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How Ayn Rand Ruined My Childhood-Article

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CapitalistSwine
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I really hate articles like this. Whats more, I really hate that such negative special treatment is given to Ayn Rand all of the time.

http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2011/04/04/my_father_the_objectivist/index.html

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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I have my doubts to whether or not this story is true. First of all it doesn't seem very realistic that someone would write about their child hood trauma like that out in public. Its hard to get people to criticize their parents at all after they are 20. When I here people talk about their parents its usually "I love them to death (KEY PHRASE), but (insert complaint)".

In addition to this, the father figure seems suspiciously like all the straw-men brought up against selfishness.

Oh, and Peikoff raised a kid, and she is fine as far as I know. In fact Peikoff would be abhorred by a lot of what is in this article.

Another thing, this was the only article published by this journalism student at salon. Nice and sensational, but no credentials.

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You'd have been much better off if your parents were religious wackos, sending you off to catholic school to get molested by a pedophile priest. And then blaming your psychological trauma on demons, demons that need to be exorcized by said priest publicly.

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Even if he wasn't (which IS plausible) he is still completely wrong since his father was not practicing Objectivism, but rather mixed his own little philosophy of, apparently, hedonism/nietzschean individualism and other behaviors together, and then replaced his Catholic religious zealousy with Objectivism, except he chose not to practice or understand Objectivism, but only to use it in name, rather than content, because doing so justified his own actions and beliefs, which were wrong.

Unfortunately, and this comes at no surprise, the vast majority of people are taking the bait, as is normally the case with these types of articles. Gigantic circlejerk in the comments section as always. As far as Salon, while most of it is not high quality, as you mentioned, one should be careful not to overgeneralize. I read Glenn Greenwald's works fairly often and they are always exceptionally well done even if I don't always agree with him.

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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What's even worse, the writer of the article entitled it "How Ayn Rand Ruined My Childhood" rather than phrasing it as something like "How My Father's Beliefs Ruined My Life." Putting the blame on Rand first, rather than her father who clearly was a manipulative person. By the choice of words for the title, she is lumping Objectivism with her father, a guy who didn't seem to grasp or understand any principles of Objectivism.

Edited by Eiuol
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I agree with swine on that her father does not seem to be practicing Objectivism based on her description, but some sort of hybrid. And I don't trust her description, and don't think that she accurately remembered or understood her father's quote at the dinner table. And based on her description, Ayn Rand did nothing to her except provide her with exceptional literature which she admittedly enjoyed.

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Forwarded from the daily objectivist newsletter he subscribed to, each one had a title like "George W. Bush, Genius"

I'd like to see that one.

The author does not even grasp the definition of selfishness according to Objectivism. How could her father have understood the philosophy if he could not impart that simple fact on his daugter over all the years he apparently talked to her about the philosophy?

Seeing how everyone in the comments agrees that this is the "typical story" is mildy annoying.

I've read Ayn Rand, and I find it fascinating that her "followers" have found enough substance in her writing to base a life philosophy on.

This is especially irksome. I've been studying O'ism since May and I still don't feel like I have a full understanding. There is plenty of substance.

Edited by OCSL
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I hope that isn't true, it's disgusting either way.

"My brother hogged all the cereal...I said to my dad "he's being selfish"...dad responded "selfishness is a virtue".

This is the key part of the article. This is either an indicator that this article is fake as the author doesn't know what the hell Objectivist ethics are, or it's an indication that his dad was insane and didn't understand what the hell Objectivist ethics are. Either way, this is not Objectivist ethics, and is the most common and miserable straw-man of Objectivist ethics. In fact, it's refuted on the very first page of "The Virtue of Selfishness".

Whether fake or not, this article is disgusting, and is a representation of how Objectivism is misinterpreted, purposefully or accidentally, either by malicious, dishonest, fraudulent intent of the author, or by the deranged psychosis of a madman inflicting agony on his children and spouse.

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"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.)"

