How do you know when your society’s in trouble? My wife gave me a copy of the Journals of Ayn Rand to help celebrate the release of the second half of Atlas Shrugged in the movie theatres. As a person who loves good writing and enjoys knowing how people think, this was a great gift. It shares the work process she employed in writing some of her greatest novels.
I don’t agree with Ayn Rand on everything but her thinking always stirs my mind and makes me think. Ayn survived a horrific time in world history and decided the most powerful weapon in the war against Communism was a sharp pencil and an iron will. She survived the Communist takeover in her country before coming to the US and vowed to fight big government around the globe. She inspired a new generation of Libertarians and her writing helped shape Ronald Reagan’s thinking on Communism. I was startled by an entry from her diary from 1947. It could be a Libertarian Manifesto for today. As Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” If we don’t heed the lessons of history we may repeat the tragic errors of our fathers’ generation in dealing with both Communism and its more active brother today, Socialism.
Ayn Rand shared her thinking on how to reverse big government from taking over our country. Tell me you are not surprised at how our current political environment is leaning this way and why we must become more active in our destinies if we hope to survive this current challenge to our way of life. Below are twelve of Ayn Rand’s warnings that our democracy may be under assault. Her thoughts are in boldface type, the text following is mine.
1. People Take Politics Lightly. How many times have you said this doesn’t impact me so I’m not going to get involved? All life is politics. It is naïve to think we should not get involved in deciding our own future. Our politicians work for us. We don’t work for them. If they don’t represent what’s best for our future, they must be sent home.
2. People Smear the Free Enterprise System. Many people say, “I’m not a business owner. Why should I care about the fact that free enterprise is under attack?” The free enterprise system creates wealth and jobs for our society. Do not let others take away the opportunities we’ve worked for generations to provide to our children.
3. Don’t Smear Capitalists. The only people that political correctness allow you to attack are the people who run businesses in today’s society. What crap! Political correctness is stifling the truth and people don’t realize that if they allow it for some today, tomorrow they might be next. Many of those executed by the guillotine in the French Revolution were initially ardent supporters of the revolt.
4. Don’t Smear Wealth. Wealth allows everyone to prosper. If you penalize the people who produce, at what point do they stop producing? Every person has the right to produce as much wealth as they would like.
5. Don’t Smear the Profit Motive. Profit allows us to produce products and services at lower costs. Government has no ability to produce value for us. Government can provide supports for society but free enterprise creates value, solutions, and jobs for everyone.
6. Don’t Smear Success. When all you can do is attack the success of others, you are no longer creating value. The successful people are the ones that effect change. There are many different types of success and we must embrace them all. If you start saying we only accept certain types of success, our society fails.
7. Don’t Glorify Failure. We need to make sure that becoming a failure doesn’t get more attention than being a success does. Take a look at our celebrity culture, is this what you want your children to strive to achieve?
8. Don’t Glorify Depravity. If Andy Warhol was right, we all get our 15 minutes of fame. What do you want yours to be? Celebrating bad behavior just creates more bad behavior. How do we provide future generations with a successful blueprint for achievement?
9. Don’t Deify “The Common Man” There is nothing more tragic than the notion of the common man or woman. Everyone is born with extraordinary gifts and talents to achieve amazing things. Our education system’s role is supposed to help our children discover their exceptional gifts and then help them use them in a positive way. Everyone has the chance to be exceptional. Why would we want to take that away?
10. Don’t Glorify the Collective. People must be given a choice on how to participate in society. Our society and the world are built on the backs of individuals who are committed to making a difference in the world. Collective thinking tends to produce limited results because it cannot acknowledge the strengths and capabilities of others.
11. Don’t Smear the Independent Man. A society must have independent men and women if it hopes to achieve its greatest potential. Few exceptional organizations are built by committee. As George Bernard Shaw once said, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.“ Be independent and unreasonable!
12. Don’t Use Current Events Carelessly. It’s easy to see events happening and not understand the bigger patterns. We must be willing to use critical thinking to look at the hard facts and situations to find connections and the bigger patterns. A society that doesn’t understand what’s happening becomes the victim of circumstance. A society that understands what’s happening can creates a strong strategy for dealing with situations. We must create our own future or we will fall victim to someone else’s.
This material was written in 1947. It’s eerie how appropriate it is to our society today. The only question I have is are we going to understand the warning signs and do something or become the next victim to unseen forces. Are you ready to sacrifice your individuality and free choice for someone else who doesn’t care about you? It’s our choice and we will be making our decision in November.