Ayn Rand And The Sociopathic Society

Author: March 24, 2013 6:30 pm

Is Ayn Rand and her philosophy really responsible for the state of our country? A fat, smug bastard friend of mine (that’s his chosen nickname, The FSB) pointed out to me some time ago that pretty much ALL conservative politics are selfish at their core. Take any conservative position on a social or economic issue and boil away all the rhetoric and what you are left with is “I got mine, screw you.”

I thought about that for a while. I suppose its simplicity struck me as being a little too easy, a little too sound bitey. So I sat down and made a list of conservative ideas and what they really mean:

  • No gay marriage – Homosexuality makes me uncomfortable (due to misguided religious influence or poor upbringing or both). Gay people should be punished because of my beliefs. Stoopid homos…
  • No welfare, food stamps or Medicaid – I’m not poor enough to qualify for these programs so my tax dollars shouldn’t pay for it. Stoopid poor people and by poor I really mean black…
  • No health care reform – Why should I help pay for other people who are sick when I’m not? Stoopid sick people…
  • No environmental protection – Environmental laws makes things more expensive for me and that’s bad. I also don’t understand the concept of long term impact. I want cheap gas and gadgets now! Stoopid…ah, you get the idea…
  • Don’t raise my taxes – EVER. The government can find its own money to pay for stuff I want.
  • Medicare – Young conservatives: Why should I help pay for old people and the disabled?  Older conservatives: Keep your government hands off my Medicare!
  • Social Security – Young conservatives: Sacrifices need to be made, people should take care of themselves, not depend on handouts from people like me. Older conservatives: Sacrifices need to be made BUT DON’T YOU TOUCH MY SOCIAL SECURITY!
  • No abortion – The government should tell women what to do with their bodies because I don’t like abortion.
  • No prayer in school? – GOVERNMENT OVERREACH!! I like The Jesus™ so everyone should have to listen to my prayers. No Muslim prayers, though. That’s indoctrination.

This list goes on for some time. The more I thought about it, the more obvious it became: A conservative society is a borderline sociopathic society.

Dictionary.com defines a sociopath as: a person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

Conservapedia says a sociopath is “someone with a personality disorder characterized by an antisocial behavior and an absence of moral responsibility or social conscience.” (I would have cited Wikipedia but we all know they’re a liberal front for George Soros, I think I heard that on Glenn Beck)

The key words here are “moral responsibility” and “social conscience.” Conservative politics lack these essential characteristics. In their place we find greed, hate, lies, an inability to empathize and an overblown sense of entitlement and self importance. In other words: all the indicators of a seriously disturbed person. Except it’s a political philosophy and it has millions of disciples.

But Justin, you filthy liberal scum, how can you say that?

Well, that’s kind of easy. Who is the guiding light of conservatives and Libertarians? All the way from corrupt CEOs down to easily manipulated Tea Party fanatics? Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand: Sociopath

Ayn Rand’s specific worldview was that “The pursuit of his (man’s) own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.” This is in direct opposition to a functional humane society where the whole must be cohesive in order to provide for its weakest and most vulnerable. You’ll notice my inclusion of the word “humane.” You can have a perfectly functional society without a shred of humanity in it. Take, for example, the Industrial Age societies. They literally built the foundations for the world we know. Yet, they allowed or even encouraged child labor, essentially the slavery of children. Speaking of slavery, they had THAT, too. No matter what Haley Barbour, Pat Buchanan and the other apologists revisionists would have you think, it was horrible and inhumane.

Ayn Rand’s ideal world is one where society has no say in your actions short of you physically assaulting another person: “The only function of the government, in such a society, is the task of protecting man’s rights, i.e., the task of protecting him from physical force.” One is forced to wonder what she would make of Wall Street’s Epic Fail. Ayn Rand was a big champion of no regulation at all. Close your eyes and imagine what Wall Street could do with even less regulation than it had before. Think of all the possibilities. Taste the freedom.

Are you done vomiting yet? Did it taste like Ayn Rand’s cigarettes?

Do you know why Ayn Rand’s laissez-faire utopia would fail? It’s the exact same reason a socialist utopia would fail: people are imperfect. We are greedy, envious, petty and selfish. There will always be some among us who will better themselves specifically to the detriment of others because they simply don’t care. There will always be those who, as they gain power and wealth, will want more at any expense. We saw this in action in communist Russia. It was rife with the kind of corruption described so very well in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Everyone was equal, but some were more equal than others. Why Ayn Rand didn’t notice this tendency is a question for the ages.

We are now seeing the fruit of Ayn Rand’s poison tree today in that bastion of capitalism: America and its budding Oligarchy. As wealth and power becomes ever more concentrated, the rest of us suffer. There have been many attempts to remedy the situation by imposing restrictions on the rich and powerful to keep them from fleecing the country. This is always met with howls of class warfare, Socialism and government overreach. Any attempts to remove even one of the sweetheart deals in place allowing those same rich and powerful anti-government types to pay less taxes (or no taxes at all) are also met with howls of “unfair treatment.”

Now that’s what I call the rich having their cake and eating it, too. And my cake. And yours. And his and hers and that guy over there. Hell, they’re eating all our cake and complaining that we took some of the crumbs! Ayn Rand would approve.

These people are sociopaths, pure and simple. As long as they get what they “deserve,” it doesn’t matter what happens to anyone else. Homeless families are not their problem. Malnourished children are not their problem. Uninsured sick people are not their problem. The elderly reduced to abject poverty (as they were before the advent of Social Security) are not their problem. Ayn Rand certainly didn’t give a damn.

Ayn Rand and her delusional rantings provide a rationalization for this immoral behavior. After the Enron scandal and again after the crash in 2008, CEOs started to reread Atlas Shrugged: “CEOs put the book down knowing in their hearts that they are not the greedy crooks they are portrayed to be in today’s business headlines but are heroes like the characters in Rand’s novel.”

Heroes? Really? Is that so?

I would love to walk a group of Wall Street executives out to a Tea Party rally. I would have them explain to the crowd all the ways these “heroes” have stolen away the TPers money and future. Then announce that it’s OK because Ayn Rand says self interest and greed are good so whatever these “heroes” do in pursuit of that goal is morally just, even necessary. I figure the cognitive dissonance would make at least half of the crowd’s heads explode.

Mahatma Ghandi said a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. By this very simple criterion, the conservative sociopathic society of Ayn Rand’s dreams would be found wanting. But still the conservative movement claims to be the party of God, family and human decency. It is none of these things as we’ll examine in my next liberal descent into madness, “Republican Jesus.

Writer’s note: This article has been slightly modified from its original format to better match SEO standards.


facebook comments:


  • n0b0dy100: You seem to be an educated individual. You surely know the fallacy of your claim of corporate influence in government. I can vote for my representatives in government (even though the process is faulty), while I have no say at all about the people who lead corporations. Yes, our government was once very much a libertarian nation with limited government, to the detriment of many of its citizens. That worked well for farmers of white European ancestry. It was a disaster for those of African and Native American descent. A Jeffersonian democracy was fine for whites while our country was primarily agrarian. Jefferson (a big hypocrite on slavery) could never have foreseen the consequences of the industrial age. Progressives and Liberals have been struggling for 260 years to correct the evils that came with limited government and the industrial age: slavery; child labor; sweat-shops; unsafe work places; monopolies, women’s servitude, the lack of the right to vote and own property; destruction of the environment and global warming; monopolies; civil rights; the right of a woman to control her own body; the list of evils goes on and on. The fight continues. It is not government that poisoned water supplies, polluted the air, forced people to work for subsistence wages, exploited the labor of immigrants and minorities, destroyed the middle class – corporations did that. We won many of those battles with blood, sweat and tears. Today, conservatives and libertarians (such as the Koch-roach brothers) are attempting to take us back to those days when businesses could do as they damn well pleased. Government isn’t to blame for that – Libertarians and Conservatives are. The federal government is the only entity powerful enough to counter the evils of corporate America and the freedom of those who wish to abuse the rights of minorities, the poor and the middle class.

