JONATHAN CHAIT JUNE 25, 2010
One of the odd qualities of the Ayn Rand cult is the way Rand's fictional characters were assumed by the cult to take on the qualities of real-world philosophers. They were authorities whose pronouncements were cited as definitive statements of truth. Freedomworks president Matt Kibbe displays this odd tendency in a Reason essay, not online, responding to Brink Lindsey, in which he seems to treat Rand's fictional character Howard Roark as a founding father of the United States:
Lindsey even ridicules those of us who venerate "the timeless wisdom of America's founding principles." I for one hope we maintain our difference from Europe in continuing to live by the radical principles of individual rights and limits on collective government power. Is that trite? If so, I got my triteness from a guy named Howard Roark: "Our country, the noblest country in the history of men, was based on individualism, the principle of man's 'inalienable rights.' It was a country where a man was free to seek his own happiness, to gain and produce, not to give up and renounce; to prosper, not to starve; to achieve, not to plunder; to hold as his highest possession a sense of his personal value, and as his highest virtue his self-respect."
Call me provincial, but I always loved that speech. I suppose fictional characters are not serious intellectual leaders, though.
No, I suppose they're not.