Chill - yes, I promised I was going to put Objectivism to rest once and for all right here and that is what I'm going to do. I know that sounds like a huge yawn, dry and acedemic but I can assure you there is no difficulty in arguing against Objectivism and the clones of Ayn Rand. I'm not going to use terms like "idealism", "anti-realism" or "Identity Theory" (the usual chestnuts in this argument), you can find plenty of that elsewhere. I'm just going to argue why Rand's "philosophy" (I use quotes there because Philosophy demands the rigor of logical examination and Rand seems to think her work is immune to such scrutiny) is simplistic and appeals to the intellectually lazy, why it is untenable and insubstantial as a political theory. Yet, I feel I must address it and discount it since it is such a poisonous and repulsive bit of thought.
First of all, check out today's website (and I'll re-link it here since I'm still waiting for Jer to fix this so the forms don't clear), it's Thich Nhat Hanh's web site. I feel the best answer to Rand's stupidity is NO ANSWER, that the Buddhist principle of Love & Compassion are essential, that anything without those principles are meaningless. If you want to skip the rest of this, bookmark that site and you'll have everything you need to put Objectivism out of your mind.
I feel like I have to answer Objectivism because of its ubiquity on the internet. Some would argue, "Well it MUST be substantial if there's so much on the internet about it!" Please. There's also tons on the internet about Bigfoot, Fascist Jesus (as opposed to Revolutionary Jesus), UFO's, and Elvis-is-alive.
I first got on the internet back in 91', the days of BBS's and USENET, there really wasn't a WWW back then just message boards. Unfortunately, every discussion board for Philosophy was dominated by Objectivists, loud and virulent ludites whose ideas of discourse was simple invective. If a non-objectivist tried posting a valid question or argument they'd be met with a gang-flame but not one single cohesive reply to the poster's point. Such behavior seems to be the intellectual legacy of Rand herself and her protoge Dr. Leonard Peikoff both of whom reduced all defenses to the ad hominem, "You're just not intelligent enough to grasp the full meaning of objectivism."
I will admit that I was attracted to Rand's work for about 5 seconds when I was 15. Rand is one of the adolescent indulgences like Kurt Vonnegut, Jean Genet, listening to one style of music (rap/metal/rap-metal/punk/techno/etc) at the exclusion of other genres, or video games, something that one usually outgrows given maturity, more education, and a sense that the world doesn't revolve around us. As I mentioned earlier, Rand doesn't hold up to (or demand) intellectual scrutiny. So when a 15-year old reads "Atlas Shrugged" she/he FEELS SMART because Rand presents some ideas that are novel (excuse the pun) to the developing mind and to grasp those ideas gives said adolescent a sense of self-esteem.
Essentially, Objectivism is just an elaborate way of saying "every man for himself". That's not just untenable, it's uninteresting. And taken to it's logical conclusion, it fails. If "He who has the most toys at the end wins the game", what's left? Nothing. Not the Nothingness that Sartre says sets us adrift from the morals of social convention (because they only lead us back to our obligation to Society) nor the "nothingness" of Buddhism where the ego is rejected to embrace the One... no, the nothing at the logical conclusion of Rand's program is extinction of everything. An unreconcilable contradiction in light of Rand's idealism, since there are no perceivers left to interprate perceptions.
I won't argue the literary merits of Rand's novels (except to say they're wretched) but you can get a witty, non-intellectual (which is not to say "unintelligent") overview at this page.
Finally, you may want to ask yourself why no reputable Philosophy department teaches Objectivism? They'll cover Eastern Philosophy, Biblical Philosophy, Teleology, et al but not a single class to teach Objectivism. Likewise, no academic journals devote any space to Objectivist thought. I think this brilliant satire on Rand, "How To Become An Objectivist In Ten Easy Steps" gets to the heart of why Objectivism is the philosophy of numbskulls (why else would Dr. Laura be an adherant?).
Enough for now. I hope I've deflated some intellectual pretensions and moved some people to think about REAL philosophy and not the phony shit that Rand proposes. If I've stepped on some Objectivist toes, wah wah wah, you're a grown up and, yup, an "Objectivist" and toe-stomping is what Rand's so-called philosophy is all about. Get over yourselves.