Mark Sanford reviewed Ayn Rand (like as a human?) for Newsweek. This is a thing that happened! Anyway, Mark Sanford really did not think this whole thing out, publishing his close reading masterwork in Newsweek, as this essay has all the makings of a winner of The Ayn Rand Institute’s annual 8th to 10th grade Anthem essay contest! Grand prize = $85,000, and plus your name and high school gets posted on the Ayn Rand fansite, which will become hilarious for your friends by 11th grade at the very latest. Anyway, see if you can tell which conjectures came from Mark Sanford’s Newsweek essay and which came from the 2009 Anthem contest winner from “Mariemont High School, Cincinnati, OH, USA.” As always, grand prize is an “iPhone,” except the “i” is capitalized and shit because RIGHTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL SDLFJSLDK.
- A. [The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged] portray the power of the free individual in ways I had never thought about before. Since then, I’ve grown more critical of Rand’s outlook because it doesn’t include the human needs we have for grace, love, faith, or any form of social compact.
- B. All of us want to make the world a better place for future generations. Unfortunately, despite one’s best efforts, decisions are sometimes made that will ultimately be detrimental to the world and its inhabitants.
- C. The Fountainhead is a stunning evocation of the individual and what he can achieve when unhindered by government or society.
- D. Perhaps the most reassuring fact is that there are still people who have not been conquered by the repressive government; people willing to fight for their individuality.
- E. Rand provides several characters that have not yet been broken by the oppressive regime of the future.
- F. What strikes me as still relevant is its central insight—that it isn’t “collective action” that makes this nation prosperous and secure; it’s the initiative and creativity of the individual.
- G. These provisions for the future provide one with hope for a society that will eventually be liberated from collectivism.
- H. Cold though they sound, these words contain two basic truths. First, an individual can achieve great things without governmental benevolence, and second, one man has no right to another’s achievement. These are lessons we should all remember today, when each week is seemingly marked by another government program designed to fix society.
- I. Finally, the future for [character] looks brighter once he is able to break free from the oppressive city and establish a place of learning and technology. Each of these examples shows that, if one is willing to work hard, one can, like [character], leave the world a little better than it was when one entered it, and provide lasting hope for the betterment of generations to come.
- J. I think at a fundamental level many people recognize Rand’s essential truth—government doesn’t know best. Those in power in Washington—or indeed in Columbia, S.C.—often lead themselves to believe that our prosperity depends on their wisdom.
Sanford: A, C, F, H, J
High School Essay Contest Winner: B, D, E, G, I
[The Ayn Rand Institute: 2009 Anthem Essay Contest Winners]