Defending Capitalism against Ayn Rand


The titles that Ayn Rand assigned to the three parts of Atlas Shrugged proclaim her insistence that logical contradictions cannot exist in reality. By contrast, the title of the magnum opus of the ultimate charlatan in Atlas Shrugged, Simon Pritchett, is The Metaphysical Contradictions of the Universe. Francisco d’Anconia and Hugh Akston explain to Dagny Taggart that whenever someone thinks he has encountered a contradiction, he must check his premises, and he will find that one of them is wrong (I.9, 7, 10).1

In this essay, I will follow d’Anconia’s and Akston’s advice. I will show that a fundamental contradiction pervades Atlas Shrugged because Rand failed to check her premises. She thought that the heroes she created were exemplars of pure, uncorrupted capitalism. In fact, the heroes she created in Atlas Shrugged came from her sense of life, which was not only un-capitalist but anti-capitalist. I will also show that this contradiction is extremely fortunate because it illuminates why capitalism is the most efficient and humane economic system ever implemented.

Rand often emphasized the importance of a person’s “sense of life” and of art as its expression (e.g., Rand 1975: 31, 33, 44). She defined her sense of life and its artistic expression most clearly in an essay she wrote on Victor Hugo (1975: 153–61). In it she said, “Victor Hugo is the greatest novelist in world literature” because his characters are “a race of giants,” who are not concerned with “penny ante.” “‘Grandeur’ is the one word that names the leitmotif . . . of all of Hugo’s novels — and of his sense of life.”

The heroes Rand created in Atlas Shrugged came from her sense of life, which was not only un-capitalist but anti-capitalist.

In Atlas Shrugged, Rand created heroes who embodied her sense of life and described how such heroes would fulfill their heroic natures if they engaged in economic activities. She thought that the sum of their economic activities and interactions provides a template of what laissez-faire capitalism would be like. She was wrong. When the heroes who embody her sense of life engage in economic activities, they function like Communist administrators, not capitalist businessmen.2

To paraphrase Rand, “Grandeur is the one word that names” the sense of life of Communist economies. They had no concern with anything “penny ante.” In the 1980s, when the economy of the Soviet Union was disintegrating, it was producing between 1.5 and two times more steel and cement than the United States and generating more electricity; it also had 2.5 times more machine tools. However, buttons, clothespins, babies’ pacifiers, and thermometers were always extremely difficult to find in the Soviet Union (Shmelev and Popov 1989: 82, 132, 144). Toilet paper and toilet seats were such rare and precious commodities that when McDonald’s opened a restaurant in Moscow, in 1990, its employees had to guard its restrooms to prevent customers stealing toilet paper and toilet seats (Goldman 1991: 166). The Soviet Union’s heroic economy also did not provide contraceptives or a single practical guide to contraception. As a result, Soviet women averaged at least four legal abortions during their lives; and the average was higher in the non-Muslim regions of the Soviet Union. In addition, large numbers of illegal abortions were performed. Anesthetics could be obtained only by a large bribe (Feshbach and Friendly 1992: 208–9).

In Rand’s novel The Fountainhead, the villain, Ellsworth Toohey, completely destroys Catherine Halsey’s soul, and the visible sign of her corruption is that her mouth has adapted to giving orders, “not big orders or cruel orders; just mean little ones — about plumbing and disinfectants” (IV.10). Toohey has turned her into the opposite of a Communist. The Communists gave big, cruel orders and had no concern with mean little considerations. The heroes of Atlas Shrugged are heroic because, like Communist bureaucrats, they produce or maintain impressive products, not mean little ones. It would be unimaginable for a Rand hero to be a manufacturer of “penny ante” products, such as disposable baby diapers, menstrual tampons, or dependable contraceptives. But these distinctively 20th-century inventions improved the quality of life immeasurably by freeing people from preoccupation with brute, animal existence.

