I was a huge fan of Ayn Rand from my early 20s until a few years back when I began to wonder whether there was “more to it” than the ostensible admiration for the productive classes and a ruthless advocacy for freedom from needless government interference in one’s life. Rand’s work even may have an impact on my choice of career; I have spent over 15 years selling private jets to these admirable, productive and successful heroes of Rand’s world. Little did I know that this recent misgiving about Rand would lead to an interpretation of her work that at first I would hardly believe myself. But the “could it really be” turned into being “on to something big” when tested with revisiting her work and honing my thoughts through writing.
For the two and a half decades that I was on board, Rand’s philosophy, which she called Objectivism, was a strong influence on my thinking. I attended a few conferences, numerous objectivist “meetings,” events such as the opening of the film The Spirit of Ayn Rand in New York, and even worked at the Ayn Rand Institute in the mail room briefly around 2000. However, despite my being a good objectivist, there were, to use a film reference, glitches in the matrix. Anyone who has been heavily involved in Objectivism may recognize some of these “tells” or have similar observations about Objectivists or their core representatives today including Leonard Peikoff. My first – and never buried clue – was the admonition within the Randian world that Beethoven was irrational, and that a “true objectivist” could never enjoy Beethoven. You were supposed to hate Beethoven second only to Plato, the real philosophical villain to Ayn Rand. Rand herself called Beethoven’s music “malevolent” or about a “malevolent universe.” This will make sense soon.
My next glitch was the people I met at these Objectivist conferences. I’ve been all over the world and made friends of all types and many worldviews, but never met a single person I kept in touch with from the Objectivist world. They were all obsessed with discovering the technical applications of Rand’s views to their own lives an no one ever smiled. I never witnessed any empathy either. Once, I got criticized by a “big” writer from Rand’s original circle for having nature in the background of my business card. I had lived in Japan for several years and taken some great pictures of Mt. Fuji and other scenes. I used a picture I took from Numazu, a peninsula area that reaches out in front of Suruga Bay providing a stunning and peaceful look across the water at the mysterious Mt. Fuji in the distance. This image was the background of my normal business info, company name, name, etc. He made a comment against “nature” and said something like “we will get you on board yet.” I didn’t understand the comment at the time, but didn’t mentally delete it either.
After I started my new business over 15 years ago, I had more long stretches where I didn’t have as much time for this “philosophy stuff” but would occasionally read something new or catch a podcast. At some point I saw that Yaron Brook, director of the Ayn Rand Institute, would be speaking at a University near me and excitedly made plans for this event. Dave Rubin was the host. The event was mostly what I expected, but with more undeniable glitches. Now some of these observations may seem petty and small, but I want to describe in detail how someone who was a devoted fan comes to have an entirely different view on this complex subject. Rubin was observably condescending to the audience using phrases like “whatever you people call yourselves” to the mostly student audience, and Brook was mostly on his usual shtick about freedom but added on a pro gun control segment. Huh? I left unsatisfied and bored. I thought that no one would end up more free or thinking for themselves after the event, and little did I know that this might lead to questions like “Why would an architect …? “Why would Rand be lifelong friends with Alan Greenspan if she was against big government?” “Why would Ayn Rand say such terrible things about Arabs if she was so vehemently against racism?” “Why do so called hard core Objectivists have such vile hatred of libertarians? Aren’t they almost the same beliefs?” “Why does Peikoff say liberals are more likely to convert to objectivism than conservatives? Aren’t conservatives a little more small government and freedom oriented today?”
More than Beethoven had been banned in the worldview I would soon leave behind. For a while, I forgot about Rand. The above event would have been shortly after the release of the last of the long anticipated Atlas Shrugged movies. After 2020 and the global Covid Operation started to take place, something happened. I watched people do what they thought was “rational” but sadly were acting hateful, stupid, or acting based on downright faulty and flimsy “chains” of thinking. Something labeled as science was in fact religion. Could this be like objectivism, where the believer thinks they worship the rational but actually live in a narrow cesspool of gotchas and irrationality? Very clever.
