Ayn Rand at 100

Today is the 100th anniversary of Ayn Rand’s birth. Cathy Young at Reason Online notes a weakness of her philosophy that always stood out for me:

In its pure form, Rand’s philosophy would work very well indeed if human beings were never helpless and dependent through no fault of their own. Thus, it’s hardly surprising that so many people become infatuated with Objectivism as teenagers and “grow out of it” later, when concerns of family, children, and old age—their own and their families’—make that fantasy seem more and more impossible.

Whittaker Chambers, when he reviewed Atlas Shrugged for the National Review in 1957, put it this way:

Yet from the impromptu and surprisingly gymnastic matings of the heroine and three of the heroes, no children — it suddenly strikes you — ever result.

The possibility is never entertained. And, indeed, the strenuously sterile world of Atlas Shrugged is scarcely a place for children.

Rand’s defense of capitalism and attack on altruism are both worth taking seriously, but Objectivism as a whole never seemed to have much to do with real life.

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