Thursday, December 2, 2010

Why Ayn Rand = The Future

The spread of Randianism/Objectivism will definitely provide some parallels to the spread of Christianity in the centuries following Jesus's death. There's something these two quite-different worldviews have in common: the ability to inspire. There's that obscure part of The Fountainhead where Roark agrees that he is a "profoundly religious man, in [his] own way." There's this theme in there about the projection of a human ideal. Rand described the consequent emotion and practice as man-worship." The vision and sense-of-life associated with this is a heroic one. "My philosophy, in essence, is man as a heroic being..." Here's the last paragraph in the first AR Lexicon entry under "man-worship":

The man-worshipers, in my sense of the term, are those who see man’s highest potential and strive to actualize it. . . . [Man-worshipers are] those dedicated to the exaltation of man’s self-esteem and the sacredness of his happiness on earth.

This represents a radical transformation from the other-worldly religion of Christianity, placing the object of reverence and worship back in the realm of observable reality grasped through reason alone: man as he might be and ought to be.

Unlike the many philosophers in history - the likes of Plato excepted in part - Rand presents a comprehensive vision of life that hits home on not just the intellectual level, but the spiritual level as well. From the standpoint of ability to inspire and appeal to people's spiritual sense, Rand's philosophy offers what Christianity does, without all the vicious (anti-)intellectual baggage.

Rand's philosophy is a philosophy for America - America as it might be and ought to be. It offers a vision of freedom from all forms of tyranny over the mind of man. It offers a vision of greatness and genius actualized once all the shackles of unreason and oppression are lifted. Salvation lies within. Moral perfection is possible to human beings. All this is grounded in one's own observation of reality and not in some book of myths or epistemologically-unsound wishful-thinking.

Rand offers a vision of man not as a corrupt and ugly being wallowing in the muck; rather, when she looks at man she sees the possibility of a Howard Roark or a John Galt. She sees a being capable of being shiny, happy, radiant, clean, and benevolent. It's the total opposite of the cynicism ruling the mainstream-swamp. "What fuel can support one’s fire? Love for man at his highest potential."

If we as a country and as a world are to move ahead - full speed, not in the usual stale, worn-out way - then it is Ayn Rand's philosophy we need to understand and embrace. (On the intellectual side there's also Aristotle; the big A did not, however, inspire spiritually - at least not in the extant writings/lecture notes.) The 2,000 years following Randian reason will absolutely blow away the 2,000 years following Christian mysticism. The essential precondition - freedom of thought - was secured by the American Revolution. Now is the time to fulfill that Revolution's promise.

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