Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Cult of Ayn Rand – Atlas Mugged

For those not familiar with Ayn Rand and her work, she was an ultra-right winged whacky free market totalitarian who supported laissez-faire capitalism and was totally against workers' rights. In short- a megalomaniacal cretin.

The writing was geared towards the starry eyed teenagers who wanted to be told they were special. So she conjured up some pseudo-intellectual cod-philosophy to tell them that morality was always about rewarding rational, thinking individuals (the definition of which being whoever happened to agree with her). But in reality her political views were all about backing policies that simply reward people who are already well off while failing everybody else. Through her writings, Rand envisions this simplistic, decadent world where currency is supreme, which places a dollar sign on everything, even human life.

Some people are beyond contempt.
Capitalism does not acknowledge potential, for it shines approval on those who already achieved their potential, which is potentially crippling to those who are living in poverty and minorities attempting to liberate themselves from oppression.

Objectivism is just another name for American flavoured Fascism. Instead of supporting a fascist state, Randroids glorify the cult of private and corporate power. In fact, her entire oeuvre is dedicated to worshipping the fascistic power of the individual over society, the power of the "strong" over the "weak", and the rich over the poor. In fact, in a way, the society she envisions is far more evil than Fascism, for most fascist states at least put on a false face for being for "the people" (they of course were not, but had to keep up the charade to keep power), but in a Randist society, there would be nothing to constrain the power of fascist individuals and corporations, who could exploit people as they wished. This line of thinking eventually led to the bastardized version of Anarchism known as Anarcho-Capitalism, a festering, brutal hellhole of an ideology if there ever was one.

It is not hard to see why Rand appeals to billionaires. She offers them something that is crucial to every successful political movement: a sense of victim-hood and tells them that they are parasitized by the ungrateful poor and oppressed by intrusive, controlling governments.

I did read it in the end, not because it's any good, but just for a glimpse into the bizarre fantasy world Randroids lives in. The horror of reading that is not something I'd wish upon anyone. One of the problems is that people who need any degree of looking after are curiously absent from her world-view - so children, the sick, the elderly, mentally ill, disabled people - all become non-persons.

John Galt- the epitome of the selfish attitude.
There are so many ludicrous, pernicious things about Rand's philosophy - the way its proponents consign most of humanity to worthless trash, categorize themselves as superior beings, the übermensch living amidst the great subhuman population of parasites. They make individualism, egoism & selfishness into a fetish and ridicule any human impulse toward generosity and refusal to deify the self as unnatural or worse. It's a deeply sick and twisted ideology.

Ayn Rand's description of Howard Roark, hero of her novel The Fountainhead: "He was born without the ability to consider others." This, of course, would be the mark of a sociopath.

Approximately 3% of all humans are sociopaths, born without the ability to feel empathy. Rand was surely one. Not only did she venerate selfishness as the highest good, she idolized William Edward Hickman (a sadistic murderer who dismembered a 12-year-old girl) as a "beautiful soul" and superman. The fact that sociopaths like Rand exist are frightening and sad, but one cannot blame them for their condition. Her followers, however, have no such excuse. Ayn Rand followers are nothing but despicable apologists for oppression and imperialism.

Her views more than illustrate how easily people can fall into the trap of justifying their own dubious motives, rationalising every egotistical and self-centred thought, whilst excusing each hypocritical act. This has such a strong appeal to those who lack a degree of empathy, imagination or self-knowledge, hence the repugnance of 'the other' and emphasis on 'self' - all dressed up as morality.

Humans are one of the few animals that will perform acts with no obvious gain and are fundamentally social/pack animals. They cannot survive in any meaningful way outside a social group. For a social group to function "living for yourself" has to be counter-balanced by what she despises as "altruism", and of course, the good of the group and the willingness of people to put others needs before their own ultimately means the group and more individuals are more likely to survive and in better shape. The disabled, other people's children, the sick and the elderly are just baggage in the kind of world view she envisages.

In many ways, hers is the kind of deeply flawed and radical thinking that the masses grab hold of in the way they seized on Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. It offers a simple solution and some convenient scapegoats to blame.

Objectivism: It's a philosophy for toddlers who don't like sharing their sweets.
She ended her life as a living, breathing mockery of her own work- broke and living off the state. When faced with lung cancer, as a result of her life long disbelief that smoking caused cancer what did Rand do? Face it as an Objectivist should and rely on steely eyed rugged individualism? By living by her own mantra that only the fittest survive and that all state welfare is wrong, merely allowing the undeserving weak to live?

Nope, she claimed Medicare off the US Government under the alias of Ann O'Connor (husband Frank O'Connor).

In short, it’s cultish because it encourages (ironically) the stunting of reason, and an endless pursuit of some divine status as a capitalist titan. When you treat selfishness as a virtue as she does, you'll perpetually disappoint yourself until you can convince yourself that you got where you are in life all on your own, in spite of, rather than because of, association with other people.

Like all of her predecessors in the Counter-Enlightenment tradition, Ayn Rand is destined for the trash heap of history. The faster she gets there the better off humanity will be.
Ayn Rand synthesized Fascism and racist white supremacy. I'll end this article with some direct quotes of her ignorant drivel-
"They (Native Americans) didn't have any rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using. What was it that they were fighting for, when they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their 'right' to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or a few caves above it. Any white person who brings the element of civilization has the right to take over this continent."
- Ayn Rand, Q and A session following her address to the graduating class of The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, March 6, 1974
"The Arabs are one of the least developed cultures. They are typically nomads. Their culture is primitive, and they resent Israel because it's the sole beachhead of modern science and civilization on their continent. When you have civilized men fighting savages, you support the civilized men, no matter who they are. But when it comes to the power of the mind—the development of industry in that wasted desert continent—versus savages who don't want to use their minds, then if one cares about the future of civilization, don't wait for the government to do something. Give whatever you can. If you mean whose side one should be on, Israel or the Arabs, I would certainly say Israel because it’s the advanced, technological, civilized country amidst a group of almost totally primitive savages who have not changed for years and who are racist and who resent Israel because it’s bringing industry, intelligence, and modern technology into their stagnation."
- Ayn Rand, Q and A session during taping of Donohue, Live in New York, 1974.


Abhishek said...

Oops, That is one hell of a scathing criticism of Ayn Rand. I have a written a similar post, but entirely opposite polarity, on Atlas shrugged. I agree, that her opinions are extremely capitalistic, but the essence of her writing is, Don't sacrifice talented individuals for the sake of those who are not.
It basically boils down to competence vs Incompetence. Lets look at it from Indian point of view. Reserved Vs General for e.g. and that is how I perceived her book as. And I wrote my blog just on that. Do read my views on the same book!

Hyphenated American said...

"For those not familiar with Ayn Rand and her work, she was an ultra-right winged whacky free market totalitarian who supported laissez-faire capitalism and was totally against workers' rights. In short- a megalomaniacal cretin"

You cannot claim that free market (i.e. freedom of association between people, the right to keep the fruits of one's labor) is somehow "totalitarian". It does not make much sense. And Ayn Rand did not object to any workers' rights.

Francois Tremblay said...

"Ayn Rand did not object to any workers' rights."

You are either completely ignorant of Objectivism or fairly insane.

Hyphenated American said...

Francois, I am pretty familiar with Ayn Rand, and I am not insane. If you have any arguments against her ideas, if you believe she was against workers' rights, go ahead, name those rights.

I doubt you can though.