Noted author Ayn Rand is best known for her ideas regarding ethical egoism and living one’s life for the sole purpose of taking as much as you can before you die. She wrote that any sort of collective society brought out inherent evils and believed purely in the individuals right to live by reason and by whatever means necessary to benefit oneself to the fullest. She thought that a capitalist society free from regulation would run itself, and if the greedy succeeded that was their right to succeed.
Recently however, an unpublished memoir was discovered amongst some of her belongings now kept by Leonard Peikoff, another noted philosopher and founder of the Ayn Rand institute. What was found inside one of her apparent final works of writing was eye-opening and heartbreaking for all those who cherished her deeply for her egoist beliefs of only caring about oneself.
One of the most startling passages reads as follows:
“It was odd that I came to this conclusion after a life of selfish means, but I look now to how I survive, how I keep myself among the living, and it is because of the collectivism we have established as a nation. As I gather my Social Security checks and receive treatment for my ailments on the backs of my brothers and sisters, I grow ever appreciative and somewhat regretful that I didn’t realize this sooner. A wise man once said, we work together or we perish as fools, and it’s true, I’m a fool. I’m a fool for failing to recognize that if I look back on my life I see what everyone else has done for me. I wouldn’t be alive right now without the help of someone along the way. I wouldn’t have been a successful writer if I hadn’t been published by someone else. The ones that say they make it on their own are living in a false reality of individualistic hope and egoism. The kind of thinking that we are born with but should be able to grow out of. It is my hope that one day this book will be found, and as I sit here in my last days my soul weeps for those I’ve misled. We are one, without which we are alone, and to be alone is to be absent of all reality of the living.”
It seems Ayn Rand came to a deeper understanding of life during her last few days on earth. If only this memoir had been found sooner, then maybe we wouldn’t be in the financial mess that we are in today because so many believed her when she said live only for yourself.