Other Challenges to Objectivism
People ask me for resources that challenge Objectivism. This will be a growing list of things I find relevant.
The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult. This was written by Murray Rothbard–a big name in libertarian circles. I can vouch for everything he says here. I also, for instance, get put through the “you have to read Rand forever” treatment. By old cultist members? No, by young men in the year 2020. The vortex of Rand is strong and draws people to it every time they pick up Rand. It needs a direct challenge.
My Years with Ayn Rand by Nathaniel Branden. Branden coined the very term “Objectivism” and made it a movement with his lecture series and Institute back in the day. If you are going to go down the Objectivist path, it is worth it to take a look at what he said. He desists from diagnosis of Rand but it’s pretty clear she had a terrible case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Shrugging Off Ayn Rand – by NY Times bestselling author and ex-Objectivist Michael Prescott. I could not agree more with his assessment that Rand disassociates a person from the intuitive part of their mind.
Romancing the Stone-Cold Killer: Ayn Rand and William Hickman – by again Michael Prescott. Read through some thoughts on how Rand praised a child murderer in her youth.
Sam Vaknin’s website. Vaknin’s website describes Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It doesn’t deal with Rand or Objectivism. I recommend it, however, to show how in alignment with NPD Objectivism is. Look through how much the narcissist wants to chase excitement, rationalizes bad behavior (e.g., smoking), and feels they have objective laser-like judgment expressly without feelings.
The Blank Slate by Steven Pinker. I have not read this book. However, it takes to ask the idea of tabula rasa. If you want a more technical argument against tabula rasa itself–which I think is THE issue of our time–here is one.
The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. van der Kolk. This book is about trauma. I believe Objectivism attracts people who have been traumatized, even if they don’t know it. This book offers better ideas to deal with it–some of which directly counter Objectivism doctrine. Visceral healing–the stuff deep in the body–is what is needed.
The Awakened Family by Dr. Shefali Tsabary. I recommend this because Dr. Tsabary has much better thoughts on emotions than Ayn Rand. She describes how good/evil thinking often inflames situations. It is a parenting book, but I can’t find these ideas in any book that isn’t a parenting book. Perhaps that is because parenting is where these skills are learned and imparted.
Psychology Books. Objectivism acts as a psychology. And yet Objectivists often want to compare it to other philosophies. I am asking you to read books by psychologists and compare them to Objectivism. Rand shuts down inquiry into psychology by describing it as being, at the time, dominated by mystics. It was not and is not. Psychology is rich with insight. Try reading books by Dr. Shefali Tsabary, Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, Dr. Elaine R. Aron, Dr. Haim Ginott, Elaine Mazlish and Adele Faber, or really any book from any person who, unlike Rand, actually studies human nature. Pick one on any topic that might directly impact or influence you, such as having narcissistic or borderline parents. The market is saturated with such books. Most of all, read Carl Jung.
Towards Liberalism: A Challenge to Objectivist Ethics. Yes. My book. I attempt to go in and dismantle Objectivism piece by piece. I offer a vision of a non-punitive world, both politically and personally and a strong caregiving ethics. I have an unwavering vision of creating strong, vivacious people through proper caregiving. Please recommend it to your friends, family, colleagues, students, and reading groups!