Ayn Rand: How everyone’s favorite spouse-swapping, godless pulp novelist and dorm-room doyenne became the Tea Party’s new mascot

One of my favorite artists -- Drew Friedman -- draws two of my least favorite people -- Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand. It appears on today's cover of the NY Observer.

Jump on the Rand Wagon! How Ryan Resurrected Ayn


  1. It’s known by now that “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan” is an anagram of “My Ultimate Ayn Rand Porn”, right?

    1. Now it all makes sense!  They had most of the anagram covered, and they just had to make up a nonsense word with an “i”, two “t”s and an “m”.

    1. I think they may have diverged a bit on the subject of just how much Jesus should be in your government, though.

  2. Some great quotes from reviewers of her works:
     Diana Trilling: “Anyone who is taken in by it deserves a stern lecture on paper rationing,”

    Dorothy Parker: “This is not a book to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.”

    1.  Is that what Parker was talking about?  It is a very famous quote (and well it should be), but I didn’t know she was writing about Rand.

      Is there a source for this somewhere?  Oft-repeated as it is, Google does not reveal where exactly it originated from.

      1. This article cites it, doesn’t supply a reference.  You could ask the author if he has one. 

        I ♥  Dorothy Parker. 

      2. The quote is apocryphal according to this slideshow: http://mhpbooks.com/slide-show-when-writers-attack-other-writers/

        It’s worthing going thru the slides. Lots of great insults there. My favorite is Vidal after Mailer punched him: “Once again, words have failed Norman Mailer.”

    2. The Flannery O’Connor quote is great:

      “I hope you don’t have friends who recommend Ayn Rand to you. The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get re fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail. She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky.”

    3. I was offended by it — not as politics, but as literature. Ayn Rand had an insulting opinion of how much my time her opinion is worth.

    1. Gee, I thought I heard that Part I bombed so badly as to eliminate all chances of Part II being made.  (The Invisible Hand of the Free Market gave it the finger, as it were.)

      1. They had to make some budget concessions for the sequel. All the railroad scenes will be shot using close-ups of the model train set in the director’s basement, and the part of John Galt will be played by an irate cat in tiny coveralls.

        1. I’d pay to watch that. You may just have outlined the formula for next year’s feel-good summer blockbuster.

          Your suggestion is also the most satisfying answer yet to the question “Who is John Galt?”

      2. I could google, but I don’t want to know I only want to wonder incredulously and out loud “They made -that- into a movie?” I’m guessing dvd-only?

        1.  Part 1 got a limited theatrical release and pretty much the reviews it deserved. I watched 20 minutes of it on Netflix. It seems genetically engineered to be an MS3K candidate. I highly recommend watching it in the comp;any of  some smart and extroverted friends and two pitchers of margaritas.

    1. Well, “do as I actually do” requires work and moral turpitude, so you can see why a lot of people just can’t be bothered.

  3. It’s a shame Rynd isn’t still around to call out the Tea Party types as gutless for clinging to religion.  Be even better if Jesus was around to call them out for missing at least 50% of the great commandment.

    1. I like the way this summit is shaping up. Let’s throw in a few Republican presidents while we’re at it! President Eisenhower could call out conservatives on runaway military spending, and Reagan could speak up about how tax increases are actually sometimes necessary, and Teddy Roosevelt could just start punching people in the face.

    2. You just gave me a flash of inspiration!  I never understood it before, but now I do: the Tea Party is just the “blessing” resulting from a “non-legitimate rape” encounter between Jesus and Ayn Rand.

  4. Surprised no one has posted my favorite comment about Rand and her disciples:
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.” (source unknown, by me at least).

    1. I was a bit younger than that, worshipped LoTR & anything related, read The Fountainhead and thought “okay..um” Then read Atlas Shrugged and thought “Bullshit, about contemptuous assholes that would actually -need- orcs to fashion the sick utopia they dream of excluding people from” Or something like that, vomited, and woke up an adult.

