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woohooligan Sep 7, 2015
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This is the point at which I'm supposed to give a little bio of Ayn Rand and explain her impact on the world... and I will do exactly that: Google. Rand is infuriating (and polarizing), not because she was heartless, but because she was so damned good at wheedling. Reading her work or listening to her talk is like a fascinating train wreck.

Imagine for a moment that you're listening to some guy talk and he's talking about how we need to build up our economy, bring ourselves up by our bootstraps and get everybody working again. Logically, you think, "hell yeah! We should have a good economy! Everybody should have decent pay for a good day's work, and everybody deserves a job!" It isn't until half-way through the talk that the guy you're listening to starts talking about the firearms industry and how we need to make sure we have enough firearms. In fact, we need to make sure we have more firearms than we would ever actually need. And then he says "as long as we're making all these firearms though, you know, we could use them to give people more jobs, by enlisting anyone who's not currently working in the army!" And you're thinking "uhh... okay, seems a bit rash and kind of fascist." Then he says "and as long as we're enlisting these people in the army, we can't just have them standing around, we've got to get out there and invade Poland!" And then you realize this guy you've been listening to all along is Hitler, a crazy dirtbag who's going to cause a lot of problems for a lot of people.

Now I'm not saying Rand is Hitler... no, she's worse. :P Seriously though, that's the reason she's so infuriating, because when she drones on about her "objectivist" philosophy you think it's English... it certainly sounds like English... but then if you keep your wits about you after a bit you realize that the language she's speaking only resembles English in the way that Dirty Harry movies resemble real-life police work. :B This is the reason why the objectivits (the true believers), have to have their own actual lexicon giving new definitions of English words. (And of course, they title it the "Rand" lexicon, not the "Objectivist" lexicon, wink, wink.) She almost never used the word dictator for example -- perfectly good word and she insisted on always saying "Attila" instead. O_o

And this is the reason she's become such a polarizing figure over the years. Because if she were like most people and she were slightly less adept at that underhanded word-play, then most people would realize right up-front that she's mostly just stroking the egos of people who are if not rich and powerful at the very least already quite privileged in our society. It's not hard to do that to be honest, just declare that the market is always rational (a lie, but ignore that), and that it solves all problems and that's the reason they're rich. Your car turned out to be a lemon? The market will fix that! Stubbed your toe? The market will fix that! Your dog got hit by a car? The market will fix that! You gained five pounds? The market will fix that! Keep saying it enough and wealthy people on top of the market like Trump will flock to you for your adoration. I'm sure that's the reason that Paul Ryan and other Republican politicians have been quoting Rand. I'll bet half of them haven't even read Rand's work, they just know the rich donors like her.

I will go on record here as saying that some of the things she said inevitably turned out to be good things. Occasionally... she's on record as opposing racism for example, and listening to her talk about racism is like hearing Hitler say "the sky is blue" and then feeling conflicted and wanting to disagree out of hand, but... the sky is blue. And I genuinely believe that individual freedoms are rather important. Where she draws the line on individual freedom however is an unachievably high bar. In fact, although many of today's Republicans idolize her, she's on record as saying that she DESPISED democracy! Where the republicans want to eliminate "special interest groups", Rand wanted to create a world with six-BILLION special interest groups! All six-billion of them named "ME ME ME ME ME!"

Personally, I'm satisfied with saying that the right of individuals within a democracy to criticize that government must be protected and upheld (US Constitution 1st amendment - freedom of speech, of the press and of religion - that's what it's for), and that there be checks and balances to help prevent what our founders and others have historically called "the tyranny of the masses" (Rand's reason for despising democracy). I don't believe that any system of government is perfect. Corruption is always creeping in and we have to be diligent about constantly correcting course and getting it back on track. That's what being a good citizen is about... but for Rand, "back on track" meant ensuring that the government never taxed for any reason, and that it never prevented the rich and powerful from abusing the weak. According to Ayn Rand, (remember this is all verbatim guys), altruism is immoral! In fact, fuck altruism...

You remember when you were in high-school and you had a crush on some boy or girl... you had that crush because you knew (objectively mind you) that they were the most rational person in school and therefore would grow up to be the most financially successful, leading ultimately to the best possible financial outcome for yourself, right? I mean... isn't that the only reason anyone falls in love? Because it's the most rational choice? Well... according to Ayn Rand... :B

And to Rand, the world is entirely black and white. There are never any shades of gray, there are never any opportunities for two people to have acceptably differing opinions.

Well that explains why she's got you covered when you're in the mood for a good hyperbole! :B

Though it's also somewhat disturbing, if you've read some of her other statements like blaming the victim ("evil requires the sanction of the victim") or that she believed all dictators are cowards and run away at the first sign of a single individual with a backbone ("oh no! I have all these tanks and guns, but how can I possibly overcome this guy with OPINIONS! Run away!!!" that's how we defeated Hitler, right? We had strong opinions and he couldn't take it and left), or her view of family: “If [people] place such things as friendship and family ties above their own productive work, yes, then they are immoral. Friendship, family life and human relationships are not primary in a man’s life. A man who places others first, above his own creative work, is an emotional parasite.”

So, given her insistence on the world being entirely black and white, according to her, if you place your own family before your work, you are an "immoral emotional parasite." If you believe that the reverse is true (the other side of the argument), that a person who places work before family is immoral, then she says you are wrong. That's fair enough - we're on opposite sides of a debate, sure, I expect my rival to think I'm wrong. If you believe however that it's a complicated subject and there's room for rational people to disagree and neither of them must be immoral, well, now you're straight-up HITLER! :P

So... to recap, according to Rand, you are immoral if you value your family before your work. I guess it's a good thing she never had any children... however... if you follow her logic, that means every person who has had children is immoral. Remember she lives in a world of complete black and white - there is never any neutral ground and no room for opinion. You are either right or you are wrong, period. If you believe that having children is good for you, you are wrong. She decided that work is the only important thing a person can do with their life and since she decided children would interfere with her work, then you also will make that same decision if you're rational. So if the world suddenly adhered to her ideal rationality, the human race would die out in roughly eighty years. :P (Yes, I'm aware she danced around this subject, but I don't find her dance convincing.)

I read an article that said she actually did request a six-foot tall dollar-sign shaped floral arrangement for her funeral, but while I found photos of the dollar-sign brooch, I couldn't find any photos of her funeral, just of her headstone. Also in keeping with these pages, she described lying (even white lies) as "the blackest of destruction" (oh, the hyperbole!), and this story in the New Yorker is fucking hilarious!

I know it's not real evidence of anything, but how many of the Republican politicians do you think would distance themselves from Rand's writing if it were more common knowledge that Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan, was also such a big fan? Trump wouldn't, he'd polish that turd! "I'm sure there are murderers and rapists who admire me, I'm an admirable guy and somebody's doing the raping!" :B

I wanted to get Katharine Hepburn in there to be a kind of voice of reason. She also was an atheist, however, she was also a very down-to-earth sort of woman. Throughout her life she both won Oscars and was declared "box office poison" and she never seemed to let it get to her.

And as a bonus, I'm now comfortable declaring that this story has finally passed the Bechdel Test. I think some people would say it technically passed the test a while back when Amy was talking to her nanny in heaven, but in the first one they talked about her grandfather and the later exchanges were fairly short. And Christian mythology is sooo chauvanist! God, Jesus, all twelve apostles, most other characters in the bible, all men! Even the angels are all men! Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Azrael, Uriel ... I dunno... I'm overly neurotic on this point of trying to be more gender balanced in my comics. :B Make of that what you will. ;)

Oh, and Azrael shaking a martini! :B

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