April 26, 2011, - 4:00 pm

Atlas Shrugged Movie & a Reality Check on Ayn Rand

By Debbie Schlussel

Ever since the trailer for the “Atlas Shrugged:  Part I” came out, I’ve been ceaselessly asked by readers whether I’d review it.  As many have noted, even though the movie came out on April 15th, I’ve  yet to do so.  And here’s why:  the movie had no critics’ screening or other opportunity for me to see it, and the producers neither contacted me, nor sent me a screener.  So, I won’t be posting a review, until and unless I see it, and I wasn’t aware it was playing in Detroit (now that I am, I may see it).  Some are deriding the fact that it was a small production with unknown actors, but that’s irrelevant.  I’ve seen some great stuff made on shoestring budgets with no names, who can act.  So,  we’ll see.  That said, I really think people need a reality check on Ayn Rand.

Reality Check on Atlas Shrugged & Its Author Ayn Rand

I enjoyed Ayn Rand’s books when I was younger and my father recommended I read “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged.”  I liked both and their messages.  But my father was smart enough to warn me about the author, a Russian Jew who wasn’t too keen on Jews or Judaism from whence she came.  While Rand was a brilliant writer, she was by no means the heroine or “conservative”  so many have been fooled into believing.  She was a militantly pro-abortion atheist, feminist, isolationist, and anti-Vietnam war protester, who hated Ronald Reagan and opponents of busing as much as she hated religious people.  If she were alive, today, I’m not so sure she’d be any different from the rest of the feminist, left-wing world in their silence on the Islamic threat to the West. She might even have voted for Barack Obama.

Sadly, these days, conservatives–as much as liberals and perhaps far more–seem to have replaced principles with personalities (and, on top of that, the personalities leave a lot to be desired).  That includes Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Sarah Palin (and anyone who came out of her vagina and is whoring out a single mom act), Michelle Fraudkin, Donald Trump, and a number of other hypocrites, frauds, and lesser minds who are performers and selfish acts (laughing at you behind your backs), nothing more.  Criticize them and actually do your homework on these circus performers, and  you are mercilessly attacked for legitimate criticism of their overwhelming fakeries and clown acts.

As I said, conservatism has pretty much ceased as the mindless lumpenconservatariat has sacrificed values and principles like morality, family values, in-wedlock births, and knowledge for those who eschew these.  And that includes the sudden conservative embrace of Ayn Rand, who was far smarter and more legit than all of those I named above combined, but who really wasn’t such a great human being.

When I went to college, the Randians on campus weren’t just libertarians, they were weirdos:  anarchists who believed in no government at all (not even small government), bizarros who derided myself and other persons of faith, and they supported the “Four Ps”–Pot, Pornography, Prostitution, and (ending) Pregnancies (via abortion).  What’s needed is a refresher on Ayn Rand for those who seem to be ignorant, and a great, recent Wall Street Journal op-ed by Donald L. Luskin, an Ayn Rand expert and Chief Investment Officer of Trend Macrolytics LLC.  He is the author of I Am John Galt: Today’s Heroic Innovators Building the World and the Villainous Parasites Destroying It, an upcoming book from the Randian viewpoint, and tells you everything you need to know about her in his terrific column.

Here are some key excerpts on how Rand ain’t so grand–information sorely needed to be absorbed by many of Rand’s current rabid conservative fans:

It’s a misreading of “Atlas” to claim that it is simply an antigovernment tract or an uncritical celebration of big business. In fact, the real villain of “Atlas” is a big businessman, railroad CEO James Taggart, whose crony capitalism does more to bring down the economy than all of [DS: Atlas Shrugged's Barney Frank-esque government villain] Mouch’s regulations. With Taggart, Rand was anticipating figures like Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide Financial, the subprime lender that proved to be a toxic mortgage factory. Like Taggart, Mr. Mozilo engineered government subsidies for his company in the name of noble-sounding virtues like home ownership for all. Still, most of the heroes of “Atlas” are big businessmen who are unfairly persecuted by government. . . .

The reality is that in Rand’s novel, as in life, self-described capitalists can be the worst enemies of capitalism. But that doesn’t fit in easily with the simple pro-business narrative about Rand now being retailed.

Today, Rand is celebrated among conservatives: Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) insists that all his staffers read “Atlas Shrugged.” It wasn’t always this way. During Rand’s lifetime—she died in 1982—she was loathed by the mainstream conservative movement.

That’s when conservatives had principles and intellect and didn’t sacrifice either for popular personalities like Palin, Hannity, Trump, and the like.

Rand was a devout atheist, which set her against the movement’s Christian bent. She got off on the wrong foot with the movement’s founder, William F. Buckley Jr., when she introduced herself to him in her thick Russian accent, saying “You are too intelligent to believe in God!” . . .

Rand rankled conservatives by living her life as an exemplary feminist, even as she denied it by calling herself a “male chauvinist.” She was the breadwinner throughout her lifelong marriage. The most sharply drawn hero in “Atlas” is the extraordinarily capable female railroad executive Dagny Taggart, who is set in contrast with her boss, her incompetent brother James. She’s the woman who deserves the man’s job but doesn’t have it; he’s the man who has the job but doesn’t deserve it.

Rand was strongly pro-choice, speaking out for abortion rights even before Roe v. Wade. In late middle age, she became enamored of a much younger man and made up her mind to have an affair with him, having duly informed her husband and the younger man’s wife in advance. Conservatives don’t do things like that—or at least they say they don’t. . . .

She was an early opponent of the Vietnam war, once saying, “I am against the war in Vietnam and have been for years. . . . In my view we should fight fascism and communism when they come to this country.” During the ’60s she declared, “I am an enemy of racism,” and advised opponents of school busing, “If you object to sending your children to school with black children, you’ll lose for sure because right is on the other side.”

If anything, Rand’s life ought to ingratiate her to the left. . . . And in 1975 she wrote, “I urge you, as emphatically as I can, not to support the candidacy of Ronald Reagan,” primarily on the grounds that he didn’t support pure laissez-faire capitalism. But she endorsed Richard Nixon in 1968 because he supported abolition of the military draft.

Yes, Ayn Rand was a great writer, but personally, she was no hero. As is the case with almost everyone the right embraces these days, she was a personality, not principled.

Unless you pick principles over personalities, you will always lose. . . even if you “win” the thrones of power. False idols abound and have many followers. Sadly, tried and true principles do not. Those who abandon them to win elections or feel good about embracing a selfish, ambitious quitter governor and empty-headed feminist from Alaska, have nothing. They are losers. Desperate losers. And very stupid ones, too.

And Sarah Palin and Donald Trump and Sean Hannity and the like are laughing at them . . . all the way to the bank, just like “Atlas Shrugged’s” James Taggart (and the ghost of Ayn Rand from her grave).

