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  • Posted by  $  Dobrien 3 months, 3 weeks ago
    I canceled my Smithsonian membership 3 years ago. I will not pay for propaganda. I found this statement from the author telling " The collective put Rand in the position of authority she had always craved.”
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  • Posted by freedomforall 3 months, 3 weeks ago
    I love how the author brands Rand as a drug addict, and the article the author linked on the topic puts her in the same class as Hitler.
    No evidence of any kind is mentioned, of course. Who needs facts when rumor is so good for destroying people who rationally disagree with your unsupportable notions.
    (The author's notions, not the poster's notions ;^)

    Don't you just love authors who are biased, lying, irrational, ignorant savages?
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    • Posted by  $  3 months, 2 weeks ago
      Actually, Ayn Rand's continued use of benzedrine is well documented. You have to put it in the context of the 1940s and 1950s. Her doctor prescribed it for weight control. Again, that was common at the time. Eventually, habitual use took its toll. The facts are what they are.

      Read the biographies and take them in context. First of all, Barbara Branden lived through the experience first hand. But, as I recall, even the biography by Anne Heller drew on archives at the ARI that were not previously available to other researchers, such as Rand's diaries.

      On a fine point, while the article was not written by an admirer, the reference to Adolph Hitler was in a context, again, of the 1940s. I agree that with perhaps millions of users, that one reference was not accidental, but intended to link the two names. Still, the facts remain.

      What I found most interesting is that Ayn Rand is still discussed among those who consider literary salons to be salient to the making of a cutlure.
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  • Posted by  $  Olduglycarl 3 months, 3 weeks ago
    Cult?...Belief?...not the words or concepts I would associate with Rand.
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    • Posted by  $  3 months, 2 weeks ago
      Truth to tell, Carl, you have to consider the comments in this thread. Walter Donway's reply in his own thread addressed the factual errors in the article. But here, 25n, LibertyBelle, freedomforall, and dobrien seemed to validate the article's claim about the cult of Ayn Rand.
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  • Posted by  $  3 months, 3 weeks ago
    The article is a summary of the negative aspects of Ayn Rand's most devoted social circle. These were not her only friends. She stayed close with her editor and publisher, Bennett Cerf, most likely (it seems from the biographies) because he argued back at her level. He did not seek to disprove her ideas and he did not dismiss them. He kept asking the penetrating questions that she enjoyed most. It proved to her that he was intellectually honest, even as they disagreed about almost everything.

    That aside, the article buries the key fact that questions its thesis: Atlas Shrugged and her other works swept the college and high school campuses of the 1960s. That continues today. The Ayn Rand Institute sponsors literary essay contests for grades 9-12 and college. They have no lack of applicants; and they demonstrate clear insight and understanding.

    From the Smithsonian Magazine article:
    “Rand became a genuine public phenomenon, particularly on college campuses, where in the 1960s she was as much a part of the cultural landscape as Tolkien, Salinger, or Vonnegut,” writes Brian Doherty in Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement. “NBI’s lectures and advice on all aspects of life, as befits the totalistic nature of Objectivism, added to the cult-like atmosphere.”
    Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/histor...

    The lectures alone would not have sold themselves. For advocates of capitalism, the NBI was not an engine of creative advertising. The lectures sold readily to eager audiences who had found the works themselves. When the NBI began publishing The Objectivist Newsletter reader response cards were bound into paperback printings of Atlas and her other books. Sales of the books based on those essays - The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal in particular - far outpaced subscriptions to the newsletter (and magazine) or to the lectures. That would be expected in a market that appealed to self-defined individualists.

    I have not read Doherty's book (2007), but I did read It Usually Begins with Ayn Rand by Jerome Tucille (1971) when it came out. The most cultish characters were certainly easy to write about, such as the guy in black leotard with a gold dollar sign. However, among the millions were millions who were normal, perhaps exceedingly so.
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  • Posted by LibertyBelle 3 months, 3 weeks ago
    From what I have read of Ayn Rand's philosophy, she did not want people who would just accept whatever she said uncritically, and would just parrot
    what she said. Of course, she did not want to be misrepresentated; I think I read in an issue of The Objectivist (a magazine that evolved from The Objectivist Newsletter), that one was to make clear that he was expressing Objecitivsm
    as he understood it; and not to say that that was exactly what she had said--and when was was claiming to present her view as something certainly hers, to quote a direct quote then. But this was to avoid misrepresentation.
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    • Posted by  $  3 months, 2 weeks ago
      By the time that The Objectivist was launched in 1966, the accepted label was "students of Objectivism." That was especially reflective of her presence on college campuses. (The Newsletter ran from 1962-1965 and without checking I believe that that label was recommended even then.)

      You are correct that Ayn Rand was concerned and reasonably so, that with the burst in popularity, again broadly on college campuses, that her ideas would be wrongly re-transmitted by others who lacked complete understanding. Before I discovered Ayn Rand, I read the same sentiment in Sartre. The label "existentialist" was even used by a gossip columnist (in France) just to mean something shocking. Rand had to deal with a "Fountainhead" line of window drapes.

      And this has to be in context. Atlas Shrugged came out in 1957. Those very first "Ayn Rand Clubs" on college campuses date to about 1961. That's four years.... about 1500 days of nothing in particular... It was hard to live through, as you can imagine.
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  • Posted by  $  allosaur 3 months, 3 weeks ago
    Me dino would like to send Smithsonstoned an article entitled "The High Crimes And Treason That Made The Evil Hag Infamous."
    Nah! That would be rejected in a heartbeat.
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  • Posted by  $  25n56il4 3 months, 3 weeks ago
    I don't think Rand could have written as she did if she was a drug addict! My drug of choice is a glass of wine after a hard day at my computer. I shudder to think how she managed without a computer. nb
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    • Posted by  $  3 months, 2 weeks ago
      Ayn Rand's habitual use of benzedrine is well documented. Like her affair with Nathaniel Branden or all of the other negatives from her life, it has little to do with the content, quality, or meaning of her philosophy.

      As I said at first, the foibles of Heisenberg and Rorty seem less interesting. The fact is that less is to be gained or avoided by diminishing the status of their ideas. Rand continues to be a target for a reason. But you cannot ignore the facts of her life, either. They just have little to do with the content of Objectivism.
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  • Posted by  $  25n56il4 3 months, 3 weeks ago
    If these 'critics' at places like Smithsonian had to work for a living, they would hum a different tune. Being an author, I know how hard Ayn Rand worked! I doubt one of them could write a multimillion dollar grant! nb
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    • Posted by  $  3 months, 2 weeks ago
      Well, I am pretty sure that they do write million dollar grant applications at the Smithsonian. Writing fiction, Ayn Rand' drew characters who were symbols of ideas. In discussing the practical application of her philosophy, Rand was more nuanced.

      She advocated for an integration of philosophy within your personal life specifically because it is true by observation that brilliant and accomplished people have wrongful ideas about much that is fundamental.

      I suggest that Christopher Hitchens was a good example of that. He was brilliant. He abandoned Marxism. He said that The Virtue of Selfishness was Ayn Rand's best work, and he agreed with none of it. I think that Richard Feynman would be another like that. His commencement speech on "Cargo Cult Science" is a gold standard for intellectual honesty, but his epistemology was flawed. And his personal life was a mess, which speaks to the main thrust of our discussion here. No one wants to attack Feynman's physics on the basis of his failed relationships with women after the death of his first wife. And that is appropriate. With Ayn Rand, a different standard is in place.
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