60 years ago today, Atlas Shrugged was published. The novel still sells 100,000 copies a year.
But not everyone will celebrate the book’s anniversary. Ayn Rand is someone people love to hate. Years after her death, people still feel compelled to attack her ideas.
A recent John Oliver segment said her philosophy, objectivism, “is just a nice way of saying ‘being a selfish asshole.’”
Fortunately, not all people think that way. Many young people, discovering Rand for the first time, say her ideas inspire them. Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, a free market advocacy group that promotes Atlas Shrugged on college campuses, says “it’s surprising how much appetite there is” for Rand’s ideas. Stossel challenges him, saying, “no, college students are socialists!” Kirk responds, “They’re not socialists… 60% say they think socialism is a good idea and then 70% say they don’t want to pay higher taxes and they don’t trust the government. They just don’t understand what socialism really is.”
Driena Sixto discovered Rand through Turning Point USA. “I brought to class a ton of laptop stickers that said ‘This laptop was brought to you by capitalism.’ Towards the end of the semester I had most of the class on my side.”
Jennifer Grossman, CEO of the Atlas Society, argues that it’s important to expose young people to Rand’s work because “Fiction is more powerful than facts.”
Facts matter more. But often it’s fiction that expands people’s minds and changes how they think.