What Is Activism? - Ayn Rand

The Ayn Rand Center is working to spearhead a cultural renaissance that will reverse the anti-reason, anti-individualist, anti-freedom, anti-capitalist trends in today’s culture. ARC’s programs are gaining momentum, already challenging and even starting to reverse the trends that dominate contemporary culture and threaten our liberty—ideologies such as collectivism, moral relativism and multiculturalism.

But what ARC can do on its own is not enough.

For Ayn Rand’s message to have its largest possible influence, your help is needed to spread ARC’s views and content to those who are open to reason. Ayn Rand’s ideas should be brought up, discussed and applied in every corner of  life—from the boardroom to the classroom to the coffee shop to the mainstream media.

What Is Activism?

Cultural Activism means actively promoting rational ideas throughout the culture, from education to science, from the art world to the media to public policy, all for the purpose of bringing about a cultural renaissance.
To fight an intellectual battle, Ayn Rand held, requires waging an educational campaign. But to do that, one must first make sure one understands the ideas one seeks to advocate.
“If you want to influence a country’s intellectual trend, the first step is to bring order to your own ideas and integrate them into a consistent case, to the best of your knowledge and ability. This does not mean simply reading and reciting slogans and principles. Knowledge necessarily includes the ability to apply abstract principles to concrete problems, to recognize the principles in specific issues, to demonstrate them, and to advocate a consistent course of action. What is required is honesty—intellectual honesty, which consists in knowing what one does know, constantly expanding one’s knowledge, and never evading or failing to correct a contradiction. This means: the development of an active mind as a permanent attribute.”

Whom Should I Try to Influence?

Focus on rational individuals. For maximum effect, engage people who are interested in the same issues that concern you. Remember that when Ayn Rand wrote her articles, she was addressing the better minds, those who were open to reason and open to being influenced by new ideas. Promote and defend your values with thoughtful, polite, considered responses aimed at convincing the better minds—not those who are hostile to reason or Ayn Rand.

Ayn Rand as Intellectual Activist

Ayn Rand herself engaged in intellectual activism in the years following the publication of Atlas Shrugged. She gave dozens of talks, appeared on TV and radio and wrote op-eds and, of course, wrote brilliant nonfiction essays in books and newsletters.

What Can I Do?

There are as many opportunities to make an impact in the media and on public policy as there are issues and people discussing them. Individuals can and should write letters-to editors, to corporations, to public figures and to political representatives. Moreover, the Internet and the blogosphere in particular have opened up thousands of new outlets for the unfettered expression of opinion. Longer essays, public speaking and issue activism can all lead to media and policy impact.

Speak up

As Ayn Rand writes in “What Can One Do?”: “When you ask ‘What can one do?’—the answer is ‘SPEAK’ provided you know what you are saying.”
A few suggestions: do not wait for a national audience. Speak on any scale open to you, large or small—to your friends, your associates, your professional organizations, or any legitimate public forum. You can never tell when your words will reach the right mind at the right time. You will see no immediate results—but it is of such activities that public opinion is made.

Write letters

Again from Ayn Rand’s “What Can One Do?”:
“Do not pass up a chance to express your views on important issues. Write letters to the editors of newspapers and magazines, to TV and radio commentators and, above all, to your Congressmen (who depend on their constituents). If your letters are brief and rational (rather than incoherently emotional), they will have more influence than you suspect.”


The Internet and the blogosphere have opened up thousands of new outlets for unfettered expression of opinion. Longer essays, public speaking and issue activism can all lead to media and policy impact.

Join a community group

You can join or start a group, and that can facilitate discussion of  rational ideas with a larger audience.