19 Jan 2015

Letter From Auntie Ayn



Mallory Ortberg shares with us a characteristically morally engagée letter from Ayn Rand to a relative who asked her for a small loan.

The Letters of Ayn Rand is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. It is a perpetual source of comfort and inspiration to me. Every morning, Ayn Rand must have thrust herself forth from her steel bed and asked herself “What is the most Ayn Rand thing that I can do today?”

On May 22, 1949, the answer was to write a letter to her young niece, who had sent her a short note asking to borrow $25 for a new dress. …

Read the whole thing.

Andrew Sullivan (characteristically anti-mind, anti-man, anti-life) thought that this letter was “horrible.” Some of us, on the other hand, find dear old Ayn’s dramatic moral scrupulousness endearing, if perhaps just a little tiny bit daft.

One Feedback on "Letter From Auntie Ayn"

Bob Durtschi

I really can’t understand Andrew Sullivan’s thinking when he describes the letter from Ayn Rand as “amazingly horrible” then proceeds to quote, what I suppose, is the part he thinks is the most egregious (that word just comes tripping off the tongue)

I see it as a loving aunt’s attempt to explain the real-life responsibilities and consequences associated with “borrowing” to a rather naïve niece. Or perhaps manipulative niece may be more accurate. Perhaps she, the niece, was hoping that Ayn, as a loving aunt, would just Give her the money for the dress.

Maybe That’s what Andrew Sullivan expected too and was offended when, instead, she tried to give her niece a more enduring gift, the understanding of the responsibilities and consequences associated with “borrowing”

As Rueben J. Clark once stated:

Interest never sleeps nor sickens nor dies; it never goes to the hospital; it works on Sundays and holidays; it never takes a vacation; it never visits nor travels; it takes no pleasure; it is never laid off work nor discharged from employment; it never works on reduced hours; it never has short crops nor droughts; it never pays taxes; it buys no food; it wears no clothes; it is unhoused and without home and so has no repairs, no replacements, no shingling, plumbing, painting, or whitewashing; it has neither wife, children, father, mother, nor kinfolk to watch over and care for; it has no expense of living; it has neither weddings nor births nor deaths; it has no love, no sympathy; it is as hard and soulless as a granite cliff. Once in debt, interest is your companion every minute of the day and night; you cannot shun it or slip away from it; you cannot dismiss it; it yields neither to entreaties, demands, or orders; and whenever you get in its way or cross its course or fail to meet its demands, it crushes you.

(in Conference Report, Apr., 1938, p. 103.)

So what was Mr. Sullivan thinking when he described the letter as “amazingly horrible”. He doesn’t explain it. Apparently he expects his readers to immediately grasp it just by quoting part of it. Perhaps HIS readers do, but I’m very puzzled


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