Some of us know she never really left, but lately her life and ideas have been resurrected, dusted off and presented as new and improved.
In the mid 1960’s in my impressionable late teens it was suggested to me that I read Atlas Shrugged. By the end of this very long novel, I was presented with a consistent, coherent, all encompassing philosophy of life that I still adhere to, but with some very important modifications. Back then and to this day I can’t think of a more acceptable philosophy that includes my deep distrust of mysticism and religion with the belief in individual liberty and rational self-interest. Rand had it all in her philosophy of Objectivism which was roughly presented in Atlas but later refined through other books and a monthly magazine called The Objectivist to which I subscribed.
Rand has had a rebirth in social networking groups like Facebook, and many of her ideas have been accepted among American Conservative groups even though many contain Evangelical Christians. Apparently they are prepared to ignore Rand’s atheism. This rebirth seems to be associated with the deep recession in the United States and the almost prophetic plot of Atlas Shrugged. This has resulted in increased sales of Atlas Shrugged which the American Library of Congress has called the second most influential book ever published next to the bible. Rand has had an impact, no doubt.
One thing I hate is that people who accept some or all of Rand’s ideas are often termed “acolytes” and in groups they are referred to as a “cult” especially by the media. This is distasteful because both terms have derogatory religious connotations besides being contradictory for a philosophy that advocates atheism, individualism and rational self-interest. The media would never refer to Christianity, Islamism or Buddhism and the like as cults – but of course they really are.
Rand came across to many as being cold, tough, and uncharitable with a sprinkling of other less flattering terms. While she was married, it was a childless marriage and a strange marriage (at least to me). Maybe that’s why her view of family life and charity seemed so out of touch with so many as it does to me, so that’s where we differ. But I choose to ignore that aspect of her life much the way the Christian Conservatives now ignore her atheism. She gave us so much more.