Category Archives: Media Citings

British Tribute to Ayn Rand: Godless Prophet of the Capitalist Revolution

Don’t miss “Ayn Rand: Godless Prophet of the Capitalist Revolution” by Simon Heffer, in Standpoint Magazine. It begins:

One of the latest hits on YouTube is a nine-minute compilation of clips from King Vidor’s 1949 film of Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead. It is titled “Howard Roark makes a case against Barack Obama”. Roark, somewhat bizarrely played by Gary Cooper, is the hero of Rand’s novel: an individualist architect who serves as a metaphor for the battle against the evils of welfarism and its parent, socialism. Roark will not submit himself to serve others, but nor does he expect others to serve him. His welfare, his progress, the creation of his wealth and reputation are matters for him alone. His moral view is that it is better for society that things are ordered in that way, for it makes every man his own master.

He is a visionary architect. He designs buildings that he believes in. They are only to be built not just if they find clients, but if those clients agree that the integrity of the design (and therefore the integrity of Roark) must be sacrosanct. When Roark’s design for a public housing project is chosen, but built with modifications of which he does not approve, he blows the building up. He is put on trial after a hate campaign against him by a newspaper that crusades against individualism. After an electrifying courtroom speech defending his principles and his ideology, he is acquitted.

His reputation is made and his individualism respected. Those who have sought to add him to the list of men enslaved by self-sacrifice, that they might themselves wield power, are roundly vanquished. In Rand’s world, intervention by the state is a fundamental evil. The coercion into self-sacrifice is an abomination. There is to be a ruthless selfishness balanced by a strict morality: and the philosophy in which this morality is to be rooted is one of rationalism and not of any theology. “It stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master.” As Roark puts it at his trial: “I have come here to say that I do not recognise anyone’s right to one minute of my life…It had to be said. The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing.” The story can be seen as one of almost laughable extremes, but it has become regarded in the last 60 years as a parable of the American way. When a new president is tearing up that way and imposing what some of his critics have called “socialism”, it is easy to see how the conservative element in America has seized on Roark as a beacon for these disturbed times.

That, though, is not the limit of Rand’s influence on the current debate. Her novel Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, was in one 1991 survey voted the second most influential book in America, second only to the Bible. Rand would have seen an element of challenge in this. Her militant atheism was unconcealed. Faith was not merely a rank superstition, it also claimed the authority of a higher being over man. Rand could not accept that any man, or any entity, had power over the individual. This has handicapped some on the Right in America from embracing the rest of what, to them, would normally be a highly compatible philosophy: she showed them the cloven hoof and her adherents today in the institute that bears her name continue relentlessly to do the same. The victory of ideas is not won by appeasement.

Her gods are living and they are men like Roark and the hero of Atlas Shrugged, John Galt. These are men who lead by example and in whom the milk of Judaeo-Christian human kindness is replaced by a stiff cocktail of realism, integrity, individuality and self-help. The world is told to accept such people on their own terms – terms that strive not to force one man’s will upon others, but to make others see that the will of the individual, exercised morally, is to be respected and fostered. In the first seven weeks of this year, sales of Atlas Shrugged trebled in America. They have even risen in the UK, where until Penguin published an edition of the novel a couple of years ago (along with copies of other of Rand’s works, including The Fountainhead) they were harder to obtain than Mein Kampf – such, presumably, was deemed to be their ideological offensiveness to the British people. Last year, 51 years after its first publication, the novel sold a record 200,000 copies in the US. Sales have been further boosted by the recession.

See the full article for much more. Thanks to Bob Hessen for the link.

Amity Shlaes: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Is Shrugging with a Growing Load

Writing for Bloomberg, Amity Shlaes has an interesting article about Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged. It begins:

Imagine a novel of more than a thousand pages, published half a century ago. The author doesnâ??t have a talk-radio show and has been dead for 27 years.

As for the storyline, it is beyond dated: Humorless executives fight with humorless public officials over an industry that is, today, almost irrelevant to the U.S. economy – - railroads. The prose itself is a disconcerting mixture of philosophy, industrial policy, and bodice-ripping: â??The wind blew her hair to blend with his. She knew why he had wanted to walk through the mountains tonight.â?

In short, you would think â??Atlas Shruggedâ? might be long forgotten.

