After publishing Atlas Shrugged in 1957, Ayn Rand turned her focus to writing nonfiction. Over the next twenty-five years, she generated articles that would fill all or part of seven nonfiction books.1 Most of those articles were published first in one of her three periodicals: the Objectivist Newsletter (1962–65), The Objectivist (1966–71) and the Ayn Rand Letter (1971–76).
But beyond the intellectual riches in those seven published anthologies are many forgotten treasures in the pages of her periodicals. Reading them permits a deeper appreciation of Rand’s unique philosophic mind, her penetrating insights on unfolding cultural trends, and her wide-ranging intellectual curiosity.
This article highlights some of the valuable content that’s accessible by purchasing physical bound volumes of those periodicals — not only the gems from Rand’s own hand but also the enlightening materials by other authors she handpicked and editorially supervised. Highlights are arranged topically rather than chronologically, with a brief indication of the source periodical (using initials: TON, TO and ARL) and date of publication.
Ayn Rand on cultural trends and politics
A wealth of non-anthologized writing by Rand herself is available, including nineteen full-length articles dealing with politics and cultural trends.
On threats to freedom of speech
Six articles reflect Rand’s sustained interest in protecting the right of free speech against threats from the Federal Communications Commission, antitrust laws, the Supreme Court, and conservative thinkers.
- “Choose Your Issues” (TON January 1962): Broadcast regulations and antitrust law, Rand argues, are the most important current political issues because they involve “the fundamental principles of our culture” — intellectual freedom and economic freedom.
- “‘Have Gun, Will Nudge’” (TON March 1962): Rand examines the ideas and methods that allow bureaucrats from the Federal Communications Commission to violate freedom of speech in a mixed economy.2
- “Vast Quicksands” (TON July 1963): Rand analyzes a proposal to replace the Federal Communications Commission with a single “czar” empowered to decide what should be broadcast over airwaves in the “public interest.”
- “Thought Control” (ARL three issues starting September 24, 1973): Rand discusses the dangerous consequences of Supreme Court decisions allowing censorship based on “community standards.”
- “Ideas v. Goods” (ARL February 25, 1974) and “Ideas v. Men” (April 22, 1974): The intellectual emptiness of conservativism is revealed, Rand argues, by a conservative economist’s attack on freedom of the press.
On the advance of statism and the “mixed economy”
Eight other articles chronicle the march of statism by dissecting the effects of other economic regulations and transfer programs resulting from a mixed economy, including “consumer protection” laws, wage and price controls, energy regulations and hunger programs.
- “Who Will Protect Us from Our Protectors?” (TON May 1962): Rand points to the dangers of statism and nonobjective law as exemplified by the legislators and bureaucrats pushing for “consumer protection” laws.3
- “‘The National Interest, c’est moi’” (TON June 1962): Rand analyzes President Kennedy’s intimidation of steelmakers who defied his decree that raising their prices would not be in the “national interest.”4
- “Account Overdrawn” (TON July 1962): Rand explains the “grim justice” behind the stock market’s recent fall, attributing it to government bullying of industry.
- “The Moratorium on Brains” (ARL two issues starting October 25, 1971): Rand examines the causes and consequences of President Nixon’s wage-price freeze.
- “A Nation’s Unity” (ARL three issues starting November 9, 1972): Using examples from George McGovern’s presidential campaign, Rand explains why statism is the great destroyer of national unity whereas the principle of individual rights is the only source of genuine unity.
- “The Principals . . . and the Principles” (ARL three issues starting June 18, 1973): Rand discusses the accused and the accusers in the Senate Watergate hearings and explains how Watergate illustrates the nature of a mixed economy.
- “The Energy Crisis” (ARL two issues starting November 5, 1973): Government controls, Rand argues, are strangling America’s spiritual and material energy supplies.
- “Cashing In on Hunger” (ARL August 12, 1974): Rand discusses the campaign to push the U.S. into assuming the burden of feeding the whole world.
