Randex

Friday 12 February 2016
Negative
Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

Ayn Rand’s personal life was an unmitigated disaster, fueled by personality cultists who literally, legally, changed their names in tribute to her and her fiction, whom she alternately possessively clutched to herself or expelled in purges worthy of Josef Stalin.

Posted almost 3 years ago Publication date: 12 Feb 2016
Friday 15 January 2016
Negative
Adam Lee, Patheos

As it happens, I agree that there’s an objective world separate from us governed by fixed laws we can understand, because doubting or questioning that proposition achieves nothing and leads nowhere. But that’s not the same as saying I can prove it. And I especially don’t agree that consciousness is by definition the ability to correctly perceive the world. We know that conscious creatures like us misperceive, make errors of reasoning, or overlook important facts all the time, which is why it’s so important to reevaluate earlier conclusions when new evidence comes in. But that smacks of empiricism, an idea that Rand never wholly accepted. Uncertainty and doubt were profoundly unacceptable to her. She found it much more comforting to believe that facts about the world, and about human nature, could be derived from first principles just by sufficient armchair thinking.

Posted about 3 years ago Publication date: 15 Jan 2016
Tuesday 05 January 2016
Positive

Ayn Rand strongly supported patents. In her book “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal,” she states:

An idea as such cannot be protected until it has been given a material form. An invention has to be embodied in a physical model before it can be patented; a story has to be written or printed. But what the patent or copyright protects is not the physical object as such, but the idea which it embodies. By forbidding an unauthorized reproduction of the object, the law declares, in effect, that the physical labor of copying is not the source of the object’s value, that that value is created by the originator of the idea and may not be used without his consent; thus the law establishes the property right of a mind to that which it has brought into existence.

Posted about 3 years ago Publication date: 05 Jan 2016
Wednesday 30 December 2015

Ayn Rand did not appear to share in the disapproval of extra-marital sex, if the chapter titled “Sacred and Profane” in Atlas Shrugged reflects her deeply held convictions. Much of what follows will engage Rand’s musings on the subject of sacred and profane and its bearing on relationships.

Posted about 3 years ago Publication date: 30 Dec 2015
Monday 21 December 2015
R.J. Lehmann, R Street

Back on Dec. 9, R Street hosted a panel on “The Politics of Star Wars.” Among the topics: was Han Solo the first Uber driver? Was Tatooine a failed state? Are the Sith lords Objectivists? Do Jedis violate the Establishment Clause? And what was tax policy like under the Republic and the Empire?

[Relevant section begins at 31:00.]

Posted about 3 years ago Publication date: 21 Dec 2015
Friday 11 December 2015
Adam Lee, Patheos

…chapter V In her days as a Hollywood screenwriter, Ayn Rand met and later married an actor named Frank O’Connor, apparently for no reason other than that he was classically handsome and fit her conception…

Posted about 3 years ago Publication date: 11 Dec 2015
Tuesday 15 September 2015
David Boaz, Reason

Sigh. Alan Wolfe is writing about libertarianism again. In June he complained that libertarianism was “rigid” and obsessed with “purity,” under the ridiculous headline “Why libertarianism is closer to Stalinism than you think.” Now he’s claiming that “libertarianism embodies Max Weber’s nightmare of an iron cage,” whatever that means. The article is obsessed with ideological infighting, and this time he actually does manage to accuse Ayn Rand of a “Stalinesque purge” of Nathaniel Branden, her former lover and ideological partner. Thing is, she didn’t have Branden killed, which is pretty much the essence of Stalinesque purges.

Posted over 3 years ago Publication date: 15 Sep 2015
Monday 14 September 2015
Alan Wolfe, Commonweal

It is common among contemporary libertarians to deny Rand membership in the club, but that is mostly because her ideological stridency is so revealing of libertarianism’s limits. Though Rand styled herself a heroic thinker about heroic thinkers, she did not in fact develop her ideas all by herself. As a young woman she met and befriended other libertarian thinkers, including Rose Wilder Lane (daughter of the author of Little House on the Prairie) and Isabel Paterson, a leading columnist for the New York Herald Tribune, who helped Rand’s The Fountainhead become a bestseller. Rand eventually broke with Paterson, part of a lifelong habit of cultivating cult-like followers, only to renounce them once they showed themselves insufficiently devoted to her. Even Rand’s most devoted follower (and eventual lover), Nathaniel Branden, would be forced out of the closed circle, as Rand indulged another of her Stalinesque purges.

