There has never been a greater advocate for individualism and individual freedom than Ayn Rand. Many of the principles of individualism and freedom found in these Free Individual pages, as well as in the Independent Individualist, will found in the publications of Ayn Rand and the philosophy she called Objectivism.
Many who discover Ayn Rand know that it is the kind of individual freedom Rand describes in both her fiction works, like The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, as well as her many non-fiction works is the kind of freedom they want. It is natural to seek out Objectivist sources for more information on how to establish that kind of freedom in one's own life, and of course to find others with that same desire and purpose.
There are many Objectivist sites on the WEB, and they naturally attract those looking for the kind of individualism they find in Rand's works. I personally know many who have found those Internet Objectivist sites disappointing, and I'm sure there are many more who have that experience. There is a reason that sites that name themselves, "Objectivist," and claim to be proponents of Rand's philosophy are generally disappointing to true independent individualists.
There is almost nothing on any of those sites related to the interests and purposes of the independent individualist, which is primarily to live his life freely and independently in this world. Most so-called Objectivists sites are more like philosophical debating societies, or news discussion groups, or social networks, frequently advocating some kind of activism, or the promoting of some "world saving" program or movement.
I point these things out, not because there is anything objectionable about philosophical debates, social interests, or news, although the "activism" and "world-saving" concepts are questionable, but to alert the independent freedom seeker that they will not find much help toward that end on such sites.
Two Objectionable Characteristics
There are at least two aspects of most so-called Objectivist sites that are objectionable, and perhaps dangerous. The first is the tendency to promote a kind of subjective hedonism, exemplified in their promotion of the normalization of homosexuality, for example, which I've already addressed in two articles,
"My Friend, Ayn Rand" and
"Psychological Flaws, Corruptions, Errors, and Wrong Premises". While I am for the political freedom of all men to live their lives as they choose, including those who choose to live as homosexuals, surrendering oneself to irrational desires is not true freedom.
The other objectionable aspect of what goes by the name Objectivism today is the fact they universally embrace American imperialism and war as the first solution to international affairs without regard to the destruction of property, innocent deaths, ruined lives, or the use of torture. The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) is leading the charge in this pro-war stance, (and all the rest follow), which you will find thoroughly documented at the link to, "ARI Watch," below.
In case you are wondering, no war has ever increased individual liberty, and
no independent individualist could possibly want war, which never brings any good to anyone.
[For the independent individualist, war is the most pointless thing in the world. An individualist certainly might feel a strong kinship with the people of a particular country and perhaps regard the culture his own, but individuals do not live for the sake of a country and when a country is no longer a positive value in the life of the individual, the only ethical course is to separate himself from the country and its purposes. If that country goes to war, it is not his war. No country goes to war to protect its citizens—countries only go to war to protect those countries' governments.]
The Opposite Bewildering Experience
The true independent individualist who attempts to participate on any of the so-called Objectivist sites, expecting to find the kind of recognition an individualist expects from other individualists will be bewildered by the response he gets to any truly new or original idea he presents, or truly independent attitude he exhibits.
This is because those who identify themselves as, "Objectivists," are not individualists at all. True individualists do not identify themselves as members of anything, a movement, an ideology, or even a particular philosophical group. They are first, last, and always, individuals.
Though they may call themselves by the name of Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism, they are not what Rand or her philosophy identified as the representatives of her philosophy, the individualist, which she identified as, "creators."
"Men have been taught that it is a virtue to agree with others. But the creator is the man who disagrees. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to swim with the current. But the creator is the man who goes against the current. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to stand together. But the creator is the man who stands alone." [For The New Intellectual - The Fountainhead, "The Soul Of An Individualist"]
When an individualist visits a so-called Objectivist site, will they find the attitude of Howard Roark?
"I've always demanded a certain quality in the people I liked. I've always recognized it at once—and it's the only quality I respect in men. ... A self-sufficient ego. Nothing else matters." [The Fountainhead, "Part Four—11"]
Unfortunately, what they will find is the attitude of second-handers:
"Notice how they'll accept anything except a man who stands alone. They recognize him at once .... There's a special, insidious kind of hatred for him. They forgive criminals, They admire dictators. Crime and violence are a tie. A form of mutual dependence. They need ties. They've got to force their miserable little personalities on every single person they meet. The independent man kills themóbecause they don't exist within him and that's the only form of existence they know. Notice the malignant kind of resentment against any idea that propounds independence. Notice the malice toward an independent man..." [For The New Intellectual - The Fountainhead, "The Nature Of The Second-Hander"]
I do not mean to discourage anyone from searching the Internet for like minded individualists and sites. I only want to warn other individualists to not be disappointed in finding the kind of like minded individualism they might rightly expect from those who call themselves Objectivists.
