How Ayn Rand Ruined My Childhood

ayn-rand-cigaretteIn keeping with the Ayn Rand ruins everything meme in honor of the release of Atlas Shrugged: The Movie, enjoy a blackly amusing recollection of what can happen when your Rand-obsessed parent attempts to raise you by the dictates of Objectivist philosophy. (Big mistake!) Alyssa Bereznak writes in Salon:

It was odd growing up in an objectivist house. My father reserved long weekends to attend Ayn Rand Institute conferences held in Orange County, California. He would return with a tan and a pile of new reading material for my brother and me. While other kids my age were going to Bible study, I took evening classes from the institute via phone. (I half-listened while clicking through lolcat photos.)

“We were wondering if you would petition to be emancipated,” he said in his lawyer voice. “What does that mean?” I asked, picking at the mauve paint on my hands. I later discovered that for most kids, declaring emancipation is an extreme measure — something you do if your parents are crack addicts or deadbeats. “You would need to become financially independent,” he said. “You could work for me at my law firm and pay rent to live here.”

This was my moment of truth as an objectivist. If I believed in the glory of the individual, I would’ve signed the petition papers then and there. But as much as Rand’s novels had taught me to believe in meritocracy, they had not prepared me to go it alone financially and emotionally. I began to cry and refused.

Hardcore objectivists often criticize liberals for basing decisions on emotion, rather than reason. My father saw our family politics no differently. In his mind, it was reasonable to ask that I emancipate myself and work for a living. To me, it felt like he was asking me to sacrifice my childhood so he didn’t have to pay child support.

48 Comments on "How Ayn Rand Ruined My Childhood"

  1. What better way to reconnect with your father than to publicly skewer him in exchange for grad-school publication points 🙂 On the other hand, he does sound lick a total d*ck.

  2. What better way to reconnect with your father than to publicly skewer him in exchange for grad-school publication points 🙂 On the other hand, he does sound lick a total d*ck.

  3. Mr. Coffee | Apr 29, 2011 at 7:45 pm |

    That face of hers ruined my day. She even looks like a god damn misanthrope.

  4. Mr. Coffee | Apr 29, 2011 at 3:45 pm |

    That face of hers ruined my day. She even looks like a god damn misanthrope.

  5. frater bouncyhorse | Apr 29, 2011 at 9:20 pm |

    A bit of a Freudian slip in that last sentence, eh?

  6. Don’t know that I would go to the extent of blaming Ayn Rand for your personal family problems. Each person has their own interpretation, however misguided they may be. I’ve seen a lot of Ayn did this or Ayn did that to ruin this or that of my life. At what point does the individual take responsibility for their own life and ultimately their own decisions? I fail to see the logic in blaming anything I’ve done on Ayn Rand; she may give me an idea or two but it is my decision and not her’s that I act upon them.

  7. Don’t know that I would go to the extent of blaming Ayn Rand for your personal family problems. Each person has their own interpretation, however misguided they may be. I’ve seen a lot of Ayn did this or Ayn did that to ruin this or that of my life. At what point does the individual take responsibility for their own life and ultimately their own decisions? I fail to see the logic in blaming anything I’ve done on Ayn Rand; she may give me an idea or two but it is my decision and not her’s that I act upon them.

    • First off, I don’t think that the issue is specifically what Ayn Rand did to her, but what Ayn Rand did to justify her father’s tendency towards selfish, self-serving and stupid actions. Which have had strong, steady and unceasing effects on her – one of them being the loss of her father and its replacement with a Conservi-bot.

      Second, Ayn may be “innocent” of everything that has happened on the world stage since she died, but that so many people have been led to do so many things because of what she wrote (in a style which is kludgy, stilted and overblown but in the end attention-grabbing in its singlemindedness) should point to her having SOME responsibility. After all, we don’t disavow people and groups responsibility when they spur other people to greater actions and beneficial stuff they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise, what makes them thereby innocent, powerless and impotent when people get inspired to do wrong?

    • ArgosyJones | May 2, 2011 at 12:55 am |

      …it is my decision and not her’s that I act upon them…

      Don’t worry, michael. we hold you fully responsible for your actions, well, other than your enthusiasm for Ayn Rand’s shitty books, which is an indicator of mental illness, which isn’t your fault really.

  8. TheBreckening | Apr 29, 2011 at 10:00 pm |

    All Ayn Rand did was write some books, some scripts, and established a (flawed) philosophy, one of which there are many. All voluntarily. She didn’t make anybody follow it.
    Crack-cocaine has ruined more lives than Ayn Rand.
    Did your father molest you? No? Then SHUT UP.
    Sounds like this whiny brat had a house over her head, shoes on her feet, and two parents that were at least STILL AROUND and not beating her, one being a lawyer.
    Waaa, f-ning, waaaaaa. Keep crying. Have fun in college, Alyssa Bereznak.

