The Objectives of Objectivism

I'm not normally pointing out political opinion blogs, the world of culture and the cultural arts are my usual balliwick, but this recent essay really struck a chord with me.

Stranger still it was penned by Michael Gerson, a former GW Bush speechwriter and senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, who's conservative bonafides are iron-clad and not the guy I'd be apt to agree with. But here he is, distilling for me just what it was about Ayn Rand's philosophies that troubled me so. I couldn't put a finger on it, but Objectivism and the fast-paced trend to resurrect it, just seemed plain wrong. But when debated on the point, and you'd be surprised how many normally sensible people have fallen into the Galt cult, I would get flustered and inarticulate. I literally couldn't believe anyone would support such an obviously selfish and self loathing philosophy.

Hooray however for Mr. Gerson, who has so simply and plainly encapsulated the crux of my distress. In this opinion peice for the Washington Post, he likens Rand's fantasies of the worthy elite as boring as and and as predictable as a petulant teenager's adolescence. He further summarizes Objectivism's "principles," in his words, "on the back of a napkin."

He notes:
"Reason is everything. Religion is a fraud. Selfishness is a virtue. Altruism is a crime against human excellence. Self-sacrifice is weakness. Weakness is contemptible.

“The Objectivist ethics, in essence,” said Rand, “hold that man exists for his own sake, that the pursuit of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose, that he must not sacrifice himself to others, nor sacrifice others to himself.”

Gerson is, like myself, bewildered at the promotion of Rand's ideas especially given her hatred of the Everyman (the little guy that Reagan claimed to champion,) and of the religious, who she thought were idiots.

He concludes:
"Conservatives have been generally suspicious of all ideologies, preferring long practice and moral tradition to Utopian schemes of left or right. And Rand is nothing if not Utopian. In “Atlas Shrugged,” she refers to her libertarian valley of the blessed as Atlantis.

It is an attractive place, which does not exist, and those who seek it drown."

I'll drink to that.