Quote of the week...please share your favourite line from Ayn Rand's writings

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.”

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Atlas Shrugged on Floor Displays at Largest Bookstores

A bookstore in the US will have floor displays of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged in its 520 stores.

Shortly after Independence Day, new free-standing floor displays of Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, first published 52 years ago, will be placed in more than 850 bookstores across the United States. Borders (bookstore) will display the novel’s trade edition at 520 of its stores and Waldenbooks will feature the mass market paperback edition at 336 of its stores. Thousands of copies of Atlas Shrugged will be on display.

Barnes & Noble also had copies of Atlas Shrugged for sale in special floor displays in most of its bookstores from late May into early June.

According to Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, “This is the most prominent and widespread display for this novel in all of its publishing history. It is particularly remarkable because it comes more than a half century after its initial publication.

“The fact that the largest bookstore chains in America have chosen to make such a prominent display of Atlas Shrugged is a testimony to the current and growing interest in Ayn Rand’s novels and ideas, and an encouraging sign for America’s future.

“As Americans confront the scary growth of government control over their lives and the economy, they need, more than ever, to learn about Ayn Rand’s conception of a new morality of rational self-interest and her unprecedented defense of freedom and individual rights.”

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rationalising Rational Morality

I just added some links at the bottom of this blog. Links to sites which may be more food for thought for the evolved or evolving objectivists.
While most of them support the philosophy, there is one - Rational Morality - which debates on it. What are we here for, if not for a good debate and discussion with the convictions of our beliefs?
Hence, Rand followers, how about debating with the authors of Rational Morality?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Atlas Sunday Meet - Pune

After two successful meetings in Mumbai, we have scheduled this meeting in Pune. Some Ayn Rand followers have helped us organise this meeting in Pune.

We invite Punekars...
Date: 12th July 2009
Time: 4:30pm
Venue: 3, Building 12-B, Paschimanagari Society, Near City Pride, Kothrud, Pune.
  • Recounting your initiation to the world of Ayn Rand;
  • Ayn Rand 1974 interview

Please come with your views and opinions. For and against. And come with an open mind to accept and reject. To agree to disagree..

Friday, June 19, 2009

"My initiation with Ayn Rand's philosophy"

How did you get hooked on this philosophy? When did you start? Has your belief become stronger over the years or has waned off?
Tell us a little about your journey, so that you can inspire others to explore these paths in their own minds too.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Atlas Sunday Meet - 14th June 2009

Date: 14th June 2009
Venue: A45, Vijay Kunj, Opp New Model English School, Vakola, Andheri East, Mumbai.
Yusuf Syed
Abhigyan Jha
Deepti Chauhan
Jerry Johnson
Kirtimalini Kuber
Presentation of an exclusive Ayn Rand Interview – 1974, followed by discussion

This is the second Atlas Sunday Meet in Mumbai. Last time the meeting was held at the Prithvi Café, Juhu (5th April 2009). The agenda of this meeting is to show Ayn Rand’s 1974 interview and have open discussions on her ideas. Jerry has offered his residence for the same, a nice and colourful bachelor pad. We – Yusuf, Abhigyan, Jerry and I – have gathered at around 4:30, quite punctual, and begin with a round of cool drinks to cool off.

Abhigyan Jha, a new member, who has received information of the Sunday Meet through common mailers, is a staunch Objectivist.

As we get done with the introductions, we plunge into the first round of discussions – the current economic scenario with reference to Rand’s predictions. Heated conversations begin on Objectivism. Minds have gone on to religion and to how objectivism cannot spread in India. There are two viewpoints presented – Jerry feels India is not ready for the economic overhaul that Objectivism calls for as free collectivism is deeply rooted in our culture. On the other hand Abhigyan strongly believes that India is the freest society existing today with the history dating back thousands of years. He says that the moguls and various other rulers diluted it and made it what it is today, but individualism and free markets distinguish Indians from the rest of the world. Abhigyan gives an example of the existence of the most number of small entrepreneurs – pan-walla thelas, small shops springing in every neighbourhood – showing the entrepreneurial independence of the Indian people.
Deepti Chauhan joins us at this point. She is not a die-hard Rand fan. But she likes whatever she has known of Rand’s philosophy.

Discussing such a huge philosophy and its applications will surely take many more hours. Hence, we start watching the interview. Two parts of the interview last for about 20 minutes. It is a gratifying experience to watch Ayn Rand speak – clearly, confidently and passionately – about what she believes and why she believes in it.