Most services would be included among “mean little” occupations. The Communists’ heroic obsession with production caused them to ignore services, which, with a few exceptions, they did not even include in their gross domestic product statistics. In fact, Marxists always used the term “the means of production” as a synonym for “the economy.” In modern capitalist countries, most businesspeople provide services. With one exception that I will discuss below, the only service that a hero in Atlas Shrugged provides is running railroads. This is clearly not a “mean little” occupation, and it was one of the few services that the Soviet Union included in its gross domestic product statistics (weight of freight times kilometers carried).

Moreover, Rand ignored all services in her representation of history (1963: 10–57) as a battle between Attila and the Witch Doctor and their antithesis, the Producer. Indeed, her practice of using “industrialist” as a synonym for businessperson excludes businesspeople who produce “penny ante” products, along with those who provide services. In his long speech in Atlas Shrugged, John Galt (i.e., Ayn Rand) says, “Productiveness is your acceptance of morality . . . productive work is the process by which man’s consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of . . .  shaping matter to fit one’s purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one’s values;” and, “the industrialists, the conquerors of matter” “have produced all the wonders of humanity’s brief summer” (III.7).

It would be unimaginable for a Rand hero to be a manufacturer of disposable diapers, tampons, or dependable contraceptives.

It is true that the great philosopher Hugh Akston owns a diner and cooks its food, which he does with extraordinary skill, making “the best-cooked food she [Dagny] had ever tasted” (I.10). However, Rand does not let this fact affect her conceptualization of productive work when Galt tells Dagny, “We take nothing but the lowliest jobs and we produce by the effort of our muscles” (III.1).3

In her short story “The Simplest Thing in the World” (1975: 173-85), Rand depicts a writer of fiction who cannot make a living because he has the same sense of life as Rand. The writer decides he has to create the type of story that will sell: “a simple, human story,” which consists of “lousy bromides.” “It mustn’t have any meaning,” and its characters must be petty because “[s]mall people are safe.” However, he is incapable of writing such a story. Every time he tries, his sense of life thwarts his conscious efforts, and he starts composing a story about heroes. The reason, as Rand explains in her introduction, is that his “sense of life directs . . . and controls his creative imagination.” To exemplify this fact, he begins to write “a story about a middle-aged millionaire who tries to seduce a poor young working girl.” He is “a big tycoon who owns a whole slew of five-and tens [i.e., discount stores].” But the author cannot write this story. As he develops the story in his mind, his sense of life makes him forget about the girl and transform the villain into a hero. As part of the transformation, he says to himself, “to hell with the five-and-ten!” The hero now builds ships because he is driven by “a great devotion to a goal.” He is motivated by “a great driving energy . . . the principle of creation itself. It’s what makes everything in the world. Dams and skyscrapers and transatlantic cables.” “[H]e wants to work — not to make money, just to work, just to fight” (emphasis added). So, an author with Ayn Rand’s sense of life could not make the hero of his works a retailer, no matter how successful he might be; not even Sam Walton, who founded Walmart and built it into the company with the greatest revenue of any company in the world.

Because the Soviets had the same sense of life as the author in this short story (i.e., the same as Rand), they were extremely proud of the enormous hydroelectric dams they built, and their retailing was horribly inefficient. In the Soviet Union, people had to wait in long lines for any purchase. If someone had time to spare, he would wait in a line to buy something he did not need, in order to barter it with someone who had waited in another line to buy something else. When McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in Moscow, it set all records for number of customers: 40,000 to 50,000 a day, even though its food cost twice as much as the food in state-run cafeterias. It had twenty-seven cash registers. In Communist countries, the length of a line of customers showed how valuable the merchandise was at the end of that line. So, McDonald’s had to have ushers to tell customers not to go to the longest line (Goldman 1991: 166–7; Blackman 1990).

The opening of this first McDonald’s — an event that, as much as any other, marked the end of Communism — illustrates another serious defect in Communist-Objectivist ideals. A small notice in a Soviet newspaper drew 27,000 applicants for jobs as counter clerks, even though the anticipated salary was only average by Soviet standards. Those who were chosen had to be trained to smile at customers and speak politely to them. Their training was so successful that customers could not believe that the clerks were Soviet-raised Russians (Blackman 1990; Goldman 1991: 166–7).

An author with Ayn Rand’s sense of life could not make the hero of his works a retailer, no matter how successful he might be.

