Ayn Rand — a perverted psychopath

30 Aug, 2022 at 23:40 | Posted in Politics & Society | 5 Comments

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Now, I don’t care to discuss the alleged complaints American Indians have against this country. I believe, with good reason, the most unsympathetic Hollywood portrayal of Indians and what they did to the white man. They had no right to a country merely because they were born here and then acted like savages. The white man did not conquer this country …

Since the Indians did not have the concept of property or property rights—they didn’t have a settled society, they had predominantly nomadic tribal “cultures”—they didn’t have rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights that they had not conceived of and were not using …

What were they fighting for, in opposing the white man on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence; for their “right” to keep part of the earth untouched—to keep everybody out so they could live like animals or cavemen. Any European who brought with him an element of civilization had the right to take over this continent, and it’s great that some of them did. The racist Indians today—those who condemn America—do not respect individual rights.

Ayn Rand,  Address To The Graduating Class Of The United States Military Academy at West Point, 1974

It’s sickening to read this gobsmacking trash. But it’s perhaps even more sickening that people like Alan Greenspan consider Rand some kind of intellectual hero.

Alan Greenspan isn’t just a bad economist. He’s a bad person. What else can one think of a person that considers Ayn Rand — with the ugliest psychopathic philosophy the postwar world has produced — one of the great thinkers of the 20th century? A person that even co-edited a book with her — maintaining that unregulated capitalism is a “superlatively moral system”. A person that in his memoirs tries to reduce his admiration for Rand to a youthful indiscretion — but who actually still today can’t be described as anything else than a loyal Randian disciple.

As shown in Reich’s video, Ayn Rand and her objectivist philosophy have more disciples than Greenspan. But as Hilary Putnam rightfully noticed in The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy (Harvard University Press, 2002) it’s doubtful if it even qualifies as a real philosophy:

It cannot be the case that the only universally valid norm refers solely to discourse. It is, after all, possible for someone to recognize truth-telling as a binding norm while otherwise being guided solely by ‘enlightened egoism.’ (This is, indeed, the way of life that was recommended by the influential if amateurish philosophizer – I cannot call her a philosopher – Ayn Rand.) But such a person can violate the spirit if not the letter of the principle of communicative action at every turn. After all, communicative action is contrasted with manipulation, and as such a person can manipulate people without violating the maxims of ‘sincerity, truth-telling, and saying only what one believes to be rationally warranted.’ Ayn Rand’s capitalist heroes manipulated people all the time (even if she didn’t consider it manipulation) via their control of capital, for example. Indeed, the person who says, ‘do what I want or I’ll shoot you,’ need not be violating any maxim concerned solely with discourse. But it would be a mistake to use such examples as objections to Habermasian ‘discourse ethics.’

In her diary from 1928, Ayn Rand approvingly quotes a statement made by William Edward Hickman – “What is good for me is right.” Rand is enthusiastic and writes: “The best and strongest expression of a real man’s psychology I have heard.”

Later she models one of her heroes  – Danny Renahan – after Hickman. Renahan is portrayed as

born with a wonderful, free, light consciousness — [resulting from] the absolute lack of social instinct or herd feeling. He does not understand, because he has no organ for understanding, the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people … Other people do not exist for him and he does not understand why they should.

Who was this  Hickman that so inspired Rand?

Hickman was a notorious bank robber, child kidnapper and mass murderer. One of the most hated and heinous criminals in U. S. history.

How people like Alan Greenspan and Paul Ryan — not to mention all modern-day ‘objectivist’ disciples — can consider Ayn Rand “one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century” is beyond comprehension. It’s sickening.

5 Comments

  1. Wow, I never knew she was that unhinged. I thought she was just one of those “all that matters is success”. I wasn’t aware that her philosophy was a rejection of morality.

    • Morality — really public morality, the ethical system, that which the other can go along with — comes out of mindful empathy-with the other. Rand was clearly oriented to the ego, with little to no empathy-with the other. Soo, yes, in that sense, we can speculate that Rand rejected morality, except for morality with her ownself (some empathy-within ownself, who she clearly had empathy-with, proud of it) but with noone else).

  2. Ayn Rand ‘s philosophy of extreme selfishness and racism unfortunately has become the corner stone of contemporary western society.

    • It may be more productive to see the extreme selfishness and racism as not only what appears to be a favored frame of western society but it is also in the deeper evolution of all Humans (western society or not). That is, ego-based self-interest is primal in the Human species, and, yes, selfishness (and racism is intertwined with it) is primal. Intriguingly, and where the hope arises, Humans also evolved with the capacity for empathy-based selflessness: And, ideally, each person would work to temper the primal selfishness (takes self-control) with the capacity for selflessness. It is ultimately about finding the best (what works, pragmatism) balance in the joint selfish & selfless tendencies, realizing each is actually essential to the other. And, in economic framing, it is about finding the best balance in self & other-interest, person & community, market & government (as Dual Interest Theory in Metaeconomics makes clear). And, fortunately or unfortunately, dependent upon one’s ideological perspective, when self-control fails things like Government regulation over the Market become essential (like in the excessive release of greenhouse gases which are working to destroy the Spaceship on which we Travel together around the Sun!). Selfishness sometimes has to be regulated when freely chosen selflessness fails.


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