This week, I want to talk about Ayn Rand and what I’ve learned from her.
Table Of Contents
- Who Was Ayn Rand?
- What I’ve Learned From Ayn Rand
- Ayn Rand Was A Great Individual
- Reading List
Who Was Ayn Rand?
“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand was born Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum to a Russian-Jewish bourgeois family in Saint Petersburg. She was one of the millions of victims of the Bolsheviks Revolution. After seizing her family’s possessions, the communists left their victims destitute.
After finishing university, Rand emigrated to the states where the skyscrapers in Manhattan moved her. Inspired, she traveled to California to pursue her writing. In the following years, she finished works such as Ideal, Red Pawn, and We The Living.
The Fountainhead was Ayn Rand’s first success and she became a household name. She finished one more significant piece of fiction, Atlas Shrugged, before focusing on Objectivism.
Rand died on March 6, 1982, from heart failure. Rand left a legacy of admiration for the individual.
What I’ve Learned From Ayn Rand
I first read Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead while in high school. Since then, I’ve read and reread her works because of the timeless wisdom her words provide. Here are the five lessons I’ve learned from Ayn Rand.
1. Collectivism Is Evil
“The man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap.” – Ayn Rand
Collectivism values group identity above individual liberty. In collectivism, an individual can be abused, robbed, and discarded as long as the collective needs are served.
Few thinkers criticize collectivism like Ayn Rand. Whether in her nonfiction writing or through brilliant characters such as Ellsworth Toohey, Rand captures collectivism’s corrupted essence. She was also relentless. Morally, she investigated why altruism was a contradictory and deadly philosophy doomed to failure and individual destruction. Philosophically, she explored why collectivism cannot satisfy a man and why it always leads to tyranny, death, and disappointment. Economically, she argued why collectivism cannot provide for the needs and wants of individuals on a micro or macro scale.
Ayn Rand helped me understand the evils of collectivism and why the system must be opposed no matter where it is found or what form it takes. If we do not, then we will lose civilization to the worse among us.
2. Courage Is A Necessity
“The great creators — the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors — stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won.” – Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand starved under communism. She suffered as revolutionaries stole all she had in the name of “justice” and “equality.” Because of her sufferings, she never minced words in her writings, talks, and speeches. She consistently fought the collectivism growing during her time despite attacks and smears. Her courage is admirable.
Today, we face collectivists, statists, socialists, “anti-racist” racists, and more. Each group wishes to have what they haven’t earned and are willing to lie and cheat to justify their theft and brutality. However, I’ve learned we have to argue against the barbarians of our time. Further, we should prepare for their inevitable assaults, violence, and manipulations.
If collectivists intimidate you, read Rand and watch her interviews. You will learn to admire her bravery and use it to fuel your own.
3. The Free Market And Individual Liberty Are Essential To A Flourishing Society
“Men who reject the responsibility of thought and reason can only exist as parasites on the thinking of others.” – Ayn Rand
Rand was a passionate defender of capitalism and individual liberty. She never apologized for admiring the culture, individuals, and economic systems that gave us the comforts and peace we enjoy.
Books such as Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal outline why the free market, with its respect for property rights, rational economic exchanges, and absence of government coercion, benefits everyone from the rich to the poor.
Rand made air-tight and consistent economic, philosophical, and rational arguments. Her works will provide excellent tools if you want to learn how to defend capitalism and individual liberty.
4. You Must March Forward To Accomplish Your Goals
“The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone.” – Ayn Rand
Rand suffered under the Bolsheviks’ Revolution, but she did not give up. She emigrated to the states and worked tirelessly to pursue her writing. Even after her success, Ayn Rand discussed individual liberty despite opposition from the mainstream. Until the day she died, she faced countless attacks and smears. But Ayn Rand never gave up.
The world will despise you. If you believe you own yourself, then you will find few allies amongst “normal” people. If you think your property is yours, then collectivists will tarnish your reputation. If you want to be your best self, then the lazy will abandon you.
When you’re journey seems difficult, you should look at Ayn Rand’s example. She teaches me how to push forward, despite personal faults and external attacks.
5. You Are An Individual
“An individualist is a man who says: I will not run anyone’s life – nor let anyone run mine. I will not rule nor be ruled. I will not be a master nor a slave. I will not sacrifice myself to anyone – nor sacrifice anyone to myself.” – Ayn Rand
Through her life, writings, and arguments, Ayn Rand helped me understand I own myself. I define my life through my actions, virtues, and ideals.
Everything I listed, you can choose, refine, and change. Anything about your life that is unchosen is arbitrary, and you should view them as secondary or irrelevant. Your race does not matter more than your character. Your sexuality is less critical than your virtues. The circumstance of your birth does not define your future.
If you value yourself, you will thrive on the objective standards you have set. This lesson is the greatest I learned from Ayn Rand.
Ayn Rand Was A Great Individual
“Love is blind, they say; sex is impervious to reason and mocks the power of all philosophers. But, in fact, a person’s sexual choice is the result and sum of their fundamental convictions. Tell me what a person finds sexually attractive and I will tell you their entire philosophy of life.” – Ayn Rand
As with all admired figures, I am nuanced about Ayn Rand. I don’t agree with all her premises, such as abortion. Additionally, I disagree with her personal decisions, such as her drug use and her open relationship during her marriage.
Furthermore, I do find Objectivism lacking. For example, there is little literature about children and the family, and where it exists, it lacks useful, virtuous information. Lastly, Ayn Rand was too dismissive of the importance of religion, faith, and charity.
No one is perfect. However, Ayn Rand left behind an immense legacy full of wisdom, courage, virtue, and purpose. She’ll help you understand why capitalism, individual liberty, and individualism are crucial to a peaceful, functioning society. Her philosophy, Objectivism, will give you a rational way of living your life. Her fictional works will remind you of how characters should be written – with clarity, purpose, and values.
Explore the works of Ayn Rand, and your life will improve.
“Love should be treated like a business deal, but every business deal has its own terms and its own currency. And in love, the currency is virtue. You love people not for what you do for them or what they do for you. You love them for the values, the virtues, which they have achieved in their own character.” – Ayn Rand
- Ayn Rand’s Novels and Works – Here is a complete, comprehensive list of the works Ayn Rand has written. I would start with The Fountainhead for fiction and the Virtue of Selfishness for nonfiction.
- Have you ever heard of Ayn Rand? What have you been told? What is your impression?
- How do others respond when you mention Ayn Rand? Do they dislike her? Admire her? More importantly, do they know anything about her or her arguments?
- Are there any controversial figures you admire? Why do you admire them? What makes them controversial?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.