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


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

  1. Justin Maurer says:

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

  2. Heyref says:

    An old joke from his California Governor days was that Ayn Rand was Ronald Reagan in drag.  

    • Brainspore says:

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

  3. Snig says:

    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.”

    • Jorpho says:

       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.

      • Snig says:

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

        I ♥  Dorothy Parker. 

      • Brainspore says:

        [EDIT: lots of ill-timed posts today.]

      • Saltine says:

        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.”

    • Navin_Johnson says:

      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.”

    • petertrepan says:

      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.

  4. Aaron Swain says:

    Apparently the AdChoices algorithm doesn’t get the irony of running the ad for Atlas Shrugged Part II under this post.

  5. paul ryan’s been pumping some ire.  i mean iron.

  6. Pedantic Douchebag says:

    Fitting, seeing as she was a “do as I say, not as I do” hypocrite.

    • mccrum says:

      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.

  7. 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.

    • Brainspore says:

      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.

    • GawainLavers says:

      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.

  8. Bob Faull says:

    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).

    • Lauren Seals says:

      John Rogers, on his blog, kfmonkey. http://kfmonkey.blogspot.com/2009/03/ephemera-2009-7.html down at the bottom

    • Funk Daddy says:

      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.

      • Gerald Mander says:

        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.

  9. disillusion says:

    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.

  10. IronEdithKidd says:

    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? 

    • Gyrofrog says:

      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…

  11. sdmikev says:

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

  12. naught_for_naught says:

    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. 

  13. Richard Molpus says:

    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.”

    • jetfx says:

      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.

      • Navin_Johnson says:

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

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

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

  14. Funk Daddy says:

    http://www.angryflower.com/atlass.gif In answer to the “Atlas shrugged 2″ ads that I too see now

    • dragonfrog says:

      I’d watch that movie.

    • Pedant says:

       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.

      • Pedant says:

         Ah, Hugh Akston

      • Funk Daddy says:

        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.

        • Pedant says:

          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.

      • Jorpho says:

        In truth, Mr. Notely hadn’t read Atlas Shrugged either when he made that particular comic; years later, he wrote on his site that he, too, thought said comic wasn’t quite kosher.

        He did revisit the subject on two other occasions subsequently:

        • Pedant says:

           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.

  15. JonCarter says:

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

  16. Gerald Mander says:

    Check out Tom Snyder’s Tomorrow Show interview with Rand. She is the single most humorless individual I have ever seen. I honestly wonder if she’s anhedonic. http://youtu.be/4doTzCs9lEc

    • Mark_Frauenfelder says:

      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.

      • Nutrition Industry says:

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

      • Gerald Mander says:

        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.

        • Nutrition Industry says:

          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.

    • Dlo Burns says:

      I remember reading that one of the writers for ‘Malcom in the Middle’ based Lois’ nasty mother on her.

  17. TrollyMcTrollington says:

    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.

    • Gyrofrog says:

      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

  18. Ryan Lenethen says:

    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.

  19. mattcornell says:

    I’ll just leave this here. 

  20. Evan G. says:

    No discussion of “comic” and “Ayn Rand” can go without mentioning Benjamin Frisch’s series of Ayn Rand comics on Wonkette:

  21. noah django says:

    just leaving some stuff here

  22. Boundegar says:

    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*

    • Brainspore says:

      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.)

    • jetfx says:

      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.

    • rattypilgrim says:

      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.

  23. UncaScrooge says:

    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.

    • TimRowledge says:

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

    • mccrum says:

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

    • B E Pratt says:

      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.

      • rattypilgrim says:

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

      • septimar says:

        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.

  24. Nutrition Industry says:

    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?

    • Boundegar says:

      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.

    • rattypilgrim says:

       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.

      • Nutrition Industry says:

        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.

        • rattypilgrim says:

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

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        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.

        • Nutrition Industry says:

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

        • rattypilgrim says:

           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.

        • Gerald Mander says:

           No, he gave his staff copies of his fiancee. Slippery thing, English.

  25. shawn feller says:

    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!

  26. 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.  

  27. Brainspore says:

    I don’t remember any of the protagonists in “Dreams from My Father” committing rape.

  28.  From what I’ve learned of Ayn Rand’s sex life, and within the context of the novel, the scene I think you’re referencing about half way through “The Fountainhead” is her idea of seduction.

  29. Brainspore says:

    I read that she once defended the scene by calling it “rape by engraved invitation.” Which I gather is her way of saying “it’s not really rape if the girl is a cocktease.”

  30. retchdog says:

    hasYour : punctuation,(2) goneGalt. . . ?

  31. Brainspore says:

    How about the parts of the book where Dominique herself refers to the incident as a “rape?” That’s the term used both in her internal monologue immediately after the incident and much later in the novel when she matter-of-factly describes her first sexual experience with Roark to another character. 

