A Unificationist View of Ayn Rand

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By Wayne Hankins

HankinsAyn Rand is a writer and philosopher who understood that “something” is terribly wrong with humankind and had the courage to seek the answers to it. Like others before her who tackled this subject, her writings are controversial. For years, I enjoyed her beautiful use of language in expressing her beliefs and telling her stories. She was a powerful and appealing writer. Yet, I now find some of her beliefs very troubling and need to be seriously reevaluated. As a Unificationist, I’ve had to fairly examine her writings, then ask: was her understanding of humankind’s nature correct and is her solution going to solve our dilemma of constant conflict and create a world of goodness and peace?

Ayn Rand, born Alisa Rosenbaum in Russia, was a writer of great passion, whose ideas were born out of the chaos of the Bolshevik Revolution. As a 12-year-old, she saw her nation crumble before her eyes and be recreated under Lenin’s view of how life should be lived. That was Communism. Her father’s business was seized because private property was declared illegal. The state acquired power over the rights of the individual in determining what talents would best serve society. Expressing individualism and self-determination became dangerous, if not illegal, ways to live. Cooperation and collectivism became Russia’s national goals and it was expected everyone would work for the public good, putting the state before self.

To understand Rand’s views of life, one must comprehend the extreme times she lived in. Her philosophy came to be best expressed in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, her two major works. They are controversial, well read, and now making a comeback, particularly in conservative political ideology.

Her philosophy was expressed by the two main character’s speeches at the climatic moments in each novel. In The Fountainhead, Howard Roark is an architect who, at his trial, defends blowing up the building he designed after his design was altered by a less talented colleague. In Atlas Shrugged, John Galt speaks to a crumbling America from his rundown apartment along the New York waterfront, explaining why the country is in the condition it is, as well as why he persuaded the greatest minds and talents in the nation to abandon a corrupt and dying country in order to save it.

Rand’s stated beliefs are: There is no God. There is only the mind of man and that is supreme. The mind is not a collective or function of the state but an individual attribute. It is our highest value and greatest asset. The most important viewpoint is the individual viewpoint. Only our mind and its proper use can insure our survival. This is the unique creative power of man that no other life form on earth has. A man must think and work alone; the creative process is guided by an individual thought, not a collective brain.

Rand taught selfishness is a virtue; one must live for oneself and for one’s own happiness. One’s own survival is the first moral directive. Selflessness and altruism are the roots of all evil. Living for the sake of others is the expression of this evil. Putting others before self and not satisfying one’s own desires first is evil. Man’s first duty is to himself; his moral obligation is to do what he wishes and pursue his own happiness. This moral choice must always be placed first. Self-sacrifice is evil. Self-fulfillment is good. These are the heart and soul of her beliefs.

As a 19-year-old college student desperately struggling to find his place in the world, Rand’s ideas became so attractive to me that I read all her major works. I believed her values would be life-changing. They certainly were! After a year of trying to master the art of selfishness, I found myself more distant, more judgmental, less happy, and more arrogant than when I started. Telling myself that intellect and mind were supreme and feelings and heart were a weakness made me into a person very unappealing to others. I told myself, “I am not my brother’s keeper; I will not live for the sake of others. I will live for my own happiness and ambition, and if people get upset, tough.” A time came when I realized living like this got me nowhere and I put her books down and cast aside her ideas about selfishness and sought a new path. One night in the library, I picked up a book about Sufism that read, “The way to God is by service-sacrifice and suffering — totally opposite of Ayn Rand’s ethics. This attracted me and was actually an important moment in my spiritual journey.

Comparing Rand’s ideas to those taught by Rev. Moon, here is what I see. The Third Blessing, “to take dominion,” is mixed within her ethics. To read of people who have excelled in their chosen professions touches a good and inherent chord within us. We all have that desire to master our chosen field and use that mastery in good and creative ways to benefit others. To a much lesser degree, the First Blessing, “to be fruitful,” is evident in the unique qualities of her strong characters. They seem to have themselves together, knowing who they are and what they believe in, consistently acting out whom they are.

Comparing Unificationist views to Rand’s, we see two opposite views of life; both cannot be true. One believes in God, the other adamantly does not. One sees God as its strength and source of life, love and truth. The other sees man as the supreme being, answerable to no one but himself. One emphasizes heart and the perfecting of love. The other holds the mind as supreme and has its own individual standard to be responsible for. One believes that education is given to develop an individual not only to take care of himself but to be a benefit to others. The other’s primary motive is for individual happiness. One believes selfishness is a sin, the other that selfishness is a virtue. One believes the ideal is fulfilled in the family, the other sees only the individual. One says life’s highest path is to possess the love of God and give it to others, the other finding one’s own happiness and fulfilling one’s own desires. One seeks to serve others first, the other to serve self first.

