Radicals For Capitalism: A Special Event Celebrating The Enduring Power of Ayn Rand's Ideas


Coming November 2, will debut "Radicals for Capitalism: Celebrating the Enduring Power of Ayn Rand's Ideas," a new video series featuring segments on the novelist's continuing presence in American culture and exlcusive interviews with Nathaniel Branden, Barbara Branden, Reason Foundation founder Robert W. Poole, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), and many others.

For more details and an archive of recent Reason-related stories on Rand, including reviews by Brian Doherty and Nick Gillespie of two new biographies of Rand, go here now.

And go here to buy an Ayn Rand T-shirt based on a great 1973 Reason cover design.

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  1. What’s with all the Rand worship going on at Reason lately? Are you guys merging with the Ayn Rand Institute?
    Rand made a significant contribution to liberty, at least early on. But at the same time, she’s turned off many more potential libertarians.
    What some libertarians don’t get is that personal decency matters in a Judeo-Christian culture. Libertarianism can never be a truly popular, majority force, as long as its heroes are personally nasty small-hearted control freaks in their own world.

    1. Fortunately, the ideological movements of the American Right aren’t as dependent on personality as they are on ideas. Well, at least pre-Huck.

    2. Uh, seems you have your Rand facts and history highly discombobulated.

      1. If Reason is interviewing the Brandens and Ron Paul, and not currently planning on interviewing e.g. Yaron Brook, you can bet your pants Reason isn’t merging with ARI.

      2. Rand disowned libertarianism even while libertarians claim(ed) her as a major influence. One of the chief reasons for the one-way divide is the unprincipled nature of the Libertarian Party (particular individuals may be less – or more – problematic). People supporting the proper functions of limited government cannot, with integrity, join hands with anarchists or states’ rights zealots who would be content to see 50 mini-dictatorships instead of just one.

      The same basic principle applies to many other concrete issues. It all boils down to whether or not the Libertarian Party supports, on principle, individual rights.

      It does not.

      1. You need to consider Miss Rand’s context. Libertarian was the name given to some nihilist groups in the early part of the last century. Rand had a highly integrated mind and had seen personally the results of nihilist thinking.
        Also, consider the situation in the 1930’s and 40’s. She was not exaggerating when she had Roark in The Fountainhead say that the world was drowning in a sea of self sacrifice. The writing of Miss Rand and others and the efforts of armies has helped to create a better world.
        She emphasized independence but that did not mean she was imune to simple human feelings, only that personal ethics was her focus.
        Besides, there is a difference between voluntary feelings and giving and the use of force to take them.
        Human decency forbids the latter.

    3. “as long as its heroes are personally nasty small-hearted control freaks in their own world.”

      Do you mean people like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Jim Bakker et. al.?

    4. Small-hearted? Fuck you. I am more or less an objectivist libertarian, and I’m one of the nicest people around. I do donate anything I don’t want anymore, the idea is that I just don’t want my stuff taken by force. I don’t feel that it is my duty to give, I just do.

  2. What some libertarians don’t get is that personal decency matters in a Judeo-Christian culture.

    Coulda fooled me. Decency matters to just about all people, but Judeo-Christian cultures have not distinguished themselves in this regard.

      1. Yea, you need to check with the primitive Muslims for personal decency. Also, tolerance.

  3. Hitching your wagon to a moonbat like Rand is one way of ensuring libertarianism’s enduring marginality. But, hey, you guys are the marginality experts.

    1. Oh, SNAP, you sure got me with that one. Got me right up the pooper!

      I better reform my thinking and get in line with the idealists who wait in line for their handouts while averting their gaze so as not to make eye contact with other people in the line who their handouts were stolen from. Yep, that’s the ticket.

  4. For a sec I thought it said “Enduring the power of Ayn Rands ideas”…and I would have been way more interested in the video…

  5. I hope we see some discussion with Dr Brook, hell even Peikoff or Tracinski would be interesting.

  6. Libertarianism as a whole rarely and only grudgingly acknowledges its debt to Rand. They’d much rather steal her ideas without attribution. Then again, most libertarians rarely get much further than scratching the surface of her philosophy (grabbing the low-hanging fruit, to mix metaphors). Libertarianism is too often an ungrateful, irrational, foot-stomping child.

    1. Which is funny, because Rand ripped off so many other people.

      1. We all stand on the shoulders of those that came before us.

  7. Attack of the randroids!!!

    1. Base on logic….not some assumption.

  8. some Libertarians, maybe…

    however, many of us are versed in the writings of Mises, Rothbard, Hayek, Hoppe, Hazlitt, and even Friedman as well as Ms. Rand.