I remember having this random, unexpected, and unfiltered thought at the height of the Covid Operation in mid 2020: This is the world of Ayn Rand, the world of the atomized individual, the ultimate self-interested individualists covered in layers of “personal protective equipment” against the irrational world. For some reason I began to really look for criticism of her work but found little to almost nothing. The academic philosophy world still ignored her as her followers often complained, and the Ayn Rand Institute still pushes her books in high schools to counteract this. I did not consider the work attacking her personality or her affair with her follower and soon to be Objectivist leader himself, Nathan Blumenthal AKA Nathaniel Brandon, at the time to be what I was looking for, nor was I looking for some general hate directed towards fans of her work.
To my astonishment I only found literally two sources actually criticizing her thought and work. One was the book The Ayn Rand Cult by Jeff Walker. In this book Walker explains the strange phenomenon of the strict control Rand had over her original adherents known as The Collective. The other was very brief and only really a mention or a paragraph explaining his views, but was a commenter called John Todd, who claimed that Rand was Philip Rothschild’s mistress and the book Atlas Shrugged was not a warning but a plan for crashing and taking over the world’s resources, and was written at his request. Although that is an interesting theory, and Rand herself answers and denies that accusation in the long lost Q and A section of the famous Donahue interview. The Todd theory does not sufficiently address the issue in my opinion, and my plot interpretations to follow are the main ideas I wish to offer up to the public for criticism.
To be fair, since my original search I have found a little more material critical of Rand. Kurt Keefner’s essay addresses the Beethoven issue, but attempts to praise both Rand’s work and the music she hates, and soothe the divide. There is a brilliant essay on the Claremont College website by Peter Jebsen which compares Rand’s writing and thinking style to that of Soviet Bolsheviks.
My theory is that no one has correctly and fully understood the plots of her two main fiction books, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Quite simply, I am going to accuse her of the use of symbolism, just not the same symbolism everyone thinks, and of a grand game of deception through conflation of types of people and concepts.
On the outside chance any hardcore Objectivists are still reading out of some morbid curiosity or hate, let’s talk about 9/11. By now, only the deepest of sleepers still believe the absolute lie that given to the world on 9/11 about Muslim “hijackers” without piloting skills taking over relatively tiny tin cans of airplanes and this somehow causing hundreds of millions of tons of steel and concrete to pulverize before our eyes. In very Objectivist fashion, the “rational” string of world events that somehow followed were “justified” and in the “self-interest” of America or it’s controllers. As 9/11 truth became fully available to anyone who wanted the information, did any prominent Objectivist who screamed for any of various Middle East wars retract their statements? I somehow doubt it.
There have been many people who have outright dismissed Rand’s fiction over the years, and it is possible I am seeing something “they” did also. I will assume the reader is familiar with the plots of these books, but will attempt to make the point clear for those who have not read them. For Atlas Shrugged I will offer a warning about the three movies made from the book which correspond to the three parts of the novel. They are so watered down, missing important details and subtle parts of the plot, and missing particular dialogue that it may not be fully possible to evaluate my position or even have a nuanced and thought out view of Rand by watching them alone. Furthermore, the acting in these movies is on average terrible and the three movies do not use the same actors for the same characters in the different parts, and all three parts are directed by three different directors. So it is incompetence, not some conspiracy, that renders these movies a difficult method to judge Rand’s work or my ideas on it. But in the case of The Fountainhead movie, it is more skillfully edited and what is “missing” to go from a huge book to a movie is less substantive and carefully selected. I believe Rand herself was involved in this movie script in some way, and frankly Gary Cooper’s performance is stunning. The Fountainhead movie would suffice in my opinion to gain an understanding of the essence of that book, or as a refresher should one want to contemplate my argument.
I will start with Atlas Shrugged because I realized what it is about first. It is less of a hidden agenda than the other book. The book is about a cast of characters who are presented to us as the productive members of society, they own and operate industrial ventures. It is set in an unspecified US future in a failing economy. It is more “tone” that lets us know the economy is falling apart, although there is at least one reference to hyperinflation also, in a scene (given a specific price in the movie) where it takes $600 to fill up a pickup truck with gas. One by one, the “productive” characters disappear or even abandon their own businesses in protest to the government wanting to regulate them, but more so in protest to of the attitude prevalent in society that people are owed something and that something must be taken by force from the productive classes and given to the unproductive.
