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October 8, 2012 | by  | in Features |
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In Defense of Ayn Rand

Or Why You Shouldn’t complain of Books You’ve never Read.

Of the people I know, some like to say some very scathing things about neo-liberal woman of force, Ayn Rand.Yet, of the people I know, I am the only one who’s bothered to read any of her books.

This is problematic, and causes me to feel obligated to assume some of the responsibility for defending her; because it seems ill-advised for one to make comparisons to books one has never read.

It would be strange of me, for example, having read no Dickens, to say in passing:

“Why mother, what a very Dickensian thought for you to have had today,”

or

“Goodness father, that’s quite a Dickensian woman’s blouse for you to be wearing to Grandmama’s funeral.”

So I find it very odd when one person I know accuses another person I’ve just met of holding a “very Randian notion,” and to mean it in an inflammatory manner; as if the comparison has made everything the accused has ever said null and void.

The accuser might then spend the rest of the evening shaking their head at news footage of “insane”, Atlas Shrugged-quoting Tea Partiers.

“Who is John Galt anyway?” they ask, unaware of the irony.

“I don’t have to read it to know what it’s about.”

Which is actually true. In general, you should not read everything that you know in all likelihood you will not like.You would not have enough time for important things, like croquet, and smiling at strangers in the park.

But the kind of person who says things like “Randian notions” is mentally invested in opposing them.That kind of person definitely should read Atlas Shrugged, merely so they have an informed opinion on what exactly they are opposing.

It is too easy to label a group of people who disagree with you as “insane”.

But Randians are not insane, they’re just people like you and me who have their own prejudices, and own reasons for believing the things they do. Surely the kind of person who is irked by the hint of a “Randian notion”, should want to understand why millions of people have thrown their weight behind her ideals? What exactly is it that she says that rings truthfully?

Why does their curiosity not get the better of them?

Perhaps people are afraid that by reading anything antonymous to their values, they will forever be unable to convince everyone they know that they’re “not really into it”.What a sad state of affairs if that’s true.

You might have heard her writing’s terrible, and you’d be right.

The main character in Atlas Shrugged spends most of her time describing super solid steel with phallic expertise, while the rest stand around in doorways looking “moody”,“reserved” and “tortured”, claiming to be feeling things they have no words to describe (although Rand herself is seemingly able to find 950 pages worth of words to do so).

Yet despite the diatribe, they ultimately find happiness not in cash-money, but in using their minds to be creative, to make things worthwhile and of high quality (not only consumer goods either, by the way).They prioritise their integrity over anything else.

Rand was a blazing feminist, who just happened to have a clitoral erection for the gold standard. The positive romantic relationships in the book, are not fuelled by jealousy, but by mutual respect between lovers, and actual communication between partners.

Are those ‘Randian notions’ too? (I still support income tax.) ▲

Eds’ Note: Yes, that is indeed a photograph of Ayn Rand. We, too, were shocked.

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