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  1. Her philosophy was very much influenced by her exposure to Marxism, both in the Soviet Union and the U.S. It can be seen as primarily a refutation of it. Both are materialist in the sense that there is no appeal to the "supernatural", but a primary difference between the two has to do with epistemology (see Rand's Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology). Marx held an individual's ideas to be formed via a dialectic process between and individual and his class and it's relationship to the material means of production in any given age. Marx also saw history as unfolding to a finished state (Pure Communism). Rand's epistemology, on the other hand, does not posit any type of dialectic process in an individual's formation of knowledge. It is based sensations, percepts, concepts, the formation of abstractions-from-concretes and abstractions-from-abstractions, etc. Too much to explain here in detail. ITOE would be a good place to start if you are interested. The altruism that Rand opposes should not be confused with the "helping your neighbor raise a barn variety." In it's current, modern form, it is the virulent yet historical German idea that one's spirit may be free, but one's body belongs to the State. This can be traced back to at least Martin Luther and the German Prince's using the Protestant Reformation as a rallying cry to oppose not only the Church but also the Holy Roman Emporer. You might say that Hegel led to Hitler, and Marx - who switched the "state" to the "collective" - led to Stalin. I've been following the Global Warming debates for close to 9 years, and I see no evidence that any changes in temperature cannot be explained by natural variations within the limits of precision of measurement and a general warming trend that has been going on for a long while. But this Post would not be a place to debate it. If you want to, let's do it! The role of government is often debated among Objectivist. I think that since Objectivism does not believe that clashes are inevitable among reasonable Men (or "classes") nor is economics a zero-sum game, it is possible to create a fair and equitable government, and that one will always exist. A good government should be seen as a wonderful achievement of rational men. Rand had a great deal of respect for the U.S. Government and the Founding Fathers. I first read Rand around the age of 14 or 15, and in my youth, I was much more anarcho-capitalist than I am now. As I grew older, and began to participate in society and not just observe it, I grew to appreciate the important role that government plays in society. And per No. 4, I think it can be a net positive and not all negative. Others will have different opinions.
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