Ayn Rand’s fans in high places

No doubt you’ve already read or heard that Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan is an admirer of Ayn Rand, a fact that has liberals foolishly exultant.

But you may not know that the chief judge of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the honorable Alex Kozinski, is likewise an admirer of the author of the monumental novel, “Atlas Shrugged.”

He even makes a cameo appearance in Part 2 of the Atlas motion picture trilogy (fifth from left):

Liberals are fond of caricaturing Ayn Rand’s philosophy to make her sound like a heartless groupie of billionaire businessmen. One reason they’re able to do this is that Rand titled one of her brilliant books, “The Virtue of Selfishness.”

Ayn Rand’s original title for “Atlas Shrugged” was “The Strike,” until her husband Frank told her that the title gave away too much of the plot. If Frank had suggested that she retitle “The Virtue of Selfishness” as “The Virtue of Freedom,” the world would have an easier time understanding why so many people share a passionate commitment to Ayn Rand’s ideas.

Rand wrote that people have a moral right to their own lives and happiness. She rejected what she called the “altruist-collectivist premise” of our modern civilization, which holds that only sacrifice for others is moral, while the actions we take to preserve our own lives and happiness are regarded as guilty little secrets.

In fiction and non-fiction, in scholarly works and in elegant newspaper columns, Ayn Rand made the case that all human progress is the result of independent minds working in freedom in pursuit of their own interests, not shackled workers toiling for the collective good.

“I swear by my life and by my love of it,” her heroes vow in “Atlas Shrugged,” “that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”

But what about the poor, the weak, the vulnerable, the fragile, the aged and everyone else who can’t build a business and create wealth where nothing but subsistence was there before?

“From the beginning of history, two antagonists have stood face to face, two opposite types of men: the Active and the Passive,” Rand wrote in a Reader’s Digest article in 1944. “The Active Man is the producer, the creator, the originator, the individualist. His basic need is independence — in order to think and work. He neither needs nor seeks power over other men — nor can he be made to work under any form of compulsion. Every type of good work — from laying bricks to writing a symphony — is done by the Active Man. Degrees of human ability vary, but the basic principle remains the same: the degree of a man’s independence and initiative determines his talent as a worker and his worth as a man.

“The Passive Man is found on every level of society, in mansions and in slums, and his identification mark is his dread of independence. He is a parasite who expects to be taken care of by others, who wishes to be given directives, to obey, to submit, to be regulated, to be told. He welcomes collectivism, which eliminates any chance that he might have to think or act on his own initiative.

“When a society is based on the needs of the Passive Man it destroys the Active; but when the Active is destroyed, the Passive can no longer be cared for. When a society is based on the needs of the Active Man, he carries the Passive ones along on his energy and raises them as he rises, as the whole society rises. This has been the pattern of all human progress.”

Note that the distinguishing characteristic of the Passive Man is not vulnerability, but dread of independence. Into that category we can put all the CEOs who spend their time lobbying the government for subsidies, loan guarantees and regulations that force unwilling customers to do business with them. People who criticize Ayn Rand for defending business executives usually miss that distinction — many of the business executive characters in “Atlas Shrugged” are villains, as are the government officials who assist them.

Ayn Rand died in 1982, yet her books continue to sell at a pace that exasperates liberals. They take malicious delight in smearing the late author, mischaracterizing her words, ridiculing her admirers, and marginalizing her ideas.

Read her for yourself. Like millions of others who have done that, you might conclude, independently, that she was right about everything.

Atlas Shrugged (novel)
The Fountainhead (novel)
The Ayn Rand Column
The Virtue of Selfishness
The Voice of Reason

Susan Shelley posted at 2012-8-24 Category: Uncategorized