Criticisms of Objectivists
The links below go to materials criticizing Ayn Rand and/or other Objectivists on a personal or institutional basis. Criticisms of Objectivist ideas and parodies of Objectivism are documented on separate pages. There is also a separate page covering the dispute between ARI and TOC.
Personal Criticisms of Ayn Rand
The following criticize Ayn Rand's personality, behavior, or literary techniques.
- In Answer to Ayn Rand by Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden -- Couple who were once two of Rand's closest associates give their side of the break between them and Rand. Written in response to the article "To Whom It May Concern" in The Objectivist, in which Rand publically repudiated the Brandens.
- Rand's work: style and quality by Gary Merrill -- Criticism of Rand's writing style and lack of scholarship in Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. Orginally a post to a discussion group, now preserved as a freestanding essay.
- Rationalistic Solipsism: The Life and Thought of Ayn Rand by Ellen Myers -- Myers recounts Rand's life story as one of "dogmatic rationalism," which she should have "exchanged for truth and freedom in Christ." Written for the journal of the Creation Social Science and Humanities Society.
- Estonian & Latvian Genocide by William Pierce -- Pierce, a well-known anti-semite, begins by denouncing Rand as a "Soviet Jewess," and then segues into a discussion of supposed Jewish slaughters of gentiles during World War II.
- Romancing the Stone-Cold Killer: Ayn Rand and William Hickman by Michael Prescott -- Criticizes positive comments Rand made about Hickman, a kidnapper and murderer, in her personal journals when she was 23. Prescott say Rand's comments "make me question not only her judgment, but her sanity" and show that she was "a psychological and moral mess."
- Was Ayn Rand evil? by Michael Prescott -- Blog post that psychoanalyzes Rand as possibly being "a narcissistic, manipulative sociopath." In a subsequent post, Prescott backs away from his earlier comments, calling them "unfair."
- Re-evaluating Ayn Rand by Grant Schuyler -- Accuses Rand of "rude and deeply inappropriate behaviour" in her handling of philosophical disputes, and warns that "Her life shows the danger of becoming an isolated figure, especially one surrounded by a quasi-cult of insiders."
- Ayn Rand: An Unsympathetic Introduction by Timothy Wirkman Virkkala -- Briefly reviews some of Rand's published works, then critiques Rand herself, stating that "even the most most extremely negative judgments against her character have some merit to them."
- The Narcissism, Scapegoating and Leftism of Ayn Rand by Bob Wallace -- Essay by a religious libertarian describing Objectivism as "a narcissistic, scapegoating, and leftist expression of Rand's Narcissistic Personality Disorder." Wallace compares Rand with Karl Marx, Adolf Hitler, the Marquis de Sade and Satan, and fingers her as the source of Satanism and suicides.
- The Secret Teachings of Ayn Rand by Bob Wallace -- This essay, similar to the previous one by Wallace, describes Rand as a "scapegoater who believed in human sacrfice," and says she "obviously had something very wrong with her, which she was trying to fix through her writing."
- Ayn Rand: Sociopath (author anonymous) -- MySpace page devoted to criticizing Rand for her "mental illness."
Criticisms of the "Objectivist Movement"
The following criticize Objectivists in general, the "Objectivist movement" (however this is understood by the various authors), or specific organizations associated with Objectivism. Criticism specific to the disagreement between the Ayn Rand Institute and the Objectivist Center are documented on the ARI-TOC dispute page.
- Of Heretics and Pagans by Kernon Gibes -- Compares the Ayn Rand Institute to the medieval Catholic Church.
- An Objectivist Bestiary by Aaron Haspel -- Blog entry critiquing various "types" of Objectivists.
- Dogma and Development - Thoughts on the Evolution of Objectivism by Barry Kayton -- Discusses various problems Kayton perceives with the development of Objectivism and the Objectivist movement since Atlas Shrugged.
