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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Book: Goddess of the Market

Last week, Jon Stewart interviewed Jennifer Burns, author of a new biography of Ayn Rand, Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right. Burns was reasonable, but made a few incorrect statements: Ayn Rand a "conservative"? [15:50] whose life mission was to defend the right? Actually, AR stressed that she was not a conservative, e.g. she couldn't stand Reagan, and The Fountainhead was not about political philosophy at all, but about the psychology and ethics of spiritual independence. Still, not a hint of the childish insulting tone from either Burns or Stewart that I was expecting (such as Colbert displayed about AR earlier this year). In fact, both of them seem genuinely impressed with AR. So thumbs up to Stewart for intellectual honesty here.

Today, Burns has an article on, Howard Roark in New Delhi. This is an interesting description of the popularity of AR in India. But this time Burns labels AR with "libertarianism." Actually, AR stressed that she was not a libertarian, calling libertarianism "a mockery of philosophy and ideology" which often plagiarizes her without credit.

So, Burns seems to be generally intellectually honest from what I've seen so far, and may intend to be objective about AR's political thought -- but she doesn't or can't distinguish between the Objectivist political philosophy and two movements that are profoundly incompatible with Objectivism, as has been described many times by many people, including AR.

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