“In any given period of history, a culture is to be judged by its dominant philosophy, by the prevalent trend of its intellectual life as expressed in morality, in politics, in economics, in art. Professional intellectuals are the voice of a culture and are, therefore, its leaders, its integrators and its bodyguards.”--Ayn Rand, For the New Intellectual
…by Jonas E. Alexis
One can say with certainty that the 1960s and 1970s were a watershed moment in America and much of the Western world. Social critic Roger Kimball declared that those periods shocked “the moral and intellectual fabric of our society.” Speaking of the 1960s in particular, Jack Kerouac, who played a central role in that movement with the publication of his book On the Road (now made into a movie featuring The Twilight star Kristen Stewart) declared that those period were “apparently some kind of Dionysian movement.”
And every watershed moment—most particularly Dionysian, sexual movement—had its own intellectual revolutionaries and writers whose ideological foundations had come to play a major role in the lives of young and eager students. Michel Foucault, Jean Paul Sartre, and of course Ayn Rand were among those writers.
Aldous Huxley wrote in his meditation Ends and Means, “For myself, as, for no doubt most of my contemporaries, the essence of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation…We objected to the morality because it interferes with our sexual freedom.” Morality is compatible with reason, and reason is compatible with Logos. In a sense, a rejection of morality is a rejection of Logos, and once Logos is abandoned, rest assure that reason will follow suit.
Foucault, as well as Bertrand Russell, was indeed Huxley’s contemporaries, and both individuals proved Huxley right. (We will meet Russell in a future article.) Foucault once declared, “I would like and hope I’ll die of an overdose of pleasure of any kind.”
Foucault got his wish in 1984: he died of AIDS. Yet even after he got the disease, “he recklessly visited gay bathhouses and sex clubs. He infected countless others.” One of Foucault’s victims thought it was an honor to have been infected by Foucault’s own disease. “I die happy,” he triumphantly declared, “because I was infected by Michel Foucault.”
Foucault also had an enormously powerful influence on his students. Here’s an interesting dialogue:
Student: Should I take chances with my life?
Foucault: By all means! Take risks, go out on a limb!
Student: But I yearn for solutions.
Foucault: There are no solutions.
Student: Then at least some answers.
The interesting thing is that Foucault spent most of his life writing books and positing answers to the questions that there are no answers, a self-defeating position.
In 1983, Foucault, because he had already crossed the sexual rubicon, “collapsed.” Yet “he could still be found in the baths and bars.” He would brag: “To die for the love of boys: What could be more beautiful.”
Intellectual historian Mark Lilla of Columbia University writes that Foucault was “intoxicated by Nietzsche’s example…” Foucault, Lilla writes, takes those examples and “projects them out onto a political sphere in which he has no real interest and for which he accepts no responsibility.”
Keep in mind that Nietzsche deliberately infected himself with syphilis and frequented brothels in order to largely manifest his hatred toward morality—and the culture that had embraced that morality.
Sartre, whose existential philosophy has impacted millions through his plays and novels, also crossed the sexual abyss. As Paul Johnson puts it, “When Sartre first seduced de Beauvoir he outlined to her his sexual philosophy. He was frank about his desire to sleep with many women. He said his credo was ‘Travel, polygamy, and transparency.’” Sartre bragged about having been “in whorehouses all over the world,” including Korea and even India.
Sartre was also “well-known for seducing his own female students. In a hostile criticism of Huis clos, Robert Francis wrote: ‘We all know Monsieur Sartre. He is an odd philosophy teacher who has specialized in the study of his students’ underwear.’”
This accusation was not without merit, as de Beauvoir herself confessed that “as Sartre grew older, his girls became younger-seventeen or eighteen-year-olds, whom he spoke of ‘adopting’ in a legal sense, meaning they would inherit his copyrights.”