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66 Responses

Debbie, I’m glad you wrote an article about Atlas Shrugged, but you also have to notice DS, Ayn Rand was NOT a liberal either (she was not a conservative or a libertarian either), she was an “Indvidualist”! And yes she was wrong on abortion, yes she opposed the Vietnam War, but she also condemned those who where draft-dodgers (Ted Nugent comes to mind anyone), so yes Ayn Rand was one of the best writers of the last century, but on some social policies I don’t agree with, so yes she could’ve been a champion for the left wing, but left wingers in her day didn’t think that she was liberal enough, that’s because Mrs. Rand was an Individualist, not a conservative or a liberal!

She was also anti-communist, and joined a group in hollywood that was anti-communist in the 1940s, her and her husband campaigned for a Republican presidency in the early 1940s before he lost to Franlin D. Roosevelt. And I think more and more conservatives shouldn’t praise Mrs. Rand too much and the samething can be said for liberals.

“A nation is defined by it’s borders, language & culture!”

Sean R. on April 26, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    SeanR, on individualism, I could never really get my head around the notion selfishness is good for society. It may work to a point and then you run into problems. The fact of the matter is man is a social animal as Aristotle wrote millenia ago and we all need others if we are to be greater than ourselves. No man is an island and what we are today has come from the contributions of those who came before us. Our children in large part are a legacy of how we shape them. That is the way society actually works and Rand ignores all that for a way of thinking that will never work in the real world.

    NormanF on April 26, 2011 at 7:10 pm

      Man is selfish, Norman. If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” (The Federalist)

      The trick is to use that selfishness for the greater good as well as the individual good. Rand felt that her philosophy would do that. And there are some aspects of it to be lauded, and some aspects to be despised.

      Overall, I’m not a huge Rand fan. In the absence of faith in G-d, man stops breeding to replacement. Western Europe, Russia, China, Japan are all evidence of that.

      Occam's Tool on April 27, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Principles before personalities…have heard that somewhere before. Our dear girl certainly could have used a good prophylaxis.

#1 Vato on April 26, 2011 at 4:57 pm

I’m surprised “Scamela” Geller (talk about circus performers) isn’t on the list of those who go by personality over principle (unless she’s within the overall category of “other hypocrites, frauds, and lesser minds who are performers and selfish acts [laughing at you behind your backs]“) – she worships Rand as much as the other morons whose names were duly mentioned in this article, and has praised the “Atlas Shrugged” movie to the skies.

Having said that, though, I would give five out of four stars to Luskin’s Journal article.

ConcernedPatriot on April 26, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Good point. Debbie would have brought up and its circus clown acts that drive conservatism today not character or principle. The movement is sad shape because its not letting that stuff drive it forward. It can be argued despite the fact Republicans hold the House, nothing has changed and nothing will unless people actually believe in conservative principles. No one on the scene today is like Ronald Reagan and I doubt we’ll ever the see the likes of him again. But its not really about personality and the conservative reverence for Reagan obscures the need to find its way back again. It can be done but not with the people who are prominent in it today.

    NormanF on April 26, 2011 at 7:16 pm

Rand, I have concluded, wasn’t even that good of a writer. Her characters often were stick figures, stilted representations of Everything Good or Everything Evil. The men and women were immersed in long speeches, with the other side patiently listening and then taking their turn. It’s not quite like that in the real world. And her nonfiction was as dogmatic and humorless as her real-time personality.

Take a pass on Rand and read better libertarian philosophers like Nozick, Narveson or Konkin.

Seek on April 26, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Seek:

    I agree with you one hundred per cent with respect to Rand’s writing in Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead, which I read many years ago (and will not attempt to read again). These two novels were crude vehicles used to express her ideas. Far more effective, I believe, are her novella, “Anthem”, and her early novel, “We, the Living”, which was a harrowing and presumably authentic account of how a middle class Russian family’s life was transformed and made wretched under the new communist government under Lenin. These two works, unlike her better-known, later novels, are not stilted, and are quite absorbing. “Anthem” should be viewed as an cautionary tale of a future dystopian society; brief, poignant, and a shorthand version of the main ideas presented in Atlas Shrugged, but far more readable and not at all pedantic, discursive, and heavy-handed. I could never understand why Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead were regarded by so many as great novels – stylistically, at least, they are clearly deficient, in the ways that you have identified.

    commonsense on April 26, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Ayn Rand had significant shortcomings, no doubt about it, but to her everlasting credit, as Sean R. mentions, she fiercely fought Communism in the late 40s in Hollywood, to the extent of testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee about Communist influence in Hollywood. Being from Russia herself, she had an opportunity to observe the evils of this totalitarian system, and during this time period, she tried to communicate this with all means at her disposal. Her family had suffered under the Communists, and while her later views did unfortunately shift, during the 40s she had no illusions about Communism. She also supported Israel and Taiwan in the 70s when the elite was turning on these two countries.

Little Al on April 26, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Come on, Deb, don’t you wish Obama’s mother had an abortion?

Jonathan E. Grant on April 26, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Jon, after what we learned today, yes he’s an American.

    Whether his policies have helped America is entirely different issue.

    I’d have to say “no” on that score.

    NormanF on April 27, 2011 at 1:09 pm

      I would agree. When you start making statements like he did, it begins to read like something from Stormfront.

      Worry01 on April 27, 2011 at 10:01 pm

William F. Buckley abhorred her views and wrote this isn’t conservatism! Any one with a brain can see you can’t defend a great country with a weak government. I don’t mean a small government – I mean a weak one. Libertarianism has been a political loser for decades now and less than 3% of Americans vote for followers of Rand’s philosophy.

Its accurate to describe them as social liberals who believe in free markets. The only thing that differentiates them from the rest of the Left is their support for the free market, in a word. They are not conservatives either in principle or out of conviction.

But people still want to embrace them because they essentially believe in nothing. And that’s true of a lot of conservatives today. So ask yourself why liberal Hollywood feels comfortable with “Atlas Shrugged” – its certainly for the reasons conservatives and those who recommend it I would bet, certainly haven’t read it.

Conservatism is the opposite of libertarianism – and the superficial agreement on free markets doesn’t the fact the Randians are exactly like the rest of the Left on every other issue. Conservatives believe in a great country, small and strong government, a strong national defense, a patriotic foreign policy, morality and freedom under the law. Those are principles inimical to the libertarian world view.

Sadly, people in our movement have ceased to believe in them and yes we’re losing our country as a result of flirting with foolish things that are a complete distraction from what needs to be done to save America.

NormanF on April 26, 2011 at 7:03 pm

worry01, not my cup of tea. As you note already the problem with libertarianism isn’t exactly Rand, its the fact you can’t have free markets without regulation, morality and accountability. Capitalism has to be controlled just like individuals are in their behavior. We can never have a world where we don’t have be responsible to G-d or to others. And I certainly wouldn’t want to live in such a world.

