Ayn Rand

Why Ayn Rand is Hot Again

The unconservative Ayn Rand and her relationship to the American right

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Sources from The New York Times to the United Kingdom's Guardian agree that 2009 is the Year of Ayn Rand. Fortuitously surfing the wave of Rand fascination is the first thorough and largely unbiased book about her life and ideas by a serious American academic, one neither a personal friend nor a bitter enemy of the controversial Russian-born novelist and philosopher.

Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, by University of Virginia historian Jennifer Burns, delivers a smart assessment of Rand's life and ideas and how they influenced each other. On what her book's title promises—the connections between Rand and the American right wing—Ms. Burns is less convincing, though she does provide enough data to make it clear why Rand has never really been a "goddess" to the American right.

Why is Rand, dead since 1982, so hot again today? Ironically, big government, one of Rand's betes noires, is stimulating her sales. Her more than 1,000-page 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged, sold 25 percent more copies in the first half of this year than it sold in all of last year, shipping a total of 300,000 copies so far this year—tremendous success for a 52-year-old novel.

Readers and pundits alike look at America and see a world scarily reminiscent of Rand's government-choked dystopia in Atlas. It's a world with a struggling economy where political pull matters more than success in the free market, where the government blithely takes over huge transportation industries.

Ms. Burns says Rand was "among the first to identify the problem of the modern state's often terrifying power and make it an issue of popular concern." Seeking the foundation of Rand's ferocious mistrust of government—especially government motivated by altruism—Ms. Burns skillfully re-creates the young Alisa Rosenbaum's (Rand's name before creating the "Rand" identity when she moved to America in 1926) experiences watching Bolshevism destroy her family's way of life in Russia.

Rand saw communism purportedly motivated by a desire to help elevate the downtrodden and, as Ms. Burns writes, became fascinated with "the failure of good intentions." The novelist countered communism with her own moral philosophy that elevated "selfishness"—the belief that your happiness is your proper goal and your accomplishments are a necessary means to happiness. This Randian morality was meant, Ms. Burns wrote, to "eliminate all virtues that could possibly be used in the service of totalitarianism."

Rand came to America hoping to win fame as a Hollywood screenwriter; movies formed her image of a glorious and joyous America, so different from her dismal and deprived Soviet Union. She worked various jobs in the film industry in the 1920s and 1930s. After years of struggle (though with more help from family and friends than Rand, queen of the self-sufficient, liked to make people believe) she became a fabulously successful novelist. Her first big hit was 1943's The Fountainhead (the tale of an architect who blew up a housing project he had designed, on the grounds that his rights as a creator had been violated by unapproved changes to the structure) and then Atlas Shrugged.

Rand was more than a teller of tales. She was an exponent of a philosophy she called Objectivism. Ms. Burns explains thoroughly how Rand, through relationships with many other individualist, conservative and libertarian thinkers and activists in the 1930s and '40s, forged her unique approach to small-government individualism, linked with Aristotelian rationalism.

In later life, she tired of communicating with anyone but her continually narrowing circle of acolytes, and after her affair with her chief disciple, Nathaniel Branden, ended in 1968, she largely retreated from any attempt to spread or further her philosophy, embittered with a culture she thought rejected all her values—moral, political, and esthetic.

Rand undoubtedly was a ferocious defender of free markets and a great lover of America because she saw it as the closest political embodiment of her values. But she was never, despite Ms. Burns' title connecting her goddesshood and the American right, any special darling of modern conservatives. Ms. Burns' own book explains why.

Because Rand believed only in values she thought derived logically from observable facts of reality, she was an enemy of traditional Christianity and the standard American conservative notion of "traditional values." The standard authorities of the American intellectual and political right have mistrusted, avoided or even hated Rand. One of the most ferocious attacks on Atlas Shrugged came from National Review and the pen of conservative hero Whittaker Chambers, a communist-turned-Christian (two things Rand couldn't abide).

Ms. Burns herself notes that Rand's ideas presented a "fundamental challenge to the new conservative synthesis" and "threatened to undermine or redirect the whole conservative venture." When the right lined up behind Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, as Ms. Burns writes, quoting Rand, the novelist realized free enterprise was not an absolute for American conservatives. She "knew then that there is … no help that I can expect from any of them … . I'm standing totally alone and have to create my own side." This she tried to do, and she called herself a "radical for capitalism," not a conservative or right-winger.