Rand used “grocery clerk” to symbolize the antithesis of her ideal (1964: viii; 1975: 84). In her first novel, We the Living, when the heroine, Kira, sees her future lover Leo for the first time,she observes that “[h]is mouth . . . was that of an ancient chieftain who could order men to die, and his eyes were such as could watch it.” However, Leo says to Kira, with bitter humor, “I’m nothing like what you think I am. I’ve always wanted to be a Soviet clerk who sells soap and smiles at customers” (I.4). Again, Rand reversed Communism and capitalism. Men who could order others to die and watch their death calmly characterized Communism. Smiling clerks, who sell unimpressive products, characterize capitalism.

When Nathaniel Branden was the official Objectivist expert on psychology, he wrote, “[P]roductive work is the process through which a man achieves that sense of control over his life which is the precondition of his being able fully to enjoy the other values possible to him … [P]roductive . . . achievements lead to pride” (“Self-Esteem: Part IV,”The Objectivist, June 1967). Branden, as he himself later realized, was exaggerating. But he was exaggerating a truth. A feeling of control over one’s life and pride in productive achievements are certainly wonderful feelings. They can derive directly from the type of work done by Communist administrators and the heroes of Rand’s novels, especially if, like Howard Roark, they have an uncapitalist indifference to money and accept only those projects that appeal to them. However, a feeling of control over one’s life and pride in achievements do not follow directly from the type of work that most people in a capitalist society do: salesmen, accountants, insurance brokers, bank clerks, and manufacturers of “penny ante” products, like clothespins and underpants.

Nearly all readers of Rand’s novels, even those who disagree with her philosophy, recognize that she was a brilliant novelist. But not even her brilliance as a novelist could have made a gripping, inspirational novel about the work that is done in distinctively capitalist occupations, occupations that do not exist in Communist countries, such as advertising or being a real estate agent. In fact, the first jobs of the odious Wesley Mouch were in advertising (Atlas II.6).

Let us consider briefly the novelist whom Rand (1975: 119) regarded as the best of the naturalists, Sinclair Lewis. When Lewis wanted to write novels about admirable protagonists, he made them a dedicated research scientist (Martin Arrowsmith) and the president of a car company (Sam Dodsworth), who began his career as assistant manager of production. When Lewis wanted a pathetic protagonist, he made him a real estate agent (George Babbitt). Babbitt, like Dodsworth, is successful at his work. But Lewis says in the first chapter that Babbitt “made nothing in particular, neither butter nor shoes nor poetry;” and he “detested the grind of the real estate business, and disliked his family, and disliked himself for disliking them.”

The discussion so far illuminates a crucial benefit of the love of money. It entices people into occupations that they may not find interesting or inspiring, but are socially necessary; and it exerts constant pressure on business owners to provide what the public wants, not what they enjoy doing.

In all of Rand’s novels, only one business owner completely embodies the capitalist ethos. That is the press tycoon Gail Wynand, in The Fountainhead, who becomes fabulously rich through selfless service to the public, by providing it with what it wants: a lowbrow, sentimental, lurid newspaper. As he says (IV.11), he has led a life of “[s]elflessness in the absolute sense.” He “erased [his] ego out of existence” by following the principle, “Give the greatest pleasure to the greatest number.” However, according to Rand, Wynand is guilty of the most horrible sin in her moral universe: betraying himself.

Men who could order others to die and watch their death calmly characterized Communism. Smiling clerks, who sell unimpressive products, characterize capitalism.

Wynand’s opposite is Nathaniel Taggart, in Atlas Shrugged, who is supposed to be the archetypal capitalist. As Dagny recalls (I.8), “He said that he envied only one of his competitors, the one who said, ‘The public be damned!’” Nothing could be more antithetical to the motivation of a successful business owner in a capitalist society. This is the ethos of the head of a production unit in a Communist economy, who derives exhilaration and pride from productive achievement without regard to providing the public with what it wants.