NormanF on April 26, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Ayn Rand stands alone as THE champion for man’s mind as the source of all wealth and individual rights as the basis for all law and economy. She despised racism because it is a form of collectivism, no different from communism or socialism. A racist derives power from his ‘group’. Those who see or worship her as a cult figure are sick and perverted. Her ideas and writings shine bright above all others. Her Jewish roots, though she never acknowledged, show through as she demonstrates the pain and suffering of the victims of the collectivist mentality.

Mike on April 26, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    The collectivist philosophy of the Left doesn’t work. The same can be equally said for the neo-anarchist individualist philosophy of the Libertarians. No such societies have existed for long.

    NormanF on April 26, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Deb, if you do want to see ATLAS SHRUGGED on the big screen, it is indeed playing in metro Detroit and has been since April 15. I saw it on the day it opened. You can catch it at the Birmingham 8 or at the MJR Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 in Sterling Heights.

JN: Thanks. I stand corrected and will update the piece. They told us it wouldn’t be playing here. DS

John N on April 26, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Yeah, I have not been quick to jump on the Ayn Rand bandwagon these past two years because I think we learned with the advent of MaObama, we MUST do our homework to see if these peeps erected as saviors can actually live up to the hype.

So far, most can’t.

I hope that Herman Cain is all I think he is. I dig him the most right now. Of course, he is lost in the ether.

(I was most interested in how DS felt about Bachmann. I have been hearing she is an establishment stalking-horse to benefit Flip Flopney. I had no idea, but since I have been watching her closely. I must say, I was disappointed. Is anyone real anymore?)

Skunky on April 26, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    Skunky, is there a conservative with honor, principles, conviction and courage?

    Color me unimpressed so far with the GOP presidential field. None of the current contenders appear to have the “right stuff.”

    That’s the way it is in our day.

    NormanF on April 26, 2011 at 8:35 pm

      The Right Stuff, tested (in heat of battle and the UN): Allen West and John Bolton, respectively. Allen West, in particular, is an awesome hero.

      Occam's Tool on April 27, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Skunky, I do hope Herman Cain does run for the presidency against Obama, all where hearing and seeing are Donald Trump (he brings up good points, but he’s making a mistake about BHO’s BC, and I also think his advicers told him to bring that up, etc, and his advicer supported Obama 3 years ago), Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich and I think Michelle Bachmann. So far from what I’ve seen and heard, Mr. Cain get’s it on the threat of islam to our shores and borders. If any of those folks that I named and decide to run against Obama next year, Obama will more likely win his re-election?

“A nation is defined by it’s borders, language & culture”

Sean R. on April 26, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    Norman, as always, you hit the bullseye. Yep, there is NO ONE these days. And I am more suspect than EVER because I complained during the whole of MaObama’s presidency that the GOP was NO WHERE when it came to highlighting a new, fresh Conservative voice. If they could not deliver during these last two years of the Obama The Destroyer days, then I suspect more than ever that the establishment Dems and Reps do NOT care about America and the fix is in.

    Think about it. Over two years and crickets and the same-old, same-old. It’s disgusting.

    Sean, great point on Trump. I like that he is bringing the birther issue up front (because we know that freak is hiding EVERYTHING. College transcripts, Birth Certificate, and as DS has broken, his selective service form is a FRAUD. Just like him.) Other than that, Trump is NOT good for Conservatives and his past says it all. Too bad lots of Conservatives get all excited about Trump but haven’t a clue of the holes in his past. Bankruptcies, support of Kelo and eminent domain, $$$ to Rahm Emanuel and Dems and Miss HezboUSA. Krauthammer had it right when he succinctly called him a clown last week.

    (Incidently, I do now believe that MaObama was born in USA. Jack Cashill’s great book “Deconsructing Obama” convinced me that his dad is NOT Barack Obama Sr. and most likely his dad was the prevert, Commie poet Frank Marshall Davis. He also proves that William Ayers wrote “Dreams of My Father” but poor JC can’t get arrested. It’s all Trump, all the time!)

    Skunky on April 26, 2011 at 9:50 pm

At least she’s dead now and won’t get any money for the movie.

The problem is two fold.
A. People want to look to some kind of hero to fix everything (not very conservative)
B. The bar to pass is so low its on the floor.

Hey look everyone Sarah Palin wants to drill for oil. [Anyone who cares about America's future should want to drill for oil] Hey look everyone Sarah Palin didn’t abort her son. [Your not suppose to abort your children] Then as she is running for VP her daughter turns up pregnant [That's how nature tells you it's dangerous] People were so desparate they ignored a glaring warning sign.

And Sarah Palin and Donald Trump and Sean Hannity and the like are laughing at them . . .
That’s conservativism without a moral backbone. They’re making money aren’t they?

sg on April 26, 2011 at 9:27 pm

NormanF:

“Its accurate to describe them as social liberals who believe in free markets.”

That would describe a libertarian. Rand was not a libertarian–she despised them. Most Objectivists advocate a vigorous, pro-Western, pro-Israel foreign policy.

“[T]he Randians are exactly like the rest of the Left on every other issue.”

I think the only things the Left and Randians would agree on are abortion, drug legalization, and more vigorous separation of church and state. That’s it.

Scott Spiegel on April 26, 2011 at 10:01 pm

My favorite Rand quote was…

” The question isn’t, ‘Who is going to let me?’, it’s ‘Who is going to stop me?’ ”

Sound familiar today?

F.D.R. in Hell on April 26, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Thank you for the article on Ayn Rand and “Atlas Shrugs, Part One”, Debbie.

Also, excellent discussion everyone.

Skunky,

In your 9:50 pm post, you forgot to mention of how Donald Trump on his show “The Apprentice” has the anti-Semite Gary Busey on it as a contestant. Debbie, of course, wrote about this.

JeffE on April 26, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Ayn Rand was no feminist – at least not as that term has been understood for the past 40 years. Read “The Age of Envy,” – Rand’s 1971 article that appeared in The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution.

salt1907 on April 26, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Jonathan E. Grant wrote:
“Come on, Deb, don’t you wish Obama’s mother had an abortion?”

Jon, I’m getting a bit tired of your racist statements.
Tone it down.

You’re making it extremely uncomfortable for me to continue posting here.

I’m sure Debbie would concur.

“A nation is defined by it’s borders, language & culture!”

Sean R. on April 26, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Sean, you are one of my favourite regulars so I hope you don’t leave.

    I know even though I think Obama is a Destroyer, I do not wih he was aborted. I don’t believe in it at all. The child is an innocent.

    May the adult Obama have to pay for his crimes though. Mightily!

    Skunky on April 27, 2011 at 11:06 am

We made our teachers ever so sorry for making us read Ayn Rand. When Rand stated her famous line: “A is A.” we responded “F***in’ A Right!”

Er… uh… we didn’t get A’s in THAT class. I guess that’s why I didn’t go to Harvard and went to the University of Illinois instead.

The movie they made about my life greatly distorted the facts. :+)

There is NO Santa Claus on April 26, 2011 at 11:18 pm

CREDIT Michael Prescott’s blog

http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2005/05/ayn_rands_real_.html

Ayn Rand’s “real man”

Yes, I know I said I would write no more about Ayn Rand. But this little piece of information is just too astonishing to pass up.