During the 1950s, Sartre “was running four mistresses at once” and “deceiving all of them in one way or another. He dedicated his Critique de la Raison Dialectique (1960) publicly to the Beauvoir, but got his publisher Gallimard to print privately two copies with the words ‘To Wanda’; when Les Sequestres was produced Wanda and Evelyne were each told he had dedicated it to her.”
Bauvoir believed that these young women “encouraged Sartre to lead a life of excess—not just sexual excesses, but drink and drugs too…the book on dialectical reason, indeed, appears to have been written under the influence of both drink and drugs.”
Johnson writes that Sartre “could never stomach for long…male intellectual equals of his own age and seniority, who were liable at any moment to deflate his own often loose and windy arguments.”
Not too many people are familiar with Foucault, Sartre, and others. People like Foucault, Sartre, and even Huxley are not household names among neoconservatives, but Rand is.
Ayn Rand is particularly interesting because she has probably been the quintessential guru and the “fountainhead” for many neoconservatives largely because she advocated unregulated laissez-faire economics.
Jennifer Burns of Stanford declares that right after the economic collapse in 2008, Rand “has emerged as a leading intellectual on the right…” She has been “the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right.”
Rand is also interesting because, as Brian Doherty puts it, she is “the most influential libertarian of the twentieth century to the public at large. She is a cultural force of impressive heft; a 1991 joint Library of Congress/Book of the Month Club poll found her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged to be the second most influential book on Americans’ lives, after the Bible.”
One Graduate student in psychology remembered that after reading Rand’s book, “it was like being reborn…” Leonard Peikoff, Rand’s intellectual children, “boasted of having read The Fountainhead sixty times but admitted that he did not fully understand its message regarding independence until the sixty-first reading.”
Rand’s followers “have even held Randian weddings. At one such event in New York, a passage from the Objectivist holy book—Atlas Shrugged—was read and the couple pledged their loyalty to Ayn Rand.” There’s more: “Upset that someone had poked fun at Rand, one Objectivist curtly retorted, ‘[Y]ou wouldn’t mock God.” Both corporate leaders of Burger King and even Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, were huge fans of Rand’s work.
The young Jewish writer and radio talk show host Ben Shapiro frequently cites Rand in his works and on occasions is angry at professors who say that there is no original innovation in Rand’s work. Michael F. Szalay of the University of California for example declares that Rand’s Objectivism “is not taken seriously by philosophers anywhere.” Shapiro responded by saying, “to minimize her contribution to philosophy is ridiculous.”
Shapiro seems to have forgotten that Szalay makes specific reference to Objectivism which, as we shall see, is philosophically worthless. Shapiro never addressed Rand’s own contradiction. Shapiro likes Rand because “Her espousal of capitalism is incredibly important, today more than ever before.” (We will address capitalism and usury sometimes in the summer.)
Rand realized at the end of her life that her philosophy was unsustainable and existentially worthless when she embarked on a sexual journey. Born Alisa Rosenbaum, Rand was the daughter of Russian Jewish parents, Zinovy and Zakharovich. Former vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan himself linked some of his ideas to his reading of Rand.
Jewish atheist writer Susan Jacoby was surprised to see that the tea-party jumped to Rand’s book without acknowledging that Rand herself had supported abortion and had “unconventional sexual views and oft-repeated disdain for the traditional family.”
Jacoby continues to say, “I guess Rand’s views on money trump everything.” That seems to be the case. Jacoby cites Rand in Atlas Shrugged saying, “Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to become the means by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of other men. Blood, whips and guns—or dollars. Take your choice—there is no other.”
Rand here justified what many Jewish intellectuals were saying in the nineteenth century. Heinrich Heine, one of the most significantJewish poets in the nineteenth century in Germany who called Communism “the dark hero,” did not hesitate to write that “[M]oney is the god of our time, and Rothschild is his prophet.”
Karl Marx drew somewhat a similar conclusion, but instead of Rothschild it is Israel. “Money is the jealous god of Israel,” he wrote in his essay entitled “On the Jewish Question,” “beside which no other god may exist.” Karl Beck, another Jewish poet around the 1820s and 1830s, complained that the Rothschilds were “filling the insatiable money-bag for themselves and their kin alone!”