    Sidenote: Dear DISINFO, you’ve given us many great articles over how the corporate-government complex screws us, yet you so obviously hate Ayn Rand, who was not a fan of corporate-government complex.
    Please pick a side. And don’t use Alan Greenspan as an excuse.

  9. TheBreckening | Apr 29, 2011 at 6:00 pm |

    All Ayn Rand did was write some books, some scripts, and established a (flawed) philosophy, one of which there are many. All voluntarily. She didn’t make anybody follow it.
    Crack-cocaine has ruined more lives than Ayn Rand.
    Did your father molest you? No? Then SHUT UP.
    Sounds like this whiny brat had a house over her head, shoes on her feet, and two parents that were at least STILL AROUND and not beating her, one being a lawyer.
    Waaa, f-ning, waaaaaa. Keep crying. Have fun in college, Alyssa Bereznak.

    Sidenote: Dear DISINFO, you’ve given us many great articles over how the corporate-government complex screws us, yet you so obviously hate Ayn Rand, who was not a fan of corporate-government complex.
    Please pick a side. And don’t use Alan Greenspan as an excuse.

    • Not to be a killjoy…but Disinfo isn’t like the Borg Collective…theres a small core of permanently involved staff, but anyone who signs up can recommend articles and links…and while you’re right that Rand bashing is almost a traditional sport here…it has a lot less to do with editorial choices or collective purpose than it does with generally broad minded people seeing Randian ideology and politics doing a great deal of harm. Something that obvious winds up being harped on by a lot of different people just on general principle.

    • razzlebathbone | Apr 29, 2011 at 8:09 pm |

      So in your world, everyone must make a choice either to support the corporate-government complex, or to support Ayn Rand.

      I choose neither.

      Did I just blow your mind?

    • I wouldn’t call a father who blithely cheers her brother’s successful attempts at selfishness, used a mother’s attempt at getting her rights as an excuse to deny his daughter chances at having a life, and tells her to “emancipate herself” as a worthy father. Sounds like her father didn’t want to be there (or for her to be there) except in ways that benefited HIM – and if I remember right, Good Parenting (no matter how it’s done) implies sacrificing yourself for the sake of your children. Something the guy was going out of his way NOT to do.

      I’ve seen selfish parents up close, Mr. Breckening (or Ms. Breckening, if that’s what you are). Trust me, it sucks.

    • Tuna Ghost | May 2, 2011 at 1:57 am |

      “please pick a side”.

      Yeah, if you’re not with us you’re against–oh shit where have I heard that before

    • teddysalad | Aug 16, 2011 at 9:15 pm |

      flawed huh.  no matter what you and other claim, her philosophy is true, and like it or not, will be proven true one way or another, and whether anyone acknowledges its truth or not, by reality itself.

  10. Not to be a killjoy…but Disinfo isn’t like the Borg Collective…theres a small core of permanently involved staff, but anyone who signs up can recommend articles and links…and while you’re right that Rand bashing is almost a traditional sport here…it has a lot less to do with editorial choices or collective purpose than it does with generally broad minded people seeing Randian ideology and politics doing a great deal of harm. Something that obvious winds up being harped on by a lot of different people just on general principle.

  11. Anonymous | Apr 30, 2011 at 12:09 am |

    So in your world, everyone must make a choice either to support the corporate-government complex, or to support Ayn Rand.

    I choose neither.

    Did I just blow your mind?

  12. Bobbiepentecost | Apr 30, 2011 at 12:23 am |

    I don’t understand why people insist emotion and reason are at odds. They aren’t at all! Take for example… picking on a downs syndrome kid:

    Logical: It accomplishes nothing positive. It causes harm. It is unnecessary.
    Emotional: I would not want to be treated that way, it is cruel, it is unempathetic.

    See? Both can exist in the same person at the same time, amazingly enough, without causing any explosions.

  13. Bobbiepentecost | Apr 29, 2011 at 8:23 pm |

    I don’t understand why people insist emotion and reason are at odds. They aren’t at all! Take for example… picking on a downs syndrome kid:

    Logical: It accomplishes nothing positive. It causes harm. It is unnecessary.
    Emotional: I would not want to be treated that way, it is cruel, it is unempathetic.

    See? Both can exist in the same person at the same time, amazingly enough, without causing any explosions.

    • Logical: Be careful, doing her would be nice but would cause problems financially and personally.
      Emotional: I want her, she wants me, this life is separate from my home life; I’ll bet I can get away with it.

