Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The last person to listen to right now

Johann Hari offers a bracing takedown of the madness of Ayn Rand combined with horrified astonishment that anybody could possibly take her prescriptions seriously right now.

Of course, her practical influence should not be exaggerated. Even most right-wing Americans consider the specifics of Rand's philosophy to be loopy. Many prominent conservatives loathe her strident atheism (one of her few appealing characteristics), and some even see fascism in her tracts. Whittaker Chambers famously wrote in the National Review, "Just as her operatic businessmen are, in fact, Nietzschean supermen, so her ulcerous leftists are Nietzsche's 'last men', both deformed in a way to sicken the fastidious recluse of Sils Marnia... [In her vision] resistance to the Message cannot be tolerated because disagreement can never be merely honest, prudent, or just humanly fallible. Dissent from revelation so final can only be wilfully wicked. There are ways of dealing with such wickedness, and , in fact, reason itself enjoins them. From almost every page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding, "To a gas chamber - go!""

But Rand's rabid anarcho-capitalism has clearly tapped into something primal in American conservatism: it is revealing that she is almost invariably described as an "idealist", rather than a maniac.


Mike said...

You'll be happy to know that quite a few libertarians and market anarchist think she crazy as a shit house rat too.

I was quite relived by that...even we call them Randroids..

Cliff said...

I did in fact know that, we've had this conversation ; )

I thought one of the really revealing things about her was that sequence in Atlas Shrugged where one of her heroes bravely strikes back at the opressive murdering a train full of people. Then she expends several column inches on the life stories of the various people dying in the train crash to demonstrate why they were all worthless scum who deserved to die.

The fact that so many conservative politicians revere this insane supporter of murderous terrorism is actually quite shocking.

Cliff said...

And to pre-empt the howls from the Randroids - I know the train master just lets the accident happen rather than initiate it. That's still murder.

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