The word individualism is like love. There are many kinds and qualities of love and to describe them all by the one word – love — does them all a disservice. Within every individual, there lies a heart, mind, and a spirit, uniquely created by God. What we choose to fill ourselves with and to become is up to each of us. The individualism of our strongly independent Father, who decided to give up his own desires to carry out the Will of Heaven, is quite different from the self-centered individualism considered a virtue and life’s first purpose. Selfishness has a strange and subtle power to blind and poison even those who are good. It has the patience to wait years to misdirect, twist, and destroy even strong people. It is the perverse, silent killer of the spirit. Unfortunately, this is the ill-chosen virtue of Ayn Rand’s ideal man, mixed with some good traits.

Rand books

But a man who seeks to live as a Godly individual has quite a different internal make up as Rev. Moon has shown in how he lived his life. To be a strongly individualistic person whose sole motivation is to live for the benefit of others and the Will of Heaven without self-centered selfishness is a difference we would be wise to think deeply about.

Our nation is deeply divided between two views of how to govern. One favors greater expansion of federal controls over the excesses of individuals. The other view is exemplified by some conservatives and Libertarians, notably former vice presidential nominee Congressman Paul Ryan, former presidential candidate and congressman Ron Paul, and his son, Senator Rand Paul. They hold individual liberty, independence and freedom as their highest political values, and not surprisingly have embraced Ayn Rand’s philosophy, which champions individual selfishness and limited government. Her prophetic story of America’s demise has similarities to our present national situation, which make her all the more relevant.

The contrast is stark and clear. When deciding which way of life to live, there are three questions that must be asked. Which ideology is going to make this a better world? What way of life will create individuals who can make this a better world? And, is living selfishly the ideal to follow and when this way of life is accepted and implemented in national economic or political policy what results will appear? As in all things, the choices are each person’s to make. Not only is an individual’s destiny at stake but by the choices its leaders make, a nation’s destiny will hang in the balance.♦

Wayne Hankins lives in northern California and aspires through writing to bring new meaning to the Principles that Rev. Moon taught.

9 thoughts on “A Unificationist View of Ayn Rand

  1. I think Ayn Rand’s appeal is her critique of government corruption and the lack of appreciation for those who have talents and can excel. This is what happens when state governments get involved in the economy and culture and you have a reversal of dominion in which the state is treated as God, and then those who control the state makes serfs of everyone. You see that in the creation of the Dept. of Homeland Security and Obamacare, and it is this type of regime that has no appreciation for talent and quashes it unless it is put to the service of the regime. In this type of regime, it is not skill or talent that rises to the top, but the ruthless and unethical.

    While her critique of government is powerful, you are right that her appeal to laissez-faire individualism is unhelpful, and the philosophy tends towards an anarchy and a world right back where she started, where the strongest and most ruthless will rise to the top, because in sheer anarchy, the helpless get run over. If you look at her cast of characters, there is no discussion of natural social dependents — children, sick, or older people. It is as if everyone is born as an adult capable of working.

    The Unification view would critique both the statist and libertarian views by arguing that neither some form of state communism nor individualism is the answer. It is important to have the unity of mind and body, the desire to create, and the will to push forward against obstacles. But, ultimately the mature individual should generate a level of consciousness capable of seeing everyone as God’s children and learning that the world doesn’t revolve around selfish individuals. On the other hand, states are easily corruptible and incapable of providing the personal care that child-like people ask them to provide. Only true families and those who spend time with and love others can provide the personal care people need which bureaucracies cannot provide. The best state can only provide “equal rational justice” — e.g., protect rights equally, but it cannot provide the real personal care that true justice implies.

    Looking either to the state or to your own superhuman skill rather than to a transcendent source of value is worshiping a false god.

