Quote of the week...please share your favourite line from Ayn Rand's writings

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.”

Sunday, May 31, 2009

The climb of Atlas Shrugged

Since the beginning of the economic crisis, Atlas Shrugged has climbed more than 500 places on the Amazon rankings. It is still ranked as one of the most influential books of all time alongside The Bible, writes Andrew Hutson for the AdamSmith.org.

As global recession has taken a stranglehold on the world economy we have seen the vast majority of markets struggling. However, there are markets which buck the trend with goods growing in demand. Perhaps one of the most interesting of these is that sale of the 1957 novel ‘Atlas Shrugged’ by Ayn Rand.

Since the beginning of the economic crisis, Atlas Shrugged has climbed more than 500 places on the Amazon rankings, even overtaking contemporary bestsellers such as Barack Obama’s ‘The Audacity of Hope’. It is still ranked as one of the most influential books of all time alongside The Bible. Bearing in mind The Communist Manifesto is currently ranked 140,414 bestseller in the Amazon lists, the rise of Ayn Rands magnum opus poses some serious questions.

The fact that Atlas Shrugged is still so influential shows that capitalism is still holds an allure for many people. …How will we drag ourselves out of recession? Who is John Galt?

Read the full article here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Appeal of Ayn Rand

One of the many articles which is an insight into Ayn Rand and her philosophy, read the below article written by Onkar Ghate on the occasion of Rand's 100th birth anniversary...

February 2 marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of one of America's most controversial and inspiring writers, Ayn Rand.

She continues to be wildly popular among the young: some 14,000 high school students per year
submit entries to essay contests on her novels and, in the past two years alone, high school teachers have requested over 130,000 copies of Anthem and The Fountainhead to use in their classrooms. They know that students respond to her stories and heroes as to few other books.
It remains, however, all too common for a young person to be told that his interest in Ayn Rand is a stage he will soon grow out of. "It's fine to believe in that now," the refrain goes, "but wait until you're older. You'll discover that life is not like that."

But when one actually considers the essence of what Rand teaches, the accusation that her philosophy is childish over-simplification stands as condemnation not of her ideas but of the adult world from which the accusation stems.

The key to Rand's popularity is that she appeals to the idealism of youth. She wrote in 1969: "There is a fundamental conviction which some people never acquire, some hold only in their youth, and a few hold to the end of their days--the conviction that ideas matter." The nature of this conviction? "That ideas matter means that knowledge matters, that truth matters, that one's mind matters. And the radiance of that certainty, in the process of growing up, is the best aspect of youth."

To sustain this youthful conviction throughout life, Rand argues, one must achieve a radical independence of mind. Independence does not mean doing whatever one feels like doing but rather forging one's convictions and choosing one's actions rationally, logically, scientifically. It is refusal to surrender one's ideas or values to the "public interest," as liberals demand, or to the "glory of God," as conservatives demand. It is refusal to grant obedience to any authority, human or divine. The independent mind rejects faith, secular or supernatural, and embraces reason as an absolute. "The noblest act you have ever performed," declares the hero of Rand's last novel, Atlas Shrugged, "is the act of your mind in the process of grasping that two and two make four." She meant it.

The conviction that ideas matter represents a profound dedication to self. It requires that one regard one’s own reasoning mind as competent to judge good and evil. And it requires that one pursue knowledge because one sees that correct ideas are indispensable to achieving the irreplaceable value of one's own life and happiness. "To take ideas seriously," Rand states, "means that you intend to live by, to practice, any idea you accept as true," that you recognize "that truth and knowledge are of crucial, personal, selfish importance to you and to your own life."

Her approach here is the opposite of the view that ideals transcend this world, one's interests and human comprehension--that idealism is, in the words of the religious exhortation to America's youth in Bush's inaugural address, "to serve in a cause larger than your wants, larger than yourself."

The advice Rand offers the young? Think, reason, logically consider matters of truth and morality. And then, because your own life and happiness depend on it, pursue unwaveringly the true and the good. On this approach, the moral and the practical unite. On this approach, there exists no temptation to think that life on earth requires compromise, the halfway, the middle of the road. "In any compromise between food and poison," she writes, "it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit."

