Reason.tv: Rand-O-Rama—The Long Shelf Life of Ayn Rand's Legacy

Few authors have ever achieved the popularity that the novelist and essayist Ayn Rand (1905-1982) did. With the publication of The Fountainhead in 1943 and Atlas Shrugged in 1957, Rand became a full-blown cultural phenomenon, selling millions of books and inspiring countless readers—ranging from former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan to Playboy founder Hugh Hefner to actress Angelina Jolie—with her moral defense of capitalism. A refugee from Soviet Russia, Rand argued that capitalism was the best way of organizing society not simply because it was more efficient than communism but because it allowed the individual to fill his or her potential. A self-declared "radical for capitalism," Rand emphatically rejected collectivism of all stripes and embraced "man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."

Decades after her death, Rand's work is hotter than ever. In an age of massive government intervention into every aspect of the economy and personal lives, sales of her books are way up and a movie version of Atlas Shrugged is in the works. References to Rand are everywhere from Mad Men to The Colbert Report to The Simpsons and there's even a new critical appreciation, as evidenced by two new biographies, Ayn Rand And The World She Made and Goddess of The Market: Ayn Rand And The American Right.

Approximately four minutes long and produced by Meredith Bragg and Nick Gillespie, "Rand-O-Rama" analyzes the 21st-century Rand renaissance.

It is part of the Reason.tv series Radicals For Capitalism: Celebrating the Ideas of Ayn Rand. Go here for more information, other videos, and related materials. Go here for downloadable versions of "Rand-O-Rama."

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    I found the secret thread at 0958 Eastern.

  • ||

    Sorry but that dude looks like a real tool to me!

    Jess
    www.complete-privacy.at.tc

  • ||

    That's because you don't comprehend how human innovation and creativity has made capitalism possible.

    Think of a worker and of an artist... who is going to continue working after they've not been paid?

    The artist will.

    But all cities have been built on the artist conceptualization. In the real respect, artists (who have often loan their support to anarchism and communism), have actually helped to create a society that is both profitable and beautiful.

    And there is nothing wrong with beauty in nature... but we always must know where profit can be made.. and profit ultimately alleviates the individual from anti-droll sentiments such as, "I have nothing".

    They're not degenerates, they're just poor because they have no real capitalist system to depend on.

    Live life... or kindly die off.

  • Quibbler||

    Atlas was published in '57, not '58.

  • Kara of Sigma Draconis VI||

    "Rand" and "Rand"! What is "Rand"?!

  • creech||

    Laissez Faire Books (lfb.org), under an arrangement with Nathaniel Branden, is publishing Branden's original course on "Basic Principles of Objectivism." Both Rand's fans and her detractors can benefit by obtaining a copy and finding out what Rand's philosophy is really about (not the caricature so often used by those who have never read her works.)

  • Marc||

    If Rand's detractors aren't reading Rand, I'm not sure why they would read Branden either.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    Somehow, I'm reminded of Jeffrey Ross's great line: "I wouldn't fuck Nancy Pelosi with Ayn Rand's dick!

    Did you hear? Nick Gillespie's in the hospital. He strained his back trying to lift Ayn Rand's dick.

    Is that the Fountainhead in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?

    Milton Friedman, Friedrich von Hayek, and Ayn Rand walk into a bar. The bartender takes one look at them and says "Shouldn't one of you be wearing a dress?"

    Ayn Rand turns to Hayek and says "You owe me a quarter. Pay up now or I'll beat you to death with my huge, enormous dick!"

    I'll be here all week.

  • Marc||

    STFU, Alan.

  • Dr. Freud||

    Penis envy is a terrible thing, isn't it, Alan?

  • ||

    I realize that Alan V's "jokes" are socialist/elitist/liberal, in that they attack the messenger, but not the message.

    But it also makes a point that even dead, Ms Ayn STILL has a bigger set of genitals then any of the living "people" attempting to poke fun at her.

  • Reasonsjester||

    More genius from the left on display. You couldn't carry Ayn Rand's intellectual jockstrap.

  • anon||

    So is Nick a PC or a Mac?

  • John Tagliaferro||

    I am guessing he is more IBM Roadrunner.

  • ||

    Angelina Jolie never struck me as someone inspired by objectivism.

  • Jamie Kelly||

    She's just a Rand "supporter" because it's fucking trendy. The bitch is a liberal.

