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London Review of Books attack piece on AR

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The London Review of Books has published a long piece on Ayn Rand by Jenny Turner entitled As Astonishing as Elvis. It purports to be a review of Jeff Britting's Ayn Rand, but the book is mentioned only in passing. Most of the content is taken up with ridicule of AR's fiction, philosophy, and personal life.

I think this piece provides an opportunity like the one recently provided by the negative Commentary article by Algis Valiunas; namely, for knowledgeable Objectivists to get letters on Ayn Rand and Objectivism published in a major publication. I hope ARI is already on the case.

Incidentally, I think this is a very good sign for Objectivism. Two articles don't make a trend, but that two major, respected publications have devoted significant space to criticizing Ayn Rand does provide evidence for the theory that Objectivism is increasingly on the intellectuals' radar screens. I just hope this initial spate of sneering incredulity at Ayn Rand being taken seriously will soon give way to more serious criticism of the ideas.

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I just hope this initial spate of sneering incredulity at Ayn Rand being taken seriously will soon give way to more serious criticism of the ideas.

I doubt it. The pseudo-intellectuals have no intellectuality to offer. There is no reasoning and logic behind post-modernism, nihilism, existentialism, and other modern nonsense. As (from memory) Ayn Rand noted once, paraphrasing: the old style Marxists, who professed some respect for science and logic, might have been able to debate, but there is nothing but dishonest, nihilist mystical emotionalism behind a louse such as Valiunas. One phrase from The Fountainhead captures the approach of a Valiunas:

It was a pedestal from which a god had been torn, and in his place there stood, not Satan with a sword, but a corner lout sipping a bottle of Coca-Cola.

Those creeps are capable of vandalism - temporarily pushing statues from pedastals - but they can't rise to the level of a terrible enemy wielding a sword. Another quote from The Fountainhead:

It was a contest without time, a struggle of two abstractions, the thing that had created the building against the things that made the play possible—two forces, suddenly naked to her in their simple statement—two forces that had fought since the world began—and every religion had known of them—and there had always been a God and a Devil—only men had been so mistaken about the shapes of their Devil—he was not single and big, he was many and smutty and small.

There will likely be many other small voices as the panic rises (panic over the continuing ascent of her ideas), but don't expect any of them to contain a hint of truth or logical reasoning - that's exactly what they hate, and that is why they hate Objectivism and Ayn Rand.

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When I read this post, I had just finished writing my letter to the LRB editor, which I reproduce below. I fully agree that this is actually a good sign for Objectivism; the LRB is a major outlet for intellectual life here in perfidious Albion, and the fact that they not only noticed Ayn Rand, but saw fit to devote 45 paragraphs to trashing her, means they hear our footsteps. Heck, maybe they'll dump Slavoj Zizek ("the Elvis of cultural theory") and pick up Peter Schwartz.

To the Editor:

Jenny Turner’s essay on Ayn Rand (‘As Astonishing as Elvis’, 1 December 2005) was cut from a tiresomely familiar template: a sketch of Rand’s life composed of sneering repetitions of the lies of her detractors, an overview of her novels apparently based on one afternoon’s reading, and a conspicuous lack of serious engagement with what Rand actually thought. One would never guess from Turner’s incompetent exposition, for example, that Rand wrote on an astonishingly broad range of philosophic subjects, from the mechanics of concept-formation and the locus of free will to the nature of political rights and the objectivity of aesthetic judgment. She asked afresh the ‘big questions’ of human life and came up with profoundly original answers which form a systematic philosophy of reason. It is no wonder that her appeal is greater than ever; in a world where ‘public intellectual’ has come to mean ‘clownish windbag,’ Ayn Rand’s uncompromising dedication to the rational mind comes as manna in the desert to those who care about ideas and their consequences. The good news is that as long as her opponents’ preferred method of argument is the ad hominem cheap shot, Rand’s influence will only continue to grow.

Barry Wood

London

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Yes, I meant to say something when I first read it but... :D So it's a bit late, but great letter. Very nicely written for all of the reasons that Mr. Royce mentions above.

Did you ever hear anything back?

Zak

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Yes, I meant to say something when I first read it but... :D So it's a bit late, but great letter. Very nicely written for all of the reasons that Mr. Royce mentions above.

Did you ever hear anything back?

Zak

Well, I got an e-mail saying thanks for the letter, it's being considered for publication. The new issue of LRB is up online, but my letter's not in the Letters section. I have yet to check out a print copy to see if it's in there. I doubt it, but hey, it sure was therapeutic to write that letter!

Barry

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