I could sit here and dismantle everything Ayn Rand ever said, but it could be a pretty boring circle jerk for those of us who don’t buy it, and adherents would just put on their ear muffs. So I wound up looking at the phenomenon itself. The not very pressing question of whether Objectivism is an accurate description of/prescription for the world isn’t that interesting. The question of how Objectivism works is interesting. I think it functions like a modified cult. There are some resemblances to a cult that are documented elsewhere. Because of Rand’s juvenile, “I didn’t even want to go to prom anyway,” Leopold and Loeb-esque understanding of guys like Nietzsche, she idolized a serial killer. One of her heroes was William Hickman, who chopped up a little girl and killed some other people. Those in her inner circle believed she was genuinely superior to every other person on earth. She proclaimed that her sexual indiscretions were ordained by
God reason, while those of her partners were depraved. When she found out the married guy she openly cheated on her husband with had re-cheated, she set a standard for diaper dirtying that her adherents would forever strive to equal. Lew Rockwell, who is a pretty big wheel down at the libertarian/Anarcho-capitalist factory, hosts an article by Murray N. Rothbard about the cult-like structure of her organization, with its secret knowledge, restrictions on behavior and purges. Plus, she wore a funny hat.
So I’m going to get into how Objectivism draws in followers with cult-like mechanisms. It targets a certain type of person who thinks a certain type of way and tells them that they are awesome. Their weaknesses are strengths. Their emotional immaturity is a virtue. The reason they don’t understand some stuff is because that stuff is unimportant or wrong. Like many such movements, Objectivism gives followers permission to indulge in their worst impulses. It tells them that their only weakness is that they aren’t the same way they are, but to a greater degree. It is never you who is wrong or limited, it is everybody else. Not only should you never graduate from the diaper of your arrested development, you should embrace the diaper and perhaps even use it as a mechanism for power over other people. “Me me me. If you don’t like it, get a whiff of this, baby!”
Rand’s followers are dramatically more fervent than people who like other writers because The Objectivism cult is an affirmation of themselves. Political figures like Paul Ryan and Clarence Thomas have reportedly forced their staffers to read Rand. Objectivists join Objectivist clubs, so they can meet people like themselves. There is an Objectivist dating site so they can date people like themselves. There are even Objectivist weddings. Nobody who likes Kant or Leibniz or Lao Tzu would ever drive their car around the country so that their GPS signal spelled out “Read Lao Tzu.” Nobody forces their employees to read Steinbeck. There’s no such thing as a Chomsky club or dating site for utilitarians or a Wittgensteinian wedding. The reason Objectivists engage in such behavior is because their own identity is described and extolled by the movement. They crave this affirmation and want to see it multiplied. Even the majority of people who are influenced by Rand, who do not go to these extremes, are being pulled by their own desperate need for affirmation.
I try not to talk about poker too much because I know most people don’t care about it. But it is such a wonderful laboratory for human behavior. Even more so than college football! For example, this dumb little story works as a parable about objectivism and it could only happen playing poker. Even if you’ve never played poker, you should be able follow it easily. We’ll call this guy I used to play with in LA, “Herbert.”¯ Herbert must have had a high IQ. He had an advanced degree in Computer Science from one of the world’s top universities. He made a decent chunk of change off his brain and is now semi-retired. In general, Herbert is a reasonably nice guy and pretty cool to talk to. He loves Ender’s Game.
Herbert really tries to be good at poker. It’s his main hobby. He reads books, he writes notes and so on. He is not good, though. He makes some money at it, because he is very disciplined and plays in smaller games. In smaller games, a very conservative, rigid strategy, coupled with discipline and the ability to exert some control your emotions almost guarantees you a profit. Herbert can do this, but it is all he is really capable of. That is because progressing beyond this level usually requires getting into your opponents’ heads, which Herbert can not do at all, as we shall see.
So one day, I am sitting next to Herbert. He’s telling me that it makes no sense for him to pay into a pool that covers women’s reproductive issues and it makes no sense for them to pay for any prostate problems that he might have. This other guy, who is a dealer at another casino, sits in the game. He is as drunk as a skunk. Most dealers are bad players when they are sober. So a drunk dealer sitting at your table is kind of like being a crooked mechanic and having one of the Real Housewives of Orange County bring in her Jag, saying it makes some kind of noise that seems to disappear whenever someone else is in the car with her.
