Ayn Rand in “The Life of I” by Anne Manne

2 Nov

This is a book review by BY LINDA JAIVIN  in


“The Life of I” by Anne Manne

Among other things she says in her review:

“If the right-wing terrorist Breivik is the poster boy for part one of The Life of I (‘Narcissism and the Individual’), Ayn Rand (1905–82) is the pin-up girl for part two (‘Narcissism and Society’). Rand was the precocious child of a prosperous Russian family that was forced into poverty and exile by the communist revolution of 1917. When Rand finally escaped to the US in 1926, she “wept tears of splendour”.

She created a cult around herself and her philosophy, Objectivism. In her personal relationships, Rand was ruthlessly self-serving, erupting in vengeful rages when denied that to which she felt entitled (including lovers). As expressed through Rand’s novels like The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, Objectivism seeks to purge capitalism of all elements of altruism, social justice and humanitarianism. To care for the weak and the poor was to do Karl Marx’s work and to endanger capitalism itself.  Rich people, society’s winners, were more deserving than the poor (society’s “refuse”). If anyone was a victim, it was the rich, beset by taxation and the envy and hatred of life’s losers. It was, Manne says, “the very first populist philosophy of narcissism”.

In the 1940s and ’50s, Rand was “dismissed as a crank”. Her promotion of selfishness over loyalty and service put her at odds with nearly all philosophical thought and religious doctrine. But with the rise of neoliberalism, her moment has come. Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the US Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, was a member of her inner circle. The Tea Party adores her. Gina Rinehart is a fan.”


About the Author of “The Life of I”:

Anne Manne is a Melbourne writer. She has been a regular columnist for the Australian and the Age. More recently her essays on contemporary culture such as child abuse, pornography, gendercide and disability have all appeared in The Monthly magazine. Her essay ‘Ebony: The Girl in the Room’, was included in The Best Australian Essays: A Ten- Year Collection. Her book, Motherhood: How Should We Care for Our Children, was a finalist in the Walkley Award for Best Non-Fiction Book of 2006. She has written a Quarterly Essay, ‘Love and Money; The Family and the Free Market’, and a memoir, So This is Life: Scenes from a Country Childhood.

Linda Jaivin is an Australian translator, essayist and novelist. She was born in New London, Connecticut, and migrated to Australia in 1986. Wikipedia



5 Responses to “Ayn Rand in “The Life of I” by Anne Manne”

  1. gerard oosterman November 2, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

    Ayn Rand sounds a bit like some of our politicians. Especially those that want to reward leaders and punish leaners. Perhaps that’s were some of those harsh opinions regarding treatment of boat people come from.
    Even so, there are plenty of people that are the opposite.

    • auntyuta November 2, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

      It says that In the 1940s and ’50s, Rand was “dismissed as a crank”. Her promotion of selfishness over loyalty and service put her at odds with nearly all philosophical thought and religious doctrine.
      So I understand that “neoliberalism” is much the same as conservatism and the Ayn Rand people love it. Here in Australia Labor does nearly everything that Liberal (the conservatists) want.
      Maybe time for a new party, Gerard, for instance a party like the Progressives?

  2. stuartbramhall November 4, 2014 at 7:16 am #

    I and some other young Republicans really admired Rand when we were teenagers. Then Vietnam happened and we realized we’d been fed a whole lot of codswallup.

    • auntyuta November 4, 2014 at 9:41 am #

      I don’t think I would ever have admired Ayn Rand had I known anything about her. Her way of thinking goes against everything I used to believe in and still believe in. She was once “dismissed as a crank”. I certainly do this now that I have learned a bit about what she stands for.

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