Ayn Rand: Capitalism and Objectivism Manifested in Atlas Shrugged

One of the most significant political theories of the 20th Century is Ayn Rands Objectivism. Rand is known for promoting the philosophical idea of objectivism. She defines objectivism as a philosophy that emphasizes personal freedom, individuality, and rational egoism. Her anthology of fiction books describes the political theory of Objectivism through the actions and speeches of the main characters. Her additional non-fiction works continue to explore that political and social philosophy. Rand was influenced by a number of theorists such as Aristotle and writers including Victor Hugo and Edmond Rostand. Objectivism is a controversial political theory and has been criticized by academic philosophers due to its view on the role of government and human nature. On the other hand, the popularity of Rand’s work continues to grow and has an influence on political thought to this very day.

Rand was born as Alissa Rosenbaum in 1905 in St. Petersburg to a middle-class Jewish family. From a young age, she expressed great ambition and an interest in pursuing a career in writing. A singular event that occurred in her early years was the 1917 Russian Revolution, in which the country transitioned almost immediately from a monarchy into a Communist state. She had numerous experiences in Soviet Russia that helped to mold her sociopolitical beliefs. For example, the nationalization of her father’s chemistry shop transitioned her family from relative affluence to poverty. Despite the loss of her family’s assets under the Soviet regime, she was able to attend university and graduate with a degree in history. Changing her name from Alissa Rosenbaum to Ayn Rand, she left the Soviet Union for the United States in 1926 to pursue her dream of becoming a screenwriter. Over the succeeding years, Rand found success first as a screenwriter, and eventually as a playwright and author.

d08bdddb63a8ab305bd8aa8174d5f6d2

Ayn Rand c. 1930s

An important factor that influenced Rand’s writings over the course of her life was her personal experience in numerous political eras. From monarchy in Russia, to the transition to the Soviet Union, to Great Depression era America, her youth was characterized by many stark contrasts in political and economic systems. Rand’s writings against communism were influenced by what she observed and she wrote numerous works outlining Objectivist theory throughout World War II and the early Cold War era. In response to the Cold War and the threat of Communism spreading worldwide, Rand cautioned against the belief of collectivism in books such as The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are fictional works that promote the belief in personal freedom and rationality, and speak out against the spread of Communism and Socialism.

Ayn Rand personally cites Aristotle as one of her primary influences. Aristotle was a Greek logician, philosopher, and scientist as well as one of the founders of western political theory. Rand explains, “it is not the special sciences that teach man to think; it is philosophy that lays down the epistemological criteria of all special sciences.” Just as Ayn Rand believed that science was one of the most important values of society, Aristotle argued that politics is the master science because mankind is a political animal. As Aristotle believed in “biology expressed in the naturalism of politics,” his concept of morality and the world aligned with Rand’s concepts of philosophy and politics being inextricably tied to science. Similarly, Aristotle argued that mankind engaged in politics through all of its actions. Rand believed that each person acts as an individual to create the political society that exists. If each individual acts according to the principles and morals of Objectivism, such as those of rational thought and the execution of free will, sociopolitical order will naturally emerge. Aristotle contends that politics is the study of values, ethics, what is right and wrong, what should be, and what could be.

Despite the fact that Rand cited Aristotle as one of her primary influences, their views on the ideal form of government were dissimilar. For example, Aristotle viewed democracy as flawed because it resulted in competition between social classes and felt that the proper form of government consisted of its leaders governing with the common interest of all its people in mind as opposed to governing based on individual interests. Additionally, Aristotle felt that a key role of the government would be to provide for and promote the public good and explored the idea of the organic theory of the state throughout his works. The organic theory of the state theory stipulates that the power and authority of the state transcends the power of the individual. On the contrary, Rand believed that the role of government would be limited to protecting individual rights and serving as an agent for people’s self-defense. A government that promoted the opposite values, according to Rand, has no justification and is the primary threat to the structure and nature of human society.

