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And Speaking Of Ayn Rand

Republican Senate candidate Rand Paul likes to quote the band "Rush." This should not come as a surprise -- Rush dedicated its album 2112 "with acknowledgment to the genius of Ayn Rand," and Randian themes echo through the lyrics:

The key to understanding the piece, the authors argue, is its "'acknowledgment to the genius of Ayn Rand.'"  Price and Price observe that Rand, "an expatriate Russian philosopher-novelist," had "extolled the value of the creative, autonomous individual over against the stifling, leveling power of the mediocre 'collectivity'" (93-94). Rand's rejection of the Soviet experiment was equally a warning to "every society where collectivism reared its head, under whatever name" (95).

Rush's protest against "enforced mediocrity" (135) and social conformity is also the subject of such songs as "Mission" and "Red Barchetta." Fully embracing Rand's anti-egalitarianism, Rush portrays the "nonsense" at work in societies that forbid "the excellent to excel, lest the inferiority of the inferior be revealed."  In contrast to social blindness,

Rand and Rush . . . want to see. . . . If the blind belief in automatic equality prevails, then not even the excellent will any longer bother to excel, since they will not be allowed to, nor be rewarded for it. They will not even see the need to excel, nor feel guilty for not excelling. Everyone will have only mediocre sites to aim for. (116)

The anti-egalitarian creed is most clearly demonstrated in "The Trees":

The song depicts a dispute between the shorter Maples and the towering Oaks. The Maple gripe is this: the Oaks are too tall! They hog all the light! But who can blame the Oaks for being proud of their height? Perhaps a bit smugly they wonder why the Maples can't be happy in their shade. The Maples scream "Oppression!"  The Oaks, befuddled, just shake their heads. The Maples get organized and demand equal rights. The solution? Oak ascendancy is over, thanks to a just decree. All trees henceforth are chopped down to equality. The Lowest Common Denominator becomes the rule. The Maples, of course, are those who mutter "I'm as good as you!" and who hobble their superiors to make it so in truth! (96)

Throughout the Rush corpus, the authors argue, these Randian themes are fully explored, paralleling too the ideas of both Heidegger and Nietzsche, who rejected "inauthentic existence" and "the herd," respectively (97).