Libertarian History/Philosophy Reason Foundation Co-Founder Manny Klausner on Ayn Rand


Manuel "Manny" Klausner was one of the founding partners in Reason Enterprises, which began publishing Reason magazine in 1971, three years after the publication's creation. He became editor in the summer of 1972 and a senior editor in June 1978. In 1978 he co-founded the Reason Foundation with Tibor Machan and Bob Poole. He remains on the board of the Reason Foundation today, is a stalwart supporter of the Federalist Society, and a libertarian lawyer extraordinaire. 

"Rand is, I think, a very valuable resource in the movement for people who take liberty seriously," says Klausner. "When I was editor of Reason in the early 1970s, we got an article that was submitted that proposed a method for converting the world to libertarianism, and that was by going door-to-door and distributing to every household a copy of Atlas Shrugged. We rejected the article…but it was an example of the kind of impact Rand has had and continues to have on many many people."

Approximately six minutes. Interview by David Nott, camera by Alex Manning, and editing by Hawk Jensen.

This interview is part of the 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 this video.

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  1. First Brian is on Rand now this guy. That corpse sure gets around!

  2. Adam Smith owns Ayn Rand when it comes to liberty.

  3. Better way to convert the world to libertarianism is to take a page from Atlas Shrugged, and found Mulligan’s Valley and invite all productive, libertarian people to live there and watch the world rot without them.

    1. Do you seriously believe that the capitalist are the only productive force in the world?

      1. The most productive, yes. And the most free.

      2. Not the only, just the best.

        1. Once they all move to your utopian society the cost of production would become so high and profits so low that they would eventually venture back in the “rotten” world to seek higher profits.

          1. What makes you believe the best producers have the highest cost of production? What makes them the best producers is the low cost of production relative to the value they offer.

            Further, profit means, to anyone that doesn’t spend their afternoons huffing the farts of Krugman, that a net value has been gained in an interaction. Why wouldn’t the most productive people receive a net value in their interaction with people whom are the best at producing? Again, if they are the best at producing they offer the best value proposition.

            1. Are you stupid? The more capitalist come into competition with each other the more they have to pay for rude produce and labor which means an increase in cost of production. They also would be force to sell must cheaper if they hope to keep their customers thus reducing their profits. Most capitalist wouldn’t like this and thats why they lobby so hard for regulations and protectionism. You randroids seem to believe that the capitalist are some benevolent beings who love freedom and free markets when reality couldn’t be farther from the truth. Most likely they would decline John Galts invitation.

  4. Aren’t they trying that in New Hampshire?

    1. They seem to be having trouble gathering participants.

    2. Living here in NH, you’d never know it! We do manage to have a few reps that are Libertarians.

    3. Living here in NH, you’d never know it! We do manage to have a few reps that are Libertarians.

  5. Going door to door distributing copies of Atlas Shrugged sounds like an example of complete lunacy to me. Klausner must be a moron.

    1. Listen more closely to the interview; Klausner didnt propose doing that, the idea came from some well-meaning loon who submitted the idea to Reason Magazine.
      I think Klausner related the anecdote to emphasize how strongly Rand affects people.

  6. Great interview. The deposition would have been quite a coup.

  7. I like this video and the guy seems pretty cool, but I have been really excited about the idea of libertarians discussing objectivism and that doesn’t seem to be the direction this is going. Is this just going to be another case of people trying to discredit her ideas by campaigning against her personality. Whether or not she went batshit crazy with intellectual property suits or told people it is irrational to like Beethoven is old news and a distraction. Would we be mounting the same crusade if she had said that she approved of libertarians and hadn’t accused us whim-worship? Enough with the character flaws and discuss how one philosophy of liberty compares to another.

    1. If she hadn’t claimed to have the answer to life, the universe and everything, or ever prescribed how people should live (think, speak, listen to music…) you’d have a point. But since she did do those things, the way she applied her philosophy in her own life and the way it worked out for her is perfectly relevant to any Rand-related discussion.

  8. I remember that magazine issue Klausner talks about in the video – in fact, I still have a copy of it.

  9. Okay so her philosophy applied in real life is disasterous. Why? That would be an interesting conversation. Where was she mistaken? If some of her ideas are important to libertarians then which ones are important to ignore?

  10. She had some good ideas, wrote some interesting books but many of her characters were 1-dimensional especially in Atlas Shrugged. Giving copies door to door is a silly idea. Few will read a 1,200 page book. And, yes I know it was not Klausner who proposed it. The ideas that did not work in the real world were making her a cult-like figure who was the only one who knew the real truth about everything including what kind of literature, music, and art it was ok to like. Or some of the odd things she did in her personal life that hurt mainly her and the others involved. None of these have anything to do with Libertarianism, they have to do with her own logical musings on metaphysics, ethics, etc.
    She never held a gun to anyone’s head to make them agree with her.
    What makes a capitalist a capitalist? Do we mean anyone who is above a certain level of management in a company? Or do we mean a truly innovative person, an inventor, etc. like those portrayed in Atlas Shrugged. There were plenty of “businessman” in the book who were politically connected which is true of much of what goes on today even if sometimes they have no choice. They have to do it to stay in business or they are forced to take stimulus money as a few of the banks were. That was a scene right out of Atlas Shrugged. The funny thing is that if explained correctly, many people would actually agree with each other. Many “liberal democrats” (kind of an oxymoron) are against capitalism since they think it will lead to a greater concentration of power and an increase in income disparity and many who favor a free-market believe that it is the system we have now with greater government each year over the last 100 years that lead to concentration of power and the huge increase we have had in the ratio of CEO pay to lowest worker pay.

    Many people really would like to see the same outcomes but they disagree completely on the means to get there.

  11. 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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