Yusuf leaves shortly after the video. Taking on from the interview, a new topic begins – the choices that man makes on the basis of principle and practicality. We know that many times, we come across choices which in principle are right, but do not work practically. In this view, Rand says that she finds these people most evil – who do the evil in spite of knowing that it is the evil.

The clock is ticking much faster than we thought – it is nearing 9pm. So, we stop the discussion and leave with enriched minds and confident of where we stand and the reasons we stand for.
I, for one, come home and watch other interviews of Ayn Rand on youtube...

(Attendees, please feel free to edit the above note if I have missed out on something or if I have mis-represented your thoughts)

Ayn Rand - A selection of quotable quotes (iii)

Please join us in adding to this list, and suggesting sites where one may find more

That which you call your soul or spirit is your consciousness, and that
which you call 'free will' is your mind's freedom to think or not, the only will
you have, your only freedom, the choice that controls all the choices you make
and determines your life and your character. (Atlas Shrugged)

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.

Honesty is the recognition of the fact that the unreal is unreal and can
have no value, that neither love nor fame nor cash is a value if obtained by
fraud. (Atlas Shrugged)

Integrity is the recognition of the fact that you cannot fake your
consciousness, just as honesty is the recognition of the fact that you cannot
fake existence. (Atlas Shrugged)

Independence is the recognition of the fact that yours is the
responsibility of judgment and nothing can help you escape it.
(Atlas Shrugged)

Love is our response to our highest values. Love is self-enjoyment. The
noblest love is born outof admiration of another’s values. (Atlas Shrugged)

Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing
but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in
nothing buy rational actions. (Atlas Shrugged)

Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask
for your own destruction. When money ceases to become the means by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of other men. Blood, whips and guns--or dollars. Take your choice--there is no other. (Atlas Shrugged)

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplacable spark. In the hopeless
swamps of the not quite, the not yet, and the not at all, do not let the hero in
your soul perish and leave only frustration for the life you deserved, but never
have been able to reach. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real,
it is possible, it is yours. (Atlas Shrugged)

The secrets of this earth are not for all men to see, but only for those
who seek them. (Anthem)

Art is the indespensible medium for the communication of a moral idea.
(Romantic Manifesto)

If men want to oppose war, it is *statism* that they must oppose.
(Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal)

Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's
metaphysical value judgments. (Romantic Manifesto)
An artist does not fake reality--he *stylizes* it. (Romantic Manifesto)
There is a fundamental conviction which some people never acquire, some
hold only in their youth, and a few hold until the end of their days--the
conviction that ideas matter . . . (The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ayn Rand – A selection of quotable quotes (ii)

Please join us in adding to this list, and suggesting sites where one may find more.

It is not advisable, James, to venture unsolicited opinions. You should spare
yourself the embarrassing discovery of their exact value to your listener.
(Atlas Shrugged)

The evil of the world is made possible by nothing but the
sanction you give it. (Atlas Shrugged)

The spread of evil is the symptom of a
vacuum. whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those
who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles.
(Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal)

The Argument from Intimidation is a
confession of intellectual impotence. (The Virtue of Selfishness)

Civilization is the progress toward a
society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of
his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.
(The Fountainhead)

There is a level of cowardice lower than
that of the conformist: the fashionable non-conformist.

The right to vote is a *consequence*, not a
primary cause, of a free social system -- and its value depends on the
constitutional structure implementing and strictly delimiting the voters' power;
unlimited majority rule is an instance of the principle of tyranny.

Doctors are not servants of their patients,
they are traders like everyone else in a free society and they should bear that
title proudly considering the crucial importance of the services they offer.

Whatever their future, at the dawn of
their lives, men seek a noble vision of man's nature and of life's potential.
(The Fountainhead)

I can accept anthing, except what seems to be the easiest for most people: the half-way, the almost, the just-about, the in-between. (The Fountainhead)

Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.

Men have been taught that it is a virtue to
agree with others. But the creator is the man who disagrees. Men have been
taught that it is a virtue to swim with the current. But the creator ithe man
who goes against the current. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to stand
together. But the creator is the man who stands alone.

Ayn Rand – A selection of quotable quotes (i)

Please join us in adding to this list, and suggesting sites where one may find more.