    Libertarians talk a good talk about liberty from intrusive government in such things as the war on drugs, laws against all sorts of non-violent behavior between consenting adults, the right of women to choose abortion and birth control, making criminals of people because of their sexual orientation, etc. However, I hear a deafening silence from so-called Libertarians when Liberals and Progressives protest such things. If Libertarians really believe what they preach, why does America have one of the largest prison populations in the world?

    I know, you are going to say, “that’s the fault of government.” No, that is the fault of ignorant voters. Besides, the government entities most responsible for intruding on civil liberties are state and local governments. It is only the federal government that can protect the rights of its citizens when local politicians and legislatures abuse them. Where are Libertarians when people like Sheriff Arpaio of AZ locks up people because of their nationality, minor drug users, juvenile offenders, etc? All I hear from so-called Libertarians (in AZ and Texas at least) is silence. Actions speak louder than words.

    • Why is Sheriff Arpaio enforcing those laws? Because of the federal war on drugs and our national immigration policy. Particularly in the last 15 years we’ve seen the Patriot Act (warrantless searches), NDAA 2012( indefinite military detention), drone assassinations without due process in addition to eminent domain laws (seizing private property) and of course you could always be called into involuntary servitude by a military draft. Just who is looking out for your civil liberties? Corporations could never impose that level of tyranny, and why would they? They need to create products and services customers will voluntarily buy. Government simply imposes its will by force and your only recourse is the stupid voters. When has any of these laws been repealed?

      I’m sorry libertarians haven’t been more vocal, but we are in the political minority and its a struggle sometimes to be heard.

      It’s easy to point to any era in history and call attention to their lack of modern freedoms. While libertarians support free market principles as they’ve lead to our affluent lifestyle, no one wishes to reinstate child labor in this country or any other cruel 19th century practices. We don’t want big monopolies either, we want competition in the market.

  • Mr. n0b0dy100: I am happy that Libertarians (you at least) reject Rand as a perversion. There certainly is nothing wrong with your idea of “non-aggression.” Here is the problem as I see it. Libertarianism is a Utopian idea just as Marxism is. Utopian ideas just do not work in the real world. As to corporatism vs. capitalism, unfortunately libertarian ideas in practice will ultimately lead to corporate control (rather than “government” control) of every aspect of our lives. You can see the effects of that even today. You mention Bill Gates, but what about the Koch-roach brothers? And, many others like them. They are the spokespeople who are demonstrating the “Libertarian” idea in practice – not Bill Gates.

    I suggest you find a country that embraces your idea of libertarian government (or lack of), establish the type of (democratic) government or economic system you preach about. Let’s see how long it lasts. I believe that you would have to eliminate democracy because people vote for government to protect them from harm, from dangerous practices of all types of businesses, from abject poverty, etc. What I will resist with all my mind and body is for Libertarians to experiment with our democracy because they are deluded by a Utopian idea.

    I think Adam Smith in Wealth of Nations believed that uncontrolled capitalism would ultimately lead to nothing but a few large monopolies. It looks like we are well on our way. And Libertarians seem to be at the head of the parade.

    • Relative to other countries at time, the U.S. was once among the most libertarian countries. We’ve made some good progress making it more free for women/minorities, but while you guys see corporations taking over every aspect of our lives we see government doing it. I don’t understand how you guys trust the state to look out for you when they are constantly lobbied by the corporations you say you hate. It’s government that often enables corporations to run your lives with little regard for the economic consquences.

  • Wow! I can’t believe how many Libertarians this article upset. Good for AI. Libertarians can argue all day about Rand’s real beliefs about treating others ethically, but their record speaks volumes about how the wealthy and greedy actually practice Libertarianism. Like Marx, maybe she had a few good ideas but in practice, “Objectivism” is as much a failure in practice as Communism. What disturbs me is that many young people are accepting Rand as a economic philosopher. She was simply a Hollywood screen writer and dubious author. Wake up youngsters.

    • As much a failure as communism? Tens of millions were killed under communism, how many has objectivism killed? Anyway, Rand copied her free market ideas from economist like Mises and Hayek.

      • You must know that I am speaking of a system of government. Libertarians have not (yet) been able to establish a Libertarian government where government is limited to national defense (a tenet of libertarianish as proclaimed by people like Ron Paul). Where is your social safety net? A truly libertarian government would ultimately be responsible for the deaths of millions. Maybe not (or maybe so) directly by government agents, but responsible nether the less. Your philosophy works for the rich, but it does not work for the middle class or the poor.

        • There are differing degrees of libertarianism. Some like Rand and Rothbard were on the extreme end and wanted to privatize everything. I’m more in line with Milton Friedman and Frederich Hayek who agreed there should be some social safety net in very limited government. Not everyone hangs on Rands every word and she’s not the most important thinker in libertarianism.

  • A few points from a libertian point of view:
    1) Murray Rothbard is generally regarded as the father of modern libertianism, not Rand. “Ayn takes the Aristotelian rationalist tradition, and goes off on her own variant which I am convinced is a horrible perversion of a sound system.” – Rothbard
    2) Any political philosophy whose cornerstone is called The Non-Aggression Principle, I would hardly call sociopathic.
    3) The second to last paragraph implies that CEOs are stealing our money through their “rational self interest”. Yet, are any of us poor because Bill Gates is a billionaire? Of course not. If anything we are better off because his products have made us more productive workers with a higher earning potential. His company created thousands of jobs for middle class workers and his profits enabled him to donate millions to charity.
    There is a big difference between corportism and capitalism, and its free market capitalism that has lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system in history. So please stop whining about rich corporations because they can only take as much money from you as you’re willing to pay them.

  • galacticpresident

    I agree with the article in general … except that I do not think it is fundamental human nature to be greedy selfish etc … I think this is a perversion of our human nature as a result of circumstances & conditioning … and the reason I say that, is because IF it were true that such behavioural characteristics were the basis of human nature, then one would not be able to escape it, and we would all demonstrate these traits.

    For example:
    – Many people who are otherwise selfish, are only selfish with respect to those who are external to their family & other loved ones … hence, in this case, it is a choice of behaviour rather than an innate characteristic.

    – Some people whom have behaved selfishly in certain circumstances, have changed their behaviour after learning that what they feared was not actually the case … again, proving that it was a choice (or reaction), not a characteristic.

    – Historically, if we go back to the very early days of our species … we can see that some selfish behaviour would have been a survival trait in the respect that resources may have been scarce (in the respect they were difficult to come by & there was competition from other animals, as well as danger from predators) … but then later in our evolution, as we developed technologies & knowledge & life became easier, we adapted & developed other traits. These other traits of compassion care & concern were already present within our families, and we can even see their expression in nature when an individual of one species has anything from a cooperative symbiotic relationship with a creature, all the way through to physically rescuing another creature in distress (as we have seen with dolphins rescuing humans, and humans rescuing many other animals).

    … so the point of all this being, I do not think it is human nature to be selfish to the point of narcissism … what we are seeing, and I think the article agrees with this, is the expression of selfish tendencies born out by a situation which promotes competition. Our economic system promotes competition, our political system promotes competition … and small minded people who cannot think past some really basic assumptions are incapable of seeing alternatives that actually provide a better result – hence, when they see the works of idiots like Ayn Rand, they actually think it is brilliant stuff, because it allows them not to have to think or feel bad about themselves … so yes SOME people are selfish, but it is not per-se “human nature” until everyone has it, all the time, & it is inescapable (unless of course as I stated earlier, some of us are becoming a new species, one capable of moving past all this tribal reactionary nonsense).

