|Home Rand's Books Other Books Magazines Texts Biography Forums Websites Critics Miscellaneous Search Email Us|
|You Are Here: Home > Magazines > The Objectivist Newsletter (Summaries)|
|Stuck in another site's frames? Escape!|
The listing below briefly describes the contents of each article in The Objectivist Newsletter. Sample quotations are included for many articles. (In all cases, any emphasis in the quotes is from the original.) Items such as the "Objectivist Calendar" and the "Horror File" are not included in this list. In a few instances, complete copies of an article are available online. In those cases, a link is provided instead of a description.
Rand states that philosophical principles underly political issues: "A change in a country's political ideas has to be preceded by a change in its cultural trends; a cultural movement is the necessary precondition of a political movement." She identifies two contemporary US political issues as being critical: the effort by the FCC to regulate the content of tv broadcasts, and the antitrust laws. "Any person who claims to be an advocate of freedom and who wonders what practical action he can take, should choose these two issues as his first concern: they involve the fundamental principles of our culture."
In this brief excerpt, Rand argues that businessmen are discriminated against in American society.
Branden gives a positive review to von Mises' critique of government intervention in the economy.
Branden answers a question for the "Intellectual Ammunition Department" by explaining the Objectivist view of the relationship between reason and emotions. He says, "Reason and emotion ... are not two contradictory or mutually inimical faculties, but their functions are not interchangeable. Emotions are not tools of cognition."
In a three-paragraph excerpt, Branden discusses the Objectivist ethics.
Greenspan comments on the communist blockade of West Berlin.
Rand attacks US antitrust laws as non-objective and destructive to capitalism. "No business-hating collectivist could have gotten away with creating so perfect an instrument for the destruction of capitalism and the delivery of businessmen into the total power of the government."
Hessen gives a positive review to Hazlitt's book, calling it "the finest primer available for students of capitalism."
Peikoff explains why Objectivism rejects ethical hedonism, in reply to an "Intellectual Ammunition Department" question.
Branden responds to a question about why individuals should not be "subordinated and sacrificed to the interests of society."
Branden briefly answers a question about the importance of property rights.
This excerpt discusses the nature of love.
Rand criticizes the policies of the Federal Communications Commission and its chairman, Newton N. Minow. She is especially critical of his attempts to portray actions of private entities as the true censorship, while he attempts to extend government influence over broadcasters: "So long as people evade the difference between economic power and political power, between a private choice and a government order, between intellectual persuasion and physical force -- Mr. Minow has reason to assume that he can safely stretch their evasions all the way to the ultimate inversion: to the claim that a private action is coercion, but a government action is freedom."
Fertig's book gets a positive review from Efron, who calls it "eminently valuable."
Responding to an "Intellectual Ammunition Department" quesiton, Branden outlines the limits of co-operation between "rational advocate[s] of capitalism" and religious conservatives: "A rational advocate of capitalism can co-operate with religious people who share his political principles, but only in a strictly secular movement, that is: only in a movement that does not claim religion as the base and justification of its political principles."
In reply to a question, Branden rejects the view that "man's primary psychological need is to receive the approval and esteem of other men."
Branden rejects views of individualism that disagree with Objectivism's: "Individualism does not consist merely of rejecting the belief that man should live for the collective." This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness.
Rand gives a positive review to Fleming's book about antitrust laws.
Hessen discusses child labor, which he calls the "least understood and most widely misrepresented aspect of the history of capitalism." This article is reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
In answer to a question for the "Intellectual Ammunition Department," Rand states that a "fundamental aspect" of leading a rational life in an irrational society is to form and communicate moral judgements. "The moral principle to adopt in this issue, is: 'Judge, and prepare to be judged.'" This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness.
Rand critiques a statement by President Kennedy on "Protection for Consumers." The greatest threat to Americans, she says, is statist government, and Kennedy's "consumers' rights" should be applied to politics instead of to business. "What protects us from any private citizen who may choose to turn criminal and injure or defraud us? That, precisely, is the proper duty of a government. But if the government assumes totalitarian power and its officials are not subject to any law, then who will protect us from our protectors? What will be our recourse against the dishonesty, vindictiveness, cupidity or stupidity of a bureaucrat?"
Efron gives a positive review (with a couple of minor caveats) to von Mises' analysis of the motivations of those who oppose capitalism, calling it "challenging and informative."
Branden responds to a question about the "first cause" argument for the existence of God, which he rejects.
