Ayn Rand's so-called "philosophy of Objectivism" is a very adolescent sort of philosophy, and it tends to attract mostly adolescents, either chronologically or emotionally. Most of these people are motivated by 2 things:

a) Most of them have one or more serious personal problems which they are struggling with and wish to become "more rational", by which I mean less impulsive, more deliberate, less naive, better planners, more self-controlled; a Buddhist would say that they wish to "govern the passions"; a Christian might say that they wish to "resist the temptation to sin". All of this is quite normal and quite commendable.

b) The other motivation is the desire to escape from outside restraint, from external authority: from society, tradition, discipline, religion, their families; to "be themselves", "find themselves"; and ├ępater les bourgeois [flabbergast the fuddy-duddies], as the French would put it.

Many of these people, particularly in the second category, are encouraged by Rand's "philosophy" (and her trashy novels in particular) to think of themselves as unappreciated world-class geniuses, etc., which can of course only be remotely true of a minuscule proportion of them, perhaps 1 in 100,000. People in this class tend to be conceited, arrogant, argumentative, intensely frustrated, highly disillusioned and racked by self-doubt, due to unattainable standards.


The problem is obvious: these two motivations contradict each other. The desire to "govern the passions" is incompatible with the desire to "escape from outside restraint and external authority", and all the rest of it.

Those in the first category, i.e., those motivated by a), almost always abandon the philosophy after a couple of years, and say things like, "Oh, I used to read Ayn Rand, but that's kid stuff".

Those in the second category, i.e., those motivated by b), tend to be at least mildly sociopathic to start with, and are attracted to the philosophy because it serves as a justification of what would otherwise be considered immoral or irresponsible behaviour. Dump your wife, abandon your children, abort your babies, cheat your clients, treat your employees like dirt, anything goes. Your wife and children are "irrational", i.e., they disagree with Ayn Rand? Abandon them. Why should you be a "slave"?

In other words, the philosophy of Ayn Rand -- with its wholesale attacks on "altruism" -- accomplishes, for its true believers, everything which the philosophy of "altruism" is alleged to achieve according to Ayn Rand.

Rand claimed that the philosophy of altruism "serve[s] as an automatic disinfectant for any action, even the slaughter of a continent -- [your justification is that] you acted, not for your own benefit, but for the good of others, not your own" (Rand was incapable of writing the word "not" without putting it in italics); instead, she advocated a philosophy of "rational self interest", which, in practice, amounted to and accomplished precisely the same thing as the theory of "altruism", according to her.

In the philosophy of Ayn Rand, there is probably no crime which cannot be justified on the grounds of "rational self interest": perhaps not "the slaughter of a continent", but almost.

The destruction of the economy of the world, the reduction of hundreds of millions of people to abject poverty, the destruction of families, nations, industries, the nation-state itself, hundreds of thousands or even tens of millions of deaths by suicide or mass abortion, flooding the world with illegal immigrants, drugs and pornography of all kinds -- there are no limits, as long as there's a profit in it -- all of it can be justified, at least in the mind of the perpetrator, by the allegation that one acted, not out of "altruism", not for the "good of others", but for one's own "rational self interest" -- a term incapable of "rational", "objective" definition.

To take a simple example, it is self-evident that a thief will consider it in his "rational self interest" to steal; he just doesn't consider it in his "rational self interest" to get caught! It's a business: risk and return. You can search the entire Rand philosophy and you'll never find an "objective" definition or criterion of anything, except purely financially, with hindsight.

"Force", "fraud", "reason", "value", "life", "potential", "rational", "self-interest", "objective", none of these terms are ever defined in a way that makes sense.

Is BASE jumping in my "rational self interest"? Well, if I get killed the first week, obviously it wasn't. But if I become the world's most famous BASE jumper, make millions of dollars endorsing corn flakes, and become a movie star, then, yes. It's all financial, and it's all hindsight. There is no other standard.

In the BCCI banking scandal in the 1980s, an accountant was sentenced to 5 years' imprisonment for helping to steal 5 billion dollars. So you do 2 or 3 years (at most) in a comfortable joint -- IF you ever really go to prison, which you probably won't -- but get out with 20 or 30 million salted away, you're ahead of the game.

To a Jew, there is only one thing of value: money. How he gets it, makes no difference.

In this sense, the "philosophy of Ayn Rand" is indeed a "school for psychopaths". This is its chief attraction. It is a "religion of immoralism", exactly like Marxism.

Back to philosophical index