Letters of Note is fabulous website that usually has me laughing or at least smiling. This letter made me sick to my stomach.
Ayn Rand is a darling of many on the right, and seems to be the guiding spirit of corporate capitalism, the kind that takes no prisoners. You know, more work for the same or less money, layoffs, paying people pennies a day in third-world countries, working conditions that resemble the slaughterhouses of The Jungle.
Compassion. Love. Consideration of your fellow person. Rand scoffs at them. Read on and keep your barf bag handy.
In a letter in 1948, a reader asked what the sentence referred to below meant. This was Ms. Rand’s reply:
Dear Ms. Rondeau:
You asked me to explain the meaning of my sentence in The Fountainhead: “To say ‘I love you’ one must first know how to say the ‘I.”
The meaning of that sentence is contained in the whole of The Fountainhead. And it is stated right in the speech on page 400 from which you took the sentence. The meaning of the “I” is an independent, self-sufficient entity that does not exist for the sake of any other person.
A person who exists only for the sake of his loved one is not an independent entity, but a spiritual parasite. The love of a parasite is worth nothing.
The usual (and very vicious) nonsense preached on the subject of love claims that love is self-sacrifice. A man’s self is his spirit. If one sacrifices his spirit, who or what is left to feel the love? True love is profoundly selfish, in the noblest meaning of the word — it is an expression of one’s highest values. When a person is in love, he seeks his own happiness — and not his sacrifice to the loved one. And the loved one would be a monster if she wanted or expected such sacrifice.
Any person who wants to live for others — for one sweetheart or for the whole of mankind — is a selfless nonentity. An independent “I” is a person who exists for his own sake. Such a person does not make any vicious pretense of self-sacrifice and does not demand it from the person he loves. Which is the only way to be in love and the only form of a self-respecting relationship between two people.