  • Neo-Conservative = Neo-Christian.

  • I’m probably flogging a dead horse, here, but hopefully someone who thinks Ayn Rand is a prophet from God will read this and be enlightened. . .

    Ayn Rand’s work, to me, boils down to what I have called The Santa Claus Doctrine ever since I saw the ultimate Ron Cobb “Republican” cartoon. It featured a young white boy pulling a wagon full of toys talking to a young black boy who is sitting on the ground with an empty can and a spoon in front of him. The young white boy says, “If you’ve got something, it’s because you’re good. If you’ve got nothing, it’s because you’re bad. . . Ask Santa Claus.”

    This has been the conservative view for decades, and is as deluded as it is pervasive. Now, however, it is threatening to become government policy, and that is something that no one in America can afford, including the wealthy. The poor in America, liberal and conservative alike, are now seeing the fruition of this poisonous belief, but the conservative poor still believe that their big bag of money is just around the corner, and once they get that they’ll be rich too. This belief is played upon, and preyed upon, by the wealthy who now own monopolistic blocks of media services, manufacturing, energy services and agribusiness.

    These manipulative Robber Barons have been so successful in pushing their propaganda that now middle class and poor conservatives are frothing at the mouth in outrage that someone, somewhere, might want to dip into THEIR pockets and redistribute THEIR money to people just like them. . .

    What people like Euronymous, Tornado, anthonylee, Bonnie Austin and many of the others who posted their opinions about Ayn Rand and this article apparently don’t understand (and won’t believe no matter how much proof I post–I’ve dealt with conservatives before) is that there is already a class of person in America who is industriously (pun intended) picking their pockets on a regular basis. There are already thousands of people taking money from these concerned individuals, with the collusion of the best government Big Money can buy, every single day–but Eronymous not only doesn’t mind when these thousands do it, he actually idolizes them for it and defends their right to do so vociferously!

    I am referring, Eronymous and all you myriad other demented, misguided or just plain willfully ignorant individuals, to the Robber Barons who take your tax monies as subsidies to their companies, even though those same companies did not pay a dime in taxes themselves. I’m talking about the Robber Barons who get REFUNDS in spite of never paying a red cent in tax, and who laugh about it and pay bigger and bigger bribes to your politicians to make MORE crooked laws, so they can steal even more from you! I’m talking about the Catholic Church, which gets more handouts from the government every year than every single poor conservative put together will see in their lifetimes–and more than all the middle-class conservatives put together will ever earn as well. I’m talking about companies who deliberately, artificially inflate the prices of their goods to take even more money out of the pockets of the poor and middle class, while bribing politicians to make certain that no-one can compete with their overpriced products.

    Where’s your outrage at THAT redistribution of wealth, Euronymous? Still think it’s okay that the Koch brothers eat caviar on Belgian crackers and drink rare champagne and brandy bought by the money they steal from you? Still eager to help them destroy the EPA, so there’s no one to complain the next time they dump 20,000 gallons of used benzene or toluene in the nearest river? After all, it’s cheaper to get rid of that way, and they don’t care that your house might be downstream. . .

    To all of you who are decrying what you call Socialism, I have an answer that you should all love. Sell your house, your land, and your goods to a liberal, then move to Mogadishu and set up shop there. It’s exactly the kind of government you all say you want, and you can laugh while the liberals, who would be the only group left in America at that point, drag the country down into the depths of hell. Or whatever.

    Democratic socialism built the infrastructure of this country, and we liberal socialists don’t want you to have to rip up all the roads, tear down all the factories, and burn all the books in the socialist libraries. It would be much easier for you to move to Somalia (where Mogadishu is, for you conservatives who are geographically challenged as well) and glory in a land of pure Objectivism, where everyone carries an assault rifle and you’ll get to fight for your right to exploit everyone else as you see fit.

    Or you can grow up, catch a hint and pretend to be the adults all those years haven’t quite yet managed to turn you into. Start actually LEARNING what those buzzwords you’ve been throwing around mean, and stop being the Fascist sheeple Faux News has done all it can to turn you into.

    Not that I believe that will ever happen–but statistically the odds say that, after twenty years of trying to enlighten conservatives, sometime soon I’ve just got to find ONE that will actually look at proof and go, “Well, gee, nobody ever told me this before.”

    And then will start to think.

    But I’m not holding my breath waiting for it to happen that way.

  • A long time ago a friend gave me a copy of “The Fountainhead” – I waded through about a fourth of it & finally gave up in disgust & pitched it (I think that’s the only book I’ve treated that way). Despised the main characters & their philosophy of life. Obviously I’m in the “we’re all in this together – if we cooperate, we can all do well” camp. Must be my Celtic ancestry.

    • galacticpresident

      I had the same reaction to Atlas Shrugged … someone told me it was good, so I picked it up … and it didn’t take long for me to lose respect for that person who said it was good

  • Ayn Rand promoted indivualism and hated collectivism and that in my opinion is makes her a great person.


    • Its my life’s mission to promote “free man atheism”

    • There is a big gap between individualism and collectivism were people can exist. The idea that anyone can do as they please is OK as long as what they do does not cause anyone so much pain and suffering that they have not choice but to stop them.

  • The main problems with conservativism are:
    1) It is cruel and wicked
    2) It is authoritian and anti democratic
    3) It does not work both economically and socially
    4) It is static for it does not believe in progress. you are forever doomed to live in the world of the past. As othe nations become richer and more powerful the conservative nation will stay the same and become weaker and poorer in relationship to the rest of the world.

  • Spoken like a true Marxist. Modern liberalism is nothing more than government worship. When you say “society” what you are really saying is government. People and corporations use the government to steal from the population. The people and corporations that use the government to steal are the greedy ones. The so called conservatives simply do not want the fruits of their they efforts stolen from them. There is no moral foundation in stealing.

    Bear in mind that the US government puts more people in jail per capita than any other government on the planet. It is the US government that tells you what kind of health care you can have, and they love to give you deadly drugs. Every pharma ad lists a host of side effects that is worse than the decease itself. It is the government that shuts down family and organic farms. They have taken your rights to feed yourself as you please. The US government is the biggest consumer of oil and energy in general. The US government is the biggest polluter on the planet. Hate to tell you but the government is immune to ecological regulations. Lastly, they US government is a paranoid war monger. The send our kids to fight unjust wars. They return damaged physically and mentally, not to mention the millions of indigenous people the US military kills.

    If this is your idea of society, you can have it.

    • The problem with the idea that the government shouldn’t take the hard earned “fruits of their efforts” is that it ignores the benefits that some of those same people got FROM the infrastructure paid for by previous rounds of taxation.

      I read a great article by a young woman who had grown up in an Objectivist household, and she had a wonderful line in there. She was talking about how she’d go to high school and preach Objectivism to all of her classmates, telling them that her grades were the results of her work and her work alone and no one was helping. She ends the anecdote with “Meanwhile, ever morning my mother quietly packed a lunch for me.”

      What a lot of people don’t get is that there’s a middle ground between pure capitalism and pure socialism, and we’re IN IT. We have socialized road systems. Socialized schools. Socialized police and fire systems. Socialized military. Socialized judicial system. No one gets where they are entirely on their own, everyone has support, everyone builds on the opportunities they’re given. Yes, there’s some hard work in there, and there’s every reason why those who work harder and/or risk more should reap greater rewards… but there also has to be some recognition that someone like me, earning in the top 10% of salaries nationwide got there as much through the benefit of having parents who saved for my education and allowed me to get a college degree without taking on a mortgage worth of debt.

      I had the benefit of a white middle-class upbringing, a good school, great parents. Can I really claim that I have everything I have due solely to my hard work and that a poor inner city child who grew up with nothing is worth less inherently, and has not worked as hard? No.

