Salon.com is at it again. They recently posted an article by Amanda Marcotte, “Sad, Sexless, lonely: This is the real Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand vision for your life,” in which the author attempts to smear Ayn Rand by arbitrarily claiming, with just two mentions of her name, that Ayn Rand and Paul Ryan share the same world view and then proceeding to discuss positions that Paul Ryan, or conservatives and Republicans more generally, accept, leaving the reader to assume that Ayn Rand must have held these views as well. The truth, and the easily discoverable truth, is that on the issues discussed in the article, sex, abortion and contraception, Ayn Rand’s views are diametrically opposed.
To a rational man, sex is an expression of self-esteem—a celebration of himself and of existence.
Such attempts at smears are apparently not uncommon on Salon.com, and I usually don’t bother to post a comment on such articles as there is little chance that what I wrote will change anyone’s opinion. But, since I am trying to overcome my writing inertia, I decided to do so this time and use my comment as a new post here.
[Update 10/25/15] I went back to the original Salon.com article to see if my comment received any response, and it had one. Apparently one “thoughtful” person feels I am a “a butt hurt Ayn Rand cultist,” and “No one sane gives a f**k about what that sociopath Ayn Rand has to say.” Also, in this persons view, I lack the reasoning skills to discern that the article was about how Republican policies make “it impossible to have a family life and enjoy a healthy sex life.”
My first thoughts in reading this were: Apparently the author, who is presumably sane, cares about Ayn Rand, at least enough to attempt to smear her by association. If the sole purpose of the article is to illustrate the irrational and contradictory views of some Republicans on abortion, contraception and sex, and how policies influenced by these views impact people, why mention Ayn Rand at all when her views were quite the opposite of those attributed to Republicans? The only reasonable conclusion is that the author wants to smear Ayn Rand in the minds of those who know little or nothing of her actual views and philosophy. People such as my thoughtful commenter.
My comment, with a few minor edits:
What an obvious attempt to smear Ayn Rand and her philosophy. With just two mentions of her name, the author makes arbitrary, and false, assertions that Ayn Rand’s world view is the same as Paul Ryan’s. At one point Paul Ryan did claim that Ayn Rand was an influence on his career, but after his nomination as Vice President in 2012 he said in an interview, “I reject her philosophy.” Either he was dishonest about his initial admiration for her, lacked integrity about his admiration when he later rejected her ideas, or he simply changed his mind about those ideas. In case he can hardly be said to share her world view, if he ever did.
The article goes on to document the conservative/Republican views on abortion, public funding of contraception, and welfare, attempting to smear Ayn Rand with the same beliefs via the supposed shared world view. It is true that Ayn Rand would likely have opposed public funding for contraception and abortion, but not because she opposed abortion or contraception. She would have opposed them for the same reason she opposed the welfare system: it is not the proper role of government to provide these things.
Far from opposing abortion, Ayn Rand was one of the most outspoken supporters of the right of a woman to seek an abortion. Her strong views on this issue were part of the reason she did not support Ronald Reagan, a hero to many conservatives, in his candidacy for President. Her essay “A Last Survey” gives a sample of her view on this subject:
“To equate a potential with an actual, is vicious; to advocate the sacrifice of the latter to the former, is unspeakable. . . . Observe that by ascribing rights to the unborn, i.e., the nonliving, the anti-abortionists obliterate the rights of the living: the right of young people to set the course of their own lives. The task of raising a child is a tremendous, lifelong responsibility, which no one should undertake unwittingly or unwillingly. Procreation is not a duty: human beings are not stock-farm animals. For conscientious persons, an unwanted pregnancy is a disaster; to oppose its termination is to advocate sacrifice, not for the sake of anyone’s benefit, but for the sake of misery qua misery, for the sake of forbidding happiness and fulfillment to living human beings.”
Ayn Rand’s views on sex are also quite the opposite of those with which she is being smeared in the article. She wrote in her essay “The Meaning of Sex” she wrote that “sex is the most profoundly selfish of all acts, an act which he cannot perform for any motive but his own enjoyment—just try to think of performing it in a spirit of selfless charity!—an act which is not possible in self-abasement, only in self-exaltation, only in the confidence of being desired and being worthy of desire.” In another essay, “The Living Death,” she wrote, “To a rational man, sex is an expression of self-esteem—a celebration of himself and of existence.” This is hardly the view of someone who sees sex for a purpose other than procreation as corrupt. Leonard Peikoff, a long time student and associate of Ayn Rand, relates in one of his lectures that he once asked Ayn Rand what Objectivism has to say about sex. Her answer? “It says it is good.”
A debate about Ayn Rand’s ideas may be beneficial, but it needs to be an honest debate, not one where her ideas are deliberately misrepresented and smeared by association with positions she opposed vigorously, and often, throughout her lifetime.
Quotes from Ayn Rand are from http://aynrandlexicon.com