Libertarian History/Philosophy Reason Foundation Co-Founder Tibor Machan on Ayn Rand


Tibor Machan was one of the founding partners in Reason Enterprises, which began publishing Reason magazine in 1971, three years after its creation. He became editor in the spring of 1971 and worked with the magazine through the '70s and '80s as an associate editor and senior editor. In 1978 he co-founded the Reason Foundation with Manny Klausner and Bob Poole. Today Machan holds the R. C. Hoiles Chair of Business Ethics and Free Enterprise at the Argyros School of Business & Economics at Chapman University in Orange, California. 

"I think that for Ayn Rand to have survived and made a life for herself, she almost needed that edgy personality, otherwise she would have been destroyed," says Machan, who was born in Hungary in 1939. At 14 years of age, his father smuggled Machan out of the country, fearing the Hungarian communist government. His background helps give Machan insight into how the intellectual mind of Ayn Rand functioned. "Her unpleasantness," he says, "ultimately can be fully justified given the treatment she was given when she came out the Soviet Union, told the truth about that country, and nobody paid attention." In 2000, Machan wrote Ayn Rand exploring all the major themes of Ayn Rand's philosophical thought.

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

This 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.

NEXT: Voices of Gitmo

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 or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Generally, telling the truth will get people angry at you.

    Most people constantly lie to themselves and like to be lied to by lovers, politicians, etc.

  2. More Ayn Rand, less Sarah Palin please.

  3. OK, OK, I’ll read it. Jeese.

    1. I can top that; I just ordered a Ayn Rand T-shirt. The Reason founders should hit up QVC; they’re great sales people.

  4. And if they ever get tired of talking about Ayn Rand and Sarah Palin, I’m hoping they can maybe devote a few minutes at some point to talking about the big 1,990 page health care monstrosity that is probably going to be voted on in the House Saturday evening.

    1. Why talk about it? Just burn it.

  5. “Her unpleasantness,” he says, “ultimately can be fully justified given the treatment she was given when she came out the Soviet Union, told the truth about that country, and nobody paid attention.”

    No kidding. I can only imagine what it must have been like in 1930s Hollywood to be a refugee from Soviet communism.

    To flee a place where people were being imprisoned and killed on a daily basis for being “bourgeois”, and to then arrive in a place where the people doing the killing are extolled as romantic heros, and the people doing the extolling feel proud ot it and are praised by others are forward thinkers, must have been horrifying. And would, of course, breed a permanent and fully justified contempt for those people.

    People who priase Castro deserve our contempt to day, and he only aspired to Stalin’s stature.

    1. To this day, I often ask people wearing a CCCP shirt if they would wear a Swastika. Then I tell them that what they are wearing is worse.

      1. I rather enjoy wearing Soviet propaganda myself, if for no reason other than the great irony in it. I have the quintessential collegiate revolutionary Che shirt, a hammer and sickle shirt, and I cannot find the most awesome shirt I ever had, a black buttonup that I got at a salvation army memorial day sale that was adorned with patches in Russian and emblazoned with images of Lenin and Stalin. Never once has anyone so much as looked at me angrily. Were I to rock a Swazi, I’d get my ass kicked daily (though I’d be a hit with Taylor Swift).

        1. It would be even more ironic if you wore a Swaztika, but it seems you are too big a pussy for that.

        2. Irony? Grow up. When are you going to start living for real?

  6. Ask that idiot Tibor why he lost the key the Reason offices.

    1. If this were asked grammatically, it might be understood. But its tone is so bizarre that all it deserves is a big “baloney”.

  7. That was a very good, brief assessment of Ayn Rand. I could use less Ayn Rand talk, but, surely, more Tibor Machan! (I can’t believe I just typed that.)

    There was little to disagree with, here. But it’s interesting to note how much special pleading Rand requires, eh?

    I probably would go further, and say that Rand’s experiences cannot justify bad philosophy (her egoism/altruism dialectic is indefensible) and bad manners (be careful of what you call yourself — an egoist — you might actually become one).

    Oh, well, she brought all these good people here, right? (Well, not me, but, uh, Reason magazine itself.) Rand is Reason’s founding goddess. Iconoclasm on our part might seem a tad churlish. The idol must be respected if not revered.

    One doesn’t go into one’s friends’ church, after all, only to piss on the Mary statuary, or the crucifix.

  8. Can a Randian or any form of Rand fan please explain to me how her comments about William Hickman are reconciled with her beliefs in personal liberty? I have no strong opinion about her one way or the other, and I take with a grain of salt the stuff I read over at Slate. But it seems like positive words for a serial killer should raise an eyebrow or two.

    1. From what I’ve read, William Edward Hickman was guilty of a murder committed during a series of armed robberies and of the more notorious kidnapping, murder and mutilation of a twelve year old little girl. While he was undoubtedly a psychopath, I don’t know that I would refer to him as a “serial killer.”

    2. Try watching ‘Night of the Hunter’. The scene at the end where the hypocritical mob is howling for the blood of the villian pretty well conveys what Rand’s feelings likely were regarding Hickman.

  9. These interviews are good, but I must say I find the Reason co-founders more interesting than Rand. I already knew a fair amount about her; these guys are new to me.

  10. I was not born in 1942 but 1939! Some extra time spent during WWII.

  11. The date looks to be fixed.

  12. 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..

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.