I was rereading Scott Ryan’s fascinating, albeit highly technical, critique of Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism and the Corruption of Rationality, and getting a lot more out of it the second time, when I came across a fact culled from a posthumous collection of Rand’s journal entries.

In her journal circa 1928 Rand quoted the statement, “What is good for me is right,” a credo attributed to a prominent figure of the day, William Edward Hickman. Her response was enthusiastic. “The best and strongest expression of a real man’s psychology I have ever heard,” she exulted. (Cited in Ryan, p. , quoting Journals of Ayn Rand, pp. 21-22.)

At the time, she was planning a novel that was to be titled The Little Street, the projected hero of which was named Danny Renahan. According to Rand scholar Chris Matthew Sciabarra, she deliberately modeled Renahan – intended to be her first sketch of her ideal man – after this same William Edward Hickman. Renahan, she enthuses in another journal entry, “is born with a wonderful, free, light consciousness — [resulting from] the absolute lack of social instinct or herd feeling. He does not understand, because he has no organ for understanding, the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people … Other people do not exist for him and he does not understand why they should.” (Journals, pp. 27, 21-22; emphasis hers.)

“A wonderful, free, light consciousness” born of the utter absence of any understanding of “the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people.” Obviously, Ayn Rand was most favorably impressed with Mr. Hickman. He was, at least at that stage of Rand’s life, her kind of man.

So the question is, who exactly was he?

William Edward Hickman was one of the most famous men in America in 1928. But he came by his fame in a way that perhaps should have given pause to Ayn Rand before she decided that he was a “real man” worthy of enshrinement in her pantheon of fictional heroes.

You see, Hickman was a forger, an armed robber, a child kidnapper, and a serial killer.

Other than that, he was probably a great guy.

In December of 1927, Hickman, 19 years old, showed up at a Los Angeles public school and managed to get custody of a 12-year-old girl, Marion Parker. (Accounts of the crime vary slightly; another gives the girl’s age as 11 and the spelling of her first name as Marian.) Apparently Hickman was able to convince Marion’s teacher that the girl’s father, a well-known banker, had been seriously injured in a car accident and that the girl had to go to the hospital immediately. The story was a lie. Hickman disappeared with Marion, and over the next few days Mr. and Mrs. Parker received a series of ransom notes. The notes were cruel and taunting and were sometimes signed “Death” or “Fate.” The sum of $15,000, a huge amount of money in those days, was demanded for the child’s safe release. The father raised the cash and delivered it to Hickman. As told by the article “Fate, Death and the Fox” in crimelibrary.com,

At the rendezvous, Mr. Parker handed over the money to a young man who was waiting for him in a parked car. When Mr. Parker paid the ransom, he could see his daughter, Marion, sitting in the passenger seat next to the suspect. As soon as the money was exchanged, the suspect drove off with the victim still in the car. At the end of the street, Marion’s corpse was dumped onto the pavement. She was dead. Her legs had been chopped off and her eyes had been wired open to appear as if she was still alive. Her internal organs had been cut out and pieces of her body were later found strewn all over the Los Angeles area.

Quite a hero, eh? No doubt Hickman did indeed have “a wonderful, free, light consciousness,” and surely he had “no organ for understanding … the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people.”

But Hickman’s heroism doesn’t end there. He heroically amscrayed to the small town of Echo, Oregon, where he heroically holed up, no doubt believing he had perpetrated the perfect crime. Sadly for him, fingerprints he’d left on one of the ransom notes matched prints on file from his previous conviction for forgery. With his face on Wanted posters everywhere, Hickman was quickly tracked down and arrested. The article continues,

He was conveyed back to Los Angeles where he promptly confessed to another murder he committed during a drug store hold-up. Eventually, Hickman confessed to a dozen armed robberies. “This is going to get interesting before it’s over,” he told investigators. “Marion and I were good friends,” he said, “and we really had a good time when we were together and I really liked her. I’m sorry that she was killed.” Hickman never said why he had killed the girl and cut off her legs.

It seems to me that Ayn Rand’s uncritical admiration of personality this twisted does not speak particularly well for her ability to judge and evaluate the heroic qualities in people. One might go so far as to say that anyone who sees William Edward Hickman as the epitome of a “real man” has some serious issues to work on, and perhaps should be less concerned with trying to convert the world to her point of view than in trying to repair her own damaged psyche. One might also point out that a person who “has no organ for understanding … the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people” is what we today would call a sociopath.

Was Rand’s ideal man a sociopath? The suggestion seems utterly unfair – until you read her very own words.

No doubt defenders of Ayn Rand, and there are still a few left, would reply that the journal entry in question was written when she was only in her early twenties and still under the spell of Nietzsche, that as her thinking developed she discarded such Nietzschean elements and evolved a more rational outlook, and that the mature Rand should not be judged by the mistakes of her youth. And this might be a perfectly reasonable position to take. Unquestionably Rand’s outlook did change, and her point of view did become at least somewhat less hostile to what the average, normal person would regard as healthy values.

But before we assume that her admiration of Mr. Hickman was merely a quirk of her salad days, let’s consider a few other quotes from Ayn Rand cited in Scott Ryan’s book:

In her early notes for The Fountainhead: “One puts oneself above all and crushes everything in one’s way to get the best for oneself. Fine!” (Journals, p. 78.)

Of The Fountainhead’s hero, Howard Roark: 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.” (Journals, p. 93.)

In the original version of her first novel We the Living: “What are your masses [of humanity] but mud to be ground underfoot, fuel to be burned for those who deserve it?” (This declaration is made by the heroine Kira, Rand’s stand-in; it is quoted in The Ideas of Ayn Rand by Ronald Merrill, pp. 38 – 39; the passage was altered when the book was reissued years after its original publication.)

On the value of human life: Man “is man only so long as he functions in accordance with the nature of a rational being. When he chooses to function otherwise, he is no longer man. There is no proper name for the thing which he then becomes … When a man chooses to act in a sub-human manner, it is no longer proper for him to survive nor to be happy.” (Journals, pp. 253-254, 288.)

As proof that her Nietzschean thinking persisted long after her admirers think she abandoned it, this journal entry from 1945, two years subsequent to the publication of The Fountainhead: “Perhaps we really are in the process of evolving from apes to Supermen — and the rational faculty is the dominant characteristic of the better species, the Superman.” (Journals, p. 285.)

So perhaps her thinking did not change quite so much, after all.

And what of William Edward Hickman? What ever became of the man who served as the early prototype of the Randian Superman?

Real life is not fiction, and Hickman’s personal credo, which so impressed Ayn Rand – “what is right for me is good” – does not seem to have worked out very well for him. His attempt at an insanity defense failed, and he was unceremoniously hanged at San Quentin in 1928, the same year of his arrest.

