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Tag Archives: Ayn Rand

Did Sustainable Atlas Shrug?

Ayn Rand’s 1957 philosophical novel Atlas Shrugged may not be a literary masterpiece or the last word in political theory, but it does hold some lessons. It tells the story of very productive and creative individuals who, harassed by politicians and bureaucrats, shrugged and retired in their own secret anarchic community. The rest of the world suffered. These days, more than one million Californians have suffered from prophylactic power cuts meant to prevent falling...

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Economic Inequality: Three Takes

In June 1963, when Nathaniel Branden published a piece on “Inherited Wealth” in The Objectivist Newsletter, he was still the beloved disciple of Ayn Rand, who reprinted his piece in her 1966 collection Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, and continued to include it in subsequent editions despite her break with Branden in 1968. As Rand famously did not allow opinions deviating even in the slightest from her own to appear in journals or books that she edited, we can assume Branden speaks...

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Randians vs. Stoics

Stoicism, particularly in its ethical and political aspects (a defense of individual self-mastery on the one hand and commercial society on the other – for the latter, see, e.g., Cicero’s De Officiis), has been enormously influential throughout western history. During the Roman period it took on something like the character of a mass religious movement; Stoics were also statistically overrepresented among assassins or attempted assassins of Roman emperors. (One third of all Roman...

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“Sanction”: The Triumph of Ayn Rand’s Worst Idea

Ayn Rand is widely hated.  Indeed, if you made a list of thinkers that people “love to hate,” she’d be near the top of the list.  Liberals hate her.  Conservatives hate her.  Socialists hate her.  Indeed, plenty of libertarians hate her.  It’s hardly surprising, then, that she has not been broadly influential.  While she has millions of fans, they’re only a tiny share of any country’s population.  Even when her fans gain positions of power, they’re hopelessly...

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Quotation of the day on how to tell when your society is doomed….

…. is p. 413 of Ayn Rand’s 1957 book Atlas Shrugged (emphasis added): When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion–when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing–when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors–when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you–when you see corruption...

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Quotation of the day, on the uniquely American concept of individualism ….

… is from a radio interview with Ayn Rand in 1980, which appears in the book Objectively Speaking: Ayn Rand Interviewed (p. 249-250): Throughout the history of Europe, the values and ideas of its people never changed on one basic point: Europe is a state-worshiping culture. It has always worshipped the power of the state, whether it is in the form of absolute monarchs, or later, of collectivists. European societies have never understood the importance of the individual and individual...

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Ayn Rand’s “Philosophy: Who Needs It?” Is Bullshit

Ayn Rand’s “Philosophy: Who Needs It?” seems to some people to be a stunning defense of the value of philosophy. To me, it reads like polemical, hyperbolic nonsense. It’s bad armchair psychology.* Rand compares the average person to an astronaut who, to avoid feeling unease and taking responsibility for himself, tries to evade a number of foundational questions. Most men spend their days struggling to evade three questions, the answers to which underlie man’s every thought, feeling and...

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