We’re catching it tomorrow. Karen is at the basset trials at Aldie today, and I’m going fishing.
Allahpundit says Paul dropped an Ayn Rand truth bomb on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Noomi Rapace played Salander in Män som hatar kvinnor (2009)
Israeli critic Benjamin Kerstein, at PJM, relishes the delicious political ironies of the internationally-bestselling Stieg Larsson Millenium trilogy.
One of the strangest publishing phenomena in recent memory is the extraordinary international success of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. A semi-famous left-wing Swedish journalist who died young and relatively uncelebrated, the three mystery novels Larsson wrote before his death, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, have sold millions of copies worldwide, gained a dedicated cult of adoring fans, spawned a hugely popular Swedish film series, and set in motion a Hollywood remake directed by celebrated filmmaker David Fincher.
There is really only one reason for the massive success of Larsson’s trilogy: a fascinating, unique, and entirely fictional young woman named Lisbeth Salander. While the books’ Swedish setting, their overtones of political and social criticism, and their main character, the plodding journalist and obvious Larsson alter ego Michael Blomquist, are interesting variations on the conventional mystery, it is Salander who elevates the proceedings into something entirely new in crime fiction.
Larsson’s personal political views are not in doubt. He was a longtime member of the Swedish radical left, and his magazine Expo was famous for exposing the dark underbelly of the Swedish right wing. In an early and now invalidated will, he went so far as to leave all his assets to the local communist party. At first glance, the novels seem to follow Larsson’s ideology fairly closely. Blomquist, Larsson’s alter ego, is an aging libertine who carries on a longtime affair with another man’s wife — with her husband’s knowledge — and spends his time bedding numerous women while congratulating himself for not bowing to conventional social expectations. The Expo-like magazine he runs is all but identical to Larsson’s own. The books themselves deal with subjects like rampant violence against women, trafficking in prostitutes, and the crimes, conspiracies, and cover-ups engineered by the collusion between government and big business. Indeed, there are moments when the books seem to stop dead in their tracks so that one of Larsson’s characters can deliver an NPR-style bromide on a subject dear to the liberal heart.
In the midst of all of this, Lisbeth Salander explodes like a grenade tossed into an ammunition dump. Ferociously individualist, incorruptible, disdainful, and suspicious of all forms of social organization, and dedicated to her own personal moral code, Salander often seems to have stepped into Larsson’s world from out of an Ayn Rand novel. She despises all institutions, whether they are business corporations, government agencies, or the Stockholm police. Rejecting all forms of ideology, she is dedicated only to her own individual sense of justice. Relentlessly cerebral, she trusts only what she can ascertain with her own mind and her own formidable talents. She considers Blomquist a naïve fool because of his belief that social conditions cause people to commit the horrible crimes he investigates. At one point, as Blomquist ponders the motivations of a brutal serial killer, Salander erupts, “He’s just a pig who hates women!” Salander believes there are no excuses, everyone is responsible for their own actions, including herself, and must answer for them accordingly.
In short, Salander is as close to an avenging angel libertarianism is ever likely to get, and her presence in the novels throws the books’ politics into a bizarre contradiction. Far from the left-wing bromide in favor of democratic socialism it appears to be, the Millennium trilogy, as Ian MacDougall has pointed out in the leftist journal n+1, often appears on second glance like a calculated and relentless evisceration of the Swedish welfare state. Indeed, not only is Salander a walking rebuke to the myths of Scandinavian socialism, but she is usually portrayed by Larsson as being absolutely correct in her attitude toward it. “In this Sweden,” MacDougall writes:
The country’s well-polished façade belies a broken apparatus of government whose rusty flywheels are little more than the playthings of crooks. The doctors are crooked. The bureaucrats are crooked. The newspapermen are crooked. The industrialists and businessmen, laid bare by merciless transparency laws, are nevertheless crooked. The police and the prosecutors are crooked.
In Larsson’s world, it is only the individual — usually Salander — with their own personal sense of right and wrong and the courage to act on it, who can save the day.
Read the whole thing.
Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.
Charles & David Koch
The KOCH brothers must be stopped. They gave $40K to Scott Walker, the MAX allowed by state law. That’s small potatoes compared to the $100+ million they give to other organizations. These organizations will terrify you. If the anti-union thing weren’t enough, here are bigger and better reasons to stop the evil Kochs. They are trying to: 1. decriminalize drugs, 2. legalize gay marriage, 3. repeal the Patriot Act, 4. end the police state, 5. cut defense spending.
