“Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper’s bell of an approaching looter.” – Ayn Rand
This is a simple fact that can be verified by anyone with even minimal Google skills. She was the Albert Schweitzer of Selfishness and the Mother Theresa of Greed all rolled into one. This, naturally, makes her a hero to the Right and qualifies her for sainthood. Too bad she was an Atheist.
Her philosophy, so she said, was one of pure reason, unstained by taudry emotion. But as sane people know, one of the quirks of being a human is serving the heart as well as the mind. Ayn Rand believed you should only serve yourself. In her world, everyone was free to agree with her version of individual freedom and all others were worthy of contempt and scorn. She considered altruism immoral and selfishness a virtue.
Ayn Rand called her philosophy “Objectivism”. For the layman, “Objectivism” is Latin for “I don’t give a shit about anyone but myself.” It’s self-absorption with a bow on top. She makes the Kardashians look like Anna Karenina.
“The best aspect of Christmas, is that Christmas has been commercialized.” – Ayn Rand
Her most famous and last novel is “Atlas Shrugged”, a 1200 page Caligula of Capitalism set slightly in the future of America. In this tome, the heroes are all titans of industry and anyone else with less talent or less money is referred to as a “looter”. Aren’t these the same looters that made these titans wealthy? Thereupon is one of the biggest disconnects in the novel, that these wealthy supermen somehow attained their fortune in a vacuum.
To show the world how unappreciated they are, and how the country couldn’t get along without them, the novel’s chief hero, John Galt, organizes a strike. (how Leftist of him!) Galt somehow manages to convince the rest of the country’s titans to follow suit , causing the collapse of the entire economy and untold suffering. And this, dear readers, is the HERO. Drive safely.
Did I mention that Ayn Rand was out of her Vulcan mind?
Before she created her own idealized superman characters, let’s take a look at someone in real life who was able to win the admiration of this little sociopath: Serial Killer William Hickman.
In 1927, William Edward Hickman made national headlines when he kidnapped a 12 year old girl from her school, raped her, and dismembered her body, which he then sent to the police in pieces.
She wrote in her notebook that Hickman had “no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. A man who really stands alone, in action and in soul. Other people do not exist for him and he does not see why they should. “
She also wrote of Hickman, “He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel other people.”
As sick as all of this is, why any of this matters is because of the high philosophical perch Ayn Rand now holds in our nation’s psyche. The book has also been praised by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and her own cult. The Ayn Rand Institute distributes 400,000 copies of “Atlas Shrugged” to high schools each year, sort of like a scholastic Gideon’s Bible. According to the Library of Congress, “Atlas Shrugged” is the most influential book in America, second only to the Bible. Indeed, “Atlas Shrugged” is the Bible of Assholes. How schizophrenic is it that in this country the top two books couldn’t be more at odds with each other. One book is a tribute to greed and selfishness and the other book contains the teachings of the biggest “Collectivist” of them all, Jesus Christ.
“Collectivism means the subjugation of the individual to a group — whether to a race, class or state does not matter. Collectivism holds that man must be chained to collective action and collective thought for the sake of what is called ‘the common good’.” – Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand’s current influence can be seen directly in the form of GOP Rep Paul Ryan, the latest “Wonder Boy” to be trotted out by Republicans as the one who will save us from our debt crisis. Philosophically, Paul Ryan is Ayn Rand’s Jimmy Olsen, trumpeting her sick message to a new generation.
“The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand,” Ryan said at a D.C. gathering four years ago honoring the author of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead.”
At the Rand celebration he spoke at in 2005, Ryan invoked the central theme of Rand’s writings when he told his audience that, “Almost every fight we are involved in here on Capitol Hill … is a fight that usually comes down to one conflict–individualism versus collectivism.”
Ryan is so enthralled with Rand that he requires all of his staffers to read “Atlas Shrugged”. I’m guessing most buy the Cliff Notes. Joining Ryan in this obsession is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who requires his staffers to read Ayn Rand as well. Check, please!
Ryan has also said “Rand makes the best case for the morality of Democratic Capitalism.”
That Ryan was inspired by Rand to go into public service tells you all you need to know about his values and worldview. This is the same wunderkind who wants to privatize Social Security and turn Medicare into a voucher program. Paul Ryan is playing a philosophical game of “Dungeons & Dragons” with people’s lives. If this doesn’t scare the hell out of you, it should.
One of the central tenents of Ayn Rand’s philosophy is that “taxation is theft”. This same attitude can be seen in the Tea Party today who believe the same thing. The ultimate irony, however, is that this bunch that sees taxation as theft are the biggest looters of them all. These are the people who truly want something for nothing. They believe they exist independently of the government and that somehow roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, even firemen and police just magically manifest themselves free of charge. They are the ultimate something for nothing gang. And yet, these are the very people who brag about what rugged individuals they are and call anyone else who believes otherwise a “Statist”. It’s a sad dance.
“Love like money, has to be earned.” – Ayn Rand
To put all of this in proper historical context, we need only to look at Alan Greenspan, the “Maestro” of the American economic collapse. In the 1950’s
Greenspan was not only a big admirer of Ayn Rand but was a close friend as well as a member of her inner circle. (Some even suggest boy toy.) Greenspan and Rand remained friends until her death in 1982. He even invited her to the Oval Office to stand by his side at his swearing in when he joined the Ford administration in 1974 as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors. He should have stuck to jazz.
In “Atlas Shrugged” Ayn Rand’s hero purposely collapses the economy to show the evils of government regulation. But the joke was on her, because in reality, John Galt turned out to be Alan Greenspan, who actually collapsed the economy by applying her economic principles. Atlas Shrugged? More like Atlas Mugged.
Can we all sue Ayn Rand for whiplash?
The final nail in Ayn Rand’s irony casket came when she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1974, years after urging all of her followers to smoke because it represented “man’s victory over fire.” Rand had dismissed medical studies proving smoking caused cancer as nothing more than Communist propaganda.
Nothing says rugged individualism like nicotine addiction.
This fierce critic of FDR’s New Deal and LBJ’s Great Society, who called all government programs a drain on society, quietly signed up for and received Social Security and Medicare under her married name. She died alone in 1982 of lung cancer.
And the atlas shrugged.
Originally posted at OTOOLEFAN, January 23, 2011