Every time it is the drunk dealer’s turn to act, he makes a big raise and everybody folds. Obviously, he is not getting a big hand every time. He is drunk and having fun throwing his chips around. He’s daring anybody to stand up to him. He’s letting everybody know that he doesn’t care about the money. I am very pleased with this. I think, “I care about you, Money. Come over here and let Plexico take care of you, baby.”
The way the drunk is playing drives Herbert crazy, however. He cannot stand the fact that this guy is playing so irrationally. Herbert complains to his neighbors about how the drunk dealer won’t play real¯ poker and keeps calling him stupid loudly enough for the guy to hear. I want to point out that when someone plays poker in a way that he can’t understand or deal with, Herbert simply declares that it isn’t real.¯ A lot of poker players do this, few of whom are Objectivists. This defense mechanism is a weakness that shows up in all of our thinking. But it is a cornerstone of the Objectivist mindset and Objectivism tells its followers that it is not a weakness, but a strength. They have the wisdom to see that anything they cannot grasp “isn’t real poker.”
As this goes on, the diaper begins to fill. Herbert’s complaints continue and grow in intensity. It sours the drunk dealer and justifiably so. He does not like being called a moron. He knows that 90% of the time, he will dump off his $700 to the table. All he wants in return is to have some fun doing it. The deal he is proposing is more than fair. However, because Herbert is incapable of dealing with any situation that’s even slightly outside of certain parameters, he feels compelled to dirty his diaper and foul the air for everyone. Luckily, the drunk dealer did not get up and leave, though he seemed pretty close to it.
Now, let’s talk a little poker. I’m sorry about this, but we have to do it. So, even if you do not play poker, I want you to try to think about how to adjust to the way the drunk dealer is playing. You have a drunk guy who is just waiting for his turn. Then when it is his turn, he just throws a bunch of money in. He is doing this with, let’s say 70% of his hands. How would you exploit such a player? Here’s a lovely musical interlude so you can think it over.
Did you figure it out? If you said something like, “I would just wait until I had a big hand, then let him throw a bunch of money in with an almost random hand. Then I’d put my money in and hope my big hand beat his random hand,¯” congratulations! That is the correct answer! I think some of you who have never played poker before might have gotten that one. That is because it is a very simple and obvious adjustment.
Herbert could not figure that out. He could not adjust at all. It was almost a comedy routine. I am not exaggerating when I say that, over a dozen times, Herbert would just call when holding a medium strength hand when the drunk dealer was going to act after Herbert. Then it would get to the dealer and he would make a big raise, just as he did every hand, and 100% of the time he saw Herbert in the pot. Then Herbert would angrily fold his hand and his chips would be pushed to the drunk dealer and he would start talking about what an idiot the other guy was. It was an incredible thing to watch this happen again and again.
Herbert is a guy with a sky high IQ and plenty of well-earned money to spare. But when it comes to poker, Herbert is a fool. Herbert is also an Objectivist. Even if Ayn Rand had never been born and there was no such thing as Objectivism, people like Herbert would exist. There were probably cave Objectivists. They just didn’t know what to call themselves yet, because nobody had written otherwise terrible novels that portrayed their mindset in a way that flattered them.
What we see in Herbert is someone who has great problem solving ability, but an incredibly small perspective and who is retarded in terms of emotional intelligence and empathy. He’s the type of guy who can be a wizard in closed, predictable situations with fixed rules, like computers, but he is almost helpless in wild, unpredictable, chaotic situations. For the record, I happen to know that Herbert has done some very nice things for people. His lack of empathy doesn’t make him a monster, like Paul Ryan. Herbert’s a good guy. But he does the nice things because he wants to be nice and because he would usually prefer to see other people happy, not because he truly understands what it is like to be in the other person’s shoes.
This is what Objectivism says you should be like. It’s an interesting kind of cult, with unusual tactics. Most cults target people who are just generally weak minded or emotionally vulnerable. They have an open door policy and then embrace the new members and sell them on the idea that the act of joining the cult has elevated them. In general society, these people tend to be on the bottom in most respects. By joining the cult they can feel like they have been placed above general society, in spite of their deficiencies. Some similar organizations function by having a few easily met criteria to identify potential members as special. For example, you set up an organization for members of a particular race or ethnicity, take all comers from that ethnicity and tell them they were born superior.
