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Levine writes: "Ayn Rand helped make the United States into one of the most uncaring nations in the industrialized world, a neo-Dickensian society where healthcare is only for those who can afford it, and where young people are coerced into huge student-loan debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy."

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 & 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 & Noble Review)

Ayn Rand Made US a Selfish, Greedy Nation

By Bruce E. Levine, AlterNet

17 December 11


Thanks in part to Rand, the United States is one of the most uncaring nations in the industrialized world.

Ayn Rand's "philosophy" is nearly perfect in its immorality, which makes the size of her audience all the more ominous and symptomatic as we enter a curious new phase in our society.... To justify and extol human greed and egotism is to my mind not only immoral, but evil.
- Gore Vidal, 1961

nly rarely in U.S. history do writers transform us to become a more caring or less caring nation. In the 1850s, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was a strong force in making the United States a more humane nation, one that would abolish slavery of African Americans. A century later, Ayn Rand (1905-1982) helped make the United States into one of the most uncaring nations in the industrialized world, a neo-Dickensian society where healthcare is only for those who can afford it, and where young people are coerced into huge student-loan debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

Rand's impact has been widespread and deep. At the iceberg's visible tip is the influence she's had over major political figures who have shaped American society. In the 1950s, Ayn Rand read aloud drafts of what was later to become Atlas Shrugged to her "Collective," Rand's ironic nickname for her inner circle of young individualists, which included Alan Greenspan, who would serve as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board from 1987 to 2006.

In 1966, Ronald Reagan wrote in a personal letter, "Am an admirer of Ayn Rand." Today, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) credits Rand for inspiring him to go into politics, and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) calls Atlas Shrugged his "foundation book." Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) says Ayn Rand had a major influence on him, and his son Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is an even bigger fan. A short list of other Rand fans includes Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Christopher Cox, chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission in George W. Bush's second administration; and former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford.

But Rand's impact on U.S. society and culture goes even deeper.

The Seduction of Nathan Blumenthal

Ayn Rand's books such as The Virtue of Selfishness and her philosophy that celebrates self-interest and disdains altruism may well be, as Vidal assessed, "nearly perfect in its immorality." But is Vidal right about evil? Charles Manson, who himself did not kill anyone, is the personification of evil for many of us because of his psychological success at exploiting the vulnerabilities of young people and seducing them to murder. What should we call Ayn Rand's psychological ability to exploit the vulnerabilities of millions of young people so as to influence them not to care about anyone besides themselves?

While Greenspan (tagged "A.G." by Rand) was the most famous name that would emerge from Rand's Collective, the second most well-known name to emerge from the Collective was Nathaniel Branden, psychotherapist, author and "self-esteem" advocate. Before he was Nathaniel Branden, he was Nathan Blumenthal, a 14-year-old who read Rand's The Fountainhead again and again. He later would say, "I felt hypnotized." He describes how Rand gave him a sense that he could be powerful, that he could be a hero. He wrote one letter to his idol Rand, then a second. To his amazement, she telephoned him, and at age 20, Nathan received an invitation to Ayn Rand's home. Shortly after, Nathan Blumenthal announced to the world that he was incorporating Rand in his new name: Nathaniel Branden. And in 1955, with Rand approaching her 50th birthday and Branden his 25th, and both in dissatisfying marriages, Ayn bedded Nathaniel.

What followed sounds straight out of Hollywood, but Rand was straight out of Hollywood, having worked for Cecil B. DeMille. Rand convened a meeting with Nathaniel, his wife Barbara (also a Collective member), and Rand's own husband Frank. To Branden's astonishment, Rand convinced both spouses that a time-structured affair-she and Branden were to have one afternoon and one evening a week together-was "reasonable." Within the Collective, Rand is purported to have never lost an argument. On his trysts at Rand's New York City apartment, Branden would sometimes shake hands with Frank before he exited. Later, all discovered that Rand's sweet but passive husband would leave for a bar, where he began his self-destructive affair with alcohol.

By 1964, the 34-year-old Nathaniel Branden had grown tired of the now 59-year-old Ayn Rand. Still sexually dissatisfied in his marriage to Barbara and afraid to end his affair with Rand, Branden began sleeping with a married 24-year-old model, Patrecia Scott. Rand, now "the woman scorned," called Branden to appear before the Collective, whose nickname had by now lost its irony for both Barbara and Branden. Rand's justice was swift. She humiliated Branden and then put a curse on him: "If you have one ounce of morality left in you, an ounce of psychological health-you'll be impotent for the next twenty years! And if you achieve potency sooner, you'll know it's a sign of still worse moral degradation!"

Rand completed the evening with two welt-producing slaps across Branden's face. Finally, in a move that Stalin and Hitler would have admired, Rand also expelled poor Barbara from the Collective, declaring her treasonous because Barbara, preoccupied by her own extramarital affair, had neglected to fill Rand in soon enough on Branden's extra-extra-marital betrayal. (If anyone doubts Alan Greenspan's political savvy, keep in mind that he somehow stayed in Rand's good graces even though he, fixed up by Branden with Patrecia's twin sister, had double-dated with the outlaws.)

After being banished by Rand, Nathaniel Branden was worried that he might be assassinated by other members of the Collective, so he moved from New York to Los Angeles, where Rand fans were less fanatical. Branden established a lucrative psychotherapy practice and authored approximately 20 books, 10 of them with either "Self" or "Self-Esteem" in the title. Rand and Branden never reconciled, but he remains an admirer of her philosophy of self-interest.

Ayn Rand's personal life was consistent with her philosophy of not giving a shit about anybody but herself. Rand was an ardent two-pack-a-day smoker, and when questioned about the dangers of smoking, she loved to light up with a defiant flourish and then scold her young questioners on the "unscientific and irrational nature of the statistical evidence." After an x-ray showed that she had lung cancer, Rand quit smoking and had surgery for her cancer. Collective members explained to her that many people still smoked because they respected her and her assessment of the evidence; and that since she no longer smoked, she ought to tell them. They told her that she needn't mention her lung cancer, that she could simply say she had reconsidered the evidence. Rand refused.

How Rand's Philosophy Seduced Young Minds

When I was a kid, my reading included comic books and Rand's The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. There wasn't much difference between the comic books and Rand's novels in terms of the simplicity of the heroes. What was different was that unlike Superman or Batman, Rand made selfishness heroic, and she made caring about others weakness.

Rand said, "Capitalism and altruism are incompatible....The choice is clear-cut: either a new morality of rational self-interest, with its consequences of freedom, justice, progress and man's happiness on earth-or the primordial morality of altruism, with its consequences of slavery, brute force, stagnant terror and sacrificial furnaces." For many young people, hearing that it is "moral" to care only about oneself can be intoxicating, and some get addicted to this idea for life.

I have known several people, professionally and socially, whose lives have been changed by those close to them who became infatuated with Ayn Rand. A common theme is something like this: "My ex-husband wasn't a bad guy until he started reading Ayn Rand. Then he became a completely selfish jerk who destroyed our family, and our children no longer even talk to him."

To wow her young admirers, Rand would often tell a story of how a smart-aleck book salesman had once challenged her to explain her philosophy while standing on one leg. She replied: "Metaphysics-objective reality. Epistemology-reason. Ethics-self-interest. Politics-capitalism." How did that philosophy capture young minds?

Metaphysics-objective reality. Rand offered a narcotic for confused young people: complete certainty and a relief from their anxiety. Rand believed that an "objective reality" existed, and she knew exactly what that objective reality was. It included skyscrapers, industries, railroads, and ideas-at least her ideas. Rand's objective reality did not include anxiety or sadness. Nor did it include much humor, at least the kind where one pokes fun at oneself. Rand assured her Collective that objective reality did not include Beethoven's, Rembrandt's, and Shakespeare's realities-they were too gloomy and too tragic, basically buzzkillers. Rand preferred Mickey Spillane and, towards the end of her life, "Charlie's Angels."

Epistemology-reason. Rand's kind of reason was a "cool-tool" to control the universe. Rand demonized Plato, and her youthful Collective members were taught to despise him. If Rand really believed that the Socratic Method described by Plato of discovering accurate definitions and clear thinking did not qualify as "reason," why then did she regularly attempt it with her Collective? Also oddly, while Rand mocked dark moods and despair, her "reasoning" directed that Collective members should admire Dostoyevsky, whose novels are filled with dark moods and despair. A demagogue, in addition to hypnotic glibness, must also be intellectually inconsistent, sometimes boldly so. This eliminates challenges to authority by weeding out clear-thinking young people from the flock.

Ethics-self-interest. For Rand, all altruists were manipulators. What could be more seductive to kids who discerned the motives of martyr parents, Christian missionaries and U.S. foreign aiders? Her champions, Nathaniel Branden still among them, feel that Rand's view of "self-interest" has been horribly misrepresented. For them, self-interest is her hero architect Howard Roark turning down a commission because he couldn't do it exactly his way. Some of Rand's novel heroes did have integrity, however, for Rand there is no struggle to discover the distinction between true integrity and childish vanity. Rand's integrity was her vanity, and it consisted of getting as much money and control as possible, copulating with whomever she wanted regardless of who would get hurt, and her always being right. To equate one's selfishness, vanity, and egotism with one's integrity liberates young people from the struggle to distinguish integrity from selfishness, vanity, and egotism.

Politics-capitalism. While Rand often disparaged Soviet totalitarian collectivism, she had little to say about corporate totalitarian collectivism, as she conveniently neglected the reality that giant U.S. corporations, like the Soviet Union, do not exactly celebrate individualism, freedom, or courage. Rand was clever and hypocritical enough to know that you don't get rich in the United States talking about compliance and conformity within corporate America. Rather, Rand gave lectures titled: "America's Persecuted Minority: Big Business." So, young careerist corporatists could embrace Rand's self-styled "radical capitalism" and feel radical - radical without risk.

