Atlas Shrugged: The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

Atlas Shrugged, part I, chapter VII

The next chapter opens in Colorado, where Dagny is personally supervising the construction of the Rio Norte Line in the shadow of Ellis Wyatt’s oil derricks. As we found out earlier, her best contractor, McNamara, mysteriously closed his company and vanished, so she’s being forced to rely on a replacement contractor named Ben Nealy. (We’re told he has “a soft, sullen face” and skin with “the tinge of butter” [p.158], so you can guess whether he’s competent or not.)

The construction has been one obstacle after another, every one of which Dagny has surmounted through her limitless personal willpower and the sheer awesomeness of Rearden Metal. When drill bits wear out faster than planned, she orders new ones to be made of Rearden Metal. When a vital bridge is falling apart, she orders it to be reinforced with Rearden Metal. When the company supplying her workers’ food dries up, she orders them to eat Rearden Metal (OK, not really). But there’s one near-disaster she averts in a very unexpected and uncharacteristic way:

She looked at the spikes in the rail at her feet. They meant the night when she had heard that Summit Casting of Illinois, the only company willing to make spikes of Rearden Metal, had gone bankrupt, with half of her order undelivered. She had flown to Chicago, that night, she had got three lawyers, a judge and a state legislator out of bed, she had bribed two of them and threatened the others, she had obtained a paper that was an emergency permit of a legality no one would ever be able to untangle, she had had the padlocked doors of the Summit Casting plant unlocked and a random, half-dressed crew working at the smelters before the windows had turned gray with daylight. [p.155]

So, here’s a question. The company that was making her railroad spikes went bankrupt, so she flew to Chicago in the middle of the night and bribed a judge and a state legislator to do… what, exactly?

I mean, sure, evil socialists shut down businesses for no reason because they hate success, blah blah blah. If it were some kind of random, inexplicable government directive closing down a healthy company, which is the kind of thing that happens in Randworld, then I can see how Dagny’s threatening and bribing lawmakers might help.

But bankruptcy is a normal part of the business life cycle. Even in a capitalist economy completely free of rules and regulations, it’s the kind of thing that will happen sometimes. Yes, this was the only company that could make the spikes she needed to complete the railroad line that the future of her company depends on, but so what? As Rand’s protagonists constantly remind us, just because you need something doesn’t mean you’re entitled to have it. So how did Dagny circumvent the operation of supply and demand? What did that emergency permit allow her to do?

There’s only two scenarios that make any sense here. Either Dagny bribed the judge to force Summit’s owners to keep the company open against their will, losing money all the while; or else she bribed the judge to allow her to seize Summit’s factory and equipment and run them as if they were her own property. Either way, how is this not a gross violation of Objectivism’s cast-iron capitalist code?

I’ve mentioned that Rand’s protagonists are consistently depicted as perfect and infallible, never budging an inch from their principles regardless of pressure or temptation. This scene might be read as a contradiction of that, except that I don’t think Rand herself thought of it as such, probably because she never fleshed out the details in her head to a sufficient level of clarity to see the problem.

But what she does make clear, yet again, is that in pursuit of profit, her heroes are entitled to do absolutely anything they want. They can offer bribes; they can make threats; they can commit actual violence; they can break any rule or law that’s standing in their way. As long as their goal is to make money, we’re meant to view this conduct as not just acceptable, but noble and praiseworthy.

Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of businesses in the real world that feel the same way. That’s why the U.S. government passed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a law meant to curb the problem of rampant corporate bribe-giving around the world by making it illegal for American companies to bribe foreign officials. (The U.K. has a corresponding Bribery Act.) This law was spurred by scandals in the 1970s, such as when it was revealed that the aerospace company Lockheed had been bribing government officials in Europe and Japan to favor its company’s products in purchase orders.

This kind of thing isn’t confined to history – the list of companies that have been prosecuted under the FCPA is staggeringly long. Most recently, we’ve heard about an explosive scandal in which Wal-Mart allegedly bribed Mexican government officials on a vast scale to obtain construction permits much faster than its rivals, and stifled an internal investigation when a whistleblower came forward.

In one meeting where the bribery case was discussed, H. Lee Scott Jr., then Wal-Mart’s chief executive, rebuked internal investigators for being overly aggressive. Days later, records show, Wal-Mart’s top lawyer arranged to ship the internal investigators’ files on the case to Mexico City. Primary responsibility for the investigation was then given to the general counsel of Wal-Mart de Mexico — a remarkable choice since the same general counsel was alleged to have authorized bribes.

Just imagine. If a prosecutor accused Taggart Transcontinental of bribing a judge, would it be right for Jim to put Dagny Taggart in charge of the internal investigation?

Obviously, there are good reasons for bribery to be illegal. By seducing decision-makers with the promise of personal gain, bribes undermine legitimate competition, making companies “win” not on the basis of delivering a superior product but merely on the basis of offering the biggest kickbacks. In the same way, bribery promotes corruption and undermines good governance, by creating an incentive to officials to line their pockets rather than to do their jobs. The corrosive effects of bribery can even create the kind of bullying, imperious, overbearing government that Rand rails against so often. (After all, didn’t Dagny effectively just teach a judge and a legislator that they can and should demand payola in exchange for special favors?) But in Rand’s world, all these considerations are brushed aside. Her heroes can do anything and still be morally guiltless, and the only evil she perceives is when the government prohibits businessmen from doing something they want to do.

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • http://blu28.wordpress.com/ Brian Utterback

    There is another scenario that actually happened. A entertainment company shuttered its doors with about a month to go on a series of CGI effects for a movie. The work on these CGI effects were over six months in the making and the delays caused by starting over would have cost the production company tens of millions of dollars. So the court ordered the entertainment company to stay open with the production company absorbing all of the costs. Much cheaper for the production company compared to the losses of the delay and no cost to the creditors.

  • David Andrew Kearney

    It’s surprising that the spike company went bankrupt, since I would expect Reardon Metal to single handedly keep it open. Or maybe we’re to assume that all their business dried up after they started producing RM? Still, anyway you look at it, it’s an odd passage.

  • arensb

    So what would the parallel here be? To get the court to order Summit Casting (not to be confused with Central Casting :-) ) to remain open long enough to fulfill Taggart’s contract, with Taggart eating the cost?
    That could work, I guess, just as it did in the example you cited. But then I remember that she’s already getting gouged by Hank Rearden (I think), and spending money left and right to make the work go faster, and I can’t help wondering what her budget looks like. Can she afford to keep an unprofitable plant open for a few more weeks, or however long it takes to make the spikes she needs?
    All in all, it’s probably cheaper and easier to just bribe a judge and shift the cost to some other poor schmuck.

