1. WHAT IS THE THESIS OF "THE OMINOUS PARALLELS"?
I argue that America today is following the same path — in
politics, economics and cultural trends — that led to the triumph
of Nazism in Germany. It can happen here.
2. IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT IS
THE CAUSE OF THESE "OMINOUS PARALLELS"?
Philosophy. Nazism rested on three main ideas: the glorification
of irrationality, the demand for self sacrifice and the elevation
of the state above the individual. America's Founding Fathers
advocated reason, individual rights and the pursuit of happiness,
but later intellectuals rejected these ideas and have left America
vulnerable to all the manifestations that precede a Nazi type of
3. ISN'T ANTI-SEMITISM AN
ESSENTIAL IDEA OF NAZISM?
No. Nazism requires a scapegoat of some kind, but not necessarily
the Jewish people. In America, the scapegoat would probably be the
businessmen. A good recent example is the government's war on Bill
4. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT AMERICA
IS DOOMED TO GO TOTALITARIAN?
No. The U.S. is still the freest country on earth. Many of its people are
still in sympathy with the ideas of the Founding Fathers. It is
the intellectuals — who choose the country's direction — that are
the threat to our future. So far we are drifting toward
dictatorship, not moving purposefully. But we are drifting as
Germany moved, in the same direction, for the same philosophical
5. DO YOU REALLY THINK
PHILOSOPHY IS THAT IMPORTANT- DOES IT MATTER WHAT PHILOSOPHY
I believe that philosophy is the fundamental force in history. Men
cannot act without some kind of guidance — some view of the world
in which they act, of their means of knowledge, of the proper
values to pursue. Everyone has a philosophy, knowingly or not;
your only choice is whether your philosophy will be conscious and
logical — or random, unidentified, contradictory and lethal. In
those eras when men held a philosophy of reason, the results were the Renaissance, modern science, the founding of
the U.S.A. When men held a philosophy of anti-reason, the results
have been barbarism and the dark ages, and in our time the rise of
Hitler and Stalin.
6. "THE OMINOUS
PARALLELS" STRESSES THE ROLE OF PHILOSOPHY IN PRACTICAL LIFE.
CAN YOU GIVE AN EXAMPLE FROM THE BOOK?
Perhaps the most eloquent comes from the concentration camps. All
the details of camp life were deliberately devised by Himmler and
others to make the victims doubt their reason, their own worth and
their personal values — to turn them into mindless, purposeless,
self-hating creatures. In that sense, the camps were philosophical
institutions — with a profoundly vicious philosophy. And the result
was wholesale destruction. I don't mean only the actual killings;
I mean the legions of victims who were turned into helpless
robots. The best known are the columns of Jews who marched without
protest to certain death; this has nothing to do with cowardice;
these men were philosophically disarmed and disoriented. They
could not survive the lethal ideas they were forced to absorb.
7. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT AN
ANTI-REASON PHILOSOPHY WILL ALWAYS LEAD TO DICTATORSHIP?
Yes. Hitler openly rejected logic and appealed to blood and
instinct; he counted on working people up into a maniacal frenzy.
In a population taught to think rationally, he would have had no
chance. In general, the more rational a country is, the freer it
is, and the more mystical a country is, the more enslaved it is.
Just look at the West vs. Russia for examples.
8. ASIDE FROM SOME RELIGIOUS
CULTS, WHERE DO YOU SEE UNREASON BEING TAUGHT OR CONDONED IN THE
The main source is not the churches, but the universities.
Virtually every department in the humanities and social sciences
today openly attacks reason and glorifies irrationality. In
philosophy, for example, they teach that reasoning is an arbitrary
game divorced from reality. In psychology, one school (the
behaviorist) says that man has no mind, while another (the
Freudian) says that the mind is really run by irrational drives.
Our universities are the real source of irrationalism in this
country and of the idea of self-sacrifice for the community and of
the push for ever bigger government; in other words, the source of
all the central ideas of Nazism.
9. WHAT IS THE PHILOSOPHY OF
OBJECTIVISM, DEFINED BY AYN RAND?
Its basic principle is the advocacy of reason as against any form
of mysticism, such as faith, intuition, etc. As a result, in
ethics, it upholds rational selfishness. In politics, it
stands for individualism and capitalism as against any form of
10. YOU SAY THAT AFFIRMATIVE
ACTION IS A FORM OF RACISM. WHY?
"Affirmative action" means a quota system by law
favoring certain racial minorities at the expense of others.
Whatever the motives offered, this is racism by liberals. A system
that discriminates for one race today can turn against it
tomorrow. The solution to racism is not "reverse"
racism, but abolishing the racist mentality. This would require
not laws, but an intellectual change, a philosophy of
11. CONSERVATIVES WOULD SEEM TO AGREE
WITH A LOT OF WHAT YOU SAY. WHY DO YOU NOT SUPPORT THEM?
In general, see my article "Religion vs. America," published in The Voice of Reason.
Religious conservatives — the main group on the so-called
right — advocate actual thought control — censorship of literature,
government dictation of biology courses, compulsory prayer, etc.