This one line in the article makes me actually question whether the whole thing is real. Presumably, the writer is talking about OAC here. I'm pretty sure you need to at least be fairly familiar with Objectivism in the first place in order to be accepted, because of the entrance exam. If she did pass that exam, surely she'd understand that her father has been doing it wrong. Plus, there were some pretty basic misunderstandings about Objectivism in the article, so it doesn't seem like she could pass the exam.

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There is a type of person who gravitates to strong radical ideologies. They might claim to be Christian Scientists for 3 years, then claim to be Objectivists for the next 3, and then move on to being Satanists or Humanists or whatever. Or, they might not switch, and simply be life-long dogmatists in any one of many movements that are not mainstream. It is unfortunate, and one would hope such people would go away... while hindering their own lives, they create bad publicity for those who are not dogmatic.

This author paints her dad as someone like that. She sounds like she's exaggerating, keen to make her article sound convincing rather than accurate. She's a journalism student, and they know there is no such thing as objective journalism anyway...the notion of objective truth is a bourgeois construct! I wonder if her dad will post a response somewhere.

One last thought: Objectivism can hinder one's life if misconstrued and misapplied, while Altruism, Christianity, etc. will hinder one's life if properly understood and applied!

Edited by softwareNerd
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Maybe my recently failed Multivariable Calculus test is screwing with my head, but the math in this article just isn't adding up. As someone else mentioned, how often does a legal battle take more than 10 years? And at what age was she introduced to Ayn Rand that she's looking at lolcats at the same time?

What's next, is someone going to write an article entitled "I used to like Ayn Rand, but then I realized I was going through an adolescent phase?"

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One cannot beat these leftists ever since they declare that your logic is a mere faith, that you live in a Platonic cave and that everything that seems reasonable in your mind is nothing but a cognitive haze.

Moreover, observe how they regard Objectivism "a religion" or "simplistic and populist" and by means of what arguments (more correctly: slogans, no self judgement) and the weapon conformity ("Oh, look at these, they claim that the individual is the means and the end, but it is opposed to my very opinion, so that I will invest in not loving that as well as sharing that in public") they do that: that is, no philosophical claims on the ideas as they are (or rather no philosophical claims in general.

Edited by Tomer Ravid
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Alyssa claims her parents are both engineers, following a link listed on her facebook page. Her online resume provides plenty of material to find out that she was born August 22, 1988. Her parents may well have divorced in 1992. There are ongoing requests for child support modifications per the referenced document filed November 19, 2004 (duplicated link).

Edited by dream_weaver
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Well here's is what is presumably her biological father's law firm

http://www.bbpatent.com/

Ayn Rand quote on the page.

Strange thing about the article is Objectivism isn't capitalized. I'm guessing that's due to an ignorant sub-editor and not the author.

The tenuous bits of the article are the George Bush, Genius part (most likely it was a piece of satire, but seems she's out to mislead and draw sympathy from liberal readers), and that dinner table part. Like surely she would have realized and known very well the difference between a selfish action and plain rudeness in O'ist terms, but chooses not to explain to the reader.

Having said that, I guess it's just a datapoint on the act of raising children as Objectivists. Can't expect everyone to be a perfect Objectivist, nor for things to work out perfectly in all cases.

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Having said that, I guess it's just a datapoint on the act of raising children as Objectivists. Can't expect everyone to be a perfect Objectivist, nor for things to work out perfectly in all cases.

This guy doesn't sound even close to an Objectivist. From his daughter's recollection, he doesn't understand some of the most basic points about Objectivism, such as the harmony of rational interests, which lays the foundation for Rand's vision of selfishness as not involving taking advantage of other people (the dinner scene clearly exemplifies a more mainstream understanding of 'selfishness' on the part of the dad). He refused to pay for anything in his daughter's life (in her recollection, at least); not exactly the Objectivist vision of human relationships as mutually beneficial. Asking a child to emancipate herself?? Again, he displays his vicious, sacrificial understanding of selfishness. The George Bush thing is just icing on the cake. There's nothing here that indicates any genuine understanding of anything about Objectivism; the only accurate statement of anything about it comes from quoting Rand directly.

