A Salute to Ayn Rand

“A Salute to Ayn Rand”       By Phyllis Hunsinger                                       April, 2021

                “Who is John Galt?” John Galt is a character in Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged. Although his presence is perceived but unknown until toward the end of the book, John Galt is portrayed as a philosopher and inventor who believed in the power of the human mind and the rights of individuals to use their minds solely for themselves. John Galt portrays the fundamentals of capitalism as innovation, self-reliance, and freedom from government interference. Living in 2021 when we see our freedoms continually eroded by government, it is no wonder that the name Ayn Rand is often mentioned.

                The author Ayn Rand was born in 1905 and educated in Russia under her birth name, Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum. She moved to the United States in 1926, where she was considered a major intellectual of the twentieth century. Her first writings were not particularly successful, but the 1943 novel, The Fountainhead, brought her fame. The characters struggle to maintain their independence from societal influence and remain true to their own values. The thesis is that society has a herd mentality and individuals must act selfishly in order to be free. Unsurprisingly her book was considered controversial.

                Ayn Rand’s best known work, Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, solidified her philosophy of Objectivism, which she described as “a philosophy for living on earth.” She examined the kinds of actions individual human beings have to take in order to flourish. In an essay, Yaron Brook and Don Watkins describe the three actions Rand determined to be essential: (1) we have to think; (2) we have to produce; and (3) we have to deal with others on mutually beneficial terms.  

                In a collection of essays, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, Rand says: “Since knowledge, thinking, and rational action are properties of the individual, since the choice to exercise his rational faculty or not depends on the individual, man’s survival requires that those who think be free of the interference of those who don’t. Since men are neither omniscient nor infallible, they must be free to agree or disagree, to cooperate or to pursue their own independent course, each according to his own rational judgment. Freedom is the fundamental requirement of man’s mind.”

                Having sold in excess of 30 million copies, Ayn Rand may have been one of the greatest salesmen of capitalism in history. In alignment with her philosophy of Objectivism, she said, “Capitalism is the only system based implicitly on an objective theory of values.” Ayn Rand tells the real story of capitalism, a system in which each individual is free to flourish and prosper and deal harmoniously with others.

                Ayn Rand died in 1982. Imagine the horror with which she would view America today: government created victims, race baiting, book censorship, speech police, and government overreach into all aspects of life. As John Galt aptly demonstrated, there is no reason why each individual should not maximize his potential and make the most of his life, without victimizing others or becoming a victim. Freedom from excessive government would allow all individuals to have an opportunity to thrive.

                Ayn Rand deserves a salute; however, more importantly, Ayn Rand’s work is worth reading.

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