The reader of Ms. Burns' book will get a proper sense of where Rand really stands in American ideological history. Rand (though she herself despised the word and movement for peculiar reasons of her own) was not a member in good standing of the American right; she was far more a goddess of American libertarianism, that radical philosophy of consistent anti-statism and individualism unconnected to conservative traditionalism.

Ms. Burns, the historian, argues that Rand "can only be understood against the backdrop of her historical moment." Rand, who believed she had uncovered universal truths about human nature and the proper role of government, would have been outraged at this suggestion. Even 52 years later, hundreds of thousands of Americans are buying Atlas Shrugged and getting something—whether philosophical instruction or merely wild entertainment—out of it.

As Ms. Burns successfully demonstrates, Rand's ideas have remained an important part of the American ideological mix, especially in how she honored the creative powers of American business in a free market to improve human lives. Ms. Burns' readers will see Rand still has the power to instruct on the meaning and scary implications of government growth in the age of Barack Obama.

Brian Doherty is a senior editor of Reason magazine and author of Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement (PublicAffairs). This review originally appeared in the Washington Times.

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153 responses to “Why Ayn Rand is Hot Again

  1. Ayn Rand deserves the Nobel Peace Prize more than Obama.

    1. I would dearly love to see the look on the faces of any of the American Left or the Nobel committee, if that were suggested to them. 🙂

      1. Me too. I almost added a literature award, but since I have not really read much of anything she has done I decided to hold back.

        1. Read her novella, Anthem. It’s free online at http://www.pagebypagebooks.com/Ayn_Rand/Anthem/
          It’s short and fairly easy to read, meaning it moves along quickly. It’s science fiction really.

          1. Thank you! You are the sweetest smartass snob evah! 😉

            1. Not snob – SOB. 🙂 But you are welcome.

              1. I am so lesdyxic today!

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    1. Oh yes, please tell me more!

    2. That’s funny. I run a medical billing service and if you don’t have years of experience, you are going nowhere.

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  3. Because Rand believed only in values she thought derived logically from observable facts of reality, she was an enemy of traditional Christianity and the standard American conservative notion of “traditional values.”

    Actually I think she shared many of those “traditional values,” but she definitely did not support them from a framework of Christianity. She formulated a philosophical base of her own for them.

    One of these days I’ll have to get around to reading your book Doherty –
    Burns’ too.

    1. Didn’t she have a history of infidelity? Granted, many people who say they are of faith have affairs, but Rand never pretended that she wouldn’t or shouldn’t.

      1. It is said that she had an affair with Nathaniel Branden, but that both their spouses knew about it. She definitely subscribed to the view that one “shouldn’t,” else she would not have publicly castigated Branden for his own marital infidelity in an issue of her newsletter, The Objectivist, after she and he severed their relationship. Methinks that was a might hypocritical of her.

        1. All I know about it is what writer buddy John mentioned, and he was not using it in a negative manner either. Guess I bedder start looking this up if I am going to mention it.

          1. bedder? I wrote “bedder” instead of “better” in a thread about infidelity?

        2. Their spouses knew about it. Did Rand castigate Branden about his affair with her which was known and approved by their spouses or about a different incidence of infidelity?

          1. She castigated him for cheating on his wife, Barbara Branden, with some woman I think he married. I don’t remember her name, but I presume she is the same one that he broke off his relationship with Rand over. He and Rand’s affair was not publicly known until years later.

            1. It was not publicly known but their spouses knew at the time. I wonder if she called him out because he had an affair with Barbara without Barbara’s permission. There’s a big difference between what Rand and Branden did and your run-of-the-mill cheater. But I don’t know the specifics, so this is all speculation.

              1. Shorter Rand: It’s not cheating if you let your husband watch.

                1. TC,

                  Thank you. That is the shorter version of what John T. was trying to tell me.

    2. “Actually I think she shared many of those “traditional values,” but she definitely did not support them from a framework of Christianity. She formulated a philosophical base of her own for them.”

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      It’s so pathetic how people will place their own values on others.

      Ayn Rand would have hated you, smart ass sob, no matter how much you kissed up to her!

      1. What makes you think I’d kiss up to her or to anyone else, dude?

      2. You think I’m projecting my values onto Rand? What makes you think you even know what my values are? I never met Rand – I don’t know what she was actually like in real life. I don’t especially give a shit either – I’m not into hero or celebrity worship.