Rand’s story “The Simplest Thing in the World” is an excellent illustration of this point. It assumes that an author with Rand’s sense of life is compelled to create a protagonist who does not work for money and therefore chooses to build ships instead of discount stores. This contrast is factually accurate. Someone motivated by money would not consider shipbuilding as a business career since, in economically advanced countries, shipbuilders can stay in business only by means of tariff protection or government subsidies or both. But he would certainly consider the business of discount stores, since they have proved to be the most profitable (i.e., socially useful) branch of retailing.

The economic role of money in constantly driving economic participants to provide the public with what it wants is related to an admirable moral attribute of the free market. It is completely democratic and non-coercive; no one can interfere with other people spending their money on what they want. In her essay “What Is Capitalism?” (1967: 17, 20) Rand showed that she was fully aware of this fundamental attribute of capitalism (the italics are Rand’s):

[T]he works of Victor Hugo are objectively of immeasurably greater value than true-confession magazines. But if a given man’s intellectual potential can barely manage to enjoy true confessions, there is no reason why his meager earnings, the product of his effort, should be spent on books he cannot read.

The tribal mentalities attack this principle . . . by a question such as: “Why should Elvis Presley make more money than Einstein?” The answer is: Because men work in order to support and enjoy their own lives — and if many men find value in Elvis Presley, they are entitled to spend their money on their own pleasure.

It is the Gail Wynands who provide true-confessions magazines and Elvis Presley CDs.

At this point, many readers will object that Ayn Rand appreciated the value of money. She ended Atlas Shrugged with its hero tracing the sign of the dollar in space, made a gold dollar sign Atlantis’ “coat of arms, its trademark, its beacon” (III.1), and herself often wore a gold dollar sign pinned to her dress.

Yet in The Fountainhead, Toohey asks Peter Keating about Roark (II. 4), “Does he like money;” and Keating replies No. But long before that, the reader has learned that Roark’s abnormal indifference to money is one of the essential characteristics that make him the hero of this novel. Indeed, in “The Simplest Thing in the World,” Rand assumed that an author with her sense of life must write only about heroes who do not care about money.

Rand assumed that an author with her sense of life must write only about heroes who do not care about money.

In Atlas Shrugged, Rand sometimes has her heroes claim that their goal is to make money. At the opening of the John Galt Line, which is by far the greatest achievement of both Dagny and Hank Rearden (I.8), a reporter asks Dagny her “motive in building that Line.” She answers, “the profit which I expect to make.” Another reporter cautions her, “That’s the wrong thing to say.” But she repeats it. Yet before her trip begins, she looks at the crowd that has gathered and notices that they are there, not because these people expect to make a profit, but “because the sight of an achievement was the greatest gift a human being could offer to others.” The description of the ride on the John Galt Line is the most exhilarating fiction writing I can recall reading; and I have read a great deal of narrative fiction, in ancient Greek, Latin, English, and French. For Dagny, “It was the greatest sensation of existence; not to trust, but to know.” “She felt the sweep of an emotion which she could not contain, as of something bursting upward.” And what about the engine drivers? Every one of them who was available volunteered to drive the train despite persistent warnings of danger. Surely, they were not motivated by money.

At least in their economic interactions, money should be the primary consideration of the heroes of a novel that ends with the dollar sign traced in the air. In Part I, Chapter 1, Dagny’s parasitical brother James says to her, “I don’t like Hank Rearden.” Dagny replies, “I do. But what does that matter, one way or another? We need rails and he is the only one who can give them to us.” James Taggart, typically of him, replies, “You have no sense of the human element at all.” This conversation crystallizes capitalist and uncapitalist mentalities.

Nevertheless, the economic decisions of the heroes of Atlas Shrugged are constantly motivated by the human element. That is true even of the one major character in Atlas Shrugged who is a pure capitalist, Midas Mulligan. He says he joined the strike because of a vision, in which he “saw the bright face and the eyes of young Rearden . . . lying at the foot of an altar . . . and what stood on that altar was Lee Hunsacker, with the mucus-filled eyes” (III.1). In Part II, Chapter 3, Francisco asks Rearden: did you want the rail you made for the John Galt Line used by your equals, like Ellis Wyatt, and by men such as Eddie Willers, who do not match your ability but who “equal your moral integrity” and “riding on your rail — give a moment’s silent thanks”? Rearden answers Yes. Francisco then asks, “Did you want to see it used by whining rotters?” Rearden answers, “I’d blast that rail first.” Francisco then explains that by "whining rotter" he means “any man who proclaims his right to a single penny of another man’s effort.” But no economy, whether socialist or capitalist, could function for one day if producers acted in this way. In Part II, Chapter 10, Dagny says that Nathaniel Taggart, supposedly the archetypical capitalist, “couldn’t have worked with people like these passengers. He couldn’t have run trains for them.” But no one running a train line, even in a socialist economy, could possibly consider the moral worth of its passengers, or any consideration besides their paying for the ride.

No one running a train line, even in a socialist economy, could possibly consider the moral worth of its passengers, or any consideration besides their paying for the ride.

I will conclude with the most frequently quoted explanation of why the market is the most effective means of providing people with what they want. It is by Adam Smith, in Book I, Chapter II of The Wealth of Nations: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard for their own interest. We address ourselves . . . to their self-love.” Butchers, brewers, and bakers had a very low priority in Communist countries. When McDonald’s opened its first restaurant in Moscow, it had to train its own butchers (Goldman 1991: 166). It is also unimaginable for an Ayn Rand hero to be a butcher, brewer, or baker. The self-interest and self-love that induces people to become butchers, brewers, and bakers and to perform those jobs well is totally different from the heroic self-love of Rand’s heroes. It is an unheroic desire to support themselves and their families in comfort and security.

In her essay “What Is Capitalism?” Ayn Rand showed that she understood as well as Smith why love of money is wonderfully socially beneficial. In her fiction, however, her anti-capitalist sense of life obliterated that knowledge.


1. I cite passages in Rand’s novels by the part of the novel in which they occur and the chapter in that part. I do not cite page numbers because there are many editions, and each has different pagination from the others.
2. I write “Communist” with a capital “C” to indicate a member of a Marxist-Leninist Communist Party. Many people have championed a communist society (with a small “c”), beginning with the first two extant projections of an ideal society: Plato’s Republic and Aristophanes’ Ecclesiazusae, both from the 4th century BC.
3. Several of the heroes provide services while they are in Galt’s Gulch. But these jobs are merely stopgaps until they return to the world and use their talents again in their real work.

Blackman, Ann 1990: “Moscow’s Big Mak Attack.” Time (February 5).
Feshbach, Murray and Friendly, Alfred Jr. 1992: Ecocide in the USSR: Health and Nature under Siege. London: Aurum Press.
Goldman, Marshall 1991: What Went Wrong with Perestroika. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
Rand, Ayn 1963: For the New Intellectual. New York: Signet.
Rand, Ayn 1964: The Virtue of Selfishness. New York: Signet.
Rand, Ayn 1967: Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. New York: Signet.
Rand, Ayn 1975: The Romantic Manifesto, revised edition. New York: Signet.
Shmelev, Nikolai and Popov, Vladimir 1989: The Turning Point: Revitalizing the Soviet Economy, translated by Michele A. Berdy. New York: Doubleday.

Editor's Note: This article is part of a much longer monograph with the same title. It can be obtained from the author at

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Russell Hasan

I strongly disagree with the ideas in this essay, and I am surprised to see that I am perhaps the first reader of Liberty to leave a comment exploring the glaring defects in the logic of the arguments presented. I will summarize my disagreement in two areas:
1. Ayn Rand was, as a matter of factual history and practical reality, one of the greatest defenders of capitalism, and one of communism's most virulent and effective critics. To say that Rand was a supporter of communism and enemy of capitalism is simply absurd. It is mind-boggling in its degree of being out of touch with reality. One can debate whether or not Rand was a libertarian, as she said that she was not and had a big conflict with Rothbard. But she was obviously a supporter of capitalism, and turned an entire generation of young people on to libertarianism.
2. The author, Mr. Farron, seems to be making this argument: Rand's novels featured heroes who were heroic and grand, communism is heroic and grand whereas capitalism is menial and small and boring, therefore Rand was a communist. I would reply that it is precisely because she presented a vision of capitalism that is heroic and grand, which set fire to the passions of people and created a noble, heroic, idealistic vision of economic freedom, that Rand had such a beneficial impact on the world in terms of fighting socialism. Under the author's view nobody could ever get excited about defending freedom, and so freedom would soon die out.
I think that Liberty Magazine should feature a diversity of opinions, and I personally am not one of Rand's most blindly devoted or loyal of followers, but if I must come to her defense in the name of rationality and sanity then so be it.