      1. We had to read Anthem. I got bad grades because I refused to treat it as literature. Even in high school, my position was pretty much, I’d put the worst Ace double sci fi hackwork next to this and it’ll still kick its little tract ass.

  5. Ah, I remember high school and how Atlas Shrugged was one of our reading assignments.  I also remember that my grades in English were pretty damn bad as well… I wonder if the two are connected.

    1. Huhn, they required The Fountainhead where I was in the 9th grade, but I had read it already and barely attended that class anyway, so i didn’t reread it 

  6. Well, it seems a lot of protestants have latched onto the greed-is-good teachings of the “prosperity gospel” with nary a hint of irony.  Why not accept Rand’s claptrap as a legitimate economic philosophy? 

    1. You said “claptrap,” which reminded me of a line from Arrested Development: “How am I supposed to find someone willing to go into that musty old claptrap?”

      Then the next post mentioned the words “arrested development.”

      Just thought I’d point this out.  Carry on…

  7. They all suffer(ed) from the same thing – arrested development.
    It’s the only explanation for libertarian and teabagger-types…

  8. Rand is really attractive to the millions that believed themselves destined to occupy the thin, leading edge of vanity’s bell curve, only to come up short of their expectations:  “It’s not my fault I’m average; it’s these damn constraints that have been forced upon me!” 

    Rand’s work is the vector of a spiritual contagion. 

  9. I prefer this version…

    “There are two novels that can change a bookish Twenty-year-old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Das Kapital. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable theories, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”

    1. Get back to me when Das Kapital is widely read by 20 year olds in America. I would recommend you giving it a try too, as it isn’t anything like Atlas Shrugged, nor is it a blueprint for Communism – it’s actually an attempt to understand how capitalism as a system works.

      1. Or when there’s think tanks pushing Das Kapital as propaganda on schools ala The A.R.I. with Rand’s books.

    2. Das Kapital is not a novel. Any “bookish” twenty year-old who can’t figure that out is a waste of skin.

    1.  Having read Atlas shrugged the comic isn’t very funny. The main characters are not above doing whatever menial work they’re required to.  For instance, one works in a burger joint for a while if I recall correctly. He is just supposed to be very good at it to fit in with the story with regards to doing everything to your greatest ability.

      1. Yes, and without all the lower castes holding them back the main characters will be free to apply their best efforts to planting carrots and onions without taxes or government coercion to hamper them.

        Consider the original working title “The Strike” and the theme of the book, that pushed too far the imagined superior class shall withdraw their glorious contributions and watch it all crumble without them there to hold it together.

        Then what? 

        The cartoon is spot on.

        1. I  Don’t follow your argument. In the book many retreat to the valley – part of ‘the strike’ – where they perform menial work for each other and their free time in working on what they really want to.
          The ‘Then What’ is preusmably them getting on without others free-riding on their endeavours.
          To me the book (although in a lesser amount to the main plot), indicates that anyone can do well in the randian principles. This would include gardeners and servants.
          (getting the names from wikipedia now)
          As previously mentioned Hugh Akston who was flipping burgers, Owen Kellogg, the assistant to Dagny, Gwen Ives, Pat Logan, etc.

          There are plenty of good arguments/jokes I’m sure you can come up with against the book, but as none of the main characters are afraid of hard graft, and the secondary ‘good’ characters work in more menial areas, the comic just doesn’t ring true.

        1.  Heh, the second one made me chuckle. That speech was the biggest load of waffling crap I’ve ever attempted to read. I think I got to about the third page of it, realised it wasn’t going to get any better & skipped to the end.

  10. That was a rather crappy article in the Observer. Seemed like a cut and paste job of every other article written about her. 

    1. Her anhedonic affect could be partly attributable to being Russian. My grandmother was Russian and this interview with Rand really reminded me of her (and she wasn’t anhedonic) and a lot of her Russian friends.

