A is for Ayn Rand and A$$hole?

Marcus's picture
Submitted by Marcus on Thu, 2008-04-10 19:28

"It’s a personality type familiar to many of us: the colleague who came in as your junior and just keeps getting promoted, despite being a complete and utter idiot; the highly caffeinated female boss who manages her team like a Serbian warlord, but thinks of herself as a really sweet person; the overly confident, sports-car-driving member of your social circle who has had sex with all the women and mocks all the men; and my recent pet hate, the skinny rich bitch at the gym who, when I said, “I’m sure these mirrors make you look fat”, came back with a haughty, “I’m sorry to say that no mirror ever lies, darling.” In case you hadn’t noticed, assholes are everywhere – and, what’s more, they’re doing really well on it."

So starts an article published in "the Sunday Times" about a new book by an
A-merican writer Marty Kihn called "A$$hole: How I Got Rich and Happy by Not Giving a Shit About You."

The article continues:

"Jung said that everyone has an opposite they want to be, a shadow self. In Kihn’s case, that opposite was an asshole. He decided to turn himself into one – and, in telling his story, he describes exactly how you can do it, too. For all the inherent humour in his mission, the truth is, it really worked. By finding the balls to act like an asshole, he crushes The Nemesis, gets a promotion, then nets a bundle of cash, and a second home into the bargain, by selling the book to Hollywood for a six-figure sum – all this despite clearly being a big pussycat. “In corporate America,” he says, “if you are ambitious, or if you just want to go for the big money, it more than helps to be an asshole.”

"He practised aggressive sports such as boxing. He repeated asshole mantras and affirmations: “Clear your mind of all nice, helpful, self-defeating thoughts and replace them with mean, selfish, ass-kicking patterns.”

So far, very funny Evil

Not exactly what you would expect to read in these PC-world touchy-feely times, with most motivational self-help books being about "anger management" and "touching base".

Then I came to this part of the article and my mouth dropped open Jawdropping!

"He found inspiration everywhere he looked. He reels off some assholes: Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Martha Stewart, David Letterman, the philosopher Ayn Rand – “The asshole’s philosopher, I call her. Any aspiring asshole could learn a lot from The Fountainhead or The Virtue of Selfishness.”

Now surely if this A$$hole Kihn had actually read The Fountainhead or The Virtue of Selfishness properly, he would know that Ayn Rand's philosophy encourages the exact opposite of being an A$$hole. The kind of A$$holism that Kihn espouses is the one of the second-hander who mooches off the effort of others and always does things at the expense of others. Whereas the ideal objectivist is he who has integrity and self-esteem trading equivalent value for value with those he works.

So how did it come to this situation whereby Ayn Rand and by implication her philosophy is represented in popular culture as being that of an A$$hole?

No more Mr Nice Guy for Marty Kihn.


( categories: )

BTW

James S. Valliant's picture

Just saying that you're an egoist -- however genuinely benevolent you really are -- can get you so classified, too.

Since this a$$hole brought it up, I must say I also have a bitch to pitch:

I have lost count of all of the backstabbing, gossiping, rude, thoughtless and inconsiderate Christians who've crossed my path.

And Zeus only knows how many times I've seen a perfectly polite, even generous -- and clearly life-valuing -- Objectivist driver get cut off, or worse, by someone with one of those little fish medallions displayed somewheres on the vehicle. Such drivers seem to take far too seriously the concept of an immortal soul.

Just sayin'...

Generally speaking, an

mckeever's picture

As the term is generally used (i.e., not objectively), an a$$hole is anyone who does not give you what you want from him: money, respect, recognition, what have you.

By the standards of an altruist, a rational egoist is an asshole because he puts his own life and happiness first; because he has the gall to treat a mooching or a looting as such; and because he bluntly refuses to give anyone what they have not earned, as in:

Q. "Excuse me sir, but do you have any change?"
A. "Yes" [and keeps walking]

That, incidentally, is me.

At the end of the day, the words a person chooses to describe you - or those you value - say more about themselves than about their intended targets. In other words, to call Ayn Rand an a$$hole is to publicly identify oneself as a moral degenerate. Those who you rationally value will know that to be the case; those who, rationally, you do not value have opinions that are no more valuable than themselves.

Amen and mission accomplished.

