“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.” — John Rogers
A friend of mine posted that little quote to Facebook the other day and it made me think. I don’t exactly just believe everything Ayn Rand ever wrote, but I do more often than not find that what she’s written makes some sense. So how do you generally follow an objectivist line of thought, without coming across as an emotionally stunted, socially crippled asshole?
I think the secret is to understand and acknowledge that not everyone agrees with you and that they are as entitled to their opinion as you are yours. It is important to understand that the predominant thought in the world today is that you’re supposed to stop being selfish when you “grow up” so most people are going to think of objectivists as immature. The appropriate response to this is intelligent discussion about “the EFFECTIVENESS of a welfare state vs. a truly laisez-faire economy” or “how it makes sense to have a value system based on rationality,” but it is important to note that these are NOT moral conversations. It’s fundamental to the concept of freedom that you shouldn’t judge people for differences in beliefs/philosophy unless those disagreements somehow infringe on your right to have your own beliefs/opinions. I think the mistake many Objectivists (including Rand herself) make is to grow a superiority complex just for understanding a relatively simple philosophy.