Learning the philosophy of Ayn Rand through rock-band Rush

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Modern rock pioneers Rush not only produce some of the hardest rocking tunes ever recorded, they also are pioneers when it comes to infusing rock music with deep insight into the natures of human behavior. The band consists of guitarist Alex Lifeson, deeply crooning singer/bass & keyboard player Geddy Lee, and drummer/lyricist Neil Peart. Peart is mostly known for his wildly improvisational, jazz-inspired drumming technique, but he plays an even greater role as the person who has single handedly brought the power of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism to a level that can be understood by even the most stereotypically ignorant, drug-addled teen.

Ayn Rand’s highly influential Objectivism is a deep topic, and her purely philosophical writings on it are quite dense. Realizing this, she took on the task of translating her thoughts into the realm of fiction in order to make it more accessible to the general public. Unfortunately, the task still proved formidable, and two of her resulting books totaled over 1,000 pages each. The complex nature of what she advocates even dictated that she spend the final 50 some-odd pages of Atlas Shrugged reiterating everything she had spent the previous 1,000 pages explaining. Thankfully, Neil Pert was up to the task of reinterpreting her work for her in layman’s language.

Live for yourself, there’s no one else
More worth living for
Begging hands and bleeding hearts will
Only cry out for more
Rush – Anthem

With that one verse Peart has reached deep into the very core of what is important in Objectivism. Utilizing the power and reach of rock music, he and his bandmates have taught us much of what being an Objectivist is really all about. But how is it that a humble drummer was capable of such a feat? Quite simply, it was due to his environment. You see, Rush is a Canadian band, and as such they know first hand how the forces of socialism can destroy all that is important in man. Why this skill developed solely in Peart and not Lifeson or Lee is due to Peart’s journey to England when he was eighteen. It was there that he first came to truly understand how important Objectivism is, utilizing the excessive governmental involvement in daily life prevalent in England as a catalyst for his enlightenment.

There is unrest in the forest,
There is trouble with the trees,
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas.

The trouble with the maples,
(And they’re quite convinced they’re right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light.
But the oaks can’t help their feelings
If they like the way they’re made.
And they wonder why the maples
Can’t be happy in their shade?

There is trouble in the Forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the Maples scream ‘Oppression!’
And the Oaks, just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights.
‘These oaks are just too greedy;
We will make them give us light.’
Now there’s no more oak oppression,
For they passed a noble law,
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet,
And saw.
Rush – The Trees

Indeed, we are kept down with hatchet, ax and saw.  The music of Rush asks: Which are you? A noble oak, rising towards the sun, or a weak maple, whining about the unfairness of it all rather than bettering yourself through improved photosynthesis and nutrient gathering? The implied inferiority of the maple, national tree of Canada, is clearly intentional and represents Peart’s dissatisfaction his socialist homeland.

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still haven’t made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that’s clear-
I will choose Free Will.
Rush – Free Will

Lyrics such as these are the basic essence of Objectivism. Free will. The power to change your destiny should you so choose. Total rejection of the idea that some people are born into situations from which they cannot rise out of without help. Another line from the above song goes, “Blame is better to give than receive”. No greater sarcastic truism has ever been uttered. The simple truth of the world is that absolutely each and every person who finds themselves in difficult circumstances is there as a result of their own actions. This is what Objectivism teaches us, that those who have problems deserve no help because it is all their fault anyway.

In addition to Ayn Rand’s scholarly and deeply thoughtful writings, we also have a means of making the truth understood to the masses. The music of Rush can be a highly effective tool for spreading the word of Rand. By combining high level philosophy with the power of  rhythm and repetitious melody, we finally have an effective tool for convincing the less perceptive among us that our cause is right and that getting in our way is counterproductive towards the future of a more free society.  Here’s to Ayn Rand, Liberty, and Rush.  May you all rock on.

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