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Ayn Rand

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1jju
May 26, 2012, 12:46pm Top

Should Ayn Rand be included in the Library of America?

2brother_salvatore
May 26, 2012, 1:49pm Top

In thinking about this from the other thread, I think it would be really great if LOA did different series of political writing. 20th Century Conservative Writing, 20th Century Progressive Writing, 19th Century Political Speeches, Speeches of the 1960s, American Peace Writing, 20th Century Presidential Inauguration Speeches, etc...

If there is one conservative political writer who I think deserves a LOA volume it would be William F. Buckley. Whether one agrees with him or not, he is a really great writer.

I think Rand could have a volume also, but I would also want to see radical or progressive writers also get a volume here and there to represent the breadth of American political thought.

3Django6924
May 26, 2012, 2:29pm Top

>2 brother_salvatore:

Good idea! They would fit into the thematic anthologies such as Into the Blue and American Sea Writing.

4geneg
May 27, 2012, 6:54pm Top

Russell Kirk would be a good conservative for this project. Maybe even Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol. Although, I don't think they can be truly classified as conservative. They do represent a critical wing of American political writing.

I just think Ayn Rand is a bullshit writer who writes bullshit. Her philosophy, if indeed she has one, is muddled at best and infantile at worst. I think her thought is that of a spoiled 2nd grader. Me, mine, I want. There is good, contemporary, conservative political writing, grounded in the tenets of conservatism. Ayn Rand is none of those things. Personally, I see Ayn Rand as the Anti-Christ, where Jesus sees mutual help and support as one of the primary goals of humanity, she sees selfishness and petulance as the epitome of human engagement. Remember, never, ever do something for someone for which you will not be paid. And who was John Galt? Oh, yeah, he was the guy who, when he found he didn't like the rules of the game, took his ball and went home. We've all known people like that.

5CurrerBell
May 27, 2012, 8:05pm Top

4>> Ditto on Russell Kirk (though I'll quarrel with neocons like Podhoretz and Kristol).

The Southern Agrarians should definitely be included in any such volume.

And also, Robinson Jeffers.

I'm not familiar enough with Zora Neale Hurston's political writings to say how substantial they are, but I know she was definitely an admirer of Robert Taft and that she's been adopted by current-day libertarians and some paleocons.

Someone else who should be included, believe it or not, is Dorothy Day, the founder (with Peter Maurin) of the Catholic Worker, who herself seems to have been an admirer of the distributism of the Southern Agrarians. There's an interesting chapter on this subject in Bill Kauffman's Look Homeward, America, which also includes, among other chapters, one on Carolyn Chute. Kauffman, a self-described "love child of Henry David Thoreau and Dorothy Day," is a regular (and somewhat offbeat) columnist for the paleocon American Conservative.

6bertilak
May 28, 2012, 6:38am Top

>5 CurrerBell:

Zora Neale Hurston should definitely be included. Even if her opinions seem dated, her status as an intelligent participant/observer makes her work still valuable.

7artturnerjr
May 28, 2012, 12:12pm Top

>4 geneg:

Personally, I see Ayn Rand as the Anti-Christ, where Jesus sees mutual help and support as one of the primary goals of humanity, she sees selfishness and petulance as the epitome of human engagement.

Oh yeah, precisely. I wasn't going to post on this thread, but that was just too apt of a statement to not comment upon.

8LesMiserables
Edited: May 29, 2012, 3:29am Top

I have not read anything other than Atlas Shrugged. When I read it I had a completely different world view from what I have now, so I liked it of course.

I liked the fact that someone else was saying that people should not be rewarded for sitting around feeding off others, or that there should be charity rather than welfare.

Then I had an evolution in my thinking.

I began to realise that A.S. is propaganda. It is anti-communist clap-trap. I realised that people were dependent because they were excluded, by race, geography, society. I realised then that a few powerful people owned the game, wrote the rules and owned the muscle to enforce them.

