Reason TV: Ayn Rand's relevance

Reason TV kicks off its Ayn Rand retrospective this week with a look at how suddenly relevant the philosopher and novelist has become.  A-list Hollywood stars want to make a movie from Atlas Shrugged, and suddenly “going Galt” has become a popular catchphrase for producer strikes.  Who would have guessed that the era of Hope and Change would have produced Rand as a counter-cultural phenomenon?

Well, perhaps Rand herself would have foreseen it — and in fact she did, in Atlas Shrugged:

Just how much has Rand and her Objectivism returned to the fore? Her book, with no particular marketing campaign of which I’m aware, is just outside the top 100 books on Amazon, at #103. This is a perfect example of what Nick Gillespie calls “the long shelf life of Ayn Rand,” which springs from the natural impulse of a free people when confronted with statism, even so-called benevolent statism. In the novel, the producers of the world act individually, but eventually all reach the same conclusion.

I agree with Nick that Rand may wind up being more relevant to this century than she was to the last. Rand’s message got a little lost as a result of the Cold War and its aftermath; we focused on Soviet statism as an external threat rather than progressive statism as an internal threat. At the moment, we have a clarity on that point that we never quite had in the previous 50 years.