Ayn Rand Interview (1959) Part 1 of 3
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This is Mike Wallace with another television portrait from our gallery of colorful people. Throughout the United States small pockets of intellectuals have become involved in a new and unusual philosophy, which would seem to strike at the very roots of our society. The fountainhead of this philosophy is a novelist Ayn Rand. Whose two major works The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged have been best sellers. We'll try to find out more about her revolutionary creed and about Miss Rand herself in just a moment. And now to our story Down through history various political and philosophical movements have sprung up but most of them have died. Some however like Democracy or Communism take hold and affect the entire world. Here in the United States perhaps the most challenging and unusual new philosophy has been forged by a novelist Ayn Rand. Miss Rand's point of view is still comparatively unknown in America, but if it ever did take hold it would revolutionize our lives. And I'm to begin with... I wonder if I can ask you to capsulize... I know this is difficult... Can I ask you to capsulize your philosophy? What is Randism? First of all, I do not call it Randism, and I don't like that name. I call it Objectivism. Meaning a philosophy based on objective reality. Now let me explain it as briefly as I can. First my philosophy is based on the concept that reality exists as an objective absolute. That man's mind reason is his means of percieving it. And that man needs a rational morality. I am primarily the creator of a new court of morality which has so far been believed impossible. Namely, a morality not based on face, not on faith, not on arbitrary whim, not on emotion, not on arbitrary edict, mystical or social, but on reason. A morality which can be proved by means of logic. Which can be demonstrated to be true and necessary. Now may I define what my morality is, because this is merely an introduction. My morality is based on man's life as a standard of value. And since man's mind is his basic means of survival, I hold that if man wants to live on earth, and to live as a human being. He has to hold reason as an absolute. By which I mean, that he has to hold reason as his only guide to action. And that he must live by the independent judgement of his own mind. That his highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own happiness. And that he must not force other people nor accept their right to force him. That each man must live as an end in himself and follow his own rational self-interest. May I interrupt now? You may. Because you put this philosophy to work in your novel Atlas Shrugged. You demonstrate it, in human terms, in your novel Atlas Shrugged. And let me start by quoting from a review of this novel Atlas Shrugged that appeared in News Week. It said that, "You are out to destroy almost every edifice in the contemporary American way of life. Our Judeo-Christian religion our modified government regulated capitalism our rule by the majority will." Other reviews have said that, "You scorn churches, and the concept of god." Are these accurate criticisms? Ah.. Yes... I agree with the fact, but not the estimate of this criticism. Namely, if I am challenging the base of all these institutions, I'm challenging the moral code of altruism. The precept that man's moral duty is to live for others. That man must sacrifice himself to others. Which is the present day morality. What do you mean sacrifice himself for others? Now were getting to the point. Since I'm challenging the base, I necessarily will challenge the institutions you name, which are a result of that morality. And now what is self-sacrifice? Yes...What is self-sacrifice? You say that you do not like the altruism by which we live. You like a certain kind of Ayn Randist selfishness. I will say that, "I don't like" is to weak a word. I consider it evil. And self-sacrifice is the precept that man needs to serve others, in order to justify his existence. That his moral duty is to serve others. That is what most people believe today. Yes...Were taught to feel concern for our fellow man. To feel responsible for his welfare. To feel that we are as religious people might put it, children under god, and responsible one for the other. Now why do you rebel? What's wrong with this philosophy? But that is in fact what makes man a sacrificial animal. That man must work for others, concern himself with others, or be responsible for them. That is the role of a sacrificial object. I say that man is entitled to his own happiness. And that he must achieve it himself. But that he cannot demand that others give up their lives to make him happy. And nor should he wish to sacrifice himself for the happiness of others. I hold that man should have self-esteem. And cannot man have self-esteem if he loves his fellow man? What's wrong with loving your fellow man? Christ, every important moral leader in man's history has taught us that we should love one another. Why then is this kind of love in your mind immoral? It is immoral if it is a love placed above oneself. It is more than immoral, it's impossible. Because when you asked to love everybody indiscriminately. That is to love people without any standard To love them regardless of whether they have any value or any virtue, you are asked to love nobody. But in a sense, in your book you talk about love as if it were a business deal of some kind. Isn't the essence of love, that it is above self-interest? Well, let me make it concrete for you. What would it mean to have a love above self-interest? It would mean for instance that a husband would tell his wife if he were moral according to the conventional morality, that I am marring you just for you own sake, I have no personal interest in it, but I'm so unselfish, that I am marrying you only for your own good. Would any woman like that? Should husbands and wives tally up at the end of the day and say, "well now wait a minute, I love her if she's done enough for me today, or she loves me if I have properly performed my functions? No, you misunderstood me. That is not how love should be treated. I agree with you that it should be treated like a business deal. But every business deal has to have its own terms and its own kind of currency. And in love the currency is virtue. You love people, not for what do for them, or what they do for you. You love them for their values, their virtues, which they have achieved in their own character. You don't love causes. You don't love everybody indiscriminately. You love only those who deserve it. And then if a man is weak, or a woman is weak, then she is beyond, he is beyond love? He certainly does not deserve it, he certainly is beyond. He can always correct it. Man has free will. If a man wants love he should correct his weaknesses, or his flaws, and he may deserve it. But he cannot expect the unearned, neither in love, nor in money, neither in method, nor spirit. You have lived in our world, and you realize... recognize... the fallibility of human beings, there are very few us then in this world, by your standards, who are worthy of love. Unfortunately.... yes... very few. But it is open to everybody, to make themselves worthy of it and that is all that my morality offers them. A way to make themselves worthy of love although that's not the primary motive.
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