Jack on April 27, 2011 at 12:50 am

    Thank you Jack,

    Before reading your post I was planning to say “Ayn, you were too smart to be an atheist. How sad.”
    Now I’m inclined to say “your atheism poisoned most of what you wrote. How sad for us.”

    Davy Crockitt on April 27, 2011 at 11:48 am

Yes. She had a bit of a problem with the Jewish sheep being led to slaughter in Russia, Poland and Germany. Her books were incredibly readable for such long polemic arguments. And she envisioned a world where her kind could live in peace. Not the fake peace of European philosophers. That was a death sentence for those like her and her parents.

pat on April 27, 2011 at 2:31 am

What is amazing about her book from 1957 is the fact that government is following it to the letter. As obamas, unelected board, has just sued boeing for opening a factory in non union South Carolina, to force them to use their factory in union controlled Washington. This happened in her book as states complained that business were moving to lower taxing states (CO) so the government stepped in and forced them to all stay were they are. The government also made it illegal to fire or even quit your job and appointed new government friendly company owners. Seems to be happening as we speak.

The movie did skim over a lot of it because Rand (like stephen king) likes to talk a lot. I liked the movie except for the lead actress, her lack of emotion and empty eyes staring at who knows what was distracting. Every one else did a great job.

ender on April 27, 2011 at 3:08 am

    The Book was so prophetic, it’s scary. She could be an old testament prophet with her prediction of how a free society morphs into a dictatorial welfare state “democracy” of leaches who feed at the government trough. Bit by bit, everything in that book has come to pass in America. We are dangerously close to morphing into the third world banana republic totalitarian state she predicted and described.
    I challenge anybody to show me how “Galt’s Gulch” is NOT the promise land in scripture flowing with milk and honey, and NOT the perfect society for free people?
    They did have a government, they governed themselves! And they had a Judge to settle disputes but the Judge had no disputes to settle (in 12 years) because when honorable men deal with each other, they settle their differences privately man to man, (as per the Messiah’s teachings) without running to the shyster lawyers or godless courts to settle it for them like any to bit incompetent would do.

    That book honors God more than today’s corporate Christians do even though the Hero and Author were atheists because they truly loved each other in Galt’s Gulch, and did not steal from others i.e. have a Robin Hood mentality as do the looters in today’s welfare state do. Robin Hood was still a thief, plain and simple and that violates scripture.
    And the Hero’s (Galt) slogan was “never initiate the use of force” and “you can’t force a mind” so if everybody lived that, we would have no wars on earth.
    So even thought they were Godless, they honored each other and lived in peace, love and harmony and built a mighty prosperous “nation” in Galts Gulch, which is exactly as God commanded us to do once we get to the promise land. i.e. America.
    Does anybody remember what happened to the Israelite’s the first time they disobeyed God and did NOT go to the promise land and build a mighty prosperous nation? 40 years in the desert, and that’s what will happen now if we don’t wake up and Kill the Robin Hood mentality in America.
    Rand was the watchman on the wall in scripture even though she was an Atheist, because scripture says the truth will come from the stammering lips of foreigner’s and come from the Pagan priest’s. Who’s more Pagan than Hollywood or Rand? And she was a foreigner with stammering lips was she not?

    Who cares? on April 27, 2011 at 10:36 am

> I’m not so sure she’d be any different from the rest of the feminist, left-wing world in their silence on the Islamic threat to the West. She might even have voted for Barack Obama.

There is no basis for believing that. None. She was always strongly pro-Israel, highly critical of affirmative action, very strongly pro-male, and if she discounted the Islamic threat (and I have never read anything like that coming from her) it was because everybody did. The demographic shift from 1980 to 2000 (documented by Mark Steyn) caught everyone by surprise. Yes, she had some nutty notions. Most geniuses do.

And Reagan was a mixed bag.) A strong anti-communist conservative, he let his administration be stuffed with RINO squishes. As a result the Reagan Revolution never really happened. It is not a crime against nature to criticize Reagan any more than it is to criticize Rand. But I think we can be and should be informed in our criticisms.

J'Kel on April 27, 2011 at 8:54 am

Debbie:

Your listing her support for school busing as an indictment against her is curious. Pardon me, but busing is an issue for GOVERNMENT schools. The GOVERNMENT is going to use ITS schools to pursue ITS agenda. The GOVERNMENT was using ITS schools to pursue ITS agenda LONG before desegregation. It is just that it took DESEGREGATION before anyone, including conservatives FINALLY started to notice what the GOVERNMENT was using ITS schools to do to society. And they noticed it NOT because they were principled small government conservatives, but SEGREGATIONIST RACISTS.

Look, busing only truly negatively affected a small percentage of systems. (And in some cases, busing ENDED the practice of shipping black kids AWAY from neighborhood schools to “their own” schools, and it also ended the practice of gerrymandering school district lines to preserve all white schools.) But stuff like ending school prayer, sex education, evolution, and other forms of liberal humanist propaganda affected ALL schools, from Detroit to Idaho.

Of course, Ayn Rand would have supported all those things too. Which is why I have never been an Ayn Rand fan. (I put her in my “Amelia Earhart” category.) But opposing government mandated, funded and supported segregation and racism was one of the few things that she was actually right about, even if she was right only for her own self-serving reasons. And as one of your commenters pointed out, she did oppose affirmative action.

Gerald on April 27, 2011 at 10:39 am

Ayn Rand was a phoney. Why “Ayn Rand” wasn’t even her real name!

That discredits everything she said.

Seriously, a notable female attorney so dismissive of “feminism”? I understand how obnoxious the feminist movement has become. But in the 1950′s, Ms. Schlussel probably wouldn’t have a career. Sometimes it seems like female conservatives are advocating their own oppression. I know that’s not really the case, but to outsiders it sometimes comes across like “Women’s sufferage must be repealled!”

And opposing the Vietnam War is not grounds for dismissing a person? For Pete’s sake, Pat Buchanan had said we shouldn’t have fought in WW2 and for some reason people still pay attention to him.

Atlas Smugged on April 27, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Atlas, you are talking about feminism in the 50′s!

    Feminism changed EVERY decade. Especially when the progressives took it over.

    It could have been something great in the 80′s. Instead, I saw females tear it down from within and without. It also showed that females were NOT the warriors feminists thought they were. You can’t build on a false construct, hense the implosion.

    C’mon people! It seems like every angle has to be argued because people get so distracted by the minutia and side aspects!

    Skunky on April 27, 2011 at 11:55 am

SKUNKY- Donald Trump is to politics, what professional wrestling is to wrestling.

#1 Vato on April 27, 2011 at 11:22 am

DS said “Some are deriding the fact that it was a small production with unknown actors, but that’s irrelevant.”

Well, I saw the movie last Saturday night with my wife and as far as actors go in my view Taylor Schilling is cast brilliantly as Dagny Taggart. She personifies Rand’s heroine perfectly, with steely determination and an icy, sensual charm just as she is presented in the book. I have officially become a Taylor Schilling fan and Grant Bowler as Hank Reardon is not too shabby either.