Instead, Ayn Randâ??s novel is remembered more than ever. This year the book is selling at a faster rate than last year. Last year, sales were about 200,000, higher than any year before that, including 1957, when the book was published.

Some assumed the libertarian philosopher would fall from view when the Berlin Wall fell. Or that at least there would be a sense of mission accomplished. One Rand fan, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, wrote in his memoir that he regretted Rand hadnâ??t lived until 1989 or 1990. Sheâ??d missed the collapse of communism that she had so often predicted.

But â??Atlas Shruggedâ? is becoming a political â??Harry Potterâ? because Rand shone a spotlight on a problem that still exists: Not pre-1989 Soviet communism, but 2009-style state capitalism. Rand depicted government and companies colluding in the name of economic rescue at the expense of the entrepreneur. That entrepreneur is like the titan Atlas who carries the rest of the world on his shoulders — until he doesnâ??t.

See the full article for much more.

Thanks to Greg Feirman for the tip. Greg also says Shlaes’s book The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression (2007) is a good read, for anyone interested in the topic.

Simpsons parody of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead

Thanks to Don Hauptman for the heads-up. Summary for the episode:

“4 Great Women & A Manicure” – 8 \ 7c

– “THE SIMPSONS” — (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT)


Jodie Foster Guest-Voices

Marge and Lisa visit the nail salon where they engage in a spirited debate as to whether a woman can be smart, powerful and beautiful all at the same time. To prove their point, they spin four tales of famous women featuring famous Springfield faces: Selma as Queen Elizabeth I, Lisa as Snow White, Marge as Lady Macbeth and Maggie (guest voice Jodie Foster) as the idealistic architect protagonist from Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead” in the “Four Great Women and a Manicure” episode of THE SIMPSONS airing Sunday, May 10 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (SI-2009) (TV-PG; D) CC-HDTV 720p-Dolby Digital 5.1

BusinessWeek: The Economy Needs Ayn Rand

BusinessWeek‘s “Debate Room” published a for-and-against piece on the topic: “Author Ayn Randâ??s philosophy of rational self-interest is more relevant todayâ??amid the flurry of government bailoutsâ??than ever. Pro or con?”

Onkar Ghate takes the affirmative position, which begins:

If Ayn Randâ??s philosophy of rational self-interest is irrelevant today, then so is the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration gave sanction to selfishness: to the moral right to live your own life, to exercise your liberty, to pursue your happiness. No more taking orders from king or society. Each was free to live for himself.

Christina Patterson takes the negative position, which begins:

Youâ??d think it was a joke, when the global economy was collapsing because of greed, that anyone might turn seriously to the purple prose of crypto-fascist Ayn Rand and think it was the answer to anything. How could her so-called philosophy of â??rational self-interestâ?â??in other words, a crude kind of dog-eat-dog laissez-faire capitalismâ??seem like the route out of this obstacle-strewn labyrinth into which weâ??re all now locked?

See the full piece for more.

(Thanks to Top Gun‘s Greg Feirman for the tip!)

Rush Limbaugh pays homage to the “brilliant writer and novelist” Ayn Rand

Conservative talk-show host Rush Limbaugh gave a lengthy monologue today titled “The Smallest Minority on Earth,” in which he talked about the importance of individual rights.

Along the way, he paid due homage to the “brilliant writer and novelist, Ayn Rand.” Here is a key excerpt:

As I said, we have a gigantic new audience to this program, the tune-in factor is just through the roof. For those of you who are new to the program, I want you to please understand that the criticism of the Obama administration here and the disagreement with practically every element of his agenda is based on one thing.

We do not want to lose the liberty and freedom that we were born with in this country and that has made this the greatest country on earth, that has given us the greatest, most prosperous lifestyle any of population of human beings in the history of the planet. It has been liberty; it’s been freedom; it has been the ambition and desire to use that freedom in the concept of self-interest.

I want to spend more time on this in a future program. But this notion of sacrifice that the president talked about yesterday is just over the top. Liberals always talk about sacrifice, Obama, every time he opens his mouth, mentions the need for people to sacrifice. We all must suffer. We all have to jointly suffer in order for all of us to somehow be the same, and self-interest, selfishness is condemned. And self-interest not selfishness. Self-interest is what built this country.