9wildbill
May 31, 2012, 10:01am Top

I do not think that Ayn Rand deserves a volume in LOA. She was not an influential political philosopher in any serious way. I have tried to read Atlas Shrugged and put it down three times, but that is only one person's opinion. I do think that a two volume set of American Political Writings, similar to the American Speeches would be worthwhile and interesting.

10DanMat
Edited: May 31, 2012, 1:39pm Top

But she took her Social Security and Medicare. So, an "idealist" to the end...

11LesMiserables
May 31, 2012, 4:03pm Top

> 10

I'm not so sure there is anything wrong with that. I assumed she paid into the pot to get something out of it.

As I said above, I'm no longer a fan of Rand's 'philosophy', but don't see using medicare as being hypocritical.

12jju
Edited: Jun 7, 2012, 2:36pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

13artturnerjr
Jun 4, 2012, 11:28am Top

Incidentally, I started talking to my doctor this morning about reading and found out she's listening to an audio version of The Fountainhead.

14CurrerBell
Edited: Jun 4, 2012, 10:56pm Top

12> considering her influence on the neoconservative movement . . . .

Rand was in no way a neocon, with the neocon stress on war and empire. On the contrary, her views would definitely be considered anti-interventionist, and some writers at the libertarian/Paulite website Antiwar.com very much like her. I'm no admirer of Rand, but I think she should be criticized for the right reasons. Some kind of influence on neocons is definitely not accurate. I would add that Rand, a staunch devotee of the gold standard, was certainly no admirer of the Federal Reserve Board, and whatever Alan Greenspan's association with her, Greenspan's Fed-based monetary policies were definitely not Randian.

I guess you could say that Rand deserves canonization in the LoA at least as much as Edgar Rice Burroughs did, but that may be like saying that Marie Corelli (whom I've never read) deserves canonization by Virago Modern Classics -- which she's certainly not gotten so far! Actually Corelli's books are probably of more interest since Elizabeth Taylor (the real Elizabeth Taylor) satirized her in Angel.

Sorry to all Burroughs fans out there, but the LoA was definitely slumming with its Burroughs edition -- and believe me, somewhere close to half-a-century ago I devoured darn near everything Burroughs ever wrote, and my reread of a couple Kindle freebies in the past few years makes me realize what a terrible writer Burroughs really was. And as far as Rand's concerned, some forty years or more ago I read darn near everything she ever wrote too.

15randomengine
Aug 30, 2012, 11:23am Top

As much as I hate Ayn Rand, and I hate her writings a lot, I think it would be a bad thing if LoA eventually did not include her writings if it were able.

The mandate of the LoA is that it should include all important and significant writings. While I disagree with almost everything Ayn Rand has to say, including what her supporters and fans have to say, her works are important to explain the way our society currently works politically.

Look at the influence of Alan Greenspan, Paul Ryan, and a large section of the conservative movement. Her writing has had a major impact on domestic current affairs, if only to the detriment to us all.

Given the proper context, I think an LoA volume or two (or three) would help to explain the thinking of a large segment of the American people, even if that thinking is terribly misguided. Otherwise, if one were to look at the LoA works as a tapestry and history of American writing, it would have a big piece missing and without it some of the things that have occurred will not make any sense without that context.

16scott.stricker
Oct 3, 2012, 11:00am Top

15 > "Her writing has had a major impact on domestic current affairs, if only to the detriment to us all... help to explain the thinking of a large segment of the American people, even if that thinking is terribly misguided."

Congratulations on being so much smarter than everyone else.

17geneg
Oct 3, 2012, 12:36pm Top

Certainly smarter than anyone who takes Ayn Rand seriously.

18natashaslove
Oct 5, 2012, 11:33am Top

Slightly off topic, but Atlas Shrugged is in theaters in seven days. I can't wait!!!!!!!!!
BTW, those of you who hate Ayn Rand, have you read her philosophy, or only heard about it? I don't think teaching personal responsibility and independence of thought and action are misguided. I don't agree with her on everything she says, but the general trend of her philosophy seems pretty sound to me.

