Rand: Human After All | Opinion

Ayn Rand was a crotchety old bitch. But that’s why I love her. Born in 1905 in St Petersburg, Russia, Ayn Rand lived through the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917 and escaped to the US in 1925. Her books, and her philosophy, brought her both fame and notoriety: to this day, countless adults and young teens encounter The Fountainhead (1943) and her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged (1957) and claim to be forever changed. Her works, her thoughts and her life leave only love, hate or ignorance as possible responses to her legacy.

I am one of those young adults, but the shine came off eventually. Hindsight has cleared away that about which she was wrong, and left only that which I originally loved.

She lived the typical tortured life of someone who is clear about what the perfect world is. Try as these people might, they always have to deal with the conviction that they will never live the dream quite as they imagine it. Rand’s life is a useful demonstration of how the promise is far more delightful than the delivery.

Louis CK has a scene in his sitcom series Lucky Louie in which his daughter endlessly asks questions. “Why can’t I go outside?” she asks while eating her cereal. “Because it’s only 5am and it’s still dark,” says Louie. “Why?” his daughter asks. She challenges his answers until hilariously she accepts Louie’s final answer: “because we’re all alone and God is dead.” His daughter nods and, satisfied, says, “okay.”

Ayn Rand was relentlessly logical too. She hated faith, and dishonesty. She accepted that we exist on this lonely, godless boat – but together. True, she put a lot of emphasis on selfishness, but she always added that generosity and society are necessary for enjoying life. And enjoy life she did, but her cult-like circle of friends, which she ironically named “The Collective,” would show just how limited her philosophy was.

Life is about joy. This is Rand’s message. But to experience joy, we must protect the values we love. She didn’t always serve hers in a manner of which we may approve, but fortunately she was, and continues to be, the only true Objectivist. Despite this she led me to the water of individualism, and it has made me a much better person.

She wasn’t perfect. But she was human after all, and a heroic one too.
This article first appeared in Issue 19, 2013.
Posted 2:29pm Sunday 11th August 2013 by Guy McCallum.