The Corner

A Final Word on Ayn Rand . . .

. . . from Mr. Lester Joe Santos, a hermit who dwells in a cave in the desert of the American Southwest. On rare occasion he sends epigrammatic critiques of my labors. One cannot be sure he actually exists, and certainly I give no promise.

“Mr. Steorts,” says he, 

It seems that what you believe, but have not written directly, is this.

Ayn Rand wants to glorify the heroic in man. Whittaker Chambers thinks this must come at the expense of God. But it all depends on what “glorify” and “heroic” are taken to mean.

Rand denies God’s existence because she is enslaved by a certain definition of it. She then fills the concept of the absolute, which ought to have been empty, with her ego and its “reason.” Thus embarked on the path of gravest temptation, she speaks—beware it!—of “man-worship.” And she is all the more dangerous for her power to make highly concentrated symbols.

In her formal political thought, she does not fall into temptation, but she succumbs in her unconscious expression of a monstrous authorial personality—to whose monstrosity her congregants, in their highly conceptual idolatry, are blind.

The closest anyone can come to occupying the position of God as traditionally defined is to create a world. Let each ask for himself whether he would live in Ayn Rand’s.

I would not. But I might live in Dominique’s, she who notes that before one can say “I love you,” one must be able to say “I”—if only she had added that once you start loving, you perforce stop talking about yourself.

I don’t know to what degree Chambers thought reason could solve the problem of life, or tell us what God is, but I don’t think it was large. What reason seems to have told him is what it told Marx. That is why he thought the world was doomed—doomed, not saved, for, having found God, he inverted Marx’s values.

I do know that Rand’s beliefs, whatever she claimed, were far from the product of reason: beginning with her belief that the goal of existence is joy. As though one could call into question life’s goal, or decide the question by reason—whatever one found life’s goal to be!

And as though it were reason that told us what we all “know”: that joy is to be found not in oneself alone, but in love.

I wonder what Ayn Rand felt upon her deathbed.


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