  • R Vogel

    It is very nice to see AS deconstructed in this fashion. I was lured into Rand’s idea when I was younger, but as I grew older I realized what a colossal load of crap it was. I find it frightening (1) how popular it seems to have become of late and (2) who it has become popular with. I just love it when my religious, ultra-conservative family start lecturing me using Randian lingo they picked up from the AS movie (they only read 1 book)

  • smrnda

    Rand doesn’t seem to understand bankruptcy. Just because a company goes bankrupt doesn’t mean it necessarily ceases all operation – I’m guessing each case is a little different.

    I mean, there’s no real incentive to *shut down* a bankrupt businesses, the way that you don’t take the car of a person filing for bankruptcy – bankruptcy gets you out of *some* of the money you owe, but perhaps not all of it. I’m not 100% sure how this works as I haven’t declared bankruptcy, but I do know that declaring bankruptcy doesn’t mean you have to go out of businesses.

    Now, keeping a business open to fill an unfinished order *might* be something that happens, but that would have been spelled out and left as an option when the company filed.

    It is true that businesses sometimes file for bankruptcy to say, screw workers out of pensions, but in those cases they stay running to make more $$$. Nothing in this scenario seems plausible or makes sense.

    Rand seems shaky on details because she doesn’t know what she’s writing about. She doesn’t know much about science, engineering, law, businesses, or really anything, so her entire gigantic book is a mess of events that just don’t seem to hold together since there’s too many poorly explained or implausible events. If her works were simply pulp entertainment, it’s be okay, but not if she thinks this is supposed to be a case *for* anything.

    On justifying force, Rand believes that the existence of government == violent coercive force, so shooting or killing people because you have to live under a government that you don’t own is totes okay with her. What I don’t understand is why she can think that and think private property is any different – land occupation is the 1st stage of property, and that requires occupation by force.

  • Nancy McClernan

    The book is full of Rand’s idiosyncratic notions about capitalism. Not only repeated justifications of threats and bribery and theft, but the idea that owners of transportation systems should get to decide who does and doesn’t get to ride, based on personal philosophy rather than ability to pay.

    My theory is that many people space out during the endless reiterations of Rand’s themes causing them to miss new content when it does occur, which is why for so many the book says whatever they want it to say.

    The book will make so much more sense if you look at it as revenge-porn by someone with undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome frustrated by a world dominated by neurotypicals. There is a discussion between Dagny and Rearden a little further on in the novel which will make this perspective clear.

  • http://javver.com/ JC

    Using the force of the state to rob someone else of their hard earned money. Looting them, you could say.

  • Azkyroth

    The book will make so much more sense if you look at it as revenge-porn by someone with undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome

    No, it doesn’t.

    And fuck you back.

  • Azkyroth

    Of course, but she doesn’t have a soft face the tinge of butter, so it’s fine.

  • Nancy McClernan

    There is nothing in the link you provided that makes an argument against my suggestion.

    And there’s nothing that I’ve said that warrants a fuck you.

    I guess you’re feeling cranky and irrational.

  • Nancy McClernan

    And furthermore, I’m certainly not the only one who has suspected Rand might have had Asperger’s – one of her biggest fans thinks so:

    It is almost certain that Rand had Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition that has only come into greater awareness since the early 1990s (see Tony Attwood’s The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome for a sympathetic treatment).

    It is possible that neither author (Rand’s biographers Heller and Burns) knew enough about Asperger’s to make the necessary connections, but there is abundant evidence for this proposition, particularly in Heller’s description of Rand’s childhood. It is perhaps just as well that neither author explicitly considers this possibility, because it would be all too easy to pathologise Rand, leading to a reductionist psycho-biography that would have done disservice to her ideas and influence. Rand is another instance of the extraordinary potential and creativity of people with atypical neurology, as celebrated in Tyler Cowen’s recent book, Create Your Own Economy (Rand is a notable omission from Cowen’s speculative list of historical figures with Asperger’s). It is doubtful that a neuro-typical person could have single-handedly produced such a radically unconventional and socially-unacceptable system of ideas centred on the power of human reason.

    And this commenter on Amazon makes some excellent points, especially:

    6) Human life and the emotional/existential experience of others seems bizarrely undervalued. In two of the most unwittingly hilarious sections of the book, trains crash, giving intriguing insights into Ms Rand’s psyche as they do so. In the first TERRIBLE TRAGEDY of the book, a train carrying copper collides head-on with a passenger train on a hillside, spilling PRECIOUS COPPER everywhere. Hank Reardon surveys the terrible tragic waste of PRECIOUS COPPER spilled over the tracks, before gritting his teeth at the hellish awfulness of it all, and heroically organising alternate transport so his PRECIOUS COPPER can get there on time, without so much letting an emotion slip out because of all the tragedy of the PRECIOUS COPPER. Because that’s the kind of heroic guy he is.

    **IT HIT A FREAKING PASSENGER TRAIN HEAD-ON. THE HILLSIDE WOULD BE LITTERED WITH DEAD PEOPLE. RAND DOESN’T EVEN MENTION THIS ONCE.**

    The time people DO get killed in the train, of course, in the collapse of the tunnel, they have pretty much asked for it, by dint of being teachers, social workers, journalists, humanitarians, mothers etc. They knew the risks of living in a society that wasn’t based on fascistic capitalism, so screw them, right? They’re only useful to make a point. Screw them.

    Pretty much the same could be said for heroes who let most of the population of the world die in famine and disaster, just to say “I told you so”.

    http://www.amazon.com/Rand-had-Aspergers-Syndrome-Discuss-/forum/Fx3DU03CKBOQBJ2/Tx5PGXAV67N70T/1?asin=0141188936
    http://www.institutional-economics.com/images/uploads/randreview.pdf

  • John Alexander Harman

    Rand might have had AS, but I think Narcissistic Personality disorder is a better fit for her symptoms; Objectivism looks to me like NPD dressed up as philosophy. One of the more popular books on this disorder is based in part on an analysis of the lives of Rand, Frank Lloyd Wright (who she admired enough to base the hero of The Fountainhead on him), Pablo Picasso, and Armand Hammer.

  • Azkyroth

    Actually, there’s fucking tons of it.

    Money quote:

    Myths about Asperger’s Syndrome

    ….

    Sociopathy. Just because they have difficulty understanding other people’s emotional states doesn’t mean they don’t care. In fact, scientific evidence suggests that autistic people generally have higher than average empathy towards people they notice are in pain. Some people with Asperger’s can be the nicest folks you’ll ever meet, and either way, they rarely use it as an excuse for plain old Jerk Ass behavior. Quite often, someone with Asperger’s may have strong morals and a sense of justice to the point of being a Soapbox Sadie about social justice, animal rights, etcetera, but in a social situation they might be simply absent-minded and forget to pause and think what their friend might be thinking/feeling in a given situation. Thus, you may get a kind-hearted Aspie ranting on about compassion for other human beings for hours but never letting you get a word in, ignoring your schedules and your needs (such as needing food or going to the toilet) and doing everything their way without realising they might be steamrolling you. The difference between a tyrant and an Aspie is that an Aspie just gets so focused and excited they honestly do not realise they’re doing this unless they’ve developed a sense of mindfulness about it or if they aren’t called out on it. At which they will be embarrassed and usually apologise profusely.

