The International Ayn Rand Award
Some time ago, I got a phone call from an ailing Chris Tame, who is both a friend and colleague. Chris told me that he was about to inaugurate the First Annual International Ayn Rand Award, on the occasion of the Rand Centenary; it would be delivered at a special banquet on Saturday, November 19, 2005 (today!) during which annual lifetime "Liberty Awards" would also be presented to such important writers as Richard Ebeling and Norman Barry. (Personally, I have profited enormously from the works of both of these men; in fact, Richard was the very first libertarian I ever saw speak at any public event.)
Chris told me that I was selected as the first recipient of the award. He knew I didn't identify myself as an "Objectivist," but "post-Randian" or not, I was to receive the award for my intense scholarly activities, which have contributed, he said, to the wider dissemination and appreciation of Ayn Rand's work in the academy and beyond.
Here is how Chris described the award:
The International Ayn Rand Award was established by the Libertarian Alliance (based in London) and the Libertarian International (based in Holland) in 2005 to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand (born Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum) was born on 2 February, 1905 in St. Petersburg, Russia. She escaped Communist tyranny to become a best selling novelist and philosopher and one the principal instigators of the modern libertarian movement, the rebirth of radical individualism and classical liberalism.
In both her novels and her non-fiction works Rand expounded philosophical "Objectivism", a systematic and radical restatement and reconstruction of Aristotelian natural law and natural rights, which provided a firm basis for the case for reason, rationality, science, progress, individual rights and autonomy and free market capitalism—for a New Enlightenment.
The International Ayn Rand Award joins the other annual Liberty Awards bestowed by the Libertarian Alliance and the Libertarian International at their annual London Conference. The Award is specifically created to recognise thinkers and writers whose work has contributed inter alia to the development and systematisation of Objectivism, its application to specific issues and problems, and its propagation and wider understanding.
I have to say that I was—and am—deeply touched by the gesture. But I know that I am only one of many writers who have spent many years in critical engagement with Rand's philosophy.
Some have extended their good wishes, despite expressing a little confusion over my receipt of the award. I can only say that being an "Objectivist" is not, apparently, a requirement for this award. What is a requirement, in my view, however, is an acknowledgment of those whose shoulders I have stood on in my efforts to bring Rand to a wider scholarly audience.
I set out to do precisely that in a brief acceptance speech I recorded prior to my hospitalization on October 18th. I confess I was a tad bit fidgety when my friend Tony came to my home to record my speech. A kidney stone will do that to you. Recording it was a laugh a minute; the phone rang, the doorbell rang, the cuckoo clock cuckooed, and, of course, Blondie barked. We should have sent in the "blooper" reel instead of the 4 or 5 minute talk I actually gave.
But thanks to the miracles of modern technology, we were able to record the speech digitally, and send it off to London, where it will be shown tonight at the Banquet. I will post a follow-up here at Notablog soon enough, with the full text of my speech linked to the Podcast that will be available on the site of the Libertarian Alliance.
I am deeply appreciative for this acknowledgment of my work, especially since this is also the year in which I celebrate the tenth anniversary of the publication of Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical.
And I am very deeply appreciative that Chris Tame, who has been battling a number of health problems, is well enough to attend the conference and to present the award to me. Get well, my friend.