More than a century later, Rand implicitly continued to proclaim the essential message of that tradition by saying that money “is the root of all good.” If money is the root of all good, then all those who possess money abundantly should live happily ever after. We all know that this is not the case.
In fact, the love of money has proved to be detrimental in the history of economics. Over the centuries, the love of money got morphed into usury and exploitation, and usury slowly but surely led to the plundering of the poor, the needy, and the defenseless of society. The recent economic collapse in America and much of Europe, particularly Greece, is a case in point. A recent reaction to greedy capitalism is the Occupy Wall street movement.
If you still think that this is outlandish, it was reported that the banks were the only entities that were making huge profits from the “housing boom and bust” that was destroying the life of the average American. In other words, while the poor and needy were losing their homes from left to right, the bankers were celebrating. (As we shall see, this was one reason why Andrew Jackson literally “killed” the banks and reduced the economic debt to zero.)
What is even more interesting is that while the average American has been working day and night to pay his taxes, big wheelers such as the National Football League, which makes about $10 billion every year, has been labeled a non-profit organization since 1966!
“In 2012 alone, the league paid approximately $53.8 million to its big -ticket execs, including $11.6 million to Commissioner Roger Goodell and $8.5 million to former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who replaced Rozelle in 1989 and ran the league until Goodell replaced him in 2006.
“In 2011, Goodell received a $22.3 million bonus after negotiating several enormously lucrative extensions with the television networks that provide the predominant percentage of the league’s revenues
“Nothing about the league is non-profit, with the possible exception of its charities. How is the NFL able to pull this off? Well, the definitions of acceptable 501(c)(6) organizations are pretty broad, and one in particular may be the best match.”
How in the world is that possible? Simple: capitalism, usury, and exploitation (including greed) have become concentric circles. You cannot have capitalism without usury and exploitation. Granted, usury has existed long before capitalism, but the marriage between those entities has progressively become almost indistinguishable.
If you doubt the seriousness of this statement, recent capitalists such as Walter E. Williams of George Mason University for example are fond of writing articles such as “I Love Greed” or “In Greed I Trust.” Williams implicitly declares that from a capitalist point of view, accumulating wealth comes first, and people are just an afterthought. Many think that if you are not a capitalist, then you must be a socialist or communist. Not so. We shall expand on this in the summer.
Rand’s Sexual Crossing
Jacoby declares that one reason Rand seems to have “a powerful appeal to intellectually precocious teenagers” is because Rand had an “unconventional” view of sex. Jacoby is right.
In 1955, Rand began to have a sexual relationship with Nathaniel Branden, another Jewish writer who later wrote a biography of Rand. Rand was fifty years old at the time, and Branden was twenty-five.
Both individuals were married when they began their sexual adventures. Rand was married to Frank O’Connor, and Branden to Barbara Weidman. Speaking of how she was going to explore the sexual journey, Rand told Branden, “We’ll have our year or two together, and there will be no victims, no tragedy.”
In order to begin the sexual exploration, Rand and Branden asked their spouses their permission. “It is the logic of who we are that led us to this,” Rand told them. “It’s completely rational that Nathan and I should feel as we do toward each other. It’s totally rational, given our premises, that our feelings would include the sexual.”
You see, anything that Rand likes is rational—even the generally dumb ideas that would stun a person with only an ounce of mental power. O’Connor and Weidman were devastated with the news, but the eventually succumbed. “Frank O’Connor was but one casualty of the affair. Barbara Branden began suffering panic attacks.” The sexual relationship lasted for more than ten years, but old age began to take a toll on Rand.
By the time Rand was 63 (Branden would be 38), Branden saw no sexual pleasure in sleeping with an old woman. Branden therefore had to find a younger bird for more sexual exploration. This, of course, aggravated Rand. “You have dared to reject me?” she told him. “If anything goes permanently wrong between us, I’m finished; you’re my lifetime to the world and to any chance at happiness I’m ever going to have.”