    1. Don’t forget Paterson or Lane!

      1. Or Fr?d?ric Bastiat… and many of the ideas of Jefferson for that matter (though I’m not a farmer).

  9. Wow. How about we just celebrate that Ayn Rand was a staunch individualist who believed that people should be left to their own devices and consciences? And that she articulated individualism in a way that made it attractive to the less studious and itellectual (I love me some Mises but sometimes fiction’s more fun)?
    I am not an Objectivist but I just finished reading Anthem and it was phenomenal. Perhaps I disagree with this or that but I agree with the statement she makes in the beginning of the video: “man is entitled to his own happiness and that he must achieve it himself.”
    Regardless of my feelings about Rand herself, her influence is unquestionable and she introduced many people to the concept of individualism. I believe that’s an important stepping stone towards libertarianism.

    1. She did believe that people should be left to their own devices and consciences… so long as she approved. You were not allowed to sacrifice, not even voluntarily in the privacy of your own living room. She even went so far as to dictate your choice of art. And individualism stopped at the border. Domestically she might have issues with the US government, but she loved the gub’ment when it was trampling on rights overseas.

      1. “She even went so far as to dictate your choice of art.”

        So did Frank Lloyd Wright and people paid him a fortune for the opportunity.

      2. “You were not allowed to sacrifice, not even voluntarily in the privacy of your own living room.”

        What definition of “sacrifice” are you using, here? Would you consider volunteering in a soup kitchen to be a sacrifice? If so, then you’re not operating from the same idea of what a “sacrifice” is.

        She defined it as (I’m paraphrasing, probably badly) “trading something of a greater value to you for something of a lesser value to you.” I believe Rand would have said that volunteering in a soup kitchen (or giving someone a gift, or anything along those lines) isn’t a “sacrifice” because you’re actually valuing the happiness or well-being of the people you’re helping more than you value that particular hour (or whatever) of your own time. So you’re not actually losing any net value.

        On the other hand, if you did in fact mean “sacrifice” as in “give up something of value for nothing at all,” then yeah, I guess Rand would have frowned upon that or called it improper or something, but I’m not sure it’s “disallowed,” exactly.

        1. She didn’t call it merely “improper or something”. She called it the penultimate evil (next to not being a heroic male with square chin).

          1. Fair enough, she did place far more importance on it than I suggested there with the “or something.”

            In the context she talks about, though, it *is* evil, or at least, not something that a healthy and rational person would do to advance his own life or happiness. Is there a circumstance in which a sane person would willingly commit a sacrifice? I suppose if you value the freedom to give up for no reason the things you value (in the privacy of your own living room or anywhere else), then I can see why you would disagree with the Objectivist line on that one.


  10. Yep, Upstater “personality doesn’t matter.” Let’s see now, how well has the libertarian party done in the last 4 presidential elections?

  11. @Ed

    K, I’ll bite. Libertarianism is a political philosophy of legal individual liberty. Rand and her followers are about a personal ethos (note I didn’t say philosophy, a philosophy needs to be coherent) of egoism. There is a huge difference between the two despite the fact that we occasionally come to some of the same conclusions.

    The old bag has sweet fanny adams to do with my personal or political beliefs.

    1. Ok, I’ll bite. How exactly is Objectivism incoherent? For all its problems, seems to me that consistency is one of its strong suits.

    2. Agreed.
      Although I disagree that the philosophy of egoism is incoherent.
      Rand mixes in a lot of crap like her aesthetics and metaphysics, but thsoe have no more to do with the philosophy of egoism than libertarianism does.

      Also, egoism as a philosophy pre-dates Rand. Try Max Stirner.

  12. The complainers up thread are just jealous that their favorite does not have her face on mars.

  13. Um, I’m actually getting really excited for this video series!

    1. Given Reason’s spotty, often ambivalent attitude toward Rand’s ideas, you just might want to ease back on your enthusiasm, Solana. The series might be very disappointing indeed. I hope it isn’t.
      We’ll see.

  14. I’m very glad Reason is doing this. Ayn Rand played a very important role in modern libertarian ideas. I don’t consider myself an objectivist exactly but I pretty much believe in everything she believed in philosophy wise. I am an atheist and a capitalist and I like drugs and freedom. I think where I differ may be aesthetics.

  15. Stop giving microphone to the Brandens for crying out loud… They are hardly credible on anything and Rand told them to go to hell for a reason…

    1. Except that we know what that reason was, and it wasn’t sufficient in itself to discredit either of the Brandens.

      1. The “reason”? There were many. I’d suggest reading Rand’s own explanation of the events (“To Whom It May Concern”, The Objectivist, May 1968) instead of relying on a lurid movie or four subsequent decades worth of slander from her enemies.

        1. Compare Rearden’s reaction to losing Dagny Taggart to John Galt, to Rand’s reaction to losing Nathaniel.

          1. except Rand didn’t loose him, but broke up with him, and Branden didn’t find a better woman… please don’t tell me that you don’t see the fundamental differences…

  16. I’m gettin’ me a t-shirt. Sweet. (Someone was obviously listening to our pleas in the comments.)

  17. People forget that Rand’s philosophy was never systematized by Rand. It was Nathaniel Branden who put together a course of lectures on Objectivism that first brought Rand’s idea into a whole product and presented it to the public. Out of that grew the Objectivism movement. Rand supplied the ideas and the books, Branden supplied the movement. Those lectures are now coming out in print for the first time. See for more information on that.

  18. Objectivism would have been far better off without Nathaniel Branden or his Institute. He did more to damage Objectivism than critics ever could have.

    Rand’s books sell on their own, and there is now a truly effective representative for the philosophy now: The Ayn Rand Institute under Yaron Brook.


    1. Slap me, big boy!

  20. Side comment … why is it that some people find Rand’s personal life and idiosyncracies so awful, yet they are willing to give a pass to any other famous author or artist?

    If Rand was a man, or a progressive, her affair with Branden would probably be looked at as some kind of flamboyant escapade, typical of great artists.

    1. PS: At least Ayn Rand didn’t rape any children.

      1. Boy, you’ll believe anything – Randroid!

      2. That was sarcasm, btw…

    2. I expect it’s a blowback for her judgemental attitude towards others.

      Case in point: her relationship with Murray Rothbard. Their falling out was a product of personality clashes (Rothbard’s notoriously biting and irreverant humor vs. the humorless, dour gravity of Rand’s inner circle that climaxed with Rand suggesting that Rothbard divorce his wife because she was a practicing Presbytarian.

      Rothbard, quite rightly, told her to go to hell, and next thing you know, he’s being invited to attend a trial to examine his anti-life attitudes.

      The thing about Rand was that she was intolerant. The destructive way in which she conducted her personal life in her later years, coupled with her enthusiasm for condemning others for exceeding very narrow tolerances generated a great deal of resentment and contempt.

      1. You seem very well informed – I’ve only read Atlas n Fountainhead – just got in Capitalism: the Unkown Ideal. Good $10 value? I think her views R fairly dead on, but still love my dogma (think that was one thing she held over from a society/belief system that really had NO belief system). Will try 2 watch and seem to feel all should grab what they can and leave the rest as chaff along the plain. I’m simple that way guess…Semper Fidelis

    3. Part of it is the–we’ll say hypocrisy–that in a way serves to undermine her philosophy. She had all the same feelings and irrational impulses as anyone else, but refused to acknowledge those impulses in the makeup of her worldview. She definitely saw even sexual relationships as a matter of logic alone, and was distraught over her inability not to be human, which is a central failing of objectivism–it doesn’t have much use for people as they really are.

  21. AYn Rand was apeshit crazy.

    Her philosophy in 4 words:

    “Tough shit. Fuck you.”

    1. You’re an ignorant idiot.

    2. You are possibly one of the stupidest people I have encountered. Why don’t you post on Foxnews idiot? Have you even read one of her books?

      1. That’s the beauty of Rand, or of libertarianism: Both liberals and conservatives hate them.

    3. Wrong, but it doesn’t surprise me that that’s what a liberal takes away from the idea that it’s up to each individual to use the power of his/her own reason to make the best of life.

      My guess is, in your world, your parents owe you a college education, your employer owes you a job, your wife owes you her love, and the gov’t owes you healthcare, retirement, and protection from being offended.

    4. I’m going to take the contrarian view and say you’re half right. While she was definitely a “tough shit” kind of person, she reserved her F you’s for the establishment.

  22. I wonder what Reason’s motives are in doing this. Many of its own editors openly despise Ayn Rand, as do at least half of the peanut gallery here on H&R.

    1. To smear her even more with Brandes help, what did you think?

    2. Because they would rather have people believe in a philosophy of reason than anything else, like altruism.

  23. I don’t despise Rand, openly or secretly. I think she was a bit of a flake, but she obviously helped get out the anti-collectivist message, which I think was important.

  24. Strange that one of the most common shots against Rand here is that her philosophy somehow helps to keep Libertarianism trapped on the political margins.

    Strange because:

    1.) We’ve always been on the margins anyway.

    2.) Her book sales suggest she’s probably more popular than we are.

    3.) The argument always comes up as a logical fallacy: “Rand is wrong because people make weird faces when you say her name.”

  25. For all of her faults, Ayn Rand was the greatest contributor to the concept of individualism in modern history.

    I’ve noticed libertarians have the hardest time accepting other libertarians’ faults…

  26. I think others have certainly expounded on the political philosophy of libertarianism and the economic philosophy of free enterprise and free markets (Friedman, Hayek, Bastiat, etc, etc) far better than Rand.

    However, I personally feel she is most important to bringing individualism to the masses because she brought emotional texture and a deep personal immediacy to an otherwise dry and academic viewpoint.

    She helped awaken emotions in closet individuals that they did not even know existed, did not have a name for or a face to pin to, feelings and ideas that may have been shameful to put forward in public or even to close friends.

    She was a peculiar, harsh and intolerant person who did a lot of good, Is what I believe Milton said about her. She brought a lot of individualists out of the closet and into the open air and sweet sunshine, and for that I think we owe her a great deal of gratitude, even more than the intellectual giants of Libertarianism.

  27. Despite what people say about Rand’s personality, she never was a dogmatist. From here:

    Consider a statement Ayn Rand once made to CBS correspondent Mike Wallace: “If anyone can pick a rational flaw in my philosophy, I will be delighted to acknowledge him and I will learn something from him.” Got that? She did not say, “Metaphysical reality is immutable, so my philosophy is as well. The subject matter of philosophy is the same for men in all ages; as there are no new ‘facts’ to be discovered, so there is nothing new to be learned.” She didn’t say, “I’ve already committed myself on paper, so my position is now an authorized doctrine that remains unchanged and untouched.” Nor did she state, “I reject the very idea of flaw-finding. A valid system of philosophy is an integrated whole, therefore my philosophy as presented to date is an integrated whole. To change any one part ? to correct any ‘flaw’ ? would be to destroy the philosophy in its entirety.” And she didn’t say, “How can you tell me what’s ‘wrong’ in my philosophy? I alone decide what premises will lead to what conclusions.” And she never said, “Look, if someone imagines that he’s found a ‘flaw’ in my philosophy, he is free to reject my writings and go form his own viewpoint. The trademark ‘Objectivist,’ however, is retained by me. That’s all that matters.” She didn’t condemn the could-be flaw-finder as an “enemy” ? of either herself or reality. Finally, she did not pronounce Objectivism a “closed system.” In short, Ayn Rand never held any of the premises that her “intellectual heir” attributes to her (and to the logical structure of Objectivism). Clearly, there is no way to reconcile the conviction of her statement with What Peikoff Said. Equally clear is that despite whatever title he imagines Ayn Rand had bequeathed him, Leonard Peikoff has squandered the last dime of his intellectual capital.

  28. Who can possibly believe in Objectivism? That is the most asinine concept I have ever heard in my life – almost worst than Scientology.

    1. I don’t know about you but I’m not subscribing to any political philosophy whose progenitor looks like that snaggle-toothed tranny.

  29. correction: worse not worst.

    1. sigh. Mondays are terrible for typos.

  30. “Judeo-Christian” sounds like right-wing jargon, to justify legislating morality instead of endorsing freedom and liberty (libertariansim).

    1. 1. I am a Christian and also Libertarian.
      2. For a libertarian society to function people have to have a strong internal sense of morality

  31. Why does any discussion of Ayn Rand have to focus on her personal life or dogmatism rather than the merits of her ideas? I don’t see discussions about Friedman that start “well, he was a self-centered jerk…”. Give her credit for what she did, which is build a sound secular philosophy to support personal and economic liberty.

    1. Sure, I agree. But I think what annoys some people (myself included) is that some seem to view her as a kind of goddess of libertarianism, as if she were its “inventor,” when in reality many other great thinkers came before (and after) her, as other comments here have pointed out.

  32. If you like Ayn Rand, google “No Bull Mom.”

  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. 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…

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