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Bill Maher Rips Ayn Rand

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On his HBO show "Real Time,' Bill Maher offered the following comments about Ayn Rand:

 

New rule. Libertarians have to stop ruining libertarianism. Or at least do a better job explaining the difference between today’s libertarian and just being a selfish prick.

 

Now many years ago on a television network far, far, away, I expressed support for libertarianism because back then it meant that I didn’t want big government in my bedroom or the medicine chest or especially in the second drawer of the bed stand on the left side of my bed, and I still believe that but somewhere along the way, libertarianism morphed into this creepy obsession with free market capitalism based on an Ayn Rand novel called “Atlas Shrugged,” a book that’s never been read all the way through by anyone with a girlfriend.

 

I think this explains a lot about the level of Maher's intelligence.  Evidently he is unable to read a book of any significant length without being distracted by his penis.

 

Yeah, it’s all something that sounds very deep when you’re 19 years old. … About how government is a dirty trick played by the weak on the strong and I can see if you’re a privileged college kid, you can read that and think, “Yeah, that’s right, I don’t need anything so shut up, dad, and pay my tuition. “

 

And then one day, you graduate and pack up your things and realize that your copy of atlas shrugged belongs in the same milk crate as your beer helmet and the t-shirt that looks like a tuxedo and you move on, unless your Paul Ryan or Rand Paul.

 

You can read the entire diatribe here, if you have the stomach for it:

 

Maher Rips Ayn Rand

 

 

 

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This manner of left leaning tantrum is too frequent and as always mis-guided. Attack Ayn Rand while ignoring the basic message. Statism and the tyranny of altruism is counter productive and not conducive to a well functioning society. People like Maher disregard this was proved by the failure of the Soviet Union in its 76-year experiment with the cradle-to-grave-model of social engineering. Maybe those of Maher's ilk are blissfully unaware of this since the old Bolshevik empire simply dissipated because there was no hard structure to collapse and cause destruction and the create the spectacle of defective state's demise. Rather, like a flimsy balloon, it popped and disappeared leaving in its wake a vacuum which freedom gladly filled. As for Atlas Shrugged, I listened to it on CD, 42 of them in the box to be exact. I have listened to it three times all the way through (I have a long drive to work).

I find it appalling so many reject the idea of individual liberty and responsibility, embrace the state as a care giver and in the bargain expect I accede to allowing the confiscation of my earnings to support those who choose not to earn.

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I've seen this line of attack constantly, so it's not even an original thought with Maher. The attack is that Ayn Rand is for teens and anyone who hasn't quite matured, and once you grow up, mature people realize it and discard her.

 

But intelligent people know that that line of thought is a logical fallacy. It's a personal attack without offering any kind of actual argumentation against Rand's arguments. What Maher and others are trying to do with this kind of illogical attack is appeal to the emotional need for social acceptance, and try to convince people that they will be outcast from society and viewed as weird and immature for agreeing with Rand. 

 

And intelligent people know that that kind of attack fails, and ironically shows the immaturity of the person trying to make it. If you want to (maturely) refute a person's arguments or position, you will have to deal with their actual arguments and deal with them logically.

 

If Maher never really understood what libertarianism was, he only has himself to blame for his ignorance.

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Years ago, he had Peikoff on his program, along with William Shatner and some actress. I don't remember it being a positive show, but someone might be able to dig it up on YouTube

Janeane Garofalo and Robert Reich were the other guests. I remember that Peikoff did well, but the other guests, particularly Garofalo and Shatner, dragged the intelligence level of the dialogue down too much. I had it on VHS but must have lent it out, otherwise I'd probably have uploaded it to YouTube back when I was doing that. A couple things I recall: Peikoff had a nice claque, at one point he came out with a good zinger and the audience roared, surprising Maher who reacted with a bug-eyed double take. Also, and here my memory is less clear, Shatner tried to tell Peikoff what Rand was all about, by way of disagreeing on some point, and Peikoff pulled rank on the good Captain of the USS Enterprise.

I wouldn't mind seeing it again, but it's not on YouTube, I just checked again.

Here's this latest thing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVV08uwKcA8

Maher's not even funny. I don't get it, I've never understood how this guy has a career. I used to like watching Olbermann since at least he was entertaining.

