This is Part 1 of a 1956 Ayn Rand interview with Mike Wallace. This was, according to the Youtube video description, her first television interview.
I watched it for the first time today, and would be interested in your thoughts.
Below are some excerpts from the end of this video and related thoughts.
Wallace: What’s wrong with loving your fellow man? Christ, every important moral leader in human history has taught us that we should love one another. Why then is this kind of love in your mind immoral?
Rand: It is immoral if it is a love placed above one’s self. It is more than immoral, it’s impossible. Because when you are asked to love people indiscriminately, that is to love people without any standard, to love them regardless of the fact of whether they have any value or virtue, you are asked to love nobody.
Wallace: … isn’t the essence of love that it’s above self-interest?
Rand: Well, let me make it complete for you. What would it mean to have love above self-interest? It would mean, for instance, for a husband to tell his wife if he were moral, according to conventional morality that “I am marrying you just for your own sake. I have no personal interest in it, but I am so unselfish that I’m marrying you only for your own good.” Would a woman like that? … In love, the currency is virtue. You love people not ofr what you do for them or what they do for you. We love them for their values, their virtues which they have achieved in their own character. You don’t love causes. you don’t love everybody indiscriminately. You love only those who deserve it…
Wallace: … There are very few of us then, in this world, by your standards, who are worthy of love.
Rand: Unfortunately, yes. Very few. But it is open for everybody to make themselves worthy of it, and that is all that my morality offers them: A way to make themselves worthy of love, although that is not the primary motive.
But Rand’s illustration of a husband and wife does make sense. At minimum, many types – perhaps the strongest types of love are not devoid of self-interest. You’d be dead inside if you got nothing out of your love for a spouse, or a child. Per Rand, love isn’t love if you get nothing out of it.
This objectivist view of love stands in total opposition to the current political moves that declare love means each of us should make sacrifices of ourselves for “the common good,” even when we get nothing out of it. We are to be completely devoid of self-interest.
Is this love? Can love ever be devoid of self-interest?
My initial reaction is opposed to the objectivist idea – what about the good Samaritan? What about loving your neighbor as you love yourself? If people have to make themselves worthy of love, how can we love children? What about a child born with Down’s Syndrome? What about an elderly person with Alzheimer disease? This has always left me wondering if any form of objectivism can be merged with a Christian worldview*. Perhaps the answer is in the order of Jesus’ commands: Love God, and love your neighbor. Perhaps loving our neighbors is not the purpose in itself, but we love them because we love God. Loving strangers is, then, be part of loving God.
But what about loving God? Is our love for God devoid of self-interest, or do you get something out of our love for God as we do from loving your spouse?
Question 1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism:
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
This basic statement of the purpose of humankind declares we are purposed to get something from God – our own enjoyment.
John Piper builds off this in what he calls “Christian hedonism,” in his book Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist, and through his ministry.
Piper seems to agree with Ayn Rand! About Love for God, Piper writes:
Hebrews 11:6 teaches, “Without faith it is impossible to please [God]. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” You cannot please God if you do not come to him looking for reward. Therefore, faith that pleases God is the hedonistic pursuit of God.
Ok, what about loving our enemies? While we are to expect nothing earthly in return, Piper writes that “we are given strength to suffer loss by the promise of a future reward.”
Throughout the Bible we are in fact commanded to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven. To seek God who will give us the desires of our heart – who rewards those who seek him.
Ayn Rand’s view actually aligns with the biblical idea of following God, loving our neighbors and even loving our enemies. The politics of socialism do not.
* Ayn Rand does state in this interview that she is opposed to the Judeo-Christian traditions and opposed to churches, but that doesn’t mean that everything she thinks is wrong or that everything she thinks is incompatible with Christianity. While I haven’t studied Rand at lengths, she believes that reality is objective, and our moral guide is to use reason. If objective reality is Christianity – if biblical Christianity has the most reliable truth-claims and is the most reasonable view of reality, then Christianity and objectivism could work together.