19geneg
Oct 5, 2012, 12:38pm Top

Ayn Rand doesn't teach personal responsibility. She teaches narcissism. An entirely different thing. Her message is, in short, if I can't have my way I'm going to take my ball and go home, although, she dresses that sentiment up by giving it the name of "going Galt". That's what Ayn Rand teaches. I've read two of her books Anthem and Atlas Shrugged. Both of these books are fantasy. You can't base real life on fantasy. The general trend in her philosophy boils down to don't do anything for anyone for which you will not, or cannot, be paid. Yup, That's the philosophy for me. Her philosophy is mostly why we're in the hole we're in nationally. Ayn Rand is THE Anti-Christ. Personal responsibility is fine if you have the resources to exercise your responsibilities. Not everyone does. Anyone who thinks many people are lazy and won't work because they enjoy life on the dole is either smoking funny stuff, or has precious little experience with real life.

20natashaslove
Oct 5, 2012, 1:13pm Top

"anyone who thinks people are lazy and wont work" might be a criminal defense attorney, like myself, who sees about 1500 of these type a year. Many people are getting a bit tired of carrying such, and as you say might be thinking of "Going Galt." After all, we are in a national crisis because people cannot keep the rewards of their own hard work, so one might think why bother?

21mattsya
Oct 5, 2012, 1:34pm Top

*Sigh* This used to be a nice troll-free group.
Anyway. Atlas Shrugged: The Movie Part 2 was made? I thought the first one was thoroughly slapped by the free market.

22CurrerBell
Edited: Oct 5, 2012, 2:07pm Top

Rand was a racist who in 1979 characterized the Palestinians as "savages." Yet she never (ETA: at least as far as I'm aware) criticized the savages who twelve years earlier had attacked the U.S.S. Liberty, murdering 34 Americans and wounding 174 others.

Her "philosophy" was an epistemological gibberish that she called "realist" but was based ethically on some kind of romanticized Nietzscheanism that was completely ignorant of Nietzsche's psychological subtlety as well as his oft-used irony and sarcasm, which makes a literal reading of Nietzsche extremely dangerous.

Of course, Rand would have denied any Nietzscheanism and claimed that her epistemology was Artistotelian-based, but her narcissistic ethics were entirely non-Aristotelian and, even as to Artistotle's epistemology, she completely ignored its basis in Aristotle's theory of matter and form and rejected the Aristotelian metaphysics that derived therefrom. And her attack on Kantian epistemology showed complete ignorance of what Kant was doing with his distinction between noumenon and phenomenon.

And incidentally, yeah, I read all of her novels years ago. We the Living is actually a fairly decent semi-autobiographical novel, but Anthem (I think) is largely a rip-off of Zamyatin's We. The Fountainhead includes a masochistic endorsement of "rape by consent," and Atlas Shrugged is a completely unreadable glop of propaganda that weighs in at probably a greater length (though with far less literary merit) than an unabridged Les Miserables.

Anyway, whatever anyone thinks of Rand's political and economic ideas, the Library of America is supposed to rely on at least some kind of canon of literary merit. Now, granted, the LoA has started slumming in recent years, but Rand isn't even as meritorious as Edgar Rice Burroughs!

24natashaslove
Oct 5, 2012, 4:18pm Top

Is the movie is half as good as the trailer it will be great!

25artturnerjr
Oct 5, 2012, 6:16pm Top

BTW, those of you who hate Ayn Rand, have you read her philosophy, or only heard about it?

I've read Anthem and about 100 pp. of Atlas Shrugged. Anthem (which, I am very happy to note, is now available as a free ebook at Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1249) and many other websites, something that would no doubt piss Ms. Rand off endlessly) started off as an entertaining tale that got pretty risible about a third of the way through; in Atlas Shrugged, I found Rand's philosophical odiousness surpassed only by her stylistic incompetence. If she's your cup of tea, great; personally, I found her to be mostly a waste of time.

