The Ayn Rand Effect

by Sociology is a Science


Ayn Rand was a brilliant Russian writer, satirist and political commentator.

She was sickeningly smart, oftentimes simply dominating interviews and, almost of necessity, turning them into informing, intriguing lectures.

Youtube her for chrissakes, it’s really something.

Smart Lady.

Sociologically dense as a lead brick, however. Dumber than a Catholic priest applying for a coaching job at Penn State. She was sociologically retarded, but I’ll get there in a second.

Her otherwise brilliant wit and reason has captivated political conservatives in our country.  To followers, her message is one of liberation and of freedom.

Ayn Rand’s philosophy is misanthropic. It states that altruism is evil because you are entitled to the fruits of your labors and abilities; anyone who would suck them from you (for whatever need or personal weakness) takes your life from you.

Humans have one absolute reason for life — to live. We are to grow, to create and to foster others to do the same.

Weakness is to be punished or eradicated. Weakness and lack of success may be the result of lack of effort or lack of ability — either way, no good.

Weakness is non-adaptive and weakness definitely isn’t to be rewarded or subsidized with help from the strong willed and (economically) successful.

Getting the idea?

Ayn Rand speaks to the men and women who have had enough of peoples’ GODDAMN constant fucking demands and crises and cries for help. Ayn Rand speaks to people who have found themselves needing to turn down the noise in their lives, people who’ve had to ditch the deadbeat lover, the abusive mother, or the cruel best friend.

Ayn Rand speaks to those of us who have been smart and self-aware enough to watch ourselves get hurt and remember the pain vividly and continuously. This is the mark of an active brain, a high need-for-cognition even.

But this is a brain focusing on interpersonal pain. Interpersonal anger, pain and regret are not the best emotional lenses through which to analyze social policy.

So, of course, the Ayn Randers of the world think that taxing the wealthy (the “strong and successful”) is obviously immoral, as their very success helps all of us. It sets an example, and the wealthy produce more wealth and new products. Why take their money, their livelihood, the very fruits of their creativity and adaptiveness?

Why hurt or punish those doing so economically well, those resisting temptation and outworking the rest of us?

The biggest problem is that Ayn Randers tend to forget that people in our lives hurt us for all kinds of reasons. Some were vindictive and seemed to enjoy being mean. Others were clearly abused by others and helpless to notice their attacks. Others were peer-pressured into saying or doing things they probably otherwise would not have done.

On a demographic, or macro-social, scale, the same is true of populations of people. Some populations of people are just angry and vindictive (KKK, for example), other populations of people have been clearly abused by others and are largely helpless to notice their source of their needs (in the US, African Americans and Hispanics and Persians and Arabs; in Ireland Protestants and Arabs; in Iran and Saudi Arabia… uh…all women), and so on.

Ayn Randers have to understand that some populations of people, just like some individuals, can be totally fucked from the beginning through no fault of their own…

The corollary to horribly abusive parents and bad genes (individual level of analysis), is systematic institutional (hiring/wage/promotion gaps at all levels of occupational prestige) and cultural racism (disproportionate demographic concentration in low-resource communities), which constitutes a population level of analysis.

So some people just got (and get) fucked; so also do some populations of people.

Following the Ayn Randers, in life everyone gets a fair shot and ingenuity, creativity and willpower decides who wins.

In reality a lot of individuals just didn’t get a fair shot, but we have to remember that oftentimes this is so because individuals exist within populations. So…on that point…the “SUCCESSFUL” aren’t necessarily the most successful…some of them are, no doubt.

But others may have just had the dice thrown with a little a bit more luck where their demographic counterpart, in another neighborhood, in another skin color, in another family with another history, got unlucky.

Ayn Rand’s edifice falls apart if we understand that many social dynamics that occur on individuals also occur on populations.

That is, primate groups act similarly to primate individuals, lest we forget that I’m talking about dirty stinky apes.

Ah, humans. So the conservatives bone up with this Ayn Randism. Paul Ryan, Romney’s VP pick, was a loyal follower of the Cult of Rand. He required his interns in Washington to read her philosophy.

The whole don’t tax the rich idea rests on the notion that we all get a fair shot to do well from the beginning. Well we don’t.

And let me make it very fucking clear that many white kids, whose parents were either too abused, too high, or too far economically disadvantaged also don’t get a fair shot. We just don’t ever realize this because everyone today seems to assume that “whiteness” presupposes some automatic and intense privilege. Sorry, but even more than skin color, economic resources really matter; in many of life’s crises, money talks in a way skin doesn’t.

To summarize, then:

If Herman Cain and Bill Cosby had one too many appletini’s during a solitary “political evening” together, and bequeathed a child to the world, this child would be Ayn Rand. Though, I imagine, vastly more humorous and considerably less frail and barren.

Enough said, I think.


* If you think I mis-characterized Rand, say so goddamnit!