The Liberal Institute: 'Genius, Saint, and Monster'
The Liberal Institute

Genius, Saint, Monster

Ayn Rand was both a stunningly great philosopher and a depressingly awful cultist. This is her dual legacy to mankind.

She is second only to Aristotle in her intellectual accomplishments, and discoveries about the nature of the universe, society, and self. She taught us how to properly and best organize our civilization, and how to lead our individual lives. She out-thought and out-achieved all the giants of the Enlightenment including Locke and Smith, Voltaire and Diderot, Jefferson and Franklin. But she was also the leader of a ghastly cult-of-personality collective and the fountainhead of many horrific religious organizations.

Rand wrote ferociously and magnificently against the transcendent evils of faith, self-sacrifice, and collectivism. But in the prophet-like leadership of her various intellectual groups she hatefully, maliciously, depravedly forbade any serious questions or doubts about her beliefs or behavior. Every fundamental inquiry or challenge of any quality or quantity regarding herself or her philosophy of Objectivism was vigorously and cruelly quashed. Ayn Rand used her awesome intellectual power and intense personal charisma to slowly-but-surely seduce most of her loyal followers -- and all of her close followers -- into being faithful self-sacrificing collectivists. Or even mindless, soulless, zombie, cyborg, Stepford Wife "Randroids."

This is Rand's two-edged, bipolar, dualistic gift to the planet. Her dubious legacy can be seen to this day in the bright and technically-proficient, but robotic, repellant, diseased, anxious, desperate, miserable followers of the Ayn Rand Institute. It can also be seen in the much less principled, lower quality, semi-treasonous followers of The Objectivist Center and the Sense Of Life Objectivists.

In general the current philosophic Objectivism of TOC and SOLO offers much more hope and happiness to the individual and the world. But the price of this freedom from evil religious Objectivism, and all of ARI's dreadful pitiful cultism, is a considerable amount of libertarian-style amoralism and semi-nihilism.

Evidently, in the current culture you're either a robotic rationalist and intrinsicist from ARI or a slovenly relativist and subjectivist from TOC/SOLO. And there's nothing in between and no way to combine the best of both.

Clearly cultural illiberalism and today's highly irrational Dark Age makes all of us unhappy. But turning to Ayn Rand isn't really the answer.

Inside today's Objectivist Movement one will find nobody who is joyously rational or happily liberated from cultural illiberalism. To the extent that Rand frees someone from conventional irrational beliefs and too she enslaves them within the evil Randian cult. And obviously there are no pure, clean, uncorrupted liberals inside this.

Born a hundred years ago today, the novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand was an absolute genius and a genuine saint. But she was also an utter monster. Ultimately, Rand wasn't anywhere near a full hero and paladin of pure liberalism.