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Ayn Rand in her own words

By umcadmin

When presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan as his running mate for the 2012 Republican ticket, the world was reintroduced to the philosophy of novelist Ayn Rand. Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin, has cited Rand as one of his philosophical touchstones, especially regarding her take-no-prisoners defense of capitalism. The Russian-American writer and philosopher authored such works as Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

In 1961 Rand appeared on University of Michigan Television as the guest of Professor James McConnell of the Department of Psychology. View this original kinescope from the archives of the Bentley Historical Library, and hear Rand explain her theories in real time in her own words: “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”

The clip runs 30 minutes. It’s an interesting time capsule, whether one deems Rand relevant or not. As an interviewer, McConnell does his best to demystify one of the most polarizing figures in literary and political history.


  • Grant Shafer - 1995

    Rand’s ethic is the rationalization of a sociopath. It provides the philosophical justification for the destruction of the middle class which was created by the New Deal.


  • Paul Gogulski - 1960

    Like a lot of people, I was smitten by Ann Rand, and read Atlas Shrugged from cover to cover in 1963 while on Kwajalein, Marshall Islands. As time went on I felt her influence diminished by the one sided Objectivest Newslefters that omited any spiritual context whatsoever. If she was alive today, I wonder what she would say about Thomas Merton’s “Seven Story Mountain” or the biography of Max Colby in “A Man for Others”


  • Don Kiss - 1995

    Ayn Rand’s enemies like to refute everything except her ideas!


  • Gerald F Rosenblatt

    Rand’s concepts are the basis of the far right Tea Party-extreme views, which can never work as a governing system that permits social and economic mobility. In her view, there is no spiritual side of man–only a cold and pre-determined class of mankind–leaders who are elite and all others who are subservient. Sounds like Paul Ryan!


  • pat cardiff

    First off, from the left, THANK you for this posting of an original interview with Ayn Rand. It was intellectually stimulating!

    I am not so impressionable, that after half a century, a writer who became famous, embraced by the right, vilified by the left, should affect my core politics. I think pretty much we will own our politics til they shut the coffin on us.

    I find philosophers in all ages making common logical errors, though — generalization, or more likely, forced dichotomy. It’s just so much more complicated than that. Each human is a set of characteristics beliefs, and this strange world simply distributes them, hereto. Is there really such a thing as “applied philosophy?”

    And you conservative “Free Marketeers,” with your media stations and your bright shiny futures and your cobbled wealth, why do you take it personally when I complain about inequality, black kids in DC without access to the same privileges that got you there? Why is Wall Street capitalism so messed up that 30% of mortgages are costlier than that the value of the homes they underwrite?