The problem is of communicating, highly abstract, philosophical ideas to people who are not philosophical – or who may never become philosophical.
I was talking with an objectivist as I drove him back from his lecture here at the University of Toronto. We ended up talking about my religious background and how I got free from its clutches. When I got into religion, I told him, I was very young, and the bible was made for me through its child-like, simple stories. There is no philosophy in it but repetitive “human” stories after stories of blatant acts of altruism.
Later, reality itself saved me from religion by its metaphysical absolutism, but I said it was the simple stories told of direct, human activities that capture – and replace cognition in the minds of readers, who hold to their faith. It is not philosophical treatises, abstract theories, or even a hint of mental effort required of readers that has kept billions locked in a living death for centuries. I didn’t even see the full relevance of this until much later.
Even today, government media like Canada’s CBC radio and TV does not fill its viewers with complications, but fills the viewers with HUMAN stories, human events, and human actions that are fully loaded with altruistic intentions. Equally loaded are stories of collective “warmth”, community, family, and non-profit altruism. People couldn’t be bothered to go to a dictionary to learn what the word altruism means, but are fully immersed in it by virtue of the stories they’ve heard and remember.
I see objectivism today as the, “Terminator” (movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, as Sara O’Conner.)
We, as objectivists may well be a future race, out to replace the rotted, conventional corrupt structures today, but people only see our titanium skeleton, and are horrified and terrified at the sight of this strong and new because they don’t understand it. They don’t conceive it as human.
Objectivism is new and can displace a threatening dark future, but who recognizes it?
Art condenses abstracts to a visible concrete in simple, perceptual form for people to understand. Simple, human story telling is a highly effective, long-lasting art form.
Ayn Rand knew this and fully displayed it with, “Anthem”, “The Fountainhead”, “Atlas shrugged” and her early stories. A new foundation for man has been laid out in story form, not just philosophically by Ayn Rand, but where is the flesh today? Where is the warmth and humanity in objectivism? I’m not implying mush, but I do believe stories, human stories are a method for cutting right through all the eclectic mix of today’s various levels of society.
To conclude, here’s my own personal observation. Objectivists are in the growing thousands, hundreds live right here in Toronto, Canada – but are invisible. Objectivism’s powerful ideas are here and on the internet, but where’s the face, the living principles for others to see? What does he do? Does he eat? Does he smile? Who is he or she? Is it real? What are his goals? I’m guilty myself of not condensing Ayn Rand’s brilliance into living art. People learn from others.