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New Review of the Book _Ayn Rand Nation..._

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PMH
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What ever happend to this book? It seems to have gone the way of Jeff Walker's The Ayn Rand Cult (if you never heard of it, that's my point), only more quickly. Did anybody but Objectivists read it?

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Your link goes to a very negative review of the book by “Sarah A. Rolph”, so perhaps you should post your actual review here. I saw a couple YouTube clips of Weiss, and read the sample on Amazon when the book first came out. My conclusion was that it wasn’t worth bothering with. Pointlessly trashy, in fact.

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Ninth Doctor, you got the wrong impression from PMH's post. Not surprisingly, since the first part of his first sentence got truncated when it became the headline. He was trying to point to my review--it is indeed a negative review, of, yes, a pointlessly trashy book.

I noticed the book in the new book section of my library and was alarmed once I saw what it is. It's worse than the usual drivel about Ayn Rand (although similar to it in tone); Weiss is attacking both Rand and the Tea Party. In fact, he attacks the founding virtues of our country! He says we "must choose between Ayn Rand and our heritage." He has a sick view that altruism is what made this country great. It's a complete misunderstanding (or worse) of why Rand's work is having a resurgence, and a dangerous book because it comes across as fairly reasonable. Weiss goes to great lengths to seem reasonable.

Before I wrote my review at Amazon, the most popular review of Ayn Rand Nation (as evidence by helpful votes) was a cheerleading positive one by someone who thinks Weiss is correct. The most helpful negative review was terrible, its headline is "worth reading for the pros and cons" -- of Objectivism! (Which it certainly is not.) Now my review pops up as the most helpful negative review in the side-by-side, and comes first overall in the reviews. So that was the point of writing the review and telling a few people about it--to make sure that unsuspecting readers aren't given the wrong impression by all the positive reviews.

If the book isn't being read much--great! Glad to hear it! Let us hope nobody else checks it out from my library, either!

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Before I wrote my review at Amazon,... ... The most helpful negative review was terrible, its headline is "worth reading for the pros and cons" -- of Objectivism! (Which it certainly is not.) Now my review pops up as the most helpful negative review in the side-by-side, ...
Thanks for doing the review. You've probably saved someone, somewhere a few dollars and at least some confusion, perhaps worse.

I squirm when people identify the tea-party with Rand or Objectivism. The tea-party is a mixture of people who disagree on some pretty fundamental ideas. Some are simply pro-rights, but there are others who are religious and want to ban abortion and so on... antithetical to Rand's views.

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Ninth Doctor, you got the wrong impression from PMH's post. Not surprisingly, since the first part of his first sentence got truncated when it became the headline.

Oh, well that makes better sense. A plain reading of the OP as it stands is that the book is "wonderful", and a first time poster making that claim on an Objectivist board is bound to be either a ringer or a troll.

Here’s an interview clip so anyone unfamiliar can get an idea of Weiss. I’m sure I saw this when it was new, but I’m not rewatching it again now, mainly because I find Thom Hartmann so nauseating and dinner awaits.

[media=]

There are attacks on Ayn Rand all the time nowadays, it’s hard to get interested in any of them since they almost always contain gross inaccuracies. Here’s one I saw coming from a major London paper just a couple days ago:

http://www.guardian....tivist-ayn-rand

800+ comments, who can bother with it? Though I bet there’s some good rebuttals lost in there. And at least a dozen Hickman references.

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  • 2 weeks later...

There are attacks on Ayn Rand all the time nowadays, it’s hard to get interested in any of them since they almost always contain gross inaccuracies.

And here's another, from the author of a new novel titled Atlas Drugged: Ayn Rand Be Damned!

http://www.amazon.com/Atlas-Drugged-Ayn-Rand-Damned/dp/1555717098/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1340237516&sr=1-8&keywords=stephen+goldstein

51pgy25rXAL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

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  • 4 weeks later...

