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The Ayn Rand Cult

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  63 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Ayn Rand and her philosophical school, Objectivism, have had a considerable influence upon American popular culture, yet the true story of her life and work has yet to be told. In this book, Jeff Walker debunks the cult-like following that developed around the author of the classics Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead--a cult that persists even today.
Paperback, 350 pages
Published December 30th 1998 by Open Court
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Eric_W
This fascinating book reinforces an observation I have made over the years: that the ideas of individuals once institutionalized, become perverted and reinvented by those who claim to be the authentic followers of the guru who invented them. Certainly this is true of most religious leaders from Christ to Joseph Smith. It is happening to Robert Greenleaf, and it certainly happened to Ayn Rand, although in the case of the latter she may have had a hand in encouraging the transformation and idolatr ...more
Don Incognito
If you would like to know why you should probably read *about* Ayn Rand and her Objectivist philosophy rather than joining it, you can't go wrong with this book. It provides extensive and seemingly correct information on why Objectivism fits perfectly into the definition of "cult" and why Ayn Rand can fairly be called an intellectual bully and tyrant.
Based on the picture of Objectivist leaders' behavior, I can easily imagine current Ayn Rand Institute director Leonard Peikoff stridently condemni
...more
Donna Parker
Ayn Rand conjured up the cult of Objectivism, which to the best of my knowledge is a philosophy whose principal doctrines are: reality is a standalone of consciousness; one can attain objective knowledge from perception through the practice of concept formation and inductive logic; the apposite moral function of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness, sort of a rational egotism; human beings experience express connection with reality through sense perception; the only social system con ...more
Christopher
Ayn Rand's novels THE FOUNTAINHEAD and ATLAS SHRUGGED, fiction written to present the author's ideas to a mass audience, have been wildly popular among a certain demographic since their appearance. However, once institutes and organizations popped up around the new philosophy of "Objectivism", first Rand and then her successors have seemed to suppress dissent, shun those considered heterodox, and viciously attack other philosophers and political parties. In THE AYN RAND CULT, Canadian journalist ...more
Nadine
I had no idea that Ms. Rand was such a bully. Her relationship with her actor/husband is covered lightly. He was alcoholic. Nathaniel Branden ( a self-esteem psychologist licensed to practice in New Jersey for 30 days a year) was kicked out of the cult and publicly humiliated when he disagreed with the Mistress of Selfishness. The book goes into a great deal of philosophical byways involving cults, religion and economics. Concludes that Ms. Rand was a second-rate writer with a paranoid personali ...more
Brian
helpful antidote to Ayn Rand. Just in case you thought you were reading truly great literature in Atlas Shrugged. This will snap you out of it.
dejah_thoris
I am so glad to be DONE with this boring book! I started this thinking it would be an expose of the modern Objectivist movement (kind of like most of the Scientology and FLDS books I read) but it isn't. Instead, it's a discussion of Objectivism's evolution and leaders from its inception until about 1990. On the plus side, it is VERY detailed with separate long chapters devoted to each leader after Ayn Rand as well as long chapters on the philosophy as applied to romance, art, etc. Unfortunately, ...more
Rebecca
The argument that Rand's group is a cult is totally convincing, and the book is entertaining as a kind of pop expose. The detailed catalog of Rand's flaws, hypocrisies, and overall narcissism is pretty gratifying if you find her belief system as cruel and fascistic as I do. There's also a useful lit-review section that places her works in the context of conservative pulp fiction and business theories of the 1920s-1940s. The author seems to write from a libertarian perspective, so while I found ...more
Jon
Jul 23, 2011 Jon added it
This book is very badly written and the editing is worse. (Important figures in the book are often introduced by last name only, leaving the reader thumbing through the index trying to figure out who's being mentioned.) One especially egregious chapter offers a "counter-history" of Rand's life, imagining her later years if she'd done everything differently. I mean, who cares? Only one chapter, in which Walker discusses writers (including some you wouldn't have expected) who may have influenced R ...more
Elliott
I was hoping that this book would be more than it actually was. On the one side it's an excellent dissection of the Randroid cult of personality, but on the other hand I was hoping for a critique of her fiction and philosophy to accompany it. At the end however which bumped this book down a further one star was the chapter "An Ayn Rand who Might Have Been." This chapter did not fit in with the rest of the book at all, and really might have served best as a separate essay, or appendix. I personal ...more
Agger
OK book about the cult, a bit too one-sided.
Jennifer
This book blew me away...it puts forth the idea that the cult of Objectivism was based on Ayn Rand's quirks and dislikes with reality & that without it, she might not have been able to function normally in the outside world.
Ed
He makes some good points, but the argument really only applies to the 'inner circle.' The cult of Ayn is about as real as the Stonecutters on the Simpsons.
Fred

wildly relevant expose
Timothy
Ayn Rand was an idiot. But anyone who takes her seriously is a bigger idiot.
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