Thursday, August 13, 2009
Rand on Donahue Pt 3&4: Where It Hurts
Continuing on the series of clips (here and here) from Rand on Donahue back in 1979, we come to perhaps the most interesting part of the encounter. Mostly it's been a series of softball questions to which Rand replies with her standard verbalisms, which in turn Donahue doesn't really pursue. Or if he does, it's on the most vague and timewasting questions, such as the issue of, yawn, Original Sin. Whereas practical issues, such as how Rand intends to fund the government in her forthcoming utopia, he allows her to entirely evade. But at around 8:20 in Pt 3, and continuing on into Pt 4, we come to the incident that made this appearance somewhat notorious. A young woman mentions that in high school she was formerly impressed by Rand's philosophy, but was now "better educated". Now, she doesn't realise it, but this is exactly where Rand is most psychologically vulnerable. After the publication of Atlas Shrugged she fell into a deep depression because the book was largely ignored by the intellectual community. She desperately craved the attention and even more the respect of the first-rate minds of her generation - a craving that went unrequited, and still does today. Now, to have someone imply that her philosophy is something that would only impress the young and naiive, and not the greatest intellectual achievement of all time as she and her circle of sycophants insisted, hits her right where it hurts. She refuses to answer the question, and pretends it is an issue of lacking "politeness" -as if her own purple polemical style was that of Miss Manners herself. And she won't let it go, even as Donahue tries to move the discussion on. It's a telling moment.