Who hates the police? Only the criminals using drugs, amirite? We need the Patriot Act to allow government to go through our emails and tap our phones to catch people who smoke marijuana and put them in prison. Oh, it’s also good for terrorists.
Wikipedia shows Koch Family Foundations supporting causes like:1. CATO Institute 2. Reason Foundation 3. cancer research ($150 million to M.I.T. – STOP THEM! KEEP CANCER ALIVE!) 4. ballet (because seriously: FUCK. THAT. SHIT.)
The Kochs basically give a TON of money (millions of dollars) to the CATO Institute. Scott Walker, $40K? HAH! These CATO people are the REAL problem. They want to end the War on Drugs. Insane, right? We know that the War on Drugs keeps us SAFE from Mexicans and keeps all that violence on their side of the fence. More than 30,000 Mexicans killed as of December! Thank God Mexican lives don’t count as human lives. Our government is doing a good, no, a great job protecting us and seriously, who cares about brown people or should I say non-people? HAHAHA! Public unions are good, government is good, and government protects us from drugs and brown people. The Kochs want to end all that. Look, as far back as 1989 CATO has been trying to decriminalize drugs. Don’t worry, nobody listens to them because they are INSANE.
CATO also rejects the Patriot Act. How can you hate the Patriot Act? Are you not American? They made it easy for you to understand by putting the word “Patriot” in the legislation. That means you should vote YES. Giving up our civil liberties is not a big deal. We need our government. Whether it’s Obama or Bush, we can all agree that the TSA is really good at what they do. God, those patdowns feel SOOOO good.
The Kochs also support Reason Foundation. You don’t know about that? Let me tell you. Basically, REASON Foundation is a bunch of cop haters. Last month, they did a “news” (as if we wanna know!) story on three cops that beat up an unarmed black kid. In the aftermath, the cops were suspended, sat around doing nothing and got paid (like that’s a bad thing!). I don’t know about you, but that puts a smile on my face for four reasons:1. I hate black people, 2. I love the police, 3. I love it when police beat up black people for no reason, 4. I love that it comes out of taxpayers’ money, because it’s not like it’s really my money.
The Kochs are trying to end this. The Kochs must be stopped.
CATO trying to cut defense spending:
Gay marriage. YUCK. That’s just obvious. If the KOCH Brothers have their way, there will be homos getting married left and right. Here’s another scary thought: gays raising children. ...
If there’s one thing I know about billionaires, it’s that they only care about money. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and George Soros. They aren’t fooling me. Bill Gates isn’t fooling me with his vaccination campaign in Africa. He’s just trying to make African children live longer so they will buy more copies of Windows. Wow. Not even trying to hide it.
Now, I don’t know why the KOCH brothers want gay people to have the right to marry. Everybody knows marriage is for a man and a woman. Even Obama believes that. Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve amirite? I haven’t figured out the angle, yet. Maybe it’s like this:1. legalize drugs 2. legalize gay marriage 3. sell drugs, oil and Koch napkins to gays at their weddings 4. ???? 5. PROFIT$
I don’t know exactly how it would work, but we can all agree that they’re evil. Think about it. CATO and REASON are the only institutions OPENLY advocating these positions. Who would do such a thing? Have they no shame? Minority opinions MUST BE SILENCED.
David Ross was recently moved to re-read Atlas Shrugged.
In an experience shared by many, he found the novel much better, and far more worthy of respect as a work of literature, than he had remembered.
The Obama era was, for me as for so many others, an open invitation to reread Rand, so thoroughly does she seem to diagnose the psychology of our present slide into statism (Obama’s constant rhetoric about sibling-keeping might as well be plucked from the mouth of Wesley Mouch). News that Atlas Shrugged is finally being filmed also helped inch the book to the top of my pile. ...
I was trepidacious, however, not sure to what extent I might have outgrown Rand. I was not concerned about the palatability of her philosophy, to which I have never specifically subscribed, but about her prose and her craftsmanship, which self-congratulatory journalist types constantly deride as second-rate, the kind of thing that only a teenager or cultist could fail to smirk at. This passing reference in a December article in the Weekly Standard is typical:
Atlas Shrugged, while a perennial bestseller and an important artifact of 20th-century culture, is not exactly great literature (stilted dialogue and cardboard characters have ranked among the defects pointed out by critics).
