Paul Greenberg: Who is John Galt? And Why Does Ayn Rand Still Fascinate The Young?

[Upon reading one of Rand’s novels] for a brief bright period, as with all forms of intoxication, the subject is convinced he’s discovered the secret of the universe, the essence of existence, his purpose in life . . . but in most cases such feelings pass, like adolescence itself.

When they don’t, it’s called arrested development or, in the case of Ayn Rand, objectivism. That’s what she dubbed her “philosophy,” though subjectivism would be more appropriate, for essentially her “philosophy” was her own egoism expanded into endless manifestos.

All of which might be summed up in two words: greed glorified.

Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wow! Greenberg has taken the gloves off and lets us know what he really thinks! I’m surprised, frankly. He’s highly regarded: he’s the editorial director of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing.

But I don’t think he’ll win any such award for this piece in which he takes the entire Randian philosophy and chucks it out the window. He does it with such tactless abandon that he actually hurts his own reputation:

One can understand Miss Rand’s appeal to the young, and may it never diminish, but it’s hard to understand why adults should think she was any better a thinker than she was a writer…

If you’re not an Ayn Rand fan at 21, you have no youthful spirit. If you’re still a fan at 42, you have no common sense.

Well, thanks for that, Mr. Greenberg! All Rand has done is turn the political conversation around—too bad she didn’t live long enough to see its impact today—with an entire generation of young people beginning, thanks to Rand, to ask the right questions: What is the proper role of government? How would the respond to certain problems? And so on.

But, no, Greenberg is happy to throw the entire philosophy overboard because it isn’t faith-based. Greenberg quotes Psalms 127:1: “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” Conclusion: Ayn Rand was an atheist—a vitriolic critic of eternal things—and so therefore she has nothing to say to this generation struggling to find its way out from under the that’s coming.

She deserves just a little more credit, Mr. Greenberg.

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