The Objectivist

The Objectivist cover Through the 1960s and early ’70s, Ayn Rand edited and published a series of monthly periodicals. The first of these was The Objectivist Newsletter, which ran from January 1962 to December 1965. The growth and success of the newsletter over its four-year run justified expanding it to a magazine format under the title The Objectivist.

The Objectivist magazine was published from January 1966 to September 1971 (when it was replaced by a biweekly newsletter called The Ayn Rand Letter.) This 1120-page volume reproduces the entire contents of each issue.

Like the Newsletter, the focus ofThe Objectivist 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.”

Some of Rand’s most important pieces of nonfiction writing first appeared in her magazine. For example, her monograph Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, which presents her revolutionary theory of concepts, was first published in installments in the July 1966 through February 1967 issues.

What is striking about the articles in The Objectivist is the range of topics addressed by Rand and the contributing writers under her editorial supervision: from theoretical essays on metaphysics and epistemology—to articles applying Objectivism to fields as diverse as psychology, history, education, science, politics and economics—to articles commenting on concrete news events such as the 1969 moon landing. Numerous articles present Rand’s distinctive philosophy of art, and apply it by analyzing cultural trends in theater, film and literature.

While most of Rand’s articles have been reprinted elsewhere, many of those from contributing writers have not. (The most substantial of her cultural commentaries not available anywhere else is her analysis of the 1968 presidential race that brought Richard Nixon to the White House.)

In addition, aficionados of Rand’s philosophy will find it fascinating to peruse certain regular features of The Objectivist. There are occasional editorial reports on the spread of Objectivism in the culture and on college campuses. And the “Objectivist Calendar” listed upcoming events such as lectures and TV and radio appearances by Rand and her associates. While such items are undoubtedly dated, they nevertheless offer a glimpse into the history of Objectivism as an intellectual movement.

One unique regular feature in The Objectivist was a series of excerpts “From the ‘Horror File,’”—a collection of quotations sent in by readers illustrating the horrific state of contemporary ideas and culture. Its purpose was “to illustrate the tie, ignored by too many people, between the present state of the culture and its philosophical roots—to demonstrate that today’s intellectual trends are as bad as we charge (or worse)—to indicate the kind of ideas that have to be fought and to remind you that the battle lies in the field of ideas.” Examples of items from the “Horror File” include the following:

“Chrysler Corporation recently broke ground for its Turkish plant by having a Moslem holy man slaughter a ram on the site. Rain washed the animal’s blood into the ground—a good omen, according to Chrysler.” The Wall Street Journal, December 15, 1966.
“In most cases, there is a simple rule for doing the right thing—when in doubt, take the alternative that is less pleasing to your ego.” Sydney J. Harris, “Strictly Personal,” Chicago Daily News, February 2, 1967.
“Enactment of a supplemental Bill of Rights that will guarantee, among other things, the right to leisure and the right to be different . . . the right to sexual fulfillment, the right to health, the right to intimacy, the right to travel, the right to study and the right to altruism.” Rocky Mountain News. June 24, 1966.

(Hardcover; 1120 pages)

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