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From over at cracked.com…
All outcomes end in rape or communism?! Every post I’ve read before is about my faith and has nothing to do with an obscure author I’ve never heard of. Not to be rude, and I understand that this is your blog, but please keep in mind that a specific audience is following your posts.
Ayn Rand isn’t exactly “obscure”– she’s a very famous anti-Communist writer and philosopher– but this is a really weird and poorly-made flowchart.
Anyway, it’s not exactly an irrelevant post for a Catholic blog, as she’s a very divisive among us. While she was very outspoken in favor of capitalism and libertarianism, she also believed in the deity of self, or becoming your own god.
My dad’s friend works for her “intellectual heir” and conservator of her estate, Leonard Peikoff, who signed a copy of Atlas Shrugged for me. I read her fiction when I was a teenager and really liked her stories, anyway, as they were always about the triumph of the individual, which is cool in its own right. All her female leads were these elegant, but indomitable characters who were matched by these strong and intelligent men. Everyone makes these crazy, high-minded ideological speeches about human power.
But then I got older and realized that aside from her questionable ethics, she was not a very good writer. She was self-indulgent (her characters all seemed to portray exactly how she saw herself) and she clearly considered herself a much better writer than she really was.
Anyway, that’s Ayn Rand. In spite of her strangeness, she’s been made newly relevant out of the Tea Party and Occupy movement and the questions of individual rights, the benefits and pitfalls of capitalism, etc.
Yeah she’s famous, and it is a relevant post. Whatever you might think of her writing (it’s not my cup of tea, for many of the reasons Sarah mentioned) her philosophy is being discussed a lot right now, even if people aren’t familiar with her work. I’m personally no fan of her worldview – it makes the free market and such look as heartless as the Occupy guys claim. And this chart is not inaccurate, at least as far as Atlas Shrugged is concerned. It’s a tad over-simplified, but it’s also satire. Understanding Rand’s philosophy is important for Catholics, because we have always stood between the extremes of statism/collectivism and anarchy/oligarchy, which is really what Rand was talking about. Read Atlas shrugged – John Galt gets fed up with society so he just leaves with all the other capitalists and lets it all collapse. There’s also a particular scene on a train with a disturbingly enthusiastic description of all the passengers dying, because they had the gall to be related to the “looters” who were responsible for society getting screwed up.
Now, she had a bit of a point – a society that overtaxes its innovators and uses regulation to distribute their work to people who haven’t worked for it (even to the extent of violating patents by government decree in the novel) will not do well economically, and it is probably unjust, but her solution is half-baked and equally unjust, and her notion of individualism shows that she had little understanding of history or economics. There is a reasonable way for society to reward individual achievement, she just missed it. She doesn’t posit that individual charity could help where government welfare fails, or that capitalists must treat their workers with the dignity they deserve as human beings. She just has them go on strike. Now, the idea of employers/capitalists going on strike is good satire – if the workers showed up one day and found the factories shuttered and shops locked up, how would they get paid (Distributism, but that’s a discussion for another time) – but it really could be a short story or novelette. She’s just way too wordy.
Her pseudo-spiritual cult of the self (really a lame existentialism) also makes her philosophy problematic for Catholics, so it’s good to be aware. Don’t underestimate the audience of this blog.
Agreed, with everything you just said, Penny Farthing. Except yeah, the chart is “accurate,” but it’s still not a very good flowchart, as flowcharts go. But I’m nitpicking.
Ayn is an interesting character. I am better for having become familiar with her work, even if actually supporting her philosophy is, as you said, problematic for a Catholic.
As for novelletes, have you read Anthem? That was my first Rand book, it’s about 100 pages, and I loved it until I read ’1984′ and realized she totally ripped off Orwell.
Yeah, I guess it could be a better flowchart as such. I haven’t read Anthem but I want to. I just think the premise of Atlas shrugged would be better served in a punchier format – like “A Day Without Capitalists” type of thing. I admit I have a shamefully short attention span unless the writing itself is top-notch, though. Like I said, I think she brought up some some good points, but her solutions needed work. Still, I think people need to familiarize themselves with her work, and Orwell too.
Btw, when I wrote “Don’t underestimate the audience of this blog”, it was addressing the first commenter, not you, Sarah.
Yeah, agreed. She’s a bit erm… long winded…
“Btw, when I wrote “Don’t underestimate the audience of this blog”, it was addressing the first commenter, not you, Sarah.”
haha, yeah, I figured that. Not to be creepy, but I have a feeling I know you IRL. Then again, there are a lot of Claires in the world, so I may be wrong. Anywho.
What she #2 and she #3 said…
(But, I should say, the chart is accurate to Rand by this point…”as flowcharts go because most of the options don’t actually lead anywhere in a reasonable sense” – in other words, it resembles Rand’s writing! IMEHO)
these comments need a flow chart.
Just to point this out, but Anthem was written 10 years before ’1984′, so she didn’t rip off Orwell.
Really? Huh, for some reason I thought Orwell was first. Anyway, futuristic dystopian novels are all very similar and it’s annoying.
“There’s also a particular scene on a train with a disturbingly enthusiastic description of all the passengers dying, because they had the gall to be related to the “looters” who were responsible for society getting screwed up.”
Cause and effect are ruthless, aren’t they? Oh, and those passengers weren’t merely “related” to the looters – each of those characters in the novel were themselves looters. Each was shown to be unthinking, ungrateful, and greedy for the unearned and how their own actions brought about the situation that would become their own destruction.
Yeah, but it’s still a little disturbing, especially from someone who was around for the atrocities of the early 20th century, to write about it in such an approving way. Cause and effect are just cause and effect – she takes it to the level of vengeance, which, morality aside, is just not how impersonal forces like economics work. I realize she was making a point, but she made it clumsily.
thats the point man
Excellent graphic, I loled. Ayn’s work has always seemed like a big non-sequeter to me, just like a badly arranged flow chart.
And the How to Succeed as a Catholic chart that you must also label as “Too True” features “pedophile rape” at every turn, eh?
Hahahahha, you just gave the reason to Marc’s post about the Westboro Church!
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