There are parts of the plot which literally make no sense, and I wish to establish that they do in fact make sense when the proper symbolism is explained. One such area in the book is the sub story of Hank Rearden and his so called metal. This foundry owner character, supposedly invents a “new metal” and everyone simultaneously hates him for doing it but wants as much as they can get. The story makes no sense. First of all, no one can invent a new metal, maybe mix a new alloy, but you “discover” a new element, not invent it. But what could our author and lifelong friend of Greenspan be talking about? How about specifically fiat credit money created out of thin air by Rand’s friend. Now it all makes sense. There is even a scene where the metal leaks from a busted furnace, and the owner’s economist assistant helps him fix the emergency. Read: inflation. Rand is talking about the money printers and their creation of credit out of thin air and attempts to control events. Never mind that she claimed that money “should have been” gold, it isn’t in the story, it is miracle money because everybody needs it. Both government and private businesses want what this character has created, and the book resents anyone who needs it just as the bankers have contempt for those who grovel for their made up credit which has to be paid back with real work. Rand has contempt for her readers, and for her fellow Americans unless they are in the “in crowd.”
Atlas Shrugged makes it clear that people with the wrong ideas are just not worth much in her world. As the system falls apart, rail service suffers. In one famous scene, an incompetent rail worker makes a mistake which ends in the death of all the passengers on board. Rand painstakingly informs us of each of these passengers “beliefs” or “actions” that she does not approve of before they die in an all consuming sacrifice due to the locomotive’s exhaust in a tunnel. They are all gassed as Rand celebrates their fate – they deserved to die because… they took a government loan or some other moral mistake which wipes out their humanity. The nameless passengers held simplistic or communal beliefs, and deserve no empathy. What she is writing is perhaps revenge in fiction for the story of the WW2 holocaust, but in fiction and set on American soil, where she shows that (ostensibly in 1950’s American train passengers) whites in America, due to their belief deserve to be holocaust-ed.
But alas, revealing one of Rand’s inversions, those that died are not the parasites, they are the host. The parasite has decided to change hosts, and leave the discarded body of the America host behind to move on to something new. Atlas Shrugged is the story of the parasite pushing the host to its absolute limit, literally and symbolically when the lights go out in New York. The myriad of reactions to collapse and laws passed in the fictional world may be mistakes, but are reactions to thieves and criminals, not to successful and productive businessman who are just the victims of a useless and mooching public as she would have you believe.
In the story, a chosen cast of some of the characters have had enough of the public which needs to be genocided, and they move off to a new protected valley where only like minded people are allowed. Rand describes the valley as Galt’s Gulch, named after another main character who is the one going around convincing these captains of industry to strike and give up on the masses. But again, the story makes more sense with a plausible explanation as to the real symbolism. I believe, and I think I am the first to speculate, that Galt’s Gulch is Israel. Not the people of Israel, and maybe not even the Government, but Israel in it’s origin as Zionist Banker project. Rand idolizes a place where only a certain group is allowed. I don’t think Rand gave much of a care about her fellow Jews, and might throw them on the train for wrong-think too, but she cared very much about having the correct supremacist views and demonizing the “other” who doesn’t perfectly conform. Her Israel is an escape hatch for anyone who is allowed, to get away from the beastly public and their vile ideas.
Another part of the book dealing with the domestic transcontinental railroad in her fictional America, deals with its CEO, James Taggart. Taggart is symbolic for the upper classes in America and their royal British roots, and Rand has no love for them. Their worst sin is flirting with the lower classes – as symbolized by Taggart’s romance with a young store clerk who is full of ignorance about who is truly great and who isn’t per the story. Taggart’s sister will eventually join the strike as the only “outsider” but in order to do so she must trade running and owning a major American railway for being Galt’s handmaiden in fantasy land, and maybe just maybe they will allow her to borrow money to build and own a three mile track. She is to be subjugated to her new master or else continue to suffer on the outside world as it falls apart. If she is a good girl, she can be “allowed” to go from owning something (a transcontinental railroad her family owns) to owning almost nothing (a three mile track serving the conquerors.)
