I have established a new section for miscellaneous items that don’t properly fit into other categories on this website. I do not want to stray too far from the tenor of the subjects that this website was established to address: school bullying, Tourette’s Syndrome and literature in general. I especially want to avoid politics and other such contentious topics. However, I thought my presenting on my site an email I recently sent to a young man in response to a high school paper he had written regarding the author/philosopher Ayn Rand and her self-termed philosophy of “Objectivism” might be of interest to some. As Atlas Shrugged is held to be a contemporary classic by many; indeed, has generated what might be described as a cult following, I thought the subject would be not too far out of bounds here.
I have edited the email slightly to remove personal references and some comments that might reveal my own political leanings, such as they are any longer. Rather, I present an analysis of Rand’s philosophy and attendant politics from the vantage point of one who has now lived, learned and observed over half a century; a latter day Polonius of sorts. I try to present the analysis in as objective a fashion as possible, though inevitably some degree of subjectivity and partisanship cannot be completely avoided.
Ayn Rand and Objectivism
First off, I want to state that I have never been enamored with Rand as a writer per se. She seemed to have a rule that she would never say in a few words what could be said in twenty-five pages. One succinct criticism of Atlas Shrugged was “Ayn Rand, rambling on.” However, as a philosopher she was somewhat more insightful. Even there, however, I believe her reputation is far overstated. Atlas Shrugged is often referred to as “the most monumentally influential novel of contemporary times.” I could never understand such a characterization in light of the fact that since the time it was published Western society—more so Western European than American, though we are only somewhat less far advanced down the metaphorical road than the former—has rapidly, seemingly inexorably, continued its trend towards socialism and paternalism, the exact opposite direction that Rand championed. This is “influence?”
The most common and salient criticism of the socialism that Rand decried is that it is anti-reality. It is against human nature. People simply will not put out their best efforts without being satisfactorily rewarded for it; they will not buy the Marxist commandment of: “From each, according to his abilities; to each, according to his needs.” The validity of such a criticism against any socialistic utopian scheme is irrefutable by empirical observation (and should have been validated by common sense beforehand!). Click to continue: