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Friday, January 28, 2005
  Ayn Rand: A Legacy of Reason and Freedom
Ayn's writings have left their mark on me. Her work always inspires a dogged or even grim will to continue to march forward. And at times to even aspire to something greater than the sum of ones flaws and limitations.
Ayn Rand: A Legacy of Reason and Freedom by Michael Berliner -- Capitalism Magazine
Her philosophy--Objectivism--upholds objective reality (as opposed to supernaturalism), reason as man’s only means of knowledge (as opposed to faith or skepticism), free will (as opposed to determinism--by biology or environment), and an ethics of rational self-interest (as opposed to the sacrifice of oneself to others or others to self). The only moral political system, she maintained, is laissez-faire capitalism (as opposed to the collectivism of socialism, fascism, or the welfare state), because it recognizes the inalienable right of an individual to act on the judgment of his own mind. Your life, she held, belongs to you and not to your country, God or your neighbors.

Ayn Rand understood that to defend the individual she must penetrate to the root: his need to use reason to survive. “I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism,” she wrote in 1971, “but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows.” This radical view put her at odds with conservatives, whom she vilified for their attempts to base capitalism on faith and altruism. Advocating a government to protect the individual’s right to his property, she was not a liberal (or an anarchist). Advocating the indispensability of philosophy, she was not a libertarian.

Despite being outside the cultural mainstream, her novels became best-sellers and her books sell more today than ever before--half a million copies per year. There is a reason that Atlas Shrugged placed second in a Library of Congress survey about most influential books. There is a reason that her works are considered life-altering by so many readers. She had an exalted view of man and created inspiring fictional heroes.

A sui generis philosopher, who looked at the world anew, Ayn Rand has long puzzled the intellectual establishment. Academia has usually met her views with antagonism or avoidance, unable to fathom that she was an individualist but not a subjectivist, an absolutist but not a dogmatist. And they have thus ignored her original solutions to such seemingly intractable problems as how to ground values in facts. But even in academia her ideas are finding more acceptance, e.g., university fellowships and a subgroup within the American Philosophical Association to study Objectivism.

Ayn Rand left a legacy in defense of reason and freedom that serves as a guidepost for the American spirit--especially pertinent today when America and what it stands for are under assault.
 
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