All in all, I’d say that the movie is pretty darn good and I for one will awaiting parts II and III.

douglastt01@yahoo.com on April 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Debbie, I don’t like your reasons for disliking and dismissing AR. As a long time fan of yours, I know that you value reason, but it is disappointing that your application of reason ends when it comes to religion. Ask yourself why AR was an atheist. The answer is reason. I am a huge AR fan and consider myself an Objectivist, and I only say the following because I feel the accusations and misrepresentations you make about AR warrant it: the blind faith you have in your G-d is the exact same faith that certain people of a certain religion have in theirs.

Faith is mysticism, and as AR demonstrated, mysticism shares philosophical roots with collectivism. Big, popular conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Ronald Reagan undercut their whole pro-capitalist, free-market, individual liberty platform the second the attribute everything from our existence to the source of our freedoms to some mystical, unknowable being called God. The true source of our rights is based on reason and survival.

As AR demonstrated, the reason for our mixed economy (that is headed more and more toward socialism) and the reason why so many people associate capitalism with evil, greed, and corruption is that (apart from her work) there has never been a thorough philosophical justification showing WHY capitalism is the ONLY moral choice for an economic system. Instead, proponents invoke God, which represents the place where they decided to stop thinking, which is the same thing liberals do when they invoke “the common good,” or collectivism. Both are abstractions, whereas individuals — you and I — are real, as is our survival. “The individual is the smallest minority.” -AR, paraphrased

Debbie, I admire you and agree with you on so much, but I am disappointed that your faith is eclipsing your reason w/r/t Ayn Rand and her philosophy, a philosophy which does a much better and thorough job of proving the value of freedom, capitalism, and everything else that made our country the greatest on earth than any mystical religion ever could.

Finally, a quote of AR’s on the middle east conflict that perhaps might persuade you to reevaluate your position on AR: “When you have civilized men fighting savages, you support the civilized men.”

I urge all of you to please re-read, reconsider, and re-evaluate Ayn Rand. Faith is destroying the world. Embracing reason is the only way to save our country.

Jessica on April 27, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Your faith in reason is touching. Totalitarian movements emphasized their purported scientific basis. You might try reviewing these little beauties by Friedrich Engels: Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (1880) and Dialectics of Nature (1883). Marxists are be definition quite secular, and neutralize religions wherever they get the upper hand. Or, if Marxism is not quite the apple of your eye, we could look at National Socialism as well. The Eugenics Movement was taken up by National Socialists as their own, and that was not a very controversial stance at the time in the scientific community:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugenics#External_linksw

    Do you really want to stand shoulder to shoulder with George Bernard Shaw and Margaret Sanger? Radical secularism outclasses even Islam in terms of how many were killed in so short a time. That is a hallmark of modern totalitarian movements, whether National Socialist or Communist. Ayn Rand never fully rejected many of the core concepts of these movements, but desired an exemption for those who were better than all the others. In Marxism, you have the party and Democratic Centralism, while in National Socialism you have the party and the Führer Concept of Leadership(Centralization of Authority in One Person). With both of these movements, a small liberated elite guides the dull masses for their own good. These forms of organization were quite rational in their own way, if you assumed a passive and pervasive idiocy in rank and file members and the general public.

    I will leave you with such false guides.

    Worry01 on April 27, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Everybody on this thread, the person who posted on 4/26 at 11:05 pm last night is NOT me for one minute, so please don’t be fooled. Whoever that person is he or she is impersonating me and trying way too hard. BTW, I don’t type like the way whoever copied my screenname and impersonated me, Skunky, don’t worry I’m not leaving this site, and to Jonathan Grant, you know I’ve NEVER called you a racist for the whole one year that I’ve been on this site.

Debbie, if you have the chance to re-read this thread, please delete that poster at 11:05 pm from 4/26, that’s clearly NOT me!

“A nation is defined by it’s borders, language & culture!”

Sean R. on April 27, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Dear Debbie:

I am very glad that you brought up the subject of Ayn Rand on your website today. She is a woman who is not well understood by those who venerate her. Ayn Rand’s calls for an Objectivist Ethics was a doctrine intended for the few, and not the many. You will probably recall that the heroes and heroines of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged treated those who were sympathetic to them with condescension at best, and thinly disguised contempt at worst. Only the rarefied could truly partake of the “Virtue of Selfishness”, while the common herd had to admire and praise this libertarian elite from a distance. Can a normal person really relate to the “rape scene” involving Roark and Dominique in the Fountainhead? Was Dagny Taggart really a liberated figure in Atlas Shrugged? Is this sort of sex elevating, or is it what we would expect from reptiles without reason or feeling? I might be reactionary, old, and dull, but warmth, affection, mutual consideration, and love is something I value in a relationship with a woman. Conquest, control, domination, exploitation, and narrow self-satisfaction are very retrograde concepts that are pre-feudal notions, and are deemed as shameful except in the most primitive cultures and Islam. Were Atilla the Hun or Lucretia Borgia(admittedly, a Renaissance example)good people? One could consider them to be Objectivists before there was Objectivism, even if they were extreme examples.

I am no fan of collectivism, but is the human imagination so bereft of spirit and intellect that my only alternative is an anarchic jungle filled with dread apart from the very few?

I personally find Ayn Rand a questionable prophet, and a rather dated one at that.

Worry01 on April 27, 2011 at 3:39 pm

The amount of disinformation in this article about Rand is absolutely stunning. Rand did not hate opponents of busing – she disagreed with busing on principle. She sharply criticized feminists and called herself a man-worshiper. She opposed Islamic states before anyone else did. The Ayn Rand Institute is some of the hardest-line opponents of Iran, Islamic fundamentalism, and Obama there are in the world today. I could go on. This is nonsense.

Michael R. Brown on April 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Wow. I mean, just wow. I thought I’d seen misrepresentations of Ayn Rand before, but this one just takes the cake. Takes it, eats it, and pukes it back out. All over itself.

Shame on you, either for being so ignorant or so dishonest. If the former, correct it. If the latter, then reality will win in the end.

MarkC on April 27, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    How is she being misrepresented? Give us some examples? Thanks.

    Worry01 on April 27, 2011 at 9:43 pm

I saw the movie, and was quite disappointed. I give it a 3 out of 10. I didn’t take notes, but I can tell you it had many ridicules scenes and was way too long (and wordy). Just one example – would the super rich be walking home at night in a failing society, with no body guards around, and their fellow industrialists mysteriously disappearing right & left?

Dr Dale on April 27, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    “…and their fellow industrialists mysteriously disappearing right & left?” It does sound like a Randian version of the “Rapture”. John Galt is practically deified in Atlas Shrugged. You hit upon another example of Ayn Rand purloining a concept from a group that she supposedly despises, namely Christians. She was never a terribly original thinker, but succeeded in her day by recycling(how green of her)and repackaging the oldest of things(Social Darwinism)as something original and cutting edge. That was indeed one of her great accomplishments.