I have a question and maybe it’s a dumb one, but bear with me, “What is it? Particularly about Ayn Rand, that the people who criticize her and what she wrote, are either dishonest, or completely ignorant?” I am constantly amazed at how many of these people have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about, and yet they talk with a tone of authority which would lead one to believe them experts. It seems that the only books that I’ve ever seen about Rand that in any way get it right are written by Objectivists, and the rest are books by hacks like this guy.

I haven’t read the books by Heller, Burns, Scott Ryan, etc., and I won’t be reading this one (personally I think this glowing review on the Daily Kos says everything that needs to be said, http://www.dailykos....n-by-Gary-Weiss), but I’ve heard and read things said by the authors that tell me that they haven’t the first clue what they’re talking about, and so why should I waste my time and hard earned money on a book written by a clown who hasn’t the first clue what he’s talking about?

I sit back and I read this nonsense and I have to think that it's a complicated mixture, of ignorance, misinformation, and fear. I remember when I first heard of Rand, it was the South Park Episode Chicken Lover, it was the end of the episode where he holds up a copy of Atlas and says that he’s never going to read again.

I commented to my Aunt who was in the room that I had never heard of her, and she said, “I heard she was crazy,” and I remember thinking, You heard, so hearsay, and you believed, because? Where’s your independence? Didn’t you want to find out for yourself before you make judgments like that? Apparently not, I think this is the kind of thing that happens to people, but it varies from case to case.

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“What is it? Particularly about Ayn Rand, that the people who criticize her and what she wrote, are either dishonest, or completely ignorant?”

I don’t know that this is unique to Ayn Rand. There’s a pattern you’ll find at work in many contexts where just a few people do understand an opponent and respond to the genuine threat they’ve perceived with smears, then the ignorant gleefully repeat the message. Four legs good, two legs baaad. Among Objectivists I’ve encountered appalling claims about Kant from people itching to denounce, but who quickly demonstrate that they’ve never read a thing by him. Anyway, there’s a quote attributed to Gandhi that has some resonance here: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

It seems that the only books that I’ve ever seen about Rand that in any way get it right are written by Objectivists, and the rest are books by hacks like this guy.

You might try Atheism, Ayn Rand and other Heresies by George Smith, or Ayn Rand The Russian Radical by Chris Sciabarra…or maybe you count these authors as Objectivists, in any event they certainly know what they’re talking about, agree with them or not.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My apologies, I should have phrased the question more carefully. What I meant to ask was what is it about Ayn Rand particularly where we get these kinds of books? It’s not the lying that’s unique, it’s the consistency, we have a slate of these books, and I didn’t even mention,

http://www.amazon.com/Without-Prayer-Rand-Close-System/dp/0940931508 this one, or this one, http://www.amazon.com/With-Charity-Toward-None-Philosophy/dp/0822601796. Which are older books, but still it amazes me that they’re praised for their “knowledge” and understanding but don’t posses either.

For instance, the review of the first book says, “John Robbins is unlikely to receive much respect from Objectivists, since he is a devout Christian -- a sola-scriptura Biblical inerrantist whose critiques of Rand are mounted on a thoroughly Calvinist foundation and offered for clearly evangelical purposes. The loss is theirs; Robbins knows "Objectivism" better than most of Ayn Rand's most devoted followers -- including its all too numerous flaws,” and then goes on to say this, “Especially good are his attacks on Rand's "empiricism" and "materialism," positions she did not officially support although Robbins is correct that she was committed to them anyway.” Me thinks he doesn’t understand what materialism is. Sheesh.

I guess the reason why I notice the smears on Rand and not other thinkers, is because I pay such attention to them. I don’t get into to many discussions about Kant. I guess the reason this stuff makes my blood boil is because I try my hardest to make sure that I clearly understand something before I attack it, and these people don’t seem to be putting forth even the minutest effort. They make such obvious mistakes it makes one’s head spin. I think this particular facebook page sums up the kind of nonsense that makes my blood boil (that is if it’s real, please tell me it’s not that it’s a joke and I’m taking it way too seriously), http://www.facebook.com/pages/Objectivism-For-Children-Its-OK-To-Kill-People-If-Theyre-Homeless/202256746479098.

