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Martens writes: "Rand, and her supporters, including Alan Greenspan, viewed altruism as evil: altruism is evil, selfishness is good. And tens of millions of dollars of corporate money is backing that philosophy today in America, no doubt to give obscenely paid CEOs a sip of Rand's guilt-free narcissism while stoking the fires for more deregulation of a country just crawling back from the crippling effects of deregulation."

Ayn Rand's influence spans 60 years, with Alan Greenspan, Ronald Reagan, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) among her notable acolytes and devotees. (photo: Barnes and Noble Review)
Ayn Rand's influence spans 60 years, with Alan Greenspan, Ronald Reagan, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) among her notable acolytes and devotees. (photo: Barnes and Noble Review)



Ayn Rand: The Tea Party's Miscast Matriarch

By Pam Martens, CounterPunch

28 February 12

 

ary Weiss, long time Wall Street reporter and author, has written a new book, due out this week from St. Martin's Press, on the rising influence of Ayn Rand in modern politics. Titled Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden Struggle for America's Soul, the book removes the propaganda mask that has been so adroitly affixed to Alan Greenspan's page-boy coiffed goddess of laissez-faire capitalism and the Tea Party's mother ship.

While lecturing others for most of her life on the meaning of morality, Rand had extramarital sex for more than a decade with a younger man who worked for her. His wife was among her inner circle of friends and Rand herself was married. A believer in acquiescence to selfish desires, Rand published a 1964 collection of essays with Nathaniel Branden titled The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism. Adding particular poignancy to the title, Branden was the young subordinate with whom she was sleeping.

Rand, and her supporters, including Alan Greenspan, viewed altruism as evil: altruism is evil, selfishness is good. And tens of millions of dollars of corporate money is backing that philosophy today in America, no doubt to give obscenely paid CEOs a sip of Rand's guilt-free narcissism while stoking the fires for more deregulation of a country just crawling back from the crippling effects of deregulation. This is the mindless irrationality of Rand's brand of rationality.

According to Weiss, Ayn Rand built her Objectivist philosophy that permeates today's Tea Party around individual self interest and eliminating government run social welfare programs, but she herself was on Medicare and Social Security.

Even after the attack at Pearl Harbor, Rand was against the U.S. entering World War II. She viewed government force as evil, but her own followers were regularly purged, shunned and vilified. She was an atheist, as are all true Objectivists, according to the grande dame of radical capitalism.

Alan Greenspan, the man who chaired the Federal Reserve Board for 18 years, guiding U.S. monetary policy under four presidents, was a member of Rand's Collective in New York City, which Weiss likens to a cult: "For much of its existence the Collective was for all intents and purposes a cult. It had an unquestioned leader, it demanded absolute loyalty, it intruded into the personal lives of its members, it had its own rote expressions and catchphrases, it expelled transgressors for deviation from accepted norms, and expellees were 'fair game' for vicious personal attacks."

More troubling about Greenspan, who during his term as Fed Chair, aided in the gutting of critical Wall Street regulations, including the repeal of the depression-era Glass-Steagall Act which barred the merger of insured deposit banks with investment banks and brokerage firms, was his blind loyalty to Rand's cultish propaganda.

Weiss produces a gem from The New York Times Book Review from 1957. Greenspan was defending his idol after her most famous work, Atlas Shrugged, had been thrashed in multiple reviews. Greenspan dutifully makes his case in Randian-speak: "Atlas Shrugged is a celebration of life and happiness," he wrote. "Justice is unrelenting. Creative individuals and undeviating purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfillment. Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should."

According to Weiss, Rand was not very joyous or fulfilled during her later years, but rather "a fussy and bitter old woman, shuffling around her neighborhood in a house coat."

Were major reviewers in the 50s wrong about Rand's seminal work, Atlas Shrugged, as they unmercifully trashed it? "When I read it years ago," Weiss writes, "Atlas Shrugged left me cold. To me it had the intellectual level of a pulp science-fiction novel. It was absurdly long and it was boring." I have to personally admit to finding it gratingly verbose and boring when I read it in college. Perhaps Rand's brilliance and that of Greenspan elude the Objectivist-challenged among us. I decided to reach out to an expert on such matters.

