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Ayn Rand and the Philosophy of Bridge

The NY Times has a well-written article on Adam Wildavsky, who “says he has found the elusive secret to bridge success — and it’s all between the covers of Atlas Shrugged.” Here is my favorite quote from the piece:

Ivatury, meanwhile, is a computer programmer who helped found the Pipeline with James Gleick (also a bridge player) and is not any kind of Objectivist. In fact, Ivatury openly, smilingly, claims that he is trying to deconvert Winestock away from right-wing fanaticism. He has been needling Gitelman and Winestock about Bridge Base: if they’re such hard-line capitalists, why are they giving this program away?

”Uday doesn’t understand that selfishness is not always about money,” Winestock says. ”The game I love is dying. If I help bring people into the game, that is good for me.”

Wildavsky nods. ”You can do things for other people so long as it’s not a sacrifice.”

Some weeks later, I press Wildavsky on a similar point: if Objectivism truly gives him an edge in bridge, why share it with the competition? He gives me two answers, both of which I think are true. First: ”I just decided that my philosophy is the most important thing that makes me what I am, and it couldn’t hurt to let people know.”

The second explanation: it has to do with Sept. 11 and the sense that day provoked in Wildavsky that our society is under attack, not just from collectivism within but also from a kind of destructive nihilism without. ”It’s more clear now that the survival of Western civilization is at stake,” he says. A more Objectivist world would be a better place for Adam Wildavsky to live, and that would trump whatever advantage he might lose in bridge. [Hat Tip: E. Watkins.]

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