Rand's Legacy

In recent years, we have entered a phase where it is apparently okay for major political figures to publicly embrace Rand despite her contempt for Christianity. In contrast, during Ayn Rand's life, her philosophy that celebrated self-interest was a private pleasure for the 1 percent but she was a public embarrassment for them. They used her books to congratulate themselves on the morality of their selfishness, but they publicly steered clear of Rand because of her views on religion and God. Rand, for example, had stated on national television, "I am against God. I don't approve of religion. It is a sign of a psychological weakness. I regard it as an evil."

Actually, again inconsistent, Rand did have a God. It was herself. She said:

"I am done with the monster of 'we,' the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame. And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: 'I.'"

While Harriet Beecher Stowe shamed Americans about the United State's dehumanization of African Americans and slavery, Ayn Rand removed Americans' guilt for being selfish and uncaring about anyone except themselves. Not only did Rand make it "moral" for the wealthy not to pay their fair share of taxes, she "liberated" millions of other Americans from caring about the suffering of others, even the suffering of their own children.

The good news is that I've seen ex-Rand fans grasp the damage that Rand's philosophy has done to their lives and to then exorcize it from their psyche. Can the United States as a nation do the same thing? your social media marketing partner


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+188 # kyzipster 2011-12-17 18:59
Uncaring and selfish people just need an excuse to be out there with it, Rand provides that justification. I don't blame Ayn Rand, she was one writer presenting some good debate in a very different time than today. I do blame her current followers, how much more evidence do they need that we've been on a destructive and failed course since Reagan was elected? We need to go in another direction, find some balance, and they're determined to keep pushing us off of an extremist rightwing cliff.
+52 # Nominae 2011-12-18 02:54
@ kyzipster

Absolutely agree. Humans are all responsible for their own actions.

What is this above, the "Svengali defense" ?

Whether one is reading Any Rand or Lewis Carroll, or Charles Schultz, one is still personally culpable in thought action and deed.

The "greed is good" crowd weren't pushed into their avarice by any author. They simply love Rand because she gives them a good, if distorted, "story" to tell themselves when they are forced to look into the mirror, or when they must "justify" their actions in the world to their spouses and children.

Ayn Rand is no Svengali, no Charles Manson, et al, she simply offers "good" excuses for doing bad things. It is the actual people doing the bad things that need concern us, not their long-dead fantasy apologists.

This author places the cart before the horse.
+53 # gdp1 2011-12-18 10:43
..methinks you are splitting hairs here...of course people are responsible for their own actions...the author here is just pointing out the cultural, economic , and political influence that Rand exerted on a t absolving that self-same generation of its error...
+15 # Dukester 2011-12-19 20:46
Yes, Rand supplies the justification for evil-doers to do bad things. BTW, when I saw the photo of Ms. Rand I thought it was Lyndon Johnson at a J. Edgar Hoover party.
+10 # Anarchist 23 2011-12-20 19:12
It is true that Good and Evil are Equal Opportunity employers and the choice is our own. OTOH, one must ask if Ms. Rand was criminally stupid or actively evil, because what is happening to our society, which certainly in began 'in living memory' with JFK and continued through the 9/11 'shock and awe'( kerosene cannot melt steel in 50 minutes) seems to contain as much deliberate evil as it does criminal stupidity. Our only future course is the way of love and knowledge. Whatever else Ann Rand was and did, those two words see absent from her vocabulary.
+121 # lcarrier 2011-12-18 09:18
I disagree that Rand presented "good debate." Her so-called "objectivist" philosophy is a cheap pastiche of jumbled thoughts, designed only to persuade people to succumb to their worst emotions. Her followers don't rely on evidence, only her conclusions. It needs to be reiterated that these are the conclusions of a zealot, having no connection to the real world.
+33 # kyzipster 2011-12-18 10:18
The debate is good, I agree, her philosophy sucks.
+56 # terrison 2011-12-18 10:33
Very well said. I agree completely. Rand offers no good reasoning, just excuses for immoral behavior. Hers is not an intelligent philosophy, but a rationalization to live thoughtlessly.Quoting lcarrier:
I disagree that Rand presented "good debate." Her so-called "objectivist" philosophy is a cheap pastiche of jumbled thoughts, designed only to persuade people to succumb to their worst emotions. Her followers don't rely on evidence, only her conclusions. It needs to be reiterated that these are the conclusions of a zealot, having no connection to the real world.
+81 # Linda 2011-12-18 12:34
Sadly I see a lot of people including some of the 99% supporting Ron Paul whose idiology bears the same fruit as Ayn Rand . He admits he has read all of Ayn Rands novels and agree's with her . His Personal Liberty really amounts to survival of the fittest nothing more. When his x campaign manager died penniless of cancer because he didn't have health insurance Ron Paul's answer to a reporter who asked him what he thought of that ,he said ,,isn't it wonderful he had the freedom and liberty to chose,"meaning whether or not to buy health insurance and save enough money for emergencies,".
How heartless an answer is that ?
He lives in the same greed motivated mindset as Ayn Rand did ! Did he help his so called friend when he could have with all the money he has ? No ,,instead he figured he made his bed now sleep in it .
Anyone who thinks this man will champion the poor and middle class is sadly mistaken . Under a Ron Paul presidency you could expect to be thrown to the wolves if you are poor or middle class without enough money saved for retirement and any unexpected emergencies that came up.
Vote wise not stupid and don't vote Republican be it Tea party Libertarian or generic ! We can't afford any more Republican justices on the bench vote Democrat in 2012 and then you can look for someone else in 2016 .
+44 # Linda 2011-12-18 12:48
I agree that nobody can make you believe in something that isn't already part of your thinking.
I think this is why we are now seeing these very large right wing christian groups promoting laws which go against their own biblical teachings. They twist words to mean what they want them to mean because in their hearts they were greedy and heartless and they needed to convince themselves they were right . Who you are at the core is who you are and you gravitate to those who think like you do .
+13 # Billsy 2011-12-19 13:39
Agree fully. She was a typical idealogue seeing the world solely as it fit through her cognitive filter. She is a fine example of the saying that "holding a resentment is like taking poison in hopes that someone else will die". I understand she never got over her resentment at the loss of family property to the bolsheviks. She was a narcissistic self-absorbed intellectual poseur. I wouldn't give her credit for shaping intellectual thought. She merely made people feel comfortable with their greed.
+95 # Rick Levy 2011-12-17 19:51
For a bunch of individualists, it's interesting how Rand's "Collective" had such a symbiotic relationship.
+27 # Capn Canard 2011-12-18 09:16
Rick Levy, I know... I have been gobsmacked by that...A mob of people rises up to denounce mobs of people. It certainly looks parasitic...
0 # kelly 2011-12-18 19:29
I always considered Atlas Shrugged an unfinished work, at best.
+51 # Activista 2011-12-17 20:20
Greed and money culture = mainstream America.
Add fear to the equation - there is some other "foreign" culture underneath - that can not be analyzed in the present political system.
+41 # Scott479 2011-12-17 21:05
Rand lived by the mantra "More than enough is a good place to start". How many here know Alan Greenspan is an absolute disciple of Rand?
+99 # osh94 2011-12-17 23:12
I've lived in the former USSR for years, and a thing that stikes me about Rand is how Russian she is. Russians (in general, not all of them) are selfish in a way that is amazing to me. They are serious zero-sum-game players - where all the gains and losses in the game sum to zero, meaning that if one player gains, all the others lose amounts that sum to the amount gained by the winner. The correlaries of this are that if I do something bad to you, I do an equal amount of good to myself, and if I do something good for you, I do an equal amount of bad to myself. Very much Rand!
+9 # kyzipster 2011-12-18 10:20
Sounds like the laws of karma in an alternate reality.
+19 # Activista 2011-12-18 18:53
Sociopath Ayn Rand born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum has very little common with TYPICAL Russian people.
She did NOT grew up in Russian culture/family.
Zero sum game is our US imperialism game.
Russian people I met were very open, friendly, hospitable - their life did NOT revolved around money, greed, profit.
+12 # Risa de Angel 2011-12-18 23:04
VERY much Republican!
+6 # Risa de Angel 2011-12-19 00:20
"The correlaries of this are that if I do something bad to you, I do an equal amount of good to myself, and if I do something good for you, I do an equal amount of bad to myself. Very much Rand!"