On “polarization,” the Watergate Scandal, Nixon in China
In everything she wrote, Rand exposed and explained the philosophical causes of current events. But in a few of these articles she explained in more detail the dangers posed by conceptual distortions, smear campaigns, pragmatism and altruism.
- “Credibility and Polarization” (ARL October 11, 1971): Amid widespread complaints that “polarization” is harming political discourse, Rand examines the tactics used to obliterate dissent on fundamental principles.
- “The Disenfranchisement of the Right” (ARL December 20, 1971): Rand dissects the smear campaign against Supreme Court nominee William H. Rehnquist.
- “The Shanghai Gesture” (ARL three issues starting March 27, 1972): Rand explains why President Nixon’s visit to China resulted in philosophical defeat.
- “Brothers, You Asked for It!” (ARL two issues starting April 9, 1973): The philosophy of pragmatism, Rand argues, was the basic cause of the Watergate scandal.
- “Moral Inflation” (ARL three issues starting March 11, 1974): Rand identifies the morality of altruism as the major source of America’s demoralization.5
On evaluating presidential candidates
In several other articles, varying in length, Rand deals specifically with presidential politics:
- “A Suggestion” (TON October 1963), urging readers to register as Republicans so they can influence the struggle between Nelson Rockefeller and Barry Goldwater for the party’s presidential nomination;
- “How to Judge a Political Candidate” (TON March 1964), in which Rand offers general principles and concludes that “Barry Goldwater is the best candidate in the field today”;
- “Special Note” (TON October 1964), pointing out significant problems in Goldwater’s campaign;
- “It Is Earlier than You Think” (TON December 1964), ascribing the Goldwater campaign’s failure to a lack of principles;
- “The Presidential Candidates, 1968” (June 1968), discussing Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey and George Wallace;
- “The Dead End” (ARL July 3, 1972), examining the explicit statism of presidential candidate George McGovern’s policies;
- “A Preview” (ARL three issues starting July 31, 1972), discussing the New Left’s takeover of the Democratic National Convention and Platform;
- “The American Spirit” (ARL November 20, 1972), characterizing the Nixon election landslide as a nation’s rebellion against statism;
- “A Last Survey” (ARL November–December 1975), discussing the 1976 presidential candidates and urging readers to reject the candidacy of Ronald Reagan, a conservative “in the worst sense of that word.”
On art and literature
Six of Rand’s other articles deal with art and literature:
- “Capuletti” (TO December 1966), Rand’s glowing assessment of a young Spanish painter;
- “Introduction to ‘Calumet K’” (TO October 1967), discussing Rand’s favorite novel;
- “Introductory Note to ‘The Man Who Laughs’” (TO December 1967), Rand’s take on one of Victor Hugo’s best novels;
- “Introduction to ‘The Fountainhead’” (TO March 1968), on the twenty-fifth anniversary of publication of Rand’s first best seller;
- “Introduction to ‘Night of January 16th’” (TO April 1968), telling the backstory of Rand’s breakout stage play from the 1930s;
- “Perry Mason Finally Loses” (ARL July 30, 1973), detailing the obliteration of an intelligent, dignified TV hero.
In addition, Rand filed a “Book Report” (TON October 1964) panning the latest novel by Mickey Spillane, whom she had praised for his earlier novels. A special note is appropriate for an article under the byline of Rand’s husband, Frank O’Connor, “as told to” Ayn Rand. It’s a review of a memoir by the actress Lillian Gish: The Movies, Mr. Griffith and Me. This lengthy article not only reviews the book but also interweaves personal recollections and evaluations of the motion picture industry by O’Connor (who worked as an actor in this period) and, one can surmise, by Rand herself.
Brief notes and book reviews
Rand also published brief comments about the Apollo 8 astronauts’ prayers from space (TO November 1968), the Pueblo incident and the New York abortion law (TO February 1969), student violence (TO March 1969), and the shocking refusal of asylum to a Lithuanian sailor (TO January 1971).
