A Misunderstood Radical


Steve Ditko’s Mr. A.

She hated religion and thought faith was “extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason.” She asserted that abortion was “a moral right” and believed the pro-life movement was motivated by “hatred.”  For her, creative work was more important than family, friendship or any human relationship. She had no use at all for conservatives, Republicans, or liberatarians. She was a cultural populist, celebrating pulp writers like Mickey Spillane while dismissing celebrated classics like Shakespeare. She heaped scorn on National Review was “the worst and most dangerous magazine in America.” She despised libertarians as “emotional hippies-of-the-right who play at politics without philosophy or consistency.” She was “profoundly opposed to Ronald Reagan” and thought he was motivated by power lust.


As Ed Kilgore notes, Ayn Rand, is enjoying a curious resurgence among conservatives and Republicans, many of who are citing the Objectivist novelist and philosopher as a foundational thinker. Angered by the Obama presidency, these Rand admirers have threatened to “go Galt” (i.e. go on a capitalist strike).


Rand is an odd philosopher for modern conservatives to adopt. She wasn’t a party thinker like William Kristol or Hugh Hewitt, willing to chant out every last phrase of the Republican platform. Rand thought of herself, rightly, as a radical. Her hard-edged and extreme philosophy deserves to be taken on its own term, and not toned down into a rallying cry acceptable to a party and political movement she regarded with contempt and scorn.


(The quotes in the first paragraph are from Ed Kilgore’s excellent essay on Rand, which inspired this post. Steve Ditko’s Mr. A, shown above, is a superhero who voices a Randian philosophy).

3 thoughts on “A Misunderstood Radical

  1. I had also seen some conservatives claiming Rand and don’t really understand it, because a lot of them aren’t just saying the rich should “go Galt” but really praising Rand all around. Could they really be that unfamiliar with her views?

  2. I was a fan of the last(?) Question incarnation in DC in the late 80’s. After reading this, I read up on Mr. A and found a reference to its influence on Alan Moore. I just watched the Watchmen yesterday, so this was a pretty surprising but neat circle of seemingly disparate objects ( or at least, objects I’ve heard of).

  3. The 1980s version of the Question is quite good; if I remember rightly Denny O’Neil was the writer. Of course, the Ditko incarnation is interesting. And you’re right, Mr. A had an influenc on Moore and the writing of Watchmen (as can be seen by the character Rorschach). So all these topics do circle around each other.

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