Somebody starting a business did it in his self-interest. He didn’t start a business so that there would be jobs and health care in the community. He started a business because he loved the business that he was in. He loved the business that he wanted to build. He had a product or a service that he thought would improve the lives of people. He wanted to sell it to them; he wanted to make it available to them. Everybody wins when everybody’s acting in self-interest. Selfishness is a different thing.

Self-interest is excellence; self-interest is what’s desired; self-interest is what makes people want raises; self-interest is what makes people want their families to be secure; self-interest is what makes parents want their kids to be properly educated; self-interest is what propels the United States military to victory. Not sacrifice. Not the concept of sacrifice.

Sacrifice is giving something to somebody you don’t know to make yourself feel altruistic. You’re not sacrificing. It doesn’t make you great. But giving something to your family because you provided it for them, that is good. But if you run around just giving people who do nothing for you, who are just worthless, don’t have anything to do with you, you’re cheating them out of their own self-interest.

When you vote for politicians who take from your back pocket to give to others, you think it’s compassionate, you think it’s caring? It’s not. It’s depriving the recipient of his own quest for self-interest.

The brilliant writer and novelist, Ayn Rand, has written about this. Let me give you a couple quotes from Ayn Rand on this. “It only stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master.” That is President Obama.

“Where there is sacrifice, there’s somebody collecting the sacrificial offerings.” What does it mean? President Obama says, “We all need to sacrifice,” for this reason or that reason. What it means is we all need to pay more; we need to have less affluent lives; we need to dial down our prosperity, and we need to give the money to him, not a charity. He’s going to eliminate, for all intents and purposes, the tax deductibility, it’s going to be 28 cents for every dollar, charitable donations. He wants to be the distributor of the charitable donations. He wants to be the distributor of the goods because he wants the glory.

“So it only stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s somebody collecting the sacrificial offerings.” Who is it that’s talking about sacrifice? President Obama. Who’s going to collect your sacrificial offerings? President Obama and his government. And “where there’s service, there’s somebody being served.” There’s no sacrifice in service. The president who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters. He intends to be the master. You’re the slave. You must sacrifice.

See the full transcript for much more. You can also listen to the audio clip in Windows Media Player or RealPlayer.

(Thanks to Robert Bidinotto for the heads-up about this.)

The hero of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is smiling

The allusions to Atlas Shrugged in the mainstream media are just getting better and better. From the new Bloomberg article “Obama Needs AIGâ??s Liddy, Not Other Way Around,” by Caroline Baum:

The hero of Ayn Randâ??s Atlas Shrugged is smiling because heâ??s seen it all before: the governmentâ??s intervention in the private sector; the constraints placed on business in the name of the people; the desperation on the part of government bureaucrats when they realize their leverage is limited; and — this part is still fiction — the decision on the part of business leaders to walk away from the enterprises they built.

Thatâ??s all I could think about when I read that American International Group Inc., recipient of $173 billion in taxpayer funds, was paying out $165 million in bonuses to employees of its financial-products group, the poster boy for risk and greed.

The Obama administration, Congress and the public are outraged taxpayer dollars are going to enrich the folks who got us into this mess. So am I.

Members of Congress want to blame Edward Liddy, the former chief executive officer of Allstate Corp., who was recruited by former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson in September to steer AIG away from the shoals.

Liddy is paid $1 a year for his efforts. â??My only stake is my reputation,â? Liddy said in a March 16 open letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

His only crime, as far as I can tell, is inheriting compensation contracts providing for retention bonuses for certain AIG derivative traders, some of whom have left the company, and listening to lawyers on his options.

See the full article for much more on the parallels between Atlas Shrugged and the current crisis.

(Thanks to Greg Feirman of Top Gun Financial Planning, author of the Atlasphere article “The Odyssey of Star Stock Trader Tim Sykes,” for the heads-up.)

‘Is Ayn Rand Relevant?’ in the Wall Street Journal

Yaron Brook had an excellent article in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal. It begins:

Ayn Rand died more than a quarter of a century ago, yet her name appears regularly in discussions of our current economic turmoil. Pundits including Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santelli urge listeners to read her books, and her magnum opus, “Atlas Shrugged,” is selling at a faster rate today than at any time during its 51-year history.

There’s a reason. In “Atlas,” Rand tells the story of the U.S. economy crumbling under the weight of crushing government interventions and regulations. Meanwhile, blaming greed and the free market, Washington responds with more controls that only deepen the crisis. Sound familiar?

See the full article for more.