      I’m rambling. It’s late. My point is that we need a middle ground. It’s perfectly reasonable to socialize SOME things (medicine, for example) to help out those who didn’t have the opportunities, background and good fortune that we have, while ALSO allowing those who work harder to have more. Just not obscenely more.

      Put another way, if you run a marathon, that’s a great achievement. And if you win it, you can feel proud… but you can’t necessarily feel like you’re inherently a better athlete if many of your fellow runners were forced to carry a 75 lb backpack, or were detoured so that their race path was 50% longer than yours… And that’s where the conservative/libertarian/objectivist “It’s mine, I earned it, keep your grubby hands off of it” falls down and becomes selfish. Unless you pulled yourself up by the bootstraps, born in an inner city to a family with exactly nothing and managed to make everything you have, you really didn’t do ALL of the earning, so it’s OK if you don’t get ALL of the reward. Most of it should be sufficient.

      • EXACTLY!

        Sorry for shouting, but that is the discussion I try to have with conservative friends relatives acquaintances when they trend “I got mine, screw you”.

    • Think of it as more of group worship not government worship. Humans are an animal that belongs to a group. Humans are not solitary hunters. Everyone has to be feed and protected for first decade or two of life. The idea that some people bring himself into the world, feed himself from day one, and educate himself is obviously false. We owe our survival to the group. And therefore we owe the group.

  • You forgot the important, and very obvious corollary to the “I’ve got mine, screw you” mentality–something which anyone who’s had to work with the sociopathic types that are attracted to Ayn Rand’s psychosis now all too well (and from personal experience): they will take the simultaneous view that “Your success diminishes me”–i.e. confronted by someone smarter, more successful, more skilled/knowledgeable, etc. the response will be to do whatever they can to undermine and “cut them down to size.” Mainly because, in my experience, they feel threatened by anyone and anything that reminds them of their own inadequacies–it’s important to remember that this behavior is only a symptom of what is called an “authoritarian” personality (see http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CDAQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fhome.cc.umanitoba.ca%2F~altemey%2F&ei=xm0AT4O5FseUtwfJ5s3cBw&usg=AFQjCNGsOabO7wejBTij6UPawYnIK9epLA for more information about this personality type. It probably should be regarded as a mental illness. It is as destructive as schizophrenia.)

  • Ayn Rand expressed her esteem for property rights (high) vs. altruism (zilch) roughly as follows.

    If you were walking past a lake where someone was drowning, and you had a rope, should you feel morally obliged to throw one end in and pull him out, saving his life?

    No, said Ayn Rand, because it’s your rope. Your property right supersedes anyone else’s “right to life” demands on your participation or property.

    A better provenance for “I’ve got mine, screw you!” would be hard to find.

    The “Duty of Care” concept goes out the window at once, of course, and the careful legal protections for “Good Samaritans” will be unnecessary — because those following Ayn Rand’s advice will not stop at all.

    They are those who, in the parable of Jesus, are not the “neighbors” of the robbed and injured traveler, despite being to all appearances the rich and powerful and respected of their day. The “neighbor” is a member of a despised minority religion, not a Jew at all, not even from their own nation, a mere foreigner from Samaria,… but the only person who stopped to help.

    When Jesus had said “Love your neighbor,” one listener had asked “Who is my neighbor?” — and this was the story Jesus told in answer. Then he asked his audience, “Who was his neighbor?” — and they answered him.

    There is the basis of society. And that is what is being attacked.

    Not just physically, by theft, eviction, batons, tear gas, night raids, random attacks on the street (like those in Wisconsin by pro-Walker thugs) or by the escalating threats of violence and what Dave Neiwert calls “eliminationism”….

    But also the constant widespread pervasive propaganda attack from the Right-Wing Echo Chamber on the entire idea of compassionate governance. You know, “Socialism!” As if it equated to Stalin. As if Stalin had been compassionate. Yeah. So instead they want to govern ruthlessly. The way, dare we say it, certain tyrants actually did.

    Remember who your neighbors are. Love accordingly.

    • Right on. Couldn’t have said it better myself; nothing to add.

    • Zoe Nussbaum-Walker

      It’s amazing at this late date how Rand is taken so seriously and everthing is all or nothing. Even her disciple, Allen Greenspan, has admitted his economic views were flawed and may have led to a global meltdown. Conservatives seem very different from Objectivists also. The former seem to have instituted new layers of bureaucracy (Homeland Security, etc) and debt while libertarians advocate a government never attacking its own people, austerity and individual rights. On property rights, the libertarian view was closer to the conservative judges on the Supreme Court’s minority opinion concerning Eminent Domain law. The moderate judges upheld the rights of corporations to take Grandma’s land and build a Wal-mart on it as an “economic necessity”.
      Ayn Rand wrote one of most kitschy screenplays of all time based on her book, The Fountainhead. I have watched it several times. Rand’s philosophy of trusting the alpha male businessman implicitly is her fatal flaw. Here we see architect Howard Roarke (Gary Cooper) blowing up the building his patrons compromised and justifying it in court. Today, a fearful conservative would have him renditioned as a terrorist. I think the movies were her true calling and The Fountainhead predated todays comic book cinema.
      Religious conservatives are also a little disingenuous in using Rand as a role model. She abhorred religion and even saw the Stalinists as having an irrational “mysticism” about their belief in “the collective.” She sarcastically called her group the same. She had many of her own inconsistencies aside from collecting social security. With all her novels and essays praising the virile American businessman as the ideal, she married a possibly-gay flower arranger. Also a famous cougar, she had an affair with an assistant less than half her age. Google Nathanial Branden. Watch the Hellen Mirren movie about her. Mirren shows how her rational world falls apart in jealous rage and revenge. N. Branden’s book about her is good too and very respectful. The struggle of the little Russian immigrant and her success is such an American story and fascinating.
      Personally I could go for a Canadian style healthcare system but agree with the conservatives on Eminent Domain. I could go on. Can’t think of any biblical quotations here. Oh, doesn’t it say God created the fool to confound the wise? We just have to figure our which is which. RIP Chris Hitchens.

      • In fairness, had Alan Greenspan stuck with the Randian model of hard currency, instead of allowing himself to be seduced into inflating fiat currency as Fed chairman, we might not be in this mess. It was not his trumpeted allegiance to Ayn Rand that caused this problem, but his departure from her. Gold is gold. Bullshit is bullshit. Greenspan didn’t just buy into bullshit, he invested in it. That was not Ayn Rand’s fault. At least she didn’t live to see it, and had she been alive, I wonder if he’d have done it.

        • Zoe Nussbaum-Walker

          Salient point Patrick and correct spelling of his name also. Are we too far around the bend to ever see if true laissez-faire would really work? Even conservatives seem afraid of your pure “Randian” model. Are you a Paul supporter? I agree that dependency is a poor strategy, be it in a family or in a country. Little Alissa Rosenbaum (AYN)refused to buy into that system.

          • Interesting that you should bring families into the mix — are you seriously pushing the idea that parents bear no responsibility toward their children? If that’s so, then you’re making a very strong argument for the Randian as psychopath.

            • Zoe Nussbaum-Walker

              Absolutely not. Doesn’t a good parent strive to help their child become independent as they leave the “nest” so to speak? Not to is irresponsible.

        • This is the first I’ve heard that inflation — or is it leaving the gold standard? — caused the latest economic meltdown. It’s pretty well agreed by those who know what they’re talking about that the culprits are speculation, banks pushing what they knew were bad investments on investors, and lack of oversight. If you stop to look at the history of regulation, you’ll soon realize that it’s always a reaction to abuses. Of course, if your ideal incorporates the greedy and dishonest as cultural heroes, you probably wouldn’t like the idea of controls anyway.