I emailed Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the Humanities and English at Yale University. Professor Bloom did not mince words: "Ayn Rand was a writer of no value whatsoever, whether aesthetic or intellectual. The Tea Party deserves her, but the rest of us do not. It is not less than obscene that any educational institution that relies even in part on public funds should ask students to consider her work. We are threatened these days by vicious mindlessness and this is one of its manifestations."

Professor Bloom may have been referring to the dust up last year when it was revealed that corporate money was contractually mandating the reading and teaching of Rand at publicly funded universities.

Gary H. Jones, an Associate Professor in the College of Business at Western Carolina University, addressed the topic in the July-August 2010 issue of Academe, the magazine of the American Association of University Professors: "Recent donations from the charitable arm of BB&T, one of the nation's largest banks, have raised the issue of external influence…At the center of the concerns about these donations is the requirement that objectivist Ayn Rand's novels be taught in special courses extolling capitalism and self-interest…the BB&T gifts raise questions of both substance and procedure. Faculty members at several universities did not even know of the gifts or that BB&T's donations had curricular implications until after the agreements were signed. At the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, for example, three years passed before faculty members learned that a million-dollar gift agreement establishing a new course contained language requiring both that Rand's lengthy paean to laissez-faire capitalism, Atlas Shrugged, be assigned reading and that professors who teach that course 'have a positive interest in and be well versed in Objectivism.' "

In that same article, Brian Leiter, director of the Center of Law, Philosophy, and Human Values at the University of Chicago called the book "badly written and simpleminded."

I asked Professor Jones for an update on the views he expressed in 2010. As it turns out, there is a growing "collective" of people who think Rand's writing is unworthy of the halls of learning. Jones replied in an email: "For all the right reasons it is the faculty of educational institutions who are charged — by regional accrediting bodies — with having primary responsibility for university curriculum. Despite this, wealthy foundations, notably BB&T, offer money to schools of higher education with stipulations directly affecting curriculum, e.g., mandating or 'encouraging' the assignment of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Frequently, this has been done surreptitiously through the side door of private university foundations – foundations shielded from state sunshine laws and, too often, any faculty input concerning possible curricular 'strings.' A more abstract criticism of this unwelcome process is made by the use of Rand's own free-market argument against her: That Atlas Shrugged should rise to the level of academic consideration, in economics, on its own merit—without subsidy. (Which it doesn't.)"

The corporate gambit to infuse the deregulatory, small government mantra into the hearts and minds of young voters is far more Machiavellian than previously understood. And a spontaneous outpouring of interest in Ayn Rand's books now seems more like a well-funded enterprise by deep and intertwined corporate pockets. Weiss provides his own thoughts on the likely corporate motive early in the book: "The only societal problem in the world of Atlas Shrugged is that government is mean to business and unfair to the wealthy." (See Part II of this article tomorrow, which will explore in-depth the new radical right duo on campus: joint funding of economics programs by one of the brothers grim, the Charles G. Koch Foundation, and BB&T.)

Weiss frequently references the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI), the organization that took over the marketing of Rand's books and writings after her death in 1982. I visited their web site to see if this might be another astroturf group, creating the illusion of spontaneous outpourings of public zeal. I learned the following:

"ARI seeks to spearhead a cultural renaissance that will reverse the anti-reason, anti-individualism, anti-freedom, anti-capitalist trends in today's culture. The major battleground in this fight for reason and capitalism is the educational institutions—high schools and, above all, the universities, where students learn the ideas that shape their lives…To date, 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.

"Based on a projected shelf life of five years per book, 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…partnerships have been established between ARI and the corporate community to advance Ayn Rand's ideas in the universities. (Italics added.)

"Through ARI's assistance, Ayn Rand's ideas are taught and studied at more than 50 of America's most influential institutions of higher education, including: Clemson University, Duke University, University of Virginia, University of Texas at Austin, University of Pittsburgh, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brown University, University of Kentucky, University of South Carolina, University of Florida, University of West Virginia and Wake Forest University."

BB&T's involvement with the Ayn Rand Institute and funding the mandate that her books be taught on campus was spearheaded by John A. Allison, the long serving former CEO and Chairman of the large Southern bank based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Weiss interviewed Allison at length for the book.

