Archive for Ayn Rand

A Stupid Argument

Posted in Politics and Society with tags , , , , on November, 2012 by melendwyr

One of the most common arguments I’ve seen people bring up in criticisms of ( conservatism / Ayn Rand’s Objectivism / whatever strawman they’re trying to tear down to show how potent their political positions are ) is the American interstate highway system.

You’ve probably heard or read the objection yourself; it usually goes something like this:  “You use the interstate system and products shipped on it – shouldn’t you be boycotting the evil governmental interference in the market?”

I’d like to suggest a reply to such people.  They presumably contract for the services of various utility companies – electricity, water, oil or natural gas, and so on.  In the United States, these utilities are almost always, to the best of my knowledge, privately owned companies.

Shouldn’t these advocates of government influence in the markets be boycotting the evil corporations trying to dominate their lives, and refuse to use utilities until such time as they can be nationalized into government services?

As for the argument that many of the people who have shaped the technological and sociological structure of our society had at least some public schooling, and the government subsidizes many kinds of education, therefore our wonderful society is utterly dependent upon government activity… well, I don’t think any argument is effective against Duckspeak.

On a totally unrelated note:  the Eurythmics’ soundtrack to 1984 is fantastic.  I particularly recommend Doubleplusgood, although the fan video which accompanies it is a bit rough around the edges.

The Aesthetic Sins of Ayn Rand

Posted in Reviews with tags , on April, 2010 by melendwyr

Yes, yet another post about Ayn Rand and her crazy ideas. I promise this one will be short.

I’ve been thinking about the subject lately, if only because someone on a forum I sometimes visit asked about Objectivism and the flurry of responses (both positive and negative, accurate and inaccurate, mixed in all different ways) made me do a little thinking.

I’ve written previously about what I think the virtues and problems of Rand’s ideas are. But I’ve never discussed her writing, as such.

Basically, her works are uneven. I would recommend The Fountainhead over Atlas Shrugged, if only because the latter reiterates the basic points over and over long past the time when even a minimally aware reader will have grasped them, and the totally oblivious won’t be affected no matter what’s done. She desperately needed an editor, or more precisely, she needed to acknowledge that the way she wrote wasn’t necessarily the best way to say what she wanted to say. (Her non-fiction discussions of her ideas are a lot cleaner, and to my mind, more effective, than her fiction.)

But there’s one big flaw, one which cannot be forgiven: Rand uses associational techniques, which are prerational, to forward ideas that are not only supposed to be rational but which stress rationality. Instead of making arguments, she’s presenting propaganda in the worst sense.