  • This is exactly what the tea party nuts are saying every day.
    Go to teapartycult.com to see the trailer that exposes the
    morons for exactly the beliefs stated in this article.
    It is all true … and you can see it in their own words

  • ann coultars own child

    “but some really believe they are helping.”LOL and their the really scary ones.

  • In an excess of pedantry, I’ll nitpick on “Dictionary.com defines a sociopath as: a person, as a psychopathic personality,….”

    That’s a circular definition. Psychopath[ic] is the old word for Sociopath[ic] — they mean the same thing, but defining one word using the other doesn’t explain anything. Now what, you turn to the definition of the *other* word, and it refers you back to the *first* one?

    Gimcrack: a thingumbob. … Thingumbob: a gimcrack.

    Meanwhile, Ayn Rand’s opinion of property rights vs. altruism was summed up as follows.

    If you walk past a lake where a man is drowning, and you have a rope, should you throw one end in to pull him out and save his life?

    No, says Ayn Rand, because it’s YOUR rope.

    A better provenance for “I’ve got mine, screw you” could hardly be found.

  • Ayn Rand’s most egregious offense is giving a certain pseudo intellectual cover to some of the worst aspects of human nature. The irony is, had our distant ancestor’s adopted Rand’s philosophy, the question would be mute, as our species would have gone extinct long ago. Humans survived through cooperation, not selfishness.

    • @ORAXX “The irony is, had our distant ancestor’s adopted Rand’s philosophy, the question would be mute, as our species would have gone extinct long ago.” Sorry to be a grammar-nazi, but the question is MOOT, not mute. I can let most dumb little typos and English mistakes pass without comment, but this particular error may eventually send me right over the edge. I see it wrong more often than I see it right, and I’m losing my hair from all the pulling.

    • What world do you live in, Oraxx? Did the Greeks cooperate with the Persians? The Egyptians with the Hittites? The Britons with the Romans? The Normans with the Saxons? The Irish, Indians, or Dutch with the British? The world with Germany twice? No one cooperates with anyone without a very selfish inducement. In the above examples that inducement was continued existence. Rand’s philosophy, as you call it, is a close model of how the world really is. She uses hyperbole and broad metaphor but her lesson is true and the faster we learn it the happier we’ll be: If you don’t decide who and what you’re going to be and claim those things for yourself, the world will deal to you what it feels like and ultimately defeat you. Luck is for the weak.

      • Patrick King —

        You’re giving us apples and oranges — conflicts between societies don’t have a whole lot to do with making individual societies work, so your examples are worthless.

        Human societies are, in their basics, cooperative ventures — banding together for the common good, not so the greediest and most dishonest can take everything. This is not some airy-fairy philosophical theory from a sociopath, this is basic biology. (If you want to see some discussion of possible biological/genetic foundations for cooperative behavior and altruism, read Edward O. Wilson.) For humanity and its relatives, cooperation is an adaptive trait — it works. Spare us the “nature red in tooth and claw” scenario — we’re not talking about solitary predators, we’re talking about social primates. Nobody’s talking about luck — it’s all about cooperative effort.

        As a philosopher, Rand displays all the emotional maturity of a two or three year old. And you’ll notice that even small children, by the time they’re about four or five, have caught on to the idea of sharing and taking care for others.

        • Zoe Nussbaum-Walker

          This really is a brilliant post. Rand discussions always seem like MENSA reunions to me. Not that I’d be there. I would like to know where the original thinking is on the part of the Randians instead of rehashing the same old stuff. Why wouldn’t universal healthcare satisfy ones self-interest for example, as not to leave us open to modern plagues (TB, Staph, etc.)? And clean air would mean less emphysema and asthma. Also, why follow the economic plan of someone who was scrambling for safety nets at the end of her life? Just sayin’.

  • Atlas shrugged was a satire. You can’t hold up the world when you’re standing on top of it.


    That anyone took this trash as anything other than narcissistic fiction, much less based national economic policy on it, is beyond me,

    • Thats the point. Rand wrote FICTION, and these sociopathic greedheads act as if it were Holy Writ (And an amazing number of them call themselves “Christians”). All the mroe reason they should be kept FAR from any seats of power.

  • Second Amendment Democrat

    Great post. Key word – “sociopath.” By refusing to acknowledge the value and contributions of others, by refusing to take part in a melting pot society where different value system are accounted for, you exile yourself and your pseudo-class from society (not everybody WANTS to be a heartless commodities trader or CEO, but in the GOP if you’re not, you have no value. Especially interesting because we could remove every last one of these people from their job and lock them in a big room – and nothing would change. They make nothing, contribute NOTHING, but believe they are entitled to the wealth of ALL, simply because they already have some.)

    Ayn-al retentive types love ‘libertarianism,’ i.e., pure, unadulterated selfishness and greed) because it gives them a book to poit to when someone calls them out for their behavior (“Hey, Rand says it’s GOOD to be a pig…”) Hey, guys, when Mel Brooks said it, it was a SPOOF!

    And so are all of you 1%ers. Cartoon caricatures of real people, sociopathic followers of a dead pseudo-intellectual with a need to feel superior – without actually BEING superior.

  • 65 to 87 hours a week for $70,000 a year?? You’re willing to average 76 hours a week so you can basically make less than $10 an hour. I think someone’s taking YOU for a ride.

    • Try using a calculator next time. Even assuming 76 hours a week is accurate and that there’s no paid leave or other time off that reduces the total hours for the year, it comes to $17.71/hour, not “less than $10”.

  • ChristiansdontfollowAynRand

    To the person who said the man who goes to church isn’t a sociopath: probably not, but why go to church if you are not going to “Love your neighbor as yourself” and follow this diabolical Ayn Rand and her evil selfish philosophy.

  • Bonnie Austin

    I attended college on $2000 a year, including all of my expenses. I graduated making $20k for the first 7 years, while paying back college loans. I now work 65 to 87 hour weeks for a $70k salary. My humble house is 100 miles away. I live in a rented bedroom with a shared bathroom during work weeks. I wouldn’t say “I HAVE MINE, SCREW YOU!” The fact is that we live in a capitalist society with freedoms to make our lives what we work hard for. If you’re not willing to work and pay into society’s economic structure, you shouldn’t be making it’s economic decisions. In America, who has ‘none’? Welfare recipients have more rest, more food, more entertainment, and more healthcare than most hard working Americans. I have no sympathy for those who are not willing to work but are loud in complaints. It’s time that ALL that receive GIVE BACK! NO FREE RIDES!

    • My life was basically going the same as yours, even down to the amount of salary. That is, until I found out I had a progressive illness that is 90% likely to kill me before I’m 45. I work today even though I qualify for disability, but my days of being able to work are getting quite short. I have no family to fall back on, and when I am unable to work I will depend on ‘handouts for lazy people’ or I will starve/freeze/curl up and die in an alley, etc. Sometimes I think that the reason I continue to work despite the horrible pain despite the money I’m bringing home in 2011 being LESS than what my disability pay would be is that I don’t want to deal with the stigma from people like you, so good job!

    • Gee Bonnie,

      If you cut your working hours down to 40, they could hire another person. One more person off the welfare roles. Now that is a step in the right direction.

    • What you are really saying is, if you don’t agree with me, you don’t get a vote.
      What is a free ride, being born owning all the resources for which everyone else has to pay rent, is that free ride.
      Paying off politicians in order to exploit the treasury with high profit privatised services, is that a free ride.
      Exploiting the nations resources, which supposedly every citizen owns, only to leave behind a trail of pollution, is that a free ride.
      How about conservative lying, welfare recipients have more food and, more healthcare than the majority, is not calling you an obvious liar a free ride.
      The reality is the GOP has become a party of psychopaths and narcissist, Libertine Exploiters, who hide behind the term,conservative when in reality they want to conservative nothing. Instead they want to ruthlessly exploit everything resources, the environment and every man woman and child on the planet and damn tomorrow, they want it all now.

