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Monday, June 03, 2013

 Libertarian Ghostwrites for Kim Jong Il 
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The New York Observer profiles Objectivist-libertarian celebrity ghostwriter Michael Malice, focusing on his latest project: a ghostwritten memoir of late Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.

Friday, March 29, 2013

• • • Atlas Shrugged Part III To Roll, It’s Officially Official 
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Atlas Shrugged movie  |Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  |Capitalism  |Image  | Hostile jokers on the Internet who haven’t bothered to read Rand and understand her as some sort of prophet of profit above all seem to find a snickering irony in these filmmakers following their muse. The entire point of her 1943 novel The Fountainhead was of the prime importance of the creative artist, who should and will do the work they want to do, whether or not the world rewards them for it. The Atlas film project, whatever your opinions of its merits, is in a very Randian spirit all the way.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

• • Ayn Rand! Hilarious! Yet Sinister! Yet Hilarious! 
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Capitalism  |Egoism  |Image  | Oh, The Baffler! [....] I want to see a one-act play about this pack of geniuses cracking themselves up as they invent this super cute and clever (and also bitingly politically relevant!) idea and hash it out. Workshop it, as it were. Reason on Baffler bigwig Thomas Frank, a man who seems to already think he lives in a world where Ayn Rand is running a libertarian dictatorship.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

• • • Obama Thinks Ayn Rand is For Teens (For Predictably Childish Reasons) 
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Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism  |Egoism  |Individualism  |Nathaniel Branden  |Personal life  |Image  |Video  | Reducing Rand’s message of liberty and achievement to one of a narrow “you’re on your own” individualism shouldn’t be a surprise coming from the president, though it’s still sad that the leader of the nation that attracted Rand to escape the Soviet Union at some risk would say such a thing. There is nothing “narrow” about Rand’s vision except in that it created moral boundaries in which most of the functions of Obama’s government would be seen as illegitimate, because they use threats and violence against non-aggressors to achieve social goals. As Rand summed up her own philosophy once, it really amounts to: “Gentlemen, leave your guns outside!”

Sunday, October 21, 2012

• • • Atlas Shrugged Part II: Election Edition 
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Altruism  |Atheism  |Atlas Shrugged movie  |Atlas Shrugged  |Capitalism  |Egoism  |Paul Ryan  |Image  |Video  | The film cannot do everything the novel can, and it must aggravate the filmmakers that Ayn Rand fans like me can’t help but judge the movie’s aesthetic impact against the novel’s. The movie largely reduces Rand’s message to the Tea Party friendly one of being against government economic management and stealing from the productive to be “fair” to others. Fortunately, there is one hat tip to Rand's deeper defense of reason and rationality (more important to her than being against altruism or statism) when Rearden snaps back to a smarty-pants young liberal that rigid principles are necessary to pour steel. It’s a fun moment.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

• • • Ask an Objectivist! Say No to Paul Ryan! 
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Capitalism  |Paul Ryan  |Image  | Both I right here yesterday (I'm a Rand fan and historian, but not a full-fledged Objectivist) and Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic have been counseling the world of pundits and political professionals that it doesn't make a lot of sense to lay the burden (or the benefits) of Ayn Rand on Paul Ryan. But we are just outsiders looking in. Let's let the true believers at the Objectivist Standard lay out for you as well why Ryan does not equal Rand.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

• • • On the Set of Atlas Shrugged Part II 
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Atlas Shrugged movie  |Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  |Capitalism  |Image  | The movie is now shooting (digitally, with Arri Alexa cameras) around the Los Angeles area. On Wednesday I visited a giant empty warehouse in downtown Los Angeles (near, naturally, a train track) to witness day 10 of a planned 31 day shoot (slightly longer than Part I’s 27 days, but with a far more leisurely couple of months of pre-production). This warehouse will be Rearden Steel’s foundry and Hank Rearden’s office. In the novel, Rearden invents an amazing amalgam known as Rearden metal only to have his industrial progress hamstrung and his property stolen by an ever-more-repressive state attempting to centrally control an economy already choking under too much government management.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

• • Ayn Rand to High School Student: “Your questions do not make sense” 
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I am well, well aware that this is the sort of thing that makes her foes consider Rand an absurd crank, but to me it all feeds in to why I love her. See this report from the San Diego Union Tribune’s web site on a high school student in 1963 who wrote various then-huge literary lions to ask them about the use and meaning of symbolism in their work. Rand found his definition to be untrue--and thus “your questions do not make sense.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

• • Did Ayn Rand Hate God? 
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Atheism  |Atlas Shrugged movie  |Atlas Shrugged  |Image  | Chuck Colson points out to right-wingers enamored of either Ayn Rand or the new film based on her novel Atlas Shrugged that they need to condemn her three times and more: He made a two minute video attacking Rand and her devotees, deriding Rand as an anti-Christian atheist. “Not only should you stay away from the film,” Colson says, “you ought to stay away from anybody who wants to see the film, unless their interest is ironic.”Colson warns that Rand’s “patently anti-Christian ideas seem to be gaining steam” among conservatives, cautioning that her Objectivist philosophy is the “antithesis of Christianity” and that her followers are “undermining the Gospel” Indeed they are!