  4. In other news: All of us Americans who have bank accounts outside of the USA have until Tuesday to tell Big Brother about them.

  5. Been a follower of Rand for over 40 years now although I lean a bit more libertarian. If there’s anything I’m sure of is that she would vomit at the so-called conservative movement of today. Just like I’ve come to feel ill when seeing all the right wingers that’s crawled into the LP and even into such as Cato. Often wonder if any Objectivists OR Libertarians still live.

    1. I like to think she’d vomit at the so-called Objectivist movement of today. But the prophetess of consistency was herself so blatantly inconsistent that I can’t be sure of that.

    2. I’d like to hear some examples of issues on which you’re more libertarian than Ayn Rand.

      1. Well for one, Rand was opposed to individuals carrying concealed weapons for self-defense. Maybe that just came from living in NYC and CA where CCW was illegal or hard and she lived a comfortable life away from crime and violence where she could afford to be lazy and thoughtless about self-defense.

  6. I was a fan of Ayn Rand when I was young, I am not so much a fan anymore as Hero-Worship is a sad thing. In Atlas Shrugged the best character of all was the assistant to the female railroad tycoon (sorry, I’ve forgotten the names). And look what a life time of loyalty, hard work, honesty, etc. got him – stranded in the desert, as his boss goes off to offer herself on the altar of her self-appointed Hero. A Hero by the way, who was modeled on a real hero, Nikola Tesla, whom I do greatly admire (not worship).

    Rand never could grasp the basics of the American Republic which is based on free citizens making their own decisions, working their behinds off to better themselves, and willing to take up arms to protect their way of life. She lived in a black and white world of feudalism: the masses are sheep, the elite rule, and a few expendable souls with some usable skills who are useful at times to further the aims of their masters are… expendable. Her value lies in her ability to expose the ugly nature of socialism, but she never knew how to sing the praises of a free republic.

    1. Rand never could grasp the basics of the American Republic which is based on free citizens making their own decisions, working their behinds off to better themselves, and willing to take up arms to protect their way of life.

      You can’t be serious. Rand couldn’t grasp the idea of working one’s behind off to better oneself? How do you think she started and got where she did in life? She came to this country with virtually nothing – couldn’t even speak the language, let alone write it. Her last two novels favorably portrayed numerous characters who had worked their way up and who were willing to defend themselves. She always extolled the virtues of the self-made man. What a preposterous thing for one to say.

      1. Buh-buh-but, she doesn’t do it with humility and tenderness.

      2. “Her last two novels favorably portrayed numerous characters who had worked their way up and who were willing to defend themselves.”

        Regardless of how she portrayed individuals in her novels she was opposed to the idea that individuals be able to carry concealed weapons for self defense and said so in her newsletters. She argued individuals couldn’t always be trusted to do the right thing and the state should have a monopoly on the use of force. As if the state would always do the right thing. Right. At least that’s my recollection from several years ago.

    2. Eddie Willers was the assistant’s name.
      Maybe you should read Atlas Shrugged again. I don’t think your assessment of the novel is quite accurate. I have read it a couple of times and see something new each time. With the current administration it seems as though they are using it as a script, and they seem to identify with Mr. Thompson, Wesley Mouch, and Cuffy Meiggs.

    3. Eddie Willers has the same chance every other “good side” character in Atlas has: all he has to do is quit.

      He refuses to quit because he’s not brave enough to face the possibility of starting over from scratch. So when the system crashes, he goes down with it. He wasn’t a sheep and he wasn’t “expendable”.

  7. Rand saw communism [as] “the failure of good intentions.”

    Way off. Communism “looks good on paper”? Rand vehemently disagreed with that old cliche. Rand knew exactly what the intentions of the communists were.

    [A]fter her affair with her chief disciple, Nathaniel Branden, ended in 1968, she largely retreated from any attempt to spread or further her philosophy

    Incorrect. The last issue of The Objectivist was published Sept. 1971; The Ayn Rand Letter was published from Oct. 1971 to Feb. 1976; she continued to lecture into the early 80s.

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  9. The spammers are reaching critical mass.

    1. I suppose Hit and Run will soon have to institute one of those things where one types in some scrambled code letters to post comments. That will really slow all of us down.

