Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Ayn Rand is an adolescent sociopath

By Eli Gottlieb

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In recent times, American society has brought forth one of the most bizarre ideological aberrations that I’ve ever seen: the radical individualist. This person not only considers himself so special that he should have no obligations to anything greater than himself, but honestly believes that nothing greater than he even exists. Armed with his Ayn Rand books and subscription to Reason magazine, he stampedes onto our college campuses, onto our television screens and into our newspapers. He spreads a seductive creed that each of us has no ties binding us to others, and we can all simply do as we please while remaining entirely moral beings. They tell us, essentially, that no morality exists beyond the law, and that since the law orients itself towards individual freedom, we should treat the life of clubs, groups, parties, peoples, nations and creeds as nonexistent or irrelevant to us.

I don’t buy it, and I don’t think anyone else should either. For one thing, this violates every commandment of God’s Torah, but even on a secular level this kind of thinking simply kicks me in the gut. Every collective binds itself, after all, according to the rabbi and philosopher Jonathan Sacks, by two covenants: the covenant of faith, yes, of shared ideas and feelings, but also the covenant of fate – subjection to the same problems and boons, common conditions. While anyone can, if they so please, ignore the covenants of faith that make the world function all around them (such as the way I can trust that nobody will steal my belongings in the dining common when I go to get a drink), they have no such choice about the covenants of fate.

Besides, let us be frank. These so-called intellectuals have not barged into our collective conversation simply to make this most adolescent of abstract philosophical points. They have barged into our political conversation and attempted to fracture the American public, to atomize it, at exactly the time when we all need to stand together. As a matter of fact, it would bare saying to point out that most of these people either suffer extreme self-delusion or realize that they belong to a self-conscious movement driven by parties like the Koch Brothers and Fox News.

The economy remains the worst it has been in 40 years. Not many people can find work because jobs have been sent overseas to exploit cheap labor and a lack of environmental protections. Our wages continue to fall while our cost of living continues to rise, and a neo-feudal class of ultra-rich corporations successfully hold our government hostage, effectively vetoing any improvements we try to make. Here at the University of Massachusetts, tuition and fees continue to rise while the semester shortens and even the most meager of conveniences and services once available, such as trays in the dining commons or computer labs for printing homework, have slowly evaporated.

One cannot simply say, “I am not a UMass student,” when one attends residential classes at UMass. One cannot simply say, “I am not an American” when one lives in America and clearly lives subject to the living conditions of the United States government. One cannot say, “I am not a worker,” when one works for a living and suffers without the income of a job. If someone tries, he’s not only lying to himself but declining a moral duty.

When did we stop thinking that helping others in our conditions helps ourselves in the end? When did we stop thinking that we have a moral obligation to better the lives of others? When did we become so ignorant of such simple realities? In the words of Ben Franklin, “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Yet, somehow people want us to believe that what defines America is in fact a steadfast refusal to take part in any life outside of one’s own private property and the quest to enlarge that property.

No, we shouldn’t wage class warfare, but the charges of “socialism” thrown around by revolutionary Randists have nothing to do with actual revolutionary Marxism. All anyone asks is that we help our fellow citizens. Rather than trying to lift our boat from the ocean’s surface with rocket jets, we should all work to create a rising tide that will lift all boats. Randists can throw economics and game theory at us, but real economics and real game theory acknowledge the real world, in which collective action problems often occur. Perfect competition doesn’t exist, and only the super-rich have perfect information. Sometimes, if we want to prosper, we have to work together.

Let’s not fall for it. Let’s work together, because together we will thrive.

Eli Gottlieb is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]


23 Responses to “Ayn Rand is an adolescent sociopath”

  1. Anonymouse on October 11th, 2010 11:30 pm

    I would have left out the religious nonsense. It doesn’t add to your argument. Neither does the mention of historical figures. Historical figures don’t help, because it is irrelevant what the “Founding Fathers” wanted for this country. What matters is what we as living Americans want.

    Otherwise, good point. Keep it up.


  2. Richard Stands on October 12th, 2010 12:36 am

    Have you ever read anything by Rand?


  3. Malcolm S on October 12th, 2010 2:38 am

    You are completely ignorant of Ayn Rand’s position on anything. However, coming from a mystic of tribal Torah pursuasion, instead of the left, makes a novel change.


  4. Peter Pressure on October 12th, 2010 8:23 am

    Faith, hope, charity are the Answer, right Eli? You are in good company with the likes of Glenn Beck.

    All you are asking is that we help every overweight, crack addicted, unemployed dead beat right? And why?

    Because Rand is a Sociopath and the Torah tells us that all Humans have a right to the things that we value most, right? An equal right to that of my family and the people I really value around me.

