The Ideas of Ayn Rand
Ronald E. Merrill
Ayn Rand (1905–1982) is known to millions for her blockbuster novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. In the 1960s her 'Objectivist' ideas, featuring esthetic romanticism, laissez-faire capitalism, atheism, and 'the virtue of selfishness', were promoted in an organized movement, which split apart after Rand's falling-out with her protégé Nathaniel Branden. This debacle threw Rand's growing community of followers into disarray, but she continues to attract readers and to exert a major, if largely subterranean, influence on thinking and policy.
The Ideas of Ayn Rand provides, for the first time, a comprehensive survey of Rand's wide-ranging contributions: her literary techniques; her espousal and then rejection of a Nietzschean outlook; her contradictory attitude to feminism; her forays into ethics, epistemology, and metaphysics; the development of her political creed; her influence on—and hostility to—both conservatism and libertarianism. Dr. Merrill's standpoint is friendly yet critical. He presents a fresh and original interpretation of Rand's ideas, exposing unexpected facets of the Objectivist vision and arguing that Rand's thought is more complex, more subtle, and more profound than her enemies, or even her friends, have heretofore suspected.