      1. The Spammers make a lot more sense than you two morons.

        1. Fuck you, Harry. Seriously…Fuck. You. (asshole)

          1. Or is it Chad? Or Morris? Or Edward? Or Alberta Libertarian. Who you gonna be today – H.R. Trolly?

            1. Could be “wtf” from the earlier thread. Has a similar style and appears to dislike people being friends here.

      2. What!? And inhibit the free flow of ideas on this board!? And you call yourself a libertarian…

  10. I liked this article/review but it seems like the whole analysis fails when we realize that libertarians ARE and WERE part of the Right, both during Rand’s lifetime and now. Why is that Libertarians try their best to deny they fall on either the left or the right of the spectrum?

    Oh, right they’re total “individualists”. Look I recognize the problem with the left/right spectrum thought, but if we mean pure collectivism on the left and pure individualism on the right, it is clear libertarians of all varieties fall on the right.

    1. Yeah, were all right wingers now. That is until a republican administration then libertarians can go back to being godless heathens again, with an insufficient amount of cop-lust to be real americans.

      Here’s a right wing thought for you:
      jesus
      christ
      was
      a cunt 😉

      1. Is there any contemporary records or evidence he even existed? Contemporary with him, I mean.

        1. It doesn’t matter if he existed or not, the true debate would be on if he actually heard the voice of God or was just crazy. Of course, if you brought up this debate you would publicly humiliated, because so many people would cast aside logic for faith.

          1. Honestly though, theism is a form of collectivism.

            1. Wait, what I meant to say was that theocracy is a form of collectivism. Where the community has the right to govern your soul, instead of your bank account.

              1. I wonder how many of these reply to things you can do? Would it go like to where the column is so thin that there is a stack of single words?

                1. Oh, I see that is only how far it goes. Never mind then. boring.

                  1. I was wondering the same thing as you. Same conclusion too: boring.

              2. More like the right to govern your soul AND your bank account.

        2. I think you’ll find on the basic question of his existence that pretty much 100% of all scholars who study the issue, critical or otherwise, believe he existed in some form. The main question is whether (and to what extent) the accounts of Jesus are accurate representations of life.

          Related, in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, Bauckham discusses how the Gospels were written utilizing ancient historical standards of interviewing eyewitnesses of the events in question. These eyewitnesses might have been mistaken, but I think the debate has moved beyond the mere question of Jesus’ existence.

    2. Why is that Libertarians try their best to deny they fall on either the left or the right of the spectrum?

      Because both ends of today’s “spectrum,” Republicans and Democrats, have long lists of rules, regulations, laws, taxes, fees, fines, subsidies, supports, etc. they want to enshrine in the law so government can help people run their lives, and libertarians want to do away with rules, regulations, laws, taxes, fees, fines, subsidies, supports, etc. so people can run their own damn lives?

    3. What is this “right” and “left” you speak of?

    4. Its not individualism that maters, its freedom. If you want to be a sheep be so. Just don’t coerce me. The right and left both fail on this.

      1. Individualism and freedom go hand in hand, they both matter.

      2. There is no freedom without individualism. There is also no freedom without property rights. The statists that are currently running our government are attacking both. Scary times – glad I’m not the only one that is seeing this. I’m glad Rand’s books are on a sales upswing. I hope that the movie version of Atlus Shrugged gets made, if it is made by “true believers” that won’t portray Rand as a villain. Of course, if the movie does come out, the statist press will ignore it in the same way they did with American Carol, while they gush over the latest nonsense from Michael Moore-on.

    5. pure collectivism on the left and pure individualism on the right

      No one describes the Left/Right spectrum this way. Even you probably don’t.

      The world’s smallest political quiz and the other 4 square systems make more sense.

    6. Why is that Libertarians try their best to deny they fall on either the left or the right of the spectrum?

      Not everyone fits into one of the two boxes in your tiny little mind, sunshine. Some people reject the idea that it’s OK to push other people around.

      -jcr

    7. but if we mean pure collectivism on the left and pure individualism on the right, it is clear libertarians of all varieties fall on the right.”
      But that is not what left and right mean, so why use it that why. If you call yourself extreme right wing people will think that you are extreme nationalists, but individualists.

      1. I mean not individualists

  11. Ayn Rand bores me.

    Shouldn’t there be a Battlestar Galactica thread, or something?

    Stargate Universe
    WTF?

    1. SugarFree The Sugarfree does not comment much on weekends.

    2. “Ayn Rand bores me” Lol, yeah, right, this is why you read the article AND took the time to go this deep into the message board. Statist plant, perhaps?

