“One-upsmanship” can only happen between egos. In terms of the human spirit: if you succeed, I succeed. That is the unity of the human race, as expressed in the Writings:
All men were created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.
What Rand does not touch upon is the context of choice, so that some of her thoughts are forced to be “context free”, which tends to leave her promoting goals that not everyone can strive for.
I believe that while every choice is free, the context of every choice is ordained. There is purpose is what we are presented with. Rand would not agree with that, because it requires a belief in God.
…’s soul (a disabled person) lived in his own sphere, one that you and I do not have access to. Those around him had him as part of their sphere, etc. There are an infinite variety of challenges, some involving poverty, some suffering – while others involve wealth and comfort! We cannot judge the appropriateness of context, because the mere fact of its existing indicates that God has allowed it. But we are all free to choose, and what we do with that choice – relative to the context in which we find ourselves – adds something to reality. That is the purpose for our being here. Literally, to make beautiful choices, I think.
I find Rand’s ideas in very close harmony with the Faith, once I separate “individual” into ego and higher self. It is egos that do not want the world to move too quickly, because such movement agitates them; while the higher self yearns to draw nearer to God with each moment. The ego actually wants to hold back this yearning, to reign it in, moderate it, because it must result in the weakening of the ego.
As egos, we are separate, we fight, we have different goals, we are constantly offended by others and put off by their ideas. As humans, we are one body, the leaves of one tree, advancing toward a common goal: the goal of the soul’s desire. It is when the ego does not permit the individual’s humanity to shine, but tries to “reign it in” and direct it to its own purpose, that we have so much hateful competition.
The competition of souls results in everyone winning. Have you ever been in a situation with another capable individual, thinking up ideas for some adventure? You suggest one thing, they get excited about it and suggest something better, this fires your imagination and you suggest something even better… The two of you are working off each other’s capacity for creation, not thinking of who is making up each idea, but falling in love with the beauty of the ideas themselves. It is the ego that would step in and feel hurt because its idea wasn’t last.
This is the unity of Rand’s vision: That which we each inspire another through achievement (or maybe, beautiful choices), and though the name behind the achievement should be admired for having acted, that is not what is worshiped. What is worshiped is the Quality of the achievement itself – which is to say, the beauty of God shining through such an act of creation.
The opposite of her world is one in which people wait for others to act, complain if they don’t, and give excuses for why they don’t act themselves. Sound familiar? And once someone has acted, the non-actors want to bask in the glory of it by association, put it to their own uses, and then convince the actor that he owed them that service.