IT SHOULD NOT BE TOO SURPRISING that Ayn Rand’s objectivist philosophy shows quite a few ugly similarities with L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology. After all, the only thing separating the two is one good South Park episode.
However, until the day comes when Officer Barbrady asks Kyle Broflovski to write a sequel to Atlas Shrugged, please consider the following warning: Objectivism has become the new Scientology.
Here are our reasons.
5. They both function precisely like cults
What exactly makes a religious cult? Well, let’s get straight to the meat and bones of the matter. According to the Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, a cult is “vulgar slang” for “a woman’s genitals” or “an unpleasant or stupid person.”
Sorry. Wrong word.
Okay, so every religion could be classified as a cult, but Objectivism is not a religion and certainly not a cult the same way Scientology is. That’s why if we were to make a checklist of how we know cults behave based on video games and movies, surely Objectivism would fail our impromptu “duck test.”
Ayn Rand is the witch on the left.
Veneration of an unerring and omniscient leader? Check.
An unflinching belief in an absolute morality? Check.
A gospel as long as it is boring to read? Check.
At least the Bible had plenty of sex and violence in it.
An affinity for silly outfits? Check.
We wonder if they would look less ugly if they switched hats.
A self-important flock of blind followers? Check.
We don’t know if that’s Tom Cruise or John Galt in the middle of the second picture.
And lastly, the surest sign of any successful cult: Do they enjoy tax-exempt status?
Oh, that’s a big check!
Yup, that’s right. The goddamn church of Objectivism better known as the Ayn Rand Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, which means they are “tax-exempt to the extent provided by law.”
Cult status: checkmate.
4. They both make terrible movies
Atlas Shrugged: Part I was the definition of a flop when it was released in 2011. It was a surprise to everybody except anybody who thought its trailer made the film look like a self-important piece of shit.
The film grossed less than a quarter of its original budget, currently holds a solid 11% on RottenTomatoes.com, and was panned by critics as “the most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault.” It is hard to imagine any film so universally beloved by its followers failing so spectacularly on the big screen.
That is, unless you compare it to the release of Battlefield Earth.
Some of these quotes work just as well for Atlas Shrugged.
3. Both the Ayn Rand Institute and Scientology groups inflate their book sales
According to this creepy video Paul Ryan filmed from an apparently undisclosed location, sales of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged surged under the Obama administration because “it’s that kind of thinking, that kind of writing that’s sorely needed right now.”
Imagine if President Obama recorded a video just like this about the benefits of Karl Marx.
There’s only one problem with this claim. According to the New York Times, the Ayn Rand Institute offered 400,000 copies of Rand’s novels every year for free to AP high school programs in the last decade. According to Yaron Brook, the director of the Ayn Rand Institute, the purpose of this giveaway was “to keep Rand alive.” How many copies of Atlas Shrugged were actually sold in bookstores when this article was published? Less than half that number.
It’s a brilliant ploy: buy and distribute a ridiculous amount of your own books to make it seem like it was a bigger hit than it ever would have been on its own. How do we know this? Because Scientologists pulled off the same trick to keep L. Ron Hubbard’s books on bestseller lists, buying copies of Dianetics by the hundreds. “Cash only.”
Now, imagine if the Church of Scientology planned on giving all those books away to high school students to keep L. Ron alive for another generation…
And on top of that, all while hating children.
Way to go, Ayn Rand Institute. You outclassed the Church of Scientology in this ideological war.
2. For some reason, both L. Ron Hubbard and Ayn Rand hated gays
You’d think that a group promoting individuality and truism would be all about embracing who you are, no matter what your sexual orientation. Well, just as in Scientology, Ayn Rand was convinced that homosexuality was an illness, immoral and, in her own words, “it’s disgusting.”
Why? That’s a good question. Even some of her biggest fanboys—including one who slept with her—admit that Ayn Rand was “absolutely and totally ignorant” about homosexuality.
Need some more convincing? That same person, psychotherapist Nathaniel Branden, Ayn Rand’s former lover and onetime “intellectual heir,” added that the unerring goddess of Objectivism’s views on homosexuality was: “as calamitous, as wrong, as reckless, as irresponsible, and as cruel, and as one which I know has hurt too many people who… looked up to her and assumed that if she would make that strong a statement she must have awfully good reasons.”
From the sounds of it, she didn’t have a good reason. She just really, really hated gays.
That’s more than we can say for the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation, which at least tried to “cure” homosexuals undergoing Dianetics therapy. I.e., brainwashing.
We’re guessing it didn’t work.
1. Objectivism and Scientology offer more cautionary tales than messages
Truth be told, Objectivism does hold one very important role in society: a warning of how disastrous its philosophies can be if they are actually put into practice. Case in point: Alan Greenspan.
Don’t know who he is? Let’s put it this way: You know what Andrew Ryan did to Rapture in BioShock? That’s what this guy did to the U.S. economy as chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006, after which the economy exploded thanks to his Objectivist-friendly laissez faire theories. But what does any of this have to do with Ayn Rand? Why, Alan Greenspan was a part of her inner circle, just like in the Hellfire Club.
Picture this, only with a lot more ugly old people.
As for the cautionary lessons of Scientology, look no further than South Park and the tragic death of Chef.
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