    Back in the days before Asperger’s Syndrome and autism were known disorders, those who fell into the autism spectrum were often mistaken for sociopaths due to lack of outward emotions/displaying inappropriate emotions (e.g. John Elder Robison was chided for smiling when he heard of the death of another child when in fact he was relieved that it hadn’t been him that died). This can obviously create a bit of a problem; humans are easily put off by weird asocial behavior and may think “sociopath” instead of “Aspergers.”

    Basically the two disorders are usually polar opposites in this particular respect. People with Asperger’s are generally more compassionate and get distressed by other people’s pain, but have problems showing it in a natural manner. Most have a strong conscience. The favored popular-culture consummate liar sociopath on the other hand tends to systematically misdirect, manipulate, fake caring mannerisms, etc, without any outward minor twitch/sign that they are doing so, or get intensely sadistic.

  • Azkyroth

    Okay, this needs to not get buried below a Click To Read More:

    And yes, there’s plenty that warrants a “fuck you,” what you did was using a diagnosis you ignorantly misunderstand as a term of abuse, because the people it actually describes and their feelings and experiences and suffering and ongoing marginalization apparently don’t count or aren’t real to you. It’s no different than saying “she was probably gay and that’s why she hated everyone.”

    And the “cranky and irrational” bit is the same silencing excuse bigots always give whenever they get called out for stomping on marginalized people, whether blacks, women, non-heterosexuals, or non-neurotypicals. You’re in good company.

    Pull your head out of your ass and think about what you posted.

    [EDIT]: Just scrolled down on your doubling-down.

    If casually implying that a member of a marginalized population is unable to recognize human life as valuable does not deserve a “FUCK YOU,” nothing does.

  • Azkyroth

    Aspergers.

    Is not.

    Sociopathy.

    You.

    Ignorant.

    Bigot.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I suggested you were being cranky and irrational because there is nothing I said that warrants a fuck you.

    What does that have to do with “marginalized people?” I responded strictly to your response, since I know nothing about you personally.

    You just seem to be completely free-associating and making shit up about what I think, what I mean, and what I know about Asperger’s. And therefore you strike me as cranky and irrational.

    I wonder if you’re ever going to snap out of it, and respond to the facts, not to whatever your imagination tells you.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I suggest you get yourself a better citation for Asperger’s than TV Tropes, which, while chock full of fascinating facts is not exactly the DSM.

    But since you did cite TV Tropes, here’s something else that it says:

    Lack of social ‘empathy’. Note: This doesnt mean sociopathy.

    Another biggie, the term “empathy” is misleading, as people with AS do feel and appreciate emotions, but they are unsure of what emotion others are feeling. Extreme literal thinking means they can’t see why a person would pretend to feel otherwise than they do, and this difficulty is solved by the only logical course of action – to paste in the emotion of whose emotions they are aware – usually themselves.

    Now since there’s no argument on the issue of whether social empathy is the same as sociopathy, let’s skip to the part where it says:

    “Extreme literal thinking means they can’t see why a person would pretend to feel otherwise than they do, and this difficulty is solved by the only logical course of action – to paste in the emotion of whose emotions they are aware – usually themselves.”

    It appears to me that this is a perfect description of Ayn Rand’s approach to the novel. And in fact she reportedly couldn’t understand why critics reacted with such hostility to the way she portrayed characters with socio-political views she disagreed with – and of course she went so far as to gas them in the infamous Taggart Death Train incident.

    The fact that Rand couldn’t understand the critics’ response points exactly to Rand’s lack of “social empathy.”

    Sociopaths don’t feel empathy, but they figure out how to work empathy in their favor. Rand obviously didn’t figure that out.

    And I have plenty of other evidence for Rand’s having traits that are very often present in those with Asperger’s. But if you’re just going to scream fuck you, I see no reason to talk to you at all.

  • Azkyroth

    Your quotes reference symptoms of sociopathy, especially not regarding human life as having any value. Don’t play dumb.

    Also, there you go using mental illness as a term of abuse again.

  • Azkyroth

    Of course it’s not the DSM; I’ve read the DSM entry and it’s full of clinical language which is mostly uninformative to nonclinicians and fails spectacularly to convey the actual lived experience of Asperger’s syndrome in a fashion understandable to any marginally intelligent person approaching it in good faith. The entry outperforms every other source I have ever encountered in the latter regard.

    And what evidence? All you’ve presented is a couple equally non-clinical quotes, one of which doesn’t reference Asperger’s at all and takes for granted that people with Aspergers consider humans’ deaths to be inconsequential, which is inaccurate and depravedly insulting.

  • Azkyroth

    Rand’s attitude towards both her critics and humans in general is inconsistent with both the details of what you’ve quoted and with Aspergers’ symptoms generally. It’s more suggestive of narcissism. Like your absolute insistence that you don’t need to consider the effects of your words on anyone who has a different background or perspective than yours, or your apparent belief that no one can be legitimately angered by anything you say.

  • Azkyroth

    there is nothing I said that warrants a fuck you.

    That is not something you can just decide by fiat.

    What does that have to do with “marginalized people?” I responded strictly to your response, since I know nothing about you personally.

    Do you deny that people with ASDs are a marginalized group in our society?!

    You just seem to be completely free-associating and making shit up about what I think, what I mean, and what I know about Asperger’s. And therefore you strike me as cranky and irrational.

    I’m calling you out on being ignorantly privileged and behaving oppressively. There is nothing irrational about this and your ignorance and smugness have given me a very good reason to be angry.

    (Adam, remember that “Galton” guy? How is this any different?)

  • Nancy McClernan

    Your making unwarranted assumptions about what I said and then getting angry about it, is not my fault. Your anger is based on your own bizarre assumptions about what I believe, not based on anything I’ve actually said. You keep insisting I believe Asperger’s is sociopathy when I’ve never said that.

    And since the rules of this conversation is that you can make up shit about what I believe at your whim, unrelated to what I’ve actually said, I see no point in continuing the conversation.

  • Azkyroth

    Your making unwarranted assumptions about what I said and then getting angry about it, is not my fault. Your anger is based on your own bizarre assumptions about what I believe, not based on anything I’ve actually said. You keep insisting I believe Asperger’s is sociopathy when I’ve never said that.

    No, my anger is based on what you have communicated, both explicitly and implicitly, in light of the existing social context. If my reading is in fact inconsistent with what you intended, then INTENT IS NOT MAGIC and at the very minimum, you are communicating badly and your self-righteousness is completely unwarranted. However, since your second piece of “evidence” in support of your claims was an extended quote about Ayn Rand’s disregard for human life, I see no reason to posit that.

