Ayn Rand: The Greatest Philosopher On Earth
Ayn Rand left the greatest “legacy” for living on earth, which, I think, is greater than the contribution of Aristotle.
Many people, including businessmen, reject the idea of self-interest. They thought that self-interest is evil and immoral, and believed that it is man’s duty to serve others—to put the interest of others above their own. They believe that every man is his brother’s keeper.
Most people today are simply speaking the language of our time. If there’s a dominant ethical system that is being preached by high school teachers, college professors, absurd intellectuals, media columnists, politicians, religionists and televangelists, it is the morality of altruism. Altruism holds that for man to be moral, he must put the interest of others above his own, and that he is the means to the ends of others. But the question is, is it possible to practice this self-sacrificing code of ethics? No!
Many of us were told by the media, intellectuals, politicians, religionists, and altruists that the ongoing global economic downturn was caused by unbridled greed or self-interest. Since they claim that it is greed and self-interest that brought us all to misery, they now demand, under the banner of “common good” and “social welfare, that the government must issue more controls and regulations. They declare that it is uncurbed ‘selfishness’ that makes people irrational and reckless. As stated by a misguided, altruist blog critic, “it was inadequate regulation of financial markets, where people were making decisions that were in their short-term interest, but for which the rest of us will have to pay for the long term.” But the only way to deal with an irrational is to say, “I don’t agree with you.” It is impossible to argue with people who take government lies and biased and interested media reports on faith.
It was Ayn Rand who defended the virtue of “selfishness” through her seminal, life-changing philosophy of Objectivism. Throughout her lifetime, Ayn Rand was ridiculed by intellectuals and religionists who clearly did not understand the nature of man and what makes life possible, and underrated by college professors and media hippies, who asserted that her ideas were ‘unoriginal’ and ‘amateurish.’ But most geniuses, innovators and thinkers were misunderstood and persecuted in their lifetime. Galileo Galilei was imprisoned by the Pope for supporting the heliocentric view that the sun is at the center of the universe. In recent history, Michael Robert Milken, one of the best examples of a victim of envy or hatred of the good for being the good, was persecuted and imprisoned for developing “high-yield bonds” that saved thousands of businesses and created millions of jobs. Between Milken and Mother Theresa, the former left one of the greatest contributions to the survival of mankind.
Today, there are still a lot of people who regard Ayn Rand as an “irrelevant” philosopher. Her modern-day critics love to link her name to Alan Greenspan who played a major role in causing America’s recession. They refuse to see and admit that it was Greenspan who disowned Ayn Rand. No, this former chairman of the Federal Reserve did not betray Ayn Rand; it is his soul that he betrayed.
In this age of lies, envy and mediocrity, Ayn Rand’s best ally is reality. It is reality that now slaps the murky face of humanity. With a smile on its face, it is reality that proves the prescience of the philosophy and works of Ms Rand. Like she said, “I will let reality speak for me, it usually does.” Reality is our absolute, final arbiter. History tells us that if we go against reality, we would only reap our own destruction.
It is reality that tells mankind— “you cannot have your cake and eat it too.” It is reality that tells everyone of us that the solution is not to return to morality and reason, but to discover them. If people would only use their mind, they would discover that every economic crisis was created by statism, and every government program that led to privation and misery was justified by the morality of altruism and issued under the name of “common good.”
How many millions of people were killed, sacrificed and persecuted under the name of “common good?” How many social programs have been issued under the premise that the good is intrinsic in certain actions or things, independent of man’s consciousness. One grotesque example of this mindset are government programs that seek to redistribute wealth, like universal health care, anti-population laws, public education, collective farming, collective livelihood, and so on. If this is the kind of mentality that dominates most societies today, people will not hesitate to sacrifice others to perform the good.
It is ironic that one of Ayn Rand’s most denounced books by absurd intellectuals, leftist professors, and modern-day mystics—Atlas Shrugged—predicted almost every catastrophe that is happening today. Yes, it is reality that now proves Ayn Rand’s relevance to modern civilization. Wall Street Journal states that “the current economic strategy is right out of ‘Atlas Shrugged.” It further states:
“The more incompetent you are in business, the more handouts the politicians will bestow on you. That’s the justification for the $2 trillion of subsidies doled out already to keep afloat distressed insurance companies, banks, Wall Street investment houses, and auto companies — while standing next in line for their share of the booty are real-estate developers, the steel industry, chemical companies, airlines, ethanol producers, construction firms and even catfish farmers. With each successive bailout to “calm the markets,” another trillion of national wealth is subsequently lost. Yet, as “Atlas” grimly foretold, we now treat the incompetent who wreck their companies as victims, while those resourceful business owners who manage to make a profit are portrayed as recipients of illegitimate “windfalls.”
Did Ayn Rand live up to her philosophy? Absolutely yes! Like she said, her life is the postscript to her bestselling novels. Did she ever commit any mistake? Yes, but her achievement and great “gift” to mankind outweighed whatever mistake she did in her lifetime. When the influenced of Aristotle vanished about two thousands year ago, the world fell into the claws of the mystics of spirit and the mystics of muscle. It was Aristotle who saved mankind from the mystics of the Dark Ages through the works of St. Thomas Aquinas, thus the rebirth of reason or the Age of Enlightenment. The United States of America was born as a result of this philosophical reawakening. But it was Ayn Rand who left the greatest “legacy” for living on earth, which, I think, is greater than the contribution of Aristotle. This legacy— founded upon its fundamental tenet that existence exist and under the premise that man is an end in himself— is the philosophy of Objectivism.
Ayn Rand carefully, clearly, objectively and strictly defined her philosophy of Objectivism. According to her, “Objectivism is a philosophical movement; since politics is a branch of philosophy, Objectivism advocates certain political principles—specifically, those of laissez-faire capitalism—as the consequence and the ultimate practical application of its fundamental philosophical principles. It does not regard politics as a separate or primary goal, that is: as a goal that can be achieved without a wider ideological context.”
Politics is based on three other philosophical disciplines: metaphysics, epistemology and ethics—on a theory of man’s nature and of man’s relationship to existence. It is only on such a base that one can formulate a consistent political theory and achieve it in practice. When, however, men attempt to rush into politics without such a base, the result is that embarrassing conglomeration of impotence, futility, inconsistency and superficiality which is loosely designated today as “conservatism.” Objectivists are not “conservatives.” We are radicals for capitalism; we are fighting for that philosophical base which capitalism did not have and without which it was doomed to perish.
I’ve encountered a lot of people who denounced Ayn Rand but never read any of her works. These neo-Ayn Rand critics simply echo the old canard manufactured by her dishonest fabulists and equivocators who were simply good at myth-making and unscrupulous propaganda campaign. There are some who even claimed they clearly understood her philosophy, yet uttered nothing but downright lie and/or distortions of her works and ideas. Like I said to that blog critic I mentioned above, “If there’s a philosopher of the past century who was a victim of grave injustice, ignorance, and leftist-conservative propaganda, it would be Ayn Rand.”
- The photo of a boy with an Ayn Rand book appears on Queen’s University The Journal. Click here for the link of The Journal story.
- Thanks to Bill Bucko for the wonderful Tea Party photo showing a placard bearing the words “Ayn Rand” and “Atlas Shrugged.”