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  • The Cartoon World of Ayn Rand

    by Donald DeMarco

    rand

    I do not enjoy cartoons. I did when I was a child, but that was long ago. If I am surfing the channels and Bugs Bunny pops up, I keep going. Nonetheless, strange as it may seem, when there is a child on my lap, I happily revisit my nearly forgotten days of yore.

    My heart returned to and rejoiced in cartoon-land when I watched them through the eyes of my children. I found myself smiling when they smiled, laughing when they laughed.  But when they outgrew their affection for cartoon characters, I once again lost mine. Then, one-by-one, the grandchildren arrived and I regained my twice lost enthusiasm for Looney Tunes, Disney, Peanuts, and sundry other animated drawings.

    My children and grandchildren led me back to a world of innocence and simplicity. It is a magical kingdom, like Brigadoon and Shangri-la, where no one ages, no one dies, and everyone stays in character. The fact that it does not represent life on earth does not matter. It is a foretaste of paradise and enthralls a child’s mind and heart.  It is also a world where stereotypes are permissible, as in coloring books where the policeman is always cheerful, the nurse always caring, and the schoolteacher always dedicated. The complexity of life is yet to be learned. Robert Louis Stevenson hit the mark when he said, “Character to the boy is a sealed book; for him, a pirate is a beard, a pair of wide trousers and a liberal complement of pistols.”

    And then, the child grows a little and enters a world where everything is changing and problems come in bunches and frustration becomes a daily exercise. He now knows that no ones is, “faster than a speeding bullet” and no one can “leap tall buildings in a single bound”. Superman has flown away, never to return.

    Or has he? Adolescents, too old for animated cartoons and perhaps too young for adult responsibilities, can place Ayn Rand on their laps and, seeing things through her eyes, once again believe in cartoons. Superman, Batman, and Captain Marvel are restored to believability, though they remain utterly inimitable. Concerning her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, a reviewer for Time asked: “Is it a novel? Is it a nightmare? Is it Superman – in the comic strip or the Nietzschean version?”  Economist Paul Krugman did not pull any punches when he appraised Atlas Shrugged as “a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world.”

    Despite her egregious shortcomings as an author, Ayn Rand’s immense popularity cannot be ignored. Atlas Shrugged has sold more than 7 million copies and may be the best-selling novel ever written. 520,000 copies were sold in 2009, 52 years after its 1957 publication. The Ayn Rand Institute donates 400,000 of Miss Rand’s books annually to high school students. And if one has not seen the cinematic versions of her life and her works, or read her newsletters, he may see her face emblazoned on a 1999 U.S. postage stamp.

    The scathing reviews that followed the publication of Atlas Shrugged may be without peer in terms of their vitriolic intensity.  Perhaps Whittiker Chambers led the field when he confessed:  “Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained.  Its shrillness is without reprieve.  Its dogmatism is without appeal.”

    The striking disparity between her immense popularity and the dubious quality of her work provides an important insight into American society. The logical explanation appears to be that Ayn Rand appeals to people who are hesitant to grow up, preferring to cling to a cartoon version of life where the fictional heroes are people of uncompromised rectitude, and utopia is within everyone’s grasp. Listen to a few excerpts from the hero of Atlas Shrugged, John Galt, who goes on and on for no less than fifty-eight pages, delivering a monotonous and tedious paean to individualism:

    The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours.

    In the hopeless swamps of the not quite, the not yet, and the not at all, do not let the hero in your soul perish and leave only frustration for the life you deserved but never have been able to reach.

    Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark.

    Ayn Rand may have been better positioned as a Madison Avenue advertizing executive. She offers hope for the hopeless, but one that is a pure fabrication, cleverly packaged and delivered in purple prose. She has a genius for marketing, but not for logical persuasion.

    Reality cuts our aspirations down to size. It re-sizes them from the unreasonable spaciousness of what we would want to the reasonable attainability of what we need. It teaches us that love is infinitely more important than power. It points the way to our true destiny, one that is achieved through virtue and concern for others. Reviewer John Chamberlain was merely being sensible when he advised that Ayn Rand should not have tried “to rewrite the Sermon on the Mount.”

