I absolutely hate Ayn Rand. I abhor her. And if you like her–and I understand that many intelligent people go through or have gone through a die-hard Ayn phase, in much the same way that in fourth grade I couldn’t stop listening to “C’est La Vie” by B*Witched–either stop reading or please forgive me for this forthcoming stream of bile.
From the horse’s mouth: “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” That sounds fine, right? Definitely fine if you live in an imaginary capitalist snowglobe, where everyone is Patrick Bateman, injustice and hegemony have never existed, and sanitation and social work are done by robots, thus leaving the real people free to build skyscrapers and have lofty (heterosexual) sex. And to be honest, that kind of sounds like an awesome world, I’ll admit it. Perhaps the reason why I hate Ayn Rand so much is that she, like the best kind of devil, tells enticing half-truths. I too can be delusional and selfish, just like Ayn and her followers, and of course I would love to live in this hallucinated Gotham of flawless individuals. But I am not as delusional as Ayn. I know when my jeans won’t button, unlike Ayn, who would have loved to forget that she was really a short Russian Jew named Alisa Rosenbaum, bearing little resemblance to patrician, ideal Dominique Francon in The Fountainhead. And certainly, she was selfish.
But of course, to her, “selfish” is a positive word, meaning staying true to yourself despite the views of others. This is a crucial tenet of her philosophy, although it also sounds like a priggish excuse best usable by a spouse caught in an affair–”It has nothing to do with you! I was just staying true to myself!” etc. The fact that this comparison (between central philosophy and doghouse blather) is so easily made is just one of the reasons why objectivism is a morally bankrupt, dilettantish, and fucking stupid way of thinking. People like it because it is the philosophical equivalent of college: a potentially meaningful but incredibly misused scaffolding that enables people to think, “Bitch, I do what I want.”
But the gender stuff is the worst. “The essence of femininity is hero worship—the desire to look up to man,” she says. “An ideal woman is a man-worshiper, and an ideal man is the highest symbol of mankind.” And I understand that she’s saying that the man has to be worthy or ideal before any of this is true, and, being straight, I can even get down with the idea that a woman “experiences the essence of her femininity” while surrendering (sexually) to a man “worthy” of dominating her. But no ma’am. She taps into a well of dangerous, complicated cultural undercurrents with this thought, which is anything but objective.
Ayn Rand undermines awareness and good sense just as much as all those evangelical Christian books that tell boys to hunt and girls to think they’re princesses. I am upset now. I need a cookie.