The Moral Basis of Individualism
[Reprinted from The Intellectual Activist,
originally from Ayn Rand's journals]
[The Intellectual Activist is
pleased to present selections from Chapter 8 of a forthcoming book
of Ayn Rand's journals. David Harriman, the book's editor, has
provided the following introduction to these excerpts.]
Soon after completing The Fountainhead,
Ayn Rand contracted with her publisher (Bobbs-Merrill) to write a
short nonfiction book giving a systematic presentation of the
novel's ethics and politics. Her working title for the book was The
Moral Basis of Individualism.
Ayn Rand's notes for this book provide a
fascinating record of her philosophic development during the period
between The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. In
reading these notes, we see her in the process of discovering and
clarifying many of the ideas that she later presented in Galt's
speech. Her formulations here should not be taken as final or
definitive; rather, they are her notes to herself while she is
working out how to present Objectivism as a systematic philosophy.
Her journal for The Moral Basis of
Individualism can be viewed as a progression with three stages.
She begins in September of 1943 by writing a foreword and an
unworked draft of the first three chapters. She then stops work on
the draft and instead begins asking herself questions and thinking
aloud on paper. Finally, in the summer of 1945, she critiques her
original draft and rewrites part of it before deciding to drop the
project. To illustrate this progression, I have chosen excerpts from
all three stages. The selection comprises about one fifth of the
journal, which will be presented in its entirety in the forthcoming
September 4, 1943
Mankind is committing suicide.
The peculiarity of the present world disaster is that every group
of men in every country is the originator of its own destruction.
Men are not fighting one another for self-preservation. They are
each fighting all for the right to annihilate oneself as fast as
Intellectuals such as Trotsky worked to bring about the
dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia; they have been murdered
by that dictatorship. Industrialists such as [Fritz] Thyssen, and
church leaders such as [Martin] Niemoller, worked to bring about the
Nazi regime in Germany; they have been exterminated. [The preceding
two sentences were crossed out.] American labor union leaders caused
the creation of Labor Boards; these are now the instruments through
which labor union leaders are being sent to jail. Republicans who
decry the New Deal usurpation of power are now advocating the
passage of a labor conscription act which would give the New Deal
its last, winning step toward total power over this country.
Conservatives, anxious to preserve capitalism, are supporting this
measure which would turn citizens into serfs--which would be the end
of capitalism, for it cannot function through serfs. Leaders of
racial minorities are advocating the destruction of the American
system of government--which is the only system that ever has or can
protect a racial minority. Intellectuals have embraced, en masse and
in toto, the doctrine of collectivism--under which the intellectual
professions are the least possible and the first to go. Name a group
of men and you are naming that group's murderers.