Allison's first introduction to Rand was in his twenties at the University of North Carolina where he spotted Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal in a bookstore. (Weiss says the book has "all the charm and wit of an Army training manual.") Noteworthy, that's the book that carries three of Alan Greenspan's essays. The essays were radical both then and now for advocating the repeal of anti-trust laws and almost all forms of regulation of business. Those strident Objectivist views may go a long way in explaining how Greenspan's corporate cheerleaders protected his tenure through the Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II presidencies and how his radical musings steered the world's largest economy into a cliff.

In one essay, "The Assault on Integrity," Greenspan provides a prescient preview of just how badly he understood Wall Street: "It is precisely the 'greed' of the businessman or, more appropriately, his profit-seeking, which is the unexcelled protector of the consumer." The rest of us just can't get it through our thick heads that "it is in the self-interest of every businessman to have a reputation for honest dealings and a quality product."

Wall Street traders are no doubt laughing all the way to their mansions in Greenwich and Cayman Islands accounts over that one. Curiously, after each Wall Street corruption scandal broke from the late 90s onward, after Citigroup was caught labeling its trade against the European bond market, "Dr. Evil," after Enron, and Worldcom and Rite-Aid – Greenspan refused to acknowledge the childlike naiveté of the Objectivist position.

Greenspan was himself so unconcerned with that reputational thing that he left 18 years of high profile government service to work for a notorious hedge fund, raising the question as to whether he ever really believed what he said.

In 2010, Weiss wrangled an invitation to a swanky fundraiser titled "Atlas Shrugged Revolution," for the Ayn Rand Institute at the St. Regis Hotel in Manhattan. He was able to hear Yaron Brook, the head of the Ayn Rand Institute, gush about the peddling of free books to young minds. "Every English teacher in the United States gets an offer from us. If they will teach Ayn Rand's books, we will deliver as many copies as they need for free. When we initially started this program we had a few thousand of the books sent out. Today we're shipping three hundred and fifty-thousand copies of the books a year." The audience roared with approval.

Weiss sized up the reaction of the crowd of wealthy donors like this: "It was as ambitious a program of mind-reprogramming as one could find outside of North Korea and science- fiction movies. Americans are said to be resistant to indoctrination and heavy-handed ideology. Yet here we had a gathering of apparently reasonable, intelligent Americans, applauding their hands raw about the prospect of young people being force fed the works of an ideologue far outside of the American mainstream."

Shoveling over 300,000 books a year out the door costs a lot of money. I pulled up the Institute's 990 IRS tax filings at www.Guidestar.org.

Here's a partial breakdown of expenses for the Ayn Rand Institute, just for tax year 2009:

$l,849,400 to donate "over 321,000 free copies of Ayn Rand's book to high school teachers and students. Held 3 essay contests on Ayn Rand's novels which drew more than 20,000 entries. Provided support to Objectivist campus clubs, including providing speakers for 42 campus events."

$1,152,588: "Objectivist academic center held classes for 140 enrolled students. Published 10 articles in scholarly books and journals."

$346,833: Op-Eds published 486 times in print and web media. Letters to the editor published in over 100 print and web publications. Issued 78 press releases."

You can understand why I am skeptical that the Ayn Rand craze is a naturally occurring phenomenon. But then, I have the benefit of recently living for five years in New Hampshire with the Objectivists of the Free State Project, a group whose stated goal is to infuse 20,000 hyperactive political operatives into the state and take over government, gut public education and all regulations on business. This outfit seemed grassroots too – until I traced the funding of their founder, Jason Sorens, to Koch foundation largesse.

To get a sense of the real Ayn Rand (her birth name was Alyssa Rosenbaum) Weiss hung out with and interviewed some of the members of Rand's original Manhattan Collective. Weiss' sources speak on the record about the woman. These interviews expose Rand as perhaps the most unlikely candidate for libertarian adoration. Rand despised libertarians. Rand elaborates on her views in her essay "What Can One Do" from her book "Philosophy: Who Needs It."

"Above all, do not join the wrong ideological groups or movements, in order to 'do something.' By 'ideological' (in this context), I mean groups or movements proclaiming some vaguely generalized, undefined (and, usually, contradictory) political goals. (E.g., the Conservative Party, which subordinates reason to faith, and substitutes theocracy for capitalism; or the 'libertarian' hippies, who subordinate reason to whims, and substitute anarchism for capitalism.)"