Also very Republican.
+111 # Regina 2011-12-17 23:21
Why are Americans such suckers for manipulative psychopaths?Ayn Rand can easily be seen as an extreme narcissist beyond all rationality. Her adherents are irrational to the extent of their adherence. Of course, wealth is a huge factor in present-day Randism -- she now sways the ultra-rich by her words, since her behavior is no longer perceptible. Present-day cultism based on Rand, among those too young to have encountered her persona directly, is just regurgitating her words as rationalization for their ultra-greed.
-147 # espoac 2011-12-17 23:43
I don't read this site so I can't say much about the author hear other than they have, like a majority of Rand's critics, to grasp even the basics of Objectivism. Beyond that, this article is cheap in using Rand's popularity among youth to chip away at the legitimacy of her views. Once could say the same thing for political icons of all stripes.
Rand also spoke at great length on the nature of American corporations and what their proper role was, contrary to what you've written here.
This article basically amounts to defacement through gossip. You spread third hand/difficult to verify accounts of her personal life and even manage to sneer at her tastes in culture.
+47 # JCM 2011-12-18 00:09
The little I know about Ann Rand appears to me as being truly immoral. Immoral being the lack of compassion for other people and putting yourself above all others, and to the detriment of society at large... What can you tell me that would change my mind?
+38 # wwway 2011-12-18 10:34
To confirm your thoughts I'm reminded of what a friend told me. "We don't get through this world ALONE." Ayn was a hypocrit. She needed other demented, selfish people to promote her selfishness.
-17 # espoac 2011-12-18 21:27
JCM, if you actually want to examine Rand's ideas objectively you must consider Altruism not as a given but as a concept that must also prove its merit. Your comment makes me think you have not done this. Having rational self-interest is about taking your happiness into your own hands and not living as a sacrificial animal. When we value others, doing for them is not a sacrifice, it is pleasure. It is selfish.
+7 # CTPatriot 2011-12-19 06:01
In which case I'm sure you support the idea of taxes since that is the ultimate way of helping as many others as possible, particularly the poor and disabled.
-3 # 2011-12-19 18:14
You are confused and making irrational excuses ESPOAC. Read Immanual Kant and Greek Ethics. Get an education.
+8 # 2011-12-19 18:12
JCM: You said it well. Ann Rand despiced
Plato because his philosphy and the FORMS representing Universal Truth, justice, beauty, courage, love which all culminate into "The Good" is based on ethics and morality which is toally antithetical to her relativistic ethics, self-centered, non-altruistic and power driven philosophy, if you can call it that. Plato's "Philosopher Kings" would have a great time debating Rand using the "Socratic Method."Heidegg er, a great Existentialist would say that Rand has great anxiety about death because we all know we are incontingent and she thinks she's some kind of a God.
+48 # cadan 2011-12-18 01:32
Espoac --- if Rand's writings indicate, as they do, that there is no connection between smoking and cancer, or indicate, as they do, a contempt for or ignorance of fundamental constructs of scientific thought that happen to intersect her writing (e.g., Cartesian coordinates) --- then anyone promoting "Objectivism" has a very heavy burden of proof to bear.

That doesn't mean Objectivism is value-free, but it does mean that intense skepticism is called for.

Similarly for somebody who denies evolution or climate change.

Maybe evolution never happened, there is no climate change, Objectivism is the pinnacle of human thought, and smoking tobacco is harmless, but to reasonably demonstrate that it will take an extremely convincing proof. And denying widely observed reality is not a good starting point.

I think what Levine's article shows is that in addition to all the logical and scientific weaknesses of Objectivism and other Rand ideas, their author was a con artist as well.

Do you really want to be standing up for a con artist??
+34 # Ralph Averill 2011-12-18 04:28
"Rand also spoke at great length on the nature of American corporations and what their proper role was,.. "
Your use of the term "proper role" bothers me. Corporations, like any other human invention, can be used for any number of purposes. The same goes for religions. To insist that there is only one, "proper", role is to insist on a single reality. Since any reality is a function of one's point of view, and since there are an infinite number of points from which to view a thing, there is an infinite number of realities. In short, there is no single "truth" about anything. I know this complicates things awfully, but there you have it. From my point of view, it's best that we be decent and kind to one another, and to acknowledge that we all live in a separate reality. Gracias, Carlos Castenedas.
+36 # wwway 2011-12-18 10:39
Rand was the perfect corporate spokesperson to solidify the ideas in the 1886 Supreme Court decision in Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad that gave 14th Amendment personhood rights to corporations. Since that decision, laws have been made to ensure that corporations have more rights with more teeth than real persons. That's why Texas and other states have passed laws disallowing private citizens from suing corporations for polution, wrongful death caused by workplace hazzards, etc.
-12 # 2011-12-18 18:11
Ralph Averill, The term "proper role" bothers you. Your relativism which leads to "relativistic ethics" I believe bothers me.
+50 # lcarrier 2011-12-18 09:22
As a professional philosopher, I can attest that I am familiar with more than the "basics of Objectivism." It is nothing but junk philosphy, culled from bits and pieces of real philosophers, and held together with Rand's view of Social Darwinism.
+22 # Capn Canard 2011-12-18 09:35
I believe that Ayn Rand's biggest error may be the whole idea of "Objectivism". A colossally ignorant blunder. For instance, this is the major fault of particle physics, as it has yet to locate a true particle. There are no particles, there is only the potentialities. But it is still called Quantum physics but it should be called Qualitative physics, i.e. it is somewhat similar to subjective reality. When all is said and done, Quantum is just a name and our language, like Ayn Rand, has failed. Objectivism is a dead end. It is death, dumb and blind. At best, Ayn Rand's work is pure dreck.
+3 # Regina 2011-12-19 12:49
As a professional physicist, I can assure you that the existence of many particles has been verified in many processes. That's "true" enough for a vast variety of applications from which you benefit, as do we all. The one idea that Rand utterly failed to substantiate is "objectivism," as she grabbed on to a word she never understood. It was just a slogan in her usage.
+35 # tm7devils 2011-12-17 23:55
Just a passing comment (and knowing it means little)...but after seeing her image, I feel that it and her soul are on equal footing at being ugly.
+42 # Byronator 2011-12-18 00:50
As we get older, we show our true selves in our faces. It's not in the wrinkles, it's in the eyes, or as some say, the seat of the soul. The total absence of compassion in Rand's mug is notable.
+14 # hd70642 2011-12-18 12:07
You can see both hurt and hate in her gaze . She obvisouly neither had love or gave love in her life .She had perhaps had no empathy for others because she had concept of what feelings really were .
Well the government had some pity for her in that she did collect social security /medicare benefits. She did pay into them but this was as hypercritical as some pacifist condeming force but calling the cops to save them
+52 # JCM 2011-12-18 00:02
Ann Rand created an ideology of greed (now known as the Republican - Conservative Ideology) and the greedy jumped on the wagon. So contrary to the teachings of Jesus -even the Evangelicals jumped aboard. How destitute the ideology of “I”. The founding fathers warned that when we just think of what is good for ourselves and not what is good for our society it will lead to our destruction. Rather prophetic considering how we have fallen into economic calamity since the Ann Rand ideology has taken over since Ronald Reagan. United We Stand, Divided We Fall. How true.
+28 # Holmes 2011-12-18 00:04
Mortal enemies tend to copy each other. As a result of the cold war the USA tended to copy some of the USSR's ways of doing things. So osh94's comments are totally unsurprising.

Now when will the empire collapsing? Before or after the next US election.

For a nation which prides its self in it Judea-Christian roots, the question "Am I my brothers keeper?" is sadly forgotten as is the story from which it comes. As is the answer to question 'Who is my neighbor?"

Time for a reformation.
+38 # cadan 2011-12-18 00:28

Levine sure confirms what a turd Rand was.

I remember when i read "Atlas Shrugged" (which was an incredibly long novel) that she had her hero say something like "I am therefore I think, not the other way around as one of your philosophers put it". That philosopher was Descartes, of course, and this means that the businessman-her o of the Rand novel was showing contempt for and ignorance about the inventor of cartesian coordinates and therefore indirectly of every piece of technology in the hero's railroad business.

So i think there's no doubt Rand was an uneducated nut, and not even in touch with the technology of her own time.

But i still think it's a mistake to try to pin our problems on her followers, or to try to pin our problems on evolution-denyi ng evangelicals or climate change deniers or any other group which is so demonstrably out of touch with reality.

These loons have been around for decades but never in power.

Until now, that is, when the Arab and Muslim hating powerful neocons controlling the media have just let the Randians rise, instead of chopping them off at the knees as they would have in the 1960s.

The neocons want to choke off all social services to provide more money for their wars, and Rand helps them do it.
+21 # BillDorsey 2011-12-18 00:33
As if nearly 300 years of stealing land and labor had not happened BEFORE she published! All she did was codify the rationalization s. And it is significant that she wrote as a product of the contrast between the Russia she was born and educated in with the United States she entered in 1925, with its jingoism, racial and ethnocentrism after World War I and its previous ascension to colonial power after winning the Spanish American War.
+7 # Paul Larudee 2011-12-18 00:47
Does anyone know if Ayn Rand is a fabricated name composed of the number one as a first name and the unit of currency as the last (analogous to Juan Dollar)?
+3 # BillDorsey 2011-12-18 16:05
It's Americanized. See
+32 # 1984 2011-12-18 00:53
The thing is that Rand's writing was ge turners, liguistically beautiful, a joy to read. When I read Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, I knew I couldn't agree with her LESS, but I enjoyed reading her book and the story (tho Atlas Shrugged had a ridiculous ending.) Anyway, I am a legal expert on cults and the Collective described here is very very much a cult...a dangerous cult.
-67 # espoac 2011-12-18 01:23
Also, Americans are among the most generous people on Earth. Both in terms of foreign aid and domestic charity. Our current government bathes itself in religion, interferes massively in the free market and maintains a very progressive tax code. And you still want to single out Ayn Rand as the harbinger of today's problems? If you study our countries economic policy since the Great Depression, the finger of blame, you will find, will be pointed squarely at Keynes.
+23 # ABen 2011-12-18 12:58
espoac; your final statement in the above post clearly indicates that you have little or no understanding of the purpose or objective of John Maynard Keynes' work. Also, given your comments about government interference in the free market and progressive tax code, perhaps you should read Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations."
+21 # krispykremeyum 2011-12-18 17:49
Very true...Adam Smith would of been very disheartened to see how Capitalistic philosophy has been horribly twisted in the past 30 years...AND..he would of detested Rand.
+3 # 2011-12-18 18:08
Good Comment! ABEN
-24 # espoac 2011-12-18 21:17
Ayn Rand's idea of Capitalism existed free of Adam Smith's. The reasons for her insistence on a free, unregulated economy were not pragmatic; they were ethical! To bring up Adam Smith is irrelevant as he promoted Capitalism for the reason that it is more productive than controlled economies.
Also, I am quite familiar with Keynes. His theories legitimized the policies that have prolonged every economic slowdown in the U.S. since 1929. Since you took the liberty of recommending me a book, perhaps I should in turn direct you towards Milton Friedman. "Free to Choose" demonstrates how government entities justified by Keynes prolonged the Great Depression.
+8 # CTPatriot 2011-12-19 06:08
Just because you say it is so (your false statement about Keynes relationship to slowdowns), does not make it so.
+8 # ABen 2011-12-19 19:55
espoac; Your comment about Smith's ideas on the role and nature of Capitalism in a free society is quite relevant to understanding the irrationality of Rand's juvenile pontifications about an unregulated economy. Smith repeatedly warned about the detrimental role of greed in a well functioning economy, and strongly suggested that such an economy must be mediated by an entity more focused on public good than profit. See Book I, Chapter X, Part I and Book II, Chapter IV.
it appears that you have swallowed the Chicago School of economics hook, line, and sinker. As Paul Krugman points out in an essay on Milton Freedman and his influence on contemporary economic theory, homo econimicous (economic man), a tool at the heart of Freedman's approach to socio-economic theory, is an interesting and often useful concept; however, the actuality of what is in one's 'self-interest' becomes very problematic when trying to predict or understand real world actions. Even Freedman started to back away from this concept in later writings. If you truly think that FDR's Keynesian policies prolonged the Great Depression, I suggest you re-examine the factual chronology of events between 1928 and 1940. Keep reading and broaden your library.
+2 # tapelt 2011-12-20 19:23
I have read "Free to Choose", and it demonstrates how government entities prolonged the Great Depression with policies (especially the ones that shrank the money supply) that were totally against what Keynes recommended.
+41 # Travlinlight 2011-12-18 01:24
A total repudiation of Randism on strictly philosophical/s cientific grounds is fairly simple and easy. What Alfred North Whitehead, Werner Heisenberg, Gary Zukav, Itzhak Bentov and others have demonstrated is that no such thing as a purely objective view of reality actually exists. We live in a participatory universe in which no clear separation between subject and object can be found.

