Ayn Rand: As Astonishing as Elvis

Jenny Turner reviews Ayn Rand by Jeff Britting, in the London Review of Books:

1108223511_6007If you try to find out about the legacy of Ayn Rand, your search engine will probably direct you first to aynrand.org, a website run by the Ayn Rand Institute in California. The ARI was founded in 1985, three years after Rand’s death, by Leonard Peikoff, her friend and heir. It runs a newsletter called Impact and, via the Objectivist Academic Center, undergraduate courses in the Randian world vision.

Objectivism was the name Rand gave to the system of philosophy she developed in a 30,000-word speech that took her two years to write and which forms the centrepiece of her bestselling novel, Atlas Shrugged (1957). It was later elaborated in speeches, lectures and interviews, in the six non-fiction books Rand published in her lifetime, and a further dozen-odd published after her death. Objectivism is also promulgated by the Objectivist Center in Washington DC, until recently run by David Kelley, the author of A Life of One’s Own: Individualism and the Welfare State. Kelley split from the ARI in 1990, ‘dismayed’ by ‘the exploding excesses’ of its ‘official, dogmatic approach’. The Center supports lectures and social events, a journal called the New Individualist (until recently the Navigator), a venture called the Atlas Society and an online Objectivism Store selling T-shirts, bags, hats, badges and inspirational posters such as Morality Made Visible, which features the Manhattan skyline, Twin Towers intact, with a quotation from The Fountainhead, Rand’s bestselling novel of 1943.

More here.