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Ayn Rand and Objectivism

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 3

With the film version of Ayn Rand's classic novel Atlas Shrugged to be released in the next year or two, a whole new generation will be exposed to Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. The definition and overall concept of Objectivism is still subject to interpretation by philosophers and followers alike. For a film fan who might not have read her lengthy books, a basic look at her philosophy will be beneficial in understanding the film version of Atlas Shrugged. Current changes in the economy and political atmosphere are making Rand's works like Atlas Shrugged and the Fountainhead appear highly relevant to modern society some 50 plus years after their release.

A universal truth

Ayn Rand's philosophy incorporates elements of economics, politics and social behavior. The basic tenet is that there is a universal truth that exists and it is up to man to use reason to gain knowledge in life. Emotions confuse reasoning and should be tamed. Reasoning is man's greatest asset according to Rand and the way he gathers knowledge.

Ayn Rand postage stamp
Individual rights

The second principle of Rand's involves the total rights of the individual to be self-serving and independent. Being asked to serve a collective is unfair and intrusive. It is okay to be a capitalist and look out for self-interest. Furthermore, there is no particular obligation to look out for the welfare of others. Abuse of the rights of the individual to serve the betterment of a collective is never acceptable under Objectivism.

The overall philosophy of Rand's Objectivism is far more complicated than can be summed in a brief article. There have been hundreds of essays and dozens of books written both for and against her particular philosophy. In recent years, the values she presents have once again come into favor in America especially with the Republican Party. Small government, unbridled capitalism, limits of welfare and trickle down economics are all notions proposed by Rand that the GOP find appealing.

In a society where socialism is practically the curse word of the day, Rand could easily become the patron saint for individual rights. It will be interesting to see how widespread her system of thought becomes in the next ten years. Many powerful people are devotees. Just one highly influential follower of Objectivism includes Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan who was an original member of her inner circle known as the "Collective" during his younger years. Other famous followers of Objectivism include Rush drummer Neil Peart, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, comic artist Steve Ditko and television reporter John Stossel as well as many closeted CEOs that quietly follow Rand.

Because of its anti-altruistic and anti-religious themes, it may never become a widespread philosophy, but it will certainly be practiced and adhered to in secret by many people fed up with the current state of affairs. As the film debuts the world will once again be asking "Who Is John Galt?", but may also be asking "How Can I Be Like John Galt?". Many people will see the success or failure of Atlas Shrugged as an indictment or defense of modern society.



Sep 7, 2010 11:28pm
Although, I am very much a fan of Ayn Rand, I am little interested in the fiction becoming a reality as expressed in those works. She even advised against those who would hold her ideas up as a beacon to follow, as a type of flawed mission. No one was ever truly meant to become an 'Objectivist'. However, she chose the genre of fiction since it would better convey the depth of her ideas with little chance of them being watered down by argumentation.

Great article-(ambitious):) Good job.
Sep 8, 2010 7:38am
Thanks for reading, Duane and for an insightful comment. I don't think her philisophy CAN catch on in America primarily because the economic policies she holds dear tend to appeal to Republicans, but they will never be able to embrace the full philosophy due to the atheistic aspect. I am looking forward to the big screen translation and seeing the public's reactions. I have only read about controversy caused by her works in the past. I will be interesting to be around for it this time.
Dec 20, 2011 2:24pm
Ayn Rand fled communism, based on a philosophy that ignores some of the basic tenets of human nature, and came to America to create an opposing philosophy which ignores a whole new set of them. Neither extreme works in practice - you can't crush the individual in pursuit of civilization, but you can't have civilization without the "me" making some concessions to the "us". The challenge is to find where that balance lies.
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