Moreover, as general systems theory demonstrates, all livng things are interconnected and mutually supportive. The great god "I" that she invoked is no different. No sense of self can develop in a social vacuum or in radical isolation. The self sense is a socially constructed and conditioned faculty.

There is an "I" that can be seen as transcendent of social constuction and conditioning, but it is not a personality, an ego-self. It is found in a state of higher consciousness and is the source consciousness out of which all things come.

In its grounded and centered form, it does assume personality and personal history, but this limited ego-self is not to be confused with what the esoteric Vedic Hindu philsophers call the cosmic self. Rand simply conflates the grounded personal self with the cosmic self, an absurdly sad and narcissistic error.

Her philosophy is in truth not a legitimate philosophy at all; it is a childish and shallow excuse for plain selfishness and greed. QED.
+40 # wwway 2011-12-18 01:53
Rand had a big influence with former Fed Chairman Greenspan. He was one of her circle of friends who sat around in her home listening to her rants. I've seen video of her interviews on TV. The woman was on uppers and downers and smoked like a chimney. A bitter Russian on a rant. No wonder Krucheiv said America would destroy itself from within and didn't need communism. He knew we had Rand. That's really hillarious!
+12 # Linda 2011-12-18 13:20
I saw her in interviews also and the way her eyes darted back and forth she reminded me of someone who was a paranoid schizophrenic. That along with her reasoning told me she had a severe mental disorder .
Frankly I wondered why anyone would ever take what she said seriously !
+23 # Kasandra 2011-12-18 02:03
I read Ayn Rand in my 20's, and although I didn't become her cult follower, at the time (In the 1980's), I was glad I read her book because it helped me go out on my own and release a dysfunctional experience with my parents. I was able to become independent and earn my own money, consequently create my own lifestyle, from a more authentic place. Her "radicalism" is up to the individual to glean from it what they want. And if she spawned greed and selfishness, that's because those people were already going that way and just needed a bigger rationalization for their imbalanced egos. If one allows themselves to be influenced by a mere book, then they must learn to discern for themselves!
+30 # cordleycoit 2011-12-18 02:05
Was in an a elevator with Rand once with Kay Boyle going to a debate she and Boyle cooked up She was skunk drunk. Her writing was as uneven, her thinking brutish. I wonder what people saw in her. A philosophical Dick Chaney?
+24 # bleb 2011-12-18 02:44
Let's not forget one thing: not only was Ayn Rand's philosophy morally repugnant, she was a crappy writer as well. T.S. Elliot may have been a rabid anti-Semite and his politics might have been just slightly to the left of out-and-out Fascism, but he was a brilliant poet. Not so La Rand. Her plots were absurd. Her characters were one dimensional. Her language was bloated and inelegant. The sexual encounters of her characters weren't even as juicy as Gothic romance. Moreover, let's not forget that she hypocritically accepted Federal benefits through Social Security. How disheartening then that "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead" are so enormously popular.
+65 # William Bjornson 2011-12-18 03:17
Ayn Rand was a pure and unafraid sociopath. Sociopaths, like other socially condemned individuals such as gay republicans or child molesters, learn to mask their true impulses to avoid condemnation and rejection. Rand made sociopathy okay. She did not create sociopaths, she just brought them out of the closet. Her idea that CEOs, of all people, are the creative forces of societies is simply pure horseshit. When looking at the history of industries in America, all original creation has come from the herd, not the elite. CEOs are the product of the corporate 'sieve' that distills sociopaths from the mass of workers who have intact and functioning consciences, being capable of making the 'hard choices' that will eventually kill the moral person from conflict induced stress. A society composed entirely of sociopaths would just dissolve and cease to be. Societies are held together by the altuists upon whom the sociopaths are completely parasitic while seeming to have the other person's best interests at heart. It's the California 'fuck you': Trust me! There most certainly is an 'objective' universe but rand's is a purely pathological universe. Anyone who espouses rand's philosophy is a person to watch very carefully. A.G. is certainly a case in point. Corporations are another. The entire American elite a third. And we have enough sociopaths in America to make any claim of creeping communism or creeping socialism entirely ridiculous.
+9 # kelly 2011-12-18 19:43
Why can't I click thumbs up more than once????
+33 # BillyExpat 2011-12-18 03:43
Although her egotistical selfishness seems appalling to most folks of compassion and inclusiveness, it is quite clearly explained as the pathological lack of empathy described as "zero degrees of empathy Type N or narcissist" in Simon Baron-Cohen's book on theories of human cruelty, a state of brain malfunction that renders others as objects.How perfectly apt for "Objectivism".
+27 # Organizer 2011-12-18 03:51
Ayn Rand didn't make us selfish and greedy. She just tapped into a mindset that has always been there and made it "sexy". But it is important to have a way of thinking about the question of selfishness and so called "altruism". For my money, nobody can beat the zen like comment of Hillel, "If I am not for myself, who will be? But if I am only for myself, what am I?" Hillel, unlike Rand, does not provide an answer to this dilemma. He only asks that you struggle with it, and infers that as a moral person, you should take it seriously.
+3 # Linda 2011-12-18 13:32
The answer to Hillel's question is to accept yourself as you are and others the same !
-6 # 2011-12-18 17:35
Linda, what does this have to do with Ann Rand and the discussion at hand????
+4 # Linda 2011-12-19 12:18
Well dorianb if you read all the comments you would have known that I was anwering Organizer where she quoted Hillel who said ,"if I am not for myself who will be ,,but if I am only for myself what am I !

Seems you like nit picking at what people say here !
-7 # 2011-12-19 18:19
Only nitpick when comments are totally misconstrued in regard to the subject.
LINDA: I know you were answering ORGANIZER who miscontrued Hillel's quote as you did.
+4 # Texas Aggie 2011-12-18 20:49
Seems to me that the answer to Hillel's question is that you would be a pretty sorry excuse for a human being of no use whatsoever.
+7 # 2011-12-18 17:43
"If I am only for myself, what am I?" by Hillel is the best ANSWER to Ann Rand's self-centered, meglomanical philosophy
one could come up with. Do you need a literary road map to understand this?
-2 # wrodwell 2011-12-18 03:52
In the photo e looks like a frog. Ribbit, ribbit......
-38 # dick 2011-12-18 03:58
People can misunderstand or misuse Rand, the Bible, etc. Her personal life shouldn't be used to "prove" her ideas wrong. Selfishness may not be as virtuous as she suggests, nor our choices as simple. But I don't think she would admire phony credit default swaps. Her emphasis on self reliance is a needed counter weight to "the world owes me a smart phone, HD TV, nice clothes and nice car." Too many people with expensive gadgets are getting a literal free lunch, which sends a wrong message.Promoti ng self reliance should not be confused with immorality or evil. Decent ideas can be warped by zealots. Is this not so?
+5 # 2011-12-18 17:34
dick--What you are saying is NOT so because you missed th core premise of the editorial. When you talk about people who think "the world owes me a smart phone, HD, TV"...You are off the context and mixing up metaphors and ideas. Self-interest is the core of Ann Rand. Using any means or way to obtain it without consideration of or concern for others which she may regard as self reliance is regarded by many other people and true philsophers as living as an "inauthentic human being". You need to read Heidegger to understand this. It has nothing to do with misusing "Rand and the Bible." A theory is what it is in and of itself, What Rand would think phony credit card default has nothing to do with the argument at hand,
+5 # Texas Aggie 2011-12-18 20:46
I can't see how her supposed emphasis on self reliance in any way counteracts "the world owes me a smart phone, HD TV, nice clothes and nice car." In the first place in her books, the heroes are most definitely dependent on other people to achieve their goals so skip self reliance. Further, I don't see how she would NOT admire phony credit default swaps. It is the epitome of doing whatever you had to in order to get what you want, and she never, ever exhibited any feelings at all for people who were trampled on by her heroes. And if you check her history, one of the people she admired for doing what he wanted despite social disapproval was a sadistic murderer who tortured and killed a 14 year old girl.
+3 # hd70642 2011-12-22 04:19
Yes, self reliance is not at all evil but any idealization of any concept is !!!!.Yes some folks have abused the safety net but most poor folks are not as frivolous as you condemn them to being. Do you actually know any poor folks or are going by some stereotype you heard on talk radio ?
Most poor folks are living simply and are still bogged down in debt and working more than one job with as much overtime as they can muster !!! Try not having the latest over priced electronic gadetry or going out in public in cheap sneakers AKA bo bos in some areas and you be taunted to no end and if the poor were to be as frugal as you demand they would be the first to be blamed for causing a recession!!
+1 # grandma lynn 2011-12-18 04:46
Building on tm7devils' comment: she looks like Hitler, if with a man's short hair cut and the little moustache. I wonder if they had a genetic link.
+16 # Marjory Munson 2011-12-18 05:46
It may be said that one's face in youth is a gift of one's genes - but in later life it is a self-made work. Greed, jealousy, and discontent, in particular, bring forth an ugliness that will disbuise any amount of physical beauty.
+5 # sandyboy 2011-12-18 06:08
Many great artists/writers have shitty private lives. I'd hate the fact that Rand's modern political devotees are scumbags to tarnish the concept of individualism. When she said God is "I" she obviously meant can-do philosophy, not that Rand was God. Colin Wilson, a far greater writer, has similarly been lambasted for his individualist ideals, yet he is a decent, caring man. His ideas inspired me to leave Scotland for London in hopes of becoming a music journalist. Everyone said I was mad. Weeks later I was on a top rock paper interviewing people like Mick Jagger. Crazy self-belief can get you a long way.I still care about others, though.
+6 # hd70642 2011-12-18 06:29
George Carlin stated it loud and clear" if it comes in a book it ain't self help !!! "Any self respecting con artist knows a few old tricks mix some common sense with your own brand of mysticism, and play a Simon says game, and state something obvious ,and exaggerate it. All religions ,her philosophy no exception besides trying to find meaning to life like some Rorschach test ,are also an excuse to commit amoral acts, just look at the atrocities committed by both communism ,and Christianity. Her adherents were just looking for an excuse to be selfish jerks .
While Generosity is nice nobody wants to be played for a chump. So she took people's fear of being played for a fool ,and made selfishness a virtue ,and took people's fear of not being appreciated and made altruism a vice. No society really could function without the law enforcement ,or military showing some level of altruism.
+41 # Chiniquy 2011-12-18 07:13
So that is why Ron Paul named one of his sons Rand Paul.

