If you’re looking for a philosophy that will help you form connections with other people, build understanding and generally live a more empathetic life, Ayn Rand’s is not for you.
Rand was a Russian-American philosopher who was active from the 1940s until her movement and her health began to decline in the late ‘70s. She thought that individual rights were the most important thing, which meant she really liked unrestricted capitalism, logic, reason and self-interest, and hated religion, communism and feeling bad for poor people. She came up with a set of beliefs centred around the very after-school-special theory that life’s ultimate purpose is following your dreams, and called it Objectivism.
Prominent Objectivist philosopher Big Sean articulated the theory best in his 2014 work “I Don’t Fuck With You ft. E-40”: “Little stupid ass, I don’t give a fuck, I don’t give a fuck / I don’t I don’t I don’t give a fuck / Bitch, I don’t give a fuck about you or anything that you do.”
Rand’s Wikipedia page says her work was “received ... with mixed reviews,” which is perhaps the most hilarious understatement of all time — perhaps no other philosopher is as quickly divisive as Rand, mostly due to her outsize role in American politics over the past few decades.
After being largely dismissed by academics once it became fashionable to dislike her, Rand was quickly embraced by Republican leaders like Paul Ryan, Donald Trump and your aunt who shares minion memes superimposed on the confederate flag. (They generally try to ignore the whole “staunch atheist” thing.)
Rand fought a lengthy battle with lung cancer toward the end of her life and passed away in 1982. She actually enrolled in Social Security and Medicare in the ‘70s, which critics point to as a) pretty funny and b) the logical end point of Objectivist theory.
Proponents generally respond that acting in one’s self-interest means using every avenue to ensure one’s survival even if you morally disagree with the system — and hey, someone died, it’s kind of fucked up for you to be laughing right now.
In loving memoriam of a major inspiration behind stripping healthcare from 13 million people, The Ubyssey has compiled a short list of ideas for how to live your university life as Ayn Rand would’ve wanted:
- If a member of your group project isn’t pulling their weight, politely suggest that they walk into the ocean to salvage their remaining honour.
- Chipping in for pizza isn’t socialism as long as you try your best to eat the entire thing.
- Insist that your articles don’t need to be peer reviewed. If anyone has a problem with your conclusions, cordially invite them to a short debate in the parking lot.
- Your happiness is not the means to an end. It is the end. Eat the second tray of cheesy bread.
- “I regret nothing” is a pretty good catch-all argument winner.
- Grades are a form of statist oppression.
- Rand once wrote in The Fountainhead that “To say ‘I love you’ one must know first how to say the ‘I’.” This should sufficiently explain why you forgot your significant other’s birthday again.
- When you are inevitably arrested for firebombing a post office, remember that “it’s the hardest thing in the world to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage.”
- Taxes are more like suggestions.
Remember: the most important lesson taught by Ayn Rand — the woman who believed lesbians are “hideous,” that the “ideal woman is a man-worshipper” and that racial minorities faced just as much discrimination as businessmen — is that as long as you aren’t a woman or gay, you matter.