One of the major values of Objectivism is a belief in rational egoism. Objectivism believes in the “concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.” With this, Ayn Rand is saying there is no more important moral goal in Objectivism than that of achieving happiness. Achieving happiness, according to Objectivists, requires rational respect for the facts of reality, including those regarding human nature and our own needs. In order to achieve such goals, Rand argues that people must behave in a way that conforms to “rational egoism,” in which the promotion of one’s self-interest is in accordance with that of reason. Rand further promotes the logic of this theory in The Virtues of Selfishness. Rand argues that selfishness is a proper value to pursue and rejects the idea of altruism, the belief that self-sacrifice is a moral ideal to pursue. Additionally, Rand rejects the idea of “selfless selfishness” of irrationally acting individuals and instead argues that to be ethically selfish entails a commitment to reason rather than to emotionally driven whims and instincts.

writer-ayn-rand-quotes-sayings-wise-deep-reality

In addition, Objectivism promotes a unique view on the nature of reality and views knowledge and reason as important aspects in society. Objectivism holds that “reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.” Rand’s Objectivism begins with three self-evident concepts: existence, consciousness, and identity. All three truths are interconnected and exist simultaneously. Ayn Rand goes on to further explain that anything that is metaphysically given is absolute and cannot be changed. Objectivism holds that all knowledge is reached through reason, the “faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses.” This view of reason in an Objectivist society was further exhibited by the main characters and themes in Rand’s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged. The work dramatizes the idea that the reasoning mind is the basic source of the values on which human life depends.

Furthermore, Rand supported a belief in secularism through Objectivism and also promoted a distinct purpose of morality. Objectivism is a purely secular ideology that views the role of religion as having a negative influence on reason and capitalism. The purpose of morality under Objectivist thought is to allow people to enjoy their own lives. This belief is further exemplified by John Galt, the embodiment of Objectivism in Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, when he said, “The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.” Rand felt that religion is an “ideology that opposes man’s enjoyment of his life on earth” and thus, in violation of the key principles expressed though Objectivism. Objectivism rejects both mysticism (the idea that knowledge can be acquired through non-rational means) and skepticism (the belief that knowledge is impossible and cannot be acquired by any means). Objectivism also teaches us that a harmony of interests exists among rational individuals, so that no one’s benefit will come at the expense of another’s. As such, a life of mutual respect and benevolent independence is possible through Objectivism.

Objectivism includes several suggestions as to what constitutes a proper society. One such element is the support for individual rights and freedom from coercion. The ethics of Objectivism hold that each person can live and flourish through the free exercise of his or her rational mind. Unless faced with threats of coercion or force, it is essential for people to exercise their own free will. The threat of force makes people accept someone else’s dictates, rather than follow their own judgment. Rand argues that certain societies, such as that of the Soviet Union, and certain ideologies, such as communism, are doomed to failure due to the lack of individual rights and the use of coercion to limit freedoms. Rand further argues that “freedom, in a political context, has only one meaning: the absence of physical coercion” and that societies must secure the principle that no one has the right to use physical force or coercion against any other.

In “Capitalism: An Unknown Ideal,” Rand states, “government is the most dangerous threat to man’s rights: it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force against legally disarmed victims.” Objectivism calls for a limited form of government and promotes the belief that an excessive government is a threat to individual freedom. Additionally, Rand argues that the government also has a role in defending its people from foreign enemies, providing a system for arbitration of disputes, and developing a system for enforcement of the law. Objectivism also argues that the main source of government power comes from “the consent of the governed,” which means that the only rights that the government has are delegated to it by the citizens for a specific purpose.


th

Objectivism considers Capitalism to be a proper political economy. Rand considered capitalism in its purest form to be a social system characterized by individual freedom and diversity. Additionally, she felt that Capitalism was an egalitarian system that treated all people as individuals with no regard to ethnic, religious, or other collective principles enshrined by law. Moreover, Objectivism, like Capitalism, is a social system based on the recognition of individual private property rights. Objectivism expresses the belief that respect for property rights is key in the development of a capitalist economic system and as a way to ensure the upholding of individual rights and economic freedoms. Property rights are important to Objectivists because they ensure that people can keep what they earn. As Objectivism emphasizes production and creation, the property acquired through hard work is the most essential representation of the exercise of free will. Rand states that, “without property rights, there is no way to solve or to avoid a hopeless chaos of clashing views, interests, demands, desires, and whims.”

Not everyone, however, is fully receptive to Rand’s ideas on morality. While she does have a large following, there are numerous critics of her somewhat rigid interpretation of social values. One of the main points of criticism is her influence as a moral and political philosopher. For example, it has been claimed that the ideas expressed by Rand throughout her works are not important in the realm of philosophy and did not constitute and groundbreaking ideas. Furthermore, Rand’s view on ethics is also criticized, in particular, her defense of the morality of selfishness. The view on politics that Rand expressed in Objectivist theory is also criticized by some of ignoring the central role that government often plays in society.

