I look under rocks so you don’t have to.
If you saw what some Libertarians, White Supremacists, Trolls, write about teachers–that their jobs are ridiculous, outdated, and students can learn everything they need to know from Khan Academy and YouTube, and that our professional expertise and ability to find relevancy and context with our students, help them understand and apply the process of critical thinking skills, weigh facts, opinions, truth and biases to draw their own conclusions based on logic and personal values. When we do this well, it’s powerful. And perhaps it is that expertise and knowledge that frightens many, including some teachers. Unfortunately, many teachers still uphold white supremacy, colonialism, and other harmful, violent practices. And, though I will never understand it fully, many voted for the current president and would do so again. But at this writing he’s in the hospital right now, Sunday, October 4, 2020, with the virus he called a hoax.
But this is about teaching Ayn Rand’s works Whatever you may think about her writing, her opinions, etc., I ask: please do the background knowledge and current scholarly research into the consequences of her work. I provide a few articles to read and consider.
The new age of Ayn Rand: how she won over Trump and Silicon Valley
It is a timely decision because Rand, who died in 1982 and was alternately ridiculed and revered throughout her lifetime, is having a moment. Long the poster girl of a particularly hardcore brand of free-market fundamentalism – the advocate of a philosophy she called “the virtue of selfishness” – Rand has always had acolytes in the conservative political classes. The Republican speaker of the US House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, is so committed a Randian, he was famous for giving every new member of his staff a copy of Rand’s gargantuan novel, Atlas Shrugged (along with Freidrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom). The story, oft-repeated, that his colleague in the US Senate, Rand Paul, owes his first name to his father Ron’s adulation of Ayn (it rhymes with “mine”) turns out to be apocryphal, but Paul describes himself as a fan all the same.
The Fountainhead was serially rejected and published to ambivalent reviews, but it became a word-of-mouth hit. Over the coming years, a cult following arose around Rand (as well as something very close to an actual cult among her inner circle, known, no doubt ironically, as the Collective). Her works struck a chord with a particular kind of reader: adolescent, male and thirsting for an ideology brimming with moral certainty. As the New Yorker said in 2009: “Most readers make their first and last trip to Galt’s Gulch – the hidden-valley paradise of born-again capitalists featured in Atlas Shrugged, its solid-gold dollar sign standing like a maypole – sometime between leaving Middle-earth and packing for college.”
What Happens When You Take Ayn Rand Seriously?
The core of Rand’s philosophy — which also constitutes the overarching theme of her novels — is that unfettered self-interest is good and altruism is destructive. This, she believed, is the ultimate expression of human nature, the guiding principle by which one ought to live one’s life. The fly in the ointment of Rand’s philosophical “objectivism” is the plain fact that humans have a tendency to cooperate and to look out for each other, as noted by many anthropologists who study hunter-gatherers.https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/good-thinking/201602/what-happens-when-you-take-ayn-rand-seriously
In other words, we are more social and connected than some would like to believe.
The Short, Unhappy Life of a Libertarian Paradise
The city’s experiment was fascinating because it offered a chance to observe some of the most extreme conservative principles in action in a real-world laboratory. Producers from “60 Minutes” flew out to talk with the town’s leaders. The New York Times found a woman in a dark trailer park pawning her flat screen TV to buy a shotgun for protection. “This American Life” did a segment portraying Springs citizens as the ultimate anti-tax zealots, willing to pay $125 in a new “Adopt a Streetlight” program to illuminate their own neighborhoods, but not willing to spend the same to do so for the entire city. “I’ll take care of mine” was the gist of what one council member heard from a resident when she confronted him with this fact.https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/30/colorado-springs-libertarian-experiment-america-215313
This is a long piece, and requires a few readings to reach its conclusions, mainly because it’s muddy (like most human endeavors). But it does illustrate an experiment of Libertarian ideals that would make Ayn Rand rise from the grave, and then go back in again when she sees what a failure it is.
Libertarianism, in my husband’s words, doesn’t scale. That’s it. And my words: it produces an immaturity and failure to actualize into adulthood. And if we teachers want this for our students, and insist on teaching Ayn Rand, please provide multiple viewpoints that demonstrate how it doesn’t work. Everyone of us likes to think we’re the hero of our own story, we’re in control, and we are independent. And there’s nothing wrong that until we forget there are 8 billion others. It’s misspent energy at best, and destruction at worst.