  • Quibbler||

    References to Rand are everywhere from Mad Men to The Colbert Report to The Simpsons

    All of them snarky if not outright hostile. Couldn't find any positive examples, Nick?

  • ||

    References to Rand are everywhere in the current recession, which she (or her philosophy as enacted by Greenspan) caused.

  • ||

    TTT,

    Rand didn't believe in a Federal Reserve banking system. How the hell does Greenspan fit into that?

  • smartass sob||

    Greenspan did not enact Rand's philosophy. If he had, you might be jingling gold coins in your pocket instead of wiping your ass with green toilette paper a few years from now.

  • Reasonsjester||

    People who claim Greenspan was an objectivist in practice need libertarians to pack them some peanut butter sandwiches and a glass of milk and send them back to HuffPo with a pat on the rear end. If Ayn Rand was made Chairman (sic) of the Fed, she would have burnt the joint down in an orgy of anarchist delight that would have made the Joker's rampage in Dark Night look like a weenie roast.

  • ||

    Huh?

  • Xeones||

    TTT is spoofin', right?

  • Marc||

    I don't think so. It's pretty clear that the recession was caused by a cadre of Objectivists working in secret. Curse our scaly (oily?) hides!

  • ||

    Please, do not forget "We the Living." This book was a description of the Soviet Union that left me cold. Rand was most astute.

  • Jamie Kelly||

    Her best novel. Makes "Atlas Shrugged" read like a goddamn telephone book.

  • ||

    The information about Angela Jolie and Brad Pitt considering roles in a movie version of "Atlas Shrugged" is out of date. Charlize Theron is now pitching the idea for herself. http://www.slashfilm.com/2009/.....ni-series/

  • Colin||

    If I recall correctly, in the early years of The Simpsons Maggie attended the Ayn Rand School for Tots.

    There was kind of a The Birds-type sequence where the children took over the school.

  • Jamie Kelly||

    That was actually a Rand bitch-slap, all set to "The Great Escape."

  • ||

    Florence King had one of the pithiest critiques/appreciations of Rand that I've ever read, based on Rand's (in)famous claim to Nate and Barbara Branden that she'd never encountered anti-Semitism as a young woman in Russia.

    King's short essay riffed on this point, basically arguing that Rand's whole career as a self-described "Champion of Reason" was a reaction to the irrationality of the (Russian) anti-Semitism whose existence she refused to acknowledge.

    And King wrapped up the essay with the memorable line that "in Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand created an elite cabal of WASPs who did exactly what the Jews had always been accused of doing: secretly running the world."

  • Marc||

    Huh. That sounds interesting, if only because it's retarded.

  • Reasonsjester||

    There was another interesting thesis by famous structural feminist Ms. Barbara B. Vaddlescamp, which posed that the metanarratives of Ayn Rand's oeuvre are indicative of double reverse self-discrimination projected onto the non-objectification of emancipated women. To quote the extant Marxian post-post-structural scholar Thomas Alfred Pedelstamp, "The boyishness of Rand's tone is an indictment of a bourgeois system that expropriates the gender identities of workers and transforms them into homogeneous automatons." The work of the post-marxian vanguard shows conclusively that Rand was a frigid b*tch.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Selling millions of books and inspiring countless readers, sure.

    Worth noting that she's not really THAT popular as a writer.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....on_authors

    And based on sales, I'd say Roald Dahl is probably more politically influential.

    ;^)

  • Neu Mejican||

    And don't we need to take Greenspan off of the list...now that he's reassessed things a bit.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/busi.....-greenspan

  • ||

    Wow, free market-inspired deregulatory policies don't work well in a corporatist financial system rife with government interventions, moral hazard, and government guarantees against failure? What a shocker!

  • Neu Mejican||

    I don't think you understand Greenspan's point very well...

  • ||

    I understand it perfectly: "private actors can not be trusted to police themselves and create/preserve value and avoid huge panics."

    And I also understand the part he forgot to add: "... when you bail out bad actors and breed moral hazard in the system for 75+ years."

    And the unstated conclusion I am *supposed* to draw: "therefore government should attempt to smooth out and temper the enthusiasms of the private market" is a total non sequitir.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Like I said...not very well.

  • HeadTater||

    Here's something I don't get from this piece:

    So many of the Hollywood elite claim to be Rand devotees or at least claim to like her idea. However, many of these same people are unabashed liberals who almost unquestioningly support Obama and other liberal Democrats. Talk about saying one thing and doing the other.