I have now reread the first half of Atlas Shrugged, and I can offer my very educated opinion that it is great literature, not necessarily at the sentence level, but in the unstoppable propulsion of its narrative (has a philosophical novel ever been so engrossing?), in the massive, dauntless sweep of its ideas, and in its enormous imaginative feat of creating a myth of our entire world (Dante and Milton are Rand’s compeers in this limited, formal respect).
Even more, Atlas Shrugged is a great work of literature in its comprehensive taxonomy of modern men, in its comprehension of all their hidden springs and insecurities and frustrations and ambitions. Rand fancied herself a political theorist and metaphysician, but she misunderstood herself; she was a psychologist foremost, and Atlas Shrugged is a formidable system of psychology to contraindicate that of Freud. Eschewing the usual bedroom and bathroom preoccupations, Rand grasps that behavior is driven by what she calls ideals, conscious or unconscious structures of value that provide the context for everything we do and everything we are. Freud tends to reduce these structures to underlying psychosexual dynamics, but Rand insists on their primacy and irreducibility, and she illustrates their role as the ceaseless motive forces of life. She is also a particularly shrewd diagnostician of a certain kind of resentment and leveling instinct – James Taggart is the obvious embodiment – and she is nearly alone in realizing that this mindset is no trivial phenomenon but the rotting core of our world, explaining everything from the Soviet world-blight to our failing schools and lousy art.
Rand’s characters are ‘cardboard’ in the sense that they speak for philosophical positions and represent certain types, but each character embodies something slightly different; there is no overlap or redundancy. In the aggregate, they form a spectrum of humanity – a human comedy – that is convincing and powerfully explanatory. Rand is accused of engaging in moral black and white, but this is not entirely fair; while her scheme is moral in logic and purpose, many of her characters – Dr. Stadler for example – represent subtle, equivocal positions. They are not gray, but an intricate admixture of black and white.
Rand sketches her characters in only a few clean strokes, but these strokes are rendered so deeply and forcefully as to be ineffaceable. Who can forget Hank Reardon or Dagny Taggart? Who can forget their triumphant inauguration of the John Galt Line? Who can forget their strange, violent lovemaking? What character drafted by Henry James, by contrast, does anything but deliquesce and drift imperceptibly from consciousness, becoming a vague haze of inflection and velleity?
Atlas Shrugged is a great novel, finally, in its astonishing originality. It has no precedent in terms of style, tone, mood, or philosophy, as far as I know. Victor Hugo may account for its sweep and social engagement, and someone like Zamyatin may have influenced its anti-totalitarianiasm and latent dystopianism, but nothing accounts for its strangeness, for everything powerfully eccentric and not infrequently repellent that Rand herself brings to it, everything rooted in the passionate kinks and quirks of her personality. In the end, it belongs in the category of the sui generis along with modern masterpieces like Ulysses, The Castle, and Pale Fire.
I suppose I would say that Atlas Shrugged needs to be viewed as a fantasy mystery story operating as an extended exercise in political argument and moral instruction, different from, but fundamentally akin to such non-realistic, and intrinsically polemical, works of literature as the Divine Comedy, Pilgrim’s Progress, Utopia, Hudibras, or Gulliver’s Travels.
Rand’s characters are not so much one-dimensional cardboard figures as they are what Erich Auerbach in Mimesis refers to as figura, characters serving as rhetorical illustrations of the operation of virtues, vices, and political ideas in social, business, and civic interaction. The wonder is not that Rand’s characters do not completely plausibly resemble ordinary real world human beings, but that her walking, talking illustrations of virtues, character flaws, rationality, and corrupting delusion are as successfully animated as they are.
Rand’s really conspicuous failures, far more than in characterization, lay in her Bohemian intellectual’s lack of understanding of the normal attitudes and perspectives of businessmen and her glaringly atrocious apprehension of the state and direction of technology. Ayn Rand living in the American 1950s sees the Count of Monte Cristo commuting to the office instead of the Organization Man. George Babbitt, in her mind, becomes transformed into Zarathustra. Rand is also disastrous as a prophet of the direction of business opportunities. One pictures her taking those whopping royalty checks and purchasing bundles of stock certificates in such cutting edge industries of the future as railroads, coal mines, and steel mills. Rand was oblivious to a post-industrial reality which was just around the corner. There are no data processing engineers, chip designers, or programmers in her cast of technologists. Hank Reardon has a lighter new metal alloy. John Galt is monkeying around with cosmic rays. Nobody is building personal computers, cell phones, or the Internet.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports on the latest manifestation of the influence of Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel on contemporary American politics.
