2010 Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest

Ayn Rand Essay Contest for Scholarships

June 2, 2009adminessay scholarships,

The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) is a nonprofit organization which subsidizes the Ayn Rand Essay Contest for Scholarships. The institute is named after Ayn Rand who wrote the novels ‘The Fountainhead’ and ‘Atlas Shrugged’.

The ARI organization has dedicated itself towards introducing young people to Ayn Rand’s novels, and to supporting scholarship and research surrounding her ideas. It was Ayn Rand’s philosophy, referred to as Objectivism, that historic trends are the inescapable product of philosophy. The Institute works diligently to keep this philosophy alive and well. The Institute sponsors three essay contests which can lead to Ayn Rand scholarship awards. Lets examine these three awards:

The 17th Annual Essay Contest on Ayn Rand’s Novelette Anthem is geared towards grades 8, 9 and 10. The deadline to enter for this Ayn Rand essay scholarship is March 20, 2009. First prize will be in the amount of $2,000. Five second prizes will be awarded in the amounts of $500 each. Ten third place awards will be issued in the amount of $200. A total of 45 Finalists will receive $50 and 175 Semifinalists will receive $30. There are 3 topics to choose to write about. All of them are questions dealing with the novel Anthem. The intention is to get the students to read the book and give their understanding of what they have read. The Ayn Rand essay must be from 600 to 1,200 words and is open to students all over the world.

The 24th Annual Essay Contest on Ayn Rand’s Novel, The Fountainhead is open for all 11th and 12th graders. The entry deadline is April 25, 2009. First prize for The Fountainhead Essay Contest is $10,000. There will five second prizes issued in the amount of $2,000 each. There will be ten third prizes awarded of $1,000. Forty-five Finalists will receive $100 each and 175 Semifinalists will receive $50 each. The participant will have to choose one of three topics derived from the novel, The Fountainhead. These topics will be taken from different chapters throughout the novel and will encourage the participant to share their thoughts on the novel. The Fountainhead Essay must be from 800 to 1600 words in length. It is available to all 11th and 12th grade students around the world.

The Atlas Shrugged Essay Scholarship Contest is open to all students at 12th grade level or above. The deadline to enter this contest is Sept 17, 2009. The first prizewinner in this Ayn Rand essay contest will receive $10,000. There will be 3 second place winners and they will receive $2,000. Five third prizewinners will get $1,000. Twenty Finalists will receive $100 and twenty semifinalists will receive $50 as well. The participants will be required to write an essay for scholarships on the novel Atlas Shrugged. There will be three topics to choose from. The topics are taken from various chapters from the novel and encourage the students to share their feelings. The essay must be between 800 and 1600 words in length.

For more information on the Ayn Rand essay scholarships please visit Ayn Rand Essay Contests for Scholarships.

Famed novelist Linda Lael Miller has her own Females Scholarships. The Linda Lael Miller Scholarships help women who are unable to help themselves.

Scholarships for Females in National Security Defense is a growing Industry.


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The following essay by Slade Mendenhall, “Capitalism vs. The ‘Public Good'” was a Third Prize winner in the 2010 Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest hosted by the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, California.

Of all that is to be derived from the teachings of Ayn Rand, no maxim may be as crucial, nor as rarely appreciated, as the belief that a good idea improperly defended is more dangerous than any wrong one. Accordingly, it was not Rand’s advocacy of reason in epistemology, objective reality in metaphysics, self-interest in ethics, nor of capitalism in politics which marked her as the most radical philosopher of the twentieth century. It was, instead, the nature of her comprehensive and impenetrable defense of each of these, her primary tenets, which set her apart from Descartes’ concept of reason independent from experience, Platonic realism’s utterly distorted defense of objectivity, Nietzsche’s contradictory adherence to self-interest via sacrifice, and, most auspiciously, from Jeremy Bentham’s errantly pluralistic support of capitalism for achieving, “the greatest happiness for the greatest number.” The full and heroic assertion of Rand’s philosophy could not have been embodied in a work more eloquent nor more profound in scope than was achieved by her crowning literary epic, Atlas Shrugged. Its very creation stood as proof of the greatness which Rand so admired in man, a greatness which she perceived as possible to many yet patently individualistic and, when exercised, done only by the virtues of a single mind- unfettered, unimpeded, independent, and fully deserving of the fruits of its own accomplishment. Her praise of capitalism as the greatest of political systems rests not upon a populist, pragmatic veneration of the “greatest good,” but upon a firm recognition of man’s unlimited right to the products of his mind and the necessity of a world in which that right can be fully exercised, free of obfuscation.

The numerous protagonists of Atlas Shrugged exemplify perfectly the virtuous qualities which Rand so admired: those of the producer, the highest, most profoundly moral role attainable to man. By the perfection and tireless efforts of his mind, each illustrated not only the intellectual feats of which he was capable but, as crucially, the strictest adherence to a moral code which asserted and refused to surrender his self-efficacy to the assailants of reason. In a world which told each of them that his noblest potential was to live in the service of some undefined collective “society” which despised his every virtue and sought to punish the good in him for being good, John Galt, Francisco D’Anconia, Ragnar Danneskjold, and their adherents reclaimed man’s title as sole proprietor of his own life, initiated a strike amidst the men of the mind, loosed Prometheus from his rock and taught his brother Atlas the need of adjusting his burden when those whose survival depends on his greatness seek to punish him for his strength.