This represents a profound rejection of capitalism and of the
American principle of the separation of church and state. I
advocate reason, not religion; in politics, I advocate individual
rights as an absolute. I am for abortion (a woman's right to her
own body), against censorship, against government sex laws,
against the draft — just as I am against government control of
property. The liberals want economic controls by the state. The
conservatives want intellectual controls by the state. Between the
two, we will soon have no freedom left.
12. IF YOU ARE NOT A LIBERAL
AND DISLIKE CONSERVATIVES, WHAT ARE YOU?
A radical for capitalism — for complete, unbreached
laissez-faire capitalism. I reject the whole statist apparatus
erected in the last hundred years — all the regulatory agencies,
social security, welfare legislation, all the special governmental
favors to every group, whether business, labor, farmers or any
other. In other words, I advocate a free country.
13. WOULDN'T CAPITALISM LEAD
TO MONOPOLIES, DEPRESSIONS, CHILD LABOR, ADULTERATED FOOD, ETC.?
No. All those evils are caused not by capitalism, but by
government intervention in the economy — none could have happened
in a capitalist society. Read Ayn Rand's Capitalism: The
14. ARE YOU A LIBERTARIAN?
No. The libertarians are a group of right-wing anarchists and/or
subjectivists who reject
philosophy and rush into political action senselessly, without any
15. YOU CLAIM THAT AMERICA
TODAY, LIKE GERMANY BEFORE HITLER, IS MORALLY DECADENT. WHAT WAS
GERMANY LIKE IN THOSE FINAL FREE YEARS?
Among other manifestations, there was flourishing pornography,
brazenly flaunted orgies, prostitution, sexual perversion and
widespread cocaine addiction. Art, literature and theater were
dominated by horror, unintelligibility and a sense of doom. There
was cynical influence peddling in politics and economic life. There
were rioting students who hated the industrial revolution and
businesses who demanded "idealistic"
self-sacrifice. There was every kind of mystic cult imaginable
(astrology, theosophy, Nazism, etc.) promising to provide a "leader."
16. IF YOU REJECT RELIGION,
HOW DO YOU COUNTERACT THE SAME KIND OF MORAL TREND HERE IN AMERICA
By upholding a new code of values — the ethics of
rational self-interest — what Ayn Rand called "the virtue of
17. WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY
I mean each man living by his own mind and for his own sake,
neither sacrificing himself to others nor others to himself. I
mean not emotionalism or brutality, but a life of thought,
achievement, and independence. I mean dealing with others by
trade, trading value for value. Selfishness — in this sense — is
what freedom rests on, as against self-sacrifice to the state,
which is what the Nazis and Communists demand. Freedom is selfish,
individual rights are selfish, capitalism is selfish. Until we
accept an ethics of selfishness, there is no hope for the future
18. IN URGING SELFISHNESS,
AREN'T YOU MERELY BEING AN APOLOGIST FOR BIG BUSINESS IN EFFECT?
I approve of businessmen who earn their profits and are proud of
them. But I despise businessmen, or anyone else, who apologize for
their success. Unfortunately, businessmen today are one of the
most cowardly groups. They preach altruism more loudly than just
about anybody else. These men have been brainwashed by their
college teachers into feeling guilty for making profits — and so
they are begging forgiveness, while subsidizing their destroyers
in the colleges.
19. HOW CAN YOU BE SO CERTAIN
YOUR PHILOSOPHY IS RIGHT- DOESN'T THAT MAKE IT INTO A RELIGION?
No. Certainty as such does not equal religion. If you prove your
case in reason, then your viewpoint is science, not religion. I am
certain that 2 plus 2 equals 4 — and I am certain that
self-sacrifice is incompatible with freedom. One idea is
mathematical, the other is philosophical, but the method of proof
and the certainty is the same.
20. WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO AYN
I was a teenager when I met Ayn Rand, I was searching for a code
of values and she gave me an irresistibly logical case. When I
asked her questions at our first meeting, she answered with great
passion and seriousness, carefully, exactly and in detail. I was
tremendously impressed. I had never met anyone who cared so much
about ideas before — or since.
21. WHY WAS AYN RAND REJECTED
BY SO MANY CRITICS AND INTELLECTUALS?
Because she attacked the essence of their philosophy. She once
said that she had declared war on the philosophical tradition of
two and a half thousand years.
22. WHAT WAS AYN RAND LIKE AS
She was the same in private as in public; if you've seen her on
TV, she was the same in her own living room. She was like the
heroines in her novels — strong, independent, intense about ideas,
single-minded about her career, with a razor sharp mind and an
answer to every question you asked her. She was deeply in love
with her husband of 50 years, Frank O'Connor, a painter. To her
friends or people she liked, I might add, she was warm, generous
and highly supportive.
23. WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF THE
I hope it will continue to grow, especially in universities, and one
day help turn this country around. Whether there is time for an
educational process to succeed before some crisis stampedes us
into dictatorship, I do not know. In my opinion, however, there is