Over the last several days, I have engaged in discussions with a Libertarian who is also a disciple of Ayn Rand. The discussions were very enlightening to me, although not in the way that some would suspect.
Let me begin by stating that I read some of Ayn Rand’s books when I was much younger. “The Fountainhead” and “Atlas Shrugged” struck me as the type of thing that most 12 year old boys would readily accept because most 12 year old boys know everything. Trust me, just ask one and it will be confirmed that they do in fact know everything. I was the same way until I kept growing and maturing into an adult and left Rand to the fantasy section where she belongs.
The philosophy that sprouted from the mind of Rand came to be known as Objectivism. Stop and ponder on that word for just a minute. It perfectly sums up the beliefs of those people who think that Rand was some type of genius. It implies that the self is the most important thing in the world, and that the goal is to accumulate as much as possible. Sounds like an appealing type of worldview to a 12 year-old boy. The problem is in the way that Objectivism devalues other human beings. The Randian Libertarians that I talked with, or rather emailed back and forth, illustrate this perfectly.
I was stunned at the callous disregard these people had for their fellow human beings. Other people seem to exist only to provide the means for the chosen to accumulate more and more. If there are those who are less fortunate, then a Social Darwinist mindset creeps in that resigns those people to their fate because they “can’t complete”. To these Randian Libertarians, that is the extent of their compassion or concern about others.
In addition to the callous disregard for others, there was an unhealthy fear of these others. “Them” seems to mean anyone other than themselves who are focused not on living and loving and making the best of things, it means that everyone else is out to get what the Randian Libertarians have accumulated. They take it as read that everyone else is out to take what they have. This reminds me of watching movies about prehistoric cavemen behaving badly, or of spoiled children who want everything their way and have never learned to share with others.
You can see what I am getting at. These people are immature and selfish with only the rudimentary skills necessary to function in a civilized society because they have not grown past the emotional responsiveness of spoiled children. It is no wonder that they live in perpetual fear of the time when “They are coming to get what is mine”. They have no advanced understanding of society and the responsibility that each of us has to play.
Obviously, I am opposed to this Objectivism in the strongest possible terms. A mindset like this will handicap those who choose to follow it, it will ostracize them and isolate them. This leads to a rather reactionary type of response that they will display to everyone. A sense of superiority that masks deep insecurities and an instant rush to attack everyone else is their trademark.
I find absolutely nothing about their philosophy appealing in the least. It seems to me that following that path is a sure way to end up alone and bitter and angry. I find that any group or philosophy that demands that I agree to live in a closed environment is repulsive to me, and that is where the Randian Libertarians reside. I won’t penetrate their special little bubble, I will let them have it all to themselves, which is what they wanted in the first place. I value my life too much (perhaps the only point we agree on) to waste it on the pursuit of material things and the devaluing of those around me.