The Objectivist Newsletter
Through the 1960s and early ’70s, Ayn Rand edited and published a series of monthly periodicals. The Objectivist Newsletter was produced from January 1962 to December 1965 (when it converted to magazine format under the title The Objectivist). This 224-page volume reproduces the entire contents of each issue.
The focus of the Newsletter was the application of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, to contemporary cultural issues and concerns. Its purpose was, in Ayn Rand’s words, “to provide its readers with a consistent philosophical frame of reference.”
Ayn Rand’s broad, philosophical perspective on the issues she discussed gives the articles in The Objectivist Newsletter—though written over 40 years ago—a timelessness and relevance transcending the journalistic details of their day. For example, in her article “‘Extremism’: or The Art of Smearing,” she extracts a profound epistemological lesson concerning an insidious and widespread misuse of man’s mind and concepts . . . from comments made by the candidates at the 1964 Republican National Convention.
Moreover, many of the journalistic issues discussed in the Newsletter are ones that, unfortunately, still appear all-too frequently in today’s newspaper headlines. The very first article of the very first issue, for example, discusses two political issues with which, in Ayn Rand’s view, the practical fight for freedom should begin: the growing destructiveness of antitrust law and the growing power of the government to censor speech.
To get an idea of the caliber of the articles, note that the material for Ayn Rand’s essay collections, such as Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal, was drawn primarily from the pages of her periodicals. For instance, her articles “Man’s Rights”) and “The Nature of Government,” which were included in the book The Virtue of Selfishness, were originally published in The Objectivist Newsletter (in the April and December 1963 issues, respectively.)
But while many of the Newsletter articles were later anthologized, many were not and are unavailable in any other format. For instance, in “Who Will Protect Us from Our Protectors?” (May 1962), Ayn Rand demolishes the notion of “consumer’s rights,” and in “How to Judge a Political Candidate” (March 1964) and “It’s Earlier Than You Think” (December 1964)—which discuss Barry Goldwater’s run for the presidency in 1964—she draws timeless lessons concerning the futility of pro-capitalist political efforts without a moral and intellectual defense of capitalism.
A unique regular feature of The Objectivist Newsletter was its “Intellectual Ammunition Department,” which replied to questions on philosophy and Objectivism from readers. Ayn Rand and her colleagues offered detailed answers to questions on such wide-ranging topics as: the evil of agnosticism, the nature of free will, the status of patents and copyrights, why capitalism is incompatible with religion, and how the government of a free society would be financed.
The Objectivist Newsletter also featured regular book reviews written from an Objectivist perspective—reviews of works by fiction writers as diverse as Victor Hugo and Mickey Spillane and of nonfiction works by authors such as Ludwig von Mises and Henry Hazlitt.
All these essays are indispensible reading for fans of Ayn Rand.
(Hardcover; 224 pages)