      And the two go at it. Whichever side wins, wins at the expense of the other.

  14. Doogle666 | Apr 30, 2011 at 12:35 am |

    I bet her pussy looked like The Predator when it took its mask off at the end

  15. Doogle666 | Apr 29, 2011 at 8:35 pm |

    I bet her pussy looked like The Predator when it took its mask off at the end

  16. Doogle666 | Apr 30, 2011 at 12:36 am |

    No.

  17. First off, I don’t think that the issue is specifically what Ayn Rand did to her, but what Ayn Rand did to justify her father’s tendency towards selfish, self-serving and stupid actions. Which have had strong, steady and unceasing effects on her – one of them being the loss of her father and its replacement with a Conservi-bot.

    Second, Ayn may be “innocent” of everything that has happened on the world stage since she died, but that so many people have been led to do so many things because of what she wrote (in a style which is kludgy, stilted and overblown but in the end attention-grabbing in its singlemindedness) should point to her having SOME responsibility. After all, we don’t disavow people and groups responsibility when they spur other people to greater actions and beneficial stuff they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise, what makes them thereby innocent, powerless and impotent when people get inspired to do wrong?

  18. Logical: Be careful, doing her would be nice but would cause problems financially and personally.
    Emotional: I want her, she wants me, this life is separate from my home life; I’ll bet I can get away with it.

    And the two go at it. Whichever side wins, wins at the expense of the other.

  19. I wouldn’t call a father who blithely cheers her brother’s successful attempts at selfishness, used a mother’s attempt at getting her rights as an excuse to deny his daughter chances at having a life, and tells her to “emancipate herself” as a worthy father. Sounds like her father didn’t want to be there (or for her to be there) except in ways that benefited HIM – and if I remember right, Good Parenting (no matter how it’s done) implies sacrificing yourself for the sake of your children. Something the guy was going out of his way NOT to do.

    I’ve seen selfish parents up close, Mr. Breckening (or Ms. Breckening, if that’s what you are). Trust me, it sucks.

  20. I hate randians. much like rand bashers, they have the odd tendency to attribute to rand the most insane and neurotic bullshit which the woman never said. whatever one thinks of her philosophy, and it really is more subtle than her sledgehammer-to-the-face abrasive tone lets on, she deserves better than the idiots who call themselves her followers. rand’s ideas have plenty of faults, sure: but one must read her VERY CAREFULLY, seperating her fuck-yous from her theses at every turn, if one wants a true and accurate catalog of what objectivism’s faults really are, instead of falling for the lunacies her followers and opponents alike hallucinate to come from her words.

  21. I hate randians. much like rand bashers, they have the odd tendency to attribute to rand the most insane and neurotic bullshit which the woman never said. whatever one thinks of her philosophy, and it really is more subtle than her sledgehammer-to-the-face abrasive tone lets on, she deserves better than the idiots who call themselves her followers. rand’s ideas have plenty of faults, sure: but one must read her VERY CAREFULLY, seperating her fuck-yous from her theses at every turn, if one wants a true and accurate catalog of what objectivism’s faults really are, instead of falling for the lunacies her followers and opponents alike hallucinate to come from her words.

  22. Alex Plante | Apr 30, 2011 at 11:22 am |

    Families with young children are naturally run according to communist principles (from each according to their ability, to each according to their need, and the parents decide who needs what and who constributes what). Libertarianism only works between free and independant adults.

  23. Alex Plante | Apr 30, 2011 at 7:22 am |

    Families with young children are naturally run according to communist principles (from each according to their ability, to each according to their need, and the parents decide who needs what and who constributes what). Libertarianism only works between free and independant adults.

  24. “You could work for me at my law firm and pay rent to live here.”

    My reaction would simply be, “Why the fuck would I want to do that? I’m going to have to tolerate that bullsh*t the entire rest of my life!” Family is supposed to be the kind REFUGE from the general idiocy of society where sharing is frowned upon.

    You don’t give up your individuality when you share. You’re enriched in vastly more important ways by how much you give.

    All that false scarcity stuff among Wrongwing Conservatives reminds me of George Carlin’s jokes about “stuff”. In the culture now, everyone aggressively clings to their stuff, tries to fight off others to keep their stuff, tries to acquire more stuff by any means out of fear of losing their stuff.

    The alternative, frankly more adult approach, is the functional equivalent of standing up straight, arms open and welcoming. You are not grasping/clinging aggressively at a pile of stuff. You “have” no stuff, but you also don’t live in need, because your brother also stands open armed, and willing to share. Anything he has that you need, he gives, in the full knowledge and confidence that when he has a need, you will give back.