    Walt Disney commonly employed a sequence he referred to as the “plausible impossible”.  For example, someone is sitting on a tree limb and is sawing away between himself and the tree.  After he severs the limb, he remains suspended in midair for a brief moment until he realizes what he has done and then plunges to the ground.  In Atlas Shrugged, there is a chapter called “Utopia of Greed”.  The concept of utopia may be appealing, but it is an abstraction and therefore “up in the air”.  The collectivity of avaricious individuals that inhabit it would soon bring it crashing to earth.  Disney and Rand utilize the “plausible impossible,” but the creator of Mickey Mouse does it with no illusions.

    I do not enjoy the wooden heroes who appear on the pages of Ayn Rand’s novels. More than that, however, I would be gravely irresponsible if I were to introduce her fictional characters that pretend to be models for living human beings to any of my youthful descendents.

    The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of
    Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

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    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      Ayan Rand isolates and exaggerates to the point of caricature a cardinal principle of the Enlightenment, that the nature of the human person can be adequately described without mention of social relationships.  A person’s relations with others, even if important, are not essential and describe nothing that is, strictly speaking, necessary to one’s being what one is.  This principle underlies all the talk of Hobbes and Rousseau about the “state of nature” and the “social contract,” and from it is derived the notion that the only obligations are those voluntarily assumed.

      For Bentham, a thorough-going nominalist, the idea of “relation” is but a “fictitious entity,” though necessary for “convenience of discourse.”  More specifically, he remarks that “the
      community is a fictitious body,” and it is but “the sum of the interests of the several members who compose it.”

      For the ancients, to consider the individual in isolation from the polis, or community, was like talking about a foot or an eye, without reference to the body, as a whole.  Aristotle, the philosopher of common sense,dismisses Rand’s nonsense in half a sentence, when he declares that “in the household are first found the origins and springs of friendship, of political organization and of justice.”

      • Frodo

        Michael,
        Great post.
        Thanks,

      • Scott W

        It is interesting to group Hobbes and Rousseau together given that Rousseau is precisely trying to “roll back” the Hobbes/Locke invention of the autonomous individual so as to return to a more ancient model (Rousseau’s footnotes are full of references to Sparta, etc.).

        Hume is often referred to as a philosopher of common sense precisely because he offers a radically modest (and impoverished) notion of the good life (security of goods and person and some hope of material improvement).  If you add the pursuit of “romance” and sex to Hume’s picture then you have the typical american.  I agree that Aristotle’s N. Ethics is the greatest self-help book ever written, and so has plenty of good sense and material that appeals to the average american, but Aristotle also points heavenward (so to speak) and so seems out-of-touch in claiming that the life of the mind is the highest good.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Maria-Eugenia-Saez/622147554 María Eugenia Sáez

        “State of Nature” or going against nature, like Rousseau did, the self-abuser, the man unable to connect with women (probably not with his mother either)?

      • KaelVarnson

        Atlas Shrugged has a ton to say about relationships, Michael. It’s about how men deal with other men, romantic love, family relationships, relationships between political groups and individuals, and on and on.

        That Aristotle quote has no context whatsoever and makes no case against Rand. And Aristotle was not the “philosopher of common sense.” There was nothing common about him. He was the father of logic, and Rand is Aristotle’s best student.

    • Brian Dunbar

      Atlas Shrugged is not a good novel, agreed. 

      However, I’ve only managed to get through the first quarter – and skimmed parts of the rest.  Perhaps I’m missing something.  I am pretty sure most reviewers did not sit down and plow through the entire thing either.

      So – not a good novel.

      But it is darn interesting that some of the more egregious and foul things Rand puts in the villians mouths are spouted daily by some right thinking people on the far left.
       

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Maria-Eugenia-Saez/622147554 María Eugenia Sáez

        well, she survived the horrors of Communist Totalitarianism and did so as a jewess, someone whose family had survived progroms God knows how; the “horror” included seeing some of her people, jews like her, staffing the Communist Cheka, arresting and denouncing people including fellow jews, sending them to jail and death (much like the Jewish Blue Police would do later, in order to congratiate themselves with the nazis). If she had lived to our day, she would have begun to see Totalitarianism with a Smiling Face, the NDAA law passed, Joe Lieberman.

