Ayn Rand was a godawful writer, and in ironic fashion her philosophy failed disastrously in her personal life. Yet decades after her death, her work’s destructive influence has never been stronger. The Awl rips apart the “Objectivist” doctrine championed by Rand and one of her most adoring disciples, former Fed chief Alan Greenspan:
That pill-popping, boy-crazy nincompoop Ayn Rand has got a lot to answer for. Indeed, it’s not too much of a stretch to say that we owe at least part of the recent economic crisis to her and her philosophy of Objectivism, since former Fed chief Alan Greenspan was a lifelong disciple of both.
The two first met in the ’50s. Back then, a gang of acolytes, calling themselves the Collective, used to gather at Rand’s apartment on East 36th Street every Saturday night so they could tell each other how smart they all were. Along came Greenspan one evening, shy and somber.
It took a while for Greenspan and Rand to warm to one another. She nicknamed him “the undertaker,” owing to his dark clothes and mournful air, and he, a self-avowed logical positivist, required a certain amount of wooing on the philosophical side. But in time he became fiercely devoted to Rand, one of her most trusted confidants; he taught her something of the economics she shoehorned into Atlas Shrugged. He wrote for The Objectivist magazine, and stayed a close friend until her death in 1982.
Though the schemes of both these idealists crashed mightily and catastrophically to earth, both steadfastly refused ever to regret or repudiate the follies of Objectivism. The shocking thing is that despite all the evidence—which could not possibly be more damning—many on Wall Street and on the right continue to insist that Ayn Rand is a genius and that Objectivism is the answer to all mankind’s problems.
If that were so, doesn’t it stand to reason that the top genius’s own life would demonstrate at least a few of the benefits of being an Objectivist? Which, sadly, it really, really does not.
Greenspan’s tenure of nearly two decades as the chairman of the Federal Reserve is the second longest in history. Shouldn’t he have bestowed on a grateful public a legacy demonstrating the wisdom of Objectivist laissez-faire policies? We know how that turned out, too.
Read the rest at The Awl