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REVIEW: Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden Struggle for America’s Soul

Book by Gary Weiss


 

REVIEW: Ayn Rand nationFor anyone who remembers Ayn Rand (1905 to 1982)—the founder of objectivism and prophet of unfettered capitalism—only from her late 1950s days of glory to her relegation to the intellectual sidelines a decade later, Weiss offers a book full of surprises. Rand’s works actually sell like frozen peas, especially her two famous novels, The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957): polls show that about a third of Americans claim to have read the latter. But The Virtue of Selfishness (1964)—Randian dogma demands, inter alia, that social welfare programs like Medicare and indeed the government itself (except for policing) be abolished—and other non-fiction tomes are also selling briskly.

Aside from Rand’s overall resurgence, part of a rise of libertarian thinking in the U.S. (and Canada), there is her particular appeal to the Tea Party: she’s “as much a part of the Tea Party’s soul as Ronald Reagan, Glenn Beck, and Jesus Christ,” according to the alarmed Weiss, a leftist financial journalist. And that’s certainly surprising, because Tea Partiers are overwhelming religious, while Rand’s atheism is strident enough to make Christopher Hitchens’ assault on Mother Teresa look tepid. Then there’s the disproportionately Canadian presence among her chief acolytes, especially during Rand’s lifetime, some of whom later became objectivism’s chief heretics.

But nothing’s more surprising than the way Weiss occasionally finds himself in kind of, sort of, oh-my-God-she’s-right agreement with Rand. He does emerge with his core principles intact: a Randian U.S.“would resemble the lands from which our ancestors emigrated.” But he recognizes the root of her appeal: preaching rugged individualism taps into deeply held American values and so too does the way Rand’s adherents make moral arguments, declaring policies right or wrong rather than prudent or reckless. That’s what Weiss wants his side to do: not ignore “the godmother of the Tea Party” or argue about practicalities, but take its own moral stance, based on its own reading of American tradition.


 

REVIEW: Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden Struggle for America’s Soul

  1. “polls show that about a third of Americans claim to have read Atlas Shrugged”  – wait a minute! – 1/3 of Americans claim to have read the same 1200-page book? 100 million Americans claim to have read a 1200-page book?  We expect that 1/3 of Americans would say they have “read the Bible”, but we also accept that, for Americans, “to have read the Bible” really means to own a Bible and be able to mis-quote a few passages.  Who is John Galt?

  2. AynRand hopefully burned in hell already..she was a philosopher wannabe…arrogant and exaggerated in her assumptions and conclusions, for her all that is good is for man to be true to his selfish nature and any sacrifices for the common good were evil, dumb and stupid…well that is just not how things are and how the world turns…to me after reading all her “works” she represents the best example of American intellectual garbage

    •  Ah.  Another “garbage” expert.  Clue me in on some of the other garbage books you’ve read.

  3. Ayn Rand is a person in the end did not believe in the in her ideology. She like so many other libertarians, preach how government are evil and a pure form of capitalim is good, but in the end of the the day she was a person who willing sign up for free health care and soical security

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