“Ayn Rand’s heroic vision of man as a rational, noble, productive being has inspired millions of people. It can be difficult, though, to grasp just how her ideas, universal and abstract as they are, can serve as a practical and specific guide to everyday life.
“Keeping It Real: Bringing Ideas Down to Earth offers invaluable advice on how to apply broad philosophical principles to the real-world decisions we have to make every day. In this book, Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand’s longtime friend and heir, provides a wealth of practical counsel on personal relationships, child-rearing, career problems, politics, sex, and many other topics. His answers to hundreds of questions—taken from the first five years of his former podcast—highlight the importance of ensuring that the principles we claim to live by do not float in our minds as useless wordplay, but rather guide us in action toward our personal, selfish happiness here on earth.
“Keeping It Real also contains numerous anecdotes and insights pertaining to Ayn Rand herself, making it invaluable for those who want to learn more about her from today’s most knowledgeable source.”
“In 1961, Ayn Rand received a speaking invitation from the Ford Hall Forum, an organization that sponsors free public lectures on social and political issues. She spoke there almost every year until her death. From 1982 to 2003, philosopher Leonard Peikoff continued that tradition. During this period, Peikoff gave over a dozen talks in which he applied Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, to a wide range of topics. Peikoff’s talks are now available on ARI Campus and ARI’s YouTube channel. There are fourteen lectures for you to explore, including lesson 1: “The Sanction of the Victims.” This talk, written by Ayn Rand and presented movingly after Rand’s death by Peikoff, also includes his recollections of Ayn Rand’s final weeks, and his views on Objectivism’s future. Listen to Peikoff—Ayn Rand’s foremost student and today’s leading expert on Objectivism—deliver these landmark talks and apply Objectivism to such topics as education, medicine, the religious right, the fall of communism, art, crime, the O.J. verdict, America’s response to 9/11 and others.” — ARI
Trump’s salient characteristic as a political figure is anti-intellectuality. Because Rand saw this mentality as on the rise (she called it the anti-conceptual mentality), she had a lot to say about it, and it’s illuminating how much of it fits Trump.
In Rand’s terms, to be intellectual is to sustain through life the conviction that ideas matter. This means that knowledge, abstract principles, justice and truth are of personal importance to you, embedded in everything you value and informing your every action. “To take ideas seriously,” Rand says, “means that you intend to live by, to practice, any idea you accept as true.”
This is a demanding responsibility. To be intellectual requires real independence of judgment and enduring honesty and integrity. It’s not just that Trump lacks these virtues; in comparison to, say, Jefferson, Washington or Madison, most of today’s politicians do. It’s that Trump projects disdain for these virtues.
On cable news, it’s now a regular feature for reporters like CNN’s Anderson Cooper to catalog Trump’s latest lies. But to call them lies misses the point. A liar retains some respect for the truth: he tries to conceal his lies, weave a web of deception and make it difficult for his victims to discover the facts. Trump does none of this.
He states, for instance, that his inauguration crowd was the largest ever — when photos of his and past inaugurations are easily accessible. He declares to a national audience that “nobody has more respect for women than I do, nobody” — when the Billy Bush tape of him boasting that he grabs women “by the pussy” is fresh in everyone’s mind. In defense of his Saturday Charlottesville statement, he says that unlike others he waits for the facts to come in before making judgments — when his Twitter outbursts are read by millions.
Trump makes no distinction between truth and falsity, between statements backed by evidence and statements unsupported by any evidence. This is why you can’t catch him in a lie. He doesn’t care.
Rand puts it like this: to an anti-intellectual mentality words are not instruments of knowledge but tools of manipulation. Trump’s description of how he came to use the phrase “Drain the swamp” captures this kind of attitude perfectly.
The phrase, of course, in this context is hollow. By his own admission, Trump was part of the swamp, a master at playing every side of a corrupt political system. To drain the swamp would be to get rid of people like him — not elect them to the presidency. But somebody suggested to Trump that he use the phrase. “I said, ‘Oh, that’s so hokey. That is so terrible.’ I said, ‘All right, I’ll try it.’ So, like, a month ago I said, ‘Drain the swamp.’ The place went crazy. I said, ‘Whoa, watch this.’ Then I said [it] again. Then I started saying it like I meant it, right? And then I said it, I started loving it.”