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Ayn Rand Explained by Ronald E. Merrill|
Ayn Rand Explained
From Tyranny to Tea Party
Ronald E. Merrill, author
Marsha Familaro Enright, editor
(2012 Open Court)
Description at Amazon
Merrill and Enright describe Rand’s early infatuation with Nietzsche, her first fiction writings, the developments behind her record-breaking blockbuster novels of 1943 and 1957, her increasing involvement in politics in the 1950s and 1960s, including her support for the presidential candidacy of Barry Goldwater.
Rand’s Objectivist movement was first promoted through the Nathaniel Branden Institute, headed by her young protégé and anointed heir. The Institute advocated a complete worldview, encompassing Rand’s views on politics, economics, religion, art, music, epistemology, ethics (“The Virtue of Selfishness”), and sexual relationships. For several years the Institute grew rapidly, though there were ominous signs as some leading members were ‘put on trial’ for their heretical ideas, and ignominiously drummed out of the movement.
In 1969, Branden was expelled by Rand for ‘immorality’, the Institute was shut down, and all members who questioned this ruling were themselves excommunicated and shunned by Rand and her disciples. Branden became a best-selling author of psychotherapy books, with a following of Objectivists who had dissociated from the official organization headed by Rand, and after her death in 1982, by Leonard Peikoff. One of Rand’s inner circle, Alan Greenspan, later went on to get his hands on the steering wheel of the American economy.
Objectivism offers a comprehensive package of beliefs encompassing the ethics of rational egoism, rejection of all religion and outright atheism, the arts as expressions of good or bad metaphysical and ethical values, personal freedom from political interference, laissez-faire capitalism, and limited government. The last few years have witnessed a resurgence of Objectivism, with a jump in sales of Rand’s novels and the influence of Rand’s ideas in the Tea Party movement and the Republican primaries. While gaining membership, the Objectivist movement continues to be sharply divided into warring factions, the two major groupings led by the Ayn Rand Institute (Leonard Peikoff) and the Objectivist Center (David Kelley).
Ayn Rand Explained is a completely revised and updated edition of The Ideas of Ayn Rand, by the late Ronald E. Merrill, first published by Open Court in 1991.