    • Wow – so you make $70K a year, and can’t find a rental bedroom closer to work? That stood out to me. Just goes to show “book learnin'” doesn’t mean you are smart.

      • In fairness to him, he’s working awful long hours to pull down that 70k. I wouldn’t do it, but maybe he loves what he does. He must. In my opinion he’s working for free.

    • You do realize that the biggest forms of handouts are to wealthy corporations, each corporation receiving in the magnitudes of millions and billions more than all social welfare programs *combined?*

      You also realize that (the common form of) Welfare, social Welfare, is not just given out indefinitely to people who don’t work?

      We do not support lower economic class people with handouts, they get cut off, and actually can collect Welfare for a total of something like a year over the course of their whole lives. Only the rich and privileged get indefinite tax breaks, and billions in rebates from taxpayers and stimulus packages, and have their corporate structures built with tax dollars just so that they will set up business in a city to provide jobs. If the tax break ends, they just ditch the tax-paid-for factory and set up in a 3rd world country so that they can pay the residents there slave wages, all the while taking jobs out of the US so that they can make bigger profits. Thus they remove more living wage jobs from America forever more, dividing the gulf between rich and poor further still.

      But feel free to keep on worshiping the ultra rich and uber-elite as some immaculate form of hard-working class. They will certainly reward you or your children or children’s children with a job at McDonalds or some other minimum wage jobs. Maybe after graduating college, or possibly instead of grade school, both are equally likely. Maybe your children after college and grandchildren at age 7 can work side-by-side at the same crap job, barely making rent and food, constantly in fear of being so behind they get evicted, even though they all work 75 hour weeks.

  • Wow. That was a whole lot of dumb.

    The reasons why have been expressed here in many ways. But this guy’s fact-less opinions make me wonder if our public schools might be producing idiocy at a rate faster than has already been documented.

    But please if you did endure reading this like I did, please go cleanse yourself by reading ANYTHING with a modicum of intellectual honesty.

  • Trevor Stafford

    Interesting article, but I’m surprised you’ve left the word ‘fear’ out of any attempt to describe conservatives, especially given the recent research on the subject:


    It turns out that those who lean toward conservatism are typically more fearful of and more suspicious of change — to the point that their brains are different.

    There’s a better article on this somewhere, but you can start here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/howie-klein/the-liberal-mind-vs-the-c_b_85898.html

  • If it weren’t for adoption and the potential for making little Johnny or Janey the new kid at PS-452 having to explain his/her two dads, I’d say force them to get married. Then they could enjoy the wonderful aspects of Divorce.

  • “The real world reality is that Socialism *is* the middle ground/compromise position that leverages the strengths of both ends of the spectrum and minimizes their shortcomings.”

    How is that so? It’s wealth redistribution. It takes what some people worked hard and successfully at and gives it to those who have less. The end result with socialism is always the same: a select few rich people who are in cahoots with the government (an extreme form of corporatism like we have in the current system, only with FAR less people) and the rest being completely poor. Central planning doesn’t work. How many more modern examples do we need to see before people see this? Socialism offends me on the mere principle of it: Take my money and give it to someone else because they don’t make as much. That’s nothing but a legalized form of theft. Central planning doesn’t work, wealth distribution doesn’t work and socialism doesn’t work.

    As for the article itself, clearly a distortion on Rand’s views, but the thing I’d like to contend mostly is the “list”:

    gay marriage: This I actually have no disagreement with. However, it’s worth noting that true conservatives would not want the federal government dictating who gets married.

    welfare, food stamps and Medicaid: Love how he inserts racism in there. “I know! I’ll make it even more inflammatory by calling them racists!” Sorry, this has nothing to do with racism, nor does it have anything to do with not being able to get a hand-out themselves. It’s a matter of people not wanting their money to be forced from their hands to pay for someone else’s necessities.

    It was pointed out earlier that conservatives give more to charities. I think everyone would, including to give people food, housing and medical care, if they had less of it being taken from them by the government. Well, I’m sure you liberals certain would — right?

    health care reform: “Reform” to liberals basically means “socialized medicine”. I think many conservatives want reform to, but this is in the way of peeling away restrictive legislation, thought I could be wrong. Many “conservative” politicians vote for restrictive legislation on either side. Once again though, the author has a fun time using his imagination, i.e. conservatives don’t want reform because they’re not sick. I think even conservatives would like to see the costs of health care go down and the quality improve.

    environmental protection: I personally just wish the EPA would be abolished and allow the local environmental agencies to take over, but conservatives for the most part seem to just be against nonsense like Cap ‘N Trade and other legislation that just makes people pay more for things like light bulbs and gas. Again though, we run into the usual political B.S. of conservatives voting for things that run up prices and don’t really protect the environment anyway. Do you really think conservatives would allow the environment to be destroyed though? I don’t think they would want an oil leak to spill onto their beachfront property in the Hamptons.

    taxes: Yeah, sure, the government always finds ways to pay for things: taxes and monetization of the debt. A real conservative, however, wants lower taxes AND smaller government. Yes, I would like to keep more of money. Don’t you? I don’t see why it’s not enough for a rich person to have to pay 55% of their income to the government (federal and local).

    Medicare: This is a tried and failed system. Why else do so many doctors refuse this? It’s because it costs them money to accept Medicare patients. There’s a shortfall in the trillions with this, and this began WAY before the Bush tax cuts.

    SS: Lol. “Sacrifices”? Again, shortfall in the trillions. SS is such a scam. Besides, are you so dependent on Uncle Sam you couldn’t figure out how to set aside or invest your retirement money? I’d rather give my money to a bank than to Uncle Sam. The bank is less likely to spend it and never pay it back.

    abortion: He makes it sound like conservatives are anti-abortion as a matter of taste. Rarely do conservatives claim that a woman has no right to do with her body as she pleases. They’re anti-abortion because they believe the fetus is a human being, and killing it is the same thing as killing a live one outside the womb. Both sides seem to argue the same points, without either one listening to the other.

    school prayer: I’m not clear if he’s stating conservatives are for or against this. I personally don’t know of any conservatives who are for school prayer. Think this is mainly people in the midwest, as well as blowhard politicians trying to appeal to the religious voters.

    All in all, I have to say this article is pretty sick. It’s inflammatory and inaccurate. I’m all for people arguing their positions, but to qualify a bunch of people as sociopaths is just morally AND factually wrong. Clearly the author does not understand the gravity of what makes one a sociopath. Instead, he uses it as a buzzword to argue his positions. As much as I’ve seen some conservatives AND some liberals argue crap I disagree with, e.g. Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olberman respectively, I wouldn’t call them sociopaths just because I find their views so repulsive. Please, save the label, “sociopath”, for when it actually applies. Stop using it as a buzzword. Tens of billions of people are conservatives in this country, and I doubt that average American guy who goes to church, favors low taxes and is against abortion is a “sociopath”.

    • Your post is typical of the deluded mindset of most conservatives. Example:

      “Central planning doesn’t work. How many more modern examples do we need to see before people see this?”

      Evidently you haven’t bothered to look at the numerous FREE socialist countries all over the world where people have better living standards. But you MUST deny this to yourself because it does not fit with your world view.

      “Socialism offends me on the mere principle of it: Take my money and give it to someone else because they don’t make as much.”

      You are in fact the poster boy for the article. Of course you don’t want “my money” to go to anyone else. Let me guess, “churches and private charity do a much better job of helping people than the gubament”. That’s the other hilarious line of crap from conservatives. You always want to claim that you aren’t against helping other people, you just don’t want the gubament telling you how to do it. That’s how you avoid the obvious fact that you’re selfish bastards that couldn’t care less if other people starve around you. You pretend that if the gubament didn’t require any taxes you’d help those people with “my money”. And I’ve got some shares in the golden gate bridge….