Objectivism works by describing a certain type of person who is probably not weak minded enough to join a traditional cult or even a supremacist movement. But they probably were born with some of the traits that can lead to Objectivism. They are also less likely to be total social failures than the people who join such movements. A potential Objectivist may well be at the top of general society in some respects, like education or income. But such people have strong deficiencies in other areas, like empathy or imagination. These are people who tend to be emotionally immature and possess low emotional intelligence. More likely than not, they feel separated from other people and/or lack social skills. So it’s easy to sell them on the idea that this is all evidence of their superiority.
Rand was such a person and her project was to describe people like herself as being virtuous and above other people. Her philosophy,¯ for example, consists of descriptions of her own thought processes, which were very limited. So people who are like Rand read her and they read a description of themselves. They pick up this book that says, people who fit this description are the best kinds of people. Even the areas where other people say they are deficient are actually areas of strength because it is virtuous to be deficient in those areas. And all of society should be structured in the way that people who fit this description believe will be most beneficial to them. It’s OK if that social structure harms other types of people, because they are inferior.
¯By joining the cult, these people can feel like they are placed above general society, not only in spite of their deficiencies, but because of them, since they are not actually deficiencies. They think that is right and just for society to be structured for their benefit, or in a way that they incorrectly believe will benefit them. Just like every other cult.
* * *
Sometimes I think of people as either CSI people or Columbo people. CSI people are studious, organized and good at comprehending and applying fixed but complicated systems of rules. They can take a little piece of the chaotic world back to their labs, where everything is static and uniform and they can work wonders there. They can identify elements that should behave consistently across all situations and make brilliant inferences from that knowledge. Columbo people would be terrible in the lab and probably break some expensive equipment. But they see things in a more holistic way and are good at figuring out stuff like how other people think. They are more reflective, and can imagine what it’s like to be in another person’s shoes. They can figure out how another person might behave in a wide range of complicated situations and understand why they would behave that way.
Columbo gives you flexibility but makes more mistakes, while the CSIs give you a higher degree of certainty, but less flexibility. Some remarkable people are bi-detectivual, able to function as both Columbo people and CSI people. Others are a mix and others are one extreme or the other. Herbert the poker player, like most Objectivists, is a CSI person.
Now, the point of all this rambling about a poker player and TV crime shows is that we can see that Herbert is a particular type of person. He thinks and behaves in a particular type of way. Maybe he’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline. But we can see that he’s a CSI person, who struggles with wide open situations that require him to understand irrational¯ behavior from other human beings, but who is a wiz at closed systems with fixed rules, like computers. We can also see that, when confronted with a situation that calls for a Columbo, he is lost and becomes frustrated. His first impulse is to declare that the situation is somehow illegitimate, because it doesn’t match up with the type of person he is. This is the kind of thinking that makes him susceptible to Objectivism.
Most of us go through life trying to create narratives about how we are special, How we’re better than most other people and deserve better belongings and higher status. This applies to everything from thinking our bad grades are due to some kind of fault with the teacher, to thinking that our culture is better than the next one. As someone who is like 85% Columbo, I think Columbos are better than CSIs, which you could probably tell even though I tried to be objective. So, big surprise, the primary message of every religion and every cult is that, simply by being a member, you are superior to all non-members. More often than not, they will all die and you will all live. Plus you get to go to heaven, and they will all rot in hell.
Ayn Rand’s cult of the dirty diaper doesn’t promise posthumous rewards for joining and punishment for disagreement. But it pushes the envelope on the “being like me is awesome,”¯ story we like to tell ourselves in a much more powerful way than something as broad as, say, Christianity. It zeros in on specific types of people and tells them everything they want to hear. It tells them that being the way they are by default is an enormous virtue. For example, it appeals mainly to CSI people because it provides simple, consistent rules for things that are really chaotic and complex. In other words, it tells CSI people that the stuff they are really bad at, like psychology and genuine philosophy, are really just nonsense that should be ignored anyway. More specifically, it appeals to emotionally and psychologically weak CSI people because it tells them that, when confronted with things you don’t easily understand, instead of grappling with them or just conceding your limitations, you should respond with a stinky diaper, that is, by rejecting the legitimacy of anything beyond your understanding.
If you read what Ayn Rand has to say about philosophy, it is really just an articulation of the limits of her ability to comprehend philosophy. Now, you might say, “I am pretty sure Ayn Rand was a good deal more intelligent than you are.” ¯ And you might be right, generally speaking. But let’s remember Herbert. Herbert is also more intelligent than I am in most ways. I would have about as much chance of getting an advanced degree in computer science from Herbert’s school as I would of stealing Rob Gronkowski’s girlfriend. But then look at how woefully incapable Herbert was of understanding and adjusting to the behavior of another person that was so different from his own. That’s something Herbert’s mind just can’t handle.
