Someone far funnier than I am described “adults” infatuated with the Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand as being like the geek who discovered OMD in the 8th grade, had his mind blown and subsequently never gave up on the idea that they were the greatest group in the history of recorded music!
Admittedly I was a huge Ayn Rand fan when I was a kid. I’ve read nearly every word Ayn Rand published during her lifetime—including all of the magazines and newsletters, transcripts of her speeches, etc—and in the end, intellectually it’s just rubbish for small-minded twerps and people who don’t realize how illiterate extolling her “virtues” makes them sound.
Ayn Rand wrote novels for people who don’t read (a sort of literary Enya, if you will, a performer beloved by folks who don’t actually listen to music). Because she was capable of writing truly engrossing and well-plotted page-turners—pity about the shit dialogue and one-dimensional characters!—even many non-readers made it through Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead, giving them a sense of feeble intellectual accomplishment.
“Objectivists” (and 99.9% of doctrinaire libertarians) are never worth debating on the Internet because you will never convince them that she’s anything less than infallible. Objectivists feel about their hero the same way Scientologists feel about L. Ron Hubbard. (In my defense my own infatuation with Ayn Rand was during junior high school, but it was intense, I’ll cop to that).
When someone is thick enough to be a big Ayn Rand fan, they’re beyond being self-aware enough to realize how dumb they seem to literate people. A (very, very) large component of why Ayn Rand is so popular is because her philosophy is so easy to understand and because it sounds like something that some, er… intellectually less-enlightened readers already sort of agree with. No one who likes Ayn Rand seems likely to have ever read, say, Sartre, Hesse, Faulkner, Dostoyevsky, Dos Passos, or even ... Dickens. (I have no proof of this, but I have a strong hunch that being “well-traveled” ranks pretty low on the priorities of many of Rand’s apparently unsophisticated readers.)
Last night on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the philosopher of selfishness was skewered mercilessly: