From The Fountainhead to the Furries: 10 links for Ayn Rand fans
I channel surfed upon a movie called Ayn Rand and The Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged this evening. Despite the kudos from Dennis Miller, it turns out that it isn't very good. As usually happens when I'm in front of the TV, I ended up doing some research into the subject from the couch. This quickly led me down a "rabbit hole" of Objectivist weirdness:
One reason most countries don't find the time to embrace Ayn Rand's thinking is that she is a textbook sociopath. In her notebooks Ayn Rand worshiped a notorious serial murderer-dismemberer, and used this killer as an early model for the type of "ideal man" she promoted in her more famous books. These ideas were later picked up on and put into play by major right-wing figures of the past half decade, including the key architects of America's most recent economic catastrophe -- former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan and SEC Commissioner Chris Cox -- along with other notable right-wing Republicans such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Rush Limbaugh and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.
...writes Mark Ames on Alternet.
Accusations of sociopathy aside, it's also been well-established that Rand was a hophead. This much was even clear to Robert Anton Wilson when he met her for the first (and last) time as a young man. From The Cosmic Trigger III:
The first new dogmatism I embraced after rejecting the Marxist BS (belief system) was Ayn Rand’s philosophy (not yet called Objectivism in those days.) The Fountainhead had exactly the appeal for me that it has retained, decade after decade, with alienated adolescents of all ages. (The average youthful reader of Thus Spake Zarathustra decides he is the Superman, and the average youthful Randroid decides she is an Alienated Super Genius.) LIke most Randroids, I went around for a few years mindlessly parroting all the the Rand dogma and imagining I was an ‘individualist.’
Some years later, after becoming a published writer, I actually was invited to meet Ayn Rand once. (I was ‘summoned to the Presence,’ as Arlen said.) I confessed my doubts about certain Rand dogmas and was Cast Out Into the Darkness forever to wail and gnash my teeth in the Realm of Thud. It was weird. I thought the Trots and Catholic priests were dogmatic, but Ayn Rand made both groups look like models of tolerance by comparison.
I thought she was a clinical paranoid. It was nearly 30 years later that I found out Rand was merely on Speed all the time, which creates an effect so much like paranoia that even trained clinicians cannot always tell the difference, and some even claim there is no difference.
(And while we're at it, make sure you check out the handy chart John Higgs put together that compares and contrasts Wilson's Illuminatus! Trilogy and Atlas Shrugged.)
According to the MIT Objectivist Club, "invalid uses of tax dollars [include] public education, roads, fire stations, social security, welfare," and NASA. In the end — just like most of us who were taken by Objectivism in the eighth grade then saw it collapse upon running headstrong into reality — Rand had to make a pragmatic decision.
AlterNet's Joshua Holland:
Her books provided wide-ranging parables of "parasites," "looters" and "moochers" using the levers of government to steal the fruits of her heroes' labor. In the real world, however, Rand herself received Social Security payments and Medicare benefits under the name of Ann O'Connor (her husband was Frank O'Connor).
According to this dude at Yahoo! Answers, the creators of Bioshock threw a couple references to Rand in the game. I don't know if this is true (I couldn't be bothered to check) but it does seem probable. Then I came across this gem, which made me LOL:
It was about this time that I came across the Furry Objectivists of Second Life:
After this, I switched over to VH1. Watching Dr. Drew try to rehabilitate washed up celebrities was a welcome change.