The Objectivist by Phedra M Johnson
In Greek myth, Athena–the goddess of wisdom and strength–disguised herself as a crone when first confronting the prideful mortal Arachne. This artifice was later cast aside, to reveal her true divine form—resplendent in a warrior’s armor.
In a news reel from the late 1950’s Ayn Rand adopts the same affectation. She sits quietly as the program’s host haughtily challenges her social theories. Listening intently, with hands folded demurely upon her lap—Rand is deceptively unassuming in a plain asymmetrical frock.
Then—when it is her turn to speak—Rand’s eyes flash defiantly. Her mouth opens and what bursts forth, accented heavily by her native Russian, are golden threads of wisdom—to some. Or the perilous, vile webs of a black widow’s design—to others.
Yet here is this woman, formulating bold, original ideas—with a brash sexuality—in a time when this was literally life-threatening. Her personal philosophy of Objectivism, which posited that true happiness was only achieved through moral integrity, strident individualism and respect for the property rights of others—was lampooned in her lifetime. Yet despite critical stonewalling, in 1991, a survey conducted for the Library of Congress declared Rand’s, Atlas Shrugged, the second most influential book in polled respondent’s lives, after the Bible.
Which is just as ironic and controversial as anything else associated with the firebrand novelist.
To Rand, our human existence, if properly appreciated, must be filtered through the unblemished lens of rationality—totally devoid of spirituality. Altruism, that selfless concern for the well-being of others, which is the bedrock of our Judeo-Christian society—was, in fact, a “basic evil”. Even her heroic characters were modeled upon the most despicable sociopath and murderer of her time, William Edward Hickman.
In a perfect world–versed fully in Objectivism–the slothful, undeserving and lackluster “parasites” are swept aside by a totally laissez faire capitalistic system of government.
A government that in her estimation would operate off the free-will of untaxed and unforced individuals. New men and women, whose primary path to happiness was their own unfettered self-interest and productive creativity.
To put it bluntly: Ayn Rand was in possession of a massive set of brass lady testicles.
She was an equal-opportunity offender. Though her ideals have been recently adapted by conservatives and the Tea Party—Rand blasted both the right and left with equal venom. There was no quarter for traditionalism of any kind. Her indelible first Right of Man was expressed as, “There are no evil thoughts except one; the refusal to think.”
In the end, when her two-pack a day smoking habit caught up as lung cancer, she collected Social Security checks and Medicare. By 1982 her ill-health was compounded by heart-failure. She died on March 6th in New York City. A massive floral arrangement—in the shape of a dollar sign was placed near her casket.
Unrepentant to the end, Rand lived her creed of self-interest and put out her cigarette in the eye of a stunned world.
Phedra M Johnson
What?! Online Contributor