Remember the big question in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: “Who’s John Galt?” In the novel, more and more people ask the question, but no one knows the answer, or even where the question came from. Ironically, the same thing now seems to be happening to Ayn Rand and her philosophy of objectivism. Even leading objectivists don’t know the whole answer, but one thing is sure: A quarter century after her death, and half a century after the publication of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand is back.
The autobiography of former Rand acolyte Alan Greenspan, in which he credits her for his development, just got published with big fanfare. In recent weeks, both The New York Times and The L.A. Times have run articles about her work. Atlas Shrugged has been featured prominently in a recent episode of AMC’s hit series Mad Men. A movie version of the book, starring Angelina Jolie in the main role, is slated for release next year.
Meanwhile, sales of Ayn Rand titles have tripled since the early 1990s–in fact, more are being sold now than at any time in history. Atlas Shrugged sales on Amazon in the first nine months of this year are already almost double the total for 2006. As of this writing, Atlas ranks 124th on Amazon’s sales charts. Compare that to The Da Vinci Code at 2,587.
After reviewing several possible reasons for Rand’s revival, they conclude their article with these interesting and constructive suggestions for marketing “something as amorphous as [an Objectivist] movement”:
–Choose a fertile target. For objectivists, this means conservatives who aren’t comfortable with the religious right and feel alienated and orphaned. Objectivists can attract this audience with a moral argument for capitalism and individual rights by showing that free markets and individual choice aren’t just smart and practical, but also moral.
–Activate your natural supporters. Objectivism is a natural fit for businessmen because it not only tolerates, but extols them. Fortune 500 CEOs can become to objectivism what movie stars are to Scientology and Kabalah.
–Go Hollywood anyway. Like it or not, we live in a celebrity culture, and there’s no publicity like celebrity publicity. Would Kabalah, PETA, Scientology or RED have become household words without the likes of Madonna, Tom Cruise and Bono?
–Accentuate the positive. It’s easy to be a naysayer. It’s harder, but much more rewarding, to offer hope. To win hearts and minds, objectivists need to show not only why they’re right, but how to get from here to there.
–Pick your controversies selectively, and don’t be afraid to court the controversies you pick. Conservative Republicans have dominated presidential politics for over half a century by deftly capitalizing on wedge issues –the latest example being same-sex marriage. Objectivists would do well to steal a page from that playbook by picking a battle on a specific issue in the area of individual rights.
–Get linked. From blogs to Facebook to Wikipedia, the Internet is the ideal medium for movements to build communities of supporters. Links, in particular, are the key to success–between sites of supporters of a movement, and from these sites to others.
How often do you see something like that in the mainstream media? Very good stuff.
Kudos to Forbes.com for being willing to publish such an open and kind review of the current Ayn Rand revival.
See the full article for more.