The Objectivist
edited by Ayn Rand
& Nathaniel Branden

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson

69 issues, January 1966 - September 1971
collected in one volume —
Palo Alto Book Service; 1982
reprinted by various publishers
Ayn Rand Institute, Irvine, California

1104 pages November 2009

Philosophy & psychology; literature & culture

Ayn Rand opens the first issue of The Objectivist with a sharply pointed essay, "Altruism as Appeasement". After some miniature case studies of the often-alleged practicality of moral cowardice, she brings her discussion back to the critical importance of values:

An appeaser's professional success or failure, as well as the degree of his precarious psychological adjustment, depends on the slowness or speed of a process common to all appeasers: the erosion of his sense of values.

This magazine is a direct continuation of The Objectivist Newsletter, grown into a more professional format. The articles are just as good, and even meatier in philosophy, psychology, and literature; and in the analysis of society according to her philosophical principles.

Ayn Rand's foundational work in her philosophy, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, first appeared as a series in The Objectivist. I've always liked her paired essays on NASA's Lunar expedition and the giant Woodstock concert, "Apollo 11" and "Apollo and Dionysus". (Of course this is a Nietzschean distinction, about which I'll talk elsewhere.) "The Comprachicos" (child-buyers) is one of her most vivid and powerful essays. In fact, Rand listed these as among her own favorites of her articles here.

As in the Newsletter, some items were first delivered as lectures. These and the substantive essays in the magazine mostly can be found easily in Rand's book collections: Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, The Romantic Manifesto, and Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution; as well as Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology. So if you already have or intend to read those books, why might you be interested in the periodical issues of The Objectivist or its predecessor, The Objectivist Newsletter?

There are other articles, book and movie reviews, and shorter notices. The appalling tidbits of cultural news in the series "From the 'Horror File'" illustrate just how much work needed (and needs) to be done. Besides the bulk of items from Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden, contributors include Allan Blumenthal, Joan Blumenthal, Barbara Branden, Avis Brick, Roger J. Callahan, Alan Greenspan, Beatrice Hessen, Robert Hessen, Erika Holzer, Henry Mark Holzer, Susan Ludel, and Leonard Peikoff.

Fans of Ayn Rand's great novels who were looking for additional material discovered plenty here, as well as pointers to helpful literature, particularly in economics and philosophy. We have conveniently Rand's introductions to reprints of Merwin-Webster's Calumet "K" and Victor Hugo's The Man Who Laughs, as well as her own The Fountainhead and Night of January 16th.

I found particularly enticing the reviews of Martin Anderson's The Federal Bulldozer, Eugene Lyons' Workers' Paradise Lost, Allen Drury's Preserve and Protect, Ludwig von Mises' Omnipotent Government, and Shirley Scheibla's Poverty Is Where the Money Is. Such book reviews led many of the subscribers to extend their reading in new and delightful directions.

As with The Objectivist Newsletter, in the Calendar sections and other notices, the modern reader of The Objectivist also may acquire some of the atmosphere of the Objectivist movement as it struggled to mature, its literature growing solider, while many readers sparked by Ayn Rand's vision set out upon their own thoughtful and creative paths.


© 2009 Robert Wilfred Franson

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