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#1 2012-08-23 23:56:10

TheWake
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From: Yankee-Occupied South
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Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

Source: http://bostonglobe.com/opinion/2012/08/ … story.html

Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision
By Cathy Young | August 23, 2012

Ayn Rand, the Russian-born writer and self-styled philosopher who died three decades ago, is back in the news as a favorite author of Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. In recent years, the passionately individualist, pro-capitalist Rand has been embraced as a champion of freedom by many conservatives and libertarians, and denounced as a prophet of greed and narcissism by many liberals. Yet, if Rand admirers tend to ignore the flaws of her vision, her detractors reduce her to grotesque caricature — and invoke her popularity as proof of right-wing nuttiness.

photo-ayn-rand-stamp.jpg

One major misconception is that Rand worshipped the rich and saw moneymaking as life’s highest goal. In fact, most wealthy characters in her novels are pathetic, repulsive, or both: businessmen fattened on shady deals or government perks, society people who fill their empty lives with luxury. (There are also sympathetic poor and working-class characters.)

In “The Fountainhead,” Rand’s first bestseller (and best novel), the hero, architect Howard Roark, describes “the man whose sole aim is to make money” as a variety of “the second-hander” who lives through others, seeking only to impress with his wealth. Roark himself turns down lucrative jobs rather than sacrifice his artistic integrity, at one point finding himself penniless.

Rand extolled “selfishness,” but not quite in its common meaning. (To some extent, she was using the now-familiar confrontational tactic of turning a slur against a stigmatized group — in this case, true individualists — into a badge of pride.) Roark’s foil, the social-climbing opportunist Peter Keating, gives up both the work and the woman he truly loves for career advancement. Most people, Rand says, would condemn Keating as “selfish”; yet his real problem is lack of self.

To Rand, being “selfish” meant being true to oneself, neither sacrificing one’s own desires nor trampling on others. Likewise, Rand’s stance against altruism was not an assault on compassion so much as a critique of doctrines that subordinate the individual to a collective — state, church, community, or family.

Was Rand’s individualism too radical? Yes. Her hostility to the idea of any moral obligation to others led her to argue that, while helping a friend in need is fine, doing so at the expense of something it hurts you to give up is “immoral.” In her fiction, even private charity as a vocation is despised; so, mostly, is family. Rand made little allowance for the fact that some people cannot help themselves through no fault of theirs, or that much individual achievement is enabled by support networks.

Yet great insights can come from flawed thinkers. Rand’s anti-altruism tirades often turn their target into a straw man, but she is right that the knee-jerk habit of treating altruistic goals as noble has aided evil — for instance, blinding well-meaning Westerners to communism’s monstrosity. When pundits alarmed by Rand-style individualism scoff at the “myth” of individual autonomy, we should remember that this “myth” gave us freedom and human rights, and unleashed creative energies that raised humanity’s welfare to once-unthinkable levels. Rand’s work offers a powerful defense of freedom’s moral foundation — and a perceptive analysis of the kinship between “progressive” and “traditionalist” anti-freedom ideologies.

Rand’s ideas apply to the personal as well as the political. One needn’t go to Randian extremes to agree that the valorization of “sacrifice” and the accusation of “selfishness” can be potent weapons for users, manipulators, and family despots — or that dependency is not the path to healthy relationships. (In Rand’s words, “To say ‘I love you,’ one must first know how to say the ‘I.’ ”) A common critique is that Rand appeals to adolescents who think they’re self-sufficient, special, and destined for great achievement. Yet surely the world would be poorer — materially and spiritually — without people who carry some of that “spirit of youth,” as Rand called it, into adulthood.

Attacks on Rand have also focused on her person, from her disastrous extramarital affair with a much younger protégé to her brief infatuation, at 23, with a notorious killer she described as an “exceptional boy” warped by conformist society. Ugly stuff, to be sure; but plenty of other intellectuals had a sordid personal lives and romanticized murderers as rebels.

Rand is best viewed as a brilliant maverick. But there are reasons this woman attracted hordes of followers, influenced many others, and impressed smart people from journalist Mike Wallace to philosopher John Hospers. Those who treat Rand as a liberal bogeyman will forever be blindsided by her appeal.


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#2 2012-08-24 00:06:30

RAWN PAW
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Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

This reminds me of something I read in a book about Bruce Lee's philosophy. It basically said you should try to pluck away at your sense of self and get rid of the unnecessary in order to discover the "real" you. You are just a part of a large world, and you should find your own place in it to thrive.

Well, that's what I remember, anyway. My memory's horrible. But basically, I believe that the best thing to do is find a balance between complete individualism and being totally reliant on others. In the modern world, being completely individualistic pretty much relegates you to sustenance farming and a shitty life. Relying on others, however, leads to EBT EBT I JUST SWIPE MY EBT, which is also a pretty horrible life.

