Gore Vidal, one of the most perceptive writers America has ever produced, cast a discerning eye on the monster who birthed the modern Republican Party, a Russian exile whose writing inspired Paul Ryan and a whole host of modern monsters who use who narcissistic scribblings as justification for as politics for politics as eugenic cleansing, waging war on the poor and disadvantaged for the sake of the almighty dollar.
Writing in an Esquire commentary in July, 1961, Vidal said it better than anyone else ever has:
Ayn Rand is a rhetorician who writes novels I have never been able to read. She has just published a book, For the New Intellectual, subtitled The Philosophy of Ayn Rand; it is a collection of pensées and arias from her novels and it must be read to be believed. Herewith, a few excerpts from the Rand collection.
- “It was the morality of altruism that undercut American and is now destroying her.”
- “Capitalism and altruism are incompatible; they are philosophical opposites; they cannot co-exist in the same man or in the same society. Today, the conflict has reached its ultimate climax; the choice is clear-cut: either a new morality of rational self-interest, with its consequence of freedom…or the primordial morality of altruism with its consequences of slavery, etc.”
- Then from one of her arias for heldentenor: “I am done with the monster of ‘we,’ the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame. And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: ‘I.'”
- “The first right on earth is the right of the ego. Man’s first duty is to himself.”
- “To love money is to know and love the fact that money is the creation of the best power within you, and your passkey to trade your effort for the effort of the best among men.”
- “The creed of sacrifice is a morality for the immoral….”
This odd little woman is attempting to give a moral sanction to greed and self interest, and to pull it off she must at times indulge in purest Orwellian newspeak of the “freedom is slavery” sort. What interests me most about her is not the absurdity of her “philosophy,” but the size of her audience (in my campaign for the House she was the one writer people knew and talked about). She has a great attraction for simple people who are puzzled by organized society, who object to paying taxes, who dislike the “welfare” state, who feel guilt at the thought of the suffering of others but who would like to harden their hearts. For them, she has an enticing prescription: altruism is the root of all evil, self-interest is the only good, and if you’re dumb or incompetent that’s your lookout.