Am höchsten bewertete positive Rezension
Eine Person fand diese Informationen hilfreich
Idolatry as the path to disaster and destruction
am 21. Dezember 1999
I wonder whether 'Objectivists' are aware of the idolatrous nature of the Ayn Rand cult. Readers of Jeff Walker's helpful book may find the following remarks helpful as well. (See also my reviews of CAPITALISM: THE UNKNOWN IDEAL, THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS, and PHILOSOPHY: WHO NEEDS IT.)
Alyssa Rosenbaum, like so many other would-be secular Messiahs, was connected to but alienated from the Jewish faith: her father was a Russian Jew, her mother was not, and she was raised in a strictly secular environment. Her hostility to G-d is evident throughout her work - her 'man-worship' and her belief in the so-called 'benevolent universe' are so evidently idolatrous that I need not comment further on this point. Also, her presentation of herself as the embodiment of her philosophy helped to generate an atmosphere of idolatrous worship of Rand herself.
(And like her predecessor the false Messiah Shabbatai Zvi, she felt free to alter the Law at will - in her case, to permit an adulterous relationship with her young protege and populariser, Nathan Blumenthal/Nathaniel Branden. Incidentally, Shabbatai Zvi was publicly promoted as the Messiah by a different Nathan: Nathan of Gaza.)
However, in her philosophy she seems to have borrowed certain isolated *elements* of Judaism and attempted to place them, quite inconsistently, on a highly unstable secular (approximately Marxist/Leninist) foundation. Moreover, as indicated by a remark she once made to Isabel Paterson, she seems to have considered herself a 'Jewish intellectual' even though, by strictly Halakhic standards, she would not be regarded as a Jew. I suspect further that some of her expressed admiration for Thomas Aquinas ('I am a bridge of that kind' - The Romantic Manifesto) was in fact directed at Moses Maimonides z"tzl, whose work exercised a profound influence on the great Roman Catholic philosopher.
Walker includes a somewhat helpful chapter comparing 'Objectivism' with Judaism, though some of his points of comparison have more to do with secular-Jewish culture than with Judaism proper. But it is certainly the case that while 'Objectivism' certainly has adherents from many different backgrounds, its primary appeal is to secular Jews alienated from the roots of their own historical faith. (Much the same thing could have been said about other more or less secular quasi-Judaisms - e.g. Spinozism, Marxism, Freudianism, and Felix Adler's 'Ethical Culture' - indeed, from a Halakhic point of view, even Reform Judaism.)
This is perhaps not surprising, since 'Objectivism' is *structurally* very much like Judaism - with ATLAS SHRUGGED as the new Torah (featuring 'John Galt' as a new, messianic Moshe who delivers the new Law via radio broadcast) and Rand's nonfiction writings serving as a sort of Talmud. Even the very Name of G-d is carried over into the new secular cult: G-d's self-appellation 'eyeh asher eyeh' ('I am that I am') is simply transferred to His Creation, becoming the false god 'reality', whose name is 'A is A'.
Walker's book is very interesting, then, as an illustration of Miss Rand's deeply ambiguous relationship with the Jewish religion and her misguided attempt to retain some of its elements on a clearly idolatrous basis. I highly recommend it to readers interested in the 'cult phenomenon' generally and in its effects on Judaism specifically.
Also of interest: Gary Eisenberg's SMASHING THE IDOLS: A Jewish Inquiry into the Cult Phenomenon.