        • Midwestern Trad

          I’m sorry, Miss Saez; but this post isn’t making sense.  What does Ayn Rand’s ethnicity have to do with this discussion?

      • KaelVarnson

         And how do you suppose she was able to see the future 50 years before anyone else? Because she wasn’t a mystic or clairvoyant. She understood philosophy. 

        Try reading the whole novel – if you give it a chance it just may change your life, like it did for so many people young and old.

    • poetcomic1

      She is one of the most dangerous ‘influences’ on adolescence.  I’ve seen many young ‘seekers’ toss her aside upon reaching maturity but then move on to a life of ‘seeking’ and a restlessness that becomes what Chesterton called   “…a hungry search for a certain exhilaration which he can only have when he has the courage to cease from wandering.”    In a world of constant flux and relative values, young people are not shown what it is like ‘to come to rest’,  arrogant self-affirmation is the highest value of our media saturated culture.

      • KaelVarnson

        And I’ve seen many aimlessly wandering adults cast aside their wrong view that man cannot be certain about anything, then read Rand and discover a new path toward confidence, happiness and productivity.

      • Martial_Artist

        You have now encountered one person (yours truly) who read her Atlas Shrugged in high school for an English assignment, and ended up eventually becoming Catholic, having long since discarded her arguments for atheism and Objectivism and selfishness (although not its sibling—enlightened self-interest), and sees that her caricatures of statists and individualists capture some important elements of the truth about society (at least in this nation) that explains how and why we have been “running off the rails.” And that realization (that she had valid insights along with invalid ones and two-dimensional characterizations) had largely occurred before I had finished two years of college, almost 50 years ago. That book, and to a lesser extent The Fountainhead, awaken people to the issues of liberty and tyranny within a democratic republic that is in decline, even if she doesn’t get all the answers right, nor achieve significant artistic merit.

        Pax et bonum,
        Keith Töpfer

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Curtis-Plumb/100002048588033 Curtis Plumb

           Oh my.  Another lapsed Objectivist.  They’re everywhere.

          • Martial_Artist

            Mr. Plumb,

            You seem to be having a difficulty similar to that of Mr. Varnson, in reading the comments of others. Where did I state or imply that I ever subscribed to Objectivism? If you will reread my comments, you will note that I did not. And that is so for a very good reason.

            I never did so much as entertain becoming an adherent to Objectivism, although two college friends of mine did for some part of their lives. Alas, the surviving friend has done a perfect volte-face, and is now a committed Democrat and moderate socialist.

            What I did suggest is that Atlas Shrugged, and to a lesser degree The Fountainhead, did communicate some truths about Socialism, albeit as extreme caricatures of the species. But Rand’s life undoubtedly produced in her an extreme hatred of socialist statism. That is a reaction that I not only share, but believe is fully warranted in any Catholic, as Socialism is, at its root, a contradiction of the requirement that we treat every human being with the respect due to someone created in the image of God. I would argue that the state is incapable of consistently treating its citizens in conformity with that requirement, although some of its agents sometime succeed in doing so. Hence, in my understanding, socialism is fundamentally incompatible with Christianity, and very particularly with authentic Catholic Christianity.

            Pax et bonum,
            Keith Töpfer

          • Martial_Artist

            Sorry to disappoint you, misterioso, but I am not a “lapsed Objectivist,” inasmuch as I never subscribed to her philosophical pretensions in the first place. You appear to have read my “having … discarded her arguments for atheism and Objectivism” as meaning I did so after long consideration, whereas my rejection was essentially to reject them as out of hand.
            Pax et bonum,
            Keith Töpfer

    • Gstoppel

      I disagree.  In a world full of socialism and socialists,  bureaucrats,  endless rules,  regulations,  petty fines for slight mistakes,  and the concept that we must all be equal,  she shows us that we do not have to give in nor surrender to the dark side of socialism,  political correctness,  politically correct thought or speech.  We are,  and have the capability of being far more autonomous and in control of our own life than the forces of evil want us to even dare imagine

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Maria-Eugenia-Saez/622147554 María Eugenia Sáez

        Equality in the basic services catering to the basic needs. A civilization has to agree what those BS and BN are. When people like “Catholic” Ryan start voicing the 1% BEAST on top, something more befitting to Blankfein, it means that the Social Contract of the “Nation under God” is either disolving, or that there is a new god, Mamon, ruling the U$ers, they are not Americans any more.

