The United States is mired right now not only in a political crisis — but in an existential crisis.
The deep divide between left and right is accompanied by incessant attacks on foundational institutions, beliefs and values that threaten to topple the most powerful and successful society in the history of humanity.
There is hope. And it comes from one of the most powerful champions of individual liberty.
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Philosopher and author Ayn Rand offered a guide for the United States to step back from its political precipice and return to greatness: a nation reunited by core common goals, ideals and prosperity.
“She believed what the Founding Fathers achieved was pretty close to perfection,” Yaron Brook, chair of the California-based Ayn Rand Institute, told Fox News Digital.
“She also believed that the nation wasn’t living up to the promise of what the Founders had actually created. But she thought they did as good a job as anybody could [in] setting down the principles of how a country should govern itself.”
Rand is best known as the author of “Atlas Shrugged.”
Her signature 1957 novel is dubbed “a cornerstone of pro-liberty literature” by Students for Liberty.
She was an immigrant who escaped revolutionary-era Russia and found intellectual freedom and success in the United States.
“My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being.” — Ayn Rand
She possessed and espoused deep faith in American exceptionalism and America’s foundational values.
She also easily predicted, with haunting accuracy, the nation’s many political crises today.
The solution is found in an unshakable faith in the individual and a rejection of collectivist ideology.
“My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being,” Rand wrote. It’s one of her most memorable quotes.
Here are five ways Ayn Rand can save America.
1. Pursue a foreign policy of true American self-interest
The nation’s foreign policy since World War II has been defined by a tepid use of its hegemonic power and a blind devotion to some supposed higher good beyond what’s best for the United States and its citizens.
This strategy of weakness has resulted in decades of misstated or misunderstood goals, indecisive or limited actions and in some cases failure even to name our enemies — from Korea and Vietnam to the Biden administration’s embarrassing and deadly withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“The result is that America is less safe and not respected,” said Brook.
“We’ve seen the unnecessary deaths of tens of thousands of American troops in wars it was not in America’s self-interest to enter — and that we had the firepower to win without a single American ground casualty, if we believed in our moral right to use our strength.”
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Rand put the onus on the American people to do better.
“A proper solution would be to elect statesmen — if such appeared — with a radically different foreign policy,” she said, “a policy explicitly and proudly dedicated to the defense of America’s rights and national self-interests, repudiating foreign aid and all forms of international self-immolation.”
2. Reverse the anti-intellectual leftist takeover of academia
American academia was once heralded as the great global bastion of intellectual freedom.
It has since become a highly partisan Petri dish of largely anti-American ideology.
“Rand was one of the quickest to identify the systematic leftist takeover of our universities and the destructive consequences for generations of indoctrinated young adults,” said Brook.
“Our universities have been poisoning our brightest minds into believing America is evil, success is a sin and the intellect is impotent.”
“Our universities have been poisoning our brightest minds into believing America is evil, success is a sin and the intellect is impotent.” — Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute
The result, he said, is generations of confused, resentful young Americans ungrateful and ashamed of a society that offers them freedom, wealth and opportunity at a historically unprecedented scale.
“When men abandon reason, they find not only that their emotions cannot guide them, but that they can experience no emotions save one: terror,” said Rand.
“They sense that they need some fundamental answers to questions they dare not ask — and they hope that the tribe will tell them how to live. They are ready to be taken over by any witch doctor, guru or dictator.”
Rand herself has become a prime target of the academia’s anti-intellectualism.
“Rational discourse will return to our university halls precisely when Ayn Rand’s name is allowed to be mentioned by students without coming in for immediate abuse and denunciation,” said Brook.
3. End partisan warfare caused by political pressure groups dividing the nation
President George Washington himself famously warned of the corrosive nature of party politics in his farewell address of 1796.
Party politics, he said, “agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.”
It took little time for his warning to become reality.
The nation was nearly divided by partisan politics when Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams in the election of 1800. The nation was torn apart in horrific conflict following the Abraham Lincoln election just 60 years later.
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The political divide has created a cultural chasm so deep in recent years that the warring factions can’t even agree on basic scientific facts, such as the existence of two genders.
“In a mixed economy, [statism] takes the form of pressure-group warfare, each group fighting for legislation to extort its own advantages by force from all other groups,” Rand warned.
“When individual rights are abrogated … one’s wishes are limited only by the power of one’s gang.” — Ayn Rand
“The degree of statism in a country’s political system is the degree to which it breaks up the country into rival gangs and sets men against one another,” she also wrote.
“When individual rights are abrogated, there is no way to determine who is entitled to what; there is no way to determine the justice of anyone’s claims, desires, or interests. The criterion, therefore, reverts to the tribal concept of: one’s wishes are limited only by the power of one’s gang.”
4. Restore our faith in a just society
Rand believed that justice was defined by the ability of each person to strive objectively for individual achievement in line with their own capabilities.
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“It is essentially the age-old notion of getting one’s just deserts,” said Brook.
The same belief in individual rights as the foundation of justice was once almost universally held throughout modern western political ideology, even if imperfectly applied.
This belief has been replaced in recent years by a toxic notion that government can impose a just society from above to appease political pressure to correct injustices, both real and perceived, of the past.
Social justice, in other words.
Rand saw the crisis coming half a century ago.
“The new ‘theory of justice’ demands that men counteract the ‘injustice’ of nature by instituting the most obscenely unthinkable injustice among men,” she wrote in 1973.
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This theory included efforts to “deprive ‘those favored by nature’ (i.e., the talented, the intelligent, the creative) of the right to the rewards they produce (i.e., the right to life) — and grant to the incompetent, the stupid, the slothful a right to the effortless enjoyment of the rewards they could not produce, could not imagine, and would not know what to do with,” she also wrote.
5. Pursue moral individualism as the antidote to growing and deadly collectivism
Almost all the great political tragedies in history were born from collectivist ideals, especially in the deadly 20th century.
The rise of national socialism in Germany and Marxism in the Soviet Union, China and other nations around the world caused catastrophic warfare, starvation and social upheaval — at the cost of hundreds of millions of innocent lives.
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“Ayn Rand championed the Enlightenment idea that each of us has full moral worth individually,” said Brook.
“It’s an idea enshrined at the heart of American life by the Declaration of Independence’s assertion of every individual’s right to the pursuit of happiness, and given its greatest literary expression in Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged.’”
There is harmony of interests among rational individuals, Rand believed, in which one person’s pursuit of happiness does not put that person in existential conflict with another individual who is also pursuing his or her own happiness.
“It is man’s independence, success, prosperity and happiness that collectivists wish to destroy.” — Ayn Rand
“Collectivism does not preach sacrifice as a temporary means to some desirable end. Sacrifice is its end — sacrifice as a way of life,” said Rand.
“It is man’s independence, success, prosperity and happiness that collectivists wish to destroy,” she said.
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“Observe the snarling, hysterical hatred with which they greet any suggestion that sacrifice is not necessary, that a non-sacrificial society is possible to men, that it is the only society able to achieve man’s well-being.”
The catastrophic results that have followed this ideology suggest rather strongly that collectivist sacrifice is wrong — and that Rand’s individual “heroic being” is the person best positioned for true freedom and success.