Five non-anthologized articles contain Rand’s own reviews of books and movies: Ten Thousand Commandments by Harold Fleming (TON April 1962) and The Language of Dissent by Lowell B. Mason (TON August 1963), two books on American antitrust law; The God of the Machine by Isabel Paterson (TON October 1964), a “brilliant and extraordinary book” on political philosophy that “narrowly misses greatness”; Poverty Is Where the Money Is by Shirley Scheibla (TO August 1969), an exposé of the Johnson administration’s War on Poverty, with many examples of altruism’s evils; and “The War of Liberation in Hollywood” (TO June 1969) (cowritten with Erika Holzer), reviewing three movies: Charly, Bullitt and 2001: A Space Odyssey. These articles are worth further analysis in a separate article.
On the spread of Objectivism
The volumes also contain items relevant to Rand’s life and the Objectivist movement. “To Whom It May Concern” (TO May 1968) contains Rand’s explanation for permanently repudiating Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden. Several articles contain statements of policy concerning the use of Rand’s name and that of her philosophy, Objectivism, as well as the relationship between Rand and the public. In a note, Rand applauds the approach to intellectual activism described in a letter from a reader. There are also comments on the ending of The Objectivist and the ending of the Ayn Rand Letter.
Articles by Leonard Peikoff
Leonard Peikoff, who was Rand’s associate and friend for thirty years until her death in 1982, served as associate editor of The Objectivist (1968–71) and the Ayn Rand Letter (1971–76). He published excerpts in both periodicals from the manuscript in progress that he would publish in 1982 as The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America. Although superseded by publication of the final volume, some of those excerpts also feature introductions and postscripts by Ayn Rand.
The June 1962 issue of the Objectivist Newsletter contained a two-page “special supplement” by Peikoff called “Doctors and the Police State,” warning of the dangers of socialized medicine and urging readers to oppose the Kennedy administration’s King-Anderson bill, a progenitor of Medicare.
Peikoff also reviewed two volumes, A History of Western Philosophy by W.T. Jones and A History of Philosophy by Wilhelm Windelband (TON September 1964), and supplied an “Intellectual Ammunition Department” entry on ethical hedonism (TON February 1962). In the February 11, 1974, issue of theAyn Rand Letter he wrote a report on Ayn Rand’s visit to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to deliver the talk that would become “Philosophy: Who Needs It.”
Articles on free will, self-esteem and more
A number of essays in the periodicals discuss the Objectivist theory of free will, misconceptions and fallacies Rand had identified, and topics related to psychology. Rand’s coeditor on both the Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist was Nathaniel Branden, a psychologist. Although she thoroughly repudiated Branden in 1968, she specifically endorsed everything he had published in those periodicals up to that time as “authentic sources of information on Objectivism.”6 These were articles over which she had exercised complete editorial control; nothing was published without her prior approval. Among those essays are:
- “Benevolence versus Altruism” (TON July 1962), addressing the “disastrous confusion” that leads people to identify the deadly morality of altruism with benevolence, good will and kindness;
- “Social Metaphysics” (TON November 1962), discussing the psychological syndrome in which an individual holds other people’s consciousnesses, rather than objective reality, as his ultimate frame of reference;
- “‘The Stolen Concept’” (TON January 1963), discussing Rand’s identification of a fallacy that consists of “using a concept while ignoring, contradicting or denying the validity of the concepts on which it logically and genetically depends”;
- “The Contradiction of Determinism” (TON May 1963), explaining why advocates of determinism cannot claim for their doctrine the status of knowledge;
- “Pseudo-Self-Esteem” (TON May–June 1964), explaining how man’s need of self-esteem is demonstrated by the psychological wreckage resulting from failure to achieve it;
- “The Objectivist Theory of Volition” (TO January–February 1966), explaining the implications of the fact that, for man, thinking is an act of choice;
- “Volition and the Law of Causality” (TO March 1966), rejecting the doctrine of determinism and explaining how the choice to think is a first cause within man’s consciousness.