According to Weiss, the bashing of libertarians continued after her death at the Ayn Rand Institute. In 1989, the Institute published a newsletter in which the editor, Peter Schwartz, denounced libertarians as a "movement that embraces the advocates of child-molesting, the proponents of unilateral U.S. disarmament, the LSD-taking and bomb-throwing members of the New Left, the communist guerrillas in Central America and the baby-killing followers of Yassir Arafat."

Despite this history of condescending contempt for conservatives and libertarians, in 2009 there was an Objectivist collaboration with the Tea Party. The Ayn Rand Institute co-hosted an "Intellectual Ammunition Strategy Workshop," a day before the 9/12 Tea Party extravaganza in Washington, D.C. in September 2009, bringing together 250 Tea Party leaders who attended free of charge. Weiss notes that the co-sponsor of the Rand Institute event was the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

That name rang a bell from the research I had previously done for a series of articles on the Koch brothers' funding of front groups. A quick check at Media Matters Action Network showed that various Koch foundations had funneled over $665,000 into the Competitive Enterprise Institute over a number of years. A further check at Guidestar.org showed that the Claude R. Lambe Foundation, controlled by the Koch family, gave the Ayn Rand Institute $50,000 in total for tax years 2009 and 2010.

The widest gulf between Rand and her devoted Tea Partiers is on the issue of God. Weiss says: "She hated religion, especially Christianity. But faith in God was the essence of life to a great many in the Tea Party. Tea Party literature sometimes read like hymnals, with copious references to the Almighty and Jesus. In his vest-pocket-sized The Tea Party Manifesto, author and conservative commentator Joseph Farah invokes the Deity on almost every one of its tiny pages. 'I know the heart and soul of the tea party movement,' he says. 'It is populated by people who think just like I do on these big issues. It is a movement of prayerful people, people who love God, people who go to church and synagogue.' That would leave Objectivists out in the cold, unless you included the Church of Rand on that list."

In the end, both Weiss and I seem to come to the same conclusion. Weiss ponders: "…perhaps it is simply that Objectivism has no practical purpose except to promote the economic interests of the people bankrolling it, the rationally self-interested people surrounding me at the St. Regis, regardless of its potential to bring ruin to everyone else…"

Possibly Weiss had in the back of his mind the Co-Chair of the Board of the Ayn Rand Institute: Arline Mann, Managing Director and Associate General Counsel of the Board of Goldman Sachs & Company.

Pam Martens worked on Wall Street for 21 years. She spent the last decade of her career advocating against Wall Street’s private justice system, which keeps its crimes shielded from public courtrooms. She maintains, along with Russ Martens, an ongoing archive dedicated to this financial era at http://www.wallstreetonparade.com/. She has no security position, long or short, in any company mentioned in this article. She is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, forthcoming from AK Press. She can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

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+38 # WFO 2012-02-28 21:06
She had no problem accepting Medicare (and Social Security) for her expensive lung cancer treatments. I would have thought that she would want to be responsible for the full effect of her cigarette smoking - but, when the rubber meets the road, the truth is revealed.
 
 
+14 # globalcitizen 2012-02-28 21:09
Ayn Rand's revolt against Stalinism produced a Fascist Jew. Her failure to realize that Stalinism, like POST (CLASS DEFORMED) Enlightenment, post (class deformed)coloni alism were all class deformed parallel outcomes produced by Western Fascism.

Rand's failure to separate out the early social, Bolshevik revolution from Stalinism, is very similar of the failure of today's liberals to separate out revolutionary liberalism of the Enlightenment from Napoleonism, both social revolutions victims of class deformed hierarchies, class deformed ideologies that deliberatly smeared totalitarian class outcomes to social movements.

That failure in turn, with poetic justice, reproduced Ayn Rand's embrace of class totalitarianism , class deformed outcome, which Stalinism, like post colonialism was itself a parallel class deformed outcome. She and Greenspan, and most of the idiotic ideological class thugs, grafted post class deformed outcomes to social movements, who were victims of Stalinism, Fascism, and totalitarian class rule.

Their failure to see the link between Stalinism and Late Capitalism is why she and many others became fascist totalitarians.
 
 
+8 # RLF 2012-02-29 07:12
I was going to say that perhaps what should be required reading in colleges is Hannah Arendt's Mass Psycology of Fascism...but you made the same point so nicely!
 
