Oh, god no. Ayn Rand… brilliant but a fucking lunatic. She was a Nazi. I couldn’t read her. I couldn’t stomach it.”
Well, she’s actually the polar opposite of a Nazi. But, no reason to digress. Lots of people are confused nowadays about that. “Nazi” has been redefined as “somebody I disagree with.”
But it also occurred to me that, to best understand the other side, you sometimes need to inform yourself of the meat behind their opinions.
Rand doesn’t have a “side” in today’s US politics. Like most conservatives, I consider her ideas DIRECTIONALLY correct, but not LITERALLY correct. It is of course better to be self-sufficient and independent than it is to be dependent on others or a government; but Rand was an absolutist in this regard, and absolutism doesn’t work in day-to-day governance.
“Reason is the most naive of all superstitions.”
“The source of public opinion? There is no source of public opinion. It is spontaneously general.”
“Your brain being an instrument of distortion, the more active the brain the greater the distortion.”
Some passages go on for several pages, so I cannot reproduce them here. But within these quotes above, I am reminded of the ongoing battle we have with truth and the “presence” of “fake news.” Except, in this book, it’s the conservative characters defending reason, while the liberal characters defame the actions of thinking for oneself and are actively trying to abandon it within the policies they create.
Yep. Stadler (where those quotes came from) was actually a foil of Galt. He started out as a thinker and a believer in indivdiualism, but then sold out, thinking that the general public lacked of any ability to think or reason, and needed the hand of government to push them in the “right” direction.
As a result, he ended up dead. :-)
Rand here was mocking the intellectuals (elites) who seem their intelligence as making themselves superior to others. And yes, you certainly see a lot of this type of thinking from left-leaning liberals these days.
With these reversals, I wonder what Rand would say now if she were alive. A fervent defender of capitalism, what opinions would she have about the men and women marching to Trump’s drum in attempts to persist the flow of profit? he associates reason and profit — her heroes being incredibly rich and shrewd businesspeople who share the righteous belief that making money is a matter of skill, hard work, and (above all) solid reasoning. Her heroes are open and honest — and, dare I say it, easy to like for their strength and persistence. (It helps that one of these heroes is a successful businesswoman — at least from what I’ve read so far.)
Well…..she believed that the individual had an absolute right to their own intellectual capital, invention, and the fruits of their labor (money).
And yet, when these heroes are held up to reality, they don’t match what we see today on the side that Rand is representing. It’s like looking into that funhouse mirror one of the scientists in the book discusses when he tries to prove the brain is ‘an instrument of distortion.’
How’s that? None of Rand’s heroes are paragons of virtue; they are single-minded individual who pursue profit (or freedom) come hell or high water. Most CEOs are likable guys, after all. You don’t get promotions by being socially toxic.