Sunday, November 01, 2009

Link between childhood deprivation and extreme libertarianism

... Around the age of five, Ayn Rand's] mother instructed her to put away some of her toys for a year. She offered up her favorite possessions, thinking of the joy that she would feel when she got them back after a long wait. When the year had passed, she asked her mother for the toys, only to be told she had given them away to an orphanage. Heller remarks that "this may have been Rand's first encounter with injustice masquerading as what she would later acidly call ‘altruism.’ " (The anti-government activist Grover Norquist has told a similar story from childhood, in which his father would steal bites of his ice cream cone, labelling each bite "sales tax" or "income tax." The psychological link between a certain form of childhood deprivation and extreme libertarianism awaits serious study.)

From Wealthcare, an excellent three-part essay (the above quote is in the second part) by Jonathan Chait on Ayn Rand and the corrosive movement she created.

The immediate provocation for Chait's review-essay is the publication of two new biographies of Ayn Rand: Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne C. Heller and Goddess of Market - Ayn Rand and the American Right by Jennifer Burns.

Here are reviews by Adam Kirsch, Janet Maslin and A.C. Grayling.

Here's a memorable line from Maslin's review:

... And both [the books] have gray covers ... Yet Rand ... loathed the very idea of grayness. She preferred dichotomies that were strictly black and white.