Ayn Rand is one of the most influential authors of American thought in the late twentieth century. It’s hard to find any college educated person under 40 years old who hasn’t had at least a brush with her works and the philosophy of Objectivism. This is fascinating given how little serious critical attention has been paid to her work and how largely unknown it is in other nations. She is the leader of a strong but underground movement, highly cultural and generational.
Rand finally bubbled into parts of the mainstream with the arrival of Paul Ryan, a one-time advocate of her work who advised staffers to read up on their Rand when he was a young congressman. His later disavowal of Rand’s philosophy smelled like a rat to some, who wanted to make an issue out of it. Bad move. Rand and Objectivism do not lend themselves to sound bites or anything remotely simple. The enticement of this mind candy is strong and deep. But what is it?