The Web seems to have broken out in a bad case of Ayn Rand in the last month or so. The original sin seems to have been The New Criterion’s rebuke of philosophical adolescents everywhere:
Rand’s hero-worship is also Nietzschean in inspiration. It is deeply unpleasant. She entirely lacks the literary ability to convey anything admirable, or even minimally attractive, about her heroes, who are the kind of people one would not cross the road to meet, though one might well cross it to avoid them. They partake fully of her humorless monomania and have all the human warmth of a praying mantis. We are told that they are geniuses, but their genius seems mainly to consist of an unswerving adherence to their own ideas.
Humanity, according to Rand, is divided into heroes, creators, and geniuses on the one hand, and weaklings, parasites, and the feeble-minded on the other.
This month The New Criterion responds to the vitriolic comments they received in response to the piece:
Sensible people have a low opinion of human nature. They know that human beings are often vain, selfish, calculating, and ungrateful. But to universalize cynicism is not wisdom but folly.
Jared Keller of the Atlantic Wire finds this amusing.
Michael Lind thinks the Randy tone of Glenn Beck and some Tea Party-goers is “great news for American progressivism” insofar as it will ensure their “minority status.”
So bring it on, geeky disciples of Ayn Rand. Gird thy loins and put on thy Spock ears. Demand the abolition of Social Security and Medicare! Call for reducing the U.S. military to the Coast Guard! Insist on tolling every highway and street in America and selling America’s infrastructure assets to foreign corporations and foreign sovereign wealth funds! Go Galt!
Bring it on! Even confined to a wheelchair, Franklin Roosevelt can defeat Ayn Rand.
Daniel McCarthy also counters Lind: “What establishment conservatives are doing now, however, is giving rein to libertarian and populist discontent in the form of the tea parties in order to encourage the delusion that Obama is substantially more pro-big-government than the likes of Bush, McCain, or Romney.”
Don’t miss Alternet contributor Mike Ames’ linking of Rand with a 1920s serial killer
One reason most countries don’t find the time to embrace Ayn Rand’s thinking is that she is a textbook sociopath. In her notebooks Ayn Rand worshiped a notorious serial murderer-dismemberer, and used this killer as an early model for the type of “ideal man” she promoted in her more famous books. These ideas were later picked up on and put into play by major right-wing figures of the past half decade, including the key architects of America’s most recent economic catastrophe — former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan and SEC Commissioner Chris Cox — along with other notable right-wing Republicans such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Rush Limbaugh and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.
Digby gets in his dig:
The biggest problem is that this foolish tea party ignorance is having the effect of normalizing the adolescent “individualism” of the Ayn Rand cult beyond the boardrooms and estates of the Master of the Universe. The “parasites” are now anyone who has the misfortune to lose his or her job in the worst recession since the 1930s — a recession that was caused by millionaire con men who are reaping big bonuses these days.
All of that’s just a small sampling of the chatter. To sum it all up in a flowchart: