Long Live Individualism

Posted on February 2, 2018 by Robert Ringer


I’ve always found it interesting that we celebrate the birthdays of so many scoundrels and charlatans whose actions have brought poverty, misery, and even death to millions of individuals, yet ignore people who have made enormous contributions to mankind.

Included in the latter group is the legendary Ayn Rand, a writer/philosopher who was decades ahead of her time.  Today, February 2, 2018, is the 113th anniversary of her birth, but it’s unlikely you will hear her name mentioned in the news.  Nevertheless, Ayn Rand lives on as a symbol of resistance to the insidious concept of the state.

To be sure, Rand remains a controversial figure, revered by millions and hated by millions more.  While there is no question that she went off the deep end in her later years, lashing out with a seemingly cruel vindictiveness against anyone who dared to question her ideas, her contributions to the cause of liberty were enormous.

Many who knew Ayn Rand personally believed she was a megalomaniac, sociopath, and narcissist who was incapable of normal human interaction.  Perhaps.  But she also was a pure genius who was 100 percent right in her belief that the individual is a sovereign entity.

Ayn Rand’s name is, in fact, virtually synonymous with individualism, the term used to convey the belief that every person is an independent, sovereign entity who possesses an inalienable right to his own life.  (Her overarching philosophy is objectivism, which is similar to individualism but more complex.  It is the belief that people are sovereign due to their rationality — their ability to choose what knowledge they will gain and how they will lead their lives.)

Individualism holds that a civilized society can be achieved only through recognition of individual rights, and that a group has no rights other than the individual rights of its members.  It rejects the notion of a collective good and emphasizes the sovereignty and worth of the individual.  In other words, the individual is supreme when it comes to his own life.

To the individualist, the individual is the end and society the means.  Statists, on the other hand, believe that society is the end and the individual the means.  The latter is the foundation for the nefarious concept of the state.

With this in mind, it’s important to point out that Nazism and communism are not at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, as most people believe.  On the contrary, they are linked at their ideological hips, because both are dictatorships that suppress all opposition and criticism.  Further, both believe in the principle of collectivism — the idea that the collective (society, the community, the nation, the proletariat, etc.) has primacy over the individual.

The reality is that whether they operate under the guise of Nazism, communism, or “democracy” (which is nothing more than tyranny of the majority), governments, by their very nature, are tethered to the collective good.  All believe, to one extent or another, that the individual should be sacrificed for the good of the collective whenever the state (i.e., those individuals who hold the reins of power) believes it to be in the best interest of “society.”

The average low-information citizen in Western countries does not realize that Hitler changed the name of the German Workers’ Party to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, and that the word Nazism became an abbreviation for “National Socialism.”

Benito Mussolini, whom Hitler idolized in the early years of his career, proclaimed himself to be a proud communist throughout his reign of terror.  Yet scholars continue to teach foggy-minded students that fascism and communism are at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum.  The truth, technically speaking, is that communism is actually just another form of fascism.  

Little wonder that university students and intellectuals were among Hitler’s staunchest supporters.  When voters gave the Nazi Party 44 percent of the vote in 1933, they were well aware of the Nazi ideology, because it had been published and widely read, including in Hitler’s infamous Mein Kampf, which sold more than 200,000 copies.  Also, even though German citizens were free to leave the country until the onset of World War II, the fact that few chose to do so speaks worlds about their beliefs.

In one of Hitler’s many diatribes on the moral superiority of the state over the individual, he proclaimed:

It is thus necessary that the individual should finally come to realize that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of his nation; that the position of the individual ego is conditioned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole … that above all, the unity of a nation’s spirit and will are worth far more than the freedom of the spirit and will of an individual.

In other words, statists reject the right of the individual to pursue his own happiness without regard to others, as it believes that “society” is superior to any one person.  On the surface, of course, statists sound like the good guys.  After all, they believe in such righteous abstracts as “the good of society,” “shared prosperity,” and the moral goodness of people receiving government benefits “according to their needs.”

Who would buy into such immoral, abstract tripe?  Answer:  The vast majority of people.  You don’t need to conduct a scientific survey to know that a majority of the world’s population rejects the concept of individualism.  This wholesale rejection of natural rights has given birth to such barbaric dictatorships as Stalin’s Soviet Union, Hitler’s Germany, and Mao’s China.

It should not come as a surprise to anyone that all of these collectivist nations evolved into human slaughterhouses, given that the only way to bring into submission those who refuse to accept the idea of sacrificing for “the common good” is to apply brute force.

Of course, in actual practice the common good has always turned out to be nothing more than doublespeak, because in 100 percent of the cases where ironfisted statism has been implemented, the masses have ended up with wretched lives of quiet desperation, while political leaders, along with their hacks and cronies, have enjoyed lives of luxury and dictatorial power over them.

In his classic novel Animal Farm, George Orwell summed up this reality with these clever and insightful words:  “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”  Bullseye on the subject of collectivism!

So today, Ayn Rand’s 113th birthday, let us renew our efforts to promote the sanctity of the individual and eschew the fiendish concept of collectivism.  The true individualist does not want to run anyone else’s life and does not want anyone run his life.  He desires neither to rule or be ruled.  He has no interest in sacrificing himself to others — especially the “collective” — and has no desire for others to sacrifice themselves to him.

On that note, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish the humanly flawed but brilliant Ayn Rand a happy 113th birthday, wherever she may be, and to proclaim in her honor:  Long live individualism!

Robert Ringer

Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

45 responses to “Long Live Individualism”

  1. Robert Bly says:

    It is widely agreed that Atlas Shrugged is her seminal work, but her nonfiction book The Virtue of Selfishness outlines objectivism in a more straightforward albeit less dramatic fashion — though the use of "selfish" in the title invites instant criticism from many.

    • Jim Hallett says:

      That was my first Ayn Rand book, and I agree it encapsulates her theory the clearest. I loved it!

      • Rick G. says:

        My first book by Ayn Rand was the novelette Anthem. It was very simple and short to read, and very moving as well. It left a big impact on me. Later, I read The New Left: The Anti-industrial Revolution, which became my manifesto as a staunch repudiation of the student New Left.. I bought that paperback while I was still in school and still have it. I like the quote on the back of it and I paraphrase it from memory. There is nothing new about the New Left. It is the last gasp of an outworn philosophy. Reason and morality are the only weapons that determine the course of history. The collectivists dropped them, they had no right to carry them. Pick them up, you have. That is absolutely amazing and had a big impact on me. This book was reissued as Return to the Primitive.as an updated edition.

        • Rick G says:

          And a short while later, I discovered Robert J. Ringer, and he instantly became my favorite philosophical hero. I see him as a more practical, down to earth Ayn Rand, and one who I am more able to accept and agree with on philosophical principles. The way I see Ayn Rand is, I agree with her but only to a certain extent. There are a lot of things about her philosophy I disagree with, particularly, abortion, religion and the existence of God, tobacco, and the idea of a woman president to name a few.

    • Mic says:

      I started with The Fountainhead and later read Atlas Shrugged and The Virtue of Selfishness. To say that both books forever altered my outlook on life is an understatement. I have been an Ayn Rand follower since.

      • Richard Lee Van Der says:

        Yes, I too read all three. Excellent! but prior to that, I had read certain of her writings that purportedly outlined basic schools of thought in Philosophy. I have a B.A. in Philosophy, so I could see she did not understand and misrepresented a great deal. So for many years I had a very bad opinion of her… until I read the 3 great books above. She shoulda stayed away from what she didn't know about.

    • sharyn Sharyn says:

      So interesting that many of us have had the same 3xbook experience around the world. What a shame these books are rarely being read and discussed today. I was certainly inspired by Ayn Rand.

  2. Stefani Woodams says:


  3. Kauai Mike says:

    Grow a tomato. Make a fire. Learn self defense. In all ways strive for independence because every entity capable of profiting off your loss of it, is fighting hard to do so.

  4. Richard Head says:

    Bravo, Mr. Ringer!

    Happy Randsday to you, sir.


    Richard "D.I.C.K." Head

  5. Joseph says:

    Good article. Enjoyed reading Ayn Rand’s favorite novel Calumet “K” by Samuel Mersin.

  6. Joseph says:

    Samuel Merwin

  7. ARBYBAKER1949 says:

    Although I read a lot of Ayn Rand's works (and also Calumet "K"), but she lost me in one area: sacrifice. Where do you get soldiers and sailors if everyone is an "individualist" and is only looking out for Number One. How about one's family and friends. How about the enlightened self interest to realize that unless someone puts on a uniform to prevent Nazi's and Communists (for example) to roll over an individualist nation, there won't be an individualist nation (used to be the USA, but that's another subject) to survive. Who is going to stand tall to defend others?

    • Kauai Mike says:

      There's a segment of the population that find military, police, firefighting, and other lines of employment ARE in their best individual interests. I'm not one of them btw. :)

      • thebacksaver says:

        Well stated Kauai Mike. As I'm sure you are aware, the person who you responded to has a very common misunderstanding of individualism Your response is a good explanation.

  8. Granturk says:

    Rather amazing to see so many Trekkies and others perceive the Borg in the Star Trek series as an evil collective that will assimilate all, yet can't draw the parallel to the real world in which we live. Maybe Ayn was just deeply frustrated by the stupidity of most of us.

    • Scott theczech says:

      I believe that is probably the case; she was just so frustrated that she no longer filtered her remarks and writings. Thank you for that observation.

      • Jean says:

        As a writer, Rand made her living in Hollywood. That environment alone would drive someone who thought and believed as Rand did to drink!

        • Rick G. says:

          Yes, but Hollywood was a lot different then than it is today.

          • Jean says:

            I don't know that I would call it a "lot" different back then. For every John Wayne or Ronald Reagan, there were plenty of Budd Schulbergs (before he realized the inevitable end results of communism) and Dalton Trumbos. If you watch anything that Columbia Pictures produced (other than the Three Stooges shorts) during the 1930s and the 1950s, there is a definite leftist slant to the storylines.

  9. Muthuswamy N says:

    The choice is not either- or but and. There are times and issues when individualism has to take precedence over collectivism and there are times and issues when individualism has to submit to the larger good.

    • CD01 says:

      The "larger good" is a matter of opinion isn't it? Who or what determines the definition of the "larger good"?

      • Muthuswamy N says:

        I have a simple (may be simplistic from others’ point of view) way of doing this: I ask these two opposite questions to get clarity in my mind.
        1.What worst can happen if I go ahead with my individualism in a given situation to society
        2.What best can happen if I go above or beyond my individualism to society.
        The answers to these questions are individualistic. Based on these answers I get to my- these two- questions, I decide on what should I be doing in a given situation.

  10. Tex says:

    I began reading Ayn Rand's works in the late 1950s. I attended a few of her lectures in the Los Angeles area. At the time, she was the only breath of fresh air. Her concepts have impacted my entire life. The one aspect with which I disagree is that she believed in "Limited Stateism." The "State" never stays limited.

  11. BradyMac says:

    The Big Lie-Dinesh D'Sousa's new book lays out the actual history of the Fascist/Communist/U.S.Democrat Party connection. As a history major in the sixties I listened to professors spewing out nonsense that the American political right was the next great danger. The Statists of every ilk-including Islamists- are the once and future threat to freedom.They never disappear but rather emerge as something "new"- Antifa,Isis,Bernie, DiversityVictimhood politics.Their onslaught is culturally and academia/politically non-stop.

  12. Frank says:

    Well, Robert,

    This required a couple hours to read because I wanted to fact-check what you wrote, and you are 100% right. I read some of her books over 40 years ago at a liberal school, and it assisted me to stop digesting their dogma. I believe a few people who read this confused individualism with love for family and friends, and protection from right and wrong. Robert, I hope you write a post about George Orwell in the near future. He wrote: "The people will believe what the media tells them to believe."

    • Rick G. says:

      George Orwell, whose name was Eric Blair, was a self-proclaimed socialist, but spoke the truth about Big Brother.

  13. Bob Stewart says:

    Great article

  14. Scott theczech says:

    Here, here..long live individualism!

    There appears to be a deep flaw in the humans, i.e., the urge, the desire to control others. We all are afflicted with this condition, however some do a better job of keeping it in check. This most excellent article is a great example of how we encourage each other to be better. Thank you Mr. Ringer.

  15. larajf says:

    I hope we can pull together and realize that as individuals, it's in our best interest to work together to fight statism and start waking up people to the joy of the struggle and individual achievement.

  16. RealitySeeker says:

    Well researched! Well written! Best article I've read in a long time.

  17. hon says:

    I once heard someone say that self-actualized people don't need leaders. I think this is what Rand had in mind. Her books had a profound effect on my life. Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism by Joshua Muravchik and Seduced by Hitler: The Choices of a Nation and the Ethics of Survival by Adam LeBor and Roger Boyes are excellent. Lots of good material from the David Horowitz Freedom Center. NewsMax TV had a series called the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. On the topic of economics there's Free or Equal a video from Free to Choose Media. These should be required at all universities. My parents escaped Stalin's iron fist.

  18. Gary says:

    Having known her I wouldn't say she was a megalomaniac , just strong willed. She loved to argue with liberals – Mike Wallace, Phil Donahue, etc. and was always polite to them. I have to admit that she was absolutely right about conservatives.

  19. Bob says:

    It is tough for a lady genius to take on a world of fools.

