*Vibrate, cell phone stock ringtone*
This had better be important–
— because I have some good bud and good betty on my couch right–
I’m serious, Jimmy. This is important.
You’re the only person I can talk to about this.
Because you’re the only person I know who is even remotely familiar with philosophy.
Dude. Seriously? This is why you’re calling me? To talk fucking Plato?
No, man. Just listen to me for a second.
Okay. So, I’m on this date with this really hot chick I met at school.
Gimme a sec. *pause*
Holy shitballs, man! Noyce.
So, what the hell is the problem?
Well, you see, we were talking about literary works that had a profound effect on our lives.
I told her about how after reading Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, we drove around the country.
Then she told me that her entire worldview changed after reading Atlas Shrugged.
She told me her entire worldview changed after reading–
I fucking heard you, man.
So, what do I do?
You dump the bitch. You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.
I mean, I know Atlas Shrugged is one of those books that have ruined American society, but do you really think that’s just cause to–?
Dump. Her. Man.
I don’t know, Jimmy.
Look, you called me because you consider me an authority on all things pertaining to philosophy, right?
If Atlas Shrugged “changed her worldview,” that means she found merit in the selfish bullshit Ayn Rand passed off as a legitimate view of modern society.
Is it that bad?
Is it that bad?! Have you ever heard me say anything positive about it?
I don’t think I’ve ever heard you mention Atlas Shrugged at all, if I’m being honest.
Fuck, man. Okay. Let me break it down for you.
Ayn Rand is the sociopathic bitch queen of American conservatism. Specifically, the ideas she passed off as philosophically significant to the betterment of modern society have become the very backbone of many conservative ideas, ranging from economics to social programs. Her influence is astonishing.
How influential is she?
Rand Paul once said he “cut [his] teeth on Ayn Rand in high school.” Paul Ryan once said Ayn Rand was “the reason [he] got involved in public service.” Of course, that was before he changed his tune when people with the capacity to think rationally about Ayn Rand’s self-entitled horseshit began calling him out on it. Fuck man, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court — you know, the one who’s likely now without a voice because Scalia died — has privately screened The-Fucking-Fountainhead, the 1949 film version with Gary Cooper, for his new clerks every year.
She’s the L. Ron Hubbard of dytopic fiction, man. Her writings are pedestrian, at best, in terms of wordsmithing, and they’ve become influential to the degree in which people are enslaved to these ideas. Much like how Scientology is a batshit religion for batshit people who can’t see their batshit beliefs as batshit, Ayn Rand-inspired conservatism is a batshit sociopolitical philosophy for batshit people who can’t see their batshit beliefs as batshit.
You’re pretty certain there, Jimmy.
I haven’t even started yet, man. Ayn Rand’s books are more than just crackpot fiction. There is an entire philosophy at work here. She calls it “objectivism” and it’s the dumbest fucking pseudo-intellectual bullshit since Pascal’s Wager.
In the early 1960’s, Rand penned a column for the Los Angeles Times called “Introducing Objectivism,” in which she laid out the tenets of her philosophy. She states that reality is “objective” — meaning that it is what it is and is not subject to speculation. Reality is objectively absolute. The ethical component of Randian philosophy is self-interest. Effectively, she says that the wants and needs of the I are more important than even the needs of society. Do you follow?
Okay, she said in the article that man “is an end in himself” and that man exists not “as the means to the ends of others.” She also said altruism is the destroyer of America’s implicit moral code, because apparently, society is ultimately crippled by charity and well-intentioned acts of kindness.
So, the problem with believing a fucking word Skeletor, sorry, Ayn Rand says is that the belief is invested in a philosophical idea that is flawed and easily defeated by its own logic. If man “is an end in himself,” each man is ultimately responsible for their own happiness. Real quick, though, keep in mind that I am using the word man as shorthand for mankind. Women are not excluded from this scenario. I’m not Donald-fucking-misogynist-Trump.
Okay, so back on point. If each man is ultimately responsible for his own happiness and altruism is the destroyer of America’s implicit moral code, as she so bluntly states, then what of the people who find happiness in altruistic acts? What of the people whose rational self-interest, as Ayn Rand put it, is tied to acts of prosocial kindness and charity?
Well, what of them?
Therein lies the conflict. The pursuit of rational self-interest is something that Ayn Rand promotes as morally good, but it is tied to an act that Ayn Rand considers to be bad.
Then wouldn’t it be justified that the person’s destructive act, altruism, is in fact, not rational self-interest?
I’m certain Rand would argue that, but she cannot defend it. Rational self-interest is basically egoism and egoism is the theory that the “I” is or should be the motivation and goal for one’s own action.
But their action is altruistic, yes?
It is, but it’s also selfish. This is why Rand’s view is paradoxical. Even an altruistic act can carry a selfish motive. If someone gives money to the homeless and feel good as a result, then their motivation, at least in part, is for that feeling. Even though it is charitable and altruistic, it is still self-motivated behavior. At least part of the reason this hypothetical person commits an altruistic act is because of how it makes them feel. It strokes their ego. It appeased the “I.”
I see that.
So, in this case, Ayn Rand’s views on rational self-interest and the moral backbone of “objectivism” are in conflict. Because of that conflict, a significant part of her philosophical doctrine is flawed.
I think I follow.
There are plenty more instances where Ayn Rand’s objectivist philosophy gloriously falls on its face. You can go to The Zephyr Lounge and read more. I’m pretty sure I’ve kept you for a long time though. You should get back to your date… and I mine.
Agreed. Thanks, Jimmy.
No problem. Just try to steer the conversation–
Well, she’s gone.
That figures. Sketchy as shit, just like Ayn Rand’s logic.
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