- “Self-Esteem” (TO March–June, September 1967), explaining why self-esteem is a basic need of man and why the conviction that one is competent to deal with reality can be achieved only by the consistent exercise of reason;
- “Self-Esteem and Romantic Love” (TO December 1967–February 1968), exploring the relationships among self-esteem, “sense of life” and romantic (sexual) love.
“Intellectual Ammunition Department”
Virtually every issue of the Objectivist Newsletter contained an installment of the “Intellectual Ammunition Department,” which answered questions from subscribers “that they find themselves unable to answer in philosophical or political discussions.”
Tap here for a list of the questions
- Objectivism advocates the moral principle that man should be guided exclusively by reason. But what about the emotional side of human nature?
- Why do Objectivists maintain that without property rights, no other rights are possible?
- What is the Objectivist answer to those who claim that the rights of the individual must be subordinated and sacrificed to the interests of society?
- What is the Objectivist view of the claim, made by many social theorists today, that man’s primary psychological need is to receive the approval and esteem of other men?
- Since everything in the universe requires a cause, must not the universe itself have a cause, which is God?
- Does man possess instincts?
- What are the respective obligations of parents to children, and children to parents?
- Is there any validity to the claim that certain things are unknowable?
- What is the Objectivist stand on capital punishment?
- What is the purpose of a definition?
- What is the Objectivist view of agnosticism?
- What is the Objectivist stand on “right-to-work” laws?
- How does one persuade a person who refuses to accept reason or logical demonstration?
- What is the psychological appeal of altruism for people who appear to be, not altruism’s beneficiaries, but its victims?
- What is the difference between the Objectivist concept of free will and the traditional concept?
- In the context of the Objectivist ethics, what is the justification for knowingly risking one’s life?
- With regard to the principle that man is a being of volitional consciousness, does not a man have to be thinking already in order to “choose” to think?
- What is psychological maturity?
- Should a rational advocate of capitalism co-operate with those “conservatives” who base their advocacy of capitalism on religious faith?
Many of the non-anthologized articles by other authors in Rand’s three periodicals featured reviews of nonfiction books, novels, movies, plays and television shows.
Tap here for a list of the reviews
- Planned Chaos by Ludwig von Mises
- The Roosevelt Myth by John T. Flynn
- Roosevelt’s Road to Russia by George N. Crocker
- Prosperity Through Freedom by Lawrence Fertig
- The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality by Ludwig von Mises
- East Minus West = Zero by Werner Keller
- The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
- The Greatest Plot in History by Ralph de Toledano
- The Tyranny of Testing by Banesh Hoffman
- The Democrat’s Dilemma by Philip M. Crane
- Economics and the Public Welfare: Financial and Economic History of the United States, 1914–1946 by Benjamin M. Anderson
- Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt
- The Decline of American Liberalism by Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr.
- Ta Ta, Tan Tan by Valentin Chu
- Citizenship Education by Joyce F. Jones
- The Federal Bulldozer by Martin Anderson
- Worker’s Paradise Lost by Eugene Lyons
- How to Raise a Brighter Child by Joan Beck
- Teaching Montessori in the Home by Elizabeth Hainstock
- Citizenship Education by Joyce F. Jones
- Emotion and Personality by Magda B. Arnold
- ESP: A Scientific Evaluation by C.E.M. Hansel
- The American University by Jacques Barzun
- The World of Andrew Carnegie by Louis M. Hacker
- Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development, 1917 to 1930 by Antony C. Sutton
- My Testimony by Anatoly Marchenko
- Omnipotent Government, Ludwig von Mises
- In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
- Capable of Honor by Allen Drury
- Preserve and Protect by Allen Drury
- Our Man Flint
- The Oscar
- Dear John
- Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
- Born Free
- In the Heat of the Night
- Tony Rome
- Reflections in a Golden Eye
- A Man for All Seasons
- True Grit
- The Good Guys and the Bad Guys
- In the Wild Bunch
- Midnight Cowboy
- Bonnie and Clyde
- I Am Curious (Yellow)
- Wuthering Heights
- Ryan’s Daughter
- Love Story
- War and Peace
- The plays of Terence Rattigan
- The plays of Henrik Ibsen
- The Great White Hope
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
- Man of La Mancha
- We Bombed in New Haven
- Tea Party and The Basement
- The Man in the Glass Booth
- The Final War of Olly Winter
- The People Next Door
- The Experiment
- The Whole World Is Watching
- Hunger in America
- Birth and Death
In writing Atlas Shrugged, Rand kept a “Research or Documentation File” consisting of “events and pronouncements which illustrated the intellectual state of our culture and reflected the influence of philosophy.”7 She began sharing them with readers in a recurring “Horror File” segment of the Objectivist Newsletter and The Objectivist. It featured verbatim quotations from newspapers, magazines, books, speeches, and other sources, each illustrating some profound error or irrationality in metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics, esthetics, education or psychology — the type of error Objectivism was equipped to correct.8 The “Horror File” merits further analysis in a separate article, especially to address Rand’s response to readers who craved a “good news” feature.