U.S. Senate candidates Ron Johnson and U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold clashed sharply Monday night on Ayn Rand’s famous novel “Atlas Shrugged,” about an economy crumbling under the weight of government intrusion and regulations. ...
While the two went back and forth on issues such as the economy, Social Security, the health care law and the war in Afghanistan, the most spirited discussion came from a book that was written in 1957 and remains popular among some conservatives and people who espouse limited government.
Rand’s book describes a dystopian America where the leading innovators leave society out of frustration with rules and regulations. It is a book that Johnson says he admires and has been a driving force in his political philosophy.
Asked by a panelist about the book, Johnson said “Atlas” represents the producers of the world, while “Shrugged” represents how overburdened the producers are with rules, regulations and taxes.
“It’s a warning of what could happen to America,” Johnson said. “When you hear people talk about a tipping point, that’s what we’re concerned about. . . . We have more people who are net beneficiaries of government than are actually paying into the system. That’s a very serious thing to think about.”
“I believe in the community,” Feingold responded. “I believe in the community of Wisconsin. . . . You believe the producers are a very special group of people. I guess they’re better than the rest of us. When things aren’t going their way, you take the position that people shouldn’t have unemployment compensation because you have the view they don’t want to work.”
Johnson said he wasn’t against the minimum wage and the extension of unemployment benefits. He said the fact that Feingold was talking about that showed that the stimulus bill was a failure.
“The last thing we should be doing is increase taxes on anybody in this recovery,” Johnson said.
After the debate, Feingold said Johnson “had a very narrow view of who actually does the work in society. I think everybody is working hard.”
It sounds a lot like Hank Reardon debating Wesley Mouch.
Former New Republic intern Ellsworth Noah Kristula-Green, writing at Frum Forum (where else?), observes the prominent role that the writings of Ayn Rand are playing in providing intellectual fuel for opposition to the Age of Obama with harrumphing indignation.
Rand’s popularity tells us two things about the state of modern conservatism.
First, it suggests that Rand’s atheism and permissive social views are no longer deal-breakers among conservative thought leaders. Jennifer Burns, the author of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, has explored Rand’s influence through the years. She told FrumForum that while religion had been a crucial issue for William F. Buckley and the conservatives of the 1970s, “someone like Glenn Beck isn’t going to argue about the existence of God or the need for religion. Beck and Limbaugh can use the parts of Rand they want to use and not engage the rest.”
Second and more troubling, the conservative rediscovery of Rand signals an increasing conservative divergence from mainstream America. Conservatives falsely assume that because more copies of Rand’s books are being sold, that everyone who reads them agrees with her. Conservatives are buying into Rand’s extreme views without understanding why many people—and not only liberals—revile her.
Contra Kristula-Green, Rand’s strong readership over many decades and the ability of her ideas to make their way and expand their influence in the face of entrenched establishment opposition, and despite an embarrassing personal cult, constitutes good evidence that Rand’s values and political perspective were very much in tune with the American mainstream (if not with its cultural elite), a nation whose soul, in D. H. Lawrence’s critical view was always “hard, isolate, stoic and… unmelted.”
Shooting of the film version of Atlas Shrugged, after years and years of rumors, actually began over the weekend, Variety reports.
No Angelina Jolie as Dagny, no (magically young again) Max von Sydow as John Galt. Also no James Cameron-scale hundred million dollar production. No major studios. Just a humble $5 million independent production.
Shooting started Saturday because the producers were contractually obligated to begin the five-week shoot or lose the rights to Ayn Rand’s novel.
The reported cast includes:
John Galt (Paul Johansson)
Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling)
Henry Rearden (Grant Bowler)
The film does have an IMDB page.
Hat tip to Walter Olson.
Atlas sostiene la volta celeste, 2nd Century A.D., Collezione Farnese, National Archaeological Museum, Naples.
Claude Sandroff reacts with wholesome indignation to the ritual immolation of the corporate scapegoat by the High Priest of the Cult of the State and his media acolytes.
Obama and his team of thugs are dressed out in heavy boots aimed at BP’s neck. Apparently, oil booms and actionable emergency plans are in short supply in the government, but the Obama administration is buried under a glut of hard heels in a variety of men’s and women’s sizes. And they’re all ready to stomp on BP’s jugular.