So I am just going to go to Wikipedia for some Ayn Rand philosophy instead of pretending I read it all or, worse, actually reading it all. You can do the same if you want. Even if you don’t know much about philosophy, but are a reflective, contemplative person, you’ll see right away that there’s not much response required beyond, “puh-leeze!” About zero percent of philosophy professors consider her anything like a legitimate philosopher. But let’s consider the mindset conveyed in her philosophy. Hold your nose, here we go!
In epistemology, she considered all knowledge to be based on sense perception, the validity of which she considered axiomatic, and reason, which she described as “the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses.” She rejected all claims of non-perceptual or a priori knowledge, including “‘instinct,’ ‘intuition,’ ‘revelation,’ or any form of ‘just knowing.'” In her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Rand presented a theory of concept formation and rejected the analytic synthetic dichotomy.
So what Rand is saying here, is something like, “CSI people rule and Columbo people drool!”¯ The first thing that leaps out at me is that it is objectively false that instinct and intuition are bad routes to knowledge. Obviously, you can play semantic shell games all you want to disqualify Xs from being Ys and say what does or does not count as knowledge. But psychologists have discovered that intuition is pretty accurate, meaning that beliefs arrived at through intuition can be justified true beliefs. Coincidentally, I’ve played poker with one of the people who made these discoveries, Arthur Reber. It’s super interesting stuff and he was nice enough to discuss much of it with me. Here’s a bit from Arthur’s Wiki:
His M.S. thesis was the first demonstration of implicit learning, a form of learning that takes place without awareness of either the process of acquisition or knowledge of what was actually learned. Those experiments used the artificial grammar learning methods where participants memorize strings of letters that appear chaotic but are actually formed according to complex rules. After the learning period they are able to discern whether new, novel letter-strings are “grammatical” (i.e., conform to the rules) or “non-grammatical” (i.e., violate the rules) without being able to articulate the rules they are using. These processes have much in common with the notion of intuition where people often find themselves able to make effective decisions without being aware of the knowledge they are using, how, or even when, they acquired it.
So you can know even without knowing how you know. Pretty cool. But, because Objectivists are usually people who are badly lacking in this kind of cognitive ability, they just decide that it must not exist, even when it is proven to exist. That’s not real poker.¯ Whenever something challenges you and your thinking on a fundamental level, you just dirty your diaper.
So, hold on to your hats. Like her cohort, L. Ron Hubbard, Rand was largely dismissive of psychology. Shocking, I know. Rand thought that philosophy preceded psychology. In other words, the narratives you create about the world must never be examined in terms of the fundamental structure of your thought and behavior. Rather, any examination of your thought and behavior, and the roots of it, must take place through the lens of the narratives you have created.
It works kind of like this. We might discuss the topic of paranoid schizophrenia, but only if we do so with the fundamental and unassailable understanding that the CIA is trying to get me and has put transmitters in my teeth. Perhaps paranoid schizophrenia has some role in the narrative about the CIA trying to get me and putting transmitters in my teeth, but there’s no way that psychological phenomena played any role in creating that narrative.
Bad novelists who start cults hate psychology because they are peddling one of their stories as a comprehensive account of our existence and psychology asks where these stories really come from and what drives us to believe in them. Pulp cultists do not want to answer those questions. They do not even want to acknowledge them. So they either claim that the questions do not exist at all, or that they are somehow fundamentally illegitimate.
You can run through Objectivist philosophy¯ on matters ranging from aesthetics to metaphysics to and it’s the same story again and again. It is an intelligent person asserting that her personal limitations must be the limitations of all people and all possibilities. Whenever you stumble into a chess game (or a poker game) and you only know how to play checkers, you leap to the conclusion that there is no such thing as chess and flip the table before anyone can prove you’re wrong by pointing out all the chess pieces. The overall thrust of Objectivism on philosophical questions is, “everything really is pretty much how it seems to be to me.”
One of the dumbest things Rand ever said was that her philosophy originated “out of my own mind, with the sole acknowledgement of a debt to Aristotle, the only philosopher who ever influenced me. I devised the rest of my philosophy myself.” I keep thinking this has to be a joke, but evidently it’s not.