- Unraveling Libertarianism and Objectivism by Nigel Maywood -- Essay that describes Objectivism as "a brilliant philosophy," but denigrates "Randroids," who the author says believe "that Ayn Rand has never done anything wrong and every idea which spawned from her head, no matter how mundane the issue, is gospel."
- We don't take kindly to Objectivists round here by Eric Olthwaite -- Blog post that theorizes about why some Objectivists (not all, just "those who fit the bill") are "bad people."
- My last anti-Ayn Rand rant by Michael Prescott -- Blog post reproduces an email Prescott sent to a friend blasting Objectivism as a cult that "can be hazardous to one's health -- or at least to one's intellectual, emotional, and personal growth."
- Another Objectivist Disappoints by Jason Roth -- Account of an email exchange related to Roth's explusion from the Harry Binswanger List, an Objectivist email discussion group.
- The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult by Murray Rothbard -- First circulated privately during the 1970s, then later published as a pamphlet, this essay denounces the 1960s Objectivist movement as a cult. Responses to Rothbard's criticisms by Jim Peron and G. Stolyarov II are available online.
- Why I do not support the "official" Objectivist "movement" by Per-Olof Samuelsson -- The author criticizes the Ayn Rand Institue (and several individuals associated with it) for its dealings with George Reisman and Edith Packer and their supporters.
- The Unlikeliest Cult in History by Michael Shermer -- Widely-cited article describing Objectivism as a cult. Orginally written for Skeptic magazine and reprinted in Shermer's book Why People Believe Weird Things. A response by Jim Peron and another critique of Shermer's argument are also available online.
- Objectivists' hidden agenda a Klan mentality by Rebecca Stambanis -- A letter to the editor of the Penn State Daily Collegian, written in response to a lecture by Gary Hull at that university. Accuses Objectivists of being racists and elitists. "They breed an intellectual and cultural arrogance in an attempt to eliminate non-Western and non-Aryan people," writes Stambanis. "Hence, the ideas that flow from their mouths are tainted with savagery."
- Alice in Wonderland by David Ramsey Steele -- Although offered as a review of Barbara Branden's The Passion of Ayn Rand, this essay is actually an extended attack on Objectivism, which Steele calls a "Gospel of Spleen." Originally published in Free Life, the magazine of the Libertarian Alliance.
- Some of My Best Friends Are Objectivists! by Timothy Wirkman Virkkala -- In this sequel to his earlier essay criticizing Rand (see the listing under Personal Criticisms of Ayn Rand above), Vrikkala attempts to explain what he sees as "the worst elements of Randianism," specifically, "those of her followers who embarrass themselves with Rand-worship and cultic knee-jerks."
- FAQ: What's REALLY Wrong With Objectivism? by Chris Wolf -- This site consists of a collection of materials which Wolf claims explain "the fundamental cause of the present fragmented state of affairs in the Objectivist movement, and why an attitude of moral condemnation is so prevalent among Objectivists." Includes documentary materials related to disputes involving the Ayn Rand Institute, The Intellectual Activist and the Estate of Ayn Rand, as well as essays criticizing various Objectivists, including Leonard Peikoff and Andrew Bernstein.
- ARI Watch (author anonymous) -- Multiple essays criticizing the Ayn Rand Institute and persons associated with it for "advocating the expedient suspension of the U.S. Constitution, self-sacrifice, and torture" since the September 11 terrorist attacks.
A large amount of criticism of Objectivists and response to that criticism (including responses to some of the material linked above) can be found in online discussion forums related to Objectivism. (Because of the interactive and ongoing nature of such forums, critical materials from them are typically not linked above, even though some forums have web-based archives that would allow such links.)
Information on published books criticizing Ayn Rand or the "Objectivist movement" can be found in the "Books about Objectivism" section of the ORC.
About the Objectivism Reference Center
The philosophy of Ayn Rand, a twentieth-century novelist and philosopher, is known as Objectivism. The Objectivism Reference Center provides resources about Rand, her ideas, her works, and places where those are discussed and debated. Visit the Site Information page for details on site policies. Suggestions for additional materials or additional links are welcomed.
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