With adoring fans, rabid critics and very few in between, why does Atlas Shrugged evoke such impassioned responses? Because it grapples with the fundamental problems of human existence — and presents radically new answers. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s last novel, is a dramatization of her unique vision of existence and of man’s highest potential.
We all know that selfishness is evil, right? Ayn Rand challenges us to think again. A conception of selfishness that leads us to condemn an industrialist who produces a fortune and a gangster who robs a bank, “as equally immoral, since they both sought wealth for their own ‘selfish’ benefit” is deeply flawed.
“To redeem both man and morality,” she argues in the book, “it is the concept of ‘selfishness’ that one has to redeem.”
In this book, Ayn Rand shows how abstract ideas have profound real-life consequences. Contrary to the notion that philosophy is detached from practical concerns, Rand sees philosophy’s influence everywhere, arguing among others things that a person’s implicit worldview impacts his ambition and self-confidence, that the notion of “duty” destroys morality and a proper understanding of personal responsibility, and that placing faith above reason unleashed twentieth-century totalitarianism.
In this radio interview, Ayn Rand discusses the purpose and proper structure of government, addressing such issues as the importance of a written constitution, the difference between a republic and a democracy, federalism, checks and balances, the judiciary, “one-man-one-vote” and filibusters.
The recording lasts 30 minutes.
This recording combines two radio interviews in which Ayn Rand responds to questions from university students about the role of the press in a free society. Rand touches on a variety of topics including the role of objectivity in news reporting, the importance of freedom of the press, the immorality of laws requiring “equal time” for opponents of a broadcaster’s editorial policy, why media coverage of the Vietnam War was poor, why a free press is crucial for fair and public trials, and why government licensing of TV and radio stations is a form of censorship.
This program lasts 57 minutes.
In this 1965 talk, Ayn Rand discusses the “anti-ideology” of pressure group warfare and unlimited majority rule known at the time as “government by consensus.” Rand explains why America, “a country which does abhor fascism, is moving by imperceptible degrees — through ignorance, confusion, evasion, moral cowardice, and intellectual default — not toward socialism or any mawkish altruistic ideal, but toward a plain, brutal, predatory, power-grubbing, de facto fascism.”
The lecture lasts 54 minutes.
In this radio interview, Ayn Rand explains her theory of rights as a social application of morality, designed to ensure “those conditions of existence which are required by man’s nature for his proper survival.” The individual’s rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness, she argues, protect his ability to act on his own rational judgment, to choose his own values, and to keep the material product of his efforts. Rand addresses and rejects theories that rights are gifts from a supernatural power or from society. She also discusses the contradiction involved in asserting welfare rights to goods and services.
The program lasts 25 minutes.
In honor of the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Ayn Rand contrasts the Founding Fathers’ principled concern for individual rights with the unprincipled views of voters and candidates in the 1976 presidential election. Rand also dissects the evils of the welfare state, focusing on Sweden as its exemplar, and calls for Americans to observe their Bicentennial by discovering and upholding the nation’s founding ideals.
In the ensuing Q&A, Rand addresses a variety of topics including her favorite Founding Father, the reason she pays income taxes, the Vietnam War, anti-war activists, bonuses and profit sharing in business, control of environmental pollution, Objectivism’s influence in Scandinavia, the fate of innocents in war, the Equal Rights Amendment, the use of amphetamines, compulsory copyright licensing, the Soviet Union’s influence in the Middle East, the Patricia Hearst kidnapping, American Indians and abortion.
The talk lasts 41 minutes, followed by a 47-minute Q&A.
In this 1963 talk, Ayn Rand offers her assessment of President Kennedy’s signature New Frontier program. Rand identifies a fundamental principle that Kennedy’s program shares with the fascist states of twentieth-century Europe: the “subordination and sacrifice of the individual to the collective.” This principle, Rand argues, is the “ideological root of all statist systems, in any variation, from welfare statism to a totalitarian dictatorship,” and was ubiquitous in the political dialogue of 1960s America.
The program lasts 58 minutes.