Ayn Rand

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Rand developed an integrated philosophical system called "Objectivism." Its essence is "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."[94]

As an atheist who rejected faith as antithetical to reason, Rand embraced philosophical realism and opposed all forms of what she regarded as mysticism and supernaturalism, including organized religion.[95] Rand wrote in her journals that Christianity was "the best kindergarten of communism possible."[96] Rand also argued for rational egoism (rational self-interest), as the only proper guiding moral principle. The individual "must exist for his own sake," she wrote in 1962, "neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself."[97]

Rand held that laissez-faire capitalism is the only moral social system. Her political views were strongly individualist, anti-statist, anti-fascist and anti-Communist. Rand was strongly opposed to many liberal, conservative and libertarian politicians of her time, including prominent anti-Communists.[98][99] Rand rejected anarcho-capitalism as "a contradiction in terms", a point on which she has been criticized by self-styled "anarchist Objectivists."[100] Philosopher Chandran Kukathas said her "unremitting hostility towards the state and taxation sits inconsistently with a rejection of anarchism, and her attempts to resolve the difficulty are ill-thought out and unsystematic."[101]

Rand acknowledged Aristotle as her greatest influence[102] and found early inspiration in Friedrich Nietzsche,[103] although she rejected what she considered his anti-reason stance. Ronald E. Merrill and David Ramsay Steele point out a difference between her early and later views on the subject of sacrificing others.[104][105] For example, the first edition of We the Living contained language which has been interpreted as advocating ruthless elitism: "What are your masses but mud to be ground underfoot, fuel to be burned for those who deserve it?"[104] Robert Mayhew cautions, “We should not conclude too quickly that these passages are strong evidence of an earlier Nietzschean phase in Ayn Rand’s development, because such language can be strictly metaphorical (even if the result of an early interest in Nietzsche)”[106]

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