Imma gonna do me—an Objectivist childhood

One of my major disappointments in life is that there is no Objectivist character on the Simpsons. Don’t you think that would be a riot?

There is a lot of whinging in this piece-I’m not sure what she describes is a “ruined childhood”—from Alyssa Bereznak entitled “How Ayn Rand Ruined My Childhood”. But there is a lot of wisdom, too, as she discusses how Objectivism affected her relationships, when she dabbled with it:

I hoarded my accomplishments at school, convinced I’d earned them all on my own. Meanwhile, my mother quietly packed my lunch every day.

It’s insidious how such radical individualism shut down her own gratitude, IOW, and she’s smart enough to see it now. Although, in reality, gratitude towards mothers isn’t something teenagers excel at, objectivism or not.

Nonetheless, that sentence is a good contrasting point about the difference between Ayn Rand’s dreck and more mainstream libertarians. Libertarians as a general rule–except for the one that fell under this kind of bizarre influence-argue not that you don’t owe anything to anybody else. They generally argue that, granted freedom, people will care for each other through the negotiated mores of civil society, and in this case, family attachment. Don’t tax me and take my money for the needy; let me give. (There’s not much about the course of the history of philanthropy that makes me actually believe that, but certainly that’s an argument now).

Reading the piece through the end, it becomes clear that her father is a simple narcissist who ruins his relationships with other people because he is unable to give to anybody else, and he uses a twisted form of philosophy to justify it. I wonder how he’ll feel reading about this? The writing becomes tentative as she discusses what surely must have a deeply painful episode:


Hardcore objectivists often criticize liberals for basing decisions on emotion, rather than reason. My father saw our family politics no differently. In his mind, it was reasonable to ask that I emancipate myself and work for a living. To me, it felt like he was asking me to sacrifice my childhood so he didn’t have to pay child support. To me, it felt like abandonment.

There are children in Ayn Rand’s novels–in Atlas Shrugged, for example, there is a meditation about how children raised away from the shackles of society and treated with individual respect behave as “adventurous kittens.” Crazy as Rand was in some ways, I doubt she would have condoned this father’s ludicrously petty behavior. Perhaps the piece should be called “How My Dad’s Narcissism Caused Him to Be A Crap Parent.”

Related posts: Atlas Shrugged trailer and Trains that Go Zoom!

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