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‘This Is Ayn Rand Speaking’: Original Ideas on Timeless Topics

Rand speaks out on what’s wrong with conventional wisdom.

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In our culture, Ayn Rand is primarily known for her controversial advocacy of capitalism and selfishness, and for her opposition to altruism. But rarely do her ideas get a fair, careful hearing through her own words. Truth is, many of Rand’s critics settle for hearsay, often echoing straw-man claims that show no engagement with her actual ideas and arguments.

But understanding an unconventional thinker’s take on important topics is crucial for anyone seeking an original perspective on old ideas. In its goal to make Ayn Rand’s ideas better known and studied, ARI has produced the This Is Ayn Rand Speaking video series, designed to convey her abstract views in a short audiovisual form that creates a cohesive feel and style.

ARI senior fellow Keith Lockitch, who oversaw the production of these videos, says that “this series was an experiment to see what it would look like to create short-form video content that uses excerpts of Ayn Rand speaking in her own words. The idea was to choose topics that she spoke about that are of timeless relevance — issues like freedom of speech, antitrust, altruism, and so on — and to select a short, self-contained audio clip of Rand speaking about a topic that could be the basis for an animated video.”

This Is Ayn Rand Speaking is part of ARI’s efforts to introduce Ayn Rand’s ideas to new, active-minded audiences. This project would not have been possible without the generous contributions of our donors, to whom we extend our gratitude.

A special thanks to Wes Westmoreland for his support. Asked about his interest in the project, he commented: “No one speaks as clearly or as directly about her philosophy as Ayn Rand. I was proud to support the ‘Ayn Rand Speaking’ videos that brought her words directly to new — and particularly young — audiences in a creative and intriguing way.”

The five videos, published on Facebook and YouTube, can be viewed below.

On Happiness

In many people’s minds, being happy is little more than “simply momentary pleasures or any kind of mindless self-indulgence.” In contrast, Rand argues that happiness is not a fleeting feeling but an enduring achievement to be earned by the pursuit of long-term values according to a rational code of morality.

On Altruism

Kindness, goodwill, and generosity are some of the traits people associate with the idea of altruism. But Rand is emphatic that altruism actually makes such behaviors impossible. In this excerpt from her seminal talk “Faith and Force: The Destroyers of the Modern World,” she explains that the essence of altruism is not benevolence but self-sacrifice to the needs of others.

On Capitalism

Almost everyone believes that capitalism is the source of many social evils, but according to Rand this is a monumental injustice without historical basis. As the only system that places the protection of individual rights and the elimination of physical force at the core of social life, capitalism has been the unrecognized source of whatever prosperity, civility, and goodwill exist today.

On Freedom of Speech

What is the proper meaning of “freedom of speech”? What is “censorship”? According to Rand, “censorship” is a term pertaining “only to governmental action.” Freedom of speech “does not include the material implementation of that right by other men” but “only the freedom to earn that implementation by one’s own efforts.” Thus, property rights are an essential guarantee of the individual’s freedom of speech.

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On Antitrust Laws

Antitrust laws are essential to protect free and open competition and aspiring entrepreneurs, right? Wrong. Rand argues that America’s antitrust laws are a source of profound injustice against successful businessmen. By setting impossible-to-implement standards, “under the antitrust laws, a man becomes a criminal from the moment he goes into business, no matter what he does.”

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Ricardo Pinto

Ricardo Pinto, BA in philosophy, is a junior fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute.

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