Articles and Features

Ayn Rand's Birthday

February 2, 1905

Week of February 1, 1998
Special Two Week Edition

I know it's not fair to think of her this way, but I feel really betrayed by Ayn Rand. It started when I was in junior high, actually. My eighth grade teacher had assigned Anthem. I read it and it was great science fiction. This was from the point of view of a child who had not yet read George Orwell's 1984 or had even seen the many doomsday future movies (Bladerunner, Mad Max, etc.). I sincerely enjoyed the book and was eagerly talking to my father about it. He was ecstatic. He loved Ayn Rand and told me to read Atlas Shrugged and then we would talk. You can imagine that I didn't read that book in the eighth grade, although I did try to read it. It wasn't until high school that I was actually able to read a book that long (remember when difficulty of reading material used to be judged solely on how many pages it contained?).

After reading Atlas Shrugged, I went insane. Not the kind of insanity that drives people to murder or nudity in public, nor even the sort of madness that sends a person into a shell of isolation. I systematically analyzed everything that surrounded me and reformatted it to selfishness. I truly believed everything she said. Doing anything for anyone else is wrong unless you get compensation. Self-sacrifice is not a virtue. Love is conditional (I still believe that). Any form of communism is evil, that includes the welfare department at the State of Utah, the welfare that the local churches provide and giving clothes to the Salvation Army after you've outgrown them. This sort of thinking makes for a very lonely and bitter teen.

Then, in college, I was doing research about McCarthyism. The era in which senator Joseph McCarthy accused countless people of committing "Un-American Activities" happened to coincide with the time during which Ayn Rand wrote her novels. After further research, I was shocked to find that she testified at the trials decrying communism. I came to the realization that her novels were propaganda. For years I had laughed at the wartime posters telling people to buy bonds and plant "Victory" gardens, but, now, I was face to face with the fact that the novels and philosophies I had based my life on were merely propaganda plays for the Cold War. More importantly, a dark chapter in our history was helped a little by Ms. Rand. She didn't invent the black lists, but she did testify in their favor.

Now, after recovering from the philosophy (I'm much happier now) and partially recovering from the betrayal (or at least my perception of it), I feel that I can finally review her work with a clear mind. Some of her thoughts still live with me today, while others have been buried away with Santa Claus and Trickle-Down Economics. Ironically, my father and I never did talk about Ayn Rand. Here are some quotes that I agree with and some I don't. See which ones strike a chord in your heart.

Introduction and quote compilation by Laura S. Moncur, Staff Writer.

"Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men."
The Fountainhead, 1943
"Great men can't be ruled."
The Fountainhead, 1943
"Kill reverence and you've killed the hero in man."
The Fountainhead, 1943
"It had to be said: the world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrifice."
The Fountainhead, 1943
"'We never make assertions, Miss Taggart,' said Hugh Akston. 'That is the moral crime peculiar to our enemies. We do not tell - we show. We do not claim - we prove.'"
Atlas Shrugged
"I swear - by my life and my love for it -- that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."
Atlas Shrugged
"To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion."
"The Metaphysical Versus the Man-Made," Philosophy: Who Needs It
"Intellectual freedom cannot exist without political freedom; political freedom cannot exist without economic freedom; a free mind and a free market are corollaries."
For The New Intellectual
"What objectivity and the study of philosophy requires is not an 'open mind,' but an active mind - a mind able and eagerly willing to examine ideas, but to examine them critically. "
"Philosophical Detection," Philosophy: Who Needs It
"Competition is a by-product of productive work, not its goal. A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others. "
The Moratorium on Brains
"An emotion as such tells you nothing about reality, beyond the fact that something makes you feel something."
"Philosophical Detection," Philosophy: Who Needs It
"It is not justice or equal treatment that you grant to men when you abstain equally from praising men's virtues and from condemning men's vices. When your impartial attitude declares, in effect, that neither the good nor the evil may expect anything from you - whom do you betray and whom do you encourage?"
"How Does One Lead A Rational Life in An Irrational Society," The Virtue of Selfishness
Featured Books
The following books and tapes are available through
  • Anthem 50th Anniversary Edition Hardcover by Ayn Rand - Still my favorite of all her books. The science fiction feel of the novel allows me to step out of our own society and explore the dangers of "we."
  • The Fountainhead Hardcover by Ayn Rand - This beautiful book is perfect for the library of any full blown capitalist (I must admit that I have the paperback). The novel follows Howard Roark, an architect with a style all his own. See how he refuses to allow "The Man" to crush his will and determination.
  • The Fountainhead VHS Tape starring Gary Cooper - This movie was so enjoyable for me to watch. Gary Cooper, everyone's favorite actor of the day, played the architect, Howard Roark. Great viewing!
  • Atlas Shrugged Hardcover by Ayn Rand - The book that sent my psyche over the edge may be less damaging for you (especially if you're not 15 years old). Follow the adventures of Hank Rearden, Dagny Taggart, and the elusive John Galt. Don't forget your dollar sign cigarettes.
For more information about Ayn Rand, try these links:
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