    I see no point in continuing the conversation.

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • Portia

    Come ON. Rand’s exhibited lack of empathy for other people in NO way equates to any evidence she was on the spectrum. This is a shitty thing to say.

  • Azkyroth

    Let me rephrase:

    At best, you apparently think you’re a Special Snowflake who’s entitled to have people only respond to what you think you meant, rather than to the implication and weight your words actually carry in context, and also entitled to never have to think about that context.

    At worst, you’re a bog-standard disingenuous bigot.

  • Portia

    All Azkyroth is doing is taking your argument to its logical conclusion.
    Here, I’ll syllogize it for you:
    1. Rand is doesn’t care if people live or die.
    2. This is a lack of empathy.
    3. People on the ASD spectrum don’t have empathy. (THIS ONE IS WRONG, FYI).
    4. Rand was probably on the spectrum.

    Do you see where you went wrong? The clue is in the capslock.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I said good day.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Are you sure what you syllogized for me is actually a syllogism?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syllogism

  • Portia

    Um, yes, I’m fucking sure. Do you want to condescendingly argue semantics and (literally) philosophy 101 or do you want to do the decent thing and admit you were wrong and apologize for adding to the stigma and negative stereotypes about people on the spectrum?

  • Nancy McClernan

    Is it impossible for somebody with AS to also be a narcissist?

    What are the symptoms for NPD?

    Are they similar in any way to AS traits? Because based on all the sources I’ve read, Rand had a lot of traits in common with those with AS. Which is of course why I – and others – have suspected that she could have Asperger’s.

    But there’s also a passage in the book that is very telling, I believe. I was hoping to wait until Adam got to that part before broaching it, but at this rate it could be months and months.

    Not that I’m complaining about the pace – I appreciate Adam taking his time to analyze this book thoroughly – there’s so much there worth critiquing.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Because I think you’re wrong – if you look at the Wikipedia page – or I could find another source. What you claim is a syllogism doesn’t use the same rules as a standard syllogism.

    Now why don’t you do the decent thing and admit that you don’t actually know what syllogism is?

    Although I enjoyed your total, un-self-aware hypocrisy – after condescending to me with your “Do you see where you went wrong? The clue is in the capslock.” you actually have the nerve to complain about me condescending to you. Thanks for the LOL.

  • Portia

    So…you admit your logic is faulty to the point of ridiculousness. Excellent. You’re clearly arguing in bad faith at this point, so I quit. I’ve made my point, you’ve ignored it, I accept your forfeiture.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Nowhere did I even mention Rand’s “lack of empathy” in relation to potential Asperger’s. If you would read what I wrote instead of just making shit up – but then it’s easier to argue against a strawman, isn’t it? I didn’t say that “shitty thing” – your strawman said that.

  • Azkyroth

    You don’t get to arbitrarily decide that I’m done calling you out. What the hell is wrong with YOU that you don’t get that?

  • Nancy McClernan

    I said GOOD DAY!

  • Jeff_ret

    I think you could just create a template, “Rand doesn’t seem to understand _____________.” If I ever encounter something that Rand actually did seem to understand, then I’ll be surprised.

  • smrnda

    I didn’t catch this the first time, but it might be possible that Rand didn’t understand the difference between bankruptcy and going out of businesses. You can declare bankruptcy and stay in businesses, and you can go out of businesses without necessarily being bankrupt – sometimes people feel that, though they are not in the red, they don’t feel their businesses is profitable enough to be worth continuing.

    The other thing is, what did Dagny threaten then with, and if you get threatened by someone, why not go to the cops?

  • Azkyroth

    No.

  • John Alexander Harman

    From the Mayo Clinic’s website:

    Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by dramatic, emotional behavior, which is in the same category as antisocial and borderline personality disorders.

    Narcissistic personality disorder symptoms may include:

    • Believing that you’re better than others
    • Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
    • Exaggerating your achievements or talents
    • Expecting constant praise and admiration
    • Believing that you’re special and acting accordingly
    • Failing to recognize other people’s emotions and feelings
    • Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans
    • Taking advantage of others
    • Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
    • Being jealous of others
    • Believing that others are jealous of you
    • Trouble keeping healthy relationships
    • Setting unrealistic goals
    • Being easily hurt and rejected
    • Having a fragile self-esteem
    • Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional

    Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence or strong self-esteem, it’s not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence and self-esteem into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal. In contrast, people who have healthy confidence and self-esteem don’t value themselves more than they value others.

    When you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may have a sense of entitlement. And when you don’t receive the special treatment to which you feel entitled, you may become very impatient or angry. You may insist on having “the best” of everything — the best car, athletic club, medical care or social circles, for instance.

    But underneath all this behavior often lies a fragile self-esteem. You have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have a sense of secret shame and humiliation. And in order to make yourself feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and efforts to belittle the other person to make yourself appear better.

    I’ve taken a bit more time than most laymen reading about this disorder because, unfortunately, my youngest brother scores fifteen out of sixteen on that list of symptoms (the exception is that he doesn’t have enough self-control to make himself appear “tough-minded or unemotional”), as well as some traits that don’t appear on that list but are characteristic of borderline, paranoid, or anti-social personality disorder.

    I don’t know whether NPD can be comorbid with autistic spectrum disorders like Asperger’s or not. As I understand Asperger’s, people with it are unable (or at least noticeably less able than neurotypical individuals) to accurately model other people’s thoughts and emotions, whereas narcissists can do so, but don’t care what other people think and feel except to the extent that understanding it allows them to manipulate others into satisfying their own desires.

  • Azkyroth

    In principle they could be comorbid, but the salient features of Rand’s philosophy and behavior, the ones obviously referenced by calling her writing things like “revenge porn,” don’t fit particularly well with Asperger’s, and the attribution plays into insulting, marginalizing, and sometimes dangerous stereotypes and prejudices about Asperger’s and other ASDs, making it a really thoughtless comment at best. Which was what my point would have been if I were a robot and capable of perfect detachment.

    (Frankly, I think actual “revenge porn” from someone with Asperger’s would resemble Monty Python more than anything else.)

  • UWIR

    Bankruptcy for corporations is completely different from personal bankruptcy. There are basically two types of corporate ownership: stock, and bonds. When a corporation goes bankrupt, the stockholders lose their ownership rights, and then the bondholders become stockholders. It’s just a form of ownership transfer.

  • Nancy McClernan

    My logic was never under discussion since nothing I said has been the cause of the abuse and lies that you and your buddy have been heaping on me.

    And you failed to express what you claim is my logic as a syllogism.

    For as the Wiki definition I linked to says:

    A categorical syllogism consists of three parts:

    Major premise
    Minor premise
    Conclusion

    You have four parts in your so-called syllogism, and the last item, which should be the conclusion uses the word “probably.” The entire point of this exercise in deductive reasoning is to arrive at a logical certainty – not a probability.

