Ayn Rand was a happy person

In the book, America is collapsing under overregulation


Read on one side

But Rand's real political breakthrough came with her second novel Atlas Shrugged (German: The strike), published in 1957. The novel is more than a story, it is an exposition of the foundations of "objectivism", a new radical philosophy designed to counter the growing collectivism. Rand extolled capitalism here as the only moral form of society because it was based on the individual. The strike takes place in an America of the future that is collapsing under government overregulation. The country's leading capitalists, fed up with taxes and regulations, are led by the enigmatic John Galt to Galt’s Gulch, a secret haven in the mountains of Colorado. Here they are waiting for a government to be formed that recognizes the importance of free markets and capitalism. Meanwhile, the country is beginning to fall apart.

This fable of capitalism has always had a strong appeal for conservatives, both in Rand's times and today. After this The strike was published, many young Conservatives who loved the book began to refer to themselves as "libertarians" and to advocate the kind of minimal government that Rand advocated. At the height of the large-scale social reforms President Lyndon B. Johnson offered The strike a powerful alternative to the expansion of the state. Rand herself, a proud atheist, often clad in a black cloak, corresponded to the iconoclastic mood of the time.

Established conservatives ridiculed them

Still, she and conservatism never went one hundred percent together. In the American conservatism of their time, the different beliefs of religious traditionalists, passionate cold warriors and libertarian advocates of a lean state mixed together. With her rejection of communism and the focus on restricting the state, Rand embodied two of the three elements - but she was a staunch opponent of religion. Scared off by their atheism, established conservatives mocked their writings; But among young Conservatives, such attacks only increased Rand's popularity. She published regular newsletters, performed in crowded classrooms at countless universities, and held courses on her objectivism across the country.

Rand was one of several intellectuals who formulated a new, negative conception of state power, but her objectivism stood out in his extremism and moralistic tone. In Great Britain, Friedrich August von Hayek described the expanded state as "the road to bondage". Rand's contemporary Milton Friedman also highlighted the importance of free markets and the dangers of economic regulation. Rand, like Hayek, viewed Friedman as dangerously willing to compromise. Hayek called it a "real poison" because he advocated government intervention in areas neglected by the market, such as health insurance and unemployment benefits. Similarly, she mistrusted Friedman's calm analysis of state inefficiency and even went so far as to label him a communist. For them, individualism was not just an economic organizing principle or the least flawed solution in an imperfect world. Rather, it was a moral crusade, compromising not just unwise, but downright unethical. As John Galt proclaimed, "There are two sides to every subject: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil."

Erase your own roots

Rand's idea of ​​individual life was equally extreme. While other conservatives saw the individual embedded in family, culture or social traditions, Rand described individuals who were left to their own devices and who defied all conformist forces. In The Eternal Source Her hero Howard Roark is constantly plagued by his parasitic wife and brother. Likewise, the heroine of The strike, Dagny Taggart, battling her good-for-nothing brother for control of the family business. This notion of an individual designing himself against major social forces was basically exactly what Rand himself had done. She never lost her Russian accent, but the name she chose when she arrived in America erased her ethnic roots.

Rand's flawless ideal of individualism was inspiring, but ultimately unrealistic, even harmful. It was no accident that Rand, who left their families, changed their names and moved to the other side of the world, developed a philosophy that placed self-creation and self-expression above all else. It was also no coincidence that none of Rand's heroes or heroines have children or even a happy marriage. And it turned out that living according to the principles of objectivism was quite dangerous.