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#3 2012-08-24 00:38:45

Aya
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Registered: 2012-06-11
Posts: 1,840

Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

Protip: Never take political or philisophical cues from someone who is a raging benzo addict.

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#4 2012-08-24 01:21:54

SaintVicious
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Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

Isn't this the lady who said random acts of kindess makes you an asshole

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#5 2012-08-24 01:38:14

TheWake
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From: Yankee-Occupied South
Registered: 2012-06-09
Posts: 8,272

Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

SaintVicious wrote:

Isn't this the lady who said random acts of kindess makes you an asshole

No, she never said that.


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#6 2012-08-24 01:52:59

Aya
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Registered: 2012-06-11
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Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

Wes wrote:
SaintVicious wrote:

Isn't this the lady who said random acts of kindess makes you an asshole

No, she never said that.

Not explicity. But it's pretty well implied in her non fiction books, "The Virtue of Selfishness" & "The Romantic Manifesto" <---- where she pretty much takes a shit on all literature that isn't written by her or Dostoevsky.

You're not the only person who's read Ayn Rand, Wes.

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#7 2012-08-24 05:25:50

TheWake
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Posts: 8,272

Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

Aya wrote:
Wes wrote:
SaintVicious wrote:

Isn't this the lady who said random acts of kindess makes you an asshole

No, she never said that.

Not explicity. But it's pretty well implied in her non fiction books, "The Virtue of Selfishness" & "The Romantic Manifesto" <---- where she pretty much takes a shit on all literature that isn't written by her or Dostoevsky.

You're not the only person who's read Ayn Rand, Wes.

Jokes on you. I've only read Anthem and Atlas Shrugged, so I don't know shit about those books.

But let's take look at what she actually said, explicitly:

"My views on charity are very simple. I do not consider it a major virtue and, above all, I do not consider it a moral duty. There is nothing wrong in helping other people, if and when they are worthy of the help and you can afford to help them. I regard charity as a marginal issue. What I am fighting is the idea that charity is a moral duty and a primary virtue."
Playboy, March 1964
http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/charity.html

Also, I never claimed she was right about everything, but I like a good deal of her ideas and she's right about an awful lot of stuff, irrespective of her addictions to drugs. Carl Sagan smoked marijuana. Freud used cocaine. Need I say more? People can use drugs and still be right.

On another note, reading Atlas Shrugged was a life changing experience for me in a lot of ways. I was already a libertarian, although reading the novel definitely helped me understand the background of libertarian thought on another level. The most important change was that it forced me to question my religious beliefs, and I later became an atheist. I don't think that would've happened without having read that book.


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#8 2012-08-24 06:38:59

Swift
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From: Australia
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Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

I don't like Ayn Rand, although some of her ideas are good.

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#9 2012-08-24 06:40:36

TheWake
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From: Yankee-Occupied South
Registered: 2012-06-09
Posts: 8,272

Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

SwiftEscudo wrote:

I don't like Ayn Rand, although some of her ideas are good.

Well, she was a bit of an intolerant bitch from what I can tell by the stories that I've read about her.


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#10 2012-08-24 20:42:56

SaintVicious
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Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

atlas shrugged tldr verson: RICK PEOPLE ARE DICKS!!!!ONEONEONE

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#11 2012-08-24 21:16:39

TheWake
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From: Yankee-Occupied South
Registered: 2012-06-09
Posts: 8,272

Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

SaintVicious wrote:

atlas shrugged tldr verson: RICK PEOPLE ARE DICKS!!!!ONEONEONE

You forgot the semicolon between "tl" and "dr".


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#12 2012-08-24 22:18:18

RAWN PAW
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Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

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#13 2012-08-26 01:52:52

TheWake
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Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

1258492011849.jpg


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#14 2012-08-26 02:35:16

Aya
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Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

She was still a raging benzo addict.

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#15 2012-08-26 02:36:46

SaintVicious
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Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

and a raging cunt

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#16 2012-08-26 02:39:10

TheWake
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Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

And I still like Atlas Shrugged.


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#17 2012-08-26 02:41:19

SaintVicious
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Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

Wes wrote:

And I still like Atlas Shrugged.

People also liked hitler.

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#18 2012-08-26 02:46:35

SaintVicious
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Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

Also in discussion in college don't bring her up, you will be discredited very quickly and or laughed at.

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#19 2012-08-26 02:52:25

RAWN PAW
Member
Registered: 2012-06-08
Posts: 2,171

Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

SaintVicious wrote:
Wes wrote:

And I still like Atlas Shrugged.

