Monday, January 25, 2010

Objectivist Review of "Goddess"

The Objective Standard has published a review of one of the two new Ayn Rand biographies by an Objectivist intellectual.

Robert Mayhew writes:

As [author Jennifer] Burns has no personal ax to grind, is a professor of history, and had nearly unprecedented access to the Ayn Rand Archives, those interested in Rand had reason to expect Burns’s book to tell much about the life and thought—especially the political thought—of the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

What readers might have expected—what such a book could have been—is a presentation of the development of Ayn Rand’s political thought and its basis in her more fundamental philosophy, a history of her political activities and interactions with others on the right explained largely in terms of her philosophy, and a discussion of how she compares to others on the right in terms of essentials. The successful execution of such a project would not require agreement with Rand’s philosophy or political views; but it would require at least a basic understanding of, and interest in, her philosophical fundamentals and her arguments for her political ideas. Burns, however, has no grasp of or interest in Rand’s philosophical ideas or arguments, and chose to write a different sort of biography.

For example, Mr. Mayhew writes, Burns presented Rand's thought as the result of deterministic influences, and discusses her political thought with virtually no reference to her extensive philosophical system. "Crucial aspects of Rand’s political theory—such as the evil of the initiation of force, the distinction between economic and political power, and the principles underlying such ideas—are given short shrift..."

While I have not read the book, I have no reason to believe that this reviewer does not accurately portray the content of the book. In fact, my review of another review of Burns' book (by someone hostile to Ayn Rand) confirms Mr. Mayhew's conclusions.

In addition, I have read many critiques of Rand, and posted on some, in recent months and have found a common thread running throughout - an out right failure, for one reason or another, to portray or confront Objectivism fairly and honestly. This is frustrating and sometimes infuriating. But it does speak well of the power and logic of Rand's thought.


clay barham said...

Howard Roark, in the Fountainhead, epitomizes what the earliest American settlers discovered that did not exist in the world at the time. It was the ability for each individual to think, imagine, create, build and change the environment with their own sweat, even disturbing the established and accepted way things were done, and without fear of punishment. That was America, and what set her apart from all other nations, as cited in Save Pebble Droppers & Prosperity at Amazon and

Steve D said...

"an out right failure, for one reason or another, to portray or confront Objectivism fairly and honestly."

All those psychological defense mechanisms getting in the way, I guess.