Hi Michael. If I felt that my country was imperiled by 19th century communist orthodoxy, then I would take on the communist manifesto. The American left, contrary to the insistence of Republican politicians and talking heads, owes its policy agenda more to Keynesian economics and Rawlsian contract theory than to Karl Marx. Rawls' primary antagonist was Robert Nozick, who was a much more cogent and formidable philosopher than Rand. He's more difficult to understand, though, uses fewer insults and makes necessary distinctions between Stalinism, social democracy, democratic socialism, welfare states, state capitalism, market socialism, and so on. So, unlike Rand, he doesn't pander to laziness. He's been answered by Rawlsians, his heirs have provided rebuttals to those answers, and the conversation continues.

Unfortunately, most conservatives prefer the "easy way out" of Rand's false dichotomy: collectivism vs. capitalism. Respectable conservatives like Nozick are seldom cited on capitol hill or in the alt-right media; Rand, however, has scriptural reverence in those circles. Her most influential advocates don't take the "super market approach" to her work, and she didn't take that approach in her writing or to life in general. Her influence is both broad and toxic, and I will continue to chip away at her undeserved intellectual stature in whatever small way I'm able to.

You are right about one thing, though: I used Rand's own words as the basis of my analysis. If you feel it's incomplete because I didn't cover every sentence in Atlas Shrugged, then maybe you can pitch a literary agent on my behalf--I'd love to write a multi-volume series that analyzes all 562,000 of Rand's mocking and belligerent words. Sadly, that's just too much content for a single blog post.

Finally, as I noted in my article, I did read Rand with an open mind at my first encounter with her, and she did hold some sway with me for a time. As I grew older and more experienced and after reading more widely, I came to the view of Atlas Shrugged that you see in my post. So, your assumptions about me are just as far off the mark as Rand's assumptions about "moochers" and "looters." It shows that you did not read my introductory paragraphs closely.

Is that how you digested Atlas Shrugged, the communist manifesto and whatever other political tracts you bring to this discussion? I try not to make broad assumptions about people, but, based on the evidence I see in your thoughts, I am curious to know how attentive a reader you really are.

Thank you for responding, Michael. Your comments have prompted fresh ideas for more articles on this subject, and I'm grateful for that.

Dustin

I write about movies, books, culture, politics, and the intersection between them. MA in English, words in The Ascent, PSILU, The Writing Cooperative, and more.

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