    But feel free to invent my “forfeiture” – you’ve invented a strawman and your very own definition of “syllogism” so why stop there?

  • Nancy McClernan

    Yes, and I think that the evidence – based on two biographies of Rand, a hagiographic web site, and interviews with Rand that I’ve read, indicates that Rand was not able to model other people’s thoughts and emotions. And she had many traits that are similar to those said to be hallmarks of AS – she collected things – first rocks and then stamps. She almost never got jokes. She could not make small talk. She had a very difficult time relating to other children in school. She clearly was not interested in shades of gray, which is why all the protagonists in Atlas Shrugged are smart and attractive, and all the antagonists are ugly and incompetent.

    I’m certainly not an expert in AS, so I can only go by what people with expertise, like Temple Grandin, say:

    People with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome tend towards black and white thinking. They see themselves and the world around them in polar opposites, and this tendency feeds their need to be perfect. Even the tiniest mistakes and mishaps can feel like monumental failures to them, creating high levels of anxiety when their efforts or the events around them do not measure up to this all-or-nothing scale.

    http://autismdigest.com/the-need-to-be-perfect/

    Rand having AS doesn’t explain why she had such a hateful philosophy, but it might explain why she expressed her philosophy the way she did in Atlas Shrugged and elsewhere.

    And there is a very odd conversation between Rearden and Dagny that makes no sense from a socio-political perspective, but I would maintain does make sense from the perspective of someone with AS – who doesn’t know that they have AS – trying to make sense of the world of neurotypicals:

    Dagny, they’re doing something we’ve never understood. They know something we don’t, but should discover. I can’t see it fully yet, but I’m beginning to see parts of it. That looter from the State Science Institute was scared when I refused to help him pretend that he was just an honest buyer of my Metal. He was scared way deep. Of what? Public opinion was just his name for it, but it’s not the full name. Why should he have been scared? He has the guns, the jails, the laws – he could have seized the whole of my mills, if he wished, and nobody would have risen to defend me, and he knew it – so why should he have cared what I thought? But he did. It was I who had to tell him he wasn’t a looter but a customer and friend. That’s what he needed from me. And that’s what Dr. Stadler needed from you – it was you who had to act as if he were a great man who had never tried to destroy your rail or my Metal. I don’t know what it is that they think they accomplish – but they want us to pretend we see the world as they pretend they see it. They need some sort of sanction from us. I don’t know the nature of that sanction, but, Dagny – I know that if we value our lives, we must not give it to them. If they put you on a torture rack, don’t give it to them. Let them destroy your railroad and my mills, but don’t give it to them. Because I know this much: that’s our only chance…

    …Yes,” she said. “yes, I know what you’ve seen in them… I’ve felt it too – but it’s only like something brushing past that’s gone before I know I’ve seen it, like a touch of cold air, and what’s left is always the feeling that I should have stopped it… I know that you’re right. I can’t understand their game but this much is right: We must not see the world as they want us to see it. It’s some sort of fraud, very ancient and vast – and the key to break it is: to check every premise they teach us, to question every precept… “

    The key phrase here is “it’s some sort of fraud, very ancient and vast.”

    Now it’s pretty much assumed that Atlas Shrugged was inspired by opposition to Communism, but could Dagny be talking about Communism when she says this view of the world is “ancient and vast”? Ancient? Communism wasn’t ancient – The Communist Manifesto was published 110 years before Atlas Shrugged. That’s not ancient by any stretch. And is this what Communism feels like?

    it’s only like something brushing past that’s gone before I know I’ve seen it, like a touch of cold air,

    It sounds like she’s talking about a ghost, not a political movement.

    And then there’s Rearden’s and Dagny’s bafflement over the need of Stadler and the other parasites for social approval, which Rand calls “sanction”

    …but they want us to pretend we see the world as they pretend they see it. They need some sort of sanction from us…

    And please note that Rearden and Dagny believe that the parasites “pretend” to see the world that way. Which points to the whole theory of mind issue – Rearden and Dagny can’t imagine needing the social approval that the parasites crave from them, and so they don’t believe in it – they think the parasites are pretending.

    And that would explain why Rand’s explanation for what motivates Communism is pure, irrational sadism. This is how Rand explains Ivy Starnes’ motivation for collectivizing her family’s own factory:

    She had pale eyes that looked fishy, cold and dead. And if you ever want to see pure evil you should see the way her eyes glinted when she watched some man who’d talked back to her once and who’d just heard his name on the list of those getting nothing above basic pittance. And when you saw it, you saw the real motive of any person who’s ever preached ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

    This is not a discussion of the differences between Communism and Capitalism. This is something very different.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Yes, well I was not using “revenge porn” literally. Is it really considered unacceptable to use a term figuratively here?

    And let us review that last paragraph:

    The book will make so much more sense if you look at it as revenge-porn by someone with undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome frustrated by a world dominated by neurotypicals. There is a discussion between Dagny and Rearden a little further on in the novel which will make this perspective clear.

    Where am I talking about negative personality traits here? I said “someone… frustrated by a world dominated by…”

    Is being frustrated a negative personality trait?

    Apparently the belief by many participating in this discussion is that we all know that Ayn Rand was a Bad Person, and therefore she couldn’t possibly have AS because nobody with AS could possibly be a Bad Person.

    And to suggest that someone who is a Bad Person might also have had AS is assumed to be bigotry.

    I explained on another post in detail why I think Rand might have had AS. I have no reason to be a bigot against someone with AS, I have had almost no experience with someone with AS and my main reference point for AS is Temple Grandin.

    My belief that Rand had AS is based on what those online claiming to have AS say are the traits of AS, and then comparing that to what I know about Rand.

    I think that just as there are neurotypicals who are bigoted against those with AS, there are those with AS who are bigoted against neurotypicals. And I would suggest that Ayn Rand was one of them. Although she equated being a neurotypical with Communism.

    But the way she portrays people who are Communist has little to do with their actual political views and much more to do with some underlying pathology. Which is why in her form of Communism – the collectivizing of the Twentieth Century Motor Company – it’s the owners who force collectivization on the workers, and entirely for the purpose of cruelty. I think even the most devout anti-Communist must realize how absurd that is. But Rand associated Communism with the mass of humanity whose ways were alien to her – and they didn’t even really believe what they claimed, they were just pretending in order to perpetrate a “fraud, ancient and vast.”

    Atlas Shrugged is Ayn Rand punishing a world of what she believes are sadistic fraudsters by killing them and by fucking up their world in order for her kind of people, who are clearly in the minority, to dominate. And it fundamentally has nothing to do with political philosophies.

  • arensb

    I’m mostly in agreement with you, but I don’t think I agree that “The question doesn’t make sense”, since we’re talking about short-term vs. long-term operation.