        • KaelVarnson

           ”Civilizations” don’t decide things, and can’t “agree” on anything. Individuals decide things, but they must be free to do so, if they want to thrive and prosper. Capitalism is the only moral political system that will allow individuals to flourish.

          There is no “social contract.” I never signed one, so your contract is void.

          • Martial_Artist

            KaelVarnson,

            I concur in both of your points stated to Maria.

            Pax et bonum,
            Keith Töpfer

    • glowingcamel

      Rothbard is superior, but he didn’t write fiction.

      • KaelVarnson

         Rothbard was an anarchist, and thus was irrational.

        Rand wrote more non-fiction than fiction.

        • glowingcamel

           You just accidentally logic.

        • Martial_Artist

          @KaelVarnson:disqus/b>,

          You write “Rothbard as an anarchist, and thus irrational.”

          Nice attempt at making an unsubstantiated assertion, but that latter italicized two word phrase is basically nothing more than a playground level slur. Have you even read Rothbard, or are you simply in the habit of using dismissive ad hominem arguments?

          Pax et bonum,
          Keith Töpfer

          • KaelVarnson

             Do I really have to explain to you why anarchy is irrational, and “competing governments” theory is both irrational and impossible? Do I have to show you in real world terms how gang warfare is completely destructive, and that Rothbard’s system would ultimately and necessarily lead to a situation like we see in Somalia?

            Government is a necessary good, not a necessary evil, and it’s primary role is to put force under objective control. Read Rand and you’ll learn why.

            • Martial_Artist

              KaelVarnson

              Nice attempt at verbal legerdemain, Mr. Varnson, but you appear to be having some difficulty reading. I made no mention of Rand in my reply to you. Rather, I explicitly referenced Rothbard, because it was Rothbard whom you asserted to be irrational. Rothbard, to the best of my knowledge, never believed other than that the idea of competing governments was wholly irrational, which would seem to suggest your reply is a self-contradiction. What he did suggest was that a solution to government was an idea more accurately described as competing agencies.

              Perhaps, rather than dismissive assertions of what others write, you might consider addressing the actual comment being made. Sadly, by not addressing any of Rothbard’s ideas your reply suggests that you not only have not read Rothbard, but you didn’t actually read what I wrote, but instead attacked what you divined was my hidden intent. Perhaps you might in future try reading more closely any comment to which you intend a reply.

              Pax et bonum,
              Keith Töpfer

    • Mike

      The reason people hate her is a lot of what she wrote is coming out of the mouths of politicians these days. We must be the Borg, be part of the leftist soco/communist collective. 

      America is founded on the principles of capitalism, of each person having the ability succeed whether or not they do is not guaranteed nor should it be. 

      The author sounds like a mouthpiece for the Obama Admin. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Maria-Eugenia-Saez/622147554 María Eugenia Sáez

        Where in your Constitution is the defense of Capitalism? Capitalism is not even mentioned; America was founded on freedom and a sense of community and of common good.

        • Mike

          Maria, 

          It guarantees freedom. Capitalism is a by product of that. It is not up to the government to see you succeed or provide for your health, it is up to the government to provide for the defense 0f the nation and to regulate trade. 

          As a constitutional republic this nation was setup on principles of the states governing themselves and the federal government having a certain but limited role in the politics of the state. 

          Social Justice should be the job of the community, not the government. 

        • Martial_Artist

          Maria Eugenia Sáez,

          Capitalism is not explicitly in the Constitution. What is in that document are limitations on the role of the government (at least of the Federal government) which can only result in a free market governed by strict enforcement of the Rule of Law and of legitimately acquired property rights. The fact that we have departed from the Rule of Law and have abandoned strict enforcement of property rights, simply illustrates that there is truth in the assertion that we no longer have a truly free market in the United States, and that lack is true in almost every segment of the markets that exist. Capitalism couldn’t have been found in the Constitution explicitly because the term was not even coined until the mid-19th century by a writer named Karl Marx. He intended it as a pejorative label compared to the label communism, which was the term he applied to the particular variety of socialism that was his favored economic system.