  • Guilt is a rope that wears thin.
  • Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.
  • Thanksgiving is a typically American holiday...The lavish meal is a symbol of the fact that abundant consumption is the result and reward of production.
  • I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction. (Anthem)
  • Pride is the recognition of the fact that you are your own highest value and, like all of man’s values, it has to be earned. (Atlas Shrugged)
  • Rationality is the recognition of the fact that nothing can alter the truth and nothing can take precedence over that act of perceiving it. (Atlas Shrugged)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rand’s Atlas is still shrugging

You get the feeling plenty of Atlases are shrugging these days, in part because their tax burden is getting heavier. Yet President Barack Obama has made it clear he would like to see the rich pay a greater share, writes Amity Shlaes in the Mint.

Imagine a novel of more than a thousand pages, published half a century ago. The author doesn’t have a talk-radio show and has been dead for 27 years.

As for the storyline, it is beyond dated: humourless executives fight with humourless public officials over an industry that is, today, almost irrelevant to the US economy—railroads. The prose itself is a disconcerting mixture of philosophy, industrial policy, and bodice-ripping: The wind blew her hair to blend with his. She knew why he had wanted to walk through the mountains tonight.

In short, you would think Atlas Shrugged might be long forgotten.

Instead, Ayn Rand’s novel is remembered more than ever. This year the book is selling at a faster rate than the last year. Last year, sales were about 200,000, higher than any year before that, including 1957, when the book was published.

Rand depicted government and companies colluding in the name of economic rescue at the expense of the entrepreneur. That entrepreneur is like the titan Atlas who carries the rest of the world on his shoulders—until he doesn’t.

You get the feeling plenty of Atlases are shrugging these days, in part because their tax burden is getting heavier. It’s interesting to compare sales of Atlas Shrugged, provided by the Ayn Rand Institute, to Internal Revenue Service distribution tables.

In 1986, a year when Atlas Shrugged sold between 60,000 and 80,000 copies, the top 1% of earners paid 26% of the income tax. By 2000, that 1% was paying 37%, and Atlas Shrugged sales were at 120,000. By 2006, the top 1% carried 40% of the burden.

Yet President Barack Obama has made it clear he would like to see the rich pay a greater share. Anyone irked at that prospect can find consolation in Rand’s fantasy, in which the most valued professionals evaporate from the work-place because of such demands.

The hard-money monologue of Rand’s copper king, Francisco d’Anconia, used to sound weird. Who even thought about gold in the early 1990s? Now, D’Anconia’s lecture on the unreliable dollar sounds like it could have been scripted by Zhou Xiaochuan, or some other furious Chinese central banker: Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a cheque drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked, “account overdrawn”.

Rand knew that government tends to drive the most productive economic figures away even as it pretends to utilize them. Today’s shortage of primary care doctors serves as an example. Various administrations, Democratic and Republican, have tried to nudge more medical students into primary care. Young doctors simply haven’t complied. That is in part because of the higher compensation of specialties. But it is also because the great charm of being a primary care doctor—autonomy to work in a range of areas—has been removed.

Rand foresaw this: Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce, says one of her characters. It is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man whose life they have throttled.

Long before managed-care existed, Rand was describing doctors’ frustration with it.

Most compelling is Rand’s understanding of how politicians’ lack of imagination can kill economies. Of all US governors, Arnold Schwarzenegger of California is the one who most resembles Rand’s outsized characters.

Yet Schwarzenegger seems to be missing the Rand gene. His policies are all pain and no growth. As the Randerati have been quick to note, California’s uncompetitive treatment of film production is driving Hollywood out of California. Yet Schwarzenegger moved disappointingly late to sign legislation that would even begin to address that problem.

Rand’s persistent heroine Dagny Taggart lectures a public official, but substitute Schwarzenegger for the official and the dialogue still makes sense:

Dagny: Start decontrolling.
Schwarzenegger: Huh?
Dagny: Start lifting taxes and removing controls.
Schwarzenegger: Oh no, no, no, that’s out of the question.
Dagny: Out of whose question?

In short, it’s time for all of us in policy land to tip our collective hat—though she detested collective anythings—to Ayn Rand. Politics today is proving dramatic enough to change even literary tastes.

Read the original article here.