  • Joel||

    However, many of these same people are unabashed liberals who almost unquestioningly support Obama and other liberal Democrats. Talk about saying one thing and doing the other.

    While not being anything like a liberal, so does her "intellectual heir" Leonard Piekoff. Guy's a muslim-hating (well, every other kind of religionist too, but mostly muslim) neocon, the worst kind of collectivist. I don't know everything there is to know about Objectivism, but what he writes now and what Ayn Rand wrote then are often not very similar. So I guess, why should Hollywood libs be different? Atlas Shrugged is a living document, like the constitution! It means whatever we say it means!

  • ||

    "The Long Shelf Life of Ayn Rand's Legacy"

    The human equivalent of an MRE.

  • ||

    Do you think Rand's Philosophy had never been examined in any other time prior to her existence?

    Do you think, even if Rand was the inventor of Objectivism, that those who have never heard of her philosophy might some day be subsumed in it by their own ideas?

  • Finn||

    Maybe Reason should start a 24 hour cable news channel: "All Rand, All the Time" to compete with Fox and CNN. They could hire pundits that all look like cardboard cut-outs of Nathaniel Branden, Frank O'Conner or Gary Cooper. Every once in awhile Peikoff comes on and gets slapped around a bit by Angelina Jolie.

  • ||

    What, no picture of Ms Rand dominating Mr Greenspan?

  • Fiscal Meth||

    There's nothing collectivist about Piekoff. And he's very consistant with Rand. He just doesn't harbor any of that cultural relativism, "All cultures are good in their own way", P.C. crap.

    "There is no such thing as a right to enslave. A nation can do it, just as a man can become a criminal but neither can do it 'by right'."

    "Dictatorship nations are outlaws and can claim no rights."

    If men want to oppose war, it is statism they must oppose. So long as they hold the tribal notion that the individual is sacrificial fodder for the collective, that some men have the right to rule others by force, and that some(any) "good" can justify it- there can be no peace within a nation and no peace among nations"

    Doesn't sound like any neo con or collectivist I've ever heard.

  • Joel||

    "The behavior of such militants is that of the regimes which make them possible. Their atrocities are not crimes, but acts of war. The proper response, as the public now understands, is a war in self-defense. In the excellent words of Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense, we must "end states who sponsor terrorism."

    A proper war in self-defense is one fought without self-crippling restrictions placed on our commanders in the field. It must be fought with the most effective weapons we possess (a few weeks ago, Rumsfeld refused, correctly, to rule out nuclear weapons). And it must be fought in a manner that secures victory as quickly as possible and with the fewest U.S. casualties, regardless of the countless innocents caught in the line of fire. These innocents suffer and die because of the action of their own government in sponsoring the initiation of force against America. Their fate, therefore, is their government's moral responsibility. There is no way for our bullets to be aimed only at evil men."

    Sounds like every neocon or collectivist I ever heard.

  • Reasonsjester||

    Joel, is it even possible in your worldview for an enemy of the United States to attack the country and for the enemy to be wrong? Are are you that far gone a "useful idiot" of America's enemies (see the USSR-baked "World Peace Council," e.g.) to appreciate the possibility that there are enemies of America and it is not America's fault? And are you that dismissive of the point that what fuels Islamic extremism more than anything else is weakness? The grievances that Islamic extremists have against the U.S. are two-fold: We are not Muslims,; and we buy Islamic countries' oil. The fact is that America subsidizes many Islamic countries' (for lack of a better descriptor) entire economies and without the U.S. these countries would have no social welfare programs (see Kuwait, e.g.). Again, socialism is predatory on capitalism, and cannot stand on its own two feet. I am not exculpating the U.S. from all its foreign policy mistakes of the past. But can you be more balanced? This is Reason, after all.

  • ||

    Think of how many people in history have contemplated an ideology that they thought was based on pure reason? even mathematics? Think how many philosophers might have become politicians had they become brain dead enough to pursue the career....

    How many individuals on this planet have been thinking of Objectivism before Ayn Rand even existed?

    I base this off of my own sentiments. When I was in School, I proposed many liberal ideas at first, then evolved into what I see as not conservative or liberal, but a psychological will to create efficiency, and the reward being the capitalist market... free trade.

    And an inherent will to surpass lesser individuals.

    I never read Rand or Nietzsche, but when I offered my ideas, I was criticized as a "Randist", or someone would say, "LiberTARDian".