          Pax et bonum,
          Keith Töpfer

        • SCSharon

           Capitalism was a given…even years of communist propaganda cannot extinguish the human desire to possess private property and trade for something on does not have.  The Pilgrims tried a form of socialism and nearly the whole colony died out, until they reverted to capitalism.  Socialism takes away freedom!  Because human nature is basically flawed.  Kindness and generosity are indeed excellent virtues, but, socialism tends to promote selfishness and hoarding…

      • sandmama

         Well said, Mike. Absolutely everything the Administration did in the Solyndra scandal is taken straight from the ‘evil’ characters of Atlas Shrugged. The bungling, flagrant waste of money and total disregard for actual economics that is cliche in the book seems to have been translated as an ops manual for the Obama Administration.

    • Scott W

      Yes, Rand is a hack.  But what really amused me in the article were the quotes by Krugman and Chambers, as they now perfectly capture today’s “progressive” liberalism.  Chambers would agree that today’s liberal has “shrillness without reprieve” and dogmatism without appeal”.  And Krugman misses the crushed, adolescent adults that live among us who have bought into the lies of the sexual revolution, consumerism and the myth of autonomy.  Today’s liberal has a “lifelong obsession with unbelievable heroes” (the myth of the rational, autonomous adult who makes such morally praiseworthy and free choices as butchering an infant in the womb, or leaving one’s spouse for greener pastures), and so we have millions of Boomers and others (many of whom think they are conservative) who are “emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world.”  America needs Christ, and Aristotle wouldn’t hurt either!

      • KaelVarnson

         Before you call her a hack, you’d do well to read her works. Read Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology and tell me with a straight face that she’s not the clearest thinker you’ve ever read.

        Aristotle, yes. Christ no.

        • C. French

           Apart from her brilliant epistemology, her “rediscovery” of the law of identity was really a great leap forward for modern logic.    Give me a break.  There’s a reason why financial institutions had to endow chairs in major philosophy departments for the study of objectivist thought; namely, they were never going to teach it otherwise.  It may have something to do with the fact that she didn’t develop a single original idea, but, hey, I’m sure there’s also a conspiracy afoot among contemporary philosophers to suppress her thought…

          • KaelVarnson

             Her theory of concepts is entirely original in philosophy. Her ethical theory is also original. She’s the first philosopher in history to logically integrate all five branches of philosophy in a single non-contradictory system. That is an enormous achievement – a world changing achievement. 

    • Flamen

      The
      political figures who cite Rand as an influence are most often conservative or
      libertarian members of the United States Republican
      Party. Martin Anderson, chief domestic policy adviser for President
      Ronald Reagan, identifies himself as a disciple of Rand, and Reagan described himself as an “admirer” of Rand
      in private correspondence in the 1960s. “In 1987, The New York Times
      called Rand the ‘novelist laureate’ of the Reagan administration. Reagan’s
      nominee for commerce secretary, C. William Verity Jr., kept a passage from Atlas
      Shrugged on his desk, including the line “How
      well you do your work . . . [is] the only
      measure of human value.”

      Conservative
      and libertarian talk show hosts such as Glenn Beck, John Stossel, Neal Boortz
      and Rush Limbaugh have recommended Atlas Shrugged to their audiences. U.S. Congressmen Bob Barr, Ron Paul, and Paul Ryan
      have acknowledged her influence on their lives, as has Associate
      Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Clarence Thomas.

      The
      financial crisis of 2007–2010 spurred renewed interest in her works, especially
      Atlas Shrugged, which some saw as foreshadowing the crisis, and opinion
      articles compared real-world events with the plot of the novel. Republican South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford wrote
      a 2009 review for Newsweek where he
      spoke of how he was “blown away” after first reading The
      Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, while tying her significance to
      understanding the 2008 financial crisis. Signs mentioning Rand and her fictional
      hero John Galt appeared at Tea Party protests, while the Cato Institute’s Will
      Wilkinson quipped that “going Galt” had become the
      “libertarian-conservative’s version of progressives threatening to move to
      Canada.”