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My apologies, I should have phrased the question more carefully. What I meant to ask was what is it about Ayn Rand particularly where we get these kinds of books?

Again, I disagree to the extent that you're saying that we only get these kinds of books. But why any at all? I don't know of any such books attacking Ludwig von Mises, for instance. Well, I think it's just that Rand is so much more influential, therefore there's a market for smear jobs of her. I don't think a deeper explanation is needed to account for it.

Edited by Ninth Doctor
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Here's another one, a real whopper:

I should warn y'all, however, that if you read his article from a couple years ago, when the Burns-Heller volumes came out, that this is largely a rehash. I think it's a good idea to know what the smear jobs are, or what tunes the devil is playing, at least to the extent you can stand it.

But I'm really sharing this as a set up to share some schadenfreude. If you listen to it you'll hear him say "quote" and "unquote" around words that certainly don't come from Rand. Well, that kind of thing got him in trouble, in fact, got him canned. He was to be the next Hitchens, and now his career's toast, for plagiarism among other offenses. O lordy, I'm going to have to stop here...I gotta go cry me a river.

http://reason.com/blog/2011/09/14/johanns-journalistic-hari-kari

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Since Gore Vidal just joined the choir invisible, this seems a good time and place to review his review of Rand. While completely negative in his evaluation, on rereading it I have to give him credit for being reasonably accurate.

Both Marx and Christ agree that in this life a right action is consideration for the welfare of others. In the one case it was through a state which was to wither away, in the other through the private exercise of the moral sense. Ayn Rand now tells us that what we have thought was right is really wrong.

http://www.noblesoul.com/orc/books/other/excerpts/boat.html

I'm not so sure he got Christ right...

Edited by Ninth Doctor
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  • 4 weeks later...

Ninth Doctor

Ninth Doctor said, "But why any at all? I don't know of any such books attacking Ludwig von Mises, for instance. Well, I think it's just that Rand is so much more influential, therefore there's a market for smear jobs of her. I don't think a deeper explanation is needed to account for it."

Agreed. I just get really irritated by the obvious (to me) lies and distortions, and even people who profess to have read the book and don't have an axe to grind say silly things, I saw Steve Moore on CNN being interviewed and the interviewer said that Rand had a mantra of "live only for yourself," and they talked about with virtue of selfishness (which they almost always do) acting as if Rand opposed any and all charity and voluntary assistance to those one cares about, Steve's error was basically saying that AS is about "how you grow an economy." It's frustrating.

Edited by JESTERKING45
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  • 3 months later...

Here's another perspective:

Criticism, for a book, is a truthful, unfaked badge of attention, signaling that it is not boring; and boring is the only very bad thing for a book. Consider the Ayn Rand phenomenon: her books
Atlas Shrugged
and
The Fountainhead
have been read for more than half a century by millions of people, in spite of, or most likely thanks to, brutally nasty reviews and attempts to discredit her. The first-order information is the intensity: what matters is the effort the critic puts into trying to prevent others from reading the book, or, more generally in life, it is the effort in badmouthing someone that matters, not so much what is said. So if you really want people to read a book, tell them it is “overrated,” with a sense of outrage (and use the attribute “underrated” for the opposite effect).

Nassim Taleb,
Antifragile
, Chapter 2

This is a very interesting book, BTW. It's very new, and I'm still working through it.

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...

Nassim Taleb,
Antifragile
, Chapter 2

This is a very interesting book, BTW. It's very new, and I'm still working through it.

Off-topic, but if you like Taleb, you might be interested in http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QGKM8effinU.

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Off-topic, but if you like Taleb, you might be interested in http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QGKM8effinU.

Thanks, I've seen a few things of him on YouTube, and this isn't the first book by him I've read. I've still got a ways to go, but I keep flying by these brilliant aphorisms, and there's lots of challenging ideas in here. It's kind of like reading Galt's speech for the first time, at least I keep getting that feeling.

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