  12. Why is it then that so many corporate scam artists and rent-seekers sincerely list Rand as a source of motivation? I think that they (as well as her detractors) focus on the word “selfishness” while ignoring the complex code of ethics that objectivism entails.

    @Bacsi – Eddie Willers was the name and I believe he was a metaphor for traditional conservatives and not Rand’s philosophy

    1. Because they have absolutely no idea what objectivism truly is. I don’t even consider it to be “selfishness”, because to me selfish implies an unreasonable act, whereas objectivism is only reason.

      1. “Selfishness” as Rand used the term means rational self-interest.

        1. Yes, exactly. It was rational self-interest, not selfishness.

    2. What complex code of ethics? Don’t initiate the use of force, fraud or coercion. Seems pretty simple to me.

    3. Eddie Willers was the name and I believe he was a metaphor for traditional conservatives and not Rand’s philosophy

      Somehow I didn’t read it that way. Eddie Willers was quite good. He just wasn’t as tall as John Galt.

      1. I take my interpretation from his attempt to keep the Comet running, begging that it keep going no matter what, rather than letting it go and planning something better, like Dagny did. Definitely a “good guy” in terms of Rand’s philosophy (he was Reardon’s “moral equal”) but still he represented a desire to hold on to the past rather than move forward.

    4. Actually, both Eddie Willers and Cherryl Taggart were intended to represent the victims of collectivism. They were good people who didn’t have the capability to completely start over from scratch as Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden could.

  13. English classes in highschool should teach a section on just Atlas Shrugged, just to give young minds a new, better idea than, say, religion or liberalism or neo-conservatism.

    1. Better yet, we could close public schools and stop propagandizing the youth completely.

      1. And public transportation too.

    2. LOL – I had never even heard of Rand before I left High School. All of my English teachers were pretty far to the left. At the time (I graduated in 1972) they generally praised the Hippie/anti-war counter culture and were tough on Nixon and republicans/conservatives in general. There were a couple of exceptions, and my favorite english teacher was pretty liberal, but I liked him for other reasons. I started hearing about Rand and Libertarianism in my first year of college, and realized at that time that I was not alone in my beliefs.

    3. In my high school [Catholic], we read Anthem, as well as 1984, Animal Farm, and Fahrenheit 451, among others.

      Considering how long it took me to read Atlas, and that that was doing it for pleasure, I’m not sure you would want to subject high school students to it – you would guarantee they would hate it.

  14. I enjoyed Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged as novels (which is how Rand says she intended them), but I do think Rand could have used an editor. I’m much more impressed with Brad Bird and Pixar’s movie, The Incredibles. I know, it’s not 100% Rand, but it’s pretty damn close, and a far more effective pitch for Rand’s ideas to a mainstream audience. And it even pokes fun at Rand’s propensity towards long monologues: “You sly dog! You got me monologuing!”

    1. I thought I was the only one to notice this! Except I would say the Incredibles was more Nietzschean than Randian. (Rand was obviously influenced by Nietzsche, whatever she said later.)

      After I watched this movie with my sister, I said I thought this might be the only Disney movie to espouse the philosophy of Nietzsche. The monologuing thing wasn’t a reference to Rand but to the sci-fi/superhero trope of the bad guy explaining his evil plan instead of getting on with it.

      1. Points taken. Still, I thought it was a wickedly funny coincidence that Rand’s protagonists and narrators have a penchant for monologue.

        As for the Incredibles / Rand connection, I saw it independently, but so did a few others, e.g., https://reason.com/blog/2004/11…..ncredibles

        1. Monologues are useful dramatic devices for those readers who can digest more than four-second sound bites.

      2. AKA, “I’m going to place him in an easily escapable situation involving an overly elaborate and exotic death.”

        Do any of the cheekier award-granting bodies give out an award for Best Now That It’s Too Late For You To Thwart My Evil Scheme Speech, or something like it?

        1. Let me bust out the die grinder and a hunk of steel and whip one up for you.

      3. ‘After I watched this movie with my sister, I said I thought this might be the only Disney movie to espouse the philosophy of Nietzsche.’

        What about the scene in *Bambi* where Thumper reads a long extract from *Beyond Good and Evil*?

        1. Funny that should come up. Bambi in German was pretty damn Nietzschean. It got cute in translation. The translator? Young Communist Whittaker [“to the gas”] Chambers [‘go!”].

