In her final public lecture — given in November 1981 to an audience of businessmen in New Orleans — Ayn Rand observes that profit-seeking businessmen are the “most hated, blamed, denounced men” despite conferring huge benefits in the form of higher standards of living. This injustice is further compounded when these same victimized businessmen accept their attackers’ moral standards and end up guiltily apologizing for their own productive virtues, or worse.

As an example of this phenomenon, which Rand calls the “sanction of the victim,” she points to “the fact that some of the worst anti-business, anti-capitalism propaganda has been financed by businessmen” through their financial support for programs in higher education. “It is a moral crime to give money to support your own destroyers,” Rand declares. “Yet that is what businessmen are doing with such reckless irresponsibility.”

In the Q&A period, Rand discusses such topics as America’s relations with Russia, the Solidarity movement in Poland, the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the Moral Majority, educating and raising children, the Equal Rights Amendment, Rand’s method of developing ideas, her hope for the future, the nature of love, whether it’s time for another Tea Party, and her work on an Atlas Shrugged miniseries for television.

The talk lasts 32 minutes, followed by a 21-minute Q&A.

About the Author

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Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand created and defined her philosophy, Objectivism, in the pages of her best-selling novels, particularly The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and in a series of nonfiction books that address a wide range of fundamental issues in philosophy. Born Alisa Rosenbaum in Tsarist St. Petersburg in 1905, Rand witnessed the Russian Revolution as a teenager and promptly condemned communism as immoral for sacrificing the individual to the collective. In 1926, shortly after graduating from the University of Leningrad, she fled to America, adopting the pen name Ayn Rand to shield her family from possible persecution once her anti-communism became well known. In Hollywood, she wrote scenarios for famous director Cecil B. DeMille and met her future husband on a movie set, but the couple struggled financially for years. Then came a string of writing successes: a Broadway play, followed by her first novel, We the Living (1936), then a novella called Anthem (1938), and later her first best seller, the story of a fiercely independent architect named Howard Roark in The Fountainhead (1943). All these works of fiction feature gripping stories and exalted, egoistic, this-worldly heroes. In writing Atlas Shrugged (1957) — the story of a man who said he would stop the motor of the world, and did — Rand had to define fully her new philosophy of reason, rational self-interest, and laissez-faire capitalism. Thereafter, and until her death in 1982, Rand amplified and explicated her “philosophy for living on earth” in a stream of books whose theoretical essays and cultural commentaries cover important topics across the five major branches of philosophy: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics and esthetics.