Loyalty to Rand’s ideals in the book requires a total break with the world of your past culture and identity, and an oath symbolic of your new loyalty. “I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” This sounds great at first, but it is a sneaky trick. All the money in the world created by the money printers like Rand’s real life friend Alan Greenspan, cannot pay back the total amount owed, since more is owed than exists by definition. So what you do when you take the oath, is fall for a trap and become a slave. The oath has to be broken by the reality of the contract, but if you do, you are a mooch that asked the money printers to “live for you.” After move on to a new host, everything will fall apart and you will beg them to come back. Hence the ending, where the once tortured Galt is begged by the masses to come back and solve their problems. Of course I am skipping vast parts of this over 1100 page book to provide you the thesis, but you hopefully get the idea. Atlas Shrugged is a trick, and one which demands you die in a dark tunnel should you hold a wrong thought. In Sabbatean Frankist style, Rand takes the feel and work ethic of the traditional American, projects that virtue onto virtueless characters who destroy to make money, and we are supposed to worship the characters put there by her brilliant sleight of hand.
Rand’s earlier novel The Fountainhead is about a failed architect who gets the opportunity to design low income housing for a friend who has the job but cannot complete the work. He makes a deal with the friend that he will do it for free, but his work must not be changed in any way. The architect who has the job agrees to the deal and to the terms, but his clients change the design. They add balconies to the building and deface the work as seen by the actual designer, the character Howard Roark. In retaliation for violating his agreement, he dynamites the actual buildings after they are built. For a great deal of the beginning of the book, Rand lectures us on architecture. Many readers have mistakenly thought that Frank Lloyd Wright was the inspiration for Roark but this simply cannot be true. Her own descriptions of the work she admires in the book are nothing less than brutalist. On one level of the symbolism which isn’t terribly deep, this is about a war to change the landscape of American cities from classical beauty to the new modernist or brutalist architecture.
The book is rife with hatred of classical and nostalgic architecture, and by implication Western culture. It is more likely her hero was based on someone like the architect Louis Kahn, or other modernist or brutalist architects who displayed not a move toward a new thinking, but a repudiation of and hatred of the past in their work. Today, our cities are littered with these giant middle fingers to society and open contempt for the work of actually making a building or a city beautiful. Her fictional buildings were symbolic of hatred of the dominating ethnic group and it’s traditions, and a replacement of the ruling trend by brutalism. In a 9/11 style demolition, Roark dynamites the building which represented a technical violation of his design by adding balconies for the poor. A book about an architect that dynamites his work because of someone changing his design makes no sense, but a book about the taking over and taking of a great country’s resources and culture makes a lot of sense.
The “architect” is, on an even deeper level, symbolic in the novel for the supposed architect of the economy – the credit printing class. Design, in Rand’s novel is symbolic for those who print money out of thin air and thus direct the economy. But the society in the novel is still full of simpletons who oppose Roark’s designs and are holding back progress. By dynamiting his work, and claiming his moral virtue in doing so, he is later able to rebuild (back better) the tallest building in the city. I am sure this is symbolic of Rand’s worship of the richest individuals on earth, and the conflation of the creation of credit with the creation of real achievements or production, such as a building. Could this book really be about those described in Our Crowd by Stephen Birmingham? Roark would then be representative of a class or group in New York City in history who goes from unable or not allowed to work – to owning the symbolic and literal tallest building in the city. Rand is bestowing upon Roark a moral virtue that she creates as accolade for his rise, rather than a Roark who rises because of his virtue. Remember the Greenspan friendship. The people believe that they can and should destroy economies at will and for their own purposes, simply because someone put balconies on the cheap apartments. Bring it down to bring it back up, but a sleight of hand happens on the way. If you are wondering why this corruption sounds familiar, think of the kind of philosophy that one would have to have to be involved in CBDC. Who thinks you should be punished and have your bank account frozen for some wrong-think?
I believe that her ideas in these novels from the 40s and 50s are far more influential and widespread than just the readers, followers, or very limited numbers of explicitly Randian advocates such as Yaron Brook would imply by their numbers alone or easily named identifiable influence on popular culture. Randians are famous for saying Atlas Shrugged is the second most influential book after the Bible. Maybe they are on to something they can’t explain. But it isn’t freedom they are having an impact on. It’s hyper-technical atomism and pushing the latest agenda they seem to be best at. Now why would the latest drama from MSNBC, the so called right version of it on FOX, and the Ayn Rand Institute sound exactly the same? That is a dangerous question.
