Rand's philosophy

What’s funny is that Rand would not want to be followed, according to her philosophy, she would want to be outdone.

Also, she was forced to write in terminology that can always be taken two ways. She is not interested in the individual at all, but what the individual can achieve. In that sense, one individual is just as good as the next, and the real achiever wants to be replaced by someone better. The desire is for humankind to grow and continue, not the individual as the cost of humankind. As a result, her idea of “ego” is really “pride in being human”, and not “pride in being a distinct individual”. Those who want to preserve their selfhood are the looters who do not care what damage they do along the way.

Here is a snippet of dialog that emphasizes this:

“Miss Taggart, do you know the hallmark of the second-rater? It’s resentment of another man’s achievement. Those touchy mediocrities who sit trembling lest someone’s work prove greater than their own – they have no inkling of the loneliness that comes when you reach the top. The loneliness for an equal – for a mind to respect and an achievement to admire. They bare their teeth at you from out of their rat holes, thinking that you take pleasure in letting your brilliance dim them – while you’d give a year of your life to see a flicker of talent anywhere among them. They envy achievement, and their dream of greatness is a world where all men have become their acknowledged inferiors. They don’t know that that sort of world is what the man of achievement would not be able to bear. They have no way of knowing what he feels when surrounded by inferiors – hatred? no, not hatred, but boredom – the terrible, hopeless, draining, paralyzing boredom. Of what account are praise and adulation from men whom you don’t respect? Have you ever felt the longing for someone you could admire? For something, not to look down to, but up to?”

Far from wanting the fame of her individuality to survive, Rand would like nothing better than to be forgotten in the shadow of someone willing to rise higher. Her use of the word “individual” makes sense in spiritual terms when we discriminate between the higher self and the lower self. The lower self is afraid of, always wanting to silence, the higher self; the higher self implies the lower self’s destruction.

The result is that if you read Atlas Shrugged as containing only two characters: the movers representing the case of the higher self, and the looters the case of the lower self: it reads like a monumental courtroom drama in which each side presents its case, and the reader is left to decide whom he favors.