RABBLEROUSER: First, I must take issue with the reference to Ayn Rand as being "the bitch from hell." One, it is an ad hominem argument, and two, the word "bitch" is a sexist term. What if one were to refer to a African-American or Hispanic whom one disagrees with as "a 'nigger' or 'spick' from hell?" I think perhaps the offensive term should speak clearly for itself.
NIKHIL: Referring to her as a bitch from hell is perfectly defensible. She EARNED the epithet by her repulsive philosophy.
RABBLEROUSER REPLIES: You've completely missed my point. "Bitch" is a gender-degrading word. Ayn Rand's gender is irrelevent to whether or not she or her philosophy is detestable. If you wish to say that Ayn Rand's philosophy is horrid, go ahead. However, why resort to ad hominem assaults, much less a sexist snipe at that.
About Ayn Rand: I agree with many of the arguments presented against Ayn Rand. For example, she (conveniently?) ignores that the maverick American capitalist built his fortune on slaughtering a race of people who occupied the land before him, and our "self-made" American capitalists such as the oil, railroad, automotive, telephone & telegraph, computer, and air travel industries were heavily subsidized by the government. After all, only a centralized industry could have had the resources and coordination available to create a massive communicative and transportative infrastructure such as exists in the U.S.
Nevertheless, she is on the mark with much of her argument against religion, although her arguments were borrowed from David Hume and Bertrand Russell among others. But maybe I should save this argument for religion/anti-religion debate pages.
NIKHIL: Why is she on the mark? She isn't any more right than either of those thinkers were. They were both under the impression that in the absence of any proof one way or the other about the existence of God, it made more sense to disbelieve than to believe. Well, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, to quote the late great Carl Sagan. You have to make a choice about whether or not to believe in God, and either one of the alternatives involves a leap of faith. Why isi it any more sensible to "assume" that God doesn't exist? The problem with being anti-religion is that it takes away a major source of transcendental values, and leaves people like Ayn free to exploit others for personal gain. Well I've got news for Ayn. There are more important things then what you want, Ayn./ You do not have the right to exploit others for your personal gain. Self sacrifice is better than selfishness, that is a message of every great religion. there is a God, and those who follow capitalism and greed are not following in the divine path.
Perhaps I'm biased by my skeptic leanings, but it is much more logical to believe "God" (at least the Judeo-Christian-Islamic) doesn't exist, given the God/Devil dilemma of Good creating Evil, or Perfection creating Corruption (War is Peace?), than it is to logically assume that a god in the likeness of the dominant culture exists.
NIKHIL: The problem with being anti-religion is that it takes away a major source of transcendental values, and leaves people like Ayn free to exploit others for personal gain.
RABBLEROUSER: Interesting, considering the colonialization of North and South America, Africa, and Asia by Christians with "transcendental values," though I think their greed was merely cloaked in esoteric garbage called religion. Let's not forget fine Catholic gentlemen such as Mussolini, Franco, and William Buckley; or fine Protestants like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and the Ku Klux Klan. All profess to have the "transcendental values" you seem to cherish.
Conversely, David Hume, Karl Marx, Albert Einstein, and Bertrand Russell had ethical philosophies without the mystical baggage of religion.
If anything, religion probably makes one more vulnerable to fascism given that one forsakes skepticism for leaps of faith. I believe one is more likely to be socially responsible if one approaches ethics from a logical perspective (or at least as logical as humanly possible) than if one chooses social responsibility based on bribery of heaven or threat of hell.
Also, I feel that Rand's experience with Russian Communism is a crucial influence that makes her react negatively to any collective effort, even by those who do not intend to enslave or be enslaved.
NIKHIL: This does not excuse her from promoting teh enslavement and exploitation of others. her bad experience does not invalidate the merits of communism, nor does it make her an authority on communism.
RABBLEROUSER: I agree. However, I think it's more productive to psychoanalyze her perspective so one may weigh the strengths and weaknesses of her argument than it is to merely condemn her position.
A side note: Rand also thought the then-Govenor Reagan was a wonderful example of an individualist "no-government-interference" kind-of-guy. Interesting indeed since Reagan's presidental government displayed some of the heaviest state intervention policies in recent years, not in social programs, mind you, but in using miltaries to invade or bomb countries who display positions contrary to the US corporate agenda. Or worse, actively worked to subvert or overthrow popularly elected governments in Central America.
NIKHIL: yes, it's typical that Ayn would be a follower of Ronald Reagan. Libertarians like her are only libertarian when it doesn't involve people choosing their form of economic system. If they should schoose communism, then free choice doesn't count, we must crush them with the sword.
Another side note- just laugh the next time you hear about Marxists succumbing to the cult of personality. Ayn Rand's followers exalt her name and her sacred writings more than the marxists ever did to Marx.
RABBLEROUSER: Whether Marxists or Objectivists are more idolatrous than the other is neither here nor there. Perhaps we should do away with religion altogether, be it theology or ideological dogma.