 
+5 # Billsy 2012-02-29 13:18
Excellent points all. I find her inability to accept the loss of her family's estate in Russia led to a toxic resentment from which she never recovered. Her political idealism prevented her from acknowledging human greed. Her acolyte, Alan Greenspan, very famously admitted before Congress his own inability to recognize the self-destructiv e force of greed on the market place.
 
 
+9 # globalcitizen 2012-02-28 21:14
Like so many middle class professionals, deformed by class hierarchies, whether Stalinist or Capitalist, she ended up embracing the very thing she most despised, the parallel totalitarian regimes of Stalinism and Fascism, both linked to the very same source, namely dominating despotic totalitarian class markets producing fascist regimes and shadow totalitarian regimes, whether post colonial states or Stalinist States. Both were outcomes of class deformation, which she ended up embracing, as a fascist ideologue.
 
 
+7 # Ralph Averill 2012-02-29 03:24
"she ended up embracing the very thing she most despised,"
Hey Global,
Be careful the same doesn't happen to you. Try kicking back with some Twain or Hemingway, or some good mystery writers like Chandler, Elmore Leonard, or James Lee Burke. Put a little Miles Davis or Mozart in your writing and people would probably take you more seriously.
Just a thought.
 
 
+9 # globalcitizen 2012-02-28 21:24
Counterpunch has an article on the connection between Koch fascism and BBT Banking Fascism, namely BB&T.

I pulled out of Bank of Amerika, then pulled out of Wachovia, now Wells Fargo, where FASCIST BANKING CAPITAL has now seeped into the bank I thought was less Fascist, corrupt and despotic.

I will pull out my money from FASCIST BB&T and its NAZIS, CAPITALIST FASCISTS, who think they are intelligent, moral, when they are totalitarian thugs.

I will take on all LIBERTARIAN NAZIS, FASCISTS, FASCIST CAPITALIST with this historical look a class history:

A SOCIAL MANIFESTO AND HISTORICAL THEORY

http://asocialmanifestoagainstclasshistory.com

I DARE ANY FASCIST TEA BAGGER, FASCIST LIBERTARIAN, FASCIST CAPITALIST, to take on this theory. YOU WILL LOSE!! Try me BB&T, KOCH NAZIS, FASCIST CAPITALIST, LIBERTARIANS!!!
 
 
+11 # freeportguy 2012-02-28 23:47
There is a huge difference between capitalism and shelfishness in which "it's every man for himself".

Whatever I read about Rand, I can systematically hear Gordon Gekko's "Greed is good"...
 
 
+7 # DaveM 2012-02-28 23:48
I believe "Atlas Shrugged" to be well-worth reading, ponderous and pretentious as it is. It's a potboiler which includes ideas (take them or leave them). It must not be mistaken for a textbook or an education.

Most interesting, to my mind, is Rand's depiction of certain businesspeople and government officials as "looters". Well...they're out there now and they look much as they did in the book. Except that they claim to be capitalists.

Rand grew up in pre-revolutiona ry Russia lived through famine and war and political purges and who knows what before coming to the United States. Which, in the two decades prior to her arrival, had run electricity to most of the nation, put the airplane into production, and put America on the road via the Model T. Railroads were the mainstay of this country--radio hadn't matured yet so the telegraph remained the mainstay of communication. Telephones were certainly prevalent, but long-distance calls would remain a rare event and a logistical nightmare.

This was the United States at the conclusion of World War I (and yes, I am oversimplifying terribly). To many it seemed as if America could do anything and that this was because of society that was free to a degree none among us can recall. It was this world, offered as the opposite of revolutionary Russia, in which Rand set her magnum opus. She did not realize that she was at least 40 years behind the times.
 
 
+11 # ABen 2012-02-29 02:14
Rand was a myopic narcissist (to be kind) and possessed of a rather strange (at best)set of ethics. Interesting that she is "required reading" for those working for Paul Ryan. Birds of a feather......
 
 
+4 # Linda 2012-02-29 08:54
The corporate world isn't stupid it was well worth the money to distribute those Ayn Rand books to high school and college students in order to twist their minds to fulfill their agenda .
Look at how many young students at OWS who have been brain washed and support Ron Paul whose agenda is exactly that of Ayn Rand .
I see a big segment of our society who have lost their ability to empathize with the less fortunate . They have become heartless when it comes to the way they view and treat the poor and elderly .This comes straight from the Ayn Rand philosophy of survival of the fittest and pure selfishness.
 