Atlas Sunday Meeting in Mumbai

Dear Ayn Rand Admirers,

We have planned a Sunday Meet in Mumbai. Below are the details of the same:

Date: 14th June 2009
Agenda: To discuss "The Virtue of Selfishness" in view of Rand's philosophy. And an exclusive presentation of the "1974 Ayn Rand interview", followed by a discussion and a debate.
Venue: A45, Vijay Kunj, 3rd Floor, Opp New Model English School, Vakola Masjid, Santacruz East, Mumbai

Please come with your views and opinions. For and against. And come with an open mind to accept and reject. To agree to disagree..

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Is Ayn Rand relevant today?

In "Atlas Shrugged," Rand tells the story of the US economy crumbling under the weight of crushing government interventions and regulations. The novel's eerily prophetic nature is no coincidence. Economic crises and runaway government power grabs don't just happen by themselves, writes Yaron Brook in The Wall Street Journal.

Ayn Rand died more than a quarter of a century ago, yet her name appears regularly in discussions of our current economic turmoil. Pundits including Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santelli urge listeners to read her books, and her magnum opus, "Atlas Shrugged," is selling at a faster rate today than at any time during its 51-year history.

There's a reason. In "Atlas," Rand tells the story of the U.S. economy crumbling under the weight of crushing government interventions and regulations. Meanwhile, blaming greed and the free market, Washington responds with more controls that only deepen the crisis. Sound familiar?

The novel's eerily prophetic nature is no coincidence. "If you understand the dominant philosophy of a society," Rand wrote elsewhere in "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal," "you can predict its course." Economic crises and runaway government power grabs don't just happen by themselves; they are the product of the philosophical ideas prevalent in a society – particularly its dominant moral ideas.

Why do we accept the budget-busting costs of a welfare state? Because it implements the moral ideal of self-sacrifice to the needy. Why do so few protest the endless regulatory burdens placed on businessmen? Because businessmen are pursuing their self-interest, which we have been taught is dangerous and immoral. Why did the government go on a crusade to promote "affordable housing," which meant forcing banks to make loans to unqualified home buyers? Because we believe people need to be homeowners, whether or not they can afford to pay for houses.

The message is always the same: "Selfishness is evil; sacrifice for the needs of others is good." But Rand said this message is wrong – selfishness, rather than being evil, is a virtue. By this she did not mean exploiting others à la Bernie Madoff. Selfishness – that is, concern with one's genuine, long-range interest – she wrote, required a man to think, to produce, and to prosper by trading with others voluntarily to mutual benefit.

Rand also noted that only an ethic of rational selfishness can justify the pursuit of profit that is the basis of capitalism – and that so long as self-interest is tainted by moral suspicion, the profit motive will continue to take the rap for every imaginable (or imagined) social ill and economic disaster. Just look how our present crisis has been attributed to the free market instead of government intervention – and how proposed solutions inevitably involve yet more government intervention to rein in the pursuit of self-interest.

Rand offered us a way out – to fight for a morality of rational self-interest, and for capitalism, the system which is its expression. And that is the source of her relevance today.

(Dr. Brook is president and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.)
Read the original article here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Who’s afraid of Ayn Rand?

In this the novelist-philosopher’s centenary year in 2005, Sheila Kumar looks at life after the Howard Roark effect...

No one talks about the Howard Roark effect anymore. It seems to have got lost in the melee of MMs scandals, political intrigues, multiplex cinemas, rocking malls and the debate on whether Kolkata is dying, Mumbai is the maximum city or if concrete has finally buried the oleanders in Bangalore.

The Howard Roark effect is what happens to most people, of architectural as well as non-architectural bent, immediately after they read Ayn Rand’s 1943 bestseller, The Fountainhead. Howard Roark is the book’s carrot- haired architect, the man who will not compromise, who will never sell his soul, who dynamites his building rather than let it be redone to suit popular tastes. For all of six months to a year after reading the book, the Roark imprint makes the readers stand up straighter, walk in a purposeful manner, look people directly in the eye, act like men and women with values and principles.

After the six months or the year is over, the world comes rushing in. The walk becomes a shuffle, the figure starts to fall back into its comfortable slouch, and it’s hard to look people in the eye when you are cutting all manner of deals with them. "Values," the recovering Roark wannabe snarls, "doesn’t work in real life." The Howard Roark effect, often likened to a hurricane, has all too obviously worn off.

