The Future of Objectivism

1999-07-19

Here are some further thoughts on the future of Objectivism....

Something that Howard Roark says in The Fountainhead fascinates me because I think it's autobiographical on Rand's part. In his exchange with the Dean, Roark says:

I set my own standards. I inherit nothing. I stand at the end of no tradition. I may, perhaps, stand at the beginning of one.

Why would Roark want to stand at the beginning of a tradition if he is truly an individualist? Why would Rand want to stand at the beginning of a tradition? I'm not sure, but I think she did want to start a tradition. And she has. But to want to start a tradition, you must want others to follow your line of thinking, not to start their own lines of thinking. So conservatism is built in from the start. And I think that is the first cause of all conservatism in Objectivism.

I don't know if Objectivism has a future and I don't know that I care. Rand's novels have a future and she will continue to be read. Whether or not there is an organized Objectivist movement doesn't matter to me. People will read her novels, with the results that some will be inspired by her vision and follow in her footsteps. Some of those will see where those footsteps lead and will branch off into other directions, perhaps veering from her path, perhaps focusing on certain directions (e.g., politics or culture), perhaps extending the path by pursuing lines of thought that Rand would never have entertained. Thus Rand's insights will pass into the main stream of human thought. This is already happening. Whether "Objectivism" survives that process is not very important to me.

Here's another quote, this one from Anthem:

I know not if this earth on which I stand is the core of the universe or if it is but a speck of dust lost in eternity. I know not and I care not. For I know what happiness is possible to me on earth. And my happiness needs no higher aim to vindicate it. My happiness is not the means to any end. It is the end. It is its own goal. It is its own purpose.

I have the same attitude towards "Objectivism" -- I know not and I care not whether it will survive the ages as an organized movement or body of thought. My happiness, my success, my thinking, is not a means to the end of Objectivism. I am an end in myself, and my flourishing as an individual human being needs no higher aim to vindicate it.


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