      During
      this period there was also increased criticism of her ideas, especially from
      the political left, with critics blaming the economic crisis on her support of
      selfishness and free markets, particularly through her influence on Alan Greenspan. For example, the left-leaning Mother
      Jones remarked that “Rand’s particular genius has always been her ability to turn
      upside down traditional hierarchies and recast the
      wealthy, the talented, and the powerful as the oppressed”, while The
      Nation alleged similarities between the “moral syntax

      As
      an atheist who rejected faith as antithetical to reason, Rand embraced
      philosophical realism and opposed all forms of what she regarded as mysticism
      and supernaturalism including every organized religion.  Rand wrote in her journals that Christianity
      was the best kindergarten of communism possible.”  Rand argued for rational egoism (rational self-interest) as the only proper guiding
      moral principle. “The individual should exist for his
      own sake”, she wrote in 1962, “neither sacrificing
      himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.”  Rand held that laissez-faire, free market capitalism is the only moral social system.  Philosopher Chandran Kukathas said her
      “unremitting hostility towards the state and taxation sits inconsistently with
      a rejection of anarchism and her attempt to resolve the difference are
      ill-thought and unsystematic.”  The first edition of We the Living contained language
      which has been interpreted as advocating ruthless elitism: “What are your masses but mud to be ground underfoot,
      fuel to be burned for those who deserve it?”

      • James Stagg

        Once was enough.  Get a life….outside the Dimocrat Party.

    • Flamen

      The
      political figures who cite Rand as an influence are most often conservative or
      libertarian members of the United States Republican
      Party. Martin Anderson, chief domestic policy adviser for President
      Ronald Reagan, identifies himself as a disciple of Rand, and Reagan described himself as an “admirer” of Rand
      in private correspondence in the 1960s. “In 1987, The New York Times
      called Rand the ‘novelist laureate’ of the Reagan administration. Reagan’s
      nominee for commerce secretary, C. William Verity Jr., kept a passage from Atlas
      Shrugged on his desk, including the line “How
      well you do your work . . . [is] the only
      measure of human value.”

      Conservative
      and libertarian talk show hosts such as Glenn Beck, John Stossel, Neal Boortz
      and Rush Limbaugh have recommended Atlas Shrugged to their audiences. U.S. Congressmen Bob Barr, Ron Paul, and Paul Ryan
      have acknowledged her influence on their lives, as has Associate
      Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Clarence Thomas.

      The
      financial crisis of 2007–2010 spurred renewed interest in her works, especially
      Atlas Shrugged, which some saw as foreshadowing the crisis, and opinion
      articles compared real-world events with the plot of the novel. Republican South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford wrote
      a 2009 review for Newsweek where he
      spoke of how he was “blown away” after first reading The
      Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, while tying her significance to
      understanding the 2008 financial crisis. Signs mentioning Rand and her fictional
      hero John Galt appeared at Tea Party protests, while the Cato Institute’s Will
      Wilkinson quipped that “going Galt” had become the
      “libertarian-conservative’s version of progressives threatening to move to
      Canada.”

      During
      this period there was also increased criticism of her ideas, especially from
      the political left, with critics blaming the economic crisis on her support of
      selfishness and free markets, particularly through her influence on Alan Greenspan. For example, the left-leaning Mother
      Jones remarked that “Rand’s particular genius has always been her ability to turn
      upside down traditional hierarchies and recast the
      wealthy, the talented, and the powerful as the oppressed”, while The
      Nation alleged similarities between the “moral syntax

      As
      an atheist who rejected faith as antithetical to reason, Rand embraced
      philosophical realism and opposed all forms of what she regarded as mysticism
      and supernaturalism including every organized religion.  Rand wrote in her journals that Christianity
      was the best kindergarten of communism possible.”  Rand argued for rational egoism (rational self-interest) as the only proper guiding
      moral principle. “The individual should exist for his
      own sake”, she wrote in 1962, “neither sacrificing
      himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself.”  Rand held that laissez-faire, free market capitalism is the only moral social system.  Philosopher Chandran Kukathas said her
      “unremitting hostility towards the state and taxation sits inconsistently with
      a rejection of anarchism and her attempt to resolve the difference are
      ill-thought and unsystematic.”  The first edition of We the Living contained language
      which has been interpreted as advocating ruthless elitism: “What are your masses but mud to be ground underfoot,
      fuel to be burned for those who deserve it?”