Ayn Rand stood in full acknowledgment that capitalism could easily lay claim to having brought a more rapid, more significant rise in the standard of living to a greater portion of humanity than any political system which has ever existed. However, Rand argues, this standard of value is not the proper reason to advocate any action or belief, and is certainly not a sufficient defense for the most moral social system ever conceived. The pragmatism of those who advocate capitalism without reference to the morality which it entails (even necessitates) has, throughout its history, dulled Americans’ comprehension of the system in which they live and has given way to the muddling of the American concept of liberty with various forms of the altruist/collectivist ethics. This has correspondingly led to the formation of the semi-free, semi-statist mixed economy which exists today.

In proposing any course of action for the benefit of a “public good”, one abides numerous fallacies upon which the collectivist ethics rests. The first of these lies in the errant claim to the existence of such an entity as a “public”. Its incarnations are various- “public”, “society”, “the whole”, “the tribe”- but its meaning in ethics has been consistent: the belief in a being which is greater than the sum of its constituents and whose welfare is inversely related to their good. It is the highest calling to the morality of sacrifice. Rand, in response, rightly argued for the proper conceptualization of men as individuals whose metaphysical, epistemological, and, thus, ethical properties could not be abnegated by the arbitrary standard of their number. She recognized that “good” is an inherently transitive term- that is, one which necessitates an object which would answer the question, “Good for whom?” The answer to such an inquiry requires a series of judgments and evaluations, epistemological processes of which only a single, unfettered mind is capable. Any attempt to supplant the rights of an individual with the vague, undefined idealization of a public good does so by first supplanting his right to the most basic evaluative functions of his mind. The fact that the good is a patently singular quality and that there exists no “public good”, only individual benefits derived by each constituent member of that arbitrary grouping, proves that any view which claims to be holding the benefit of the masses over that of the individual abides a dangerous contradiction which indicts men more for every degree of greatness which they achieve.

Man, existing beyond the primitive level of animal instinct, is instead governed by a far higher level of cognitive functioning: reason. The extent of man’s success in life is dictated by the degree of his adherence to reason and no other process, nor any other man’s practice of this function, can supercede its necessity to his life. The pretense of action on behalf of a “public good” invariably takes the form of absconding with a man’s life or the products thereof by denying him the right to these judgments and evaluations, prescribing to him the morality of altruism and guaranteeing compliance through government’s monopoly on the use of force. The incarnations of this process range from the application of a sales tax to that of an income tax to the denial of a man’s right to the full measure of his success in business by the enforcement of antitrust laws which, for the sake of chastising the good for being good, punish both the individual and all with whom he so efficiently does business.

Tragically, it is an incomplete defense which attempts merely to safeguard businessmen against the slings and arrows hurled from the tops of ivory towers. Too often, and more so in today’s intellectual climate replete with altruistic Billionaire’s Pledges, the businessman is under assault from within and among his own ranks. There are far more Starnes heirs, James Taggert’s, and Orren Boyle’s than there are Simon Pritchett’s in our modern world- and, what’s more, their effect is greater. Willing to immolate themselves and one another, they need only the mild push of errant, immoral intellectualism to encourage them in a task which they seem ready and eager to see through. Adhering implicitly to the altruist/collectivist code, they hand away the right to their own time, effort, property, and life at the chance to repent for the meager few percentage points of profit they took away from all the good which they brought into the world. Faced with the prospect of murder, they choose suicide and, with their final breath, take the weight of their assailant’s guilt upon themselves.

The proper defense of capitalism is that which recognizes and asserts the rights of the producer to the full product of his labor. When a man endeavors to further his life through the expenditure of an immeasurable degree of effort and the exacting perfection of his mind, no whim, desire, want, or need of his neighbor’s can rightly claim the fruits thereof. The recognition of a man’s right to his own life necessitates the recognition of its component parts: his time, efforts both mental and physical, and the material resources which he utilizes in its sustenance- his property. For a collective to lay claim to these presupposes a moral right of the “public” to the life of the individual and demands that what he once would have endured for the good of a tyrant, he must now do for the sake of an undefined mass whose claim makes no pretense toward divine right or superiority- to the contrary, its qualifications are as arbitrary as number and need. If man is to succeed, it is his mind which must be reclaimed and empowered with a self-efficacy beyond the reach of pain or fear or guilt, beyond the limitless deeds which the altruists would place upon his being, and far beyond poisonous bromides which seek to subvert man’s reason to impugn his soul- none less meaningless or more dangerous than that of the “public good.”

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Written by Slade Mendenhall

Slade Mendenhall is a founding editor of The Mendenhall. He has worked as political director to a US Senate campaign and a speechwriter in Georgia state politics. He is currently a doctoral student in economics at George Mason University with degrees from the University of Georgia and the London School of Economics.

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