Posted over 3 years ago Publication date: 14 Sep 2015
Sunday 23 August 2015
Sara Ehnholm Hielm, Hufvudstadsbladet (Helsinki)

En filosofisk roman kan skrivas på olika sätt. För till exempel den jämnåriga existentialisten Simone de Beauvoir var det enda ärliga att författaren utgår från att beskriva de konkreta erfarenheter hon har genomlevt och känt i sitt skinn – därifrån följer alla allmänna sanningar och abstraktioner. Romanens filosofiska innehåll får inte ha tillkommit före själva skrivandet, så dess idéer utgör levande upptäckter både för författaren och läsaren.

Rand gör tvärtom: hon vill beskriva idealmänniskor och deras värld. Men filosofins hjälp tänker hon ut sin perfekta värld, och ger sedan de abstrakta tankarna kropp i människor och händelser i romanen. Så blir världen tunn och tom, med smak av papper och befolkad av ytterst få. Personskildringen blir platt, för vem har någonsin träffat någon som är totalt perfekt (även om jag misstänker att Rand såg sig själv som en hjältinna)? Självupptaget skrev hon: ”Meningen med att skriva fiktion är att skapa, för mig själv, en sådan värld jag vill ha och att leva i den medan jag skapar den”. Det verkligt överraskande är att så många andra uppenbarligen också vill leva i hennes värld. Jag tror lockbetet hon erbjuder, framför allt för tonåringar som traditionellt läst Rand, är hjälterollen: den oberoende, ohämmat egoistiska övermänniskan som är värd allt.

Posted over 3 years ago Publication date: 09 Aug 2015
Tuesday 04 August 2015
Kevin B. Sanders, Politicker NJ

John Aglialoro, the Mayor of tiny borough Tavistock in Camden County, gave a whopping $84,000 to America’s Liberty, the PAC supporting Rand Paul. Agliaro, the chairman of commercial gym equipment manufacturer CYBEX, has deep roots in the libertarian community. He actually produced and wrote the recent Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged movies.

Posted over 3 years ago Publication date: 04 Aug 2015
Friday 17 July 2015
Nathan Evans, Popzara

[Darryl Cunningham] spends an unhealthy amount of time detailing Rand’s personal relationship failings and “moral degeneracy”, especially with Nathan Blumenthal, the young believer that would become her lover and co-partner in establishing Objectivism as a national movement. Cunningham, like others, misinterprets Rand’s acquiesce in her later years to accept Social Security benefits as ‘proof’ of her ideological hypocrisy, a ‘contradiction’ of her personal belief that accepting such things would make her a “moocher and taker” of the system.

But this narrative that selfishness leads to catastrophe is so unfocused, so unclear on the points it’s attempting to make, that it isn’t long before Cunningham loses focus by leading readers on a selective string of attacks on those groups and ideologies he holds responsible for the economic crisis: essentially the “political right”, specifically US conservatives, UK politicians, libertarians, and super-rich billionaires.

He minimizes or omits facts entirely which might point to contradictions in his assertions that the recent economic crisis is primarily the result of Randian Objectivists or conservative bullies. Facts like how the super-rich billionaires he harps about are mostly liberal democrats, the companies he points to at exploiting systems financial tax shelters (Apple, Google, etc) are run almost exclusively by liberal democrats, while Wall Street, the bane of his existence, is predominantly populated by social liberals who give overwhelmingly to the Democrat party. I’m generalizing, of course, but it doesn’t take much digging to see this rabbit hole doesn’t lead to the wonderland Cunningham would like it to.

Posted over 3 years ago Publication date: 17 Jul 2015
Friday 26 June 2015
Adam Lee, Patheos

When John Galt quit the Twentieth Century Motor Company, he made it his mission to search for the men of ability – “those bright flares in the growing night of savagery” – and to convince them that they should withdraw their talents from an ungrateful world. Midas Mulligan, who bought the valley piece by piece as a private resort, decided to throw the gates open after Galt persuaded him to join the strike. At first it was just a vacation retreat, but as the collapse of civilization accelerated, they decided to turn it into a permanent, self-sufficient home.

There’s an annihilating irony here that Ayn Rand was totally oblivious to. Her philosophy is the supreme exaltation of selfishness and individualism – the fierce rejection of the idea that human beings have any moral responsibilities or commitments toward each other. But in spite of all that, she’s scripted a plot where, in order to succeed, her heroes have to engage in collective action. To defeat the evil looters, they have to agree to work together and to subordinate their individual selfish desires to the greater good of the group.

Posted over 3 years ago Publication date: 26 Jun 2015