Monday, April 11, 2011

• • • Atlas Shrugged : The movie 
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Atlas Shrugged movie  |Ayn Rand Institute  |Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  |Leonard Peikoff  |Personal life  |Image  | Hank Rearden, metal magnate, faces a bureaucrat from the State Science Institute across his desk of burnished steel. The bureaucrat tells Rearden that he would be wise to sell his amazing new amalgam, Rearden metal, to the government. Rearden refuses. The bureaucrat presses him: Why can’t he see the benefit of selling to a government that can and will condemn the metal as unsafe if he refuses? Rearden replies with cool contempt: “Because it’s mine.” [....] I am in the anteroom of Rearden’s office, watching one of the last shooting days of the film version of Atlas Shrugged, a project Rand’s fans have both wanted and feared for decades. Who gets to call this movie “mine”?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

• • • Atlas Shrugged: Is A (the movie) really A (the novel)? 
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Atlas Shrugged movie  |Ayn Rand Archives  |Atlas Shrugged  | Anyone with a passionate interest in Ayn Rand and her opus will want to see, and will surely appreciate on many levels, this film version of a third of the novel. Early word is encouraging for the film’s producers, John Aglialoro [...] and Harmon Kaslow. The world of Objectivist fans, those with a passionate attachment to their own vision of the book, seem likely unsatisfiable by anything that doesn’t spring directly from their imaginations to the theater of their minds.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

 The man who could really fire Pelosi 
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Interview with John Dennis, the Republican opponent for Nancy Pelosi’s congressional seat.
[Q:] What’s your history with politics? How did you end up the GOP candidate up against Nancy Pelosi? [A:] In other words, where did it all go so wrong? How was I thrown into this mess? I guess it goes back to college in 1984, of all years, when I read Ayn Rand.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

• • A tale of two libertarianisms 
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Inaccurate  | Ayn Rand’s theories of the “virtue of selfishness” and her tonal elevation of the rights of the great over helping the downtrodden became highly influential in libertarianism from the 1960s on, laying the groundwork for the now-common notion that this uncharitable aspect of Rand is “bad for the brand” of libertarianism. [....] [In 1948 Murray] Rothbard was already arguing that stressing the “ruggedness” of individualism (especially linked to a pop-Darwinianism that sees moral and absolute value in the survival results of blind evolution) would be a bad road for libertarians to take. “I consider it a tribute to the moral qualities of an individualist society,” he wrote, “that private charity and philanthropy helps the unfortunate people in our midst.”

Thursday, December 31, 2009

• • • The value of Ayn Rand to the freedom movement 
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Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  | Clearly Rand both offends and converts. It is my belief that she offends for the most part only the ones who could not be converted--that is, people whose core moral and intellectual values would make them enemies of economic liberty whether or not they ever came across the scabrous invective of Ayn Rand or were ever forced to wonder how much Ellsworth Toohey they might have in them.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

• • A tale of two libertarianisms 
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Review of Rothbard vs. the Philosophers, by Murray Rothbard and Roberta Modugno.
Before Ayn Rand ever began influencing him, we find Rothbard providing a preliminary takedown of some of the common reasons Rand is thought “bad for the brand” of libertarianism. In a 1948 piece attacking an essay in praise of “rugged individualism,” Rothbard writes that “I consider it a tribute to the moral qualities of an individualist society that private charity and philanthropy helps the unfortunate people in our midst.”

Sunday, November 29, 2009

• • • She’s back! 
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Atheism  |Atlas Shrugged movie  |Ayn Rand Institute  |Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  |Capitalism  | Everyone seems to agree: Ayn Rand is back, and more relevant than ever. But will those who are freshly encountering or rediscovering Rand really embrace her radicalism? As important as she remains to the post–World War II American political and intellectual scene, Rand comes with baggage that slows the spread of her ideas, making it difficult for an explicitly Randian political/intellectual movement to gain traction. More than ever, Rand’s uncompromising and unconservative (though hyper-free-market) vision rubs violently against the realities of contemporary American politics of both right and left. That her ideas are spread mostly via novels, and not nonfiction or polemics, renders reader reaction to her hard to replicate. Despite the obvious signs of a Rand resurgence, from Congress to Tea Parties, from biographies to political chatter, from Main Street to Hollywood, it remains highly unlikely that the author’s ideas will become remotely as successful in politics as they are in publishing.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

• • • Why Ayn Rand is hot again 
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Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  |Capitalism  |Egoism  |Personal life  | Review of the book Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, by Jennifer Burns
Rand undoubtedly was a ferocious defender of free markets and a great lover of America because she saw it as the closest political embodiment of her values. But she was never, despite Ms. Burns' title connecting her goddesshood and the American right, any special darling of modern conservatives. Ms. Burns' own book explains why.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

 The eternal recurrence of financial corruption 
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Night of January 16th  | Review of the book, The Match King: Ivar Kreuger, the Financial Genius Behind a Century of Wall Street Scandals, by Frank Partnoy.
[Ivar Kreuger inspired] Ayn Rand’s 1930s antinomian mystery play of a Swedish tycoon’s death, The Night of January 16th.

Friday, May 08, 2009

• • Yesterday is tomorrow 
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Atlas Shrugged  |The Fountainhead  | One stunning 1935 sequence [of the Little Orphan Annie comic strip] told the tragedy of a man who invented Eonite, a wonder substance that could provide a cheap eternal building material, “ten times stronger than steel,” that had the potential to “replace all known woods or metals.” He is, alas, murdered by an angry mob whipped up by a union demagogue, and Eonite dies with him. Ayn Rand fans will hear echoes of that tale in both The Fountainhead’s Ellsworth Toohey and Atlas Shrugged’s Rearden Metal.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

• • • Rorschach doesn’t shrug 
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Atlas Shrugged  | [Watchmen's] Rorschach is no handsome Rand hero as she imagined them; but he’s still probably the most vivid and well-thought-out Objectivist hero that Rand didn’t create.