    • Shoot, looks like you beat me to it. Thanks, Euronymous, for trying to inject a little reason into this “discussion”. I tip my top-hat to you, sir.

    • Euronymous, 100% right on. Saved me a ton of typing :)

    • Conservatives give more to charity only because more of them are tithing to churches. Take church donations out of the equation and liberals give more to charity. So, many thousands of churches have fixed their roofs and sent their young people on evangelical missions thanks to conservative giving, while most international charities (major disaster giving like Fukishima excepted) are funded by liberal giving, and domestic charities are more of a mixed bag.

    • Euronymous, thank you for getting that typed out. Now I don’t have to do it.

      I am a conservative. I am poor. Our family has in the past been on food stamps and our children once had Medicaid. I hated the system and we are no longer on it. I know that “some” people need the program and I know many who don’t. Calling all conservatives racist is crap, because as a white person I was in the program and those I know that are mooching off the system are white also. It’s not about race, it’s about a program that isn’t working right.

      Abortion to me is murder. It’s a moral issue for me. The law of our land says abortion is legal and I am not out to change that law, because there are people out there that feel differently about abortion and will do it anyway. But they are the ones who should pay for it, not those who feel they would be committing murder.

      School prayer? It’s a none issue. I and my children know that we can pray anytime anywhere and no one even needs to know we have done so. It can be done with no sound and no action.

      Charity? I give very little at church. At church I will donate to a persons medical fund, disaster fund or donate to the church food bank. The rest of my charity is given when my neighbors electric or water has been cut off, or buying the groceries for them or filling their tank with gas so they can continue to get to work. I know I help my neighbor. Remember I am poor also.

      This article lumps all conservatives together and makes it out as we are all well to do and crazy greedy. I also have no clue who this Ayn Rand person is and has nothing to do with my life style.

      I really don’t think people bother to listen to each other or care about one another. But everyone wants the government to handle it. If we allow that to happen you can bet there will be some major change but it won’t be what you expect. Try sitting down and talking with those who differ from you. Try listening and see if you aren’t really on the same page.

    • Just to pick one point, your comments about Social Security are pure fantasy (especially the part about the banks — where have you been living for the past couple of years?) which doesn’t say much for the rest of your list.

      Oh, and about gay marriage — the federal government isn’t dictating who gets married, even with DOMA (although it certainly tried). It’s the states that are dictating who gets married. You want to abolish state governments, too?

      I could go on, but I don’t really have the time right now. I think, though, that you just did a beautiful job of underscoring the points in the article — except he did leave out “ill-informed,” for which you provided an excellent example.

  • All systems are flawed, because humans are flawed. Nothing is perfect and anything we do will require constant vigilance and fine tuning. Now that I got that out of the way….

    I’m tired of people making arguments based on a spectrum of Laissez Faire capitalism on one side, and Socialism on the other. The leftmost extreme is Government/Group/No Private Ownership of anything. Functionally all of those are identical, since everyone has the same claim to ownership of anything. This is known as pure communism.

    The real world reality is that Socialism *is* the middle ground/compromise position that leverages the strengths of both ends of the spectrum and minimizes their shortcomings. The “go getters” still are allowed to excel, while the partial public ownership of key/vital industries provides a means of preventing/mitigating the fallout from the screw ups of the Wheeler-Dealers. With a basic safety net for all built into it, the average person’s ability to get a GOOD job actually improves because they can turn around and tell an employer “go ef yourself” if they start making unreasonable demands.

    Sure, there will be less mega-rich people. Government’s purpose is not to generate mega rich people. It is to provide for the general welfare IE the most good for the greatest number of people.

    • >>Sure, there will be less mega-rich people. Government’s purpose is not to generate mega rich people. It is to provide for the general welfare IE the most good for the greatest number of people.<<

      This is one of the key differences….you believe the government can be trusted to provide for the general welfare while the other half believes the government cannot be trusted. Communism and socialism haven't exactly worked out well for the general population over time…..

  • And more proof of your theory, Rand herself respected the “morals” of a serial killer. http://www.alternet.org/story/145819

  • Eh. This is kind of a stupid article. I did my thesis on Rand- read every novel and manifesto and she was actually quite a socially-progressive woman. Sociopath? Doubtful.

  • I’m tasting the freedom.

    It taste like a shit sandwich to me. How do I know what that tastes like?

    I live in Arizona.

    Tex Shelters

  • Matthew –

    You are 0 for 9 in your examples. I’ve read many of Rand’s books and clearly you have not as you failed to grasp her concept of rational self-interest.

    In Rand’s view the ends never justify the means and acts by an individual (or group of individual) must not infringe upon the rights of another individual.

    With regard to homosexuals and women’s rights you are 180 degrees off from Rand’s views. To your last point you might take note that Rand was an avowed atheist.

    Perhaps you should read her writings before you attempt to analyze her philosophy?

  • William Haney

    Good article. Paul Ryan loves this twisted, pathetic excuse for a human being. Tells you a lot about the Conservatives/Republicrats

    • It also speaks volumes about the Liberals who, it’s obvious, believe everything Conservatives/Republicrats say– especially their misinterpretations of philosophy and literature.

      It also seems that both sides of the fence value sound bites or textual quotes completely out of context without even knowing the full story. I weep for the future of critical thinking in America.

  • Sapphragette

    Actually, according to her biographers, Rand was closer linked to socio-pathology than you might think – it’s clear she actually based her beloved John Galt (as well as the character of Danny Renahan from her unfinished novel “Little Street”) on real-life American serial killer, William Edward Hickman.

    Hickman’s gruesome, sadistic kidnap and murder of 12-year-old Marion Parker in 1927 shocked the nation (and its nauseating even by today’s standards – let’s just say that story ends with Hickman throwing the remaining parts of the child’s body out of a moving vehicle for her father to find. Apparently he’d kept her head and torso propped in his car to convince the parents she was still alive so he could be sure he’d get the ransom money he demanded).

    Rand filled her early notebooks with page after page of worshipful praise of Hickman…calling him a “genuinely beautiful soul” and marveling that he was “the amazing picture of a man with no regard whatever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own”.

    She offers a long paragraph listing all the things she likes about Hickman, somewhat in the manner of a lovestruck teenager recording her favorite details about the lead singer in a boy band. Rand’s inventory includes:

    “The fact that he looks like ‘a bad boy with a very winning grin,’ that he makes you like him the whole time you’re in his presence…”

    You can read more about this all at:


  • I’m not a conservative I’m a Libertarian.. but conservatives as a group consistently give more of their personal wealth to charity’s than Liberals. Yes as a group they have their short comings just as do Liberals.

    • They give more to charities only because they have more, and so they need the tax deduction.

    • Isn’t that called tithing?


    • A lot more conservatives than liberals are regular churchgoers. When you exclude tithing, how does it balance out?

    • A question I think you’re (rather conveniently) not asking is…

      How much of this charitable giving is motivated by genuine concern, and how much is merely being used as a tax write-off? It’s also not always a question of amount — sometimes it’s also a question of proportion. Who’s really doing more for mankind — the multimillionaire who gives a thousand dollars to charity and then has his accountant write it off on his taxes (even though a thousand dollars is small change to him), or the middle-class family which donates a hundred dollars because they believe it’s the right thing to do?