In conclusion, Ayn Rand is one of the most influential political theorists of the 20th Century. Rand is known for developing the philosophy of Objectivism, which promotes the ideals of rational egoism, individual liberty, reason and knowledge, and secular values. Rand has expressed the idea of Objectivism through numerous writings, in fiction and non-fiction alike. Moreover, Rand’s views on sociopolitical issues were influenced by past experiences growing up in Soviet Russia and her early adult years in Depression-era America. Rand’s political philosophy still remains significant to this very day and her works continue to retain mainstream popularity.

Sources:
Ayn Rand , “Introducing Objectivism,” The Objectivist Newsletter Vol. 1 No. 8, August 1962, p. 35

Ayn Rand “Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World,” in Philosophy, Who Needs It? p. 62.

Bell-Villad, Gene H. “Who Was Ayn Rand?” Salmagundi 141/142 (n.d.): 227-42.

Miller, Fred. “Aristotle’s Political Theory.” Stanford University. 1998. Accessed February 24, 2016.

Biddle, Craig. “Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand’s Morality of Egoism.” The Objective Standard 7, no. 2 (Summer 2012).

the author

Matt is a student at Seton Hall Law School and graduated from Monmouth University. Matt has been studying and analyzing politics at all levels since the 2004 Presidential Election. He writes about political trends and demographics, the role of the media in politics, comparative politics, political theory, and the domestic and international political economy. Matt is also interested in history, philosophy, comparative religion, and record collecting.

19 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. Ben on January 7, 2018

    All in all a great post discussing one of the main figures behind Modern Conservative political thought!

    • Lavon on May 8, 2018

      This is the perfect way to break down this information.

  2. Pingback: What is Libertarianism? | Our Politics 20 Mar, 2018

    […] this conclusion finds expression in the “minimal state” theories of Robert Nozick and Ayn Rand, who believed that the government should only manage law enforcement, legal systems, and the […]

  3. ewaecavo on November 25, 2018

    b3VycG9saXRpY3MubmV0 strattera on line atomoxetine essay on satire essays writing services zoloft online no prescription zoloft generic cialis canada pharmacy lowest price generic cialis canadian pharmacy price pharmacy strattera 40 mg strattera pharmacy canadian pharmacy celebrex lawsuit buy celebrex zoloft buy sertraline otitura

  4. emiiwi on November 25, 2018

    b3VycG9saXRpY3MubmV0 zithromax z-pak azithromycin 250 mg treatment viagra uk cialis vs viagra efectos de la orlistat xenical process of writing an essay essay about yourself tadalafil 20mg lowest price cheap cialis metronidazole 500 mg antibiotic flagyl on line amayigihu

  5. usuwiabi on November 25, 2018

    b3VycG9saXRpY3MubmV0 essay help satire essay propecia propecia 5 mg essay about love essay writer indian tribe payday loans payday loans small payday loans payday loans for bad credit payday loans in las vegas payday loans in las vegas cialis commercial cheapest cialis 20mg persuasive speech essays custom essay writing services akesizi

  6. aestew on November 25, 2018

    b3VycG9saXRpY3MubmV0 levitra 20mg best price vardenafil 20mg clomid in men late ovulation on clomid generic cialis canada cialis 20mg for sale canadian pharmacy price canadian pharmacy cialis buy prednisone without prescription prednisone ayefusud

  7. ugicaov on November 25, 2018

    b3VycG9saXRpY3MubmV0 payday loans in md payday loans in md payday loans american payday loans gun control pros and cons essay same day essay payday loans lewisville tx target payday loans viagra pills herbal sildenafil ozejore

  8. illeivudu on November 25, 2018

    b3VycG9saXRpY3MubmV0 custom writer obesity in america essay retin a cream buy tretinoin cream school uniform essay custom essays custom writings reflective essay online loans payday loan sites ovivaw

  9. oripxex on November 25, 2018

    b3VycG9saXRpY3MubmV0 personal loans no credit check bad credit personal loan lenders propecia on line propecia generic accutane purchase accutane buy online cialis no prescription generic cialis 5mg levitra levitra generic viagra online uk buy viagra oluvedi

