A recent article by Matthew Moore appeared in The Times titled “Trump’s philosopher is heading for your local”. The piece not only suggests that Donald Trump is capable of reading a book, which seems unlikely enough, but that he’s also capable of reading a philosophical book. Quite frankly, that would be stretching credulity a little too far.
The so-called philosopher in question is Ayn Rand, a White Russian émigré to the US who died almost forty years ago. Her two best-known books are “The Fountainhead”, and “Atlas Shrugged”, both novels, rather than philosophical tomes. I read them when Rand was still alive. I’m now ashamed to admit that I thought they were pretty good at the time, but then I was young, and living a privileged five percenter existence at the time in a racist, semi-fascist country, and didn’t know any better. Today the suggestion that Rand’s writing is enjoying growing popularity is truly scary.
Rand’s so-called philosophy is easy to summarise: “selfishness to the point of total exclusion of anyone or anything else is the highest form of morality”. If Donald Trump ever actually read Ayn Rand, rather than have some flunky tell him about her, I can see why he might find her appealing. She does pretty much sum up the principle behind the fabled “American Dream”. There’s nothing commendable about Ayn Rand’s work, and I know from personal experience it can cause seriously conflicted emotions in young people.