Yeeeah, Brian Doherty had a pretty good take on the article.
Good god, 500k copies a year?Christopher Hayes of The Nation recently recalled one of his first days in high school, when he met a tall, geeky kid named Phil Kerpen, who asked him, "Have you ever read Ayn Rand?" Kerpen is now the director of policy for the conservative lobby Americans for Prosperity and an occasional right-wing talking head on cable television. He represents a now-familiar type. The young, especially young men, thrill to Rand's black-and-white ethics and her veneration of the alienated outsider, shunned by a world that does not understand his gifts. (It is one of the ironies, and the attractions, of Rand's capitalists that they are depicted as heroes of alienation.) Her novels tend to strike their readers with the power of revelation, and they are read less like fiction and more like self-help literature, like spiritual guidance. Again and again, readers would write Rand to tell her that their encounter with her work felt like having their eyes open for the first time in their lives. "For over half a century," writes Jennifer Burns in her new biography of this strange and rather sinister figure, "Rand has been the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right."
The likes of Gale Norton, George Gilder, Charles Murray, and many others have cited Rand as an influence. Rand acolytes such as Alan Greenspan and Martin Anderson have held important positions in Republican politics. "What she did--through long discussions and lots of arguments into the night--was to make me think why capitalism is not only efficient and practical, but also moral," attested Greenspan. In 1987, The New York Times called Rand the "novelist laureate" of the Reagan administration. Reagan's nominee for commerce secretary, C. William Verity Jr., kept a passage from Atlas Shrugged on his desk, including the line "How well you do your work is the only measure of human value."
QT3: We keep posting a comic until it becomes funny and it proves our point (which is never)
Oh reason.com, you never fail to deliver. Rand believed the untermensch deserved to keep all of their laughably small labors! Which apparently are "uncoerced", which is only applied to only rich people in Rand-world.
Edit: And isn't a bit rich for a libertarian to claim that the evidence-based criticisms don't apply because Rand's claim was a moral first-principles claim? Next up: why evidence-based criticism of religious-justified discrimination against homosexuals is a-ok, because it's a moral claim!
Last edited by Jason McCullough; 09-14-2009 at 10:11 PM.
Rand sprinkles in just enough good thoughts to make her seem believable. For example, she talks about Reason as the key to human survival (Plato/Aristotle) and how the lazy leech off the working (umm...everyone). Work hard and you get to rule the world! Work and talent equals automatic success. Thus, if you do not have success, you must be lazy or worthless in some critical way. You just suck, and it's now your job to serve those who don't; of course, you won't do that, because you are worthless and lazy.
Whenever students come to me about how they can get more Rand, I point them to
Emerson instead. You want self-reliance? Great! Learn about it from someone who isn't totally embittered and naive.
OTOH, I think Rand gets a far worse rap than she deserves, since she does at least sprinkle in some truth. It's not utter crap. It's just filled with overly simplistic false dilemmas of egoism vs. self-sacrifice.
I like how the first paragraph cites the fact that a conservative who once read a book in high school to one-dimensionally explain his politics (and, by extension, American conservatism at large) over the course of the next three decades. You might as well plot out my entire intellectual life by my freshman year enthusiasm for Catcher in the Rye.
The bottom line is liberals are more obsessed with vilifying Rand and blaming her books on all political and philosophical oppositions that disagree with theirs than conservatives are of championing her.
I did no such thing. But if I had, that would have been a snarky retort!
I hope to one day be famous enough to have my entire body of work boiled down to my childhood love of the Berenstain Bears.
I like how he conflates Randian idiots with conservatives. That made my day.
Sure I did. That was college. I also knew people who believed tomatoes screamed when they were sliced, and girls named "Moonbeam" who smeared their menstrual fluid on tree bark to demonstrate their oneness with nature. College kids are idiots, but I don't conflate the opinions of teenagers with adult political movements.
I agree. In both cases, they are almost entirely the product of rote vilification of opposing beliefs, dismissing people who disagree with you as a universal group of fools due to a handful of past acquaintances of extreme degrees of jackassery that annoyed you.Originally Posted by Kraaze
I don't like to do that. I'm a liberal, but I prefer not to think of conservatives and libertarians as Objectivist morons, not only because it isn't true but because that belief hobbles my own ability to evolve my political opinions. Likewise, I am irritated by the gleeful ignorance of Conservatives who do likewise. Dismissing your ideological opponents as simple morons is too easy, and makes you one.
For the record, I invite anyone who needs a take on who talks about Rand more to do a search for her name on Qt3, which never overlooks a chance to screech about her and call out her philosophies as fallacious (which they are). How many earnest and unqualified Objectivist defenses will you find in Qt3's archives? Not many, I reckon. Ayn Rand's name is almost never mentioned on these forums without critique ranging from the knee-jerk to the intellectually cogent.
Granted, part of that is because Qt3 is largely left, and being on the left is inherently opposed to the theories of Objectivism. But it's actually bigger than that, because almost no one is an Objectivist out of college -- that bastion of extreme and hopeless political philosophies -- and that even those who would defend Rand would do so guardedly and with caveats up the stinker. There are very few adult Objectivists, and Rand is a bogeyman to more people than she's a Messiah, in my experience.
Me? I find Ayn Rand to be far more offensive as a writer than she ever was as a philosopher.
Extreme Sports with the Berenstain Bears for the Game Boy Color was one of the more inexplicable licensing decisions in gaming history.
I'm sorry, is this equal time for cults here? You also won't find much in defense of Scientologists or LaRoucheites.How many earnest and unqualified Objectivist defenses will you find in Qt3's archives?