Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ayn Rand and the Lying Liars Who Hate Her

Ayn Rand smoking on left and with Alan Greenspan on right
I happen to be one of those folks who has never read more than a page or two of any fiction by the greatest selling single author in the history of the world, Ayn Rand.  There are a lot of her quotes out there that I like and I pass them on when I come across them, however I have no doubt that if I read Atlas Shrugged my assessment would be similar to those of Whittaker Chambers and William F. Buckley, Jr.  If I had met her in person, I have no doubt that I would 'like' her as much as Buckley too.  However, that has never spared me the tired, scripted speeches from Stalinist Leftists who have some sort of pathological hate for the woman.

This hate is not a puzzling one, it is one that is easily explained by a core trait of the Leftists in general: Authoritarianism.  You see, if they don't like something then nobody else is supposed to like it either.  Rarely do they bother with a substantive critique, no they launch into a bunch of fashion/taste/emotional issues.

Below is an example of one of those scripts and I have finally found a reason to say something nice about Paul Krugman.  He made an attribution of the slam, which is quite rare for the Rand attackers.  In person, nobody has made any sort of attribution in my presence. It is as if they all spontaneously came up with the same words, in the same order, independently.  Something like the "herd" of independent thinkers that Dinesh D'Souza used to talk about on his book tours.

Here is a great one via Paul Krugman:
September 23, 2010, 3:34 PM
I’m Ellsworth Toohey!

So says one of my commenters (sic). And for my sins, I actually get the reference.

The best line I’ve ever heard about Ayn Rand’s influence:
There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.
Funny thing, someone I went to high school with used that quote when responding to a Rand non-fiction quote I posted in 2011.  I asked him where he got it, because I had seen it before, and he said he made it up himself.  Coming from a former editor, communications director, budding novelist, and ardent devotee of Paul Krugman, this level of plagiarism can be easily explained by another trait of the Leftist: Any lie will do when trying to "win" an argument, even if nobody was arguing.

The absurdity only increased on that topic.  He had a fit that Rand based her philosophy on "selfishness."  Which brought a big "so what" from me and she always struck me as being for self interest, which is different.  Another whine of his was that she thought philanthropy was "stupid."  Again, so what?  I don't think that and believing every word any person says as gospel is just stupid.  He later once told me that I need to make a "choice" between Ayn Rand and being a Christian.  Of course, this edict did not come as a question, it came as an order, which resulted in literal laughing-out-loud on my end of the internet.

What brings out these off-the-rails ravings is beyond me.  Seriously, I doubt that Mussolini showed up every time one of his classmates went to Church and challenged God to strike him dead on the steps of the cathedral, followed by a demand that said friend either renounce Samuel Clemons or the Lord.

By that logic in the modern day, I would have to stop enjoying Seinfeld and stop quoting atheist Larry David (MP3), or renounce Christianity.  Video here:
video
One of the Krugman commentators appears to have the same experience as me, with regard to hearing these things before:
D. Taggert
Portland
I always heard it as "involves Hobbits." Of course, I never read fantasy, as I was too busy building my railroad empire.
Sept. 24, 2010 at 10:08 a.m.
The most often heard Ayn Rand "take-down" I've encountered is the one that goes "the only people I've met who read Atlas Shrugged were teenage girls . . ." and every time I hear it, it is exactly the same, while at the same time it is so vapid  that I can never remember the whole thing until I hear it again.  Rarely am I ever able to find it online, probably because I am not wording it correctly for a search engine to find it.  If anybody reading this knows what I am talking about, please comment or forward.  In a concise impact statement, the speaker tries to make the implication that only maladjusted teenage girls and equally damaged males would appreciate her fiction.  A long-winded version can be found here, but I cannot find the short trite version as I write.  The same author decided to rip-off Winston Churchill's famous quip: Show me a young Conservative and I'll show you someone with no heart. Show me an old Liberal and I'll show you someone with no brains. like this:
This is a sign, mind you, of developmental disability. When you’re 19, you are permitted to find the Fountainhead inspiring and brilliant. If you still find it so when you’re 39, instead of seeing it correctly as turgid, overwrought garbage, then you are experiencing some form of mild intellectual retardation.
Again, every time these people find me in person, mentioning that I've never read, nor claimed to have read Atlas will stop the speech that each speaker claims as his own.

It is like those intense Ford vs. Chevy guys on loads of pot.  Most car guys respect each other and their rides.  There are a few of those Ford or Chevy guys who hate each others brands, but they usually shut up when they find out that you are in neither camp, but not always.

I suppose the least frequent Ayn slam, but frequent enough to include, would be the "I've never met anybody who said they read Atlas Shrugged (or Ayn Rand) who has actually read a word of it."  It usually comes from people who speak in absolutes about others, but hold the notion that there are no absolutes.  Somehow they have managed to live over half of a century without meeting a single person who has read the biggest selling author ever, but they have no trouble meeting people willing to lie about it.

That one was tossed at me by the 'editor' mentioned above and by another high school classmate who is now a professor.  When I mentioned to the Professor that Editor had said the same thing, the Professor claimed no knowledge of anybody ever saying that before, it was his own personal observation.  Of course, I was supposed to believe that the identical wording had to be a coincidence that repeated itself at least a dozen times over the years.

It took a while for the professor to "get it" when I said, several times, that I've never read Atlas, nor have I ever claimed to.  As for both of them, I see that not having any contact with them for a couple of decades was no loss, not just because of the Rand thing.  As with most people non scripts, conversing with them is annoying at best and impossible at worst.

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