Saturday, March 14, 2009

Is Ayn Rand Relevant?

My rare readers, who have been paying attention and can decipher my turgid prose, know that I have been wandering my little stretch of the People's Republic of China reading Atlas Shrugged. It is a long novel (1,000 pages with small print and no pictures) and having Tony and work to do, I have been seemingly reading if forever.

I suppose if you read a novel long enough you will come across an article about it on the Internet. The one I have linked asked the question is Rand relevant? More and more people seem to think so since the novel's sales are better than ever.

Do I think Rand is relevant? I find her novels have lots of things to say to defend capitalism that are universal and for all time. She does seem to portray the mindset of Socialists in a realistic light. But there is something flawed in her outlook. Her protagonists seem two-dimensional and not realistic. They represent an ideal but one that is rare in this world even among the geniuses that make the world a better place.

Her novels are full of blind spots. Florence King noted that Rand had nothing to say about Jews and yet Rand had escaped from a place where anti-semitism was ripe. Rand talks about a spirit but has little to say about the idea of a transcendent god that is so important in America. There are no religious figures in Rand's novel, let along mention of a church.

Rand is not fascist as someone said to me when I mentioned I was reading Atlas Shrugged. In deed, her heroes don't want anything to do with government. For example, the character Rearden paid someone to deal with government so he could look after his business - he stayed away from the politicians and bureaucrats like the plague.

So I am of two minds about Rand. In a perfect world, we would aspire to do business as Rand's characters do. But we wouldn't be so fixated on business as to forget the transcendent and the other loyalties we need to make life worth living.

At the rate I am getting through Atlas Shrugged, this current recession may be a memory provided President Oprah doesn't go too far.


Alan Sullivan said...

Anyone who would call Rand "fascist" is truly an idiot. AR was the fiercest anti-fascist imaginable. She was opposed to collectivism in any form, not just communism.

principlex said...

It is irrational to say that Rand had lots of blind spots. By what standard?

The truth is that her novel has a theme and a plot which she carries out - in spades. A fiction writer is not obliged to mention Jews nor anyone else unless it forwards the story and the basis for the story, both of which Rand was genius at.

Atlas Shrugged is deep, going to the essence of human life. A person who doesn't want to go there, isn't going to appreciate the novel in the same way as one who does.

Andis Kaulins said...

Thanks for making the comment principlex.

By what standard do I say that Rand has blind spots? I would have to say by the standard of whether or not it is true to life. I read her novels and I enjoy them but I feel there is something missing. For instance,her hatred of religion which is as fierce as her hatred of any forms of collectivism contributes to a coldness in her characters.

Not that there is anything wrong with being stern on some matters but as a Rand biographer said "she creates a smaller world within the larger irrational world that would consist of people who were predictable, intelligible, and in accord with her thinking..." The world of Atlas Shrugged is a small world with many details from the larger world missing.

Still, I enjoy the novel. It contains many arguments that support capitalism. It does inspire one to achieve excellence. But this world is full or irrational humans and it doesn't equip one to deal with them.

Anonymous said...

I feel duped LOL! Where's your commentary on the Bengal Dog and if it is real or just dyed that colour since the Chinese are known to do just about anything!? That is what lead me to your blogpost and I feel tricked somehow! Hmmm...

Well your post on Ayn Rand got my attention - here's an eye opener for you about her novel -
titled "the prophecy club mind control & N W O pt 1

If you're not Christian - well skip that part - just check out this guys message as he goes into Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged alot. Also, I suggest you give it a chance even though this guy is a little monotone and therefore boring!

Take care...