Now I know why many of the things Ron Paul says about the government's role in the lives of Americans sounds so anti human.

All governments belong to the people. If the people decide that their government must look out for the needs of the most helpless ones in the society then that is what the government must do.

Selfishness will lead to our destruction.
+28 # LegacyCost 2011-12-18 07:18
The scary thing is that some modern day pseudo-christia n evangelists soft pedal this selfishness as the means to a better individual life. Joel Osteen is a prime example.
+23 # Glen 2011-12-18 08:44
Quite right, LegacyCost. In my lifetime it has been an ongoing process this militancy and ostentation in U.S. Christianity. Not that there hasn't always been a driving force in the church, but the tone of encouraging acquisitive behavior and not following the teachings of their Jesus has increased and has contributed to a general attitude in U.S. society. Whether or not these people are familiar with Rand, her teachings can definitely be absorbed through U.S. leaders and followers of her philosophy. We are now seeing the underbelly of capitalism and it infects hospitals, universities and everything else.
+5 # Linda 2011-12-18 13:44
That is the excuse they use for asking for so much money from their followers ! They aren't stupid their crafty !
+18 # futhark 2011-12-18 07:33
Funny, I don't think Ayn Rand taught John D. Rockefeller or Andrew Carnegie to be selfish, which they certainly were. Rand's achievement has been to give selfishness a cloak of intellectual respectability, which it certainly does not deserve. She was the quintessential Social Darwinist.
+33 # walt 2011-12-18 07:33
What an amazing list of American political followers...Gre enspan, Reagan, Ron and Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, et al. It all fits well!

This surely sheds light on the origin of the mentality we see in so many today who worship at the altar of business and money. ME first!
+13 # Peace Anonymous 2011-12-18 07:35
I think it is always a good thing to look at all perspecitves but ultimately we must accept responsibility our own thought process. Was it Rand, or Bush and Cheney who selfishly led the charge into Iraq?
+15 # sandyboy 2011-12-18 07:53
Futhark, I know there's a lot of debate (well, some) about Carnegie - but he is a revered figure in my home country, Scotland, for his financing of free public libraries for all. A man who does that can't be all bad.
+36 # mrbadexample 2011-12-18 08:45
Good article, glad it ran. As every Rand-hater needs to point out (early and often), had it not been for Rand's belated filing for SS and Medicare, she would've died penniless in a gutter. By the time of her death, her followers had financially abandoned her and she had to depend on the largesse of the state she hated in order to pay her rent.
+25 # RMDC 2011-12-18 08:46
I don't believe Ayn Rand had any such influence. The US was a viciously greedy nation long before she was born. Even Benjamin Franklin had the traits Rand praised. And what about J. D. Rockefeller.

Ayn Rand's work appeals to people in the stage of moral and intellectual development of high school and some college. Some people never develop beyond that and they fixate on some simple and convenient analysis such as the one Rand provides. Once you get a little more morally and intellectally mature, Rand's work is just silly and a fantasy. But this silliness has been sold to Americans like a cult. See Adam Curtis' The Century of the Self to see its broader application.

Rand's Objectivist Epistemology goes back to the middle ages in a particularly juvenile way. She cannot live without Truth and, of course, her Truth is the Truth for all.

The fact that some of our worst political leaders -- Greenspan, Reagan, Paul, Ryan, etc. -- really just shows the poverty of intellect that the US has devolved to -- or really has always been. In a better culture -- let's say Europe including the USSR -- Rand would simply be ignored as a Hollywood Kook.
+3 # olindaboat 2011-12-18 11:11
RMDC, my comment is not related to the article.
Look up the meaning of to devolve.
Best regards.
+4 # RMDC 2011-12-18 16:15
olinadaboat. OK I looked it up. I see two meanings: 1. Transfer or delegate (power) to a lower level, esp. from central government to local or regional administration. 2. the notion that a species can change into a more "primitive" form. I meant the second one. But I see the confusion. Thanks.
+14 # sandyboy 2011-12-18 08:51
Peace Anonymous, you hit nail on head! Vaclav Havel, who just died and is thought to be a heroic and good man, also was a philanderer who cheated on his first wife, supported war in Iraq, cosied up to Bush boys, etc. Yet he fought to free his Czech countrymen, spent time in jail for that, wrote much praised plays. People are rarely all good/bad.
+10 # minkdumink 2011-12-18 08:52
Atlas didnt shrug,he vomited.
-35 # clarkems 2011-12-18 09:36
This article is typical of a type of political non-rational argument meant to discredit what a person has said or done by personal attack. The argument posed was not so much a proof of individualism = selfish. In fact that is merely implied by making her out to be a monster of some kind. There was a lot of talk about how she was not a nice person and also how much influence she had. However there was no discussion about how being self responsible and for individual freedom was for selfishness. Sure if someone was greedy they can try to spout off Objectivist quotes, but if they are "greedy" to the extent of hurting someone else they are no being an Objectivist, just greedy. This article is a rant to discredit Rand and Objectivism and Libertarians in general who are influenced by the writing. Either that or the writer is not mature enough to understand the impact and meaning of self responsibility.
+18 # Glen 2011-12-18 09:58
Responsibility of self is not taught through capitalism or any of the categories you listed. It is taught through learning manners, awareness, training, the church, and so forth. Naturally the teachings can be corrupted through attitudes toward those categories listed.

The teachings of Rand and her followers actually have had a detrimental effect and do not encourage personal responsibility. Those attitudes and philosophies do encourage right and might of money - not personal responsibility.
+2 # JCM 2011-12-18 10:09
How would you define self responsibility?
+4 # hd70642 2011-12-18 10:12
No one connected to reality is going to seriously state that any one is truely self reliant . In fact how would any bussiness function with out it;s workers or customers?.
Overreacting to people being so called moochers by with holding the most meager aid is just as amoral as saying you require a police state because crime exist .To be honest despite her hypercritical Simon says game , nobody should have known she received social security/ medicare benefits. It's one thing if they are running for public office to know if received said benefits and it is another altogether if they are a private citizen
+14 # fredboy 2011-12-18 10:51
The most hideous Rand, an avowed atheist, is the ideal philosophical leader of the evangelical (anti)Christian movement.