      1. So, a bottle of vodka between them might have helped or hurt (with pickles and brown bread, of course)?

      2. I’m aware of a Russian proclivity for sadness and melancholy, but an anhedonic appearance is a new on me. My understanding is that Rand did have a pretty hard younger life, which could account for that, too, I guess.

        1. In my experience, Russians default to sadness and melancholy as a world view, but they are very hedonic with regard to drinking, drinking, dancing, and laughing at a good joke (especially one filled with pathos or dirty sex references).

          To give a sense of magnitude, US folks have trouble understanding British humor and most don’t get French humor at all (but they would if they tried harder and learned some French).  For Westerners, Russian humor is more on the French end rather than the British end.

  11. I don’t get it.  Never read her stuff, but appreciate the irony that some of her biggest fans in government  are thrilled when government helps out their pet industries, and that  none seem to be proclaimed atheists.

    1. Here’s my favorite:

      “A banking company, BB&T Corp. of North Carolina, has given $30 million in grants in the last decade for various universities to teach [Atlas Shrugged]. Most recently, in March, 2008, BB&T gave UT-Austin $2 million for a Chair in the Study of Objectivism. Then in October, BB&T took (wait for it) $3.1 billion in bailout money.” — from Whiskey Fire, via The Picket Line

  12. LOTR Ayn Rand style:

    My favorite bit:

    Gandalf nodded. He exhaled a cloud of smoke from his pipe. “Certainly. …Shall we discuss the metallic alloy for, say, three hundred pages or so? The actual plot of the book can wait.”
    “I insist that we do so!”

    As much as I recall some of the dubious ideas she was trying to come across with in Atlas Shrugged, the part I struggled with most was simply she when on and on about minutiae that really had nothing to do with anything and didn’t add to the story, except to make it 1000+ pages long.

    I mean knock her all you like, but people have be at least spurred to discuss the topic ad nauseam, this thread included. Some authors are just bad like that, in that they go on about the most trivial unimportant things forever describing them, for no more apparent reason than to fill pages.

  13. I’m just annoyed all the troll comments are removed.  I’m dying to see what they said!  If only there was a way, like clicking open a spoiler tag.

    I adored Ayn Rand, too, when I was in high school.  I was even wonky enough to have read her later stuff.  I’d outgrown her by college, thank God.

    Some folks never outgrow her, and until recently I just found them amusing.  Now that they have their hands on the levers of government, I suppose it’s time to fight back.  *sigh*

    1. You can get a recap of all those comments by visiting a site that shall not be named but  rhymes with “WhineBlandQuacks.com” (Note: ignore this link, automatic Disqus formatting.)

    2. It was only one troll and about half the comments were questioning how a poster could be so stupid as to not agree with Ayn Rand’s ideas. The other half were just spamming links to some Ayn Rand fan site instead of engaging with other posters’ arguments.

    3. I have a theory that once boys (and Ayn Rand appeals to boys seeking a philosophy, not to mention Nitsche, sp?) grow up and stop thinking the world revolves around them and they might fall in love and maybe have kids, then they see how they would rather embrace the good things in life, unabashedly, and that’s when they turn their back on the selfish old lady and empathy kicks in.

        1. That old man (Ron) never grew up. Not that all young followers of Ayn will. But I think most get past her narrow viewpoint. Naming your son after her just shows how extreme R.P. is.

  14. People are too dismissive of Ayn Rand’s philosophy.  They are awfully quick to point out her character flaws, as if a little hypocritical behavior totally negates all meaning that could be derived from her work.

    For instance, Objectivism greatly resembles the philosophical musings of the great Marquis de Sade.  The fact that his philosophical dissertations are bookended by descriptions of child-rape and poop eating shouldn’t be an immediate cause for their dismissal.

    Please, take Ayn Rand’s philosophy and this post very, very seriously.

    1. Certainly, Unca. I’m so seriously interested that I have to know – should it be “Ayn rhymes with Whine, or Ayn rhymes with Pain”? 

    2. I disagree, I consider her personal character flaws just icing on the entire seven layer ramble of a staggeringly selfish unsustainable philosophy cake.