    In the long run, the company might an R&D department to come up with new materials, or at the very least a sales department to handle new clients. In the short run, anything that doesn’t directly contribute to Taggart getting her spikes can be sacrificed: sales, marketing, most of payroll, most of shipping. And, of course, the company should sell its spikes above cost, to make a profit.

    In short, I think it’s plausible that a company might be unprofitable in the long run, but its products might be affordable if you’re willing to use it all up and kill it in the process of getting one last load of spikes.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I never said that Asperger’s is sociopathy. Stop making things up about what I say, and then calling me names based on a falsehood.

  • Azkyroth

    Bullshit. Even if we accept as granted that, oh you didn’t mean THOSE prominent and salient traits of Ayn Rand’s work that just so happen to be consistent with a prevalent and damaging stereotype about Asperger’s which you couldn’t even be bothered to acknowledge or try to steer your comments around, you explicitly cited, by brandishing a quote from someone else, the disregarding of human deaths to focus on the horror of “precious copper” being spilled as a trait consistent with Asperger’s. I have pointed out this aspect of your comments on at least three occasions and you haven’t even acknowledged it.

    I never said that Asperger’s is sociopathy.

    Oh for fuck’s sake.

    “It happened in that big city on the Thames which was once the capital of a worldwide empire and is notable for features like that one famous clock tower…”
    “Okay, so it happened in London.”
    “I NEVER SAID ‘LONDON!’”

  • Nancy McClernan

    I’m sorry if I gave you the impression that I wanted to engage further with you and your shrieking abuse. I was merely reposting my initial response which had been removed for some reason.

    I have discussed the issue further with others who don’t think that screaming fuck you is the appropriate way to begin a discussion or even a debate.

    I have no further I interest in communicating with you.

  • Chaos Engineer

    The company had been bankrupted due to repeated fines for violating OSHA regulations.

    Dagny got the politicians to reduce the fines, after which the smelter went back into production with its usual crew of random sleepy workers wearing flammable pajamas:

    she had had the padlocked doors of the Summit Casting plant unlocked
    and a random, half-dressed crew working at the smelters before the
    windows had turned gray with daylight.

  • Azkyroth

    I don’t care what you’re interested in. You thoughtlessly maligned a group I belong to and you’re too cowardly and self-important to own up to it and apologize or even acknowledge that my anger at being subjected to YET ANOTHER round of

    You can also offend someone by insulting their identity, reminding them of their second-class status, and damaging their ability to feel safe and welcome in a given space.

    as legitimate or reasonable.

    Given that, your only value in this conversation is to have your intransigent blustering serve as an example to others, and I have every reason to see the aforementioned blustering made a thorough example.

    It’s too late to complain about “shrieking abuse.” You blew that door off its hinges with your initial comparison and you smashed any remaining doubt-chunks into problematic-for-the-standard-model particles with your “precious copper” example. You are the one who has been abusive, by pile-drivering down and then kicking and screaming and holding your breath at being shakingly punching-up’ed back.

    You struck at the very core of my being in passing and you don’t see what the fuss is about because you’re too special to have to consider context or nuance when you randomly stomp people with less privilege then you. Limiting the response to that to “fuck you” is basically a sweepstakes giveaway.

  • John Alexander Harman

    It does sound as though she’s attacking not just socialism but sociality. However, I’m not sure an autistic spectrum disorder is the right diagnosis for someone who not only doesn’t care what other people think, but can’t even imagine caring what other people think, and is convinced that even those who do appear to care are only pretending. That still sounds to me more like one of the personality disorders.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I’m just going by the self-reports of people online who claim to have Asperger’s:

    For many of those with autism or Asperger’s, mindblindness, or lack of Theory of Mind creates major barriers to communication and closeness. These barriers often lead to those nearest to the individual feel, whether real or perceived, a lack of empathy from the individual.

    When I think of Theory of Mind, I think of an amusing, but of course very inaccurate, belief I harbored as a young child. While playing games like hide and seek, I used to think, “If I can’t see them, they can’t see me.” Of course, I learned very quickly that that was not the case. However, the mindblindness of individuals with autism or Asperger’s can be similar – “If I can’t/don’t feel it or perceive it, then they can’t/don’t feel it or perceive it” (or vice versa).

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/aspergers-diary/200805/empathy-mindblindness-and-theory-mind

    If this person with AS is correct, that it’s not uncommon for someone with AS to feel that if they don’t feel something, then somebody else doesn’t feel it, it would fit into Rand’s view of her antagonists – they feel a need for social validation – “sanction” – but since Rand – and her Mary Sue protagonists don’t feel it, then the parasites don’t really feel this mysterious ghost-like feeling – they must be pretending.

    Remember, if Rand did have AS – and of course I don’t claim to know this for sure, and I doubt we can ever know unless there’s some kind of genetic test that can be performed on any remaining Rand DNA – she was undiagnosed, and so it’s likely that she never even considered that her failure to understand the feelings that others had might be due to her own difference, not most of the world perpetrating some horrible, sadistic fraud on the good people.

    When I came across this statement from another person online who claims to have AS, I was reminded of Galt’s Gulch:

    As an advocate of autism rights, I sometimes dream of autism-only spaces. I’m sure other advocates have had that exhaustive moment of “Oh fuck it, I want to buy a private island and invite all my autistic allies to come live with me alone.” It’s pretty easy to feel that way, when the mainstream conversations about autism conveniently forget the disability rights credo of “Nothing about us without us” and prioritize the experiences and “knowledge” of parents and doctors over that of autistic people, effectively silencing them.

    It’s also easy to fantasize about that when you are in a group where autistic people outnumber the neurotypicals, and the conversations are rich, interesting, and feel safer somehow, more free, because you are not constantly wondering whether what you say will be used to prove you are too smart or too high functioning to comment on this or that. I’ve participated in autistic-majority conversations when discussing projects, and the amount of smiles, laughter, and mutual understanding involved made me feel a cheesy kodak moment of, “So this is what it feels like to be accepted.”

    But of course people with AS are as individuated as the so-called “neurotypicals” and even if there are some people with AS who would prefer to “go Galt” or are bigoted against “NTs” that doesn’t mean that I think that everybody with AS has an elaborate fantasy of destroying NT civilization like Ayn Rand did.

    And certainly not all people with AS think that AS is a disability – I’ve seen several places online where people claiming to have AS declare that AS is superior to NT. Why shouldn’t Ayn Rand posit that there was a minority of people who were superior, like herself, who would be better off without all the inferior moochers/looters.

    There’s another passage in Atlas Shrugged that sounds an awful lot like Ayn Rand declaring that the inability to make financial deals – the very bedrock of Capitalism – is a sign of moral superiority.

