Americanculturalandintellectualhistoryfinal revised

Mansions and in slums and his identification mark is

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mansions and in slums, and his identification mark is his dread of independence” 4 . The Active Man, if allowed to his own inspirations, will create a resplendent society, filled with innovation and beauty. However, if the Passive Man is allowed to bend the Active Man to his will then all will suffer. We have seen that the theme of Rand's philosophical idea of individualism boils down to each man acting for what is best for him, regardless of any outside pressures or influences. Therefore it is unsurprising that Rand finds capitalism to be the most just and righteous exercise of human will. To this effect Rand says, “Capitalism demands the best of every man—his rationality—and rewards him accordingly. It leaves every man free to choose the work he likes, 3 Ibid 4 Ibid
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to specialize in it, to trade his product for the products of others, and to go as far on the road of achievement as his ability and ambition will carry him. 5 ” A completely unregulated capitalism epitomizes everything that Rand believes in. In this system a man is free to pursue his own ends, to make his own way in the world, all based solely on his ability. He is responsible to no one but himself, he works for no one but himself, and yet his efforts bolster the society at large. Emerson envisions an entirely different conception of individualism. To him the individual is more than just an agent independent from outside influences. Individualism to Emerson entails a certain moral imperative, to him an individual is,“ a reformer, a benefactor, not content to slip along through the world...but a brave and upright man, who must find or cut a straight road to everything excellent in the earth, and not only go honorably himself, but make it easier for all who follow him to go in honor and with benefit” 6 . An individual should strive to improve the world around him, not only for himself but for his fellow man. Selflessness rather than selfishness should define how an individual behaves. Emerson's individualism also carries with it a heavy impetus upon going into the world and taking what one needs with his own bare hands. An individual that depends on others to provide for him is depriving himself of a certain fulfillment. True satisfaction is only achieved by plunging one's hands into the earth and taking what is needed by one's own strength alone. As Emerson points out, the men that deliver the goods that we so desperately depend on, “have intercepted the sugar of the sugar, and the cotton of the cotton. They have got the education, I only the commodity” 7 . To allow someone else to provide for you is to stunt your own development. By purchasing a finished product you have learned nothing, you have 5Ayn Rand, For the New Intellectual , (New York: Random House, 1961), 25. 6 Ralph Waldo Emerson, Man the Reformer, (A Lecture read before the Mechanics' Apprentices' Library Association, Boston, January 25, 1841), 7 Ibid
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accomplished nothing, you have contributed nothing. The ability of an individual to carve out a living completely of his own design and construction leads Emerson to distrust wealth, especially inherited wealth. As he points out, “if the accumulated wealth of the past generations is thus tainted, — no matter how much of it is offered to us, — we must begin to consider if it were not the nobler part to renounce it...”
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