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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ayn gets Gored

"Ayn Rand’s “philosophy” is nearly perfect in its immorality, which makes the size of her audience all the more ominous and symptomatic as we enter a curious new phase in our society. . . . To justify and extol human greed and egotism is to my mind not only immoral, but evil."

— Gore Vidal
Comments:
Sure Ayn Rand's incomprehensible bullshit is evil. But does that make it incompatible with evangelical Christianity?

Jesus hates socialists. Cant you read the Bible?

Harry
 
Harry, I think you're being facetious. Right?
 
Im sorry, yes I was being facetious - a side effect of Britishness. Its just that I never get over irony of so many people who describe themselves as "christians" also being followers of that incoherent propagandist. Perhaps my problem is that I didnt understand that the phrase "Greed is good" is actually considered literally true by this particular brand of Christians.

Harry
 
Gore is not only wrong, he is spectacularly wrong. Rand is supremely moral in her writing and "philosophy" – to a fault. I’ll put her up against anyone from the era for stern morality and self-righteous.

Gore, Liberal-thumping his own brand of morals. Phffft. He’s half the man Ayn Rand was. :)

-ipso
 
In other words, ipso, you admire a woman who formed her entire philosophy to justify her infatuation with a serial killer.

"Evil, be thou my good."

Ayn was the, and I mean THE sickest human being ever to infect our bookstores.
 
Ipso. I dont have any patience for people who think Ayn Rand knows anything or said anything of value. Its all lies and propaganda which happens to suit to those who benefit from the status quo. If she had any point at all, it would be in the Soviet Union in the 1950s - but nowhere else. If it was my blog you would be welcome to debate it so I could explain why Rand is total bollox. But since it isnt my blog I will just suggest you read what Knut Wisksell said about the distributive properties of neoclassical economic models. Just to point you in the right direction he asked about the "assumed initial conditions".

Harry
 
Joseph wrote: “Ayn was the, and I mean THE sickest human being ever to infect our bookstores.”

You suffer from melodramatic overstatement than might even make Ayn Rand blush. I’m imagining a VERY small bookstore, that one of yours.

And Harry, you’re equally unconvincing weak sauce. Let me help you two out, as I’m a man of altruism. If you want a solid refutation of Atlas Shrugged, why not start at the beginning. Perhaps still the best critique (albeit a comma-hell.)

-ipso
 
"And Harry, you’re equally unconvincing weak sauce. Let me help you two out, as I’m a man of altruism. If you want a solid refutation of Atlas Shrugged, why not start at the beginning. Perhaps still the best critique (albeit a comma-hell.)"

So I have no idea what weak sauce is but never mind. I read the review you very kindly linked to. Im sure it was an excellent literary review of what anyone can see is a god aweful novel. But it isnt a novel really is it? Its a tract written up to justify unregulated capitalism, and villify any authorities intervention against a class of "creators" or "innovators". And it does so by hypothesising that there are do-ers and then there are looters. And the do-ers save everyone else with their doing, while looters merely free ride on their genius.

You could easily mistake this for an ethical message. But its pretty easy to demonstrate that it isnt. After all, who exactly defines the classes. Are farmers doers, or farm labourers? Is it buying land which makes you productive or inheriting it? If you invent an ipad, did you create all the "value" inherent in the invention or does some of it accrue to the 14 years olds working 14 hours a day in factories in China? What is value anyway?

In Soviet Russia, individuals who bought up goods in one place and sold them for a higher price somewhere else were called "speculati". When I worked briefly in Moscow, people asked me what I did, and I described myself as a "speculator". Big mistake - cos in russia the term is loaded with negative connations involving exploiting other peoples productive efforts for personal gain in a way which is socially damaging. I guess the point I was trying to make badly is that its pretty clear that this book has been (and still is) influential in justifying (for a lot of people) extremely socially damaging behaviours. The argument justifying them is simplistic and clearly incorrect. And yet it has managed to persuade a huge number of people that "greed is good".

So my question is when you say "Gore is not only wrong, he is spectacularly wrong. Rand is supremely moral in her writing and "philosophy" – to a fault. I’ll put her up against anyone from the era for stern morality and self-righteous."

How did you come to this conclusion?

Harry
 
Harry wrote: How did you come to this conclusion?
Re: ipso wrote "Gore is not only wrong, he is spectacularly wrong. Rand is supremely moral in her writing and "philosophy" – to a fault. I’ll put her up against anyone from the era for stern morality and self-righteous."

”moral” defined
1. of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical: moral attitudes.
2. expressing or conveying truths or counsel as to right conduct, as a speaker or a literary work; moralizing: a moral novel.
3. founded on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom: moral obligations.
4. capable of conforming to the rules of right conduct: a moral being.
5. conforming to the rules of right conduct ( opposed to immoral): a moral man.



Rand, to a T.

My overall post implying Vidal’s morals are equally suspect.

The “half the man” joke… Come on, that was funny. It was purposefully disparaging to a “manly” Ayn Rand. (and yes, serving as double entendre for Gore Vidal being a homosexual.) You people have no sense of humor (much like Rand herself.) ..Pearls before swine. :)


-ipso
 
Ipso,

So first of all you are absolutely right. Humourless. Apologies. I did spot the joke but I really hate Ayn Rand and her odious ideas. They are spread far and wide across this country and every selfish asshole in finance uses her as arguments as proof that he is paying his cleaner and nanny more than they deserve. Sherman McCoy could have refered to her in Bonfire to justify his pay. For some reason all of accountants and lawyers think they would be welcome in Gault's Gulch. Me personally, they remind me of the telephone santisers from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Gallaxy.

But back to the subject. So if I understand you correctly, you are saying that Rand's writing addressed moral themes and made explicit and implict statements about morality so the writing should be described as moral?

When I said her writings were immoral I meant that her understanding of morality was unreasonable and perverse. Under her system of morality the poor would starve, might is right, greed is good etc. She may have thought she was writing something which pertained to ethics, but I think thats true of Hitler too. By the same argument one could describe Meine Kampf as "moral" since it pertains to the moral rights and struggles of Hitler and the German people. Ironically it is also odious claptrap, much like Atlas Shrugged.

The way I see it, if something doesnt accord with the Sermon on the Mount then I start questioning the chances of it being "moral". Just so I dont sound like some kind of Christian bigot, I could easily make the same point of Rabbi Hillel. Of course, in neither case does it prove "morality", but for me its a always gonna make me question. For me personally Im just not convinced by the argument that selfishness is social responsibility or greed is good, or you have to be cruel to be kind.

I am just a bit of a freak these days about Ayn Rand. I think its cos she he held in such high esteem here. For me its obvious that she was just an ignorant propogandist. But there are a bunch of people who think she was a quasi-philosphical figure.
 
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