    First Rearden is confronted with what I’ve heard would be a nightmare scenario for someone with AS because they lack the ability to “read” others:

    Rearden had to decide how much he could risk to invest upon the sole evidence of a man’s face, manner and tone of voice…

    And he decides he can’t do it, but he’s told it’s because you can’t both be a scientific genius and know how to make deals:

    “I guess I’m not smart enough to make the sort of deals needed nowadays,” he said in answer to the unspoken thoughts the hung across his desk.The purchasing manager shook his head. “No Mr. Rearden, it’s one or the other. The same kind of brain can’t do both. Either you’re good at running the mills or you’re good at running Washington.”
    “Maybe I ought to learn their methods.”
    “You couldn’t learn it and it wouldn’t do you any good. You wouldn’t win in any of those deals. Don’t you understand? You’re the one who’s got something to be looted.”

    Notice how Rand turns it from a financial deal – how much to invest – into good at running Washington, a political deal. I would suggest this is further proof that Rand has funneled her own AS issues into a political issue, Communism, in this way. But clearly Rearden’s issue is that he can’t read people – Rand is suggesting that you can’t be a good Capitalist and make deals and at the same time be good at running a mill.

    Clearly Rand’s not really talking about socialism/communism when she is talking about those tricksy, fraudster, two-faced, parasites/looters/moochers.

    But none of this rules out some other issue that Rand might have had, completely apart from AS, that made her so generally self-centered and monomaniacal. I’ve yet to find any evidence for the proposition that you can’t have both AS and have some other issue like narcissism or sociopathology.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I did not do any such thing.

    And you didn’t demonstrate that I did. You quoted something I said about her novel – I didn’t say that was related to her Asperger’s.

    I did say that her possible, unrecognized Asperger’s was the cause of her frustration with the world.

    Her taking that frustration and turning it into what I called “revenge porn” is all Ayn Rand’s responsibility. To suggest that someone with Asperger’s wrote a bad novel with bad philosophical underpinnings does not indict all people with Asperger’s, nor suggest that the badness is the result of Asperger’s.

    But apparently to merely speculate that Rand might have had Asperger’s is considered a serious thoughtcrime by many participants of this discussion, and the rational response towards anybody who commits such a crime is to immediately declare them a low-down, ignorant bigot.

    The only acceptable response to Rand here, it seems, is to agree that she was a sociopath and a bad writer, period.

  • Azkyroth

    To suggest that someone with Asperger’s wrote a bad novel with bad philosophical underpinnings does not indict all people with Asperger’s, nor suggest that the badness is the result of Asperger’s.

    To suggest that someone writing a bad novel with these particular bad philosophical underpinnings, in the context of the extant stereotypes and ignorance about AS, and in particular to suggest that a lack of regard for human life is suggestive of AS, as in your copper example, certainly does carry that implication.

    And if you really didn’t mean that, why not just admit you fucked up and apologize instead of this extended “HOW DARE YOU RESPOND TO WHAT I SAID IN CONTEXT INSTEAD OF WHAT I CLAIM, IMPLAUSIBLY GIVEN MY FAILURE TO DEAL IN ANY WAY AT ALL WITH A REPEATEDLY REFERENCED COUNTEREXAMPLE, TO HAVE MEANT?!” temper tantrum? I could make a Privileged Jerk bingo card out of this.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I didn’t fuck up, and you obviously have no interest in reviewing and addressing the evidence I provided elsewhere for why I think it’s possible Rand had AS.

    As far as the “extant stereotypes and ignorance” – if I have those, I got them from people who claim to have AS, writing on the Internet, since that is almost entirely where I got my understanding of AS.

    You can go and blame them – including Temple Grandin – for my understanding of the traits of AS. I’ve already provided links.

    But really, what you want to do is shriek and rant, not engage in a discussion.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0Rjn6W9jYk

  • Azkyroth

    I did skim them. I found the connections a bit strained and contrived for the most part but not overtly dehumanizing like either the straightforward implication, in context, of the unelaborated comparison or your copper train example, and had you responded with something like “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that and I hadn’t given thought to how it would be perceived in the context of existing ambient prejudice against people on the spectrum; what I’m looking at is not Rand’s lack of caring for others but these specific quirks” instead of spending two days huffing and puffing and stomping your feet that anyone had DARED to speak harshly to you about stepping in it like that, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I don’t even know why I bother with you people. In the post that caused such a shitstorm I first said that Rand had idiosyncratic notions of Capitalism, and in the next paragraph I suggested that people don’t read Atlas Shrugged carefully enough.

    THEN I suggested that she was so far off from actually critiquing socioeconomic views that perhaps the way to look at the novels is as an expression of frustration from someone with undiagnosed AS.

    Somehow that was read as “Ayn Rand was an asshole THEREFORE she had AS.”

    Now instead of freaking out, people could have asked for clarification. But apparently that’s not considered the proper way to handle such things.

    I have the impression that there’s this paranoid assumption here that there’s a conspiracy to hurt people with AS, and my suggesting that Ayn Rand might have had AS is a clear sign that I’m part of this conspiracy – possibly a ringleader.

    Such fear and hysteria hardly promotes worthwhile discussions and debates.

  • Nancy McClernan

    As I already said, there are no beliefs I have about people with AS that I have not gotten from people with AS themselves.

    The Copper Train example is exactly reflected in this passage:

    Because my brain does not “filter” my behavior through an intuitive set of rules for social interaction, as occurs with most normal people, I tend to state what I think quickly, bluntly, thoughtlessly. Examples can sound bizarre: A person had died aboard one of the boats in the harbor where I kept my boat. I had helped get him into an ambulance and helped to clean up the boat afterward.

    Later, at a get-together on the dock in honor of the deceased, I was having a glass of wine with other boaters. I felt confusion and loss for he was a close and relatively young friend. His death brought home to me my own sense of mortality and I felt the great empty space left behind his powerful and humorous personality. In other words, I had appropriate “feelings” for the social occasion, but, as you will see, I was not able to match them to my expression.

    Another boating acquaintance was standing next to me. His wet eyes showed that his sense of loss was strong also. I looked down at the dock with my typical stare and said, “I cleaned the blood off the rug.”

    My friend, who was much taller, glared down at me. I felt like a bug under a microscope. In a few seconds, he turned and walked away. See? Jerk!

    Now the point of that passage is that the blogger, Steve Gregorich, who has Asperger’s, is self-reporting that he said something that was interpreted as his being cold and unfeeling. Exactly as that commenter on Amazon interpreted Rand’s focus on copper over bodies as being cold and unfeeling.

    Do you see the connection? Or am I going to have to painstakingly spell it out?

    Or are you going to claim that the blogger doesn’t really have Asperger’s and his blog is an elaborate conspiracy to smear people with Asperger’s?

    http://www.sacramentopsychology.com/index.php/articleslayout/54-aspergers-syndrome/83-social-skills-and-aspergers-syndrome-a-personal-account.html

  • Nancy McClernan

    As far as “existing ambient prejudice against people on the spectrum” – I have no experience with it, or knowledge of it, and unless I missed it, not a single one of the abusive shriekers in this discussion has cited an example.

