Read the Key Symptoms of Psychopathy in Robert Hare’s Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us and compare them with the profiles of Rand in the books by her former devotees who describe her personality. Her contempt for those who did not live up to her own level of egotistical narcissism was legendary, and the evidence that she did not walk her own talk is glaring.
Here is an excerpt from Existential Aspirations: “Randian philosophy, known as Objectivism, is seductive in its appeal to young minds. When a rush of adolescent hormones encounters an ideology that makes biologically self-centered and narcissistic inclinations seem glorious, critical thinking stops and notions of superiority blossom. It is enthralling to think that your innermost ambition represents the pinnacle of human morality. Yet Rand’s philosophy is utopian in the extreme and utterly devoid of sound argument.” That is, if one takes seriously the recent research about human behavior.
In Existential Aspirations, I quote primatologist Frans de Waal, who says in The Age of Empathy: “A society based purely on selfish motives and market forces may produce wealth, yet it can’t produce the unity and mutual trust that make life worthwhile.” Indeed, Objectivism represents a deep void or absence of the qualities that make us human; it’s an ideology of advantage by those who expect to have and keep an advantage, not by their deeds necessarily, but by the very nature of their self-assumed superiority. Hang around with some Objectivists for a while and this will become crystal clear.
Through a narcissistic lens, Rand acolytes celebrate a kind of rationale and motivation that does not exist except in a theory thoroughly discredited by research. If science has revealed anything about human behavior in recent years, it is the absurdity of Rand’s fundamental assertion that we are primarily creatures of reason. We are anything but, and Objectivism is anything but objective.
Think about this: If we were primarily creatures of reason, would the world be in the shape it’s in today? And if self-interest and personal profit is the pinnacle of virtue, as Rand said it is, then why are some of our most successful capitalists like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett devoting their remaining years to giving their fortunes away? Why is the nonprofit sector of our economy nearly $2 trillion and is growing exponentially?
Paul Ryan is said to require his staff to read Atlas Shrugged. It’s little wonder his budget proposal is skewed in favor of those under the Randian spell. It also helps explain the manufactured illusion in his budget of offering to turn over Medicare to the private insurance industry while arguing that it will still remain viable. They don’t care if it works. To Objectivists, something like Medicare is unworthy of concern, given that it lacks a profit motive. For them, looking out for people is thought to be a socialist plot.
There are some things in life that do not warrant a profit. Medical insurance is one of them. Profit comes at the expense of care, period. Even the majority of us with a middle-class income and private health insurance are only one serious illness away from bankruptcy. That’s because the co-pay or the outright denial of claims (both subject to insurance-friendly legislation via the work of lobbyists) is for most families a budget slayer that can easily surpass the amount of their home mortgage.
Imagine using insurance vouchers to replace Medicare coverage as Paul Ryan advocates. Then ask yourself what kind of premiums would be required to cover people in the last few chapters of life and still make a profit. Rest assured, profit will come first. Imagine what the co-pay would have to be to ensure an expected return on investment. How convoluted would the policy have to be to provide the illusion of security so that only the seriously ill would comprehend the ruse, as is the case today with most standard insurance policies?