  20. Richard Lee Van Der says:

    I have a BOOK TITLE, but no book to go with it. Ayn Rand might've been able to write such a book… the prospective title of which is: THE POWER OF POSITIVE REBELLION. If anyone can write such a book, the title is yours, from me to you!

  21. The mystical exerience of Reality only comes to individuals. Now scientists (ie: Eagleton et al) say the mystic experience is from the cosmos, with the human brain a mere receiver. Humans as such may not even exist in the future, only sovereign, individual parts. Is this why historically individualism survives because it is at the root of all evolution while collectivism isn't?

  22. thebacksaver says:

    My 2c:
    I didn't come to Ayn Rand the usual way (ie Fountainhead, then Atlas, then non-fiction). I first happened on WTI and then LOF1 by R. Ringer. These 2 books did indeed change my way of looking at almost everything. Much later I got around to Ayn Rand.
    Concerning Ayn Rand: One could certainly make an argument that she, herself, was not the best example of an Objectivist. If only we could all simply "practice what we preach.." (I'm still working on reaching 100% in that area :)

    • Rick G. says:

      Just keep working on it. Don't give up. You'll make it. It will require constant work as long as you are into it.

  23. Gary says:

    I read her novel "The Fountainhead" first, followed by "Atlas Shrugged" and "Anthem." Great lady. Oh yes, I also read "We the Living."

  24. JOE says:

    If you really want to know Ayn Rand's philosophy, there is the book, OBJECTIVISM: THE PHILOSOPHY OF AYN RAND, written by her 30 year student, who was a PHD in Philosophy Leonard Peokoff. Get the book, but I warn you, you'll be ahead of your time if you truly learn what's in the book. I say that because most people I have observed don't even understand the concept of 'objective' and don't care about being objective, which is another way of saying they don't care about discovering the truth in what they think about, but instead conform to what's around them. But, I loved the book and learned a lot form it. It was worth it because the book is very truthful and honest and very well written.

  25. Rick G. says:

    A super great article by Robert J. Ringer indeed! His philosophy seems to be built upon Ayn Rand's The Virtue of Selfishness and The Art of Selfishness by David Seabury, as well as certain others.like Harry Browne. As I mentioned above as a comment to Jim Hallett's comment above, I agree with Ayn Rand, but only to a certain degree. Just read what I posted there..I just believe Robert Ringer is more preferable and more palatable. The Tortoise rules all!!! Besides, she sees everything as black and white, good and evil, and no in-between. Very rigid and doctrinaire to say the least. And if you disagreed with her one iota, God help you, you were scorned, repudiated, and ejected from her circle of followers. She would never allow you to call yourself an "Objectivist". She and only she would make that decision for you. I really believe that in the end she was losing it.. Ayn Rand is no longer around. Robert J. Ringer rules. Robert Ringer is Number One. It's all about Robert Ringer. Robert J. Ringer is my philosophical hero. My big plan this year, 2018, is to become a born-again Robert Ringerite. I plan to do a start-from-zero on his philosophy and re-read, re-learn and practice his philosophy in total. It will be, "What Would Robert Ringer Do?" in matters of everyday living. Also, I mentioned about a year ago, way way back, I wanted to see about starting a Tortoise fan club, but too many people are chronically addicted to the anti-philosophy of Unreality, I don't foresee this thing ever reaching fruition.

  26. Rick G. says:

    Just to show you what a big fan of the Tortoise I am, I have a Tortoise sweatshirt, Tortoise cap, and a Tortoise clock I bought online a few years back. It's all about Robert J. Ringer. Robert J. Ringer reigns supreme!

  27. Rick G. says:

    And I believe I even have a Tortoise drinking mug here too. I have it in a safe place so I don't accidentally drop and break it.

  28. Carl-Edward says:

    The writings of Ayn Rand – discovered years ago – confirm for me what I have always believed about life and people. Do watch her interview with Mike Wallace (which can be seen on Youtube), recorded in nineteen hundred-and-fifty-nine: oh, but the woman was prescient! Wallace emerges from this as a moron.

  29. George Marine Viet-Vet says:

    The true individual is made by intense trials and tribulations. Tried in the fires of adversity as it was once said. There are stages to the reformation of a true individual which begins with an unraveling of the powerful cultural influences and conditioning we acquire without questioning from churches, educational institutions, parents, peers and even the moon. Even our developing brains in the womb are being hardwired to perceive an illusion of life through 5 senses all of which must be "seen" intuitively usually by a serious personal question. "WTF" is going on here, I ordered apple pie and got peach cobbler is a great way to start. Question everything including the lies we tell ourselves.