Reason Foundation Co-Founder Bob Poole on Ayn Rand


Robert W. Poole Jr. was one of the founders of Reason Enterprises, which began publishing Reason with its January 1971 issue. He co-founded the Reason Foundation in 1978 with Manny Klausner and Tibor Machan and has held many titles with the magazine, including editor, managing editor, executive editor, editor-in-chief, and publisher. He remains on the board of the Reason Foundation today and is the Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow and Director of Transportation Policy.

"Rand really inspired a lot of people who otherwise might have become conservatives, like me," says Poole. "If you go back and look at surveys that were done of libertarians in the 1960s, '70s, and even the '80s, and asked what single book or thought leader most inspired you to become a libertarian, it was always Rand by a large large majority—always a plurality and usually a majority."

Approximately six minutes. Interview by Michael C. Moynihan, camera by Dan Hayes, and editing by Hawk Jensen.

This is part of the series Radicals For Capitalism: Celebrating the Ideas of Ayn Rand.

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  1. Good video. My only problem is the part where he talked about becoming less idealistic and more realistic. That is part of the problem today, is that both sides of the aisle care more about statistics and percentages than people.

    I think it is okay to see the world in black and white. He talked about capitalism being morally right, that is talking in black and white. We need to remember our ideals, and not turn into a bunch of statists.

    Also Ayn Rand was crazy but put into words the greatest philosophy in human history.

    1. I didn’t get the impression that Poole was talking about core principles, but about strategy for implementing those core principles. Too often, IMHO, libertarian discussions of practical politics devolve into ‘purer than thou’ mutual recrimination that inevitably turns the perfect into the mortal enemy of the very, very good.

      I’m a big fan of Rand, but I realize that if we’re going to get from A to B and make B stick, we’re not likely to do it in one fell swoop.

      1. That’s agreeable.

  2. Good interview, Bob. In the current climate and the assault on free enterprise,Rand provides a strong rational AND moral defense.

  3. “Rand really inspired a lot of people who otherwise might have become conservatives,”

    That’s odd, because I think it was Rand, and a few others, who stopped me from becoming a liberal – without a moral foundation to capitalism, it would be hard to see through all the well-meaningness of market regulation.

    1. It is not “wellmeaningness”…it’s desire of control.

  4. Correction: The initial issues of Reason under editor Lannie Friedlander were not mimeographed, as Bob states: the whole thing was offset-printed, and then stapled together (by hand?).

    1. Correction: “Lanny” is spelled with a y.

  5. What, three years I’ve been hanging here and the man finally steps out from behind the curtain?

  6. Justin,
    That’s what I find so wonderful about objectivism. It’s so exhaustive and yet non-contradictory that it really isn’t loyal to any organized platform. I keep thinking I’ve finished cherry-picking all the good ideas and can finally move on, then I find out I’m wrong about yet another thing and she was right all along.

  7. I meant to say that her consistency illuminates inconsistencies in all the other platforms

  8. Thank God you can be a libertarian without bowing down to Ayn Rand. I find her an arrogant and hateful human being as brutal as a socialist dictator in her own circle.

    I once had the privilege of driving Milton Friedman to a TV interview. A real gentleman and humanist, calm in temperament and willing to listen to anyone. His is a libertarian hero for all ages who can appeal to all manner and classes of man and women.

    I acknowledge Rand’s enormous role in propagating libertarian ideas, but she is a real turnoff as a person particularly to libertarians concerned about culture and those who are a religious libertarians.

    Enough with the Rand worship already.

    1. agreed!

    2. Can’t we disagree over a point and still benefit from the remainder of the whole if it is correct?

  9. It’s important to remember that in order to be “as brutal as a socialist dictator”, you would have to execute a few million people. It is not enough to arrogantly disagree with people. It’s a big difference.

  10. This was a good video from my perspective, because I’ve been wondering about who was involved and what was their motives in founding Reason. My hats off to Mr Poole. It’s a good thing he helped make happen.

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  12. I would agree that calling her “as brutal as a dictator” is going a bit far. But I am all for the cessation of Rand worship by Libertarians, especially when, in her life, she talked quite a bit about how much she hated Libertarians. It’s okay though, Rand, I don’t like you either.

  13. 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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