Saturday, March 29, 2014

Just One More Ayn Rand Insight

In a comment on a recent post, Burns Wogwade wrote:

Unlike Mencken and Rothbard, Rand has been demonized to a surreal degree. Of course, that's because she was the great popularizer of liberty. Same reason the lightest lightweights interested in liberty are her fans, not theirs. Same reason critters like Rachel Maddow slander Rand: if Maddow has even heard Mencken's name, she isn't quite sure who he was.

Also, to be fair, Rand was a sh*tty novelist and often intellectually glib.

But she understood the leftwing totalitarian mindset like nobody before or since. IMHO that was her great contribution.

It's that next-to-last sentence that got me to thinking. Most of us on the right/libertarian side don't understand the leftwing totalitarian mindset. We don't think that way. Despite the blather from the left, most of us either don't want to boss people around at all, or like Cincinnatus, do it when we have to and look forward to when said people can function on their own.

Despite her expressed principles, Rand evidently had, among her other defects, a totalitarian personality. I say totalitarian rather than authoritarian, because the latter term is intrinsically limited to what the authoritarian considers essential. An authoritarian dictator wants to keep peace and order, while a totalitarian wants total control of every aspect of a society. Authoritarians arrest people who make trouble. Totalitarians arrest, basically, everybody who dissents from anything. Maybe, when you get right down to it, is the difference between religions and cults. A religion calls for adherence to a basic moral code and an avoidance of sin. A cult calls for total obedience in everything — Who to marry, what color hat to wear, what movies to watch and what books to read, what to eat. That certainly describe s herd of Objectivists.

I remember reading, years ago, Jack London's The Iron Heel.  It's fuzzy in my memory, but it describes a revolt against a capitalist tyranny by a heroic socialist. I remember that at the time it reminded me of Atlas Shrugged.  For one thing, it was entirely about economics. All things depended on the economic system. And, since it was fanatically socialist in ideology, it was completely without humor. The hero, Ernest Everhard (see what I mean?) would fit right into a Rand novel if he switched his ideology from socialism to communism.

So, it takes a thief, so to speak. Rand, I think, would have made a superb communist, but wasn't a communist because she couldn't be in charge of communism, so she created the mirror image of it in her capitalist revolt, which could make her the Marx of it all, if not the Lenin and Stalin. Meanwhile, during her wait for the Revolution, she had her own playpen show trials and North Korean self-criticism sessions. She even had her own Trotsky. Also, think about this — there are two political movement that require atheism in their adherents. Communism is one of them. Can you guess what the other is?

That's my theory and I'm sticking to it, until somebody talks me out of it. No totalitarian, me.
Quibcag: Naru Narusegawa of Love Hina (ラブ ひな Rabu Hina) kicks poor Keitaro out of the hot springs. She's a bit like Ayn Rand, but sweeter, sometimes.


  1. They have Materialism, Scientism, Cult of Personality, Orthodoxy (albeit overtly anti-religious) and Economism in common. That does not make them the same. So tired of half-wits concluding this because the resemblance is so strong. She INVERTED communism; of course the resemblance is uncanny. She did an excellent job... her premises naturally had to run parallel to the communist's own in order to NEATLY defeat them. Too much difference at the base level and it would be merely a competing ideology. Hers was a replacement ideology. Of course flawed, but significant in that it takes the wind out of Marxist sails like nothing else. Taken on its own it is poison. Taken with Marxism it is a cure.

  2. "the Randian inner circle had sought to browbeat him into total acceptance
    of their party line. His independence of thought offended them."

    Like I said, every Randian I encountered was a total complete asshole. They do more harm to capitalist theory that they help.

    In Rothbard's sociology of the Ayn Rand cult, one disgruntled Randian turned in a paper entitled "Is Ayn Rand God?" The editors were at a loss over whether the paper was a joke or serious.

    His play "Mozart Was A Red" described their mindset well.

  3. I've never encountered a Randian who wasn't anything but obnoxious. Then years later they say, "Oh my God, was I really like that? I'm so sorry."

    She was an intellectual lightweight with significant character issues. She was no lover of freedom. She was a totalitarian who wanted to be worshiped.

  4. How can someone who advocated for a completely free society be a "totalitarian"?

    Obviously, they cannot be.

    All the other criticisms of Ayn Rand in this articles and the replies to it so far are equally absurd and say more about their authors than about her.

    1. May your mother goddess Ayn smile down on you.

      When did you accept Ayn Rand as your personal savior?