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Thanks for the clip. I had it on VHS too, and might still have it somewhere in the basement. I'll keep it at the back of my mind if I'm cleaning up some day.

As a follow-on to this episode, I believe Maher wanted Peikoff to come back for another show. He wanted to get some orphan who might not have survived and thrived but for the charity of strangers, and have Peikoff discuss the virtue of selfishness in the context of that orphan's life. My memory could be wrong on all this, but I remember Peikoff mentioning this, saying he turned it down but later regretted doing so.

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For some reason, that video isn't playing.  It says that it is "currently unavailable."  Here is a link to the youtube version:

 

Maher Rips Ayn Rand (youtube)

 

That’s senator Bernie Sanders (D, Vermont), a self-described socialist, laughing at the girlfriend comment.  (I didn’t hear anyone else laughing.)  One of Maher’s guests, Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal, is an admirer of Ayn Rand.  I wonder if he made any comments in her defense.  Shame on him if he didn't.

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Notice that there are no specific refutations of Rand's ideas. That's juvenile. It's akin to someone telling you that they used to believe something but they learned that it was wrong without telling you what was wrong. this is typical of the uneducated, not college educated adults. Apparently Maher's education didn't stick.

What is more, in specific relation to Maher's views about Rand, he appears to have penis envy.

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I've seen this line of attack constantly, so it's not even an original thought with Maher. The attack is that Ayn Rand is for teens and anyone who hasn't quite matured, and once you grow up, mature people realize it and discard her.

 

 

During one of her appearances on the Phil Donahue Show, Ayn Rand refused to answer a question that was posed by a woman who said she had outgrown her teenage infatuation with Objectivism. Rand told the audience that someone else would have to ask the woman's question before she would answer it

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Bill Maher -- like most well-educated and intelligent people today -- has a fairly limited understanding of libertarianism and Objectivism. He's more well-informed than the good people of 30 years ago, but he's still spouting a fair amount of nonsense above. This semi-drivel seems to be about half based on sincere ignorance, and half based on cowardice and dishonesty. As far as I can tell, Gary Weiss of Ayn Rand Nation [2012], Jennifer Burns of Goddess of the Market [2009], and Anne Heller of Ayn Rand and the World She Made [2009] are exactly the same. I do not consider any of these four to be major scumbags or shameless frauds. Rather, I simply think that Ayn Rand is too radical and avant-guarde for them to wrap their (stunted and warped) minds around. They discovered her too late. Their minds and souls were already brainwashed and diminished by today's illiberal and statist-altruist-collectivist philosophy and culture. So they can't deal with Rand either intellectually or spiritually.

Edited by Garshasp
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I think that's giving them too much of an out. Anyone who, as a profession, deals with ideas should just be considered dishonest after a certain point of being presented facts and then still rejecting them.

I consider them the same as religious people.

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  I do not have an opinion on any of the mentioned books. However I did not think that those book were actually anti-Rand. Are they? 

 

  Maher is a sellout and a tool. At this point "Intellectual Dishonesty" is inaccurate because it implies intellectual work. He exists so fat, drunk, underachieving liberals can have someone to laugh at after their bad day at work.  

 

  There is nothing more to him than his entertainment value to a group of people who are kind of smart, but not really.     

 

  Anyways, every time I remember that Maher exists I think of this video. 

 

  

Edited by Hairnet
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I think that's giving them too much of an out. Anyone who, as a profession, deals with ideas should just be considered dishonest after a certain point of being presented facts and then still rejecting them.

I consider them the same as religious people.

 

Would you have been able to convert to Objectivism if you only really came across it at age 40, JASKN? That's really tough, I think. You would've already invested so much of your life in conservatism/Christianity or progressivism/Kumbayaism.

 

I also consider these four to be the same as religious people. But religion is everywhere. Few atheists exist or have ever existed. Only recently did we get such powerful thinkers on our side as Nietzsche and Sartre. And just a few minutes ago the New Atheists like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. Even Aristotle and Einstein weren't clear atheists. So if someone today believes in "god" he may or may not be a lowlife and high liar IMHO.  

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  I do not have an opinion on any of the mentioned books. However I did not think that those book were actually anti-Rand. Are they? 

 

  Maher is a sellout and a tool. At this point "Intellectual Dishonesty" is inaccurate because it implies intellectual work. He exists so fat, drunk, underachieving liberals can have someone to laugh at after their bad day at work.  

