An Animated Ayn Rand Dispenses Terrible Love Advice to Mike Wallace (1959)

In the past, the good folks over at Blank on Blank have turned rarely-seen inter­views with the likes of Ray Brad­bury and John Coltrane into bril­liant lit­tle ani­mat­ed shorts. This week, their lat­est install­ment is on Ayn Rand.

Rand, of course, is the mind behind Objec­tivism, the patron saint of lais­sez faire cap­i­tal­ism, and the author of such unwieldy tomes as The Foun­tain­head and Atlas Shrugged. Among Wall Street bankers, Wash­ing­ton con­ser­v­a­tives and insuf­fer­able col­lege sopho­mores, Rand is a revered fig­ure. For­mer vice pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Paul Ryan and pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Rand Paul are both acknowl­edged fol­low­ers. For­mer Fed­er­al Reserve head Alan Greenspan was Rand’s pro­tégé. To a lot of oth­er peo­ple, of course, her the­o­ries are lit­tle more than a shrill jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of sociopa­thy, an empa­thy-chal­lenged vision of social inter­ac­tion that flies in the face of basic ideas of human decen­cy.

The inter­view dates back to a 1959 inter­view by Mike Wal­lace (see the orig­i­nal here) who grills Rand on her con­cept of love and hap­pi­ness, which leads to this exchange:

Ayn Rand: I say that man is enti­tled to his own hap­pi­ness. And that he must achieve it him­self. But that he can­not demand that oth­ers give up their lives to make him hap­py. And nor should he wish to sac­ri­fice him­self for the hap­pi­ness of oth­ers. I hold that man should have self-esteem.

Mike Wal­lace: And can­not man have self-esteem if he loves his fel­low man? Christ, every impor­tant moral leader in man’s his­to­ry, has taught us that we should love one anoth­er. Why then is this kind of love in your mind immoral?

Ayn Rand: It is immoral if it is a love placed above one­self. It is more than immoral, it’s impos­si­ble. Because when you are asked to love every­body indis­crim­i­nate­ly. That is to love peo­ple with­out any stan­dard. To love them regard­less of whether they have any val­ue or virtue, you are asked to love nobody.

Watch­ing the piece, I kept hear­ing the title of Ray­mond Carver’s bril­liant short sto­ry run through my mind, “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” (Hear Carv­er read that sto­ry here.) My sense is that her ver­sion of love is very dif­fer­ent from mine. Watch the full ani­mat­ed video above.

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing pic­tures of vice pres­i­dents with octo­pus­es on their heads.  The Veep­to­pus store is here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Flan­nery O’Connor: Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Ayn Rand (1960)

Ayn Rand Adamant­ly Defends Her Athe­ism on The Phil Don­ahue Show (Cir­ca 1979)

The Out­spo­ken Ayn Rand Inter­viewed by Mike Wal­lace (1959)

Ayn Rand Trash­es C.S. Lewis in Her Mar­gin­a­lia: He’s an “Abysmal Bas­tard”

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Comments (3)
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  • Mark says:

    Ayn Rand — what a sad, con­fused indi­vid­ual. She was also a hyp­ocrite since she col­lect­ed Medicare and Social Secu­ri­ty.

  • Bill W. says:

    Con­sid­er­ing Medicare and Social Secu­ri­ty are Enti­tle­ments (some­thing you pay into through your own hard-work, meant for your retire­ment) vs. a Sub­sidy, such as Food Stamps or Wel­fare (Some­thing for nothing)…Rand is not a hyp­ocrite, since she EARNED the ben­e­fits she accu­mu­lat­ed for her mis­er­able old-age.

  • ONM says:

    Food Stamps and Wel­fare are payed for by your own tax dol­lars, so you are pay­ing for the ser­vice of liv­ing in a coun­try where few peo­ple starve, where you your­self are unlike­ly to starve regard­less of what uncon­trol­lable calami­ties befall you, i.e. in a coun­try with a social safe­ty net.

    And the issue isn’t that she was a hyp­ocrite. It’s that her ide­ol­o­gy failed even her­self. She was a wealthy woman lat­er in life, yet when she got sick she feared it would bank­rupt her and knew that she *need­ed pub­lic help*. She might have been able to afford her med­ical bills, but decid­ed to file for ben­e­fits (under a false name) because she want­ed the ben­e­fit of liv­ing with a safe­ty net.

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