[Marxism] Ayn Rand

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Nov 28 10:02:02 MST 2005


Slavoj Zizek sees Rand as one in a line of 'over-conformist authors who 
undermine the ruling ideological edifice by their very excessive 
identification with it'. Rand's mad adoration of capitalism 'without its 
communitarian, collectivist, welfare etc, sugar-coating', he argues, 
actually serves only to make the inherent ridiculousness of capitalism ever 
more plain.

But it's not just capitalism that Rand makes ridiculous by her worship. 
It's also the mystique of Modernism, the idea that 'good' taste in 
aesthetic matters equates, somehow, with 'good' morals. And it's also 
intellectuals and intellectualism. Especially that model of intellectualism 
that goes with bohemianism and free love and swirling garments, and 
cigarettes and cigarette-holders, and making much of one's personal 
freedom, and having a position on everything, because that's what being an 
intellectual is all about.

'Those who have read The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged,' the Ayn Rand 
Institute's website reads, 'know that the sunlit universe Ayn Rand depicts 
in her novels is unlike the world they see around them. How can one achieve 
the clarity of vision and joyous existence that her fictional heroes 
achieve?' Rational selfishness and self-reliance, Modernist architecture, a 
duty to one's own happiness; chain-smoking; wife-swapping and Rand's 
favourite TV series, Charlie's Angels. You might think that the word 
'fictional' is a giveaway. Well, it doesn't seem so to the adherents of the 
ARI.

'One feels: "This injustice (or terror or falsehood or frustration or pain 
or agony) is the exception in life, not the rule. One feels certain that 
somewhere on earth . . . a proper human way of life is possible to human 
beings."' Thus the voice of utopian idealism, heard most often, during the 
last century, from the left. But hearing it in Rand's accent may cause us 
to apprehend in it a different note: the nag nag nagging of a life lived 
and squandered in fantasy, never to be satisfied by any happiness on this 
earth.

full: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v27/n23/turn03_.html

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