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Five Reasons to Celebrate Ayn Rand
Contemplate, challenge and check the thinker to enrich your life on earth
Because she challenges today’s ideals, you’re more likely to prosper if you think about Ayn Rand’s philosophy and writing. Altruism, the idea that you only exist to help others—that you are a means to the ends of others—and that helping others is paramount is anathema to Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism. If you get nothing else from reading this article, know that Ayn Rand is the only prominent thinker to oppose altruism as immoral. Accordingly, she rejected altruism’s relational ideal, collectivism. These twin evils—Rand regarded altruism as the root of evil—dominate today’s culture, politics and government. From edicts and pressure to help others to faith in a leader, technology and the corporation and the concomitant policy of sameness and obedience to the government doctor, dictate and lockdown, collectivism and especially altruism destroy and inhibit life. Rand proposed and developed the antithesis: a system of rational thought to guide and promote your life.
This is the reason to study Ayn Rand’s ideas, which are simple yet layered; to know, understand and integrate her philosophy into selfish living. In essence, though there’s more to it, Objectivism means acknowledging the supremacy of abiding reality, reason and rights. This powerful series of interrelated ideals can enhance one’s life. But only if you study, know and understand. Imagine really knowing and being confident in your knowledge, which strengthens the prospect of achieving happiness, not merely having hope. Rand knew that to think is to save, add value to and enrich life on earth.
Studying, such as reading and contemplating, and actively exercising volition, can make understanding faster, easier and more thorough. There are no shortcuts. As you probably know because you’ve read this far, challenge can improve your life. You can challenge what you know about Ayn Rand. If you know that you don’t really know Rand, it’s probably because you know that most of the press and intellectuals get her (and most facts and judgments) wrong. Perhaps you also know, or have some sense, that holding ideas without challenge is hazardous to both your health and your life.
Pay particular attention to Rand’s politics, activism and later-life writing. This advice goes against what most Objectivists, including Rand’s best student, the brilliant Leonard Peikoff, have counseled as a general rule. The Objectivist thinks for himself. As Peikoff has astutely observed with startling clarity, the hour to save humankind and civilization is late. Read Rand’s fiction—but hurry. Then learn about Rand’s activism—taking time to campaign for Goldwater and Willkie and edit and publish paid subscription publications—and know that knowing this’ll help you to design your own method to save yourself and defend, which means enjoy, your life. It’ll also help you to see Ayn Rand as a whole person—not merely as a Broadway playwright, novelist, patroness of art, ballet and opera, Hollywood screenwriter, immigrant, Jew, woman, radical for capitalism, atheist, individualist, American, Soviet refugee, Southern Californian, New Yorker, Chicagoan, lecturer at West Point and Yale, wife, philosopher and storyteller. Knowing why she visited the White House (twice), argued against the draft and for the right to abortion, agreed to be interviewed for Playboy, detested Woodstock and the hippies, sent Christmas cards, owned cats, attended the first rocket launch to put man on the moon and wrote a newspaper column—as well as an article on why she liked stamp collecting—can be more beneficial than you, or predominant Objectivist intellectuals, may know. This can help you to check your premises. If you only read Rand’s fiction, you could forfeit the opportunity to discover how to apply her ideas to creating your own selfish pursuit of happiness.
Judge for yourself, and, as Rand added, prepare to be judged. This is another reason to celebrate Ayn Rand today, which marks her birth date in 1905. Ayn Rand is the only major thinker to differentiate between the esteem in which you ought to hold yourself — she wrote that if you’ve earned self-esteem, you ought to honor yourself on principle — and holding nature (or others, a supernatural being or realm or technology) as having intrinsic value. Ayn Rand is the reason you’re reading this and it’s true that really celebrating Ayn Rand celebrates life. But celebration’s only possible if you go by her idea that your life belongs to you and that the good is to live it.