Sunday, October 11, 2009

Terrific Article about Ayn Rand

Jonathan Chait
The New Republic

Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right
By Jennifer Burns
(Oxford University Press, 459 pp., $27.95)

Ayn Rand and the World She Made
By Anne C. Heller
(Doubleday, 559 pp., $35)

...There was more to Rand’s appeal. In the wake of a depression that undermined the prestige of business, and then a postwar economy that was characterized by the impersonal corporation, her revival of the capitalist as a romantic hero, even a superhuman figure, naturally flattered the business elite. Here was a woman saying what so many of them understood instinctively. "For twenty-five years," gushed a steel executive to Rand, "I have been yelling my head off about the little-realized fact that eggheads, socialists, communists, professors, and so-called liberals do not understand how goods are produced. Even the men who work at the machines do not understand it." Rand, finally, restored the boss to his rightful mythic place.

On top of all these philosophical compliments to success and business, Rand tapped into a latent elitism that had fallen into political disrepute but never disappeared from the economic right. Ludwig von Mises once enthused to Rand, "You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your condition which you simply take for granted you owe to the effort of men who are better than you."...

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