Unexpected: The Lankaran Ayn Rand Book Club
Myself, I’m not the biggest fan of Ayn Rand. Her writing can be a little clunky and long, and her philosophy seems a bit over-the-top individualistic. I’m probably in the big chunk of left-leaning folks who find the Ayn Rand fanatics amongst us to be a little unhinged. But that didn’t stop me from saying yes to the request for an Ayn Rand Book Club in Azerbaijan.
I think this was probably one of the more unexpected activities I’ve taken up here in my Peace Corps service. Who goes to a non-English-speaking, former Soviet, developing country to talk about the philosophy of objectivism and the worship of the individual while reading Ayn Rand? Wasn’t in the job description. It’s exciting, though! At a local computer center, Lənkəran’s F.Y.I. Center set up by IREX and USAID, the director of the local center inexplicably received a box full with five sets of the Ayn Rand collection of novels, Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. She asked if I could lead the book club as a class on these books.
So today was the first day and we covered Part I of Anthem, describing the world that Equality 7-2521 lives in and why Ayn Rand only uses the pronoun ‘we’ and what about Ayn Rand’s personal life pushed her to write about individuality in such a stark fashion. Talking with a bunch of university students who are already convinced that collectivism is a burnable section of the How to Organize Your Society manual, there are many opportunities here to challenge the students and explore philosophy. Anyone have recommendations for lesson plans?