  10. judiyufa on November 25, 2018

    b3VycG9saXRpY3MubmV0 gatsby essay transportation essay generic cialis canadian pharmacy cialis walmart viagra 100mg price drugs and viagra payday loans online california payday loan essay expert essays writers ujipozo

  11. itucosur on November 25, 2018

    b3VycG9saXRpY3MubmV0 prednisone 10 mg dose pack buy prednisone online older cats zoloft zoloft generic cialis online pharmacy canadapharmacy.com hp nexium nexium diflucan without a prescription diflucan fast cash loans no credit check fast cash advance essay about love essay writing online ekideotoa

  12. akaxiwezu on November 25, 2018

    b3VycG9saXRpY3MubmV0 comparison essay ideas write my essays kamagra online kamagra in canada discount cialis cialis canadien pharmacy cause and effect essay personality essay buy viagra generic cheap viagra cialis 5 mg cialis cash advance online direct lenders payday cash advances buy orlistat orlistat 120 mg cipro cipro capsules eruoko

  13. eworotepu on November 25, 2018

    b3VycG9saXRpY3MubmV0 generic propecia generic propecia doxycycline doxycycline 100 mg glucophage online pharmacy pharmacy the drug furosemide lasix online cialis tadalafil 20mg best price viagra viagra writing a narrative essay american dream essay lqeiumh

  14. barbaraker on November 25, 2018

    Òàëëèí (Ýñòîíèÿ) êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Àðèäåÿ êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Ìîñêîâñêîé îáëàñòü Âîñêðåñåíñê êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Þãî-Çàïàäíûé îêðóã ãîðîäà Ìîñêâû êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Мука, крупы в Перми
    Ëèìà êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Ôåîäîñèÿ êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Âñåâîëîæñê êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Ìîñêîâñêîé îáëàñòü Âîëîêîëàìñê êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Кристаллы mdma
    Êàéìàêöàëàí êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Ìîñêâà Ìåùàíñêèé êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Îäèíöîâî êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Îäèíöîâî êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Âîòêèíñê êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Эйфоретик это
    Èòàëèÿ êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Ìîñêâà Âíóêîâî êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Ìîñêâà Îðåõîâî-Áîðèñîâî Þæíîå êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Ìóðñèÿ êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Ìîñêîâñêîé îáëàñòü Áàëàøèõà Ñåâåðíûé-2 êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Купить Иней Малоярославец
    Ìîñêâà Êîñèíî-Óõòîìñêèé êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Ìîñêâà Ñåâåðíîå Áóòîâî êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Ëàòâèÿ êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Ìîñêâà Çàïàäíîå Äåãóíèíî êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè
    Ñèäå êóïèòü çàêëàäêó: êîêàèí, ãåðîèí, ãàøèø, ñïàéñ, ýêñòàçè, ìåôåäðîí, àìôåòàìèí, ìäìà, øèøêè è áîøêè

  15. hehileba on November 25, 2018

    b3VycG9saXRpY3MubmV0 where to buy zithromax buy zithromax advance cash america cash advance loan payday loan houston cash advance network cash loans columbus ohio same day cash loans accutane buy accutane online kamagra kamagra viagra 11 leadership essays synthesis essay canadian pharmacy online drugstore cialis canada pharmacy online levitra 20 mg generic levitra vardenafil 20mg usudul

  16. uyootero on November 25, 2018

    b3VycG9saXRpY3MubmV0 essays about love satirical essays compare and contrast essay compare and contrast essay personal loan personal loan prednisone no prescription buy prednisone quick easy cash loans cash loans edmonton cause and effect essay on bullying reflective narrative essay ouyiwow

  17. evocitieb on November 25, 2018

    b3VycG9saXRpY3MubmV0 fluconazole for sale order diflucan single dose buy misoprostol where to buy cytotec online prednisone online no prescription prednisone fast essay animal testing essay tadalafil 20 mg buy cialis reflection essays writing mba essays payday loans el paso payday loans vancouver bc prednisone buy prednisone online amiyowe

  18. irakuq on November 25, 2018

    b3VycG9saXRpY3MubmV0 propecia online pharmacy propecia for sale generic of cymbalta generic cymbalta cash advance texas cash advance texas cialis best price cialis 20mg essay about the holocaust essay service levitra best prices buy levitra ewipegihu

HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY?