It meant nothing to him any longer, only a faint tinge of sadness — and somewhere within him, a drop of pain moving briefly and vanishing, like a raindrop on the glass of a window, its course in the shape of a question.
A drop of rain pain in the shape of a question: “Who is John Galt.” That’s some raindrop. I don’t remember what I said to deflect Patrick O’Connor’s question — something short and inane.
The performative contradictions in that last sentence continue to astonish me. By the time I met Patrick O’Connor, I was itching for a fight about Ayn Rand. Both were Econ students, promoting Rand as an apostle of free market capitalism and suspicious of my muddle-headed liberalism which harped about the growing chasm in Reagan’s America between the rich and the poor and the need for distributive justice. Never mind that Jesus was a Jewish Mediterranean peasant, probably illiterate, with a biting critique of the rich and possessed of peasant humor — “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven” — my students weren’t buying it. Publishers almost never give in to these kinds of demands, but we did. And I agree with O’Connor that Rand wrote children’s literature.
It was not “WWJD” (What Would Jesus Do) for these students, it was more like, “What would John Galt think.” I didn’t give a tinker’s damn about what John Galt thought. I wanted to know just how well Ayn Rand sold, really. The lights, the gas, the heating bills, the Christmas bonuses. The problem is that a lot of these people have grown up, put on colorful colonial uniforms, and are trying to shrink the nation’s budget to the size where it can be dragged into the bathroom and drowned in the bathtub.
The movie is based on Rand’s bestselling dystopian novel of the same name, a literary vehicle expressing her trademark worldview: the morality of rational self-interest, or, Objectivism.
The film was financed by a wealthy devotee of Ayn Rand’s work, and marketed aggressively to the Tea Party demographic by Freedom Works, one of the prime movers in the Tea Party movement, which engaged in a massive campaign to encourage audience attendance, and to push the film into as many theaters as possible.I asked him directly: What was she like to work with? There is very little publishing “from belief” and that’s the way it has always been. And a guy whom no one had heard of until recently, congressman Paul Ryan, (R-WI) Chairman of the House Budget Committee, has been making the GOP case for massive budget cuts that will hurt the poorest and most vulnerable among us, using principles derived from Ayn Rand’s “philosophy” of Objectivism, and requiring his staff to read her work. Over the next decade that means cuts to education, job training, and social services of 25 percent below levels needed to maintain current services.How had he managed to be that woman’s editor all those years? Because she writes the best children’s literature in America, O’Connor said. Ayn Rand had a few simple ones which she believed in fiercely and promoted relentlessly. We’ll publish anything that we know will sell, and everyone — no matter what they may think of her personally — everyone, every one, admires her sales. Paul Ryan proposes a budget plan would cap non-security discretionary spending at 0 billion for the fiscal year beginning Oct. These reductions come on top of the .5 billion already cut from this year’s budget.Antioch was a hotbed of student radicalism and curricular innovation. You can get schooled at Twitter if you have the right friends.Two years later, four miles southeast, my “Christian” college would try to fire me for publishing a book on feminism, yet here I was in conversation with the editor of an indomitable woman from Russia, herself among the first women to be admitted to university after the Russian Revolution — an atheist and fierce critic of religion — who was nevertheless the guiding light of some of my evangelical Christian students. Additionally, they were having difficulty with the concept of Jesus of Nazareth having compassion for the poor, like, say, Mother Teresa. Naively, and un-Rand-like, I said yes to everything Macmillan and Prentice Hall told me.) Ayn Rand wanted approval of copy, advertising, art, you name it, O’Connor said. The other day someone tweeted that Facebook is the people you went to school with, and Twitter the people you wish you went to school with. the other day, Maud Newton tweeted: “Irony of Atlas Shrugged, movie about great people laid low by mediocre jealous people, is that it is wholly mediocre.” It’s been years since I spoke with Patrick O’Connor.I was prepared to dislike Patrick O’Connor intensely, based upon his association with a writer I considered odious. Patrick O’Connor nursed a black coffee in a white ceramic mug he’d walked off with from the college cafeteria.But he knocked me off balance with his first words. I had a deep tan from mowing five acres of grass every week that summer, and lazing with my kids at the pool.A self-professed Trotskyite and anti-Stalinist from the old radical ‘30s left wing of the Democrat party, he was Ayn Rand’s editor at New American Library in the late 1960s and early 1970s.We quickly discovered we had something in common: our aversion to Ayn Rand’s philosophy.The opening line of regularly, and hosted a panel discussion dedicated to asking if Rand’s fiction is finally becoming reality. Rand was a third rate novelist of turgid prose who saw no reason to pen a sentence without making a speech.Once a shadowy cult presence in the margins of American life, Ayn Rand is now one of the central intellectual and cultural inspirations for the base of the Republican Party. A few days ago on Twitter someone tweeted, “The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in philosophy: the search for a moral justification for selfishness.” Ayn Rand’s books provided that moral justification for my evangelical Christian students. Here is a sample sentence from That which you call your soul or spirit is your consciousness, and that which you call “free will” is your mind’s freedom to think or not, the only will you have, your only freedom, the choice that controls all the choices you make and determines your life and your character.