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Curtis-Bratcher/1391444053 Curtis Bratcher

      The author reminds me of Hank Reardon’s family and friends who are living off of Hanks’s wealth while contributing nothing to their livelihood. They use broad generalizations and philosophical arguments that lead away from the basic idea that they try vainly to ignore.
      The basic premise is that we work by the sweat of our brow to reach our unique potential in the life that we lead. All persons, obviously cannot obtain to that idea. However, if more people espoused this basic premise, then the world would be a better place. Better than that of a socialist state of Barack Obama.
      P.S. If you don’t know who Hank Reardon is, read the book.

    • KaelVarnson

      But what about the many lifelong liberals that discover Rand as adults and it changes their lives, Donald? Perhaps it’s not utopia that they’re after, but a philosophy of reason that they’re looking for.  

    • Pargontwin

      I have nothing but pity for someone who doesn’t get the simple fact that People.  Need.  Heroes.  Be they animated, live-action, or merely works of print, what was once belittled by the hippies of the Boomer generation as “escapism” has actually been found to be essential for mental health.  One needs to take a step back and escape into fantasy for a while, and leave the stresses of reality behind, just for a while. 

      Oh, and by the way, quit saying the Boomers as if we’re ALL responsible for this mess.  Not all of us bought into the hippie creed.

    • Pingback: The Cartoon World of Ayn Rand... - Christian Forums

    • tz

      She had the audacity to say morality is objective and let reality be the ultimate judge.
      tththothomthoma
      That makes her much closer to Catholics – we may differ – or not (l4l.org), but if you claim objective truth, you cannot help but sound a little arrogant in a relativistic world.
      Is the HHS mandate wrong because it forces those who merely believe it is evil to pay for evil, or because it is OBJECTIVELY evil in requiring  the support of evil.

      I remember many cartoons about mathematics and physics feom my childhood, but it would be absurd to question arithemetic or newtonian mechanics.

    • Jaha Arnot

      Praise the Lord! 
      I never thought I would see an article like this at Crisis.  Beautiful.  I have my own theory about the fixation with Rand

       

      http://contrendium.blogspot.com/2010/09/dumb-and-dumberer-beatification-of-ayn.html

       

      In essence, complete lack of intellectual formation.  The Church responds to the Modernist
      heresy with a scalpel – Ayn Rand responds with a sledge hammer, and in the
      process, reveals herself as a Modernist heretic.  The presuppositions are identical to Marxism – she’s simply
      switched the protagonist and the antagonist.

       

      I think the reason Catholic intellectuals responded to her
      with an emphasis on aesthetics is not that they were effete intellectuals –
      it’s that you can smell a steaming pile of poo a hundred yards away.  They have the formation to recognize it
      for what it is.  The only reason
      others aren’t immediately revolted is they haven’t read enough Aristotle, St.
      Thomas, Leo XIII, and Pius X.  Just
      as you can’t “personally be opposed to abortion,” but vote “to protect women’s
      choice,” you can’t reconcile Ayn Rand and Catholic orthodoxy.  Many in this community think that we’re
      experiencing a “pruning” of the Church – this is part of that pruning.  Without formation and a grounding in
      tradition, you just have to rub their nose in the pile and yell, “Bad Catholic!  BAD!!!  NO!”  I think
      that is what, in essence, people like Flannery O’Connor were saying about
      Rand.  Plus, reading Atlas
      Shrugged and The Fountainhead is about as much fun as having Tokyo
      Rose read Hegel to you while having bamboo shoved under your finger nails.