Adding to BP’s public relations woes are some of Hollywood’s film geniuses, probably armed with decades of deep-water drilling experience, only too happy to dismiss the exhausted and skilled BP repair staff as a bunch of morons. My advice to the BP board of directors is that they simply accept the third-party assessments of their qualifications and tell Obama, his government, and his media acolytes that the time has come for them to take charge of capping the Deepwater Horizon riser. ...
In the midst of this major ecological calamity, when BP can least cope with major distractions and vile recriminations, Obama’s clueless legal team has decided to threaten the company with a criminal probe. Tone-deaf Eric Holder is unable to pronounce the words “Islamic terrorist,” but he has already unleashed his justice department to cripple BP, essentially labeling it a criminal enterprise. Perhaps Obama and his band of goons need to hear from BP that they are stopping all capping efforts to concentrate on their legal defense.
As a BP shareholder, I wouldn’t be upset. Rather, I’d applaud BP’s actions and even buy more stock with full knowledge that its declaration of bankruptcy is all but guaranteed. It’s already rumored that some of BP’s valuable drilling assets in Alaska might have to be sold off to pay for the Gulf cleanup.
It’s a brilliant idea to sell those assets as quickly as possible. The environmental hit teams have no intention of letting anyone, anywhere, drill in the U.S. ever again. Not in Alaska, not in the Rockies, not in shallow water, and certainly not in deep water. Only the Brazilians and the Norwegians and the Mexicans, and the Chinese and the Indians and the British and the Angolans—only everyone else will be allowed to do that. ...
BP must accept the reality that it is not GM. BO has no vast democrat union base of employees that must be protected at all costs and no mass vote-generating machine to deliver for Obama. They are expendable. They are not even GE, in complete control of a sycophantic media outlet always ready to sing the praises of Obama on broadcast and cable outlets, all day and all night.
BP might become Government Petroleum soon enough if they don’t act quickly. They should offer to sell off their expertise and assets to the Chinese, who at least will appreciate them and use them aggressively. While China’s state-owned oil exploration company, CNOOC, was denied the prize of Unocal in 2005, the United States is in a much weaker economic, military, and political position today with respect to China. Surely a BP sale would breeze through a regulatory review in today’s climate.
Assured access to a plentiful, long-term oil supply is the chief foreign policy concern of China. And BP could revel soon in the irony of drilling again in deep Gulf waters—only this time for the Chinese off the coast of Cuba.
Zeljka Buturovic and Daniel B. Klein just published a study of the correlation between an elementary understanding of economics and people’s levels of education and political ideologies.
The 8 simple questions used as measuring sticks of “economic enlightenment” were:
1. Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.
• Unenlightened: Disagree
2. Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services.
• Unenlightened: Disagree
3. Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago.
• Unenlightened: Disagree
4. Rent control leads to housing shortages.
• Unenlightened: Disagree
5. A company with the largest market share is a monopoly.
• Unenlightened: Agree
6. Third-world workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited.
• Unenlightened: Agree
7. Free trade leads to unemployment.
• Unenlightened: Agree
8. Minimum wage laws raise unemployment.
• Unenlightened: Disagree
They found that education produced only a slight difference in economic enlightenment, but that political ideology produced far more significant differences.
(Although the authors note that none of the questions actually challenge conventional conservative positions, they) think that the measurement as-is captures something real. At least since the days of Frédéric Bastiat, many have said that people of the left often trail behind in incorporating basic economic insight into their aesthetics, morals, and politics. We put much stock in Hayek’s theory (Hayek 1978, 1979, 1988) that the social-democratic ethos is an atavistic reassertion of the ethos and mentality of the primordial paleolithic band, a mentality resistant to ideas of spontaneous order and disjointed knowledge. Our findings support such a claim, all the caveats notwithstanding. Several of the questions would seem to be fairly neutral with respect to partisan politics, particularly the questions on licensing, the standard of living, monopoly, and free trade. None of those questions challenge policies that are particularly leftwing or rationalized on the basis of equity. Yet even on such neutral questions the “progressives” and “liberals” do much worse than the “conservatives” and “libertarians.”
Comedian Penn Jillette neither understands nor appreciate cars generally. He especially cannot see the point of Hummers. But he is smart enough to recognize that the other fellow’s right to do things or own things we don’t see the point of is important.
