Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Positive Ayn Rand Article

Maggie Gallagher wrote a nice piece on Ayn Rand yesterday. I wholeheartedly support her enthusiasm for Ayn Rand and praise for the success of Atlas Shrugged after so many years.

But! I was profoundly disappointed in the end of the article. Apparently, Ms. Gallagher's enthusiasm for Ayn Rand's ideas waned upon the birth of her first child. No, not waned. It seems as if she packed up Rand's ideas in a little box and put them away after she became a parent.

For the first time [after her daughter was born], I saw the limits of the grand myth of the self-made man. I saw how completely life itself depends on a love that cannot be rationalized, but is pure gift. Grace entered my life, and I submitted to the necessity of gratitude . . . .

I'm not sure what she means by the "necessity of gratitude" since she doesn't talk about a supernatural power. I'm really genuinely confused by the whole passage. It's true--a parent's love for a child is powerful. The love I feel for my family (hubby included) defies words and description most times, but that doesn't mean it's irrational. Suffice it to say--it's deep and selfish. I cannot imagine life without them; they are my favorite people in the entire universe, my highest values in the realm of human beings.

It really is too bad that Ms. Gallagher feels the way she does, because she really seems like a fan of Ayn Rand. It's unfortunate that she (like many others) seem to find Objectivism incompatible with parenthood. There are many Objectivist parents out there who disagree vehemently with that notion.


brendan said...

Hear, hear!

david said...

Interesting article, but as you noted, she sort of lost a huge chunk of her "street cred" with the last few sentences. I remain baffled by people who claim that Objectivism is contrary to being a parent.

Ergo said...

I didn't quite understand that last paragraph as well. It seemed so strange. I didn't know the referents or intents of the words Gallagher was using there: what's "necessity of gratitude"?

It seems like she wants to say that one must be grateful for the fact that someone loves you or that you have someone to love. But, if love is understood to be a response to values--a reward given mutually--then in addition to gratitude, love should also elicit a host of other emotions, like pride, admiration, worship, etc. And that sounds just like what Ayn Rand said about love.

Well, anyway. I'm glad to know an Objectivist parent in you.

Monica said...

The philosophy is crystal clear to us. But many people are very confused about Objectivism and what it requires. Even many self-proclaimed Objectivists are completely clueless about the philosophy. It takes quite a bit of study to understand what Objectivism is about, and what it's incompatible with. I am sure I will be learning for many years.

Many people dismiss it altogether because they hold certain ideas that they think Objectivism requires them to give up. There are two alternatives: they either don't fully understand Objectivism, or they want to hold onto irrational ideas. I am convinced that a lot of people who had a short affair with Objectivism fall in the former category. And unfortunately, there are a lot of Objectivists out there on the inernetS who are young and jerky and have no clue what they're talking about who help to steer them onto that path. With so-called proponents like that, Objectivism doesn't need enemies.

Also, sticking with Objectivism takes a tenacity for finding the truth that many people simply don't have, unfortunately. It's not like it's something you can figure out in just 6 months or so.

Rational Jenn said...

Thanks, all. I remain confused by her statement and I wish she'd elaborate one of these days. Her piece about Ayn Rand was unlike many pro-Objectivism articles written by conservatives: it was joyous. I really responded to that sense of life vibe in the article, until I was let down by her decision to be done with Ayn Rand when she became a parent. I suspect she has seriously misunderstood something important. I wish I knew more about her thinking--who knows? Maybe she'll stop by and enlighten us!