    I’m not saying it doesn’t exist. There is existing ambient prejudice against all kinds of people, so it seems probable that there would be – but how could I be assumed to know about it, or what form it takes? I know about AS, as I’ve said, primarily through online discussions, and the people online blogging about their AS seem to be perfectly competent and as content as any so-called NTs – several of them are married to NTs, and while there are issues of communication, etc. , it doesn’t seem to be that much different from most couples issues of communication.

    Based on this discussion, the primary example of ambient prejudice against people on the spectrum is that somebody has speculated that Ayn Rand might have been on the spectrum. The horror.

  • UWIR

    “I don’t even know why I bother with you people”

    The feeling is mutual. I think I’ve been quite patient in explaining to you what the problem is. I’ve gone out of my way to word my posts objectively as non-judgmentally as possible, and to say things like “Your posts posts give the impression that you are saying” rather than “You are saying”. And you have repaid my effort with rudeness after rudeness.

    “In the post that caused such a shitstorm I first said that Rand had idiosyncratic notions of Capitalism”

    Those “idiosyncratic notions of Capitalism” being “justifications of threats and bribery and theft”. We’re not idiots. We can scroll up and read your post any time we want. This nonsense of massaging your posts into something neutral-sounding isn’t going to work.

    “THEN I suggested that she was so far off from actually critiquing socioeconomic views that perhaps the way to look at the novels is as an expression of frustration from someone with undiagnosed AS.”

    So, then, you agree that you suggested that because Rand “was so far off from actually critiquing socioeconomic views” that you thought that she had AS. And since “far off from actually critiquing socioeconomic views” is your fancy way of saying “justified threats and bribery and theft”, you are agreeing that because Rand justified threats and bribery and theft, you think she had AS. And you insist you don’t understand why people are pissed off.

    “Somehow that was read as “Ayn Rand was an asshole THEREFORE she had AS.” ”
    DUH.

    “Now instead of freaking out, people could have asked for clarification.”
    Yes, they could. You’re going with the “two wrongs make a right” argument? My assertion is that you were extremely insensitive with your phrasing. That other people could have gone out of their way to get you to provide the clarity that you should have provided to begin with does nothing to contradict that. If you have a problem with what other people said, direct your complaints to them, not to me. It doesn’t address what I’m saying. Nothing that happened in response to your post can be used to justify your post.The space-time continuum does work that way.

    “I have the impression that there’s this paranoid assumption here that there’s a conspiracy to hurt people with AS”
    Is there a widespread tendency for people to be hostile and bigoted towards people with AS? You have to have your head up your ass to say “no”.

    “my suggesting that Ayn Rand might have had AS is a clear sign that I’m part of this conspiracy – possibly a ringleader.”
    It is a clear sign that you are participating in this tendency. Whether it is intentional or not, you are adding another brick to the edifice of anti-Aspergers sentiment.

    “Such fear and hysteria hardly promotes worthwhile discussions and debates.”

    Not taking responsibility for your insensitivity hardly promotes worthwhile discussions.

  • Nancy McClernan

    And in case anybody’s interested, this is how Barbara Branden, once one of Rand’s closest friends describes Rand’s reaction to a surprise party:

    In retrospect, it might have been predicted that a surprise party would not please Ayn, that she could not cope with the unexpected. Her reaction that evening seemed relevant to her lack of humor: she could not, would not, move abruptly from one context to another. She had expected a dinner alone with Frank; when the nature of the evening suddenly switched, she could not flow with the change of plans – and, typically, she reacted with anger and a touch of fear. It was as if she felt a painful pressure to force her mind to abandon its straight-line, single-track functioning and to make a mental leap not only to another context, but worse, to a context imposed upon her by other people.

    - The Passion of Ayn Rand by Barbara Branden

    Based on the autobiographical anecdotes online by people with AS, this sounds exactly like someone with AS to me.

  • Loren Petrich

    On the subject of AS, “Aspies” have a lot of variation. It may be difficult to be very good at mathematics without being an Aspie, and I’m both very good at math and a likely Aspie, but some Aspies aren’t very good at math. Also, I know someone who was surprised that I am a likely Aspie, since an Aspie she had known was a jerk.

    So Ayn Rand being an Aspie seems likely. If nothing else, someone neurotypical may find it difficult to do all the writing that she’s done over her life.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Well the thing is we’ll probably never really know for sure. And I’m certainly interested in arguments against my thinking she might have had AS. I’m certainly no expert, and there’s a limit to what you can know about a collection of traits known as AS from just reading what AS bloggers say.

    But Rand’s behavior was by all accounts so atypical that it seems likely she wasn’t entirely neurotypical. Although of course the term neurotypical seems problematic in itself.

    Mostly though the idea that Atlas Shrugged is a legitimate critique of socialism and a defense of capitalism breaks down when you get to Rand’s notions of those concepts – the book really doesn’t work as a political critique of actual real-world politics, so I can’t help but ask: what is it that makes her have so many strange-seeming assumptions about the world?

    Some people with AS contribute to a blog called “wrong planet” – I assume they feel they are on the wrong planet, at least at times.

    Certainly Atlas Shrugged is a kind of Bizarro World, to me – but it was a place that Rand thought was real. She rejected a suggestion that Atlas Shrugged was an allegory, and when someone suggested that her heros were unattainable ideals, she pointed to herself as the ideal.

  • A Real Libertarian

    You know you’re using “Empathy” the way Miko Miyazaki uses “Good”, right?

    You have empathy, so when you declare a long oppressed group to be subhuman freaks, that’s not sociopathic because you have empathy.

    Miko is good, so when she murders a defenseless old man in cold blood, that’s not evil because she’s good.

  • A Real Libertarian

    “I have the impression that there’s this paranoid assumption here that there’s a conspiracy to hurt people with AS”

    Saying this to people who are routinely murdered by family members and then the killers get massive sympathy from other people.

    That is acceptable, how exactly?

    Oh right, because they’re completely empatheyless and therefore subhuman garbage.

  • A Real Libertarian

    “Do you see the connection? Or am I going to have to painstakingly spell it out?”

    You’re desperately reaching for something to justify your bigotry.

    If you can’t tell how

    “a bunch of copper has been spilled, oh and there’s corpses everywhere, but who cares about that?”

    and

    “my friend is dead, he’s never going to make a joke again, there’s this great empty hole in my heart, I didn’t save him… time to clean up the blood… what else can you do?”

    are different, I don’t know how you think can go around lecturing people about empathy.

  • Don Sakers

    #1 If the company went bankrupt, then obviously (in Rand world) the owner was not a True Person but a looter…subhuman…and had no property rights to respect. Dagny had just as much right to seize this poor, neglected factory as she had to seize any natural resource or feature.

    #2 The influence of Randians in our own government is aptly demonstrated by the fact that there’s a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act but not a Domestic Corrupt Practices Act.


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