       

      Rand was a slut (must have had a great personality), a hack, and a heretic.  I understand the desire of people to
      follow a strident attack against socialism, but they would be better served by
      simply following the teachings of Pius X and Leo XIII.  If they want to get into the secular
      debate, they should start with those philosophers advocated by the Church as
      teaching the perennial philosophy. 
      Other than that, and they’re just getting in over their heads.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/Z232IORXUH2UEHORKGK3QODSYY Prometheus Prometheus

      I’m no fan of Ayn Rand. I think she was more than two bricks shy of a load. But, this line:
       
      “She offers hope for the hopeless, but one that is a pure fabrication, cleverly packaged and delivered in purple prose.”
       
      coming from a believer in a non-existent god and his zombie Jewish offspring takes the cake. Then there’s the referencing of Paul Krugman …. ha, ha, ha. Krugman, really?

    • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

      Rather, I don’t think that denigrating others as childish for their ideology is very mature.  Ayn Rand’s writing is abhorrent, but to assume that those who support her works do so because of immaturity is quite disingenuous.  Instead, they likely support her because she spouses their libertarian world view, of which she was merely one adherent, even if she articulates that so poorly and is not a prime representative of it.

    • Jaha Arnot

      Kael – please tell me you’re kidding.  Rand is Aristotle’s best student?  I think you need to read him again.  She pretty much screws every single thing up.  The Posterior Analytics, the Metaphysics, Politics, Nicomachean Ethics – every single thing jacked up beyond recognition.  St. Thomas was Aristotle’s best student.  Rand is a waste of time, and frankly unacceptable reading for Catholics in search of answers.  Good for a laugh, but after a few hundred pages of hysterical illiteracy, a strong inducement to self-harm.

    • Evanslaw

      Sorry, you miss the point. She addresses a longing that is experienced by so many people. The promise of something better on earth, and for me, something inestimably better thereafter. Honor and honesty, character, even if exaggerated touch the heart in ways that logic can not.

    • Aurelius

      Rand’s work is Satanic.

    • Mariana T

      Not so keen on Ayn Rand after I did some research. I did read The Fountainhead and enjoyed it, but I always had a sneaking suspicion that she was some sort of an Objectivist. She thinks that Catholicism stands opposite Communism but additionally seeks to “destroys the individual.” 

      People’s misguided interpretation of Catholicism always comes from ignorance. Little did she know that true Catholics seek to advance each other through love for one another and being our brother’s keeper. It’s not that we “worship” death, rather we don’t fear death because we believe we will be reunited with Our Lord and Savior. I’d rather read Aristotle, Lewis or Aquinas.

    • Ellis Weiner

      Readers who made it through Atlas Shrugged and who would like some sort of recompense might enjoy this, its definitive parody:  

      https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/54707

    • SwordOfLight

      No one has put into better words the nature of government, and how government benefits its crony friends over the common good.

      I don’t look to Rand for morals, but her view of the relationship between government and business is especially applicable to today.

      • Jaha Arnot

        “Sure, Hitler may have had a few human rights issues, but he sure managed to tame inflation in Germany.”  

        Rerum Novarum and its 10-year “commemorative” encyclicals are more cogently written, and won’t offend your literary senses or make you go to hell.  To say she was a mediocre political philosopher is an understatement, and yes, she is Satanic.

    • http://twitter.com/michaelcaution Michael Caution

      Rand’s characters are concretizations of multi-varied abstractions. They are not cartoonish they are the distilled essence of the vague compartmentalized personalities in the people you see every day. Rand’s ideas speak of fundamentals of an integrated worldview. Quite contrary to today’s culture of nihilism, sacrifice, and disintegration. Instead of seeing these positive aspects in Rand’s writing you would rather (psychologize) slander her readers claiming them immature and desperate to cling to the safety a cartoonish utopia. To that I’ll simply say “Grow Up!”

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tom-Kwiatkowski/1247446469 Tom Kwiatkowski

      As a novelist, Rand is sorely lacking in talent.  Reach beyond the verbose clumsiness of Atlas Shrugged, however, and it is a compelling analysis of the association between liberty and private property, of the strengths of promoting individual initiative and the suffocation and destructiveness of collectivism that should not be ignored, and is being ignored by too many at ironically, all our peril.

    • http://profiles.google.com/gmwimpmccann Genevieve Wimp-McCann

      what a shrewd, powerful essay on this woman’s work. Having read these as a much younger woman, even then I knew that they were off base on so many levels, maturity does have deep value. Thanks again

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