  2. Thank you for this commentary. As a teenager, I was also very enamored of Ayn Rand. My English teacher cautioned me that this is a philosophy that will not be lasting. Ms. Rand’s emphasis on the development and integrity of the individual is valuable in the context of purpose and intent. When we see the ever-developing individual as a family, a tribe, a nation and as a world citizen, we understand there are many aspects that need developing. We intuit that God is central. Her assessment of Centralized Government in Atlas Shrugged is eerily familiar in what we see today. Her solution of individuals refusing to be part of the problem is one method. Even more, we need individuals, families, tribes, societies, and nations to be part of the solution. Essential is a form of communication that can hear and empathize with the needs of individuals and communities and see that all people have essentially the same needs, and, even more, that all people are One Family under God. Thank you, Ayn Rand for stimulating discussion on these issues!

  3. Thank you for your commentary. It is amazing that I am writing this in 2019. I am a student in CARP who is interested in the differences between Objectivism and Unificationism. I am reading the Divine Principle and reading Ayn Rand’s nonfiction, and watching videos clarifying her philosophy.

    From your presentation, I have come to conclude that her philosophy should be read first before her fiction. There is a lot to learn in depth from her philosophy that you have not addressed. That would be helpful to get some confusion out of the way.

    First, I will explain how she views selfishness as a virtue. Her philosophy can be divided between five pillars, three of which I will describe. The first is metaphysics. There is an absolute reality which is independent of how a person feels about it. In her second pillar, epistemology, she states that reason is man’s sole tool inherent in his nature from which he can gain knowledge through the use of his senses. From that knowledge and using reason to integrate the knowledge together, man creates concepts and principles to simplify reality.

    Combining the first and second points that there is an absolute reality and that man has the faculty of reason as a guide to action and a means of survival, the question is why does man use reason to create concepts which he derives from reality. The next question is how man as a living sentient being should live and strive for the best life to his ability. According to her third pillar, man uses reason to live selfishly, and rights are the properties of a man as a sentient reasoning being to live the best life possible. Selfishness is when man uses reason to figure out what is good for his life.

    Let’s take lying, stealing and cheating. It obviously does not lead to a good life. Try lying to your friends for a week. Are they going to be your friends after a week? They will have broken up before day one passes unless they are masochists. Lying is also destructive to yourself as a reasoning being. To tell the truth, you only need to remember one thing, the truth. When you are lying, you have to remember the truth, lie number one, person one whom you have told lie number one, lie number two, and person two whom you have told lie number 2. Lying is clearly destructive to you as a being in search of the truth and living by the truth derived from reality. Therefore, there is a principle of not lying, stealing and cheating.

    From here, Ayn Rand rejects Subjectivism which states that there is no objective truth or reality; that each individual has his/her own truth. She also rejects all forms of Supernaturalism which state that truth or at least certain truths cannot be known through reason; that through revelation from a higher dimension we can gain knowledge. She rejects God and other entities which reason and the senses cannot reach.

    That is one aspect why she despises Communism. It is a form of mysticism. The individual lives for the proletariat. What is the proletariat? Does it have a consciousness? Does it have feelings? How do you convey the will of the proletariat? In the Soviet Union, Lenin channels the will of the proletariat and imposes that will onto the populace. The will of the proletariat is whatever that person wants it to be. In this way, the individual lives selflessly for a higher being which he cannot access through his reason. The individual sacrifices himself for the greater good.

    The state imposes that will using force. Force prevents an individual from thinking. A gun is to your head, and it is declared that 2 + 2 = 5 or you are dead, how are you supposed to live? You cannot do math with that let alone build a bridge with that. It prevents the individual from using reason. Therefore, force prevents that individual from living the best life to his ability.

    I would like to have a great conversation about this topic with AU Blog readers.

  4. Ian,

    This is a very concise explanation of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism and Selfishness. Congratulations on digesting it so well and explaining it to readers of the AU blog. A core issue raised regards the relationship of an individual to society, to members of one’s family and others more distant. Rand’s critique of religion is similar to modern and post-modern critiques, and communism falls into the same category as religion in her worldview. However, a philosophy of “selfishness” as you describe it falls short of the social world in which we live.

    The self-made individuals in Atlas Shrugged, who represent the objectivist philosophy appear to be like “supermen (and women)” in the philosophy of Nietzsche. Yet were they really self-made or a product of a larger culture in which science, productivity, and well-being were promoted? Even the language they used, which shaped their thoughts, came from millennia of social and cultural experiences. There were few children or senior citizens in her novels, with little thought about the context in which individuals emerge. That said, the reality of the objective world and the basic instincts, senses, and rational faculties she describes seem spot on, as far as they go.