    2. Interesting – I’ll have to watch “The Incredibles” again – I saw it but wasn’t paying much attention. It’s easy to read things into movies that might not have been put there on purpose, though. I thought that “The Dark Knight” was really about Bush and the War on Terror (with Bush being the “hero” for once), but I doubt that something like that would have come out of mainstream Hollywood in 2008. Maybe that’s why it got snubbed during the Oscars.

  15. Wow, dude that is one goofy lookin chick aint she? Scary! Brrrrr

    RT
    http://www.true-privacy.net.tc

    1. Arf! F’ckin’ LOL.

    2. If you are talking that cartoon I am so getting Naga to behead you in a duel.

  16. Rand loathed the Palestinians and thought Israel had the right to ethnically clense them. And she was a shitty novelist. Yep, definitely a libertarian type.

  17. Morris,

    That is one idea she had right. I am not surprised that you are not bright enough to understand it.

  18. Go Suki!

    1. Little correction: read “ethically cleanse”…

  19. Ms. Burns explains thoroughly how Rand, through relationships with many other individualist, conservative and libertarian thinkers and activists in the 1930s and ’40s, forged her unique approach to small-government individualism, linked with Aristotelian rationalism.

    I always thought Rand’s ethics was in many ways, in line with Aristotle’s _The Nichmachean Ethics_.

    Of course I’ve seen more than a few books (primarily written by liberals) that attempt to argue that Aristotle was only a take-off on Plato. But nothing could be further from the truth, from my reading of them. Aristotle just borrows from Plato? Give me a break. Give me two, they’re small.

    Rand is something like the mathematician who insists on exact, closed-form analytical solutions, and is both smart and persistent enough to hammer them out. Because numerical solutions to the equations just aren’t good enough.

    Aristotle is no slouch at this, but he was a biologist first and foremost. His approach to thinking (which I learned much from in my youth and still love today) is much more holistic. “The wise man does not expect more certainty than a subject naturally admits of”, says Aristotle. You won’t find anything like this in Rand.

    I have learned much from both Rand and Aristotle, and have read most of what both of them wrote. Though as time passes, I feel more and more and more like Rand’s writing style is akin to shouting. It gets tiring.

    Many have said Rand also echos Nietzsche but somehow, the little of him I read was not impressive and didn’t seem particularly similar.

    Because Rand believed only in values she thought derived logically from observable facts of reality,

    This was both Rand’s strength and her weakness. Unlike Aristotle, she could not contemplate ambiguity. If her analytical prowess could not forge a sure-footed path through a patch of intellectual swamp, then she “doesn’t think about it”.

    she was an enemy of traditional Christianity and the standard American conservative notion of “traditional values.”

    That she was and is. Though it remains true that the Left lumps her in as one of the worst elements of the Right. It also remains true that Christians will borrow Randian arguments, as long as you don’t tell them she was the source.

    This Randian morality was meant, Ms. Burns wrote, to “eliminate all virtues that could possibly be used in the service of totalitarianism.”

    It’s a lot easier to understand how Rand approached ethics, and her motivations for avoiding ambiguity, if you understand where she grew up. But I think her insistence on nothing but the closed form solution, was a combination of how she grew up, and her own personal temperment. She still makes me think of the philosphical equivalent of the brilliant mathematician who forges solutions to equations that vexed the masses for ages.

    1. Many have said Rand also echos Nietzsche

      That’s a common tactic from those the left who are trying to smear her.

      -jcr

      1. Yes, it certainly is. I think the reason they do so is because Nietzsche’s thinking has often been associated with Hitler and the Nazis, and with other dictators of the Right. Such are the bitter enemies of the Left, but they are not any more totalitarian. They believe in a dictatorship of the strong or “elite,” while the Left supports an authoritarianism in the name of the weak or average – the masses (in theory.) The Left would like nothing better than to paint Rand with the same brush as Hitler for refusal to believe that the individual should be subjugated to the collective of the masses. But just because one doesn’t support the “dictatorship of the Proletariat,” it doesn’t follow that one supports the dictatorship of the “elite” either.

        1. Smartass, you got that right. The left is trying to do the same kind of thing now against any media personality to the right of Clinton. Glenn Beck seems to be the biggest target at the current moment, and the funny thing is that he is feeding off of it……he knows just how to play off it too, love em or hate em.

