Ayn Rand, An Intellectual Fraud

The libertarian movement finds great comfort in the works of Ayn Rand without realizing that her books are essentially a work of fiction that have no basis in reality.

The first time I read Ayn Rand was when I was in high school. I do not remember whether it was Atlas Shrugged or Fountainhead. However, I certainly remember what I came back with, my synopsis: “It takes a lot of words to fool the world”.

I recently decided to revisit Fountainhead to see what has changed in me after so many years. Surprisingly, not much has changed. The only difference is that now I understand why Ayn Rand is a complete bullshit. I now understand her philosophy for what it really is:  a philosophy of barbarians that is completely unsuitable for civic life.

I don’t work with collectives. I don’t consult. I don’t co-operate. I don’t collaborate.  

~ Howard Roark, while refusing the commission to build a building.

Read the above sentence and understand the magic of Ayn Rand. She manages to portray the most repugnant qualities in a positive way. Everyone would love to identify with the person who walks the higher ground and accepts commission only on his own terms.

However, think again! Will this attitude work in real life? In real life, one has to talk to people; one has to collaborate, exchange ideas. There is a reason why democracy is a better form of government than authoritarian governments that do not consult or collaborate.

It is highly doubtful whether Ayn Rand puts much belief in democracy. She is a barbarian philosopher, otherwise why would she make her lead female character fall in love with her rapist? Why would she depict a certain level of ‘dryness’ in all the relationships? There is a good reason for this. Such personalities are a logical outcome of her anti-social philosophy.

The novel does not even have any literary value; the characters are clear-cut, black and white, they always do what is expected of them, and there is no shade of grey involved. Another problem with the novel is that in the midst of this propaganda, the author has completely forgotten about the story line. The author criticizes the poor (they are poor because they are too lazy to work) in the beginning of book and then allows Howard Roark build a housing project for a low-income group after around 400 pages. When the Gail Wynand character enters the story there is a lot of talk of his ownership of multiple newspapers and magazines across the country. Those references to multiple magazines are then completely lost and the story loses flow as it is told as though he owns a single newspaper, Banner — only to see that references to his large empire come back in the end of the book.

This book could have been much better; it could have been about the great conflict between different philosophies, intellectual encounters. However, the author has conveniently stayed clear of argument between equals — perhaps because Ms. Rand believed she had no equals; the plot’s dialogues are constructed in such a way that libertarian characters walk the high moral ground and everyone else is wimpy, old fashioned and against progress.

Ayn Rand is an intellectual fraud who has gone virtually unchallenged for too long a time. In the same context one should also note that given that all of her talk about man not being dependent on the state, Ayn Rand herself was a fraud in that she collected Social Security and Medicare benefits (like the ‘lazy poor and middle-class’ people she despised) before her death. Hypocrisy at its worst — and the best example the Right has of ‘Do as I say, not as I do’.

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The book in question is:

21 comments on “Ayn Rand, An Intellectual Fraud

  1. Alright, stop right there. The Fountainhead, written before Atlas Shrugged, was a more spiritual and less “practical” presentation of Objectivism. Atlas Shrugged portrays it accurately and excellently, explaining capitalism, government, and the evils of communism. If you can’t bring yourself to read her other literature that has massive correlations to the real world, please stop. Being angry at the truth is one of the greatest injustices out there.

  2. Harry Deshpande on said:

    Fountainhead might be spiritual and less practical but I am talking about basic philosophy. Any claims that poor are poor because they are lazy is a mental sickness.

  3. Not necessarily lazy, but there is a reason. Again, Atlas Shrugged explains that as well.

    • Harry Deshpande on said:

      Thank you for your willingness to talk to me.

      I must confess that I have not read widely on the subject of philosophy. I do think about it and I prefer to go by my experience and my gut feeling. I strongly believe that ‘within a limit’ everything can be deduced by logic (I am aware that this statement apparently contradicts with the tone of my article which is why the qualification ‘within a limit’)

      My biggest grievance with Ayn Rand is that she has no compassion. I strongly believe that compassion is one quality that makes us human. I am not religious at all and not even a Christian but this is what I find compelling about the concept of ‘Christ’. I have lived the life that can only be called ‘rags of society’ and I have managed to recover from it. I have a lot of friends who are still there but I do not despise them. Of course, it is my intelligence and hard work that allowed me to escape the dark. In fact, I am one of those people who are a prime example of Ayn Rand theory for I could successfully rebuild my career even in my late thirty’s.

      I am proud of my achievements but deep down in my heart I also know that I was lucky enough to be provided the opportunities. I have a lot of friends who did not share my luck and I do feel compassion for them.
      I know I have achieved something but that does not mean I am rude to people. More than once, I have fallen to the bottom and that has taught me the value of humility. I know that I am not infallible and it is always better to co-operate and consider feedback.

      Sir, I am not a supporter of communism because I hate it. I was a communist once but now I know that it just does not work. There will always be rich and there will always be poor. It is the difference between rich and poor that drives ambition and that drives innovation, progress.

      Does that mean that we can completely do away with compassion? No, I do not think so. I do not think there is something wrong in providing free health care to everyone. I would rather go and jump down a cliff than saying that poor can die of illness since they have no money.

      A little compassion that is what I ask for.

      Anyway I think I have moved away from the subject. Looking forward to your reply. I am going in for a surgery and my response might be delayed by a couple of days.

  4. gohnjallo on said:

    Good luck on the sugery. And yes, and can see your point on compassion. It has been a major internal debate for me lately. I think she really meant to discourage pity. Look up “John Galts speech” when you get the chance. It is a 30 page (!) monologue. You can be compassionate, but love and compassion must be earned/for a reason. She also wrote that those who are deserving of help and should be helped. Its a difficult philosophy to grasp because it goes against the norm. But again, good luck. PS what set me off was the needless use of profanity in an innapropriate setting. Thanks for the different perspective! I love getting the big picture :)

  5. Ed Thompson on said:

    More than 1,000,000 copies of Atlas Shrugged have sold since Obama took over. :-)

    • Brooklyn Dame on said:

      Ah, yes…rampant fear took over — which is interesting and sad because many of those who are running around like headless chickens will benefit most from PRESIDENT Obama’s tenure. I said “President” because I notice how challenging it is for so many people to show the courtesy and respect towards the title he EARNED.

    • Harry Deshpande on said:

      1,000,000 copies sold? :) I believe the true figure is somewhere around 1000. And even 1000 is too much which is why the heading “Intellectual fraid”

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  11. “Ayn Rand is an intellectual fraud who has gone virtually unchallenged for too long a time.”

    Unchallenged! precisely because it is not an intellectual fraud! Nothing that you say has any probative value. It’s just the opinion of a political opponent, moreover, among others.

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