26AsYouKnow_Bob
Oct 5, 2012, 7:34pm Top

Should Ayn Rand be included in the Library of America?

No.

27scott.stricker
Oct 9, 2012, 3:53pm Top

1> I've only read Atlas Shrugged. I don't know much about Ayn Rand, her philosophy, or her impact, but based only on literary merits I'd vote no. She might have a place in an anthology I guess, and I could be totally wrong if Atlas Shrugged is not indicative of her writing as a whole.

19> Ayn Rand doesn't teach personal responsibility.
Personal responsibility is a major theme of Atlas Shrugged. The author lacks subtlety, so I'm not sure how anyone could miss this. Hank Rearden v. James Taggart; Dagny Taggart v. Wesley Mouch; John Galt v. the Starne siblings. Successful characters are responsible and villains are irresponsible and blame others.

19> She teaches narcissism.
In Atlas Shrugged it is emphasized many times that the successful characters have business and personal relationships in which ALL parties profit (and not always monetarily). The only characters who might be characterized as narcissistic are the villains, like James Taggart and socialist government bureaucrats who grow wealthy as the country declines.

19> Her message is, in short, if I can't have my way I'm going to take my ball and go home.
Okay, let's see if I can recall everything Rearden put up with before he quit: 1) Compelled to divest himself of ore and coal companies, decreasing the value of his company, raising his costs, and lowering his production 2) Compelled to accept a government-appointed director into his business to distribute his metal. 3) Compelled to supply the government at discounted rates. 4) Compelled to give up the recipe of his metal to his competitors. 5) Went broke putting his own wealth back into the company to keep it afloat. He didn't even have a ball to take with him when he finally quit! Wasn't the message that the rules should be fair for everyone playing the game? Oh, or maybe this was a deliberate mischaracterization?

22> Rand was a racist
Okay, this is out of my depth - I saw nothing in Atlas Shrugged to suggest racism. So I Googled "Ayn Rand Racism" and read an article called "Racism" in which she argues against racism. Not sure if calling Palestinians savages but not Israelis is tantamount to racism?

25> ...started off as an entertaining tale that got pretty risible about a third of the way through
Yeap. The first part was not bad, the second part started to drag, and the third part seemed like a somewhat stilted switch to science fiction. Dialog and character development are not the author's strengths. I think the would have benefited from more editing.

28natashaslove
Oct 9, 2012, 4:19pm Top

>27 scott.stricker: Can't argue with you about the literary merit, but you definitely summed up Atlas Shrugged perfectly in terms of the message.

29LesMiserables
Edited: Oct 9, 2012, 4:27pm Top

27> In Atlas Shrugged it is emphasized many times that the successful characters have business and personal relationships in which ALL parties profit (and not always monetarily). The only characters who might be characterized as narcissistic are the villains, like James Taggart and socialist government bureaucrats who grow wealthy as the country declines.

You don't get bureaucrats in non-socialist countries?

If you ask me, regardless of what party is in government in the US, you do not have anything close to a socialist country, yet the government under all of your presidents have been large, invasive and interfering.

The only difference being that with Republican governments, the propaganda mouthpiece attempts to deny this.

For the record, I classify the Armed Forces, Home Guard, Federal Police, State Police, CIA, FBI, Homeland Security etc etc as all part of government.

30Django6924
Oct 9, 2012, 6:54pm Top

>29 LesMiserables: " the government under all of your presidents have been large, invasive and interfering"

Since George Washington? That's a rather sweeping generalization. Please explain how the government under Millard Fillmore was "large, invasive, and interfering." (I'd like to know as from the sources I've read the government seemed to be non-existent during his presidency.)

31scott.stricker
Oct 9, 2012, 8:36pm Top

>29 LesMiserables: You don't get bureaucrats in non-socialist countries?

No, I never said that. Not even sure if that is what the author suggested in the book? Not even sure how this comment applies to my post actually.