Even if a reader is unfamiliar with the source material of Rand's I fail to see how the evidence Farron provides adequately supports the grand premises set out in his thesis. This essay claims to prove that:
A) The heroes of Atlas Shrugged were not "exemplars" of capitalism.
B) Ayn Rand's "sense of life" is anti-capitalist.
C) The characters of Atlas Shrugged behave like communist administrators. (this last premise seems to be treated as more of a corollary to the first two, but it's worth noting since it's a rather bold claim)

The major thrust of Farron's evidence seems to be proving that Rand's "sense of life" is expressed through the grandiose and that this sense of grandeur pervades all of the heroes in her works, including Atlas shrugged. The author also provides evidence ad nauseam for the Soviet's sense of grandeur and their admiration for the large, impressive, projects at the expense of the "penny ante" works.

In order to satisfy the premise of the argument we would have to, at the very least, accept that: A) The Soviet's and Rand's appreciation of grandeur indicate a similar ideology. B) Rand's appreciation for grandeur represents an anti-capitalist tendency. C) Rand's decision not to focus on the "penny ante" producers in her writings indicates a beliefe that only grand-scale "industrialists" constitute capitalism.

The evidence provide in this essay (It seems that there is a 35,500 word treatise that perhaps satisfies some of these claims more completely) is simply insufficient to support any one of the initial claims, let alone all of them. What we're left with is cum hoc ergo propter hoc arguments presented as facts and a handful of non sequiturs that attempt to somehow paint Rand, and by extension her heroes, as ideologically similar to a communist.

While Farron accuses Rand of making no room for the "penny ante" in her supposed capitalist world it seems that Farron is equally guilty of making no affordance for grandeur or heroism in capitalism. By the end of the essay I couldn't help but wonder if the author himself even fully believes the claims he's making or if this is simply an interesting example of contrarian writing for the sake of argument amongst those who all essentially agree.

Rodney Choate

Mr. Hasan, you weren't the first reader of Liberty to question Farron's methods, if not his motives. I was. See my post below. I also attempted to use the opportunity to point out how some followers of Objectivism have little interest in actual scholarship in the matter and read NO non-fiction Objectivist materials- only the novels.

Farron lifted selected images out of the context of the novel, twisted their meaning and proper interpretation, then called them essential to Objectivism. This, done by a person claiming to be a scholar, is worse than a mere mistake.

I, too, am surprised by those who bought into the article.

Am I that bad of a writer that the tone of my original response was missed?


Russell, I too am surprised at the lack of comment on this article. I took the weekend to think it over.

I think the author of this article takes Rand out of context. She wrote her novels following a point in time when altruism had displayed a bloody climax during the first half of the 20th century, and socialism was nevertheless on it's way to becoming the dominant political philosophy of our time. It is self-sacrificial socialist thinking against which she weighed, and though she did so oftentimes narrowly, she nevertheless remains a voice in the wilderness. Thus, she became widely read, and that's a big understatement.

Today's advocates of Libertarian thought rarely discuss altruism. It's a word about which I hear little said, though it's at the base of most political dogma. Rand's focus was narrowly about this subject, and she stayed with the thought to the exclusion of all else. One might say that she "sacrificed" her literary skills to task of making her point.

Steven Farron

Dear Mr. Hasan,

My views are essentially Hayekian: human emotions and thought-patterns evolved during the millions of years that our human and proto-human ancestors lived in small hunting groups, in which everyone worked together towards clearly defined goals. We constantly try to replicate that type of life; for example, with team sports, and, at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale, gangs. This genetically inherited predisposition explains why there have been innumerable political parties called socialist, but there has never in the history of the world been one political party called capitalist. It also explains why conservatives try to match socialism’s appeal to the innate human craving for solidarity, community, and idealism by diverting attention from economics to religion and patriotism.

