On a campaign stop in suburban Pittsburgh, Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton went off script to criticize Ayn Rand’s 1957 Objectivist novel Atlas Shrugged as “a boyish fantasy not grounded in reality, but rather a comic book tale.”
Gee, Hillary. You’re way ahead in nearly all the polls. You’re about to walk into the Oval Office, achieving your lifelong dream of unimaginable power lust as the first woman President. It’s a made-for-TV moment you’re about to encounter in just a matter of weeks. It’s the sweet taste of triumph you’ll claim as a victory for “women,” when we all know it’s really nothing more than the empty achievement of a soul-selling, decades-long quest for power. (Men have done the same thing for centuries.)
Why on earth are you bringing up Ayn Rand, of all people? Your supporters surely don’t care anything for Objectivism, Ayn Rand’s philosophy of reason, rational self-interest, laissez-faire capitalism and romanticism. You didn’t need to tear down Ayn Rand to build up your support, did you? What brought this off-script and out-of-context attack on?
While thinking all this over, I received a highly astute email from one of my own readers:
Michael, you have probably written about this before so forgive me for repeating the obvious, but I have a theory that parts of the Left, and indeed the Right, has a deep fear of Ayn Rand’s philosophy and sense of life. She scares the wits out of them. Think about it: the term “boyish” is actually a kind of form of praise — it reminds people what it was like to be young, to be enthusiastic and passionate about life. Hillary Clinton strikes me as a deeply cynical, neurotic individual who has craved power over people and the approval of some as a substitute for concrete achievement. She is a classic second-hander.
Boom! This is it.
“Boyish” is a compliment, intended or not. It describes an innocent stage of life when one hasn’t become hardened by the soulless, awful ideas to which many adults subscribe. I’m talking about ideas such as those spread by Hillary Clinton, ideas that subvert and even kill: “You are your brother’s keeper; it’s bad to be selfish and defy the authorities who know what’s best for you; your life is not an end in itself, but rather a means to the ends of others.”
Don’t misunderstand. Adulthood is better than childhood, or at least it should be. Adulthood is better if you never allow yourself to lose the sense of life so implicit in childhood. The sense, for example, that life is an intelligible, wonderful, exciting and beautiful place. Children hold the as-yet unarticulated belief that the mind can figure things out, because it’s efficacious, and that fulfillment in life is the central purpose of one’s existence. The love for knowledge exhibits itself every time a three- or five-year-old child persists in asking the question, “Why?” As Rand herself put it, it’s the premise that one’s life — and all the opportunity and excitement it potentially holds — is an end in itself. One should never lose it. Those who don’t ever lose it end up being all that they can be. Those who do lose it…well, they end up like Hillary Clinton. Soulless and pointless. Perhaps rich and famous, and even the President of the United States. But for what?
If I could bring myself to believe that Hillary Clinton once possessed the innocence and awe for life that is any child’s psyche, I would suggest she’s trying to get in touch with her more innocent, “boyish” or girlish past. I’d claim she senses that lost vision of excitement and appreciation for her own individuality, which slipped out when she mocked the honest purity of individualism as “boyish” and immature. Instead, Hillary immersed herself in collectivist, unoriginally socialist and statist leftist feminism, which isn’t about individuality for women; it’s about group identity, group-think and collectivism. It kills a woman’s femininity by killing her individuality. Feminism and collectivism are about force, compulsion, and brutality. Government social engineering is all about submission, just as some men have imposed on many women over the centuries. Now it’s Hillary’s turn to impose her force of will on those she detests. We know from her own autobiography that Hillary accepted those ideas in young adulthood. We can see how she hardened into the power-lusting, money grubbing, pay-to-play grifter ruthlessly peddling the aristocracy of pull (an Ayn Rand term) we all know Hillary Clinton for today.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan offered an eloquent reply. If only he meant it, as Paul Ryan is an even more hollow man than Hillary Clinton. He’s even less innocent than Hillary, because the eloquence of his response proves just how much he understands (and then evades) of his own self-betrayal. But it’s such a good reply, it’s worth repeating here, even if you consider that the source is every bit as morally compromised as Hillary Clinton herself.
The comment, which largely drew silence from the mostly working class crowd in attendance, sparked criticism from several Republicans. “It’s no secret that I give out Atlas Shrugged as Christmas gifts,” said Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. “And I read it with my kids at bedtime. Ayn Rand’s thinking is sorely needed now as the government continues to intrude on people’s lives. We are indeed living in Atlas Shrugged. But not Dagny Taggart’s world. It’s the moocher world where they demand high taxation, big labor, government ownership, government spending, government planning, regulation, and redistribution. If that makes me boyish, Secretary Clinton, then I’m proud of it.”
If it’s “boyish” or childish to embrace a love of one’s individuality most of all, then we should all be proud of our boyishness. Look at what Hillary Clinton offers us as an alternative, after all.
[Note: Some have told me the story is not true, that Hillary did not state these words, and I don’t know if that’s the case or not. But the article stands, because these are the kinds of things Hillary Clinton and other progressives have said about Ayn Rand and Objectivism, and the broader points remain.]
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