Obviously, Objectivist philosophy is much more like an eighteen-year-old’s reading of Nietzsche than Aristotle, and for Rand to pretend otherwise is like Michael Bolton saying he has never listened to Otis Redding much and is only influenced by Bach. The true cousin of Objectivism is the puerile egoism of Anton LaVey and The Church of Satan. However, I can see how someone who doesn’t understand things like empathy and complex human relationships could read Aristotle’s ethics and misconstrue them as being some kind of childish egoism because he talks a lot about personal virtue. Anyway, the quote really gets to the heart of the diaper.
The great delusion Rand and her cultists sell themselves is an egoism that runs even deeper than their ethical egoism (the belief that selfishness is good). The reason that, like all cults, they have gatherings and foundations is so that they can repeat the delusion endlessly to each other to convince themselves. “We are all smart people and we believe this stuff.” “It must be true right?” “Right! It’s definitely true!” “Well we all agree so it MUST be true! Praise be to me!”¯ Rand’s dumb egoism isn’t just a gospel of selfishness in material terms. It is an embrace of the entire outlook of a spoiled child. It’s free pass to ignore self examination and reflection and an endorsement of a life that, while not wholly unexamined, is examined only in from the perspective of that bratty child.
It’s easy for most of us to understand this facet of Objectivism because most of us used to think that way when we were children and adolescents. If you learned about Freud when you were a teenager, you probably said, “Psshshht! What a load of crap, man. I decide what I want to do and I, like, just do it. I’m not acting how I act because of, like, how my mom and dad treated me or because of some subconscious bullcrap. Gag me with a spoon!”
¯Only when we get older, and have more of an ability to empathize with other positions and are able to view our own lives from more of an outside perspective, do we realize how much our environment shaped us and created the context in which we see almost everything. We meet a greater diversity of people with backgrounds and histories we never really imagined. Then we start to realize that our life doesn’t necessarily consist of an independent agent authoring his autobiography as he lives it. The phenomenon or entity we call “ourself” is a drop of water moving through a river. We can see that another drop, in another part of the river might be entirely different, and one of the main things that differentiates us from all the other drops is chance.
This is another thing Objectivists don’t seem to fully understand. I promise I won’t use the word “poker” on this site ever again after this. But in online poker, because of hand tracking software, we learned that it was possible for someone to play well, to make the right decisions, and to lose anyway because of bad luck. Not for a little while, but over tens of thousands of hands. I often wonder what 30,000 hands of bad luck in poker would equate to in life events. Setting aside even the big issues, like the circumstances into which you are born, what is 30,000 hands worth of good or bad luck in job interviews, relationship choices, career paths taken, or decisions on where to live or who to trust? I think the answer is probably several lifetimes worth, keeping in mind that, as in poker, all of the decisions we make in these areas are just educated guesses. Never mind the fact that life is much harder than poker and we all make constant mistakes and how much those mistakes come back to bite us is also mainly up to luck. But Objectivists cannot see any of this. They insist they are deliberately writing the book of their own lives at a nice, steady desk, or, at worst, are prevented from doing so by “collectivists.” Every movement like Objectivism has someone else to pin the blame on, even as it tells you that you have the power to self actualize or whatever. If only the visions of Rand were made real, then all her readers would surely thrive in all areas of life and gloriously trample their way to the top.
Maybe the best way to describe the Objectivist outlook is Daniel Dennett’s Cartesian theater. Dennett has spent a lot of time trying to figure out what consciousness consists of. According to him, the way we tend to describe, or think about our own consciousness is as a homunculus sitting in a Cartesian theater.¯ The real¯ us is like a little person who sits inside the theater that is our head, absorbs all of the incoming information and decides what to do. Of course, this account doesn’t stand up to scrutiny or scientific testing. It’s just a silly little story that wound up stuck in our brains. But this is how Objectivists and some similar types think of themselves. This is how Rand can believe that she reached all of her pseudo-philosophical conclusions completely independently, rather than as a trivial part of a tapestry that provided her with the context and language to even have such thoughts in the first place. So the Objectivist doesn’t think they are a drop in a river, they think they are the river. Though, rivers are really sort of passive entities. It’s not like they can say, “fuck it, I’m flowing up this mountain today.”¯ Nothing in nature really behaves in the way that Objectivists believe they behave. So Objectivists think they are like… well, I don’t know. The big bang maybe?