    I was authentically confused at first... Then I realized it was the liberal socialist, who inherently despises competition, that would be my most vicious enemy.

    Socialism, however, I've explained, means nothing without capital. Capital that is nonetheless gained from individuals who have committed themselves to business, and have taken all the risks in the real world.

    Pure Socialism, aka, Communism, had made its mark on academia, but not in the real world.. A lot of communist countries ended up borrowing money from capitalist countries so that their house-of-cards economy could survive one more wind.

    The fact of the matter is that capitalism, whether artistic like Frank Wright, or by Ad Nausea like Wal-Mart... still remains the real production of capital, and any government subsidy has capitalism (aka someone else's hard work and invention) to thank for what it can exploit.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    In that case every neo-con or collectivist you've ever heard, holds an objectivist stance on how a free country should respond to mass murdering terrorist organizations and the countries that offer up their own citizens as human shields for such groups to hide among because a supernatural deity would want it that way.

  • JT||

    HeadTater: "So many of the Hollywood elite claim to be Rand devotees or at least claim to like her idea. However, many of these same people are unabashed liberals who almost unquestioningly support Obama and other liberal Democrats. Talk about saying one thing and doing the other."

    The short answer is that the "Hollywood elite" is full of superficial people. They know Rand's novels are very original, dramatic, and popular. They don't know the philosophic (particularly moral) ideas underlying those novels. If they clearly grasped those philosophic ideas--which conflict with President Obama on almost every point--then they wouldn't call themselves fans of Ayn Rand.

  • ||

    I disagree. She was very relavent 50 years ago. Cal's red neck, hick govnr (who would later be President on the biggest landslide in history) also agreed.
    Dr Greenspan thinks she was an idiot today but 50 years ago he was an ardent Randian which is how he met the hillbilly Cal Govnr Ronnie was his name

  • ||

    Atlas shrugged would make a great film. However why am I not thrilled at the idea of angelina jolie and brad pitt as the ones to translate the novel to film? They would most likely subvert the message and it would be infected by hollywood.

  • ||

    I agree. I would rather see Objectivist philosophy be what it is, rather than politicians and movie stars corrupt it.

  • RectoNoVerso||

    One shouldn't confuse the success of Rand's novels with the popularity of her "philosophy".
    Galt and his peers are as much mythological figures as Spiderman and Obi Wan Kenobi.
    You can appreciate the stories (although Rand's writing is atrocious) while knowing full well the world they describe bares no similarity with reality.
    First and foremost because, like all ideologies, Rand's forgets that our individual freedom ends where the freedom of others begins.

  • ||

    Ayn Rand: juvenile histrionic mentality, unoriginal author, bad writer. Oh I forgot, parasite.

  • ||

    Have you ever studied philosophy without reading it? Have you ever learned a skill completely on your own without ever having somebody teach it? If somebody taught you how to repair an engine, and you ultimately thought something was way better... Would you think of your original teacher as a complete ass-backwards idiot?

    Try not to think of RAND in your shallow, narrow sight, but of the philosophies (and yes, even many politics) that have extended from it, and then make comment on those ideas.

    In a sense, you're using the "Nobody wants to hear an ugly feminist" blather, instead of refuting feminism with logic and reason.

  • ||

    I was actually rather stultified by the inclusion of Angelina Jolie as a supporter of Rand or even remotely harboring any Objectivist philosophy.

    The last I heard about her (which was some time ago to be fair), she was helping feed starving children in Africa? Perhaps I'm wrong, or maybe that's just the new age "venture capitalism" at work.

    If Angelina Jolie (who seems ironically liberal to me) is a philantrocapitalist subsumed in objectivist philosophy--- then my right wing ideas make Ishii and Mengele look like children playing "operation".

  • ||

    THE REAL DEBATE

    Who looked better in a pair of tight jeans while country music was playin' in the background?

    Hilary Clinton or Sarah Palin (both of whom I politically disagree with)?

    The answer is, indisputably, Sarah Palin...

    Hilarity Clinton, when all is said and done politically, must be seething in jealousy that a republican princess like Sarah Palin was remarked as the "Hottie" of politics.

    *sighs*

    haha.

  • abercrombie milano||

    Ayn Rand: juvenile histrionic mentality, unoriginal author, bad writer. Oh I forgot, parasite.

  • شات||

    safasf

  • nike shox||

    is good

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