Internet Objectivist Links
The links below are to various self-styled Objectivist sites. Their possible value is indicated. There are many more, which are easy to find, but most are as I've described above and of little value to the freedom loving independent individualist.
Objectivism Related Sites
- And Rand Institute—"(ARI), works to introduce young people to Ayn Rand's novels, to support scholarship and research based on her ideas, and to promote the principles of reason, rational self-interest, individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism to the widest possible audience."
- Ayn Rand Centersite for Individual Rights—"(ARC) is the public policy and outreach division of the Ayn Rand Institute. The Center's mission is to advance individual rights (the rights of each person to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness) as the moral basis for a fully free, laissez-faire capitalist society."
- Capitalism Magazine—online magazine dedicated to the advocacy of unregulated capitalism, maintained by Mark Da Cunha. [There is nothing on the site indicating who the editor is.] Though non-Objectivists such as Daniel Pipes, Thomas Sowell, and Walter Williams contribute articles, several Ayn Rand Institute members such as Leonard Peikoff, Harry Binswanger, Andrew Bernstein, and Yaron Brook provide most of the content and for its affiliate sites, such as
Abortion is Pro Life.
- The Atlas Society—"Our scholars work to further develop this philosophy born in the mid-twentieth century. We present the empowering principles of Objectivism to a global audience, and offer those principles as a rational and moral alternative in the marketplace of philosophical ideas." Originally a group that broke away from ARI over philosophical differences.
- The New Individualist—The New Individualist is the flagship publication of The Atlas Society.
- Leonard Peikoff—From ARI Watch: "From ARI's website FAQ page (accessed February 2008): "Dr. Leonard Peikoff is Ayn Rand's legal and intellectual heir ... ." In Mr. Peikoff's essay "Fact and Value" he refers to himself as "Ayn Rand's intellectual and legal heir." Ayn Rand never publicly said that Mr. Peikoff was her "intellectual heir." She designated him the sole heir to her estate."
- The Objective Standard—A quarterly journal published by Craig Biddle, which took over the unofficial publishing arm of ARI, from The Intellectual Activist when its publisher, Robert Tracinski, was booted from ARI. The Status of the relationship between The Objectivist Standard and ARI since the Peikoff/Harriman/McCaskey dust up over Harriman's book, The Logical Leap. Up 'til now, most ARI authors published on The Objective Standard.
- The Undercurrent—"The Undercurrent is a campus newspaper. It is written for college students across the country, with additional articles from the Ayn Rand Institute op-ed program and other writers."
- Anthem Foundation—Provides grants for the benefit of academic professionals engaged in serious, scholarly work based on the philosophy and writings of Ayn Rand, and provides resources to others in academia interested in understanding her ideas. This is an arm of ARI.
- Anochi—[Hebrew] By special permission from Dr. Leonard Peikoff and the Ayn Rand Institute publishes Hebrew translations of articles and lectures by Ayn Rand as well as articles and publications of the Ayn Rand Institute.
- The Intellectual Activist—Edited by Robert Tracinski, "Analyzing current political, cultural, and philosophical issues from a pro-reason pro-individualistic perspective—an Objectivist Review." Originally an informal publisher of ARI writers, taken over by the The Objective Standard. Tracinski is a former ARI editorial director, Senior Fellow, and lecturer in its school.
Objectivism and Individualism
- ARI Watch—Perhaps the most important link on this page. Those with a mandate to preserve Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism have become its chief corrupters—in the name of Objectivism, ARI promotes war, military adventurism, a police state, a ruinous foreign policy, and torture. In addition to the articles, the site includes an excellent overview of
who exactly ARI is.
- Objectivism Reference Center—A very broad source of links and resources related to Objectivism, including links to other Objectivist sites (such as forums I have not included for reasons already explained). The general Objectivism links page has many broken links, unfortunately, most other links work, however, though the page as not been updated for over a year. The "Texts by Ayn Rand and Others," and "Criticism of Objectivism," sections are both useful—the first for some rare online texts by Rand, the second as illustrations of some absurd and ignorant criticisms of Rand's Objectivism.
Objectivism is a philosophy of individualism, above all other things. Rand's view was that all values, all meaning, and all purpose begin and end with the individual and anything contrary to an individual's life and purpose is both philosophically incorrect and ethically immoral.
Any study of Objectivism that does not lead to the conclusion that one's own life, and their enjoyment of it, is the primary concern of their life, is a mistake. The whole point of objective reason is that it is the only means of discovering the principles one must live and make their choices by if they are to live fully and successfully as a human being, and enjoying that life to the fullest.
Ayn Rand's Objectivism can help you discover the principles by which to find your own freedom, living your life as your own, which it is. Never let Objectivism, or any other individual's ideas dictate what you think or choose, but learn all you can from Objectivism for your own use and understanding, then use your own best reason and knowledge to determine all you do—that is how to be free and to make life and the world your own.