My philosophy 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 Russian-born cult novelist, Hollywood screenwriter, and founder of the philosophy she called Objectivism, was born on February 2, 1905 and died, at the age of 77, in March 1982. Garnering more brickbats than plaudits for her uncompromising stand on life and living, Rand nevertheless continues to feature in all lists, as one of the 20th century’s most read writers. A 1991 survey revealed that after the Holy Bible, it was Rand’s books that impacted people most; one cannot but help reflect wryly that coming in after the Bible would not have exactly thrilled the atheist author. The US Postal Service has released two commemorative stamps featuring Rand looking austerely glamorous. Closer to home, just about every roadside stall loaded with pirated books has copies of The Fountainhead and her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged, thus ensuring a wide section of the reading populace gets access to her works in the most economical manner possible. The Canadian rock band Rush has credited her with being their fountainhead of inspiration. There have been films and documentaries, Academy Award- nominated ones, on the life and times of Ayn Rand. The cult endures.

Objectivism is a take-no-prisoner system of values which celebrates individualism, reason and self-interest, and rejects the moral code that sacrifice, altruism and religion is good for the soul. Objectivism asks man and woman to live for the sake of himself/herself and not for others, to make his/her work the focal point of life and to develop a set of values; having developed which, never ever to compromise on them. Objectivism propounds a free market over communism; ironically enough, both use the same language when urging people to break free of the shackles.

Photographs of the woman behind this powerful philosophy show her to be short in stature, stocky, dressed impeccably, invariably holding a burning cigarette between stubby fingers and wearing the dollar sign as a lapel pin or brooch on her suit jacket. The gaze is keen, relentless, indeed what you’d expect from someone who has given us a series of tall and spare, quiet and uncompromising heroes and heroines like Howard Roark, Dominique Francon, John Galt, Hank Rearden, Francisco d` Anconia and Dagney Taggart. These architects, engineers, miners, builders, journalists, shape an Utopian world where everyone recognizes his rights and discharges his responsibilities, and where governmental shackles are minimal.

Do not let the hero in your soul perish.
Drawn in, held in absolute thrall by the world created in The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, her earlier and what some consider her most evocative work, We the Living, readers then graduate to Rand’s non- fiction works, wherein she lays out her philosophy cogently, books with provocative titles like The Virtue of Selfishness, Philosophy: Who Needs It, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. For someone who initially thought in Russian and learnt the English language even as she wrote Hollywood screenplays as well as her books, Rand’s prose is a veritable onslaught of ideas. All too often, the ideas take over the plot, making caricatures of some of her characters, who mouth improbably long sermons at unlikely places like parties. However, the reader understands.

Twenty-three years after Rand’s death, no one carries the Objectivist card overtly any more. One- time acolyte Nathaniel Branden who later became the author’s lover, Branden’s former wife Barbara who actually attempted a biography of Rand even as her marriage was being torn asunder, close friend Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan (who once sent this writer a note assuring her that he believed in Objectivist principles), seem to have all moved on, widened their philosophical base. Liberals shy away from her radical defense of capitalism, a defense that refuses to look capitalism’s flaws in the eye. The Right, of course, have always been alarmed at the author wearing her atheism on her sleeve. Feminists prefer not to debate a writer who is seen to be contemptuous of women wanting equality at home and in the workplace.

Leonard Peikoff who was designated Ayn Rand's sole legal heir, is now her self-appointed intellectual heir and attempts to keep the spotlight focused on Objectivism and its charismatic founder. The Washington DC-based Objectivist Center continues to disseminate Randian thought. On a lighter if inevitable note, `Who is John Galt` magnets, pins, mugs, T- shirts, are all available online from the John Galt Store.

I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction.
Objectivism found a resonance in India, too. In the 60s, Tara Malkani and her friends ran an Ayn Rand club based in Bombay, where Rand’s ideas were discussed and debated, her taped lectures circulated, documentaries and films were screened. In the south, a scion of the Travancore royal family, Lakshmi Bai Nalapat and journalist T.N. Gopakumar picked up the baton and started their own forum. Rand Readers’ Groups flourished across the country. While most of these groups have wound up, in Delhi Barun Mitra who heads a think tank called the Liberty Institute, has been holding the Fountainhead Essay Contest for high school students, for the past seven years. Liberty Institute marked the Rand centenary at its stall at the Calcutta Book Fair, with a special display of all the works of Ayn Rand; other events in the year include a contest based on Atlas Shrugged for university students, a Howard Roark Prize for a concept note with supporting sketches, on a temple to the human spirit.