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I think it is amply clear that guy is not an Objectivist. So, I would not waste any additional time on this.

What I want to raise is a worrying trend that I see from this example: Half-baked Objectivists do more harm to Objectivism than do non-Objectivists.

In the battle of ideas, it will be a good idea to refute these kinds of articles. I would think that, since these are so many people who could hold these wrong views, it would be extremely difficult to target each of them and to intellectually persuade them. One would need to identify and target the 'prime movers'.

One would need to attack the issue very systematically - and in accordance with Objectivist principles.

One of the big gaps I see is that there is no book that explains Objectivism in a Lucid manner, and also that attacks these wrong notions about Objectivism comprehensively. OPAR has room for improvement as well (can elaborate if asked).

My objective is to plant a seed through this post.

*** Mod's note: Response about books on Objectivism was split to this new topic. - sN ***

Edited by softwareNerd
Added "topic split" note
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Like I said, the George Bush, Genius email was most likely a joke (do a google search, it appears to be a frequently used sarcastic phrase). Bush's malapropisms used to make great mailing list fodder. The dinner table remark is perhaps also not portrayed accurately: it seems most likely to me that her father was objecting to her use of the word 'selfish' in a negative context, rather than supporting her brother's irrational greed. That's the sort of thing parents do - question how their children use certain words to express themselves.

Look at it objectively. Her father is a lawyer, runs a firm dealing in intellectual property. We can assume he's reasonably intelligent. Meanwhile he not only read Rand, but attends the conferences, reads the newsletters, etc. That he is some sort of pseudo-Objectivist seems extremely unlikely to me.

You can bury your head in the sand and decry 'this man was obvioulsy not a true Objectivist!' everytime someone makes errors while trying to live by Rand's philosophy (just remember to let Christians, Marxists etc. use the same excuse when one of 'them' goes off the rails); or you can admit that there is no Royal Road for raising children as Objectivist, honest people can make big mistakes, and such things will always be fraught with difficulty especially in our current societies.

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I think it is amply clear that guy is not an Objectivist. So, I would not waste any additional time on this.

What I want to raise is a worrying trend that I see from this example: Half-baked Objectivists do more harm to Objectivism than do non-Objectivists.

In the battle of ideas, it will be a good idea to refute these kinds of articles. I would think that, since these are so many people who could hold these wrong views, it would be extremely difficult to target each of them and to intellectually persuade them. One would need to identify and target the 'prime movers'.

One would need to attack the issue very systematically - and in accordance with Objectivist principles.

One of the big gaps I see is that there is no book that explains Objectivism in a Lucid manner, and also that attacks these wrong notions about Objectivism comprehensively. OPAR has room for improvement as well (can elaborate if asked).

My objective is to plant a seed through this post.

*** Mod's note: Response about books on Objectivism was split to this new topic. - sN ***

I, and several others, have come up with the idea before of making a fact and myth type of sheet refuting all of these arguments in detail with citations (since quite often the same things are brought up again and again). This would be useful not only to post in articles such as this via a link in the comment section, but also to give to people that are new to Objectivism, perhaps, since many of them incidentally fall into these traps and have to get clarification on them from Objectivists. Unfortunately those project threads always died the day they were posted pretty m \uch.

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Look at it objectively. Her father is a lawyer, runs a firm dealing in intellectual property. We can assume he's reasonably intelligent. Meanwhile he not only read Rand, but attends the conferences, reads the newsletters, etc. That he is some sort of pseudo-Objectivist seems extremely unlikely to me.

It would be hard to say that either. All you can judge is what was written, and what was written indicates a father who never really understood Objectivism at all. But it's also plausible the whole thing is a fabrication (or at least heavily sensationalized), especially because of that OAC bit.

Edited by Eiuol
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