 
+4 # cordleycoit 2012-02-29 09:00
Rand appealed to the childish side of capitalism, and used childish prose to outline her child like philosophy. She should be filed under Unsolved Mysteries along with the invisible hand and Freidman's 'Free Market.'
 
 
+3 # Linda 2012-02-29 09:12
It seems that Karma caught up to Ayn Rand and she had to do a little walking in those shoes she claimed to hate so much . She should have been more careful with her condemnation because she ended up having to eat her own words .

Hum ! Come to think of it this also happened to Ron Paul's good friend who also held Paul and Rand's philosophy when he too had cancer and no health insurance . Come to think of it his wonderful friend Ron Paul thought it was wonderful that his friend had the Liberty to chose whether to pay for health insurance or not and die because he chose not to . I bet old Ron never raised a finger to help his dear friend either .
 
 
-1 # lnason@umassd.edu 2012-02-29 11:37
Linda:

This is a new twist to the story.

First, there are distinct differences between Paul's anti-interventi onist foreign policy and pro-private-Chr istianity vs. Rand's atheism and very aggressive foreign policy with regard to the Soviets. Melding the two views and pretending that they are one (as is done in the article above) is impossibly undiscerning.

Ron Paul's campaign manager did not carry healthcare insurance but was cared for and all his healthcare bills were paid. He also died of pneumonia, not cancer. Since Paul is an OBGYN, I expect that he did not help medically, but I am quite certain that he was among those who got together to pay the medical bills.

Finally, taking joy in another human being's misfortune is, well, inhuman.

Where is the compassion or is that only reserved for people with whom you agree.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
 
 
+2 # Fiona Mackenzie 2012-02-29 13:52
My understanding is that Ron Paul steadfastly refused to have anything to do with his friend and employee, once he became ill. After his death, co-workers attempted to collect money to defray the $600,000 hospital bill he left. True to his principles, Paul refused to contribute a dollar.
 
 
+10 # brilyn37 2012-02-29 09:30
There is a growing body of scientific evidence to refute Ayn Rands thinking. I recently posted about this on my blog. The emerging consensus is that our ability to self sacrifice for the good of the group is the source of our success and the basis for our higher social order.
http://bit.ly/zflLWV
 
 
+2 # dick 2012-02-29 09:51
I think segments of Ayn Rand should be reading assignments in high school & college in environments where there can be a critical dialogue. Otherwise she will be read among reinforcing worshippers until her alluring nonsense is utterly locked in.
 
 
-12 # Martintfre 2012-02-29 10:01
Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged as a warning against the time when the looters, mouchers and paracites in power decided their need granted them a right to enslave people of ability, when the people of ability say no or when the burden is simply too great. The gig will be up.

As Milton Friedman observed the problem with the welfare state is it is never productive enough to support the welfare state.
 
 
+4 # ericlipps 2012-02-29 13:33
Quoting Martintfre:
Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged as a warning against the time when the looters, mouchers and paracites in power decided their need granted them a right to enslave people of ability, when the people of ability say no or when the burden is simply too great. The gig will be up.

As Milton Friedman observed the problem with the welfare state is it is never productive enough to support the welfare state.


And as we all know, sayings from the Book of Milton are as much holy writ as anything else, and never mind that his economic ideas have nor better track record than anyone else's.
 
 
+4 # Fiona Mackenzie 2012-02-29 13:54
The "looters, moochers, and parasites" were, in her mind, the factory workers and service workers and shopkeepers whose failing was that they lacked the ability to protect themselves and their businesses from being abused and usurped by her very, very few (just a handful of) people who were worthy of taking it all from the rest of us.

You know, much like the members of ALEC have been doing to us.
 
 
+5 # Majikman 2012-02-29 10:34
Ayn Rand was a twisted, tortured soul who could never accept the fact that she was a fallible human being. She dealt in absolutes as nuances and other value systems were quite beyond her. Of course repugs adore her...she is the epitome of the control freak and if one disagreed with her idea of things should be, that person was lower than whale shit not fit to live. She loathed homosexuals, and from reading her "romantic" passages, anything that was remotely normal and healthy sexually. Rape and sexual violence was, to her, the way "heroic" individuals conducted intimacy.
 