Even so, has Objectivism run its course except in pockets? The wheeling and dealing that 'real life' involves, seems to have smothered the flint-edged theory of individualism. Rational discourse is not happening any more, alas. The religious Right foments passions and keeps them simmering. All around us, self-help experts and gurus expound the spirit of sacrifice and selfless giving; self- pride, self- confidence and self-esteem have once again, become tarnished words, tarnished concepts. Rand has been idolized by many, reviled by many more but no one has doubted the power of her ideas. A hundred years on, the ultimate tragedy is that neither the works of Ayn Rand nor her ideas come up for debate any more. That is not so much Ayn Rand’s loss as it is for that shrinking constituency, the thinking public.

[Sheila Kumar is a freelance journalist based in Bangalore.]
[A shorter version of this article appeared in Deccan Herald, Bangalore, March 27, 2005: here.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ayn Rand relevant today, speaker says

In an interview prior to a speech at University of Charleston, President and Executive Director of the Ayn Rand Institute, Yaron Brook, said that while the economy was doing well, "everybody seemed happy, everybody was buying a bigger home. But there's a percentage of the population that is skeptical about that. They want to know what the real answer is. For those people, Rand is very relevant," reports George Hohmann in the Daily Mail Business Editor.

Like when he says, "I'd like to abolish Social Security. Talk about a pyramid scheme! The only difference between Social Security and Bernie Madoff is, you're forced to participate in this pyramid scheme.

"I talk about Social Security in moral terms," Brook said. "If you didn't have Social Security, you would have responsible, rational people who would save and earn much more than they do with Social Security. And you would have an irresponsible group that wouldn't save. Social Security is a welfare program for irresponsible people, and that's what it should be called."

Brook is president and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, an organization that promotes the philosophy of the late novelist. Rand developed a philosophical system known as Objectivism. She stressed individual rights and unfettered capitalism.

Two books written by Rand - "The Fountainhead" (1943) and "Atlas Shrugged" (1957) continue to sell well today, Brook said.

Brook spoke Thursday about the morality of capitalism, Rand, and her enduring popularity at a meeting of the West Virginia Chapter of the Young Presidents' Organization. The event was held at the University of Charleston.

In an interview prior to his speech, Brook said that while the economy was doing well, "everybody seemed happy, everybody was buying a bigger home. It was like, 'Who cares - things are too good to care.' But with the financial crisis, a certain percentage of the population has turned to the government for solutions. But there's a percentage of the population that is skeptical about that. They're asking questions. They want to know what the real answer is. For those people, Rand is very relevant. A lot of people who read her work in college are re-reading it. Some people who said they knew they should read her work are picking it up.

"I think she (Rand) is the only one who can explain what happened and why it happened in basic, fundamental terms," Brook said. "This has to do with ideas that are much more fundamental than economics.

"If you look at the government policies that brought us to where we are today - a financial crisis caused by government - Rand would say it is because of the commonly held sense of what good vs. evil is. She said in the 1950s that if you continue to believe in altruism, which she called 'another -ism' - placing others above yourself, you are your brother's keeper - this would happen. Those are ideas she thought are opposite of capitalism, that would continuously eat away at capitalism."

Rand's work made news here in 2007 when Phyllis Arnold, BB&T Corp.'s West Virginia president, announced that BB&T would give the University of Charleston's Herbert Jones Division of Business a $350,000 grant over seven years to "create a program on the moral and ethical foundations of capitalism." Arnold said the program would be based on Rand's philosophy and her book "Atlas Shrugged."

John Allison, BB&T's former chief executive officer, "is a big Ayn Rand fan," Brook said. "He's been involved with the institute for many years."

In addition to the program at the University of Charleston, BB&T has funded programs at Marshall University, West Virginia University, Wheeling Jesuit University and about 55 other colleges and universities around the country. "Every major university in the southeast has a BB&T program now," Brook said.

The professors who teach "morality of capitalism with some 'Atlas Shrugged' woven into it" do so because they want to, Brook said.

"Kids love it. It is a provocative book. It gets people thinking. You can agree or disagree but you can't ignore it."

Asked if Rand was an atheist, Brook said, "Yes, she was - and I have been since the age of 6, before I read Ayn Rand. But more than anti-religion, she was for reason. She spends time on the positive. She believed the way to evaluate things in life and reality is through reason, rational thought. That's what we try to emphasize."

Contact writer George Hohmann at busin...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836.
Read the original here.