Vicious. Hateful. Vengeful. Repressive. The pathway to their beloved collective evil.
0 # ABen 2011-12-19 20:07
Fredboy; as so often happens, I completely agree!
+4 # sandyboy 2011-12-18 10:52
I may be mad, but I can sort of agree with RMDC AND Clarkems - or maybe that means, as with Havel, Rand was not good or bad, just another human trying to make sense of the wotld we have been thrust into unkowingly without a map. Was she a hypocrite for taking state aid? Maybe not - presumably when in the $ she paid taxes, so even if philosophically opposed to state care, if she paid towards it and needed it she was quite rational in taking it. I fear this one will never be resolved. Hey, I still think The Fountainhead is a great movie, tho.
+6 # slvwater 2011-12-18 10:54
I think Ann Rand would have developed a much different perspective/phi losophy if she could have experienced the 60's as a younger individual. It appears she was very curious sexually and wouldn't have had to develop a "collective" just to get laid. She didn't get to experience that time (the 60's)as an opening to explore-embrace the relationship of freedom/respons ibility as it relates to individuals,fam ilies, communities and government. Great legislation got passed in the 1970's because of this inner-explorati on and our relationship to the whole, especially regarding protection of the environment. I was told by a wise philosophy professor, now in his 90's, that she actually refuted a lot of her philosophy (or her followers interpretation) before she died. It would be great if someone could resurrect that soul searching (if it indeed did occur) and put it out there. I just see her as a sad, lonely individual who was probably the product of bad parenting in an overbearing government. I wish people like her, that are so conflicted, didn't have so much influence on others and healthier people would assume greater roles of leadership and responsibility, we sure do need it right now.
+10 # Don Thomann 2011-12-18 11:10
Rand found fallow territory in the American psyche. The "exceptiionalis m" and "individualism" that distinguishe the American self image is no more than brutish self-involvement.
Mold flourishes in a damp environment, Rand flourished in the American mind.
+10 # fernly2 2011-12-18 11:41
I was as selfish/unselfi sh as any bookworm when young and reading Rands fiction, however after reading her nonfiction I was appalled at my seduction by the fiction and for a long time swore off fiction.
+16 # artful 2011-12-18 11:50
Ayn Rand made me do it.
How pathetic are we? I read Ayn Rand when she first was published. I never remember thinking, "wow, this woman is remarkable and I will devote my life to her philosophy." What crap. She was a fascist who wrote books read by many. The fact that pathetic republicans now continue to cite her is simply a sign of how degraded they are.
+5 # MrGasoline 2011-12-18 12:34
We were plenty greedy and selfish before Ayn Rand ever arrived on the scene. Loved "The Fountainhead" regardless of her wacky philosophy. Frank Lloyd Wright (another colossal American nut, and a global-scale genius) and the purported inspiration for "The Fountainhead" spurned her efforts to befriend him. A.R. was America's answer to Gurdjieff - a self-absorbed, predatory kook. I love these people for the color they add to our bleak protestant culture-scape
-2 # reiverpacific 2011-12-18 15:02
Quoting MrGasoline:
We were plenty greedy and selfish before Ayn Rand ever arrived on the scene. Loved "The Fountainhead" regardless of her wacky philosophy. Frank Lloyd Wright (another colossal American nut, and a global-scale genius) and the purported inspiration for "The Fountainhead" spurned her efforts to befriend him. A.R. was America's answer to Gurdjieff - a self-absorbed, predatory kook. I love these people for the color they add to our bleak protestant culture-scape

You must lead VERY sheltered life if you stop at the surface of our "Bleak protestant culture" -which is not a culture at all. I find color, vibrance and fascinating characters (they just never write books or declaim from on high) every day and learn something every time. Those who shun by their very natures and beings the "Road Most Traveled" are all around you if you open up to them and are mostly NOT self-absorbed egotists who wish control over others. My favorite American example is perhaps Bix Biderbecke, natively Crazy Horse, and John Trudell -of course there are many thousands of others (Frank Lloyd Wright's mother taught him that he was"Born for greatness" at an early age -his genius was never in doubt by him at least).
As Bob Dylan wrote "No matter how great you are boy, you'll never be greater than yourself"!
-3 # sandyboy 2011-12-18 13:01
Artful, Ayn Rand was NOT a fascist! People use that as a catch-all term of abuse, but fascism is a philosophy of state control, like communism, and whatever you think of AR she was hardly a proponent of big government!
+13 # Bruce Gruber 2011-12-18 13:02
Ditto heads are inclined to be ditto heads regardless of the source of their self justified rush to self interest and their rationalized abandonment of humanity's future as a goal. Rand, Limbaugh and Ted Haggard (among so many) serve as shining examples the ability of wishful nonthinking believers to worship at the knees of charlatans.
+15 # reiverpacific 2011-12-18 13:21
Isn't the term "collective" and rabid individualism a bit of an oxymoron?
Sounds like the role-model for the Thatcher-(Reaga n) era, what? -Oh aye, and a Wall Street/Trump/Re publican ego dream bolstered by the Lobbyist industry inside the beltway and Military-Indust rial-Prison-War On The Rest Of The World Complex.
I've never understood if these people want a regional Warlord-Militia -run nation financed by those who can afford them with no government but that which is at the behest of the power-wielders and perhaps reinforced by a supervising military-police -surveillance structure?
Come to think of it -that's not to far from the current truth, way things are goin'!
Come to think of it
-5 # charsjcca 2011-12-18 14:23
Interesting dialogue. Let me surmise that to become a governor, U S senator or president you must have a good portion of what is viewed a Rand's philosophy. Is the exploratory committee to elect __________
anything more than a 'collective?' I think that is exactly what it is, as is a church denomination. No action group can be maintained by any other approach. Naturally, no one wishes to be characterized as a Stalinist, but being hard core comes with the territory
+3 # 2011-12-18 17:01
This is an incomprehendabl e comment showing a misunderstandin g of theory or philsophy. Obviously you have not read Rand OR Aristotles "Laws" or Plato or many other philsosphers whose political theories are antithetical to Rand. You need to read more, reflect more before you "surmise"..."No action group can be maintained by any other approach."
0 # 2011-12-18 17:55
The comment above is meant for CHARSJCCA.
You may find the dialogue in the article interesting but your comment is not. You
mention Stalinism and say "but being hard core comes with the territory"...
What came first, the chicken or the egg?
+2 # 2011-12-18 17:08
Sandyboy, Take a course in logic. Your comments are circular and often cancel out one another. If Ann Rand is the only philosophy you have read and it sound that way; read Hume, Plato, Aristotle, and the Existentialists to get a broader view on theory and philosophy.
+4 # Okieangels 2011-12-18 15:01
The brooch she's wearing is a dollar sign. Isn't that fitting?
+3 # kelly 2011-12-18 20:03
Just a guess here but in the book Atlas Shrugged wasn't that the symbol for Fransisco D'Anconia's mines?
+7 # GravityWave 2011-12-18 16:30
Ayn Rand was very Russian and very neurotic. And it is true her writing has had a terrible affect. But it isn't just her writing that is to blame. We also have to talk about ignorance carrying a load of the blame. From the start, good people were refuting her "philosophy" as can be seen in the quote at the beginning of this article.
Her basic premise is an inaccurate and very Russian estimation of" objective reality." And philosophers and thinkers have come down on her hard, rejected her, and thrown her out of the intellectual neighborhood.
My guess is she kept her "Collective" from reading all the adverse criticism just like religions tell their converted not to read anything but the bible.
The real problem is ignorance. The ignorance of not being widely read, of not knowing how to research ideas, of taking for granted that your own inclinations are "true" without subjecting them to analysis.
We do not talk openly about such things. We don't teach this in school until you get to higher ed. But even there you can get a business degree without studying history or humanities. And these are the people who need a broad education the most.
Anyone can learn accounting. That does not make you a person who should have any special dispensation from developing a world view that teaches human interconnectedn ess and compassion.
We can never let our schools get so bad again.
-12 # Activista 2011-12-18 18:58
Ayn Rand was very Jewish and very neurotic
+2 # 2011-12-19 18:28
Activista: What does "very Jewish" mean to you? I'm Jewish and I find her books and attitude about human beings and the human condition HORRIFIC! Anti-semetism again sprouting it's ugly head here?
0 # Scott479 2011-12-18 16:40
Rand, as in Rand Paul
+1 # mangel 2011-12-18 16:44
If you look the Modern Library's 100 best novels list, you will see for books by Ayn Rand: Atlas Shrugged (1), The Fountainhead (2), Anthem (7), and We The Living (8).

Go figure!
+4 # mangel 2011-12-18 18:48
Quoting mangel:
If you look the Modern Library's 100 best novels list, you will see for books by Ayn Rand: Atlas Shrugged (1), The Fountainhead (2), Anthem (7), and We The Living (8).

Go figure!

Well actually this is the readers' list. Modern Library's own list does not include Ayn Rand at all.
-3 # tclose 2011-12-18 21:38
mangel - you meant to say "Modern Library's own list does NOT include Ayn Rand at all". Which is very interesting - for readers to give their No. 1 best novel as Atlas Shrugged, and the Modern Library's Board to not even have it on its list, is remarkable - and telling.

Their readers go on to shower praise upon Ms Rand by having 3 more novels in their top 10 - while the M.L. Board does not have a single one of them in their list of 100. "Go figure!"
+1 # Petronius Arbiter II 2011-12-22 01:32
"for readers to give their No. 1 best novel as Atlas Shrugged, and the Modern Library's Board to not even have it on its list, is remarkable - and telling."

Telling? Sure, it tells me the "reader's poll" was a highly unscientific, typical internet poll in which each voter could vote as many times as he or she wanted. A smallish gang of Randroids, acting quite contrarily to their espoused ideals of individual self-sufficienc y and eschewal of collective enterprise, conspired to vote her pseudo-intellec tual claptrap up to the top.

TELLS something, to be sure. Tells us a lot about the propensity for intellectual dishonesty and charlatanism of the dead woman's followers.
+18 # mangel 2011-12-18 16:51
"Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration." Lincoln's First Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1861.
-6 # 2011-12-18 16:55
Codan: You begin with such an interesting discussion of DesCarte, and Rand's antithetical remark " I am therefore I think" and Cartesian coordinates, etc., you almost had me. Then, you lower yourself into your covert expression of Israelis animosity and presumptions and your reflective remarks and thought are cheapened, gone, forgotten by your non-scholarly charade or using Rand's objective of self/egoistic pursuit of power at any cost to others as your own self-centered "means to an end" to negate Israel as an after thought. Reflect on this.
+7 # Travlinlight 2011-12-19 08:15
Hi, dorian, Lone Wolf here. Dissing the Rand "philosophy"--i t is less philosophy and more a sophmoric rationalization for childlish selfishness--is not something we should spend too much time and energy on. It is more important for thoughtful people of common sense, human decency and good will to concentrate on trying to expose and disable the flaws and contradictions of so-called conservative
political values and strategies.

People like Scott Walker, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are working very hard to roll back decades of social progress, as incomplete as it was, in favor of a new gilded age, sans unions, civil rights or economic justice. It's really an old story: the few who want to tyrannize the many for fun and profit.

