The New Intellectuals must assume the task of building a new culture on a new moral foundation

Ayn Rand

Welcome to the New Intellectual Blog, an upcoming journal of ideas focused on philosophy, culture, and cultural change. It is inspired by Ayn Rand’s 1961 essay For the New Intellectual. In it, she called on a generation of New Intellectuals to rise and “assume the task of building a new culture and a new moral foundation,” to address the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of our civilization’s past.

The decades-long corruption of yesterday’s ideas has played out with grim predictability. Today, in 2021, they have brought the world to a state of unprecedented crisis, and to the brink of cultural and civilizational suicide. Racism and fascism are openly preached in the name of anti-racism and anti-fascism. Authoritarian groupthink and a demand for conformity to neo-Marxist dogmas have replaced what remained of a capitalist culture of free speech and intellectual openness. Speakers for a “truth” officially sanctioned by an alliance of government and crony corporate interests are increasingly replacing independent thought and expression, or threatening and intimidating them into silence. The thoughtful and respectful disagreement of the past is giving way to a “cancel culture” in which a refusal to conform is met with vicious attacks for individuals and businesses alike. Violence is openly encouraged, as long as it supports “politically correct” movements. And so on.

Contrary to the surprise of too many today, these developments were not only predictable, but predicted. They are what happens when a culture abandons the realm of ideas to some of the most vile scum mankind has ever produced. We allowed them to take over our universities, educate our artists, writers, and thinkers, and shape the values of much of today’s civilization. Now, after the better part of a century, when that takeover is nearing completion and people everywhere are beginning to feel the leash of rising fascism on their own necks, they are finally starting to wonder how this all could have happened.

Ayn Rand gave us the answer, and pointed us toward the way to save ourselves, over half a century ago. Bad ideas can only be defeated by good ones. Only a few of us needed to answer her call, and we forfeited on that responsibility. The fault is ours for not listening.

We let this happen. When we assumed we could trust those in political power and “authority” to educate our children, and to tell us what to believe. When we put the pressure to be “socially acceptable” above our self-respect, and the responsibility to think for ourselves. When we forgot that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

It’s been three generations since Ayn Rand’s call to arms. There is no more time left. If the world is to be saved from a descent into a new, global dictatorship, every able-minded individual needs to take on the responsibility to become one of the New Intellectuals needed to save the world – now.

This is a battle of ideas, and it can only be won by warriors of the mind who are willing to enter it. I’m in. Are you?