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Objectivism In The Fountainhead By Ayn Rand

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In 1943, Ayn Rand published her novel, The Fountainhead, which embodied her emerging philosophy, Objectivism. Rand’s idea is that human knowledge or perception doesn’t change the fact that some things, especially moral truths, are independent of them. Objectivism is commonly defined as “the philosophy of rational individualism”. It is the philosophy of selfishness, egoism, and capitalism. Rand’s philosophy does not work in the real world because her philosophy is devoid of gratitude; Laissez-Faire capitalism is not practical, and every man does not exist for his own sake. Objectivism mostly attracts young minds who upon discovering it, notice how shiny yet questionable it is. Which all links back to the creator, Any Rand, and how her life and experiences impacted it. Rand was known to be an “emotional nut case”, as her personal life was not very stable, which is a sign to why her philosophy lacks potent meaning. “And the day will come when I shall break the chains of the earth, and raze the cities of the enslaved, and my home will become the capital of a world”. This quote from Rand’s novel, Anthem, is speaking about how the narrator will start his own empire and build a city of liberty and freedom. He uses the word “My” which ties directly with a major pillar in Rand’s philosophy: Selfishness. He dreams of making his home the capital of a world, whichclearly shows how Objectivism teaches an individual to serve their own self-interest. Ayn Rand once said: “To say ‘I love you’ one must know first how to say the ‘I’”. Here, Rand amplifies ego, and it is well-known how a strong ego never served anyone well.

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Egocentric individuals usually become dictators or cult leaders. However, it is proven in history that working together as a team to serve one cause is the key reason for technical and scientific developments, while a government in which individuals only serve themselves lacks advancement in every field. For example, a scientist cannot achieve a new scientific breakthrough without the participation of other scientists’ discoveries, or a businessman cannot build an empire without using the knowledge and tactics successful businessmen used before him to achieve their goals. Thus, Rand’s philosophy is mindless of the fact that successful ventures rely on the hard work of many individuals rather than the efforts of just one. “But I still wonder how it was possible, in those graceless years of transition, long ago, that men did not see whether they were going, and went on, in blindness and cowardice, to their fate”. Here, the narrator brings to the reader’s attention the political-economic system the philosophy supports. Objectivism urges people to depend on themselves and not to bow to authority and superiors. Objectivists are on the far end of the liberal spectrum where they believe that the people should control economy with minimal or no governmental interference; in other words, they believe in Laissez-Faire Capitalism. A real-life example of their demonstration is the Occupy Movement that took place on the 17th of September, 2011. The Occupy movement had “aims to fight back against the richest 1% of people that are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future”. Laissez-faire capitalism is a system of economicalgovernance with minimum governmental interference in private enterprise. This politicaleconomic system is more or less like a “utopian fantasy”, and like utopias, it cannot exist. When the narrator says “…and went on, in blindness and cowardice”, he is questioning the minds of those men of long ago: why they gave up their freedom and power to the superiors, and then lived a life of altruism and communism. In other words, the narrator is saying that those men had to stay with their individualism and live the life that he desires with the over-arching theme of Laissez-faire capitalism. However, the problem is that Laissez-faire grants individuals too much freedom. Driven by greed, ego, and self-interest, people will seek to exploit every natural resource the earth can give, leading to environmental disasters.

A real-world example would be deforestation. If governments did not enforce regulations on natural resources, the entire world would be stripped of it’s forests. Another example was of Britain during WWI and WWII. After the German U-boat blockade on Britain, the British Government became increasingly involved in people’s affairs. For example, they introduced conscription, food rationing, and censored the media, which all ultimately led to Britain’s victory in the Second World War. This clearly shows that a Laissez-faire capitalism system would lead to the demise of the government. “Where each man will be free to exist for his own sake”. This quote talks about the lives of certain individuals who will be able to live and work for their own direct benefit. Rand’s philosophy says that selfishness is life’s moral purpose. An article advocating Rand’s message states that “her ideas in morality and politics are hugely innovative, radically challenging the traditional doctrine of altruism and instead defending egoism”. However, science says that a human being has the need to interact with other human-beings selflessly as well, forexample when expressing love to someone by gifting them a present. Sometimes, if One wants something, they must give and sacrifice to get it. Likewise, to gain the love and trust of a person, one needs to be selfless.

Objectivists tend to forget the scientific fact is “that man evolved as a communal creature, with bonds of family and community being tightly tied to health, happiness, longevity, and pretty much everything that makes life pleasurable”. Thus, Objectivism directly defies scientific research. An active member in a society must have a common goal to reach with a team or a collective. For example, a modern day example is of the Islamic Republic of Iran. For the past 20 years, the Iranian government has taken upon themselves to raise money for the less fortunate citizens by placing public charity boxes that every citizen contributes to. This example proves that if people only thought of themselves, there would be no one to help the poor and needy. It would be survival of the fittest and no humanity or moral values would exist. With Objectivism in place, the rich would only get richer, and the poor would get poorer. In conclusion, Objectivism a practical real world because it neglects the fact that successful ventures must stand on the hard work of past individuals, Laissez-Faire capitalism can create chaos and destroy the environment, and every man does not exist only for his sake since relationships depend on giving rather than just getting. An anti-objectivism journalist, Geoffrey James, said it best in his article: “It’s long past time to consign Objectivism to the same intellectual dustbin where we’ve thrown Marxism and Absolute Monarchy”.

Works Cited

  1. AynRand.org. INTRODUCTION TO OBJECTIVISM. California, 2019. Website. Bitesize.co.uk.
  2. Economic policies and benefits in Nazi Germany. London, 25 August 2019. Website. Butler, Eamonn. AYN RAND, PRO AND CON (AND PRO). 2 February 2018. Website.
  3. 25 August 2019. James, Geoffrey. Top 10 Reasons Why Ayn Rand Was Dead Wrong. 11 April 2011. Website.
  4. 25 August 2019. Mackay, Robert. Half the battle. London: Manchester University Press, 2002. Book. Thomas, William. What is Objectivism?
  5. 14 June 2010. Website. 25 August 2019. White, Micah. Activist Graduate School. New York, 25 August 2019. Website.
01 February 2021

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