    There is one principle consistent with both “selfishness” so described and society. That is the interaction with other people in an economic market. Markets are objective reality and they reflect the desire to serve oneself (profit) by serving others (producing things they want and can use in furthering their own “selfishness.”) The ironic aspect of markets is that they are driven by self-interest but cannot succeed unless one provides value to others. In this way, markets are a bridge between selfishness and altruism. However, markets do not care for the indigent, the disabled, the uneducated, babies, or other than healthy productive adults who are contributing goods or services themselves.

    So the step needed to be taken beyond Ayn Rand’s writings has to deal with those people: (1) how they can be best educated and made productive, or (2) how they are to be cared for if they are unable to be economically productive or care for themselves. This is the point where Divine Principle might throw light on the subject of the responsibility of an individual in society. It does not have to come from a belief in a made-up god or ideology that provides arbitrary assumptions, but from perspectives that transcend the individual and look at the world and the cosmos as a larger system with other purposes than a single individual’s will to live and be happy.

    The tragic aspect of studying the Divine Principle, without having developed reason and critical understanding as far as Ayn Rand has done, is that it can be, and has been, taken as “sacred scripture” rather than a reasoned explanation to be built upon. As the DP book says, “scripture is a guide to the truth, not the truth itself.”

    • Thank you for your comment, Dr. Anderson. I am glad I have run into this forum for discussion on this topic.

      Addressing the characters in Atlas Shrugged, we as individuals do not live alone on a deserted island. If that is our objective reality, then we take steps to further our self-interest with the objective reality which is the deserted island. However, we live with fellow human beings. It is through reason that we decide to engage with objective reality and trade with other individuals. I have not read her fiction. However, from what you are describing of them, they are “supermen.” They attain that status not by sacrificing others, but through engaging with reality and trading resources and labor to further that goal. The language and resources are tools to create value like how certain rocks on the ground could be used for flint and fire-making.

      The concept of selfishness being fulfilled in the market is too narrow-minded a view of the whole subject. It focuses too much on the trading of monetary and material goods. For example, I bought a book called 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson. It cost around $30 on Amazon. The trade cannot fully be expressed in material terms. I gave them my $30, and I received his advice, philosophy, and knowledge. In that same light, I can give charity to a homeless person. I give for my own spirtual benefit. I am not a Materialist. I do believe in concepts, values, ideas, and reason as immaterial objects which we can perceive. I want to educate the poor person because it is in both of our interests that he be productive. What would the world be like to have eight billion people or minds innovating and making our lives better both materially and spiritually?

      I do agree with the Divine Principle that there are dual characteristics in certain contexts. It has interesting views on the relationships between subject and object partner, and how four-position foundation works. However, they can be expressed under the rubric that there is an objective reality, and you have reason to figure out and attain the values that lead to fulfiling your self-interest.

      To live selfishly does not mean isolating yourself on the deserted island. You have people important to your life. What Rand proposes is that you place yourself as the primary mode for existing, not others. From there, you can care for people close to you. My hierarchy is family, friends, coworkers, colleagues, associates, and everyone else.

      Finally, there is a point about what happens to children, the disabled, and mentally ill. Children do have rights, but it is limited. It is the job of parents to teach children how to reason and use that reason optimally. For the disabled and mentally ill, that is why charity is crucial. It is a form of some individuals fulfilling their self-interest. There are people out there who pursue their self-interest by taking care of the unfortunate. The disabled and mentally ill have rights as reasonable human beings. One is limited physically, and the other has no capacity at least in the moment to use his/her reasoning. Those mentally ill people are like children that they have to be taken care of.

      In this response, I am using the word “spiritual” loosely to mean something that cannot be expressed in material terms. I would appreciate a more sufficient definition.

      Thank you very much for the response. I have a hard time having this discussion in my CARP chapter simply because people are not interested enough in this topic, or the people in my chapter who are capable of deep insight are too distant to approach. I appreciate this dialogue very much.

  5. Ian,

    Thank you for your thoughts on this very broad topic. There are dozens of points to make but for this moment I want to mention just a few.