Almost every issue of Rand’s periodicals carried an installment of “The Objectivist Calendar.” For those interested in the history of the Objectivist movement, these entries provide a unique glimpse into the ways an intellectual movement spreads and grows in influence. Month by month, calendar items chronicle the activities of Objectivism’s spokesmen — their books (including sales figures), articles, columns, speeches, seminars, media appearances, courses of instruction — and a stream of events and activities by other individuals, all reflecting in some form a recognition of Objectivism as a cultural force. Reading through the periodicals chronologically, one gets the feeling of living through those heady years when Ayn Rand’s radical new philosophy was beginning to penetrate an intellectually bankrupt culture.
Ayn Rand’s periodicals are available for purchase as bound volumes from the Ayn Rand Institute eStore. The Objectivist Newsletter volume has 232 pages, The Objectivist has 1,128 pages, and the Ayn Rand Letter has 408 pages. All three are available in a bundle at a discounted price.
The best source of information on the creation and development of these publications is a lecture by Shoshana Milgram titled “Fifty Years Since the First Objectivist Periodical: Objectivism as a Philosophy for Living on Earth,” delivered at a 2012 Objectivist summer conference and available for purchase at the Ayn Rand Institute eStore.9
Readers seeking a superior print result may wish to download the free Just Read app.
Do you have a comment or question?
- Those books are: The Virtue of Selfishness (1964), Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966 and 1967), Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (1966 and 1990), The Romantic Manifesto (1969 and 1971), The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (expanded edition, Return of the Primitive) (1971 and 1999), Philosophy: Who Needs It (1982), and The Voice of Reason (1989).
- This article’s title refers to a popular television series that ran from 1957 to 1963, Have Gun–Will Travel, which recounted the fictional adventures of Paladin, a gentlemanly hired gunfighter who roamed the American West.
- This article was recently republished in the Ayn Rand Institute’s 2020 Annual Report.
- This article’s title refers to a statement attributed apocryphally to Louis XIV of France (1638–1715), the “Sun King”: “L’etat c’est moi.” (“I am the state.”)
- An excerpt from this article was published in Gary Hull and Leonard Peikoff, eds., The Ayn Rand Reader (New York: Plume, 1999), 103–14.
- Ayn Rand, “A Statement of Policy,” 7 Objectivist Newsletter (June 1968): 7.
- Ayn Rand “An Answer to Readers (About the ‘Horror File’),” 6 Objectivist (March 1967): 12.
- The “Horror File” feature appeared in 29 issues and contained 135 entries categorized as follows: metaphysics (7), epistemology (17), ethics (29), politics (37), esthetics (16), psychology (16) and education (13). An installment called the “Special ‘Horror File’” (TO August 1967) contained 23 entries on ethics gleaned from Peikoff’s manuscript in progress for The Ominous Parallels.
- Useful discussions of major points from many of the non-anthologized articles are available in Allan Gotthelf and Gregory Salmieri, eds., A Companion to Ayn Rand (Chichester, UK, and Malden, MA: Wiley Blackwell, 2016).