Chandler, Arizona, United States

There's an old saying. If you don't want someone to join a crowd, you ask them, "If everyone were jumping off of a cliff, would you?" Well, I have. So my answer would be "Yes". True story.
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A Few Thoughts on Ayn Rand

Saturday, February 22, 2014

this entry brought to you by nine inch nails, "closer"

I'm in the middle of reading a book about Ayn Rand called Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, and I'm surprised at how little I hate Ayn Rand. Don't get me wrong, I find her philosophy to be monstrous and plainly incorrect. But it's not as if I can't understand why she felt that way.

She was a little girl during the Russian Communist revolution, which as a horrible regime based on collectivism pushed to the worst degree imaginable. She saw people around her get murdered and others disappear without a trace forever at the hands of the party. Her father was a beloved member of the community, yet his store was taken from him by armed guards. Her entire family was educated, yet they were pushed nearly to the brink of starvation.

Furthermore, Rand herself admits feeling abnormal as a kid, unable to have conversations with other children without them turning into arguments. She says she found it difficult to feel normal. He journal was filled with aphorisms to "be normal, be calm", so it's clear that the woman had social disorders.

So when she came to America, of course a woman with undiagnosed social disorders from the Communist revolution would think all forms of collectivism were evil. Of course she was paranoid and found communists everywhere. Of course.

But here is what I find fascinating about her place in American Conservatism. In my opinion, she should be a nightmare for religious people. She's like the cartoon character that all religious people assume atheists are actually like. She was not only an atheist, but she found religion amoral and did not hesitate in saying so. She admired a notorious murderer of her time named William Hickman and wrote that he was "the best and strongest expression of a real man's psychology I have heard", modeling the main character of several her stories after him. The hero of several of her stories, which she intended to be political statements and its characters representative of her philosophy, brutally rapes women. She thought that egotism isn't just a positive thing, but a moral thing. She thought altruism is immoral and thought that it directly caused all of the major calamities of western society.

The only cartoonish thing that she didn't do that Christians suspect of atheists is eat babies.

Which is why I find it baffling that her philosophy has been embraced by the American right to the point that they refer to it like it's the unerring truth. Indeed, her entire philosophy seems to be rooted in every part of their existence. The very same people who think we should teach creationism in school, trying to stop abortions (which Rand believed in), the people's whose every concept is justified by what God or Jesus would want, embrace Ayn Rand as if she were some sort of prophet.

And of course, anyone can say that they admire a person's philosophy without buying into the entirety of where the person comes from. That's valid. Freud was wrong about a whole lot of things, but that doesn't mean that he was fundamentally wrong in his pursuit of understanding the human mind's psychology.

Except in Rand's case, she would argue that her atheism was in fact the very basis of her ideas, and would refer to anyone who had a religious belief or used their religion in any political philosophy as "irrational", which was her ultimate dismissal. And irrational person shouldn't even be allowed at the table of discussion in her mind.

The American Right's utter worship of Ayn Rand shows exactly how much the American right's concept of Christianity has mutated from its source.

with love from CRS @ 10:29 AM 


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