People also liked hitler.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reducto_ad_Hitlerum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_Law

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#20 2012-08-26 03:05:46

TheWake
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From: Yankee-Occupied South
Registered: 2012-06-09
Posts: 8,272

Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

SaintVicious wrote:
Wes wrote:

And I still like Atlas Shrugged.

People also liked hitler.

Yes, because Ayn Rand was a mass murderer.

SaintVicious wrote:

Also in discussion in college don't bring her up, you will be discredited very quickly and or laughed at.

The idea that just because one brings up Ayn Rand or another person like, say, Marx or some other political radical means one's ideas are wrong is absolutely absurd. And not everybody that likes Ayn Rand worships her. We aren't all "Randroids." Ayn Rand was wrong about a lot of stuff, like homosexuality (in fact, she was wrong about sexuality in general). She was also a bit intolerant of a person, although I'd say it's exaggerated to an extent.

I find it absolutely crazy that I can't like Ayn Rand's ideas and her novels without being labelled as some kind of freak.


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#21 2012-08-26 03:55:40

SaintVicious
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Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

Wes wrote:
SaintVicious wrote:
Wes wrote:

And I still like Atlas Shrugged.

People also liked hitler.

Yes, because Ayn Rand was a mass murderer.

SaintVicious wrote:

Also in discussion in college don't bring her up, you will be discredited very quickly and or laughed at.

The idea that just because one brings up Ayn Rand or another person like, say, Marx or some other political radical means one's ideas are wrong is absolutely absurd. And not everybody that likes Ayn Rand worships her. We aren't all "Randroids." Ayn Rand was wrong about a lot of stuff, like homosexuality (in fact, she was wrong about sexuality in general). She was also a bit intolerant of a person, although I'd say it's exaggerated to an extent.

I find it absolutely crazy that I can't like Ayn Rand's ideas and her novels without being labelled as some kind of freak.

Same thing the people who worship hitler. heuaheuaheaueh
But its like saying you know things about dinosaurs cause you watched barney, the fact that she was so wrong is what discredits her.

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#22 2012-08-26 03:59:25

TheWake
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From: Yankee-Occupied South
Registered: 2012-06-09
Posts: 8,272

Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

SaintVicious wrote:
Wes wrote:
SaintVicious wrote:

People also liked hitler.

Yes, because Ayn Rand was a mass murderer.

SaintVicious wrote:

Also in discussion in college don't bring her up, you will be discredited very quickly and or laughed at.

The idea that just because one brings up Ayn Rand or another person like, say, Marx or some other political radical means one's ideas are wrong is absolutely absurd. And not everybody that likes Ayn Rand worships her. We aren't all "Randroids." Ayn Rand was wrong about a lot of stuff, like homosexuality (in fact, she was wrong about sexuality in general). She was also a bit intolerant of a person, although I'd say it's exaggerated to an extent.

I find it absolutely crazy that I can't like Ayn Rand's ideas and her novels without being labelled as some kind of freak.

Same thing the people who worship hitler. heuaheuaheaueh
But its like saying you know things about dinosaurs cause you watched barney, the fact that she was so wrong is what discredits her.

Newton was also an alchemist, doesn't mean he wasn't right about the Laws of Motion. Ayn Rand was largely right about government and private property, but wasn't right about homosexuality and some of her moral thinking.


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#23 2012-08-26 14:43:48

HeartofShadows
What do you know of... Cthulhu?
Registered: 2012-06-09
Posts: 505

Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

tumblr_ks96bgdo3X1qz8tzlo1_250.jpg


"I was dead for millions of years before I was born and it never bothered me a bit."

Mark Twain

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#24 2012-08-26 17:04:29

absentinsomniac
Administrator
Registered: 2012-06-09
Posts: 16,780

Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

From the few excerpts I read about her shit, I thought the whole thing was too rigid. There should be room for cooperation, imo. But that's just me, the guy who wouldn't mind starting a commie-style workplace and thinks capitalism will probably be done away with once everything is automated and there's no work for anyone to do anymore...

Also, lol'd at your article bro. (Not the whole thing, just this tidbit) :

for instance, blinding well-meaning Westerners to communism’s monstrosity.


Fucc

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#25 2012-08-27 00:04:04

TheWake
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From: Yankee-Occupied South
Registered: 2012-06-09
Posts: 8,272

Re: Ayn Rand’s detractors miss her vision

absentinsomniac wrote:

Also, lol'd at your article bro. (Not the whole thing, just this tidbit) :

for instance, blinding well-meaning Westerners to communism’s monstrosity.

It's not something to laugh at though. There was a time, before the 2nd World War, that many Western intellectuals were heavily influenced by the Soviet Union and journalists basically falsified reports to make Russia appear prosperous when, in fact, it was anything but.


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