Saturday, March 21, 2015
Did Ayn Rand Really f*** up my Life? Still Deprogramming from My Objectivism Mental Captivity
By Mel Carriere
I have a quote up there on my blog masthead saying that Ideology is Mental Murder, and this adage can be no better argued than from my personal experience deprogramming from the Objectivist brainwashing I went through, beginning at the spiritually vulnerable young age of 17.
I say spiritually because in spite of its stated commitment to rational, "objective" phenomena as the only means of guiding one's existence upon this planet, the Objectivist philosophy is indeed a religion, with its own set of inflexible dogma that it enforces as rigidly as the Grand Inquisitor sending heretics off to burn at the stake.
Ayn Rand and her philosophy began to worm its way into my psyche from a very young age. When I was about five years old a friend of my Mother gave her a copy of Atlas Shrugged as a birthday present. My mother never read it, and perhaps I should have followed her lead. At any rate, I used to stare at this big thick book on the shelf, and being a budding geographer I yearned to pull it down from there and have a peek. When I finally defied the segregation rules in my household that separated the big people books from the little people books, I was confused when I didn't find a single map within its seemingly infinite pages. But rather than losing interest I became even more intrigued, the mystery of this "Atlas" that contained no maps continuing to tickle my curiosity throughout my youth.
When I was about 15, a college age friend I was talking books with told me that Atlas Shrugged was not an atlas at all. It was a novel, she said, and one of her favorites. Fancy that! The mystery being solved I finally attempted to read it, and managed to plod through about 200 pages before surrendering to my attention deficit and giving up. ADHD is not always a bad thing; perhaps if I would have retained this short literary attention span my life may have turned out better.
I am not exactly sure what it was, but when I was 17 something reawakened my desire to read the 1,200 page epic. Perhaps I was spurned on by the same psychological forces that made me decide to run a marathon at age 47. That marathon medal looks really good hanging on the wall, maybe I thought I would impress my friends by bragging about how I had conquered Atlas Shrugged, the literary equivalent of 26.2. By this time I was a much more disciplined reader and I made it through to the end.
As thoroughly as St. Paul when he had his blinding vision on the road to Damascus, I was an instant convert. My life changed immediately, in both negative and positive ways. On the positive side, I was no longer satisfied with mediocrity. All of Ayn Rand's "men and women of the mind," as she describes them, were dogged overachievers, so I used them as my example. My grades improved and I got straight As my senior year in High School (Not that it did me any good, my Dad kicked me out and I joined the Navy anyway). I also became an extremely hard worker, trying to model my work ethic around the Randian rags to riches characters I read about in "Shrugged," such as steel mill magnate Hank Reardon.
On the negative side, I became introverted to the extreme. I was reluctant to make friends with any of my peers, considering them to be beneath me because they did not represent Rand's archetype of the ideal man. In my objectivist-warped mind everybody was a miserable "second-hander," a parasitic looter of lofty ideas that they were not capable of producing.
I stayed under this very lonely, isolated pall of Objectivism until about age 22, when hormones eventually triumphed and I finally discovered friends, beer, and women. My life became infinitely happier.
Nonetheless, the ugly stain Ayn Rand left behind in my mind never completely washed out. As I finally grew up and realized that instead of leading to a Utopian "Atlas Shrugged" society where everybody lives happily and freely in a concealed mountain fortress, what the laissez-faire capitalism espoused by the Objectivists really means is that all of us working stiffs get to live in crowded, filthy, third world style tenement houses as we struggle to survive on slave wages. Nonetheless, I still maintained that in spite of the ideological gulf that now separated us, Ayn Rand was ultimately a positive guiding force in my life and her philosophy turned me into an independent, individualistic, self sustaining man.
Then, just a few weeks ago, I started to reconsider this. I now believe that what Ayn Rand really did was to turn me into a faithful ant with a mushy brain directed by unquestioning obedience to my corporate overlords. For many decades Objectivism also tethered my soul to the "trickle-down" economics theory championed by Reagan and the Bushes that has insidiously penetrated into the consciousness of Everyman and has dealt a near death blow to organized labor and to the living wage in this country. Now all the high paying factory jobs have been exported overseas and all we are left with is Wal-Mart and Taco Bell. The punchline is that nothing trickled down after all, and I was a willing accomplice to this criminal activity.
The moral of the story, kiddies, is to approach books like Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead with extreme caution. I am not saying they should not be read at all and I will die before I ever advocate the banning or the burning of any books, but just make sure you are psychologically prepared to deal with such overtly mind controlling literature before you dive in. Rand's books are enjoyable reads, to be sure, but the price you may pay for reading them, if you are not careful, is nothing less than the ownership of your own mind. Besides that, no matter what sort of mental stain remover you are using, that crap just does not come off in the wash.
Read more about Ayn Rand's influence on American thought and culture:
Image is attributed to: "Ayn Rand1" by "I looked at the photograph you mentioned at Wikipedia[...] It was taken by Phyllis Cerf (April 13, 1916– November 25, 2006), and I believe we obtained permission to use it in some cases long ago from her son Christopher Cerf[...]Richard E. RalstonPublishing ManagerThe Ayn Rand Institute". Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ayn_Rand1.jpg#/media/File:Ayn_Rand1.jpg
The combustible mixture used in The Truth Bomb includes a generous portion of java from Starbucks and other corporate coffee conglomerates, and none of this is cheap. Therefore, unless the ads to the right and below complete annoy and offend you, please investigate what my sponsors have to say.