    Worry01 on April 27, 2011 at 9:40 pm

I found Debbie’s article on Ayn Rand a fantastic tissue of attitude and factual error and told her so. A spiteful letter ensued, and I told her she’d thereby asked for a factual analysis. So here t’is.

> a Russian Jew who wasn’t too keen on Jews or Judaism from whence she came

This is deceitful in the first claim – Rand never said a word against Jews, and reacted furiously to an acquaintance’s revealing anti-Semitism in the 1940s. Rand later said, “But [the Nazis] were killing *me!*” It’s misleading in the second: she never targeted Judaism in her overall criticisms of religion. Way to go: lead with a false and weasel-worded (“not too keen”) charge of anti-Semitism. Leftist methods, there. “[W]hence she came” fails by insinuation, too: her family was non-observant.

> militantly pro-abortion

False. Her writings on abortion are rather brief and she never campaigned in a sustained way. She was pro-legal-abortion, at least up until the first trimester – she expressed doubt about it after that.

> feminist

False, amazingly so. See her own words: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/femininity.html

> isolationist

True. But remember that all of the Old Right was, and only changed to interventionism after decades of propaganda by the Left. Some conservatives are starting to question our vast military expanse across the world, on a variety of axes. [Don't take this to mean that I agree with them.]

> anti-Vietnam war protester

False. She never attended an anti-war protest and despise what she called the scruffy hippies, etc. who disagreed with the war because America was evil. She also argued against amnesty for draft dodgers. She argued against the Viet Nam war on the basis of *our* national self-interest, writing that it was being justified exclusively as our duty to save the people of Viet Nam, etc. [It is irrelevant here whether she was right or wrong.]

> hated Ronald Reagan

This article uses the word “hate” about as much as anything on DailyKos. She strongly opposed Reagan as [in her view] a compromising, anti-intellectual mixed-economy guy, said he’d be like Hoover and summoned as proof of the free market’s weakness, and that he mixed capitalism with religion. This does not add up to hate, and in omitting her reasons is misleading. Today’s blabber about “hate” is further deteriorating public discourse – not very conservative of you to contribute to this.

> [hated] opponents of busing

False. Totally invented. She opposed busing on principle. I’d love to know how/where you came up with this fabrication.

> hated religious people

False. More invented hate. Her two favorite philosophers – Aristotle and Aquinas – believed in God, and so did her favorite author, Victor Hugo. So did her best friend and mentor Isabel Paterson. She said in a 1945 letter she had some ingenious arguments for the existence of some kind of God, and her ideal man, Howard Roark in “The Fountainhead,” agrees that he was a “profoundly religious man, in [his] own way.” [Quoting from memory.] She almost included a Thomist priest as a positive character, Father Amadeus, as a positive character in “Atlas Shrugged.” She corresponded on friendly terms with religious people, and her closest friend at the end of her life was an evangelical Christian lady named Eloise Huggins. A.R. said “Thank God for America” (quoting from memory) to Tom Snyder at the end of their interview – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFy9A7WEzPA – saying “That means, ‘the best possible.’” (Again, from memory.) Such hate!

> feminist, left-wing world

As shown above, this is preposterous.

> their silence on the Islamic threat to the West. She might even have voted for Barack Obama.

She opposed Islamic states before anyone else did. The Ayn Rand Institute is some of the hardest-line opponents of Iran, Islamic fundamentalism, and Obama there are in the world today. I could go on. Nonense.

> do your homework

Always a good idea.

> Ayn Rand, who was far smarter and more legit than all of those I named above combined

I appreciate your saying that.

> who really wasn’t such a great human being.

In some ways she was, in some ways she wasn’t.

> Randians on campus weren’t just libertarians, they were … anarchists who believed in no government at all (not even small government)

No, they weren’t. They may have called themselves Randians/Objectivists, just as some call themselves Christians but are not. Rand disagreed very strongly with anarchism – and, for that matter, with libertarianism (of the Rothbard variety, anyway). Her own words: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/anarchism.html and http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/libertarians.html .

> bizarros who derided myself and other persons of faith

I regret you were maltreated (and I mean it). Rand treated people of faith with respect, especially those who acknowledge the importance of reason. See her letters, where she spoke with great courtesy to a Catholic priest who wrote her about his conflict between faith and reason.

> they supported … Pot

Rand was against any kind of mind-altering drugs. (She smoked, but that’s beside the point.) The mind-fuzzing/ambition-sapping effects of pot in particular would be anathema to her.

> Pornography

Rand was strongly against pornography (though she did not believe the government should proscribe it). Her words (quoted from memory): “I am not opposed to pornography because I am against sex. Far from it. In reality, sex is too important to be made the subject of *anatomical depiction*.” For her general views on sex, which show she was not a hedonist, see: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/sex.html

> Prostitution

See above, re. pornography. She was strongly against prostitution, though she would not have used government to proscribe it.

> (ending) Pregnancies (via abortion)

As mentioned above, partly true. She was in favor of legality of first-trimester abortion on grounds that the fetus was not conscious. [This is not the place to argue the matter. The issue is what Rand believed and did not believe.] Past the first trimester she expressed doubt – bear in mind this was in the late 1960s and early 1970s – on the grounds that at some point the fetus would become capable of experiencing pain.

So there you go. Your central point is intact – that Rand in her totality was not a modern-day conservative. But very few conservatives are in fact thinking that. One does not have to accept the totality of her thought to affirm some of it, or to enjoy her fiction or her vision of laissez-faire capitalism. But you do need to do your homework better, D.S., and not try to brazen out such a level of inaccuracies.

Michael R. Brown on April 27, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    Nicely done, Mr. Brown.

    skzion on April 28, 2011 at 6:06 pm

I have never seen a more sublime demonstration of the totalitarian mind, a mind which might be likened to a system of gears whose teeth had been filed off at random. Such a snaggle-toothed thought machine, driven by a standard or even by a substandard libido, whirls with the jerky, noisy, gaudy, pointlessness of a cuckoo clock in Hell.

The dismaying thing about the classic totalitarian mind is that any given gear, though mutilated, will have at its circumference unbroken sequences of teeth hat are immaculately maintained, that are exquisitely machined.

Hence the cuckoo clock in Hell–keeping perfect time for eight minutes and twenty-three seconds, jumping ahead two seconds, keeping perfect time for two hours and one second, then jumping ahead a year.

The missing teeth, of course, are simple, obvious truths, truths available and comprehensible even to ten-year-olds, in most cases.”

Will leFey on April 27, 2011 at 9:58 pm

Dear Debbie:

The Randians are squealing as loudly as Scientologists when their deified L. Ron Hubbard is criticized. Ayn Rand has become the object of cult like adoration, and is not to be questioned She even encouraged this practice during her lifetime. It is amusing to see the followers of Ayn Rand act like neo-Pagans. One would have thought the practice of deifying emperors and individuals would have ended in the West when the Roman Empire went officially Christian in the fourth century A.D.