The Occupy folks are on the right track, and we should support their efforts or even join them, if we are able. I am not able to get out on the streets, but I do what I can through my written work. My hope is that the OWS folks, through listening to each other, learning from each other, and just being with each other will forge some new kind of social conract that has as its informing insight that we are all reflections of each other, all centerings of a universal source consciousness that is not God Almighy--long past time to get free of that childish notion--but an immanent energy that is the origin of us all.
-3 # 2011-12-19 18:32
TRAVLINLIGHT! Thank you. You are so RIGHT
aboutt your "dissing" Rand philosophy and reminding me to keep my energy and thoughts focused on the 2012 election.
+6 # bugbuster 2011-12-18 19:15
I think I was 19 or 20 when I read Atlas Shrugged and We The Living. They were a great read, good stories, and they got me thinking about her issues. By 25 I had completely outgrown Ayn Rand, as I'm sure most people do. But I suppose if she is the only author you read, you'll stick with her. Her support may be a mile wide, but as your examples illustrate, barely an inch deep.
+8 # Texas Aggie 2011-12-18 20:30
To me Rand isn't what caused the disaster brought on us by the Randians. These attitudes existed before she came along, but her books served the same purpose that 9/11 did for the PNAC group's plan to invade Iraq to get their oil and establish a military center to control the Middle East. The people who followed her philosophy would have believed and thought the same thing even if she had never existed, but her books gave them "permission" to act out their feelings that ordinarily would have been suppressed by social pressure from normal people. It gave them an excuse to do what they wanted to do in the first place and which they would never have been able to get away with without the excuse.
+2 # kelly 2011-12-18 22:38
I don't really think they needed an excuse so much as a license, but your statement is sound.
+5 # JayMagoo 2011-12-18 21:50
I discovered recently to my dismay that a woman I know, well educated and with a Masters Degree in Music, is a devout follower of Ayn Rand. I was incredulous. I couldn't imagine how an otherwise intelligent, church-going, moralistic woman could convince herself this "philosophy" had any value at all. I learned that the woman's late husband was a policeman and also a "conservative." The woman has recently sent me several internet emails, evidently produced by a slick advertising agency, that can only be described as "bigoted," or so over the top that any educated person would reject them out of hand. All this is so illogical, that I'm convinced I must be missing something. Ayn Rand's warped, transparent philosophy must have an appeal that eludes me completely.
-5 # Electricrailwaygod 2011-12-18 21:57
If Nichiren (a 13 Century Japanese Buddhist reformer) were to be alive today, and somehow were to cross paths with Ayn Rand, it might set off a massive thermal nuclear explosion that would rival Fukushima and Hiroshima/Nagas aki, and Chernobyl combined! In other words, he would be absolutely livid! Rand is TOTALLY anti-Buddhist, the female modern day version of Devadatta, the cousin of Shakyamuni (Gothama) who became jealous of Sakayamuni's work and tried to destroy his work!

From what I have read here, she should be charged with High Treason as she has indeed contributed -- if not inspired -- all this corporate selfishness, self-centrednes s and totall insatiable greed and avarice, that has thrown this country and indeed the whole "Human Experiment" into a severe tailspin!

Seeing her picture, "inspired" me only to give her a new name; The Wicked Witch of Planet Earth! (She's simply aweful -- BEYOND awful)!
+6 # Travlinlight 2011-12-19 09:26
Actually, Electric, I think if Nichiren had met Ms. Rand, he would have smiled, offered her a sunflower, and simply said: "Lighten up, dear lady."
+2 # GravityWave 2011-12-18 23:07
I think that most of us who read Rand early on did outgrow her or realized at the time that her "philosophy? was only half-baked.
But when the perfect storm came along in the form of the thug Repugs and their policies crashing our economy, they latched on to anything to get and keep people in their sway. The last party who failed so miserably sat out 20 years before they again had a chance at power. The ignorant among the disenfranchised fringe were just waiting for the Repugs to stick Rand in their hands and give voice to people, in many cases, unsuccessful in our system or who felt they had done alright but harbored peeves at having less help than they wanted as well as all those who for the first time had become acquisitive and were scared of things changing. And I would be willing to bet Rand was one of the first books many of them had ever read.
So I still think that ignorance has a lot to do with the Rand phenom.
I would also bet that many Tea Partiers were the first generation to pass through schools with badly educated parents as well. They were sitting ducks for the thugs too *thugish* to just admit they had caused the crash and try to help clean up the mess as a gentleman would.
I think that if our schools had been in good shape, the Tea Party group may never have fallen hook, line, and sinker for all the lies thrown at them by these old failures. Educated opinions since I watched and read it as it was happening.
+5 # Glen 2011-12-19 09:45
Ignorance, yes Gravity, has more to do with attitudes and decision making than education. A lot of very intelligent folks are caught up in rather misguided notions and movements. A lot of uneducated folks have seen straight through the fog and propaganda. Ignorance is not the same as being uneducated.

Much we are seeing take place today is pure emotion and reaction, rather than analysis and steady decisions on the part of citizens. Many know they are being played but have nowhere to go with it. Citizens often see life as a football game. Only two sides. Rand promoted one of the teams and their pattern of play.
-2 # hd70642 2011-12-19 08:27
Ayn Rand's ideas were not original but a conglomerate of half baked notions from a variety of sources. While the Randriods swarm at anyone who does not kiss her ring at least they have so far kept their attacks to only ill wishes and insults.
If they were to act on their hatred they would quickly go from a cult to a terrorist cell. They really belong in the same category as Roswel Eric Von dankien 911 truthers Bermuda Triangle devotees and conspearcy mongers of all stripes
+5 # Glen 2011-12-19 10:32
911 truthers, huh. Hmmm. Guess you haven't really checked that one out. Most folks who consider themselves educated, even scientists, have not spent one moment researching the reams of evidence offered by those who question the events of 9/11. How is it a person can be against something they have no knowledge of?
-5 # Anarchist 23 2011-12-20 19:30
'They really belong in the same category as Roswel Eric Von dankien 911 truthers Bermuda Triangle devotees and conspearcy mongers of all stripes

Which universe do you live in? Either we are in a world where the laws of physics prevail, in which case the 9/11 Truthers are incontrovertibl y correct or we live in a world of Evil Magicians who can use magick (probably Fiend Fire as the insightful JK Rowling wrote) to melt and explode those massive buildings. Either way, we have a metaphysical choice-do we serve Good or Evil? Because the old ways are not working, will not work and are coming to smash. Ann Rand and all her ilk are no solution and are certainly part of the problem.
+2 # Travlinlight 2011-12-19 09:20
To dorianb and others,

Hi, I used to call myself "Lone Wolf", but I realized the name is something of a misnomer. I am a published writer, and writing is a lonely craft; however, if one shares work with others and invites dialog, then one is longer a lone wolf.

My new user name is "Travlinlight," which has a double meaning: I like to think of myself as someone who has dropped off the heavy baggage of conformity and conventionality . Beyond that, in a metaphysical sense, I am light in my essential being, as are we all, just a wave of light trying to stay on the beam, so to speak. So, folks, lighten up and learn to shine!
+2 # 2011-12-19 21:58
Travlinlight suits you well. You are a true beam of light on this post. Again. I thank you for your rational and more metaphysical comments, especially in the current political climate. Would like to read some of your work. BTW, Lone Wolf has an unpleasant tone to it. Glad you "lightened up."
0 # Travlinlight 2011-12-20 10:24
Thank you, dorian. I have several published essays on the RSN website. One is titled "HAVE YOURSELF A MERRY LITTLE FUTURE," and that piece explores and analyses the concepts of androcracy and gynocracy--male god and male dominant culture vs. goddess centered but not fenale dominant culture. It also attempts to envision what a post-adrocratic civilization could look like.

(Meant to type "androcratic" but I can't get the the spacing function to work.)

Another piece is titled "FAREWELL NARCISSUS," but you have already read that and given me a very generous comment on it.

There is a third essay, pulished under another name. That one is the most recent one published; its title is "FAREWELL ANDROCRACY," and it makes the case that the old male god and male dominant culture, which has a top-down command and control pyramid, is crumbling and will collapse at some future point. The writing is somewhat whimsical, and the second paragraph is actually an old poem of mine ("A SHORT HISTORY OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION"), interpolated into the essay in prose form

I have always been a maverick in my thinking, as Joe Campbell said about himself. Example: always loved modern jazz and classical music. In my old blue-collar, no there, there neighnorhood of Archie Bunker adults and doo op teen peers, I was a very odd lone wolf with few friends. Hence, my origiinal choice of a user name for RSN.

TTFN, dorian
+1 # hd70642 2011-12-19 09:23
Idealism and eliteism are the worst things humanity has ever experienced .Whether you grand plan is Objectionism or communism where one size fits all.It is only guaranteed to be a full blown disaster when an elitist group is established that has no accountability or checks and balances in place .
By the way communism did not plan on a one world dictatorship. It stated once equality was established government could be done away with. If that is not idealism I do not what is ! Also trying to be a constitutional purest does not work since that document was penned in the 18 th century where voting was restricted to white property owning males, debtor prisons were in place ,slavery ,and indentured servitude no minimum wage ,over time pay, and child labor was common ,and workers the enviroment and the consumer had no protection and no safety net was in place. Poor Ayn Rand would have died a bit sooner with out that draconian oppressive safety net that only helps out the irresponsible and inferior folks
0 # lionsdenmother 2011-12-19 12:05
so basically Ryn was a very intelligent person who could argue/debate so well as to convince many undecided people that it was ok to be greedy and selfish if thats what you wanted to be. But she also thought of herself as being at the top of the game she promoted.
+1 # lorenbliss 2011-12-19 12:59
Mr. Levine's denunciation of Ayn Rand and her credo of übermenschen selfishness is overdue and welcome.

But his indictment omits three facts essential to understanding how United States became not “one of the most uncaring nations in the industrial world” but – whether at home or abroad – the global archetype of moral imbecility: the most murderously greedy nation in history.