  20. Why are right-wingers always either moonbatty or borinng beyond belief? It’s the Rand/Ron Paul syndrome. Of course, you libertarian moonbats want to claim you’re not right wing. Did you know Jesse Walker’s wife is a Democrat?

    1. Of course, you libertarian moonbats want to claim you’re not right wing.

      Why is it so important to you to try to cram your opponents into the same box?

      -jcr

    2. I am a libertarian. I despised George W. Bush’s administration. I despise Barack H. Obama’s administration… for the same reasons! Any questions?

      1. Has your cognitive disordered been diagnosed?

        1. Don’t worry Morris, we understand that some concepts are difficult for a one-dimensional mind to grasp. Right, left, blue, red, etc., etc…it’s very comforting to assume that the whole of reality fits into these neat little categories, isn’t it?

        2. Was “cognitive dissonance” the term you were trying to toss off, by any chance?

          See, that’s what you’re suffering from when you try to make excuses for Obama failing to fulfill any of the promises made during the campaign.

          When a Libertarian criticizes Obama for continuing and worsening Bush’s mistakes, that’s consistency.

          -jcr

      2. I agree with you. Obama is moving faster than Bush did, but both of them were statists at their core.

    3. Morris, thanks for sticking up for the statist view. Now you can go back and report to ACORN. Was that you asking the phony hooker how much she charges???????

  21. Did you know Jesse Walker’s wife is a Democrat?

    You started out teetering on the edge between being incoherent and being just plain wrong, then your last sentence pushed you over in the former direction.

    1. The idea that one could be incoherent and just plain right seems incoherent to me.

      1. *facepalm*

  22. Brian,

    Atlas Shrugged is one of my favorite novels and I’m delighted it’s doing so well.

    But a rising tide raises all boats, and my own Alongside Night is also doing well. If Atlas Shrugged is the Hertz of libertarian novels, Alongside Night is Avis — we try harder.

    See the story on SciFi Dimensions at http://www.scifidimensions.com…..ide-night/

    A few months back I posted a short Letterman-type list on Facebook comparing Atlas Shrugged and Alongside Night. Here it is:

    Top Ten Reasons Why Alongside Night is a Better Libertarian Novel Than Atlas Shrugged
    (Humor by the author of Alongside Night)

    10) Reading the paperback of Alongside Night won’t give you eyestrain.

    9) No, dammit, you don’t “drive” an airplane ? and it wouldn’t have been called Rearden Metal ? it would have been called “Reardenite.”

    8) Ayn Rand wasn’t able to read Atlas Shrugged before she wrote Atlas Shrugged. The author of Alongside Night did.

    7) Carrying Alongside Night around won’t give you back problems.

    6) Jesus H. Galt ? Atlas Shrugged is over a thousand pages of small type!

    5) I mean, come on, romantic realism is one thing, but at least in Alongside Night, New York City has Jews.

    4) Honest to God, I think John Galt had to be a virgin before he met Dagny.

    3) In Alongside Night just because you’re fat doesn’t mean you’re a moocher.

    2) Atlas Shrugged ends with the U.S. constitution being amended; Alongside Night ends with the Revolutionary Agorist Cadre declining diplomatic recognition as the “legitimate government of the United States.”

    1) In Alongside Night, John Galt’s speech is in a German Opera ? and you don’t have to listen to it.

    Cheers!

    Neil

    1. You correctly identify many–although by no means all–the flaws of Atlas Shrugged. Why on earth is it one of your favorite novels?

    2. I think libertarians love Rand the way Marxists used to love socialist realism. They don’t call you the Marxists of the right for nothing.

    3. Humor by the author of Alongside Night

      Isn’t “humor” supposed to be, you know, humorous?

      1. Perhaps it’s an abstract definition of the word humor…perhaps he meant “musings”?

  23. I don’t associate Rand’s writings with today’s “conservatives.” Somehow I don’t see her supporting the PATRIOT ACt or the Defense of Marriage. Yet, the supporters of these fine pieces of legislation adamantly claim that Ayn Rand’s writing speaks to them. What’s even funnier is that half of them never heard of Rand until November of last year.

    1. To paraphrase Josey @ 5:02PM…

      Don’t worry Jacob, we understand that some concepts are difficult for a one-dimensional mind to grasp. Right, left, blue, red, etc., etc…it’s very comforting to assume that the whole of reality fits into these neat little categories, isn’t it?