    We have enough for everyone’s need, if it weren’t for a few people’s greed.

    Unfortunately, much of humanity right now hasn’t reached that level of maturity, and people like Ayn Rand are absolutely hell bent on dragging us backwards in the wrong direction, away from that peaceful equanimity.

    There is a balance point we’re simply missing now, and we’re not going to find it by listening to extremists.

  25. “You could work for me at my law firm and pay rent to live here.”

    My reaction would simply be, “Why the fuck would I want to do that? I’m going to have to tolerate that bullsh*t the entire rest of my life!” Family is supposed to be the kind REFUGE from the general idiocy of society where sharing is frowned upon.

    You don’t give up your individuality when you share. You’re enriched in vastly more important ways by how much you give.

    All that false scarcity stuff among Wrongwing Conservatives reminds me of George Carlin’s jokes about “stuff”. In the culture now, everyone aggressively clings to their stuff, tries to fight off others to keep their stuff, tries to acquire more stuff by any means out of fear of losing their stuff.

    The alternative, frankly more adult approach, is the functional equivalent of standing up straight, arms open and welcoming. You are not grasping/clinging aggressively at a pile of stuff. You “have” no stuff, but you also don’t live in need, because your brother also stands open armed, and willing to share. Anything he has that you need, he gives, in the full knowledge and confidence that when he has a need, you will give back.

    We have enough for everyone’s need, if it weren’t for a few people’s greed.

    Unfortunately, much of humanity right now hasn’t reached that level of maturity, and people like Ayn Rand are absolutely hell bent on dragging us backwards in the wrong direction, away from that peaceful equanimity.

    There is a balance point we’re simply missing now, and we’re not going to find it by listening to extremists.

  26. pussy.

  27. Simiantongue | May 1, 2011 at 12:24 am |

    About as correct in her philosophy as she was with that hat.

  28. Simiantongue | Apr 30, 2011 at 8:24 pm |

    About as correct in her philosophy as she was with that hat.

  29. ArgosyJones | May 2, 2011 at 4:55 am |

    …it is my decision and not her’s that I act upon them…

    Don’t worry, michael. we hold you fully responsible for your actions, well, other than your enthusiasm for Ayn Rand’s shitty books, which is an indicator of mental illness, which isn’t your fault really.

  30. Tuna Ghost | May 2, 2011 at 5:57 am |

    “please pick a side”.

    Yeah, if you’re not with us you’re against–oh shit where have I heard that before

  31. anonymous | May 18, 2011 at 4:39 pm |

     Abused by priest, blame Jesus. Emancipated by asshole father, blame Ayn Rand. 

  32. anonymous | May 18, 2011 at 12:39 pm |

     Abused by priest, blame Jesus. Emancipated by asshole father, blame Ayn Rand. 

  33. teddysalad | Aug 17, 2011 at 1:15 am |

    flawed huh.  no matter what you and other claim, her philosophy is true, and like it or not, will be proven true one way or another, and whether anyone acknowledges its truth or not, by reality itself.

  34. teddysalad | Aug 17, 2011 at 1:15 am |

    flawed huh.  no matter what you and other claim, her philosophy is true, and like it or not, will be proven true one way or another, and whether anyone acknowledges its truth or not, by reality itself.

  35. teddysalad | Aug 17, 2011 at 1:15 am |

    flawed huh.  no matter what you and other claim, her philosophy is true, and like it or not, will be proven true one way or another, and whether anyone acknowledges its truth or not, by reality itself.

  36. Alyssa’s father being an asshole (if he even was, we only know him from the point of view of a shallow, immature daughter) has no bearing on the merits of Objectivism. Objectivism should be judged on those “four page didactic rants” Miss Bereznak skipped. 

    But then again, that’s just me being logical. Who needs logic, when the assignment is a simple, real life hit piece for a partisan publication, right, Alyssa?  

  37. Alyssa’s father being an asshole (if he even was, we only know him from the point of view of a shallow, immature daughter) has no bearing on the merits of Objectivism. Objectivism should be judged on those “four page didactic rants” Miss Bereznak skipped. 

    But then again, that’s just me being logical. Who needs logic, when the assignment is a simple, real life hit piece for a partisan publication, right, Alyssa?  

  38. Alyssa’s father being an asshole (if he even was, we only know him from the point of view of a shallow, immature daughter) has no bearing on the merits of Objectivism. Objectivism should be judged on those “four page didactic rants” Miss Bereznak skipped. 

    But then again, that’s just me being logical. Who needs logic, when the assignment is a simple, real life hit piece for a partisan publication, right, Alyssa?  

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