>29 LesMiserables: If you ask me, regardless of what party is in government in the US, you do not have anything close to a socialist country, yet the government under all of your presidents have been large, invasive and interfering.

I would argue that the US has had a fairly isolationist foreign policy until WWI, and even then we pretty much returned to isolationism. It was only after WWII that the US became a super power and pursued a more aggressive foreign policy, primarily directed against the spread of communism. I would also argue that, ever since the proliferation of nuclear weapons, isolationism is simply no longer a realistic option.

>30 Django6924: That's a rather sweeping generalization.
Yeah, go figure - a sweeping generalization on an internet chat board. Hope this doesn't become a trend.

32Django6924
Oct 9, 2012, 10:23pm Top

>31 scott.stricker: "Yeah, go figure - a sweeping generalization on an internet chat board. Hope this doesn't become a trend."

Like irony.

33LesMiserables
Oct 10, 2012, 2:16am Top

> 30

Yup, thinking out loud without writing it down. Apologies. I was referring to post war US governments.

34LesMiserables
Oct 10, 2012, 2:31am Top

> 31

From your post #27 socialist government bureaucrats who grow wealthy as the country declines.

I assumed that by including the adjective socialist that you were inferring that it was largely a socialist problem, which is of course nonsense.

On your next point, I was not referring to US foreign policy but domestic policy.

Interesting comments justifying American expansionism and nuclear proliferation. For all the ballyhoo around WMDs, the only reason US foreign policy is hyper aggressive is to eke out markets for new theatres of military conflict (either directly including US forces or not) to supply demand for armaments.

35ptdixon
Oct 10, 2012, 2:51pm Top

I wish LOA would release an Ayn Rand volume; that way we could be finished with the "Should She Be In" threads which digress like this. I get that people hate her, her philosophy and all the politics that go with it. But, her influence is pretty hard to deny. It all swings back to the more general question of whether LOA admission is purely a question of literary/technical merit or if enduring influence should affect admission. To the disappointment of some on this board, enduring influence does count (see Lovecraft for another controversial choice).

36LesMiserables
Oct 10, 2012, 3:22pm Top

> 35

I agree. In my point above in #8, I am quite clearly not a fan of Rand but when we start to curtail a legacy for purely political reasons then something is lost to future generations.

37DanMat
Edited: Oct 10, 2012, 4:31pm Top

I disagree. People (namely Randians) are cultivating a legacy for purely political reasons...

Nothing will be lost, it's a jejune philosophy.

38scott.stricker
Oct 10, 2012, 7:14pm Top

34> My entire post (27) was about Atlas Shrugged and how some posts seemed to me to have mischaracteriize it. What I wrote was "the only characters who might be characterized as narcissistic are the villains, like James Taggart and socialist government bureaucrats who grow wealthy as the country declines." This was not my opinion or a general statement, it was simply a description of characters in Atlas Shrugged and what they did in the book. You seem to have taken it out of context, generalized it, and ascribed it to me?

34> Interesting comments justifying American expansionism and nuclear proliferation.
Again, I think you're generalizing what I wrote. In my post (31) I was not justifying US foreign policy, I was simply trying to describe it (at least as I understand it). I was also not justifying nuclear proliferation (who would?), just pointing out that the US simply couldn't return to a largely isolationist foreign policy after the USSR developed nuclear weapons.

34> the only reason US foreign policy is hyper aggressive is to eke out markets for new theatres of military conflict (either directly including US forces or not) to supply demand for armaments.
Are you seriously arguing that the US has gained more than it has spent in post 9/11 conflicts? While the US deficit has risen $158 Billion (2002) - $1.1 Trillion (2012) and the national debt went from $5 Trillion (2001) - $16 Trillion (2012), GDP has only gone from $11 Trillion to $13 Trillion. You may have heard that we are in fact in a rather serious recession? The US has gained no territory since after WWII and gas prices have gone from $1.40 (2001) to $3.80 (today). Please explain how the US has profited from ANY of this mess?

