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Virtue of Selfishness - more influential than you thought

Rand Objectivism-influence

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#1 Jerry Biggers

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 10:49 AM

I have been reading Ayn Rand Nation by Gary Weiss, not exactly a supporter of Objectivism or libertarianism - but, besides the obligatory liberal-left distortions and put-downs, his experience in meeting with Objectivists in the course of writing his book - resulted in some admiration for Rand, the Objectivist movement, which he cannot resist reporting on.

For example in the Introduction and first chapter, he attempts to document some of the evidence of Rand's cultural influence, such as the sales of her books. Much to his surprise, Rand's non-fiction books have also shown a resurgence in sales. Here's what he has to say about The Virtue of Selfishness:

"Among the hottest sellers was her tribute to self-indulgence, The Virtue of Selfishness. This collection of dense essays, published in 1964, is one of the most popular books on philosophy and ethics in the English language. That's right, I don't mean one of the most popular books at the Ayn Rand Institute Bookstore in Irvine, California. I mean the English language. [ Italics are the author's]
...Virtue consistently ranks among the best-selling books on Amazon on the subjects of "ethics and morality," well ahead of conventional tomes...Virtue also usually ranks high in Amazon sales ranking of books on epistemology, the theory of knowedge."

The sales and influence that he documents for Atlas Shrugged are even more impressive.

#2 Selene

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 11:21 AM

Jerry:

This is why I carry, with pride, that I have never been silenced about my advocacy of Ayn's philosophy. As a city official, a school board member or at the dinner table.

This sticks in the lefts throat because they have never been able to stamp her ideas out.

Adam
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."

#3 Michael E. Marotta

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 11:46 AM

I'm impressed and enthused. Thanks, Jerry!

Mike M.
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#4 Dennis Hardin

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 02:08 PM

Thanks, Jerry. I'm also reading Weiss' book, and much of it is quite fascinating.

I posted some brief comments here.

#5 Jerry Biggers

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 11:54 AM

Thanks, Jerry. I'm also reading Weiss' book, and much of it is quite fascinating.

I posted some brief comments here.

It was the thread that you started on this book (with a link here) that got me interested enough to buy the book, which I had been inclined to ignore, since I thought it was just another standard lib/leftist attack. But it was your references to the author's discussions of the meeting between Kelley and Brook that got me particularly interested. From Kelley's account to Weiss, Brook's intent (apparently only revealed after the meeting started) was not to form any kind of cooperation or even discussion between the two groups. Rather, it was to persude the large donors (and there's not that many) to TAS to switch their allegience to ARI, essentially resulting in the dissolution of TAS so that Objectivism would be represented by just one voice, ARI's.

Brook brought along some of his big funders (such as Ellison) for the purpose of dissuading TAS contributors (e.g., their Board of Directors) to drop their support of TAS. Incidentally, Weiss expresses some shock that Ellison, who he knew, had participated in this manner.

Of course, there is a lot more in the book, some of it complementary and/or informative, but peridically, Weiss acts like he suddenly remembered "Hey! I'm supposed to be a Liberal! And that's who I am supposed to be writing to!," and then injects some gratuitous slurs against Objectivism. But, I don't think that he realizes that much of his material casts an aura of legitimacy and intellectual respectability to Objectivism, which is something that leftist journalists and academicians have strenulously tried to deny to Rand and anyone supporting some or all of her beliefs.

Regarding the ARIans, it's too bad that the book came out before Weiss saw Understanding Objectivism. I think that Peikoff's astonishing preface to that book would have earned considerable discussion, since he (Weiss) includes excerpts from Peikoff's similarly embarrassing letter to Anthem Foundation trustees, demanding that they force McCaskey out.

#6 Jerry Biggers

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 12:00 PM

Jerry:

This is why I carry, with pride, that I have never been silenced about my advocacy of Ayn's philosophy. As a city official, a school board member or at the dinner table.

