Provocative title, no? Got your attention anyway.
Before we get any further, I want to let you know that my aim is not to offend. I’ve read several of her books and enjoyed them well enough (although I will admit to being much more of a Tolkeiniac). However, if you are a “true believer” in her “philosophy” I really recommend that you read a little more philosophy and biology and, maybe, get over yourself a little. But, really, I’m more in awe of the results of her writing than anything else. That’s why while I don’t consider her a philosopher and think that following the prescriptions in her books leads to destruction and misery (for all even, maybe especially, “Gault” – a funny – though not “ha, ha” funny aside, interesting how many “Gauliacs” are feeding at the public trough), that she was one of the important people of the 20th century. Her, Schmitt, Hyack all put a gloss on selfishness and lying that truly was/is indicative of the age. Unbelievably destructive (and really against our natures as social animals) but popular in times of change and fear.
Let’s start with a definition of terms. I’ve found that’s usually the main cause of disagreements. People associate different values (either quantitative or qualitative) to a term and assume that others associate the same value to the term. So, let’s be careful here. As you may have been able to tell, I don’t think much of Ayn Rand’s “philosophy”, but merely saying that she sold a bunch of juvenile drivel as a “philosophy” is to assume that’s what her goal was: to be a “serious philosopher”. I contend that wasn’t her goal.
Think about her. Her writing reflects, accurately, I think, a bitter dispossessed spoiled rich girl with a daddy complex. So, why was she a genius? She had the ability to recognize this and to make it work for her. Made it work for her in a couple of interesting ways. She got money, fame, sycophants, power, and revenge. Was she a genius as a philosopher? No, of course not. But, she wrote some simplistic books designed to feed on bookish (her format), hard working (length), members of the in-crowd (white males), who feel alienated (her “characters” are “great men who are taken advantage of by “lessers”). By using these books, she became the grand dame of a circle that came to worship and fuck her (not metaphorically, but actually and physically – check out her biography, pretty wild) and take over and destroy the world financial system.
I am not contending that the destruction of the financial system was her goal, I don’t think that she cared about the result of the adoption of her stories. No, I think that was the result of people actually taking her seriously and following her advice. Her goal, or result anyway, was to feed the ego of the white boys and get love, money, and fuck over the commies. I don’t think that she was able to view the result of the adoption of her stories by the financial “elite”. I could well be wrong. I may not be giving her enough credit. Maybe she knew that following the advice that her books gave would lead to destruction, maybe it was another final way that she could fuck over the men she used. I don’t really know enough about her to make that decisions, and I’m not interested enough to learn enough about her to get there. But, it is interesting to watch her greatest disciple and sycophant and fuck-buddy (literally) twisting in the wind in the ruins of the destruction that he wrought. What is hysterical (and what shows the amazing power of the mind not to accept what it doesn’t want to learn) is that the people who are designed to be made to feel better by her books are still unable to learn anything and are still “going Gault”.
By these books, she was able to attain her goals (revenge on the proletariat who took away her “right” to her daddy’s rich Russian existence, money, fame, accollates (see Alan Greenspan), and weird sex. Pretty fucking genius to recognize what would turn on disgruntled white boys who, while not super-geniuses (or at least not very self-aware), were smart enough to get ahead, and hard working enough as well and feed them some drivel and keep it going for generations.
She is sometimes compared to Tolkein because they both appealed to a similar group: somewhat alienated white male teens. But, Rand was much more of a genius. Tolkein merely updated, and told fairly well, the types of stories that have been popular with people for thousands of years. You can see homages to Beowulf and other stories throughout his stories as well as the basic battles with good and evil. Rand, though, appeals not to the near universal good/evil, hero ethos, but rather to a sense of entitlement and superiority that has rarely been tapped in such “popular” fora. Christ, they made Hollywood movies of her stuff within years of publication. It took half a century for Tolkein to really make it to the silver screen and Beowulf hasn’t (successfully) yet.
No, Ayn Rand was the result of the 20th century as well as one of it’s most important and destructive figures. Not bad for a nasty spoiled rich girl.