In a world where our President (as well as the religious warriors we're battling against in the Middle East) equates idealism with otherworldliness, faith, and sacrifice of self, and where commentators otherwise sympathetic to his message lament that it leaves no room for worldly compromises, since, as Peggy Noonan puts it, "perfection in the life of man on earth" is impossible--Ayn Rand stands alone. She argues that perfection is possible to man the rational animal. Hold your own life as your highest value, follow reason, submit to no authority, create a life of productive achievement and joy--enact these demanding values and virtues, Rand teaches, and an ideal world, here on earth, is "real, it's possible--it's yours."

Does an adult world that dismisses this philosophy as "simplistic" not convict itself?

The centenary of Rand's birth is an appropriate time to recognize the thinker who was courageous enough to take on that world and challenge its rampant skepticism, eager cynicism, and unyielding demand for compromise, the thinker who portrayed and explained--at the most fundamental level--the heroic in man.

~ By Onkar Ghate (Guelph Mercury, January 31, 2005)
Dr. Onkar Ghate, PhD in philosophy, is a senior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif. The Institute promotes Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand--author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

Introducing Ayn Rand

Although you may find much more to read by searching Ayn Rand on wikipedia, here's a brief introduction to her motivations and her life...

Ayn Rand is one of the all time popular authors in the world. Over 30 million copies of her books have reportedly sold world wide so far. In the early 1990s, an opinion survey by Gallup for the United States Congressional Library found her to be the most influential author, second only to the Bible. Twenty years after her death, her books sell around hundreds of thousands copies each year. All the books she wrote are in print, and a few collections of her writings have been published posthumously.

Her books, particularly the fictions, are widely available in Indian bookshops. However, the most telling evidence in support of her popularity in India can be found in the availability of cheap pirated edition of her works, including non-fiction, on the streets of most major cities!

Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersberg, Russia on February 2, 1905. She managed to escape from the Communist regime in Soviet Union in 1925, and arrived in the US the following year. With hardly any knowledge of English, she slowly worked her way in Hollywood and mastered English while writing screenplays. She published her first novel - We the Living - in the mid-1930s. Set in Russia just after the communist revolution, it tells the story of three idealist people, their trials and tribulations.

It was after the publication of The Fountainhead in 1943, that she achieved wide recognition. The protagonists in the novel are "dedicated to exaltation of man's self-esteem and the sacredness of his happiness on earth", wrote Rand. It was not easy. The book was rejected by a dozen publishers before being accepted. The thirteenth publisher, Bobbs-Merrill, was about to reject it when the young editor who recommended the book for consideration, Archie Ogden, staked his job on The Fountainhead. When he heard the Bobbs-Merrill was about to reject the book he wired the head office: IF THIS IS NOT THE BOOK FOR YOU, THEN I AM NOT THE EDITOR FOR YOU. Ogden's wire convinced the company to buy the book. And the rest is history. The sales were slow to pick up, but as the word about the spread by mouth, it gradually started climbing the charts, staying at the top of the best seller list for 27 weeks.
Since then, millions of copies of The Fountainhead have sold, and over 50 years later it still sells a few hundred thousand copies annually. Writing about the lasting appeal of The Fountainhead, Rand said, "it is confirmation of the spirit of youth, proclaiming man's glory, showing how much is possible". Soon after its publication, the book was made in to a movie which is now available on video. A couple of years ago, the video was included among the 100 all time great videos by an entertainment magazine.

Then in 1957, came her magnum opus - Atlas Shrugged, a philosophical detective story in which Rand depicts the role of reason in man's life. In the last two decades of her life, Rand published many non-fiction works.

She died at her home in New York City in March 1982, at the age of 77. Her husband for over 50 years, Frank O’Conner, an artist, had died in 1979.


Dear Ayn Rand admirer,

I know you have lots to say. And lots to communicate. I know you were not born an 'Ayn Rand Admirer'. I know you grew to be so, as the philosophy grew on you. So, let us in on your journey. Let us know why you believe. Let us know why you do not...

Let this blog be where an individual is re-discovered. Let it be a space where you can give us your perspectives of Ayn Rand and Objectivism, Ayn Rand and individualism, Ayn Rand and Selfishness, etc. Let this be a space where our reasoning for what we stand is strong enough.

Do let us know if you want to blog in this space.

Do let us know what you think...