This sticks in the lefts throat because they have never been able to stamp her ideas out.

Adam

And, obviously, the continuing evidence that the left (and some conservatives) have been unsuccessful in squashing interest in her ideas,... really pisses them off!

#7 Jerry Biggers

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 12:05 PM

I'm impressed and enthused. Thanks, Jerry!

Michael,

There's a lot more in the book that is favorable towards Objectivism (or can be interpreted that way). I believe that was not the author's intent (which he sporadically remembers, and hastily throws out a few slurs).

#8 Ninth Doctor

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Posted 19 March 2012 - 07:41 PM

But it was your references to the author's discussions of the meeting between Kelley and Brook that got me particularly interested. From Kelley's account to Weiss, Brook's intent (apparently only revealed after the meeting started) was not to form any kind of cooperation or even discussion between the two groups. Rather, it was to persude the large donors (and there's not that many) to TAS to switch their allegience to ARI, essentially resulting in the dissolution of TAS so that Objectivism would be represented by just one voice, ARI's.

Brook brought along some of his big funders (such as Ellison) for the purpose of dissuading TAS contributors (e.g., their Board of Directors) to drop their support of TAS. Incidentally, Weiss expresses some shock that Ellison, who he knew, had participated in this manner.


I don’t understand this. If Brook’s goal is to lure away TAS’s contributors, what good would a meeting with David Kelley do? Was he trying to get a donor list? I don’t see why he’d need to meet with David Kelley to get that.
Prandium gratis non est

#9 Jerry Biggers

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 07:14 PM


But it was your references to the author's discussions of the meeting between Kelley and Brook that got me particularly interested. From Kelley's account to Weiss, Brook's intent (apparently only revealed after the meeting started) was not to form any kind of cooperation or even discussion between the two groups. Rather, it was to persude the large donors (and there's not that many) to TAS to switch their allegience to ARI, essentially resulting in the dissolution of TAS so that Objectivism would be represented by just one voice, ARI's.

Brook brought along some of his big funders (such as Ellison) for the purpose of dissuading TAS contributors (e.g., their Board of Directors) to drop their support of TAS. Incidentally, Weiss expresses some shock that Ellison, who he knew, had participated in this manner.


I don’t understand this. If Brook’s goal is to lure away TAS’s contributors, what good would a meeting with David Kelley do? Was he trying to get a donor list? I don’t see why he’d need to meet with David Kelley to get that.

Sorry, I did not make myself clear. Weiss's book discusses this meeting between TAS and ARI leaders in the last several pages of Chapter 6 (pp.99-101, in my "Nook" version - where B&N has inserted a note, found when you consult the book's index, that this e-book pagination does not match the printed version).

It was not a meeting just between Kelley and Brook, but was attended by at least a few of the largest financial contributors of each organization. Weiss quotes Kelley as stating that there was no suggestion of force, but there was "an effort to convince our board members to switch sides and kill us by starvation of funds." This effort was led by Brook who tried to convince John Aglioloro (who funded/co-produced the Atlas Shrugged - Part One" movie) to drop his support of TAS. Another board member of ARI assisting Brook with this effort to get TAS Board members to "jump ship,"was John Allison, former CEO of BB&T.

Apparently, Brook's plan was not very persuasive to the TAS funders, but I think caused some resentment because the purpose of the meeting was supposed to be about how each organization could work together on some issues or projects, but Brook was not interested in any cooperation, but rather to cause the financial collapse of TAS.

#10 Ninth Doctor

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 07:19 PM

Sounds like they just don't understand that TAS exists for a reason. Or they don't want to understand.
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#11 Selene

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 08:58 PM

Sounds like they just don't understand that TAS exists for a reason. Or they don't want to understand.


Dennis:

These are the types of infighting that destroys effectiveness. It also plays comfortably into the hands of the folks who do not want change.

What a waste.

Adam
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."





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