39DanMat
Edited: Oct 10, 2012, 8:24pm Top

38>

The last point, not the US as a whole, but some profited (quite nicely I might add) on the mess Bush/Wolfowitz/Rumsfield/Cheney lead this country into...

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/12/washington/12contractors.html?_r=0

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2008-02-21/news/0802210232_1_kbr-iraq-rock-is...

But it's a corporate strategy. Gut the company, leave before it collapses, no need for the markets.

40LesMiserables
Oct 11, 2012, 5:15am Top

> 38

Are you seriously arguing that the US has gained more than it has spent in post 9/11 conflicts? While the US deficit has risen $158 Billion (2002) - $1.1 Trillion (2012) and the national debt went from $5 Trillion (2001) - $16 Trillion (2012), GDP has only gone from $11 Trillion to $13 Trillion. You may have heard that we are in fact in a rather serious recession? The US has gained no territory since after WWII and gas prices have gone from $1.40 (2001) to $3.80 (today). Please explain how the US has profited from ANY of this mess?

Yes I am seriously suggesting that the government finds markets for military spending to line the pockets of the Armament Dealers and Manufacturers. The taxpayer picks up the bill.

41randomengine
Edited: Jan 29, 2013, 11:57am Top

I am taking back my previous position.

Ayn Rand should NOT be in the LoA.

The reason is simple. The LoA recently published a volume on anti-slavery writing. Publishing Ayn Rand would be akin to publishing a slavery writing volume. It would be disgusting and insulting. Just because there are two sides to an argument does not mean that one side is legitimate. The history of America is a history of conflicts with 2 or more sides. Our history has been a path of choices. Certain ideas and ideals persisted and prevailed. These should be lauded and celebrated. Ayn Rand's works should not be as it goes against all the choices and paths America has chosen so far. It does not fit the narrative and is just another obstacle in the way of American progress as defined by our culture so far.

The works of Ayn Rand are a perversion of American ideals.

42bsc20
Jan 29, 2013, 6:44pm Top

I have my students read collections of proslavery writings from the antebellum period. They are really glad that I assign them even though it makes for uncomfortable reading and they have to explain that they are reading it for a class when they get stern looks at the coffee shop or from friends and family. It is important to know the stories Americans told themselves about slavery. Whether much of the material makes for great literature is highly debatable, but collections by Paul Finkelman and Drew Gilpin Faust are essential reading for those interested in the nineteenth-century United States. The writers collected in these books saw slavery as an essential component of American freedom.

I've never read Rand, but she has to be one of the most polarizing writers of the past hundred years or so.

43AsYouKnow_Bob
Jan 29, 2013, 7:04pm Top

Are you seriously arguing that the US has gained more than it has spent in post 9/11 conflicts?

The costs and benefits of ANY government's policies do not necessarily go to the same people.

The broader society can be flatly destroyed by policies that enrich SOME members of the society.

Yes, we spent billions, raised from across the entire society: but a moment's thought will show that that money was funneled into relatively few pockets.

44Dewy9
Jan 30, 2013, 5:20pm Top

I'm not going to get into/ attempt to provoke an argument, but there are many of us who feel that a startling amount of what's in Atlas Shrugged has proven prophetic.

45LucasTrask
Jan 30, 2013, 8:52pm Top

Also, her protagonists, in at least Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, can arguably be considered embodying the "The American Dream."

46LesMiserables
Feb 9, 2013, 6:35am Top

Why haven't you published ______?
The Library of America aims for inclusiveness, but there are often circumstances that prevent us from including a given writer or work. For instance, we may be unable to obtain publication rights. Or, the writer in question may have only a small number of significant works that won't fill out an entire LOA volume. Or sometimes, we just haven't gotten around to it—yet. The series is open-ended, which is to say we will continue to add titles. We have a lot of work yet to do. If you have a specific writer in mind, feel free to e-mail us...

Bar the usual publication rights issues, there is no reason not include Rand, however how significant she is in a literary sense is all important.

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