This is the dynamic that allows Objectivism to lure in even people who are successful, in some respects, while most cults target washouts. It tells them that they are the entire reason for their success. That they are the horse pulling the cart on which their inferiors ride. Now, there is an element of truth to this. Liberal/leftist types often under appreciate that doing something like building your own business (a real business, not a movie review website) takes gigantic balls and an incredible amount of work. Because probably, you are going to work really hard, lose a bunch of money, use up a good portion of your life and then hit the job market with a resume that says you spent the last five years failing at something. So to take on that challenge and succeed really is pretty laudable.
But that doesn’t make the Cartesian theater real, or make the entrepreneur less of a drop of water in a river. It doesn’t diminish the need for massive amounts of luck to do well in life, or make it possible to generate a philosophy in a vacuum. It doesn’t mean that if you kidnapped baby Bill Gates and left him with a poor farming family in Moldova he’d grow up to be anything other than a poor Muldovan farmer. Maybe one who ran a slightly better farm and read a few books, but that’s about it. And someone else would have created an operating system for PCs that would be about the same quality and nobody would miss Bill Gates for a second. So why should Tycoon Bill control the resources of a nation state and Farmer Bill want for some basic necessities? While a lot of philosophies tell us, “well, them’s the breaks,” Objectivism holds that this is a desirable and just outcome. Why? Freedom is better than collectivism! That’s the explanation, though the realities underlying this scenario aren’t really acknowledged.
More importantly, the fact that many people successfully promote their own welfare or start businesses doesn’t mean the river should be run just for the interests of the drops that wind up on the surface. Which, of course, is what Objectivism prescribes. Something like, “everyone should be free to do whatever they want, except forcibly displace the drops that wound up at the surface or compel them to help the rest of the river in any way or do anything to harms them. The drops on the surface may harm the other drops as long as they consider the harm to be part of voluntary activity, regardless if there is any real choice involved.”
¯Maybe there was some element in the drop that helped it get to the surface, like some extra oxygen. I don’t really know: fuckin’ rivers, how do they work? But you still can’t really say to another drop that got swallowed by a salmon and turned into salmon pee, “hey, I sat in my Cartesian theater and made the decision to not get swallowed by a salmon.”¯ The other drop is just going to say, “fuck you, buddy, I didn’t want to get swallowed by a salmon and turned into salmon pee! Why don’t you count your blessings, asshole?”¯ And rightfully so. Because without the other drops, there would be no river for the Objectivist drops to be on the surface of.
Objectivists just have trouble perceiving the immense history and and interconnectedness and depth of the river. They’ll kind of acknowledge some of that stuff in vague terms, but ultimately, when the limits of their comprehension are reached, they’ll say, “that’s not real poker.”¯ And if you said to them, “I think we’ll run into the ocean one day and then get turned into clouds and rain and we’ll be replaced by new drops. I think all of that stuff is water too and we’re just a trivial part of it. Maybe drops of water themselves are fluid things that change over time and get all mixed up with other things. So maybe what we should really care about is the general well being of water. Maybe even the river bed and the mountains and…¯” The Objectivist water drop would try to think about that stuff and run into it’s own limitations and just say, “nope. Most of that stuff doesn’t even exist, and drops of water are totally different from the rest of nature, idiot. I’m not part of a river, let alone part of some giant cycle of water. I’m just me, Herbert the water drop and I live for myself and I got to where I am by myself.”¯ Then it would do whatever the water drop version of dirtying a diaper is.
Objectivism takes a world of incomprehensible complexity, in which the majority of any true knowledge is just a delineation of our ignorance, and imposes static, closed systems of thought on it to create a comforting illusion of knowledge and understanding. The systems it describes are really just descriptions of the structure of the Objectivist’s thoughts. It tells followers that their limitations don’t really exist, as anything outside of their limitations isn’t “real poker.” It encourages immature people to embrace their adolescent account of the self and to wallow in self interest, ignoring how lucky they have probably been to find themselves in a position to read 1,200 page novels. People they don’t understand are wrong. People who have been unfortunate more or less deserve it. Everything that exists outside of their laziest default thinking and the limitations of their mind is wrong. This childish conception of the self and its desires should govern our behavior and nobody may demand basic levels of decency or cooperation from us. And when things don’t go as planned? Well, after the wisest and most intelligent person in the whole world spent decades smoking and insisting it had no adverse effect on health, she got lung cancer. So she signed up for social security and medicare and the rest of society helped to care for her.