Did President Barack Obama diss legendary objectivist author and philosopher Ayn Rand?
The president sat down with Rolling Stone and was asked if he ever read any of Rand’s compelling and groundbreaking work (note, “compelling” and “groundbreaking” were not used in the interview). Obama did say that he read it when he was younger, but as he got older he dismissed her work.
“Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we’d pick up,” Obama said. “Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we’re only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we’re considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity – that that’s a pretty narrow vision.”
“It’s not one that, I think, describes what’s best in America. Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a ‘you’re on your own’ society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party.”
I find it rather insulting that a lot of people, including the president, say they read Rand when they were younger and agreed with it and then as they got older they got smarter. I interviewed John Kittredge, an elderly man who ran for the Libertarian Party in both the last federal and Ontario provincial election. He still views her work as important to his life.
Personally, I haven’t read any of her fiction, but I have read her other non-fiction books, such as “Philosophy: Who Needs It?” and “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.” She was such an intelligent woman and I feel inferior just by listening to her, which is the same way I feel when I read Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek and listen to Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman.
When the president said the GOP has taken on the “you’re on your own” society, I think he is badly misguided. I wish the Republican Party adopted some of Rand’s teachings. Oh well.