Mr. Levin's first omission is his failure to acknowledge the toxic influence Rand had on the U.S. variant of second-wave feminism, divorcing it from its socialist roots, perverting it into a new and predictably sociopathic rationale for run-amok capitalism. Thus – surely not by accident – we are denied the humanitarian influence by which feminism has elsewhere ameliorated the savagery of capitalism.

He also fails to recognize that Rand's doctrines have reshaped U.S. Christianity. While it is true Rand was venomously anti-religious, it is also true the fundamentalist church has adopted Randist selfishness as a new expression of godliness, with the mainstream churches signaling approval by complicit silence.

But Mr. Levin's greatest omission is his failure to note that Rand's credo is ultimately capitalism reduced to its purest distillate: infinite greed elevated to ultimate virtue – not just the overthrow of every principle of ethics or morality ever uttered, but (precisely as Gore Vidal implied), Absolute Evil.
+2 # moby doug 2011-12-19 16:44
The heavyhanded film adaptation of The Fountainhead came along just in time to popularize Rand's dreary collection of rationales for selfishness for the Baby Boomer generation. Sadly, Gary Cooper (a Republican who cooperated with the HUAC Redhunters), the ultimate cinematic Western hero, lent his magnetism and prestige to the role. Rand, of course, used a bastardized version of real life genius architect and egotist Frank Lloyd Wright as the basis for Howard Roark.
0 # PatRM2 2011-12-19 17:39
Anyone who has dug into Rand's life would have a hard time defending the person, and anyone who agrees or admires the premise of a heartless soul is soulless themselves. Those that say "I just separate the artist from the art" is hiding behind that excuse. I cannot stomach some actors that I once admired because of their politics. To know the person overrides the performance for me. Ayn Rand seems a really pathetic human being. To find out who some of her dittoheads are/were really puts me at odds with all of them. The only question I have is which came first, Ayn Rand or the heartless 1%?
+5 # gerold 2011-12-19 18:41
I have a very different perspective on Rand and her influence on American culture.

First of all, Rand was a novelist. She certainly had an interest in philosophy, and may have even preferred to think of herself that way, but she's a novelist. An artist. And she created great art. Her novels are brilliant. However, the quality of her art says nothing about the quality of her character. Many great artists have been awful people.

Great art is refracted through the mind of the beholder according to the perspective of the viewer. A greedy, selfish, amoral person reading Rand will find his greed validated. But kind-hearted people reading Rand will not be transformed into selfish, amoral exploiters. The idea that Ayn Rand or her novels turned nice people into assholes is ridiculous. By the time a person is capable of reading Ayn Rand, their character is already formed.

I think her novels are great. My radical egalitarianism isn't threatened by Howard Roark or John Galt, and when I hear Rush Limbaugh, I think of Ellsworth Toohey. If you feel progressive politics is threatened by Ayn Rand, you miust not have very firm progressive convictions.
+5 # DaveM 2011-12-19 23:11
Must say I find it intriguing how our government has come to resemble that of "the looters" in "Atlas Shrugged". And I certainly don't mean the Democrats. If you want to see politicians bought and paid for just as Rand imagined, look to today's "conservatives".

I find it impossible to believe that Rand shaped a system which was operating in this country long before she was born and which, by the time she began writing, was well on the way to being legislated out of existence.
-2 # Martintfre 2011-12-20 14:48
Quoting DaveM:

I find it impossible to believe that Rand shaped a system which was operating in this country long before she was born and which, by the time she began writing, was well on the way to being legislated out of existence.

Exactly true - Atlas was a warning of where she saw we are headed .. sadly she seems to of gotten a lot of it right.

If you want to see her inspiration for the gangster government looter officials remember what she lived through - FDR.
+3 # Anydaynow 2011-12-20 17:59
I see that as well, which is so funny, and not in the ha ha sense. The idiot followers of Rand are themselves the villains of her novels. What a sad effing world.
+2 # jimsenter 2011-12-20 06:04
Im sorry Contrary to the headline, . Ayn Rand didn't make us anything. She simply gave intellectual cover to our worst tendencies. She promoted a sophistry in which selfishness is the highest morality. These tendencies have always been A PART OF human nature. Ayn Rand was simply part of a movement to make them the organizing principles of society.
+1 # Martintfre 2011-12-20 14:15
If I am Greedy and selfish because I believe that I will not live as a slave to another nor shall I tolerate another to be my slave so be it.

But What then are we to call those who believe in sacrificing and enslaving some for the sake of others?
+1 # Anydaynow 2011-12-20 18:05
Excuse me if I'm repeating what others have already posted, I haven't read the thread.

Ayn Rand was an anarcho-capital ist. Her philosophy was not new, it was already well developed before she created her cult. And it was a cult, with all the trimmings.

Her teachings did not spread wide, but they influenced people who would go on to be very important, including Milton Friedman, who was the evil guru of the Chicago School of Economics, which trained Alan Greenspan.

Everyone should read Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine: Rise of Disaster Capilism" to understand exactly how powerful Ayn Rand's lunacy really was.
+3 # hd70642 2011-12-21 06:34
The conservatives have never been ideologically purest. Especially Ayn Rand the queen of hypocrisy and contradictions . In championing selfishness how can you damn the moochers of this world especially when the rich get by on inheritance and rely on the poor to do all their work and buy their products.Like all conservatives she was selective about selfishness just like repubilcan'ts
are selective about socialism witheir it is bank bailouts or the military industrial complex!!!
Also she championed fuedalism which is simply scaled back fascism . Fascism is when the corporations are in charge of the government so less government only gives sacled back Fascism. Did the corporators in 19th century behave in a democractic humane and generous maner in either nineteenth centurty Us or Britan?Just look at any Dickens novel and see how humanely bussiess owners were . Also how many corporate goons killed workers trying to unionize and look at countries in Africa and how barbarous corporations have behaved towards native populations
+3 # hd70642 2011-12-21 12:13
One of the things Randriods utterly fail to acknowledge is none one is self sufficient and the closest ones are either survialist/mili tia kooks or the Amish .One of the key foundations of civilizations is division of labor and inner dependence, The thing about the truth it will not disapear no matter how much you can try ignore it .Their only counter arguments are insults ill wishes or saying you have not read their magical panacea
Tax breaks deregulation gutting the safety net and sending jobs abroad has not lead to a utopia or even produced individuals of superior status. It has only sent this nation further towards third world status. By the way MS Rand looks like either a patron from the Mos isley Catina from Star Wars some creature from Buffy the vampire slayer some villians from Bat man Dck Tracy, or some 4 year old feeble attempt to draw a character in some Dr Sesus story !!!!
-2 # JimGeorge 2012-07-17 12:21
Bold assumptions on your part? Precisely when have we actually had free market lassaie fair capitalism in America? Your have only armed brutes and ignorant morons with your thinking, value destroyers of the worst kind, coming in meddling with those trying to create jobs and values for humanity, using Rand as the scapegoat is an epic fail. Your clueless, but don't be so shocked when the bread lines come to America.. Oh wait, they are here aren't they? But to blame it on evil businesses, when it is the evil Gangster politicians who have been bought off by these companies, just so they have a chance at survival, you have only armed them with the ability to enact regulations that only benefit them and bury the little guy who would otherwise be competition in red tape and IRS paperwork. Just keep up your thinking, but know your Country will not change.
0 # Antler 2012-06-25 17:41
Can you explain how someone has the power to "make" someone else selfish? Ayn Rand was incorrect and incomplete in her philosophy, but she was certainly correct in most of what she said, as no one is perfect, we are a flawed species. But how can one person who does not have the power of force behind them, make another person selfish?

The only people with the power to control the actions of others are people who wield unjust laws and force backed institutions against other people. Not a refugee with a good vocabulary and the ability to express herself.. what a fundamentally flawed premise of an idea, saying one person can make a whole country selfish. I will go as far as to say it is stupid.
0 # goldmoon 2012-06-27 06:38
From the article: "The good news is that I've seen ex-Rand fans grasp the damage that Rand's philosophy has done to their lives and to then exorcize it from their psyche. Can the United States as a nation do the same thing?"

Yes, it can - at least the majority of the comments posted here reveal such tendency. I think that's very good news too.
-2 # JimGeorge 2012-07-17 12:17
Wow! Really? You guys think Ayn Rand is the problem? If your serious about this, know that we have absolutely never followed her ideas as a Nation. To use her as the scape goat is to completely evade the very solutions sitting in front of us, and know that your confusions are doing nothing to help the situation. What Rand did not predict is that the value Creator's would simply get in Bed with Big Government to hijack our Law Machine for their special interests, but with your corrupt philosophy you gave them that power, by your bold assumptions that man is defective, fallen,wicked and evil. But what your negating is that it is YOU that have Given they Government their power to only benefit the few at the expense of the many. The laws often created are simply to eliminate competition, the regulations are more about destroying jobs and competition for their special interests, this has zero to do with the philosophy of Objectivism. Wow the epic failed thinking on here is appalling.
0 # rwaderwade 2015-08-01 01:00
This is refreshing to me because after I retired 10 years ago, I finally had the opportunity (via the internet)to re-evaluate history as I had personally experienced it as a young man. I focused on Ayn Rand because her profound influence on the US psyche had never made sense to me. I am not a writer, so it is difficult for me to express myself, but this article reassures me that I am not alone in my revulsion for this individual. She was the "Chicken Little" that screamed what like-minded power-centric people wanted to hear. The article accurately summarizes my personal retrospectives re: Rand.

While I would not accuse Rand of personally "Making us a selfish nation", I think she had way more influence on the US elite than even Jesus for decades (Atlas Shrugged reportedly sold more copies than the Bible at one point). Thanks for the insightful analysis.

Maybe Ayn Rand didn't cause the problem of greed directly, but she would definitely take as much credit for it as we would be willing to offer.

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