A Look Inside the Crazy Cult of Ayn Rand
Here's a great read about the Ayn Rand cult which discusses not just the pernicious effect of its adolescent philosophy but the soap opera of Rand's personal life --- perfectly illuminating the bad Romance novel character of the books:
While Greenspan (tagged “A.G.” by Rand) was the most famous name that would emerge from Rand’s Collective, the second most well-known name to emerge from the Collective was Nathaniel Branden, psychotherapist, author and “self-esteem” advocate. Before he was Nathaniel Branden, he was Nathan Blumenthal, a 14-year-old who read Rand’s The Fountainhead again and again. He later would say, “I felt hypnotized.” He describes how Rand gave him a sense that he could be powerful, that he could be a hero. He wrote one letter to his idol Rand, then a second. To his amazement, she telephoned him, and at age 20, Nathan received an invitation to Ayn Rand’s home. Shortly after, Nathan Blumenthal announced to the world that he was incorporating Rand in his new name: Nathaniel Branden. And in 1955, with Rand approaching her 50th birthday and Branden his 25th, and both in dissatisfying marriages, Ayn bedded Nathaniel.
What followed sounds straight out of Hollywood, but Rand was straight out of Hollywood, having worked for Cecil B. DeMille. Rand convened a meeting with Nathaniel, his wife Barbara (also a Collective member), and Rand’s own husband Frank. To Branden's astonishment, Rand convinced both spouses that a time-structured affair—she and Branden were to have one afternoon and one evening a week together—was “reasonable.” Within the Collective, Rand is purported to have never lost an argument. On his trysts at Rand’s New York City apartment, Branden would sometimes shake hands with Frank before he exited. Later, all discovered that Rand’s sweet but passive husband would leave for a bar, where he began his self-destructive affair with alcohol.
By 1964, the 34-year-old Nathaniel Branden had grown tired of the now 59-year-old Ayn Rand. Still sexually dissatisfied in his marriage to Barbara and afraid to end his affair with Rand, Branden began sleeping with a married 24-year-old model, Patrecia Scott. Rand, now “the woman scorned,” called Branden to appear before the Collective, whose nickname had by now lost its irony for both Barbara and Branden. Rand’s justice was swift. She humiliated Branden and then put a curse on him: “If you have one ounce of morality left in you, an ounce of psychological health—you'll be impotent for the next twenty years! And if you achieve potency sooner, you'll know it’s a sign of still worse moral degradation!”
This is the muse for many of the GOP leaders who pronounce themselves social conservatives.
The important point in all that is the one in which the 14 year old Nathan says that he was "hypnotized" and that Rand's novels made him feel like a hero. That's the key to Rand's influence: the people who organize their lives around Rand's overwrought philosophy are emotional adolescents and the pretense of "rationality" in her books is little more than a justification for youthful narcissism. Her own life bears this out as does the application of Randism to actual policy.
What's frightening about all this is the number of leaders who count themselves as adherents. It's common for narcissists to make it to the top of the food chain, but empowering this peculiar brand is akin to giving a 15 year old a Ferrari and a gun and taking off for the week-end. These are not people you want to put in charge of anything.