What has Ayn Rand ever done for freedom? If memory serves me correctly, Peikoff was heavily for wars in Iraq in his podcasts, and if anyone knows of him retracting that after the lies about “weapons of mass destruction” or babies being thrown on the floor out of incubators were debunked please let me know. Both Peikoff and Brook have not said friendly things about Iran. I never heard why, but it seems all the rage for people who claim initiation of force (and State force especially) is wrong, to want force initiated against Iran. As of the writing of this article, Brook is tweeting up a storm against the Israel co-created Hamas.
All official sources that you are “allowed” to follow on the right, left, and the Rand, seem to be promoting the idea that their side is made up of rational human beings who want to defend themselves but the “others” are in a trouble of their own making. Cue the argument that there are innocents in Israel but none in Palestine, since of course they are hiding “terrorists” under every rock. It is all very convenient thinking in a “rational” Objectivist world where a massive land grab of prime Mediterranean real estate will be the end result of the operation, regardless of what news incidents lead to what other news incidents and are championed by a very loud chorus of justifications all sung in very brutalist harmony but no joy.
I have now realized that Randianism is just Zionism regurgitated disguised as Aristotle in a great philosophical and fictional charade. Rand’s morality is not morality; it is a system whereby anything that Zionists do is moral, and anything standing in Zionists way is the immoral. Rand once stated that her morality was invented to serve the (sociopath) characters not the characters were invented to demonstrate the morality. God forbid you are a “terrorist” and adopt Objectivism and think that your decisions are rational. That moral inversion has been checked out at the library already.
Looking back, Rand, born Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, seems to have taken over the anti-communist movement in America but left it dying and unable to function and mired in meaningless technical fights, like America dies in her novel. Regarding her native Russia, she blamed the “communal” Russian ethnic group for Communism, implying that they wanted and deserved it, but never blamed the Bolsheviks who brought it about. The Russians deserve Communism, and Americans who think like the train passengers deserve to be in a tunnel with no air. The famous Randian Walter Block, in his recent Wall Street Journal article, describes Palestine as a “depraved culture” which will solely bear full responsibility for any civilian casualties caused by Israel’s retaliation. Because the Hamas “Nazis” deserve it too. The us vs. everyone else in our way in Rand’s thinking equals that some group that needs to die due to some technical rule violation of an unknown gotcha. In a podcast addressing a famous statement or phrase expressing in group preference, Yaron Brook declared that “white does not exist.” I guess right now if you are Palestinian you might feel you don’t exist either. In reality, the fight is the real parasite vs. anyone on land they want in this grand exercise of twisted ethics.
Today, the Ayn Rand institute seems to represent a re-hashing of very bad globalist ideas, couched in the cult’s buzzwords. There is no concern for potential validity of anti-VAX arguments, nor any attempt to analyze whether the experiment was actually was safe or effective, instead you get an article that you aren’t being selfish enough if you don’t get the jab. You could take the article and change it to “too selfish” and publish it elsewhere, the rest is pro-VAX dribble with or without the selfish vs selfless debate. Another ARI article pushes more “testing” but again does not question the premise. Today, there is extremely well developed research documenting the 20 plus years of patents and players behind the Covid Operation by researchers such as Dr. David Martin, but just like mainstream media, you will not hear a peep about this from official Objectivists. Dr. Peter McCullough has presented study after study that the jabs cause heart inflammation and death and should not be allowed for human use but the ARI types are as silent as morning news on this topic.
Gobs of articles justify killing civilians in wars – as long as they are on the wrong side. You can make Objectivism support any globalist position, just start your argument on an assumption that allows you to create the chain of if / then that you want. I am now embarrassed to have worked there at any time, but I would rather publicly divorce ARI 20 years later than never.
So I suggest that those of us who advocate for liberty (libertarians, ancaps, classical liberals, anti-communists, non-aggression advocates) evaluate why all liberty movements seem to be failing in the face of a more totalitarian world increasingly run by villains of both government and industry. If you don’t want to end up in isolation quarantine because of a “marker,” spending your life working futility against engineered collapse, having your ethnic group ruthlessly attacked if you dare to try to work together on anything, while the attackers work together in marvelous coordination, or be outright destroyed in some war that was planned in advance and justified by fictional stories to cover up for acts of aggression designed to start that war, then it is time to move on from Ayn Rand and her Objectivist AKA Zionist salespeople today.