Hummers are stupid and wasteful and if they go away because no one wants to buy one, that’ll be just a little sad. It’s always a little sad to lose some stupid. I love people doing stupid things that I’d never do—different stupid things than all the stupid things I do. It reminds me that although all over the world we humans have so much in common, so much love, and need, and desire, and compassion and loneliness, some of us still want to do things that the rest of us think are bug-nutty. Some of us want to drive a Hummer, some of us want to eat sheep’s heart, liver and lungs simmered in an animal’s stomach for three hours, some us want to play poker with professionals and some of us want a Broadway musical based on the music of ABBA. I love people doing things I can’t understand. It’s heartbreaking to me when people stop doing things that I can’t see any reason for them to be doing in the first place. I like people watching curling while eating pork rinds.
But if any part of the Hummer going belly-up are those government rules we’re putting in on miles per gallon, or us taking over of GM, then I’m not just sad, I’m also angry. Lack of freedom can be measured directly by lack of stupid. Freedom means freedom to be stupid. We never need freedom to do the smart thing. You don’t need any freedom to go with majority opinion. There was no freedom required to drive a Prius before the recall. We don’t need freedom to recycle, reuse and reduce. We don’t need freedom to listen to classic rock, classic classical, classic anything or Terry Gross. We exercise our freedom to its fullest when we are at our stupidest. ...
Our government declaring that we need alternative energy sources, and betting our money on who might get a smart idea, is not going to give smart people smart ideas. It’s really easy to see stupid all around us, but I don’t think we want to be too quick to stop it. We need to protect other people’s stupid to save freedom for all of us.
Yeah, Adrien Brody and Carrot Top wasted gallons of gas driving their stupid cars. I can feel smug about my Mini Cooper’s sexy 37/28/32 MPG measurements. But I don’t think we should be too quick to feel happy about the stupid Hummers going away. We’re all making bad choices all the time, and most of mine are way stupider than driving a Hummer. I love my freedom of stupid. I bumped into Adrien one time and had a great talk with him, we got along great. I know Carrot Top well enough to call him “Scott.” I know that they’re both a lot thinner than me. They’re both in a lot better shape. They eat better than me, and they can do a lot more push-ups and sit-ups. They can run farther and faster than me. So, in the near future, with us all being involved in each other’s health care, Adrien and Scott might make up for their wasted gas mileage paying for my high-blood-pressure meds. If we’re all getting together to stop the stupidity of driving a Hummer, will we have to stop the stupidity of eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts and pie? Freedom is freedom to be stupid.
They came first for the Hummers.
Then they came for the pie.
Colleges and Universities, Conservatism, Democrats, Global Warming, Health Care Reform, J.D. Salinger, Libertarianism, Louis Auchincloss, Obituaries, Osama bin Laden, Paleography
Osama is a warmist. I guess that figures.
Bad news for scholarship. King’s College London is planning to eliminate Britain’s only chair in paleography. No money in that, you see.
Why so few conservative or libertarian academics? Two researchers propose “path dependence” as the explanation.
Five stages of democrat grief over the health care reform bill.
Ayn Rand, young and svelte, in Hollywood
Ayn Rand was the greatest popularizer of libertarian ideas of the last 100 years. Many more people have read Rand’s books than have read all the works of Friedman, Hayek, Mises, Nozick, and all the other modern libertarian thinkers combined. In becoming a libertarian without any influence from Rand, I was actually unusual. Over the last 15 years, I have met a large number of libertarian intellectuals and activists of the last two generations, including some of the most famous. More often than not, reading Rand influenced their conversion to libertarianism, even though very few fully endorse her theories or consider themselves Objectivists. Burns quotes Milton Friedman’s perceptive assessment of Rand as “an utterly intolerant and dogmatic person who did a great deal of good.” I think he was probably right.
Fellow Volokhian David Bernstein, responding to Ilya, adds his own personal tribute to Ayn.
Rand turns Marxism on its head. While Marxists argue that “capitalists” make their profits on the backs of the working class, Rand illustrates that the working class, as such, makes almost no contribution to wealth, but relies on the efforts, risks, sacrifices, and most of all the genius of the entrepreneurial class. Consider, as a thought experiment, what living standards would be like if every person in the world had an IQ around the median of 103, and otherwise had average talents and ambition. Does anyone seriously doubt that “workers,” and everyone else, would be a lot poorer than they are today, and indeed would likely be living as poorly as our hunting and gathering ancestors?