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Whenever I mention Ayn Rand in a blog post, I hear from people who want to understand what my issue is. Here are some of my thoughts on this: Rand wrote a ton of books, and styled herself as a philosopher.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t very good at it:
I actually enjoyed the novels as a teenager… they had some fascinating ideas, exposed through plot more than atmosphere or characterization.
The problem with her novels (other than the misanthropy and overwriting) is that many people who read them walk away believing that in fact, Howard Roark and the rest are superior in many ways and all we need to do is get out of their way and the whole thing will sort itself out. While it might not be that Rand wanted government to go away (she happily cashed social security checks, etc.) it is often a characterization of her work to say that ‘greed is good.
‘Which leads to Milton Friedman and his nutty idea about profits.
I hope my post encouraged people to take a deeper dive into what’s being done in the name of greed. If you want to experience a world with limited government, it’s not hard to find. Somalia is a fine place to start–but I would miss paved roads, civil interactions, no bribery, a concept of equal opportunity etc…Hope that helps explain my point.
And some quotations that some might have decided were instructions (I hope not, but it happens):
The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing.*
If you tell a beautiful woman that she is beautiful, what have you given her? It’s no more than a fact and it has cost you nothing. But if you tell an ugly woman that she is beautiful, you offer her the great homage of corrupting the concept of beauty. To love a woman for her virtues is meaningless. She’s earned it, it’s a payment, not a gift. But to love her for her vices is a real gift, unearned and undeserved. To love her for her vices is to defile all virtue for her sake – and that is a real tribute of love, because you sacrifice your conscience, your reason, your integrity and your invaluable self-esteem.
Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to become the means by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of other men.
*Either this leads you down a semantic rabbit hole, in which you define heroism, running into a burning building, donating a kidney, giving to those in need as mere symptoms of self-love (which makes it sort of meaningless, but at least benign), or you take this sentence the way many do, which is that greed is good. I for one am alive today simply because of the self-sacrifices of those that came before me. Aren’t you?