Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed


Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed Criticism
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"Lisa Duggan does a deep dive into Ayn Rand so that we don't have to. Instead, we can read Duggan's impassioned, insightful, sometimes terrifying, sometimes humorous account of Rand's philosophy and influence. Calls to understand and reject the allure of cruelty rarely feel as lucid and timely."--Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts

"The self-described 'man worshipper' Ayn Rand titillated generations of strivers with her gospel of free-reign capitalism as the apex of human achievement. As that fiction yields ever more wreckage and despair, Mean Girl provides urgent insight into how Rand converted readers to her credo of self-flattery, pious greed, contempt for those in need, and obliviousness to history. Exalted are the profit-driven for they will inherit the earth? How could anyone come to embrace smug indifference to the suffering of others as worthy of admiration? Read this luminous account to find out."--Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America

"Lisa Duggan's wry and wise Mean Girl is the Ayn Rand primer we've been waiting for, an inquiry into how a narcissistic cult became a national creed. Duggan's short history neatly reveals the deep affinities between Randianism and Trumpism, and will, if we are lucky, serve as a requiem for both."--Greg Grandin, author of The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America

"Mean Girl offers an eye-opening panoramic view of the rise of the 'open-air theater of cruelty' that takes Ayn Rand as its muse. The whole package of power-love associated with Rand throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries--biography, economics, cultural politics, white masculinity, authoritarianism, sexual violence--comes vividly to life here in Lisa Duggan's beautiful, stunning rendering."--Lauren Berlant, coauthor of Sex, or the Unbearable

"Sometimes, in the right hands, a single figure can help make sense of an era. The right hands are Lisa Duggan's, and the single, rather unlikely, figure is Ayn Rand, who is ready for her close-up. An individualist who built a cult, a critic of the masses whose career depended on their media, an Objectivist who marketed her philosophy via novels soaked in sex and sentimentality, Rand aggrandized greed as a virtue and was the unapologetic purveyor of what Duggan brilliantly calls 'optimistic cruelty.' This short, accessible, and powerful book charts the rise of affective neoliberalism through the lens of a life. Buy it for anyone who has ever been lured by The Fountainhead or who needs help shrugging off Atlas Shrugged."--Bonnie Honig, author of Public Things: Democracy in Disrepair

"With Mean Girl, Lisa Duggan offers readers a history of how greed and capitalist accumulation were made cool and sexy. In a historical moment in which billionaires have been refashioned into super-beings, Duggan's history of this libertarian matriarch provides a necessary and eye-opening intervention."--Roderick Ferguson, author of One-Dimensional Queer

"Reading Lisa Duggan's Mean Girl is an exercise in emotional upheaval. One minute I was laughing out loud, the next crying into my tea, and then finally feeling confident that human beings cannot allow the suffocation of Ayn Rand's thinking to get to us. It is a terrific book only partly about Rand, because it is really an intellectual history of neoliberalism--and its toxic outcomes."--Vijay Prashad, Director, Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research

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