      I’d also like to know where you found your statistics stating that conservatives contribute more to charity. It’s said that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics. As someone who’s been trained in social science research, I know it’s actually remarkably easy to slant a study (either deliberately or unintentionally) to make it say whatever you want it to. Whenever people (conservative or progressive or whatever) read a statistical survey, they should be asking themselves at least two questions — 1) who funded the study? and 2) do they have a vested interest in promoting a particular point? In short…follow the money. Humans unfortunately have a tendency to be so self-serving that we often give ourselves permission to either be blind to the needs of other people or to merely give lip service to them while looking for a way to turn it to our own advantage.

    • Seriously????? That’s your best analogy? Liberals are flawed to, that’s your best excuse for the selfish reckless and destructive behavior of conservatives?

  • I’d have to say that I disagree with almost every point here. Rather than point out all of the opposing ideas that would give balance to your completely slanted argument here, I will keep it short.
    You have obviously not read much on Ayn Rand’s “Objectivism”. Simply reading her fiction, without an explanation of her philosophy means you interpreted for yourself…and clearly did it wrong.
    The lassez-faire utopia would probably have it’s hiccups, since many ARE greedy and cruel, however, it would provide a better system of checks and balances than any other we have had before (the lassez-faire system hasn’t been tried before, so it hasn’t failed, like the others have).
    See, the reason we have problems like the Wall Street crash and others like it, is not because the government doesn’t regulate it enough, but because the government is involved. They are in the back pockets of these rich moguls. Look at the grasp that Walmart has on the world. Did you know that the government has expropriated land in the name of eminent domain, then sold that land to a Walmart? That is NOT lassaiz-faire capitalism….that’s facism.
    Big business and government. This is not what Ayn Rand would ever support. This was what she was against. Those sweetheart deals and subsidies you referred to….those are unfair advantages, and they take away the heart of competition that lassaiz-faire capitalism is all about.
    Yea, objectivism is for LESS government control. That is in a free market economic system. That means less government involvement too. That means, no more back door deals, or playing favors with politicians.
    As far as this whole diatribe about looking out for the weak, and it being wrong for your highest moral purpose to be the pursuit of your own happiness…well, I don’t know what to say about that socialist drivel.
    As an individual, the most important thing I can do (and, coincidentally the best thing I can do for others) is take care of myself first and foremost.
    That does not mean at the cost of others. In fact, objectivist ethics states that if you violate the rights of others in pursuit of your happiness, you are in violation of the values of the philosophy. As far as how you treat the less fortunate…well….this may be a bit of grey area, but objectivism does in fact speak on this subject. The idea is that, unfortunate as it may be, these people have no choice but to be at the mercy of others (due to disability or other ailments beyond their control). In a rational society, however, there is much in the way of philanthropy.
    Don’t believe me? Look at some of the most powerful, greatest business minds ever. Bill Gates and his foundation. Warren Buffet and his plans to leave his entire fortune to charity when he dies.
    These are just two. I hope you get the idea though.
    Well, I am sure you will find some way to pull scewed facts out to combat this argument (if you even allow this comment at all). You’ll utilize what Rand referred to as “the argument from intimidation”….but, it doesn’t matter. I only stumbled on this post by accident, and likely I won’t find my way back again.

  • Even though Ayn Rand laid claim to being a “philosopher”, she was not. And her writings are fictions.

    This article wrongly claims Rand as icon for current corporate beliefs and behaviors. If the wealthy were industrialists like Rand’s Hank Rearden, the issues would be entirely different because they would create real jobs and real wealth. But they are not industrialists as the paths of so many like Governor Rick Scott to their sham riches show us.

    Workers are not looters and moochers. We bolt together the girders of the social fabric.

    Viewers of the new movie need a lesson in trying to map a story first published more than 50 years ago onto present day personalities, events, economics, and beliefs are committing a grave error in interpretation.

    For instance, the point in bracelet episode is not the reverse snobbery of the “progressives” in not wanting Rearden’s name on a $100k check donated to them. The point is that the late-working Rearden comes home with an excellent anniversary present for his wholly undeserving wife who expects him to have forgotten the date as well as imposes onto the very valuable bracelet a ball-and-chain metaphor which works only in the opposite direction from her scornful sneer–she and the other guests present are a ball and chain attached to Hank’s leg holding him back.

    He is magnificent in his self-control.

    Ayn Rand’s novel has some very good things in it. The movie, too, has some very fine points.

    I enjoyed the film quite a lot with a few moments of revulsion.

    The cult of selfishness and individual pursuit of “success” did not offend me any more at my current age than it did when I first encountered it in 1960.

    Ayn’s “philosophy” was not altogether compelling for me, and I felt sympathy toward the many people I’ve had to live with in this country whose lives were/ are so delimited as to feel compulsions to drive Bentley and Rolls Royce automobiles–which I see whenever I leave my house for the streets of this town. We have our very own Lamborghini in the neighborhood.

    In spite of where my home is, I embrace a preference for Nietzschean existentialism, and I haven’t owned a television since 1973.

    I think the film’s scenes depicting the disparity between rich and poor are quite good, almost Michael Moore-like.

    I thought it a Jalopnik kind of joke to have Dagny driving a Toyota Camry at such a high rate of speed through the Colorado foothills. I think there’s something that contrasts with her, in the book, flying a light single-engine private plane into the hidden valley of dying stars.

    I’m not of the mind that everyone should think as I do. But I so much approve of movies based on important novels that I rather despise wasting time with the rest.

    I began the next morning after watching the film to reread the novel _Atlas Shrugged_, something I strongly suggest for Matthew Desmond and others who like to think they know of what Rand’s “philosophy” consists.

    While much of the slant is toward the opposite direction of my preferences, there’s some very worthwhile writing. I especially like Eddie’s memory of the grand tree on the Taggert estate (except for the ball-on-the-string simile), this latter matching up serendipitously with the emphasis on the bracelet anniversary gift.

    Readers must not impose their preconceived notions on texts. Let it be what it is. Let the characters be altogether different from the author.

  • Joel S Henderson

    I have to think that you’re confusing a politically-conservative view with people who are sociopaths and/or socially-conservative (and/or just plain nasty humans).

    Most people I know who self-identify as politically-conservative/libertarian/non-statist arrive at their ideals from a concern for humanity and an understanding that remote/corruptable massive bodies of gov’t are not so sustainable nor are they free from corruption.

    Not saying that everyone who claims to have politically-conservative views comes from this background but most of the ones that I’ve interacted with and spoken at length with about their views does.

    In my opinion, most people actually do give a crap about other people but may have different approaches on the best approach to take in regards to how best to treat them. Obviously, there are those at the fringes that are not representative of the majority but that’s not what I’m talking about here.

    From where I stand, most people with either politically-liberal or politically-conservative views actually share a LOT of common ground (keeping gov’t out of people’s private lives, against corporate-driven/neocon foreign policy, protecting civil liberties, etc) however we are told daily by the corporate-owned media that the ‘other side’ is our enemy…

  • In a libertarian Ayn Rand society, it would still be illegal to push a man off a wooden bridge. But it would not be illegal to harvest the wooden bridge supports to build your house, causing the bridge to collapse when the man walked across it. After all, he should have checked before he stepped out on the bridge. Contemporary Republicans would also charge the deceased’s family the cost to rebuild the bridge, although they would not then rebuild the bridge, as that would be socialism and besides, they spent the money.

  • I have to agree to some extent, but I think there are caring, compassionate conservatives who think that their policies will actually help people who need help. They think that, for example, providing food stamps will cause dependency and keep people from working hard to improve their lives. I’m not saying that this is true, but It seems like there are some conservatives who think they are doing the right think for others.

    I study education reform and it’s interesting to watch people promote the privatization of public schools as a way to help low income kids. It’s insane and doesn’t work, but it’s put forth as a solution to the problem of low achievement in low income communities. Some are cynical scum, but some really believe they are helping.

    (see my post on the issue if you like)

    Keep up the crazy liberal rants.

  • Excellent breakdown!

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