The other day I overheard an interview on the radio. The host asked the interviewee an old cliché: “If you could meet anyone from history, who would that person be?”
I don’t remember the interviewee, I remember thinking his answers were as cliché as the questions though: Jesus, Gandhi, etc . Admittedly, I wasn’t in the most positive of moods, but I didn’t find myself thinking of individuals from history who I already held in esteem. Instead I found myself thinking, who is dead that I’m not sure I agree with?
The person who popped into my head was Ayn Rand. This was odd though: (1) because Ayn Rand’s philosophy isn’t necessary something I have a particular problem with (2) I hadn’t thought of her philosophy in years.
I am not a scholar on her works, so you don’t have to worry about this getting highly opinionated, I promise. In addition it’s only a thought I had in a fleeting moment, so if the answers to my musings are easily found on the internet, I apologize, but this isn’t a research paper.
Like most people, I read Atlas Shrugged at some point in my twenties. The book didn’t blow my mind but it did make me introspect, especially when at times I’d felt a sympathy for her villains, even when I could see they were plainly being ‘villains.’
I realized that what I really wanted was to bring Ayn into the world of now, and see if she could sway me to her philosophy in a modern context.
Let me digress a moment here. The problem with reading about the thoughts of a scholar is that you only have the answer to the questions they specifically answered. What if you wanted to tweak a detail of that question?
On this day in particular I had been searching government websites in order to make sure the company I work for was compliantly doing business. This was difficult for me, not because I couldn’t find what I was looking for, but because none of the available literature was written from the appropriate stand point of our business. Everything I read could have been extrapolated into one answer or another, but without being able to look an expert in the face and ask the exact question I wanted answered, I could never be sure. Eventually I gave up and actually tried calling the government branch associated to what I was looking for. Despite my predictions, this worked out perfectly. Someone actually answered, I phrased the question exactly how I wanted it, and got a definitive yes/no.
So if I wanted to know, what might Ayn think on a topic like:
- If a modern environmentalist movement got in the way of a company’s production?
- If large companies take control of the internet and get to decide what would be given bandwidth or access at all?
- If things that were produced virtually and required little to no physical properties to replicate?
- What if technology reached a point where all life sustaining requirements could be produced in a self-sustaining and automated manner? Would a person be selfish to make others work for food/shelter in such context?
- What happens when we reach a point in our knowledge where only the truly exceptional, and highly educated can hope to contribute to the advancement of mankind? When is it reasonable to say, this person literally was born without the possibility of contributing something solid?
You might think I’m expressing a bias by the nature of these questions, but I don’t think I am, I’d really like to know what she’d say. Like I said, I’ve always been on the fence with her philosophy.
You know what? Nevermind! I’d rather go back in time and find out what sexual position cave men favored.