    Communism and Ayn Rand’s ideologies have a few things in common. Both deny God, the traditional God of Christianity, not the God True Parents have so clearly introduced us to. This is a big difference. Communism is the premier controlling ideology that demanded and attempted to make every individual totally dependent upon the state for all their needs, physical, educational, financial and yes even emotional. Communism demanded that the state and the party be valued and even loved before and above all else. They would not tolerate a God that came before them. Study the process and motivation of the fall of man and what Satan knowingly created and it reflects the practice and stated goals of Communism. Ayn Rand did not believe in the Christian God either; actually she abhorred it because she put man at the center of the universe, not a being that humankind gave all the credit to. This is humanism at its core. Objectivism is but one of the growing disciplines that lifts man far above, unattached and independent of God. There is much I object to about how the historical and traditional God is viewed but to whitewash our Creator completely out of the picture is utter arrogance and I see the danger of that.

    Man is a resultant being, not the cause of existence, not the Creator of all the natural world and the laws that allow it to exist for many thousands of years. Man is created in the image of God. I believe that. And because of that, we have an infinite, divine value, just as God has. I think Rand saw this aspect of human existence but did not know the God of Heart and the God of a great love from which we came.

  6. Growing and refining one’s gifts is a solitary and lonely path. If Leonardo DaVinci or Mozart, just to name two of the more well known artists, did not spend time in developing their craft would we have the beautiful and timeless works they created? Maybe not. The skilled doctors that care for us or the engineers that built safe bridges on which we drive or skyscrapers in which we work or live, spent thousands of hours alone studying and learning their specialities. Was that selfish? Yes, it was, by necessity and it is not evil nor is it wrong to do.

    There are different kinds of selfishness in which an individual can choose. One in particular is especially poisonous and nothing good comes from it….ever. That is a self-centered selfishness that places one’s self, one’s thoughts, above anything else or anyone else. What Rev. Moon has taught is invaluable to those who take it seriously and apply it to how they conduct their lives. The Genesis story which is an incredibly rich metaphor revealed its hidden meaning finally to one man in all its detail, to Rev. Moon. There is a lesson there for all of us to pay close attention to. Humankind, our first ancestors went from babies to young children to teenagers and they were given guidance by their Heavenly Parent at age appropriate moments. Simple guidance, to avoid a great danger, “do not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”. That view, that thought, that directive was given by their Parent who had a broader, deeper and clearer understanding of life and how it should be lived. It was God, our Heavenly Parent that loved us and wanted with all His heart for us not to make that mistake.

    Did our ancestors listen, believe and follow what a wiser being gave us? No, our ancestors choose another viewpoint centered on nothing more or less than their self-centered selfish viewpoint and we see what that has created. That same toxic selfishness permeates this world to some degree, where benefit to self over all else is supreme. It is a fine line that separates a healthy, necessary selfishness from the other forms. Without the knowledge of how the fall occurred we are very vulnerable to make the same mistake as our first ancestors and we often have. The commandment, “do not eat the fruit”, was not for a man and a woman long ago. It is a commandment meant for all people for all times to follow if we are to have the incredibly beautiful, joyful, peaceful world we all long for and to have the emotionally rich loving lives we were created for.

    • I have to respectfully disagree about selfishness. From what I understand, the selfishness that we have held onto throughout history is the selfishness of lying, stealing, cheating, only concerned about yourself, and therefore taking advantage of your fellow man. Selfishness is a vice under that context. We lump taking care of yourself into that understanding of selfishness. Thus, the opposite must be a virtue; living for the sake of others is the right thing to do.

      What do we mean by living selfishly? Does lying, stealing, and cheating forward your progress? Does taking advantage of your fellow man contribute to attaining your values? None of the above. To live selfishly is to acknowledge that you are a sentient being born with the faculty of reason as the means of survival and the sole tool for making your life better. In applying that reason to the absolute reality around you, which includes your environment and people, you figure out and attain your values that make your life better.

      The task of ethics is to figure out what moral principles man should live by with living in an absolute reality and man is a living, reasoning being as givens. In order to answer what moral principles man should follow, what are the properties that man exhibits to live and survive. They are rights. In order for man to live the best life possible, he has to have a right to life. Man also has to be free to live the best life possible, hence the right to liberty. The final fundamental right is expressed in the question of what it means to live the best life possible. To live the best life is to have your values accomplished through your reasoning and effort. The result of having your values fulfilled is that you are happy. The final fundamental right is to pursue your happiness. Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are fundamental rights outlined in the Declaration of Independence. All other rights are derivatives of those fundamental three.

      For example, the First Amendment is derived from the right to liberty and is very important because if you do not have the right to speak and talk about ideas, your thinking is limited. When your thinking is limited, your capacity and freedom to fulfill your values is stunted.