And, of course, if one uses words only to identify valid concepts (as an Objectist does), the word "asshole" never applies to a rational egoist at all...which is why it would be a great wrong for an Objectivist to call himself an asshole and why I am reasonably confident that (a) the author is not an Objectivist, and (b) the author is telling the truth when he says that he does not care about anyone (which, by implication, would include himself).

Cheers,

Paul

Lie and the world lies with you.

Tell the truth, and the world lies about you.

-Oscar Wilde

Ayn Rand

Callum McPetrie's picture

Ayn Rand posted an answer to this in Atlas Shrugged; his name is James Taggart. Anyone who can't tell the difference between James Taggart and Dagny or Hank Rearden is an "a$$hole", so to speak.

"Socialism may be dead, but its corpse is still rotting up the place." -Ayn Rand

My wife works with

kaiwai's picture

My wife works with databases and I have seen that that industry can get
very political. "IT" computer support or backbone software workplaces
can be tough.

I know what you mean; I was always surprised at the childish approach which some IT people had to computers and software companies. For me, I have to admit, I'm a UNIX guy, but when it came to Windows or what have you, I'd suggest the best tool for the job. Sometimes it would be a Microsoft one, other times it would be Solaris, Linux or a *BSD of some variant. At the end of the day, its all about helping the customer, not stroking ones ego to make it larger.

Oh, and mind you, the boss's girlfriend continuously flirting with me didn't help the situation either - silly girl, didn't she know I wasn't interested in her gender Sticking out tongue

Kaiwai, My wife works with

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Kaiwai,

My wife works with databases and I have seen that that industry can get very political. "IT" computer support or backbone software workplaces can be tough.

I've done one stint at Applied Materials building semiconductor equipment in a pilot tool build factory. One stint at IBM in semiconductor development helping bring out their 65 nm linewidth silicon on insulator technology. I've also done 2 stints at Intel, one as a process engineer supporting the world's first 300 mm wafer high volume manufacturing factory and now again supporting Intel's revolutionary 45 nm linewidth startup.

I may have been lucky, but if I was unhappy I tried to find something I enjoyed. In each startup I've done, some of the worst problems I've had is dealing with the construction trades and their union crap. So I guess it depends from industry to industry.

Jim

Please do post it Linz.

Marcus's picture

"I think I wrote a FreeRad editorial once on the "altruist/asshole dichotomy." Perhaps I'll dig it out."

Maybe negative attention to Ayn Rand in pop culture is not all bad, because those with independent minds might actually look up her writings themselves.

If Kihn actually read the books he mentioned, he certainly didn't understand them, but then he is an exceptional asshole Smiling

Having worked at 3 high

kaiwai's picture

Having worked at 3 high technology companies you do find these people,
but they are not as prevalent as today's popular culture would lead you
to believe.

One thing I can assure you, after getting my IT diploma, and experiencing under three months in the IT world - I'd sooner do 20 years of being a trades person; at-least in those 'lowly occupations' there is a degree of mate-ship, respect and camaraderie rather than the back stabbing, treacherous that I saw in the IT world; the 'screw you' attitude I saw by some people in IT was enough to make my stomach churn.

For now, I am back at university, double major, Religious Studies and Philosophy; might then become a teacher; maybe I'm wide eyed optimist, but I guess the guilt of Catholicism (even after throwing it off 10 years ago) is still prevalent.

shock value=no value

Erik's picture

What a creep, dragging Ayn Rand's name and philosophy through the mud. If it's suppsoed to be a tongue in cheek remark about AR or Oism, I don't find it funny at all.

I can't believe anyone could

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

I can't believe anyone could read Rand as a touchstone to turn into a backstabbing, scheming, shady-dealing corporate graysuit. Just the opposite in fact.

Having worked at 3 high technology companies you do find these people, but they are not as prevalent as today's popular culture would lead you to believe.

Jim

How Much...

James S. Valliant's picture

... is real "asshole" and how much old fashioned envy?

Marcus

Lindsay Perigo's picture

So how did it come to this situation whereby Ayn Rand and by implication her philosophy is represented in popular culture as being that of an A$$hole?

Alas, there's nothing new in this. The sacrifice-mongers and the touchy-feelies have an obvious vested interest in promoting the view that the only alternative to their strictures is to be an asshole. Unfortunately, some Objectivists believe them and become quite practised assholes, thereby bolstering the altruists' case.

Point is, of course, altruism requires assholes—to collect the sacrifices it says are so noble.

I think I wrote a FreeRad editorial once on the "altruist/asshole dichotomy." Perhaps I'll dig it out.

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