Rand analyzes the behavior of the Kennedy administration and others during a crisis over steel prices. She indicts business leaders for their unwillingness to stand up for individual rights, and Kennedy for attempting to make the non-objective preferences of the administration into de facto law. "'The ruler is angry!' was the leitmotif of the press comments, which proceeded to speculate on what Mr. Kennedy's displeasure might do to the steel industry and to all business, as if such concepts as 'rights' or 'law' had never existed, as if we were a country where the emotional moods of the ruler are of paramount public significance, where his frown or smile determines one's fate."
The link above goes to a complete electronic copy of this article. This article is reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
Peikoff crticizes various schemes for "socialized medicine" proposed or implemented in the US and elsewhere.
Branden distinguishes between altruism and benevolence: "Contrary to the pretensions of altruism's advocates, it is human brotherhood and good will among men that altruism makes impossible."
Hessen gives a generally positive review to Ekirch's book on the history of nineteenth-century liberalism.
In response to an "Intellectual Ammunition Department" question, Rand declares that one must never comprimise on moral principles. "It is only in regard to concretes or particulars, implementing a mutually accepted basic principle, that one may comprimise." This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness.
Rand blames contemporary problems in the US stock market on the Kennedy administration's attempts to extend government power over business.
Rand explains the principle that "there are no conflicts of interests among rational men," and discusses four considerations that are critical to understanding this issue: "Reality," "Context," "Responsibility," and "Effort." This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness.
In answer to an "Intellectual Ammunition Department" question, Branden rejects the claim that depressions are an endemic problem for laissez-faire economies.
Rand reprints her first column for the Los Angeles Times, in which she summarizes her philosophy. This article is reprinted in The Ayn Rand Column.
Rand reprints one of her columns for the Los Angeles Times, in which she decries criticism of the television show, "The Untouchables," as a sign of irrationality in American culture: "When a culture is dominated by an irrational philosophy, a major symptom of its decadence is the inversion of all values. This can be seen clearly in the field of art, the best barometer of a culture." This article is reprinted in The Ayn Rand Column.
Rand explains the influence of lobbyists as the end product of altruism and collectivism. "The motive power behind the suicidal bleeding of the greatest country in the world is not an altruistic fervor or a collectivist crusade any longer, but the manipulations of little lawyers and public relations men pulling the mental strings of lifeless automatons."
Branden gives a positive review to this collection of essays.
Branden rejects "psychological egoism" in this response to a question. "To be selfish is to be motivated by concern for one's self-interest. This requires that one consider what constitutes one's self interest and how to achieve it ... . If a man were not concerned with this question, he could not be said objectively to be concerned with or to desire his self-interest ... ." This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness.
Rand urges scientists to reject the idea that there is a dichotomy between science and ethics.
Rand reprints one of her columns from the Los Angeles Times, in which she praises Hugo's novel. "If you feel, as I do, that there's nothing as boring as depravity, if you seek a glimpse of human grandeur -- turn to a novel by Victor Hugo." This article is reprinted in The Ayn Rand Column.
Rand reprints one of her columns from the Los Angeles Times, in which she lauds Spillane as "one of the best writers of our time" and recommends his most recent book. This article is reprinted in The Ayn Rand Column.
Branden denies that human beings possess instincts, and attacks the concept of "instinct" as being scientifically unuseful and non-explanatory, even when applied to non-human animals.
In a reprint of one of her Los Angeles Times columns, Rand decries the hypocrisy of those who protest against war, but not against dictatorships. This article is reprinted in The Ayn Rand Column.
Rand reprints her thoughts on the life and death of Marilyn Monroe, originally printed as one of her columns in the Los Angeles Times. "If there ever was a victim of society, Marilyn Monroe was that victim -- of a society that professes dedication to the relief of suffering, but kills the joyous." This article is reprinted in The Voice of Reason and The Ayn Rand Column.
Branden introduces the concept of "social metaphysics," which he defines as "the psychological syndrome that characterizes an individual who holds the consciousnesses of other men, not objective reality, as his ultimate psycho-epistemological frame-of-reference."
Efron explains Keller's thesis -- that Western governments have subsidized the continued existence of Eastern communist states -- and strongly recommends the book.
In these excerpts from a lecture, Rand contrasts Romanticism and Naturalism in literature. "Just as a man's esthetic preferences are the sum of his metaphysical values and the barometer of his soul, so art is the sum and the barometer of a culture. Modern art is the most eloquent demonstration of the cultural bankruptcy of our age." This article is reprinted in The Romantic Manifesto.