      1. Wow, you’re so smart you can copy someone else’s messages, yet too stupid to understand what they mean.

        1. Drat, if only you could just prove that you were more libertarian than the rest of the posters on this board, especially those dorky conservative kids who never could be influenced by anything short of a collection of Kirk Cameron VHS’s and the Bible, then everyone here would be forced to admit that you’re all that and a tote bag full of Ayn Rand books.

          You’re a wannabe crying out for validation.

  24. @ wrote
    “Humor by the author of Alongside Night
    Isn’t humor’ supposed to be, you know, humorous?”

    Why is it that the nastiest comments on anything anybody ever writes are always posted anonymously?

    J. Neil Schulman,
    who’s willing to put his name on what he writes.

    1. J.Neil Schulman is the kind of man who sticks his name on everything he touches. You may, from this, form your own opinion about the character of J.Neil Schulman.

  25. The irony of the current situation is that there are so many people are ignorant of the past. You have all of these Republicans who invoke the name of Ronald Reagan every five seconds, and you have libertarians who reject the Republicans as statists. The lost information is that what separated Reagan from modern Republicans is that his ideology was heavily infused with libertarian thought. Go back and read his first inaugural address – it sounds like it could be made today, because all of the problems are the same. He used to tell a story about “The Little Red Hen” which was basically Atlas Shrugged in simplified form.

    In other words, for libertarians, Republicans, and conservatives, the answer to our current discontents is staring us in the face, from the not-too-distant past. If libertarians and conservatives can re-establish some degree of cooperation, there is the possibility of substantial victory.

    George W. Bush was very upfront about his general rejection of libertarianism. He even said in one of his early speeches “government is not the enemy”. Oh yes, it IS. And that’s a big part of the reason why things have gone off track.

  26. For those interested in the facts of Ayn Rand’s life and Objectivism there is an abundant source of information at Aynrandcenter.org. The recent biographies including the one noted in this commentary are not reliable in many respects.

  27. I didn’t think your posts could any stupider, but I was wrong.

    Why would I want or need to prove anything? The point is that Ayn Rand is grossly misquoted by people whom she would vomit on were she alive today. If you honestly think she’d stand behind today’s “conservatives,” you’re simply proving what everyone else knows, that you’ve never actually read Ayn Rand and you’re just trolling for attention.

    BTW, did I offend you by insulting the PATRIOT ACT or the Defense of Marriage Act?

  28. Atlas Shrugged is one of the worst attempts at a “novel” ever. I have no problems with her actual beliefs, but that book is fucking terrible. Worse than the bible, and twice as preachy.

    1. Rand wrote novels like Dostoevsky and Hugo wrote novels, with characters embodying ideological commitments and psychologies. Their actions throughout the plot are better dialectic than a Platonic dialogue. Your inability to appreciate this merely proves how ill-educated, parochial and anti-intellectual you are. Your loss.

      1. And, like “Karamazov” or “l’Homme Qui Rit,” it’s really long. CH no likey dat. Short attention look a squirrel.

  29. Ms. Burns says Rand was “among the first to identify the problem of the modern state’s often terrifying power and make it an issue of popular concern.”

    Oh, so she wrote “Our Enemy, The State”? Ms. Burns seems not to know what she’s talking about.

  30. Rand detested libertarians and libertarianism. It’s amusing to watch self-styled libertarians today fall over themselves to praise her.

    1. I was reading the comments over before making a similar post myself; it is the case that Ayn Rand had no love for libertarians either, describing them as the “hippies of the Right”. This doesn’t mean that libertarians cannot benefit from her works and philosophy anymore than it means that conservatives cannot. I think Mr. Doherty’s well written article deserves a bit of that context inserted somewhere. 😉

  31. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets

  32. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane.

  33. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books.

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  38. You have all of these Republicans who conjure up the name of Ronald Reagan every five seconds, and you’ve got libertarians who reject the Republicans while statists. The dropped information is in which what separated Reagan from contemporary Republicans is that his ideology was heavily implanted with libertarian believed. Go back and browse his first inaugural tackle – it sounds like it could possibly be made today, because each of the problems are the identical.

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  46. Good point. For the people enthusiastic about information regarding Ayn Rand’s life and Objectivism there’s an ample method to obtain information in Aynrandcenter.org. The current biographies including the 1 mentioned with this commentary are certainly not dependable people.

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