Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Paul Zummo ( Crankycon ) has written a good review of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged :

The atheism is only a small part of the issue with objectivism. Galt (and thus Rand’s) objection to the concept of original sin is naive, but even absent this aspect of objectivism, it remains a dehumanizing and abhorrent moral philosophy. Rand detests totalitarianism, it is true, but other writers have written better and less repugnant works in defense of capitalism and against totalitarianism. If libertarians and conservatives wish to seek out inspirational works on the topic, they are better off with the likes of George Orwell, C.S. Lewis, Thomas Sowell, Wilhelm Roepke, F.A. Hayek and countless others.

The fundamental problem is that Rand is as naive about human nature as the socialist utopians. After all, a utopian is a utopian, whether they are Marxian or Randian utopians. Therefore the rejection of the concept of original sin is something of a problem because it blinds Rand to the idea that human beings cannot simply shut off their passionate desires . . . . [ More ]

Speaking of Rand, here also is Maclin Horton ( Light on Dark Water ) with “Ayn Rand, Crank” :
Several hundred pages into the book I noted to myself that it contained no love, no children, and no humor. It did eventually bring in a notion of love, a rather strange and constricted sort of love which is more accurately called admiration: the producers love the work of their hands, and they get involved with each other romantically, but even their romances have a weird ideological charge, being defined as an exchange of value. And two perfect (in Randian terms) children do appear briefly in the capitalist utopia, the offspring of two perfect producers. But I never saw any humor whatsoever—no intentional humor, anyway, although some things struck me as unintentionally funny, such as the constant application of adjectives like “lean,” “hard,” “superlative,” and “incomparable” to the heroes and the heroine . . . .
Humorlessness is one of the characteristics of a crank, and judging by Atlas Shrugged a crank is what Ayn Rand was: not stupid, but narrow and shrill; not entirely wrong, but fixated on one inadequate idea which she thinks can explain everything; hostile to and uncomprehending of any disagreement. Believing that she has absorbed all philosophy and religion and that almost all of it is nonsense, she only demonstrates how little she really understood. And like everyone who denies that there is something fundamentally and inherently amiss in the human condition, something that no mere idea or program can remedy, she ends up as one more proof of the truth she denies.

Nothing like a dissenting review of Ayn Rand to bring the disciples of Objectivism swarming to her zealous defense. Maclin’s initial review brought him a whopping 100+ comments. His follow-up to indicate what Ayn Rand got right , 230+ comments. I anticipate a similar reaction to Paul Zummo’s piece before the day is through. (I would do the same here in a bid for readership, but alas—I never finished the book).

Comments are visible to subscribers only. Log in or subscribe to join the conversation.



Filter First Thoughts Posts

Related Articles