I agree with you unequivocally that Rand was such an effective champion of capitalism because she “presented a vision of capitalism that is heroic and grand, which set fire to the passions of people.” That is exactly my point. Admiration for heroism is another fundamental attribute that we humans inherit genetically from the small hunting group. Rand could ignite a passionate devotion for capitalism because her sense of life was un-capitalistically heroic. With her dazzling brilliance as a novelist, she projected that universal un-capitalist admiration for heroism onto characters who, in accordance with her ideological commitment, seem to be capitalist businessmen.

In other words, capitalism is so unappealing to the human heart and mind that the only way to inspire passionate devotion to it is by distorting it in the way Rand did. Otherwise, we are condemned to use the argument that the Left’s proposals – e.g., more extensive medical care – sound good; but, if you think them through carefully, step by step, you will see that they do more harm than good. As Margaret Thatcher observed, “The Left has the ideals, and we counter with accountancy.” But that is the only way that exponents of the free market can HONESTLY counter the Left’s arguments; and it puts us in an extremely weak (in fact, probably hopelessly weak) position in political debate.

Please allow me to email to you the monograph (35,500 words) of which this article is a condensation, and then see what you think of my position. Just email me at

Russell Hasan

Dear Mr. Farron,
I do have respect for your attempt to analyze Rand in a scholarly fashion. You say that you are "Hayekian." The difference between you and Hayek is that "The Road to Serfdom" was a brilliant book showing that socialism is akin to the Nazi Party, in other words, is *evil*. You obviously concede to the Left that capitalism has no moral, ethical, virtuous, inspirational values. E.g. your saying "capitalism is so unappealing to the human heart and mind that the only way to inspire passionate devotion to it is by distorting it in the way Rand did." Let me tell you what Rand might have said in reply to you. If you concede morality to the Left, then you are giving victory to the socialists and communists, and you are betraying the capitalists and giving your sanction to the destruction of capitalism. I don't know how to make you understand this other than with words that you seem to ignore, but the fundamental root premise of your essay is that morality and heroism are communist values and oppose capitalism. Concede that premise, and you give the world to the sickness which is Leftism. Thus, I am trying not to be rude or insulting, but I view you as a Leftist in sheep's clothing, not as a Hayekian--and I think both Rand and Hayek would agree with me if they were alive to read your article. Also, as appealing as it sounds, I am too busy right now to have the time to read your monograph, so I respectfully decline your offer.

Steven Farron

Dear Mr. Hasan II
This is a belated reply to your response. By a Hayekian, I am referring to Hayek's epistemology, which is most concisely expressed in his The Fatal Conceit. It was because of his epistemology that Rand described Hayek as “real poison,” and a “total, complete, vicious bastard” (Brian Doherty, Radicals for Capitalism, pages 189, 653, note 84).
Hayek's Road To Serfdom turned out to be completely wrong. Government economic intervention, even on the scale that was practiced by the British Labor Party, did not lead to serfdom in any democratic country.

Fred Mora

Very interesting article! Thank you for this contribution to the exegesis of Ayn Rand.

Rodney Choate

Many (self described) Objectivists have never read a non-fiction treatise on the Philosophy, instead getting their understanding of it from reading Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, etc. While that strategy is bad enough for the "friends" of Objectivism, Farron takes it to its logical conclusion by thinking it fair and rational to attack (I think that being a fair term to use in this case) Rand and her philosophy simply by using selected images from its own art- not difficult for a skilled, clever writer, which Farron is.

Steven Farron

Dear Mr. Choate,
You seem to think that my article is persuasive, but only because I am “a skilled, clever writer.” Please allow me to email to you the monograph (35,500 words) of which this article is a condensation, and then see what you think of my position. Just email me at
Incidentally, I have taught both Plato and Aristotle in Greek; and during those courses, I always recommended to my students Ayn Rand’s brilliant “Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.”

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