Ayn Rand: engineer of souls

Rand’s crude dichotomizing is evident throughout her work. Her rejection of compassion is Nietzschean in tone, seeing in pity merely an attempt by the weak and ill-favored to overcome the power and influence of the strong and healthy. But this is an elementary error. From the correct psychological insight that the allegedly compassionate sometimes use the existence of the weak and needy as a tool for their own social ascent and attainment of power—whole political parties, in almost every country, are founded upon this principle—it does not in the least follow that there are no people in need of assistance or that compassion for them is ipso facto bogus and a cover for the will to power. From the insight that government assistance to the unfortunate increases the number of the unfortunate, often imprisoning them in their misfortune, it does not follow in the least that it is right for human beings to be utterly callous and indifferent to the fate of the unfortunate. Human sympathy is, as Adam Smith himself pointed out, implanted by nature in the human breast, but Ayn Rand, to a greater extent even than Pharaoh, hardened her heart and expunged sympathy from it utterly.

via Ayn Rand: engineer of souls by Anthony Daniels – The New Criterion.

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