Liberty & Power: Group Blog
AYN RAND AND MARTIN LUTHER
I've enjoyed the dialogue between David Beito (here and here) and Lutheran pastor Allen Brill on Martin Luther: Randian Hero? Of course, Rand and Luther had greatly divergent beliefs. But I've got an odd tidbit to share with my colleagues.
In an earlier manuscript version of the classic novel, The Fountainhead, Rand had written a longer speech for architect Howard Roark, who is busy defending himself in a jury trial toward the end of the book. Roark opens that speech on the"soul of an individualist" with the famous line:"Thousands of years ago, the first man discovered how to make fire. He was probably burned at the stake he had taught his brothers to light."
Interestingly, Rand scholar Shoshana Milgram tells us that"Rand originally had Roark provide a list of creators and an inventory of their suffering." Here's what Rand wrote, even though she later decided to delete this list from the final version of the novel:
Socrates, poisoned by order of the democracy of Athens. Jesus Christ against the majority of [indecipherable] crucified. Joan D'Arc, who was burned at the stake. Galileo, made to renounce his soul. Spinoza, excommunicated. Luther, hounded. Victor Hugo, exiled for twenty years. Richard Wagner, writing musical comedies for a living, denounced by the musicians of his time, hissed, opposed, pronounced unmusical. Tchaikovsky, struggling through years of loneliness without recognition. Nietzsche, dying in an insane asylum, friendless and unheard. Ibsen [indecipherable] his own country. Dostoevsky, facing an execution squad and pardoned to a Siberian prison. The list is endless.
Now, it is true that Rand and others writing in the Randian tradition are not too thrilled with Luther and others on the above list (though Rand did have a much more complex view of religion in general and Christianity in particular than some of her writings indicate; see my post, God Speaks). But to have listed Luther among those whom Roark acknowledges as among the sacrificed martyrs and tortured individualists, suggests that Rand herself might have appreciated the integrity of Luther, despite her rejection of his beliefs. Let's not forget that Rand does reserve a special respect for people of integrity, even if she rejects their explicit principles. Her novel We the Living boasts a character named Andrei Taganov, an idealistic Communist, who is among the strongest men of integrity in all her fiction.