Mention the likes of Murray Rothbard, Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek in mixed company and you’ll probably only evoke blank stares. But mention Ayn Rand – especially around academic types – and you’re almost certain to ruffle some feathers.
Why is this? Well, for starters, Ayn Rand was a novelist. Someone whose feathers are easily ruffled isn’t likely to wade through a book such as A History of Money and Banking in the United States in search of things to take umbrage with. But Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead are a touch more accessible than economics textbooks, so they don’t just connect with people who hate their message. They’re feared for the impact they might have on the average Joe.
Ayn Rand was also a victim of the worst excesses of communism. She could attest with crystal clarity what kind of miserable state the socialists and their ilk want for us, because she was born in it. Criminals seldom want eyewitnesses walking around telling people about their crimes; surely, much of the ire that has been pointed at Rand comes from that same line of thinking.
But the main thing that the female, non-Christian refugee really did to kick the hornet’s nest of academia is this: She offered an ethical basis for individualism. She didn’t just argue that the state has no ethical grounds for enforcing our moral obligations to one another. She showed that those moral obligations never existed in the first place. Very dangerous indeed, when your ideology demands its subjects to forfeit their rights in support of the greater good, to have Rand running around claiming the “greater good” is complete and utter hogwash.
It probably doesn’t help that Rand’s books have sold over 30 million copies, either. That fact alone must make the average college professor seethe, because their intersectional analysis of gender-fluid gobbledegook is selling about as well as road salt in Ecuador.