What a Shock -- Obama Doesn't Like Rand!
In the latest issue of Rolling Stone, Obama is interviewed by Douglas Brinkley and was questioned about Ayn Rand.
When asked if he had ever read Ayn Rand, Obama replied, "Sure." Then he said, "Ayn Rand is one of those things that a lot of us, when we were 17 or 18 and feeling misunderstood, we'd pick up. Then, as we get older, we realize that a world in which we're only thinking about ourselves and not thinking about anybody else, in which we're considering the entire project of developing ourselves as more important than our relationships to other people and making sure that everybody else has opportunity -- that that's a pretty narrow vision. It's not one that, I think, describes what's best in America. Unfortunately, it does seem as if sometimes that vision of a 'you're on your own' society has consumed a big chunk of the Republican Party."
Here we go again with the misconception that Ayn Rand promoted living for self-gratification at the expense of others. That does not represent Ayn Rand's philosophy. What she advocated was a morality of rational self-interest. This means that your life is your own and that you determine the course of your own life, while respecting the rights of others to pursue their own lives.
Contrary to Obama's view, there is nothing wrong with valuing our own lives more than our relationships with others. If you place others higher than yourself, you place yourself at the mercy of what everyone else thinks and says, no matter whether they are right or wrong. This isn't to say, however, that human relationships are not important. Not at all. Relationships are a great source of human joy. If you concentrate on making yourself happy, successful relationships are important to you. In addition, people who love and value their own lives understand the value of life to others. They understand that in order for people to pursue their own happiness they require freedom. Pursuing your self-interest may be carried out in cases where you are willing to risk your life in order to maintain your deepest values (e.g., for a loved one or to defend liberty in the USA).
This is not a narrow vision. This is actually the vision manifested in the political system that the Founding Fathers codified, which is a new vision -- that man belongs to himself and has a right to pursue his own happiness. The narrow vision is the old vision, the vision of slavery, that man belonged to the state or to the king and that he must place others higher than himself and live his life for them.
And here I thought that Obama was supposed to be so smart. He obviously doesn't get it... or... maybe he does...
He doesn't like capitalism so the way to kill it is to defeat it at its base. Make people feel guilty about pursuing their own happiness. Make them think they need to live their lives for the state instead (after all, he plainly stated that he believes we are our brother's keepers and that wealth should be redistributed. Then he will have his power. But then, along comes Ayn Rand who provides a moral foundation for capitalism -- rational selfishness.
And people are catching on. No wonder he doesn't like her ideas.
About the author: Charlotte Cushman is a Montessori educator at Minnesota Renaissance School, Anoka, Minnesota. She has been involved in the study of Ayn Rand's philosophy since 1970.