 

  There is nothing more to him than his entertainment value to a group of people who are kind of smart, but not really.     

 

Ultimately, Hairnet, those books are considerable misrepresentations of Randian thought. Even primitively and childishly so. I think the authors are trying fairly hard to be accurate, fair and honest -- but Objectivism is so radical and innovative that they end up failing pretty badly. Even the two biographies. So all those books, like Bill Maher's comments above, are really just smears. Criticism is legitimate and valuable, but these four don't portray AR and Objectivism are they really are.

 

BTW, no one is more "kind of smart, but not really" than Bill Maher! He's talented, funny, and even fairly great; but he's also a true intellectual mediocrity. So shallow, weak and hopeless. Smug and malicious too.

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BTW, no one is more "kind of smart, but not really" than Bill Maher! He's talented, funny, and even fairly great

Can you explain the talented, funny and great parts?

Because I really don't see them.

I suppose there is a certain talent to making the sheep follow you, to convincing them they should listen to you and getting rich off that.

But I don't see how anyone who isn't a glib, poorly informed and ethically challenged progressivist would find him amusing.

He is full of willful untruth and wanton malice.

 

Edited by SapereAude
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Jon Stewart can be seriously funny, and his priority is clearly the laughs.  Jon Stewart makes every attempt to be rational and fair and keeps the debate at a grown-up level. Ditto for Colbert but he's no Stewart. Jon Stewart unequivocally praised Rand Paul's filibuster against drones. He's honest. His primary schtick (which never gets old) is showing politicians say the exact opposite of what they said days/months/years before--and this betrays a deep sense of well-placed justice.

 

Bill Maher on the other hand is dishonest and always grinding some axe and tries to cover it up with an audience laugh light. Jon Stewart can be wrong ideologically, but Bill Maher is a dick, plain and simple. He's not smart, he's not funny, and he's not even consistently anything from the standpoint of ideas. Bill Maher shows his lack of talent by resorting to shocking the audience with amazing displays of dickishness (viz. showing the Pope in a porno pose or some such). It's a parlor trick that works about twice before it's just lame.

 

Btw, that video with Hitchens is perfect, and sums up my point perfectly. Bill Maher is one of those people who, "stupid people think is smart"...

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Jon Stewart can be seriously funny, and his priority is clearly the laughs.

No, I don't agree. If you look at times when Jerry Seinfeld makes a joke about politics or if you look at Letterman and Leno's nightly jokes with political roots, they're going for humor without commentary. One cannot say the same of Stewart. He's clearly a commentator -- playing to the self-righteous "independent voter" who is the real cause of all the problems Stewart points to.
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Can you explain the talented, funny and great parts?

Because I really don't see them....

He is full of willful untruth and wanton malice.

I think Bill Maher's 2008 documentary Religulous was well-conceived and decently executed. I mostly enjoyed it. He showed bravery and integrity in making it. What other popular social critic is his equal here? And I think his HBO show Real Time is often wonderfully ambitious, and frequently discusses more important issues, with better guests, and in a deeper more intelligent manner, than the Sunday morning roundtable shows.

Even when he cruelly, maliciously rips Ayn Rand by calling Atlas Shrugged "a book that’s never been read all the way through by anyone with a girlfriend," and says that it "belongs in the same milk crate as your beer helmet and the t-shirt that looks like a tuxedo," these are clever criticisms that hit home with a lot of people.

But, yes, Maher is considerably dishonest and cowardly when dealing with the thought of AR, which is a million miles above him, and entirely beyond his powers to fairly confront. And, yes, he presents his audience with plenty of "willful untruth and wanton malice." He simply seems to have quite a few more personal flaws than those other two talented comics and social satirists, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.

Edited by Garshasp
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I don't see much of a difference between Maher and Stewart in their approach. They both attempt to make serious political points under the guise of jokes that are not funny. Their attempt isn't to make humor out of political points (like Colbert), rather it is to make political points using humor. "Stupid people think he is smart" also applies to Stewart. College kids see Maher and Stewart as figures of rationality - yet if you watch his show, interviews, or even just that silly mock debate between him and O'Reilly, you will see how ill-informed and irrational he is. 

 

Here is a funny clip from the O'Reilly-Stewart debate:

 

Edited by thenelli01
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