“Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow? 'No!' says the man in Washington, 'It belongs to the poor.' 'No!' says the man in the Vatican, 'It belongs to God.' 'No!' says the man in Moscow, 'It belongs to everyone.' I rejected those answers; instead, I chose something different.”
In an age when most people refuse to read anything longer than 280 characters, a tendency to associate great novelists with single ideas has arisen. Although his collected works form enough volumes to create a nightstand, Poe now stands for a single type of bird. To mention Williams is conjure up an affected Southern accent. Lovecraft is exceptional – he represents either indescribable sea monsters or the kind of sentiment that gets you quickly banned from Twitter.
So what has Ayn Rand been boiled down to? Art Deco, unfortunately, solely because the aesthetic so often adorns her books’ covers. But she stands for so much more.
Rand envisioned every man as the protagonist of his own story, not some fifth business actor relegated to little more than advancing someone else’s agenda. She also defined reality as something that exists outside of our ability to perceive it. She did not take that view in some arcane direction by declaring us unfit to appreciate reality, however. Quite the opposite – as rational creatures, we’re equipped to understand reality for what it truly is!
Think about the kinds of forces that would rather you think of yourself solely as some means to their end, and further that you accept their take on reality as gospel. Not too difficult to do, is it? There’s little wonder why The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are so often decried as quackery, diatribes that could only have been produced by the most discontented victim of communism. The people who would drag Rand’s ideas through the muck are also the ones who want to bury your head in the same.
When we lock eyes with Ayn Rand’s illustration, we’re always reminded why she is so important. The further she’s pushed into the periphery, the more dearly we need to live up to her ideals.