      The concept of rights cannot arise without the notion that your life belongs to you. Throughout the vast majority of history, your life belonged to the king, state, tribe, pope, collective, and arguably God. People lived on less than three dollars a day, the UN’s definition of poverty. Because people lived on the morality of living for the sake of a collective and have no chance of developing individually, the result is overall stagnation of the human condition.

      That changed for a few reasons. First, rights were debated during Ancient Greece but were espoused and promoted by John Locke. There was a buildup starting with the revival of Greek and Roman culture and philosophy from the Renaissance. The Enlightenment was the application of Greek philosophy to Ethics and Politics. John Locke comes out of it and promotes the concept of natural rights, and Adam Smith composes the moral framework for Capitalism. As revolutionary their ideas were and in spite of them being imperfect, these two philosophers were influential to the Founding Fathers and were crucial to the founding of America. The founding of America was revolutionary and radical as it proposed that a man’s life belonged to him; that he had the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

      I could go on, but this response is approaching the length of an article, so I will conclude with a few takeaways. Selfishness has to be approached with the following questions: what is an absolute reality; what does it mean to be beings with the faculty of reason; what does it mean to live as reason-using beings living in an absolute reality.

      With all of what I have responded in mind, is a toddler selfish? According to our old definition, the toddler is only concerned about himself in the moment and therefore, selfish. However, under the nuanced sense of the word, the toddler is not selfishness, more akin to being selfless. The toddler is not living by reason to live the best life, but by whim and emotion in the moment.

      Selfishness has to be scrutinized in this nuanced fashion. It has to be examined and dissected with these kinds of questions, and I scratch my head when we stick to the antiquated and flawed view of selfishness and our human nature. I say that with no offense intended.

      I look forward to your response on this article-approaching length response. Thank you for hearing me out.

  7. I found this article and the responses very interesting. Ayn Rand was, in many ways a stepping stone for the preparation of my family and myself to understand and embrace the Divine Principle in 1973. My mother introduced me to Ayn Rand, Arnold Toynbee, Emerson and Thoreau as well as Christian theology via the Congregational and then the UCC churches. I did not understand Christian theology beyond the Sermon on the Mount prior to hearing the DP. I did not understand that most Christians thought that Jesus was God until I tried to witness to Christians. I was so surprised. The DP provided a logical way to integrate history, the Bible as well and Western and Eastern thought. I was sure we could change the world in significant ways in short order.

    I remember my mother talking to me about the importance of selfishness and of capitalism and yet she and my entire family, though not outwardly religious, were involved in community service and helping others. The selfishness thing never made sense to me and in retrospect I think it was her response to growing up very poor on a homestead in very rural western Nebraska, but having moved to a liberal college town in Colorado where she graduated from high school and attended college at the University of Colorado. She grew up a Methodist and these were part of her search and the foundation for myself. After I heard the DP, I introduced this to my brother and his wife, my parents and grandparents. My brother joined for a time, but he was married with two small children in 1974, so he could not stay. My parents and grandparents (Methodists) joined as associate members. My parents tithed money to the missions where I went for many years, to the surprise of the leaders! But, with the transient nature and event-oriented nature of our Movement, their involvement waned, though their support of me and my blessed family never did. They really loved our members.

    Prior to being introduced to the DP my grandparents gave me a King James Bible, my mother gave me a copy of the Complete Works of Thoreau and A Study of History by Arnold Toynbee. Ayn Rand never made sense to me, though I did read Atlas Shrugged in high school. I think the appeal of Ayn Rand to my mother and perhaps many of her generation was growing up desperately poor during the Depression and then WWII and participating in and benefiting from the economic boom of the post WWI era and the moral confusion of that era as well. She was lucky enough to escape that poverty and isolation of that rural life and these ideas, like Ayn Rand, were what she was introduced to in high school and college. I think she was not alone. I have often said that I grew up surrounded by heroes disguised as ordinary people. I cannot think of any of the adults I knew growing up that some of the ideas of Ayn Rand did not influence. Every family I knew had men who served in WWII and every woman helped and served in some capacity, recycling oil, metal and the rationing of many daily items during the war years.

    While America had a very strong and deep foundation grounded in Christian theology and practice, there were other strong undercurrents of thought such as Ayn Rand, Thoreau and Emerson, and of course the many gurus and teachers of Eastern mysticism that influenced the youth of the sixties. The theology of Rand, if it can be characterized that way, for my mother and father I think were a way out of their personal and societal limitations of their upbringing.

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