We hear so many other four letter words today, but not the most important of them all: Love. According to Ayn Rand:
To love is to value. Only a rationally selfish man, a man of self-esteem, is capable of love—because he is the only man capable of holding firm, consistent, uncompromising, unbetrayed values. The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone.
That is not to say we must love everything or everyone, love is not given freely, it is an expression of our utmost virtues. To love someone, you must first exercise your judgement to determine why you love the other person, one cannot love without a reason. In this day and age, love has became associated with sex automatically. So what is sex?
Sex is a physical capacity, but its exercise is determined by man’s mind—by his choice of values, held consciously or subconsciously. To a rational man, sex is an expression of self-esteem—a celebration of himself and of existence. To the man who lacks self-esteem, sex is an attempt to fake it, to acquire its momentary illusion.
Romantic love, in the full sense of the term, is an emotion possible only to the man (or woman) of unbreached self-esteem: it is his response to his own highest values in the person of another—an integrated response of mind and body, of love and sexual desire. Such a man (or woman) is incapable of experiencing a sexual desire divorced from spiritual values.
Now that we’ve established what love and sex are, let’s look at the various romantic relationships in Rand’s works:
- Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000: Living in a dystopian future, the two protagonists fell in love by violating the “Transgression of Preference” (anything “selfish” is an act of crime). Their love could exist because between them, they understood what individuality is and admired each others’ uncompromising values.
- Irina Ivanovitch and Sasha Chernov: Irina was Kira’s cousin who fell in love with a revolutionary against the Soviet Russia called Sasha Chernov, when her brother (a selfish, hard core communist hated by everyone including his family) ratted on her and Sasha, they were sentenced to exile in Siberia for 10 years (death). Their mutual respect for each other were strong, both of them had no regrets for doing the right thing- To love.
- Dominique Francon and Howard Roark: Dominique went on a vacation in Connecticut near a quarry and locked eyes with Roark when he was working there to make a living. Dominique desired him so but because of her pessimistic idea about the world, she worked to destroy Roark by joining his enemies (Toohey and Keating) as symbolized by the first scene of Dominique in which she threw a sculpture down the down as to destroy it because no one else can have it. But after seeing how Roark was able to overcome all the obstacles and maintain his integrity, she realised her errors and joined Roark’s league (with Mallory, Lensing, Donovan, Heller).
- Dagny Taggart and John Galt: Let’s first clarify why Dagny had relationships prior to being with John Galt. She lost her virginity to Francisco D’Anconia because he was, in Dagny’s opinion, the noblest man alive who had all her virtues. But then D’Anconia became a double agent unbeknownst to Dagny so she lost interest in him. Then she met Hank Rearden who like D’Anconia had all the virtues she wanted and they began a relationship. But Hank had his own faults like unable to stop being a sacrificial animal to the moochers so he had to end it with Dagny to protect her. Which is why the only option left for Dagny was John Galt, who was perfect, even more perfect than Dagny herself. Their relationship began when she found him living a double life in secret admiration of herself.
So what is the conclusion for this post? Don’t be afraid to use the word love, but be sure to exercise your value judgement first!