She continued, “The man to whom I dedicated Atlas Shrugged would never want anything less than me! I don’t care if I’m ninety years old and in a wheelchair!” By this time, Rand began to call Branden a “bastard,” a “monster” and a “contemptible swine!”
Rand could not see that sexual lust and passion only last for a moment and that once the physical attraction is gone, the party is over.
Moreover, Rand could not see that once sexual lust becomes dominant, it will more than likely seek to explore forbidden territories. Branden said that it was this “sexuality that seemed to have materialized out of nowhere…” It was materialized because Rand opened Branden’s sexual licentiousness up. Once Branden had crossed that rubicon, it seemed that all sexual possibilities were on the table.
Branden himself wrote, “I had lost all sense of restraints or barriers…I was sometimes astonished by the degree of my ease and comfort in getting what I wanted, the sense of operating in a context where mastery was effortless. Looking back several decades later, I am still somewhat amazed and unable to explain my certainty in an area where my previous experience had been so limited.”
Rand, according to Branden, “wanted me to override two marriages, the age of difference, and every kind of conventional objection—and I did so.”
E. Michael Jones comments, “Rand’s lust for a younger man had reduced her to a groveling parody of the characters in her novel. She was now the female equivalent of Peter Keating, the ‘second hander’ she held in contempt in The Fountainhead… The lady who dedicated her life to promoting what she called ‘the virtue of selfishness,’ now demanded the complete and utter devotion of her most important follower.”
In other words, Rand’s grand foundations in books such as Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged! are philosophically, intellectually and practically worthless, since at their metaphysical root they contradict what Rand actually practiced. As time went by, Rand became another product of the Enlightenment whose obvious philosophical contradiction failed the test of her own practical life.
As already suggested, sexual lust, like a mighty river, always takes a life of its own; when you open the floodgate, you can never tell the water where to go or where to end up. And when Rand pull that sexual lever, she eventually became the victim of the floodgate which she had erected. As the book of James suggests, lust in the end always brings misery and Rand had to live with that misery right after Branden began to flirt and sleep with his own client.
“You have no right to casual friendships,” she said to Branden, “no right to vacations, no right to sex with some inferior woman! Did you imagine that I would consent to be left on the scrap heap? Is that what you imagined? Is it?”
Rand forgot that she was the author of The Virtue of Selfishness. She wrote that there is a virtue in being selfish, a philosophy which is at the heart of Milton Friedman’s capitalism.
But Rand could not stand Branden who practiced the virtue of selfishness, particularly when Branden was having an affair with actress Patrecia Scott. If “the role of the mind in man’s existence” which to Rand is “the new moral philosophy” and “the morality of rational self-interest,” then Branden had all the intellectual rationalization on the palms of his hands to pursue his sexual interest and concupiscent needs with as many women as he liked.
Moreover, Branden used to refer to Rand as “Mrs. Logic” and “a goddess of reason,” which seems to suggest that Branden was taking notes from Rand and trying to follow those notes to their logical conclusions both philosophically and practically.
For example, Rand writes in The Virtue of Selfishness: “The virtue of Pride can best be described by the term: ‘Moral ambitiousness.’ It means that one must earn the right to hold oneself as one’s own highest value by achieving one’s own moral perfection—which one achieves by never accepting any code of irrational virtues impossible to practice and by never failing to practice the virtues one knows to be rational—by never accepting an unearned guilt and never earning any, or, if one has earned it, never leaving it uncorrected—by never reigning oneself passively to any flaws in one’s character—by never placing any concern, wish, fear or mood of the moment above the reality of one’s own self-esteem.”
Then Rand drops the atomic bomb, which literally destroys her own philosophical mines:
“The basic social principle of the Objectivist ethics is that just as life is an end in itself, so every living human being is an end in himself, not the means to the ends or the welfare of others—and, therefore, that man must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. To live for his own sake means that the achievement of his own happiness is man’s highest moral purpose.”