    Yes, Rand is the Sociopath, not your selfless Faith, Hope, Charity and Mysticism. Follow the Torah, I’ll follow Fountainhead.

    The left wants my property, the religious want my soul. Ayn Rand wants me to keep both.


  5. Harry Binswanger on October 12th, 2010 9:42 am

    I’m curious. Just what is “binding us to others”? Or, more specifically, what binds me to you? Why is my life shackled with an obligation to do something to solve your problems?

    There is no justification for the morality of self-sacrificial service to others, and no argument for it has ever been given (and that’s based on my 40 years as a philosophy professor).

    The Torah’s and Bible’s “morality” is a no morality at all. It’s a creed of submission to an Imaginary Being who, the faithful pretend, issues incomprehensible commandments. Ayn Rand offers and defends in reason a logical, rational, scientific set of moral principles based on the standard of man’s life.

    Drop the obedience, the pretending, and take a look at what your survival as a rational animal requires. P.S., it isn’t faith, hope, and charity.


  6. Chesterfield on October 12th, 2010 4:07 pm

    ^^^^Man is not a rational animal. He is the most irrational of all.

    Most of the “virtues” society preaches are contrary to the most fundamental law of existence: self-preservation.

    For good or bad, we are intrinsically bound to things like faith, hope, and charity. People need these things to develop their concept of “self” before they can modify their concept of “self”.


  7. Malcolm S on October 13th, 2010 3:31 am

    Chesterfield says: “Man is not a rational animal”

    But man is only rational, or not, by *choice* – as your post eloquently demonstrates.


  8. Grammar police on October 13th, 2010 4:31 am

    “bare” => “bear”

    “…it would BEAR saying…”


  9. Deco on October 13th, 2010 1:39 pm

    I just want to say: Most of the comments on this tripe make me very happy.


  10. Richard Charles on October 13th, 2010 2:48 pm

    “bizarre ideological aberrations” sounds like projection on your part…..or to paraphrase Ayn Rand, “One couldn’t say you understand the issue”….or to paraphrase Rush Limbaugh, “You sir, are a Jackass.”


  11. Jennie on October 14th, 2010 2:54 pm

    As a citizen of a country whose cheap labor is “exploited” I would like to say that the American corporations are so much better than the local ones. I only wish more American jobs are outsources to us. Being “exploited” allows me to earn a paycheck and eat. It is my escape from a life of starving destitution. I’m happy these American corporations are in my country. They are the best.


  12. Maddog on October 14th, 2010 8:44 pm

    Hey Harry B., just because your self image is as a “rational animal” don’t assume that the rest of us don’t aspire higher, and actually develop into something higher. Maybe you can explain extraordinary inspired creations like Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, the weekend (yes Harry dude start working 7 days a week babe, the notion of weekend comes out of the concept of the Sabbath), and some scientific research of the past five years that demonstrates that human beings actually are programmed for compassion and caring, we, some of us at least, are not just “rational animals.”


  13. Brandon on October 15th, 2010 12:57 am

    To Maddog.

    Just a bit of speculation. Those wonderful creations must be the result of God. Oh, and being programmed to feel compassion and be caring must be the result of God too. Why, you might ask? Oh, well, it’s because it “feels” right.


  14. Malcolm S on October 15th, 2010 2:56 am

    Attention aptly named Maddog.

    “Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it.” — Ayn Rand


  15. Daniel Casper on October 15th, 2010 1:55 pm

    This is hilarious in the most horrible of ways. If anything, the God of the Torah is the sociopath. The Torah is ripe with commandments to kill homosexuals, adulterers, “witches,” (Leviticus and Deuteronomy) and has plenty of scenes where the Jews ride in and castrate an entire village because “God” told them to. Talk about projection!

    This person needs to wake up from his New World Order fantasies and look at some facts, starting with Ayn Rand’s actual works.

    I quote:

    “The Objectivist ethics holds that human good does not require human sacrifices and cannot be achieved by the sacrifice of anyone to anyone. It holds that the rational interests of men do not clash—that there is no conflict of interests among men who do not desire the unearned, who do not make sacrifices nor accept them, who deal with one another as traders, giving value for value.”

    How is someone who believes mutual trade to mutual profit is a sociopath? She doesn’t say anything goes, she doesn’t say people can’t work together. She says people should be rational, happy, and achieve values which benefit their life objectively. Compare such a moral code to the laws of the Torah and ask yourself who advocates “no morality beyond the law” and “the life of clubs, groups, parties, peoples, nations and creeds as nonexistent or irrelevant to us.”

    What kind of trash newspaper allows such an uneducated rant?


  16. Hilljack from West Virginia. on October 16th, 2010 3:35 am

    I agree with the title. “Adolescent sociopath” is about the most apt description of that crazy ass, narcissistic woman.