    Her exact words? “He raped me.” Not “we enacted a rape fantasy.” Not “I lured him into breaking into my bedroom to have violent but mutually consensual sex.” Rape.

    I’m not making up unfounded charges here. If Rand didn’t want her hero to come across as a rapist then maybe she shouldn’t have included a scene where he rapes someone.

    It’s mildly disappointing, if not surprising, how many of Rand’s fans seem to have little firsthand knowledge of her actual work.

  32. Funk Daddy says:

    This doesn’t demonstrate she had a sense of humor, it shows she tried to understand it and came up wanting.

  33. jetfx says:

    I think “The Truth” you posted actually reinforces the “The Myth”. If she had that to say about laughter, I doubt she had much of a sense of humour. I mean come on, to laugh at yourself is “spitting in your own face”? That’s the sign of someone who takes themselves too seriously.

  34. retchdog says:

    but she doesn’t have a problem with “superior” states exterminating “inferior” ones through their governments, e.g. native americans (by the english and french colonies) and palestinians (by israel). what’s up with that?

  35. Brainspore says:

    Douglas Adams has a line in the first Hitchhiker’s Book saying, essentially, Jesus Christ was nailed to a tree for suggesting that people should be nice to each other.

    Which is pretty much the opposite of what Ayn Rand’s philosophy dictated. The most pathetic, pitiable character in “The Fountainhead” was the one who dedicated her life toward helping the poor, the sick and the disabled. Rand is less “be nice to each other” than “look out for number one.”

  36. Funk Daddy says:

    You got laughed at by Ayn Rands standard of what humor is because you make assumptions without evidence to be derisive while cloaked, which is evil. 

    I had some low marks too, yet aced every test I ever took. Because I was young and rash and didn’t give “the man” all that power over me with the homework and such, not because I am unintelligent. 

    If Gerald received bad marks for standing by his convictions, he’s a better example of the good aspects of what you pretend to be than you are.

  37. Funk Daddy says:

    I didn’t hate it, but it’s disciples certainly queue up for some serious dislike, don’t they?

  38. millie fink says:

    Pompous troll is pompous.

  39. jetfx says:

     Clearly you are not aware of Hong Kong’s massive public housing program. The vaunted free market makes it so expensive to live in Hong Kong that public housing is required to ensure that there is a work force available.

  40. Brainspore says:

    For a guy who’s so big on “independent thought” you sure do seem to enjoy that copypasta.

    [Edit: large block of text I was replying to now removed.]

  41. millie fink says:

    You forgot to to add a /sarcasm tag.

  42. noah django says:

     you noticed he created his account for this thread, right?
    no good can come of feeding this troll.

  43. Navin_Johnson says:

    Rand didn’t inspire much wit in her followers did she….

  44. jetfx says:

     I get her point alright, but you’d think the proof of her sense of humour would include a joke she once told, rather than some digression about the necessary conditions for proper humour.

  45. Brainspore says:

    I did not ignore that link, I disputed its relevance. I quoted “The Fountainhead” verbatim. You’re the one trying to misrepresent what happens in the story by posting a bunch of links to your Ayn Rand fan site.

    There is nothing in Rand’s novel to indicate that scene was part of a “rape fantasy.” It was clearly (and repeatedly) described as an actual rape, later revisionist backpedaling by the author notwithstanding.

    “She was a cocktease who secretly wanted it” is not a viable defense for breaking into a young woman’s bedroom and sexually violating her. This should be so self-evident that it need not be argued.

  46. retchdog says:

    “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, five guys right now? Like right now?”

  47. retchdog says:

    so, your decision to not spend 10 seconds formatting your spammed copypasta was heroic and rational?

  48. retchdog says:

    uh, didn’t see anything on that page speaking to this point (and, no, the “fascism” entry doesn’t count; this is about violence to spread capitalism, not establishing a totalitarian state). her opinion about israel/palestine came from her own mouth while being interviewed on some tv show (donahue?); it’s on youtube.

    you should feel free to ignore me; others may or may not. no one’s taking you very seriously.

  49. Navin_Johnson says:

     Here’s the old lady in the flesh on Donahue calling Arabs “Primitive Savages”


  50. jetfx says:

     Have you read Das Kapital? At least the first volume? Or anything Marx wrote about capitalism (which is like 90% of his work)? Because to make such a bald statement about it suggests that you haven’t and don’t have a clue about what he said on the issue.

    Rand and Marx share similar understandings of capitalism, they just differ on whether the system is a good thing.

  51. Navin_Johnson says:

    Love that she had such a great sense of humor that Randroids feel compelled to make websites that clinically argue that it was so….

  52. Felton / Moderator says:

    Funny how she calls them racist immediately after calling them primitive savages.

  53. Snig says:

    Really?  That concern troll just changed my life.  I’m going to give up my looting ways and start developing alloys. 

  54. Nutrition Industry says:

    I don’t have to outrun the bear.  I just have to outrun you.


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