Rand, like Mary Wollstonecraft before her, was trapped by her own philosophical deadness. How could Rand tell Branden how to live his life when Branden was trying to reach his sexual happiness elsewhere, a philosophy which is logically congruent with Rand’s own metaphysical foundations? How could Branden be wrong when he was not willing to sacrifice himself for Rand, when Rand was twenty-five years older than Branden?
If one follows Rand’s Objectivism consistently, Branden had to look for sexual satisfaction elsewhere because Rand by that time Rand was no longer the attractive darling she once was when she landed in America in 1925.
Moreover, how could Branden be wrong when he was also trying to follow the sexual philosophy that Rand’s contemporaries had already set forth? After all, did not Wilhelm Reich and Sigmund Freud advocate a free sexual life? Did not Freud say, “I stand for an incomparably freer sexual life?” Did not Antorn Lavey declare that free love “means exactly that—freedom to either be faithful to one person or to indulge your sexual desires with as many others as you feel is necessary to satisfy your particular needs….”?
Was not Branden trying to follow Phillip Roth’s sexual liberation as explicitly stated in Portnoy’s Complaint? Wasn’t Branden trying to “put the id back in the yid” and attempting to “liberate the Jewish boy’s libido”? Why would Rand want to suppress Branden’s sexual passion? Was Rand indirectly refuting herself by disagreeing with Branden on this very issue? If so, then what is the point of The Virtue of Selfishness?
If everything revolves around “the gripping power of Oedipus Rex,” as Freud tells us, then Branden is vindicated in his sexual exploration. If every boy has a desire to have sex with his mother and that every girl has a desire to have sex with her father, then the plausibility of a man having sex with as many women as possible in order to absolve himself from sexual repression is not far-fetched.
If almost everything revolves around the “oral,” “anal,” and the “phallic” stages, as Freud tells us, then the next move for an individual is to explore those stages later in life with as many women as possible. Branden, in that sense, was more consistent than Rand. Branden was right in line with the Freudian tradition.
As we shall see in the next article, Rand’s Objectivism was like a cult. It had a lot to do with preserving Rand’s image and had virtually nothing to do with truth.
As it turned out, Rand’s movement was a covert Jewish revolutionary activity which sought to undermine Western culture—and Christianity in particular. Jennifer Burns, a very honest scholar (I would certainly recommend her new book on Rand The Goddess of the Market), in an interview with Stephen Colbert, declared just that:
“When Rand talked about the virtue of selfishness, she was opposing traditional Christian value.”
The genie, then, is out of the bottle. At its eventual root, Objectivism was an implicit attack on Christianity. Rand, throughout For the New Intellectual, denounces the Christian values as barbaric, backward, and intolerant. But Rand, as we shall see in more detail in the next article, replaces Christianity with a barbaric doctrine, as she began to excommunicate virtually anyone who disagreed with her fundamental premises.
“Among the reasons that Nataniel Branden banished anarcho libertarian Murray Rothbard from the circle was that Rothbard had married a Christian and refused to leave her when she didn’t succumb to anti-God audiotapes and essays put out by the Objectivists.”
 Brian Doherty, Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement (New York: Public Affairs, 2007), 11; see also Daniel J. Flynn, Intellectual Morons: How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas (New York: Crown Forum, 2004), 198.
 See for example Wilhelm Reich, The Sexual Revolution: Toward a Self-Governing Character Structure (New York: Doubleday, 1971); The Function of the Orgasm: Sex-Economic Problems of Biological Energy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973); E. Michael Jones, Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation and Political Control (South Bend: St. Augustine’s Press, 2000).
Jonas E. Alexis has degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He studied education at the graduate level. His main interests include U.S. foreign policy, the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the new book Zionism vs. the West: How Talmudic Ideology is Undermining Western Culture. He teaches mathematics in South Korea.