    3. As someone who actually DID take her seriously, allow me to reply. First off, I read every single one of her books and even subscribed to the outrageously expensive (no surprise there) The Objectivist, which, by and large, had her quoting herself mainly from that god awful 100 page speech at the end of Atlas Shrugged.
      But then I went to college and the spell slowly wore off. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there is a fatal flaw at the heart of Randism (and for that matter, Libertarianism). And that is that the whole thing is predicated on the idea that people, and by extension, corporations, will act, on the whole, both rationally and in their own interests. It is the ‘rationally’ part where the whole thing breaks down. This is just demonstrably false.

      1.  Good on you, Pratt, for trusting your inner critical thinking. That’s what separates you from the brainwashed.

      2. Rand didn’t think that most people will act rationally. Her books are full of characters having irrational beliefs. What she did say was that everyone *should* be rational. Capitalism without a rationalist foundation can’t work she believed, which is why Rand would be disgusted by today’s Republican Party, as it relies heavily on Christian mysticism. 

        You and many a few other commenters here were once Randians but changed your opinions. You then rationalized your change in opinions as “growing up”, as if age made you wiser. Young people often have radical ideologies, Objectivism, Socialism, Environmentalism etc. The reason why young people lose these ideologies is generally not because they become more intelligent, but because they grow tired under adulthood, it wears them down and they mistake the compromises society makes them do with common sense.

  15. I love the picture, but I’m not sure I quite understand the Paul Ryan – Ayn Rand link based on what has been in the news and such.  I read Atlas Shrugged and some of The Fountainhead, and the philosophy would seem to support the protests to the “you didn’t build that road” comment.  Is there that much more to it?

    1. Read up on Alan Greenspan.  It’s beginning to look like there’s a whole sick little fraternity of them, and they’ve infiltrated the government they hate so much.

    2.  Um, Paul Ryan has said Ayn Rand formed his philosophy and he gave all his staff copies of “Atlas Shrugged” (and his fiancee). This is the same Ayn Rand who worshiped a child killer and despite her rants about surviving on your own happily took her Social Security and Medicare.

      1. Thanks ratty,

        I got that part, but I had the impression from the news that Ayn was somehow imparting deeper philosophical meaning to Ryan’s budget ideas/proposals.  Just a minute ago, I watched the 1959 Mike Wallace interview with Ayn and wondered if it was “everyone for themselves!”  Wow, imagine if that had happened during the disaster in Haiti, Indonesia, Pakistan, etc.  I hope that isn’t the point that Ryan is adopting!

        Boundgear: Anything specific?  I am not an economist.  Just curious how an author I read on a lark is suddenly is in the limelight about our economy.

        1.  Sadly, that is exactly the point Ryan has adopted since he was in high school and he never grew out of it.

      2. He gave his staff his fiancee? I still can’t figure out the rules for that Family Values thing that they’re always talking about.

        1. No, just copies of his fiancee.  Ryan has discovered the secret of cloning and is keeping it from us John Galt style. :)

        2.  My bad. I meant he gave his fiancee a copy, too,  (how romantic is that?) however I’m sure he would have given his fiancee to his staff if it fit into his Randian world view. Oh, it’s all Freudian and metaphorical and they don’t even know it.

  16. wow, what great comments…

    Those who hate on AR seem to know a lot more then those who love her…reminds me of how most Atheists seem to know more about the bible then the average fundie!

  17. A five foot neon dollar sign next to her casket?  Seriously. Aside from taste issues she apparently failed to grasp the notion know that money derives its value from the willingness of the collective to enforce it as something with value? I mean,money is really the ultimate collective scheme: something that has no practical value but is deemed valuable anyway only because everybody says it does.  

    1. I also wondered why she deigned to use English or any other existing language, rather than making up one of her own from scratch.  Language, to me, seems about as collective as anything could be.

        1. Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Ayn Rand Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York wgah’nagl fhtagn.

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