    But how you arrived at this makes me giggle…


  17. Andrew on October 17th, 2010 4:14 am

    Eli, this is a brilliant attack on the madness of the Randroids and their anti-social individualism. The fact that your article seems to have attracted a horde of fanboys eager to defend their cult leader only goes to show that you hit a nerve.

    And the Randroids posting here have only confirmed the fact that they are sociopaths, with comments like these:

    “I’m curious. Just what is “binding us to others”?”

    You see, no amount of pseudo-philosophical nonsense can obscure this basic fact: Ayn Rand followers are sociopaths, they are proud of being sociopaths, and they think you should be one too.

    Selfless devotion to others is the basis of all true morality and the glue that holds society together, but it is also more than that: it is the essence of being human. Randroids are enemies of humanity, and they need to be called out on it.


  18. Richard Charles on October 19th, 2010 2:01 pm

    @ Andrew.

    Nice work substituting name calling for argument…just like the article.

    Point #1 Sociopath – noun Psychiatry .
    a person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

    Only a sick and twisted person(SEE THIS IS HOW YOU WRITE) could pervert Objectivism into being antisocial.

    A) Ayn Rand was pro capitalism which is the economic expression of freedom. So YOUR argument is that NOT wanting to see everyone enslaved to everyone else is antisocial? Seriously, look in the mirror and you will see an actual sociopath hell bent on destroying civilization.

    B) One of Ayn’s many admonitions was “Judge and be prepared to be judged” and you have the nerve to say Objectist have no sense of morality and being responsible for it. (honestly you come across as confessing your ignorance more than making a point about Objectivism.)


    You wrote, “Selfless devotion to others is the basis of all true morality and the glue that holds society together”

    This is one of my pet peeves of people that don’t understand Objectivism and morality. Have you ever heard of the following two terms, Benevolence and Altruism? They are very very different. What you are promoting is Altruism.

    The great tragedy in ethics is that people think Altruism is a higher and more noble version of Benevolence. In fact Altruism is a perversion of morality.

    Here is an example of Benevolence VS Altruism.

    Benevolence – You see someone w/ a flat tire one the side of the road. You pull over and help or call for help and continue on your way.

    Altruism – You see someone w/ a flat tire. Only this time you are on the way to the hospital with your wife who is going into labor. You pull over and help change the tire. In the mean time your wife looses the baby because you were an Altruist.

    Good luck to you Andrew and to borrow a phrase, “Good Premises” ….Hopefully you your “madness” will subside one day and your “pseudo-philosophical nonsense” will be replaced by Objectivism.

    You have a mind…you just haven’t figure out how to use it properly Andrew.


  19. Jayemel on October 22nd, 2010 12:17 pm

    Ah, Massachusetts, how I don’t miss you…except for Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and Robert Kraft, those cold heartless strategist who want only to win.


  20. Lance Boyer on October 27th, 2010 3:39 am

    “These so called intellectuals… have barged into our political conversation and attempted to fracture the American public, to atomize it, at exactly the time when we all need to stand together.”

    So an intellectual to you is the man who agrees regardless of his own thoughts (if he thinks at all)? You advocate sacrificing honesty, integrity, and the only kind of thought that exists (independent thought). If you’re against Ayn Rand’s promotion of honesty, integrity, and thinking as virtues, what does that say about YOUR “morality”?


  21. J. Hale on April 3rd, 2011 10:06 am

    Terrible, just awful article. Name calling and no substance. Everybody at UMass that dumb?


  22. Chris on April 17th, 2011 3:10 pm

    I hope that these cult followers of Rand get all they want.I hope they make a society based on the principles of Ayn Rands objectivism.Because then we can see how there society will crumble rapidly without the influence of competing philosophies.How much I would love to see how they would create a society of people that have no ties to each other.I also think it is hilarious that these Rand followers put thiemselves above religious people when there firm belief in objectivism is just as much a religion as Christianity.So please you little cultish followers who think they aren’t followers please create this society so I can sit back and watch it fail miserably.


  23. Dionn on July 26th, 2011 4:41 pm

    Ayn Rand’s philosophies reflect on her life. People may argue for eternity if she was right or wrong but her messed up life was a mirror of her thinking. America actually has a lot of people who either have read her or not, they follow her doctrines. The so-called objectivism could be called MeMeMeism.And a me-society always has some bad ending. To me Rand is not more important than Hannity,Glenn Beck or Ann Coutler, the fact that she was Jewish helped due to the sympathy Jews had especially after the war. But if we try to evaluate her she has left nothing of importance. One thing that makes me not to believe in God is that if he really existed he should make people like Ayn Rand to end up in a room in Bronx, you will see how she would have reconsidered her pseudo-philosophies.


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