Many who have learned from Ayn Rand believe that Enlightenment civilization, the bequeathal of Aristotle, Newton, and Jefferson, declines precipitously toward a renaissance of the medieval, of the Paleolithic, or worse, with perhaps an interregnum of digital-age totalitarian fascism along the way. Picture a televangelist smiling beatifically. Then picture him in sanguine raiment and steel-toed boots, still smiling, stomping on humanity’s face, if not forever, for a very, very long time.
Against the Dying of the Light
Objectivism is a life-affirming philosophy. Its adherents tend to be optimists, or at least admire and strive toward a rational, justified optimism. In this context, an important Objectivist idea is the “impotence of evil.” Ayn Rand wrote that “The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. Whenever evil wins, it is only by default …” (from “The Anatomy of Compromise,” in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 149.)
This is a powerful idea, and Objectivists take it seriously. Despite their pessimism about the present course of Western (especially American) Civilization, they are hard at work trying to build up and apply the intellectual force necessary to make the right course correction. They believe they can win, and their notion of victory is expansive. It is nothing less than the total reformation of American culture.
[The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI)] seeks to spearhead a cultural renaissance that will reverse the anti-reason, anti-individualism, anti-freedom, anti-capitalist trends in today’s culture. ~ Introduction to Ayn Rand, Objectivism and ARI
Philosophy and History
Objectivists believe they can move the world because they have in hand a very long lever, and intend to capture a very solid point upon which to rest it. According to Objectivism, philosophy moves history, and Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism is much more comprehensive, consistent, and powerful than the mish-mash that informed the Framers of the Constitution. By capturing the commanding heights of the West’s ivory towers, Objectivists hope to educate a vanguard of teachers, writers, journalists, and public intellectuals of all kinds in Objectivist fundamentals. These opinion leaders will, in turn, drive the intellectually inert masses toward a second renaissance culture: a rebirth of reason.
Race for the Prize
The essential Objectivist view of their enterprise is that it is a race against time. Will they capture enough influence in academia, and parlay and extend that influence to political elites, or even a new Objectivistic “common sense” among the masses that upholds objective reality, reason, self-interest, and capitalism? As long as America is free from censorship, Objectivists believe they have more than a fighting chance. If current trends continue, however, Objectivist activism will eventually be criminalized. If that happens, the Objectivists’ plan will have failed.