Worry01 on April 27, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    “One would have thought the practice of deifying emperors and individuals would have ended in the West when the Roman Empire went officially Christian in the fourth century A.D.”

    Don’t Let Black Messiah Obama hear you say that!

    Or Mandela maniacs!

    Or JFK fans! Don’t you know he would’ve saved the entire universe if he’d lived?

    Not Likely on April 28, 2011 at 11:57 pm

It is an interesting striptease they are doing in front of us. Their remarks remind me of the responses you got to the passing of Howard Zinn and J.D. Salinger. The verbiage used by the Randians is eerily similar, even if the objects of adoration are not the same.

Worry01 on April 27, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Rand lost me in her book: The Virtue of Selfishness when she commented that she enthusiastically approved of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade. The problem is not whether abortion should be illegal or legal, it’s just that a bunch of lawyers made a decision that should have been reserved to the free people in the several states.

Instead, SCOTUS acquired for itself undeserved power, as does the idiots on the Senate Judiciary Committee. They know they don’t know better, but they love having the power to set social policy.

P. Aaron on April 28, 2011 at 1:11 am

Although I have read and enjoyed some of her work, I certainly don’t agree 100% of the time with her or the lifestyle choices she made. And I also don’t agree that she would have been silent in regard to the Islamic threat to the West. Here’s a link to an interview on the Donahue show from 1979:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2uHSv1asFvU

Alan on April 28, 2011 at 1:55 am

I’m waiting for serious challenges to Michael R. Brown’s comment (above). Having read Rand’s fiction for the first time rather recently (in the past 5 years), I recognize that Brown’s Rand much more than Debbie’s.

I also think Debbie is wrong to liken Rand to, say, Palin and Hannity. Even if Debbie is correct about Rand’s personal life, it does not follow that Rand’s books have no value. What might follow is that Rand would be a poor elected official.

One reason why many conservatives like Rand is that she was virulently anti-Communist at a time when this wasn’t mere posturing. Old style leftists froth at the mouth because of this, by the way.

Finally, Rand was neither a “conservative” nor a “libertarian.” However, both conservatism and libertarianism have more emphasis on the individual than liberalism, and Rand’s focus on the individual–and the individual mind–thus makes her relatively appealing.

skzion on April 28, 2011 at 6:27 pm

“Objectivism was nothing more than the resurrection of Social Darwinism.” -worry01

Huh? The villains in Atlas Shrugged were very successful in the Social Darwinism game. Rand places the individual rational mind in the center of everything Good.

skzion on April 28, 2011 at 6:34 pm

I recall a Rand appearance on the Phil Donahue show, where she pronounced that public education was “illegal.” The woman was pathologically inflexible. Junk product financial instrument con-men have a poster-girl in that fanatic. Read Schumpeter’s advocacy of contested subjectivity (“Creative destruction”) in economics, for an antidote to Rand’s elite worship and slavish deference to redundant pseuds.

Vlad the Jihadi Impaler on April 28, 2011 at 10:05 pm

The irony is that most conservative ideas on individual freedom and lesser governmental intrusion stem from classic liberalism. The current liberal strain is watered-down Marxism at best, watered-down fascist tyranny at worst.

At this point in my life, these 2 competing ideologies are dead as opportunists try to win everyone at the expense of the true believers. True, focused inspiring leadership is dead and would be considered evil if it were to be practiced today (thanks a freaking lot, Adolf).

Ayn Rand was no saint, but she sure does act like one. She did write great books that inspired social and spiritual libertarians like me to go beyond the prisons of paradigms. But I wouldn’t want her to be my leader any more than I’d like DS to be anyone else’s.

If Ayn Rand were alive today, she would be another blogger.

The Reverend Jacques on April 29, 2011 at 12:37 am

Go ahead, call me ignorant because I’ve heard about Rand but never read her books.

I know she was an atheist. Thus, she believes whatever is good for her is right. For me, I am not surprised and I don’t see the point in following her views. Right and wrong is a moving target for an atheist.

I don’t need Rand or anyone to tell me big government taking too much of our money is bad. Duh!

If you are a Randian, what makes her views any better? Just do what you want.

I believe there is a God, the God of the Bible. I’m not always correct. But, we have a Standard for our views.

Jeff_W on April 29, 2011 at 10:51 am

    1. You are indeed ignorant.

    2. Yes, whatever is in the rational self-interest of one person, as long as it does not infringe upon the rights of another person, is good for the person. This is in contrast to the ethics of altruism, which dictates that you are to serve others, and that your own interests are second to those of others. Why are others’ interests more important than yours? Your silly bible, written by silly men, preaches nothing but altruism. You say that taking too much of our money is bad, but that is all your stupid fairy tale bible preaches! You are a typical religious person: Believe in God, but don’t take any of my money!! Save your own ass, and to hell with all the others. You are as selfish as they come!!! Ayn Rand provided reason for you to keep what you earn, your bible says to give it away! You are a HYPOCRITE!!

    3. You say that morality is a moving target for atheists. The target for theists is, according to your bible, murder, rape, slavery, and sacrifice. It is clear that atheists hold the higher moral ground, here. Our morality consists of achieving one’s happiness through productive achievement, and doing so without violating another’s right to do the same. Yours consists of sacrificing the first born sons. Killing homosexuals. Killing rebellious teenagers. You are a savage who believes in magic. Read your stupid bible, you know it to be true. You are a joke of a human being.

    It is clear by your post that you are an illiterate and lazy sheep who uses faith as his guiding light. You believe in fairy tales and magic, as a child does. Your opinions are laughable. I assume you believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, too.

    It is stupid people like you who are destroying our country. Your idiotic views are no different than those of
    muslims. You deserve everything you get.

    The standard for my views is survival. What is the standard for yours? Never mind — don’t answer. I already know. Fear. Fear of going to an imaginary place called Hell. You deserve to go to this place. Shame on you.

    Jessica on April 29, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Interesting factoid: “Atlas Shrugged: Part I” was an all union production.

https://www.cameraguild.com/member-resources/on-the-set.aspx

Sure, holding to your ideals is important … but y’know, sometimes you just got to make a movie, ideals be damned.

Leon on May 4, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Ayn Rand’s philosophy is really not beyond anyone, especially Debbie. She was indeed a libertarian, rather than any sort of conservative. Aside from taxes and business regulation, she had no real problem with progressives despite her tirades against collectivism, etc.

If you want to get it straight from the horse’s mouth, try :

Rand, Ayn (1964). The Virtue of Selfishness. New York: New American Library. ISBN 0-451-16393-1. OCLC 28103453

Objectivism was nothing more than the resurrection of Social Darwinism. In a sense, Ayn Rand had more than a little in common with Karl H. Marx, since they both had strongly Deterministic views on economic and social matters.

Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer were formative figures for Ayn Rand, Dare we say Positivism?

worry01 on April 26, 2011 at 7:10 pm

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