Today is Ayn Rand’s birthday. I wonder how she acted on her birthday. Was she extra selfish? Did she see it as a celebration of the self, or just another reminder that she’d one day die?
Her books and more accurately her ideology are still very much alive, but is that really a good thing? Her books took the political idea of limited government, pro-entrepreneurship, self-reliance, and turned them into an ideology. Atlas Shrugged reads more like a religious text parable than a work of fiction, someone full of anger and great trauma having a therapy session for 1000 pages.
Authors can use fiction as self-therapy and sometimes they create a beautiful story, but Ayn Rand is not one of those authors. She should have gotten therapy instead of writing Atlas Shrugged.
Biographers repeatedly point towards a pivotal moment of trauma in her life that shifted her entire ideological outlook. When her family lost their pharmacy after the Communist Revolution it is likely that she internalized the event. It caused her to see any type of government assistance to help the unfortunate as something that would only serve to hurt good people.
As an ex-employee of The Dept of Labor I am not a fan of most government intervention, but Rand’s outlook lacks any discernment. Ayn Rand saw no grey or ambiguity after that event and that affected her novels. Her characters suffer from lack of depth and dimension and her plotlines read more like a science experiment than a story.
Ideologues don’t make for good fiction writers; they make for good cult leaders or Facebook arguers. Rand’s fiction reads like someone who has to bully a reader into thinking like her. She is not trying to connect with the reader, she is trying to manipulate them and she uses language in order to convince them of her worldview.
Ayn Rand clearly had a passion for writing, but I wonder if she would have gotten some type of therapy what would she have written instead? Would she have even needed to write fiction and could she have written past her childhood trauma?
It’s easy to hate or love Ayn Rand, but the hardest thing is to see her as a human being—something she struggled to do for others. On her birthday maybe we could look at her as someone who wasn’t a selfish cunt or a genius, but a human being who had trauma and created an ideology to deal with it, instead of actually dealing with it.