From slacktivist and the Joys of Procrastination comes an article, "Concern over Republican Embrace of Ayn Rand Poison.
I initially clicked through because the quoted introduction made me laugh:Some say that maybe it is a bad idea to base a political party's ideology on a belief that altruism, democracy and Christianity are "evil." Others say that maybe it is a bad idea to base a country's policies on fictional novels rather than science and history. Still others say is it a bad idea for national leaders to think of most of the public as "parasites" while saying people with tons of cash are "producers" who should govern. I am talking about the Republican Party's embrace of Ayn Rand and her cruel philosophy.
OK, I admit it made me laugh not least because I mentally read the first sentence in Jeremy Clarkson's voice as he introduces The Stig, and it kind of went from there.
The article itself is quite interesting. The main bit that amused me though was:Clarence Thomas requires his law clerks to watch The Fountainhead.
Surely this has got to be a breach of human rights, specifically the Right to Freedom from Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UDHR article 5)??? I borrowed a copy of the book from the American husband of a friend of mine - I'd never heard of Ayn Rand until last year (she's not well known here) and so I was curious as to what her books were like. OK, I've been stuck about a third of the way in for... 3 months now, and all I can say is that this one at least is bloody awful. The lead character is boring while simultaneously managing to be an overly pompous and self-deluded early 20s idiot. Oh sorry, "genius". No one else has had much if any character development. The women are interchangeable cardboard cut-outs of a doormat. I do not see how this managed to get published, let alone sell. For a book that focuses almost entirely on architecture, she also doesn't seem to know very much about architecture. Or business models. Or anything, really. It's not even entertainingly bad, like Dan Brown or Matthew Reilly. It's just excruciatingly and frustratingly bad. (I keep wanting to argue with (and/or slap) the (possibly anti-) "hero" and the author about architecture, for starters.)
I read a blog entry by a woman whose father was obsessed with Rand, and who was a passionate Rand follower during her teens. She described the lead character as an attractive and dreamy hero. Which is one reason why teenagers should probably not be allowed to marry, they don't have enough experience in recognising delusional arseholes. Although I'm sort of impressed she made it through the book because really? I don't think I'm going to. I did read the Martha Washington comic based in part on Atlas Shrugged
- which was... interesting. Still don't get the attraction of the philosophy, although I can see why Washington and the other guy that was kidnapped/rescued by the Randian cultists would. From being in a hellhole of a war they were suddenly dropped into a peaceful, safe life. Like asylum seekers, in fact. I did wonder how long it would take for Washington to realise that by adopting this elitist philosophy she was effectively joining in condemning all the people outside of the exclusive hideyhole - including her family, friends and others who just had the misfortune to be born on the outside and not be noticed. (I have to admit the bit with the robots was just freaking stupid though - I spent a lot of time laughing at that part, while simultaneously wondering what the hell Miller was on when he wrote it.) I give Washington credit for being a lot smarter than they seemed to think, and kept wondering if Miller was actually going for something subversive regarding Western civilisation and our attitudes to anything outside of our doorstep, or even the marginalised within our doorstep... but no, he appeared to have drunk the KoolAid and be sticking with the mythology. Pity. It'd be interesting to see where other authors took it.
The effect of Rand's philosophy on modern US politics is worrying, particularly as she seems to have based at least part of it on admiration of a serial killer (as you do). Hickman had "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people.'"
Yeah, that's what you want in a politician. Someone with a complete lack of empathy holding power. Or, you know, not. I'm fairly certain Stalin would have fit her definition of a Superman too, and look how that turned out.
It is making me wonder how many movers and shakers in both the ALP and Liberal parties are influenced by her though, particularly considering the current bullshit over asylum seekers. I know some of that is Abbott trying to establish himself as the alternate prime minister (which seriously Tony? STFU and get over it) by destabilising the government as much as possible, but the rest seems to be coming from within the ALP and Liberal parties, and I find it concerning. If they're willing to ignore treaties that we've signed up to and actually implemented, why on earth would they be willing to uphold the human rights of their constituents if they don't think it serves their purpose?
I don't necessarily agree that it's a bad thing that a politician refused to accept a Bible (or a Koran or a copy of any other religious text - although I can certainly see how it could be considered rude, depending on context). But I do think it's concerning the way that some elements of Australian and US politics are going, which appears to be more and more towards the interests of a very small number of people and against the interests of the rest.
On the other hand, Rand did leave Russia post-Revolution - and there's always that option. Wealthy elites may think they're immune from violence in their country dachas, but mobs with pitchforks have a way of taking over.