The Objectivist Newsletter
edited by Ayn Rand
& Nathaniel Branden

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

48 issues, January 1962 - December 1965
collected in one volume —
The Objectivist, New York; 1967
reprinted by various publishers
Ayn Rand Institute, Irvine, California

224 pages November 2009

Reaching out to "Students of Objectivism"

From the beginning of her opening words in The Objectivist Newsletter, Ayn Rand hit the ground running with an ongoing column titled "Check Your Premises". This first one admonishes us to "Choose Your Issues". She points out that "a cultural movement is the necessary precondition of a political movement", and points to two important issues: censorship by the Federal Communications Commission, and the Anti-Trust Laws. Government controls on free speech and free enterprise of course have continued to expand to this day, to our detriment and danger:

... in the F.C.C. and in the Anti-Trust Division the government possesses the legal weapons to transform this country into a totalitarian state ...

There were not many far-sighted whistle-blowers writing thusly in January 1962.

Some of these pieces were first delivered as lectures. These and the substantive essays in the small magazine mostly can be found easily in Rand's book collections: The Virtue of Selfishness, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, and The Romantic Manifesto. So if you already have or intend to read those books, why might you be interested in the periodical issues of The Objectivist Newsletter or its continuation, The Objectivist?

There are other articles, book reviews, and shorter notices. Besides the bulk of items from Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden, contributors include Martin Anderson, Joan Blumenthal, Barbara Branden, Edith Efron, Alan Greenspan, Beatrice Hessen, Robert Hessen, Joan Meltzer, and Leonard Peikoff.

There is much more in this volume than the page count suggests, for these are 8.5x11-inch pages, with smallish print. Fans of Ayn Rand's great novels looking for additional material found (and still find) plenty here, as well as pointers to helpful literature, particularly in economics and philosophy. The series titled "Intellectual Ammunition Department" consists of fairly concise answers to readers' questions; some of these are quite illuminating. Particularly enticing are reviews of Isabel Patterson's The God of the Machine, Benjamin M. Anderson's Economics and the Public Welfare, and Ludwig von Mises' Human Action. Such book reviews led many of the early subscribers to extend their reading in new and delightful directions.

In the Calendar sections and other notices, the modern reader of The Objectivist Newsletter also may acquire some of the atmosphere of the Objectivist movement in its early years, as readers fascinated by Ayn Rand's vision began to find each other.


© 2009 Robert Wilfred Franson

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