiped out by an unsanitized telephone after all the "unnecessary" people are loaded into an ark and sent off planet.
- Notice that John Galt, a "common great" man is cited as a "Great Industrialist" and the question asked by Beck should be "Who" rather than "Where is John Galt":
- And will be written better.
- Not genius of Ayn Rand, as is often misquoted.
- "Ephemera 2009 (7)", Kung Fu Monkey
- Doug Hill, "Beware the Silicon Valley Elites", Salon.
- Heller, Anne, C., "Ayn Rand and the World She Made", WaPo 12.27.09. The fact that she grew up Jewish in Russia during a time in which being Jewish in Russia was not great (which is pretty much any time in the history of Russia) provides more context.
- Cavett on Ayn Rand’s Demands (6 June 2014) Elon Green (archived from March 12, 2015).
- "And the Weak Shall Inherit the Wind" at Objectionism
- The One Argument Ayn Rand Couldn't Win, New York Magazine
- I believe Ayn Rand's first love poem went: Roses are red/ violets are blue/ finish this poem yourself / you dependent parasite by Stephen Colbert (8:41 PM - 23 Jan 13) Twitter (archived from June 3, 2013).
- Eulich, Whitney, "Six things you probably didn't know about Ayn Rand", Christian Science Monitor, 10.15.11.
- Bean, Alan, "Ayn Rand, the reluctant apostle of the Religious Right", 11.12.14 Baptist News Blog.
- Horsey, David, "Romney-Ryan Republicans pray to Jesus but bow to Ayn Rand", LA Times 8.21.12.
- Rand, The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought (1990), Penguin Books. Rand: "For a woman qua woman, the essence of femininity is hero-worship – the desire to look up to man...To act as the superior, the leader, virtually the ruler of all the men she deals with, would be an excruciating psychological torture."
- Ayn Rand, The Notable Names Database.
- Ayn Rand on Donahue 1979 YouTube, t=41m50s.
- Doherty, Brian, Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement, PublicAffairs 2007.
- Did Ayn Rand Receive Social Security Benefits by David Emery (Jun 23, 2017) Snopes.
- McConnell, Scott, 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand p.439, Penguin Books (2010).
- Rand, Philosophy: Who Needs It, “The Establishing of an Establishment”, p.168 (1984). Rand: " The victims do not have to add self-inflicted martyrdom to the injury done to them by others; they do not have to let the looters profit doubly, by letting them distribute the money exclusively to the parasites who clamored for it. Whenever the welfare-state laws offer them some small restitution, the victims should take it..."
- Ayn Rand Answers - Did Ayn Rand use government programs she'd advocated against using?, 9.14.12. "Ayn Rand's detractors seem to believe that if they present the fact that she received Medicare with the tone of an expose, framing it as though it was obviously hypocritical..." Uh huh.
- Rand, Ayn, The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction
- At least outside Objectivist circles, obviously.
- Skeptical author Michael Shermer, in his book Why People Believe Weird Things (2nd ed., 2002, Owl Books, ISBN 978-0805070897), devotes a whole chapter to a highly personal and scathing rebuke of Objectivism, which he had once been a believer in.
- Objectivism Essentials!
- Ayn Rand (ed. Peikoff and Harriman). The Journals of Ayn Rand, 1999.
- "Ayn Rand's Admiration of Murderer-Dismemberer William Edward Hickman" by Mark Ames
- Monbiot, George, "How Ayn Rand became the new right's version of Marx", The Guardian 3.5.12.
- Ayn Rand on libertarianism
- Here is a three-hour audio version but you may want to write a Last Will and Testament first.
- Ayn Rand Loves Torture, C.G.P. Grey
- Atlas Shrugged by Daylight Atheism (2019) OnlySky.
- Atlas Shrugged: The Cobra Commander Dialogues by Daylight Atheism (2015).
- Ayn Rand articles by Rush Limbaugh at the "Randex"
- Beck's interview with Stephen Moore, February 20, 2008
- Young Con Anthem
- Ayn Rand: Speed Addict, The Week. In all fairness, the impairment of rational thinking wasn't known to be a side effect; people will sometimes intentionally conflate amphetamines (in its time known as benzedrine) with methamphetamine, the two are chemically similar but meth is far more dangerous.
- Sidestepping studios to bring 'Atlas Shrugged' to the big screen!
- Forbes.com: "Movie Review: Why Atlas Shrugged, Part II Is a Must See Film!"
- Roger Ebert's Atlas Shrugged review
- The shrugging continues in "Atlas Shrugged Part II", Boston Globe
- Atlas Shrugged; Part I, Rotten Tomatoes
- Atlas Shrugged; Part II, Rotten Tomatoes
- Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt?, Rotten Tomatoes
- Terrible reviews will not stop Atlas Shrugged 3, Salon
- Atlas Shrugged producers turn to Kickstarter for help warning others against moochers, AV Club
- Film Review: 'Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt?', Chicago Tribune
- Here and here
- The Fountainhead by Daylight Atheism (2019) OnlySky.
- Sex and Ayn Rand, Jezebel
- See the Wikipedia article on We (novel).
- McLean, Bethany and Elkind, Peter. The Smartest Guys in the Room. Penguin Books (2004)
- Why is this man smiling?, Fast Company
- Wikipedia 10K Redux (17:21, 16 December 2010) Reagle.
- "Satanism and Objectivism", Church of Satan
- The Amazing Steve Ditko, Salon
- The Secret Origins of Steve Ditko's Mr. A
- Take a look at Avenging World for yourself! ...as well as "Mr. A."
- Alan Moore on Steve Ditko and Rorschach
- Gawker.com: archive.is, web.archive.org Ayn Rand's Capitalist Paradise Is Now a Greedy Land-Grabbing Shitstorm], Gawker
- Ayn Rand and the Tea Party's Miscast Matriarch, Counterpunch
- "Mission and Purpose", ARI
- Cooke, Jon B., Comic Book Artist #9 (August 2000), "The Charlton Comics Story: 1945-1968".
- Note Andrew Schlafly's comment that "Her followers today tend to be libertarians and predominantly unmarried men." img