 
-4 # lnason@umassd.edu 2012-02-29 11:43
While Rand was panned by the NYT critics and remains a despised figure in liberal circles, Atlas Shrugged remains a best seller. Perhaps she is hated because she has had so much influence on people.

But it is her influence that makes the book important. I thought it was a really interesting book with lots of good points to make even though I disagreed with Rand on many, many issues and thought that her intolerance was insufferable. But trying to bury a book that provokes so much thought and attention decades after its first publication seems surreal.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
 
 
+4 # Majikman 2012-02-29 13:23
Dig just an inch below "The Virtue of Selfishness" and one sees not enlightened self interest, but an excuse for predation. Her world is a jungle of predators..as she herself was with her followers. The concept of cooperation (necessary for the survival of social animals) and the common good was an anathema to her.
 
 
-2 # Martintfre 2012-02-29 16:18
Quoting Majikman:
Dig just an inch below "The Virtue of Selfishness" and one sees not enlightened self interest, but an excuse for predation. Her world is a jungle of predators..as she herself was with her followers. The concept of cooperation (necessary for the survival of social animals) and the common good was an anathema to her.


predation requires sacrificing your victim - Rand is opposed to sacrifice.

Cooperation can be voluntary as Rand advocated or 'cooperating' with no choice such as by force typically the end of a bureaucrats gun.
 
 
0 # Majikman 2012-02-29 18:52
"Rand is opposed to sacrifice"...sh e equates sacrifice as the achievers/produ cers being forced to adhere to regulations that might cut into their profits...or that they should pay for use and exploitation of the commons. Laissez faire marketing is what she preached.
Voluntary is the intrinsic meaning of cooperation. "Cooperating by force" is called coercion. She didn't understand it either.
 
 
+1 # Martintfre 2012-02-29 21:01
Rand clearly understood the difference, Specifically voluntary cooperation as being moral
and involuntary cooperation (coercion as you say) as slavery.
 
 
+2 # ABen 2012-02-29 20:30
As a former Lit teacher, I have no desire to bury Atlas Shrugged or any of her works. However, I do want students/reader s to see her works for what they are--poorly written propagandist screeds that appeal to jejune sensibility. Her characters are flat and never developed, her plots are wildly simplistic and unrealistic, and her dialogue belongs in comic books. But her works do act like a mirror--if they appeal to you, you really should look a bit longer and harder at what is reflected.
 
 
+4 # Fiona Mackenzie 2012-02-29 13:44
Going back now after decades and re-reading "Fountainhead," I see that Rand's characters are stilted and two-dimensional . Her plots are of the intricacy and depth of a comic book. And her "philosophy" is that of a two-year-old, as yet uncomprehending that those around him are like himself.

The ONLY thing that could have deluded the members of her Salon (e.g., Alan Greenspan) into imagining this was literature is that they found in it justification for their own greed and the inhumanity to their fellow man that fed it.

At all the many colleges and state universities where Kochs have a grip, Ayn Rand is required reading for undergraduates, including but not limited to business and economics departments. It should appeal to a barely post-adolescent psyche not yet learned to care for others and the country.
 
 
+4 # Majikman 2012-02-29 15:44
As an atheist emerging from a dysfunctional background and college bound, Ayn Rand was a siren song for me with her claim of reason and objectivity. Any niggling doubts I had reading her stuff (I devoured everything she wrote) I repressed as "maybe I'm not smart enough". Hell, I was a charter subscriber to her "Objectivist" newsletter. As you so aptly put it, I left my post-adolescenc e and grew to learn the meaning of the common good...among many other socially enlightened concepts.
I hope those kids are as lucky as I to find their way out of that swamp.
 
 
+1 # RMDC 2012-03-01 07:43
I've never read much of Rand. It just did not interest me. But she seems to have been part of a larger movement to "naturalize" capitalism; that is, to claim that the selfishness and greed that underlie the uniquely Anglo-American style of capitalism is part of human nature. This completely wrong theory was also trumpeted by idiots like Richard Dawkins and his "Selfish Gene" theory. Now many people are persuaded that we are genetically self interested.

You have to think of social and genetic theory in the middle of the 20th century in the Anglo-American empire as really perverted.
 

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