On Philosophy: Who Needs It? by Ayn Rand (1974)

Book coverI must have bought this cassette of of eBay around the turn of the century–or did I order it directly from Second Renaissance Books back in the day? In the 1990s, Second Renaissance published a lot of Ayn Randia, and maybe you could order stuff from its catalog or from the forms in the back of its books. I know I subscribed to The Intellectual Activist (wow, that was still a going concern as late as 2021, so maybe I saw ads in it (probably not). I even read Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand and The Ominous Parallels back in college. I was a pretty dedicated little-o objectivist back then.

I found this audiocassette in one of the bins in my desk cubby; I am not sure why it was up there or why it was floating around. Perhaps it had been in a desk drawer and I moved it to the cubby at some point. I got it out with the intention of relocating it to our other collection of music audiocassettes, but when I saw the 2023 Winter Reading Challenge has a “Listen to a Book” category, I thought maybe it was the text of the book of the same name, or maybe just the title essay. However, it’s a speech delivered at West Point in 1974 along with a little question and answer session. No doubt the title essay of the book comes from this speech and probably others she gave in the line, I could not in good conscience count it as listening to a book after all.

You can hear the speech on YouTube:

Now, thirty years have passed my first exposure to Objectivism (I read The Fountainhead the summer before college after the Swedish mechanic who lived next door to my father shamed me for not reading literature, and I remembered The Fountainhead from flyers advertising the Objectivist Institute’s scholarship contest that I’d missed out on). And you know what? I still agree with a lot of the premises and conclusions of Objectivism. The basics. So it was a pleasant listen, and it reminds me that I have not read The Fountainhead since 2005 which means it’s long overdue.

And during the question and answer period, listen to the seeds of modern wokeism–out of, what, five questions we get one about the United States’ guilt for slavery and native genocide? At West Point? Man, it’s amazing how far back the long march started, but that’s why it’s been a long march and why not many reacted to its slow approach.

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