Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Classics of Conservatism - part XVI - Ayn Rand - Philosophy: Who Needs It

Click here for previous editions of "Classics of Conservatism."

This month's "Classic" is Ayn Rand's Philosophy: Who Needs It.

Philosophy is a compilation of articles that first appeared individually in the early to mid-1970's. Don't let the title fool you. Rand did not oppose the concept of "philosophy." In fact, the entire volume argues in support of philosophy's contribution to civilization, freedom and prosperity. Rand repeatedly stated throughout her life that true happiness was impossible without a firm grounding in philosophy. (Recall that most of the heroes of Rand's Atlas Shrugged were either students or professors of philosophy.)

But she did not dwell on the incomprehensible concepts that pass for philosphy in modern universities.


Instead, she presented a simple, logical view of mankind that is attainable by each of us.

My favorite chapter is #6, "An Open Letter to Boris Spassky." Spassky was a world famous Russian chess champion. Rand's "letter" challenges Spassky - and the reader - to imagine chess if the rules of collectivism (whether one calls it socialism or western liberalism) governed the game. I first read this chapter (and the book) in 1989 and I have never forgotten it.

Some of the chapters also provide history lessons for those of us who are too young to remember the early 1970's (or who have heard only the MSM/DNC version of those years). Chapter 12 uses Allende's Chile as an example of the failures of collectivism. Rand's commentary is refreshing for those of us who are tired of hearing Allende referred to as a martyr.

While Ayn Rand is famous for her fiction works, the non-fiction compilations, such as Philosophy, provide entertaining, thought provoking, timeless insight into man's struggle against collectivism.

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