Hessen discusses the impact of capitalism on women. He writes, "To appreciate the benefits that capitalism brought to women, one must compare their status under capitalism with their condition in the preceding centures." This article is reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
Rand denounces the results of socialism and the motivations of contemporary socialists. "No man of authentic benevolence could evade or ignore so great a horror on so vast a scale." The practice of building public monuments is singled out for special condemnation. "Temples and palaces are the only monuments left of mankind's early civilizations. They were created by the same means and at the same price -- a price not justified by the fact that primitive peoples undoubtedly believed, while dying of starvation and exhaustion, that the 'prestige' of their tribe, their rulers or their gods was of value to them somehow." This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness.
Branden discusses the failings of the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, and recommends Flynn's book on the subject.
In response to a question, Branden says, "The essence of parental responsibility is: to equip the child for independent survival as an adult." The child's responsibility in return is, "as he grows older, to understand (if and when it is the case) that much of what he receives, above the ordinary, is an expression of his parents' benevolence and affection -- and should be acknowledged as such in the form of reciprocated consideration and good will."
Rand argues that many discussions of ethics and politics are implicitly carried out on collectivist premises, with the result that the impact of proposals on individuals is ignored. "The hallmark of such mentalities is the advocacy of some grand scale public goal, without regard to context, costs or means. Out of context, such a goal can usually be shown to be desirable; it has to be public, because the costs are not to be earned, but to be expropriated; and a dense patch of venomous fog has to shroud the issue of means -- because the means are to be human lives." This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness.
The link above goes to a complete electronic copy of this article.
In response to a reader's question, Branden says that capital punishment is a questionable practice. "The problem involved is that of establishing criteria of proof so rationally stringent as to forbid the possibility of convicting an innocent man." The link above goes to an excerpt from this article.
Branden responds, "To claim that a thing is unknowable entails a logical contradiction."
This brief item explains the epistemological purpose of a definion.
Rand discusses what types of ethical principles apply in emergency situations. This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness.
The link above goes to a complete electronic copy of this article.
Branden argues that believing irrational ideas is damaging to a person's mental health. This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness
In this condensation of a lecture, Rand urges doctors to be uncompromising in their defense of their own individual rights in the political fight against socialized medicine. "The majority of people in this country -- and in the world -- do not want to adopt socialism; yet it is growing. It is growing because its victims concede its basic moral premises. Without challenging these premises, one cannot win."
Rand explains her theory of individual rights. "The principle of man's individual rights represented the extension of morality into the social system -- as a limitation on the power of the state, as man's protection against the brute force of the collective, as the subordination of might to right." This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
In response to a question, Branden rejects agnosticism as "the least tenable" position a person might take regarding the existence of God.
Branden argues that determinists cannot claim to have knowledge that determinism is a rational theory without contradicting themselves: "Thus, a rationally espoused determinism is a contradiction in terms."
After praising Aristotle himself, Rand gives a mixed review to Randall's book about him. This article is reprinted in The Voice of Reason.
Rand rejects the idea that there are "rights" other than individual rights. "Since only an individual man can possess rights, the expression 'individual rights' is a redundancy (which one has to use for purposes of clarification in today's intellectual chaos). But the expression 'collective rights' is a contradiction in terms." This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness
The idea of tax-supported eduction is denouned in this item for the "Intellectual Ammunition Department." This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness
In response to a question, Branden says that inherited wealth is neither morally nor politically significant in a free society. This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness
Branden summarizes the Objectivist position as follows: "... Objectivists are opposed to any legislation that abridges freedom of production and trade. We are, therefore, opposed to the 'right-to-work' laws."
Rand condemns the Federal Communications Commission and the efforts of its chairman to expand government power over broadcasting. "Such is the technique of all statists: first, you tie a man hand and foot; then, you complain that he is unwilling to move; then you put him in a strait jacket. (And then you declare that capitalism has failed.)"
While disagreeing with some of Friedan's political suggestions, Efron gives a generally positive review to the book.
Branden discusses "two errors that people often make in discussions or disagreements." One is ignoring obvious irrationality, on the assumption that anyone can be persuaded through reason, even though this is not always the case. The other is jumping to the conclusion that someone who disagrees with one's arguments is irrational, without first considering "the clarity and objectivity of one's own presentation" or that the other person may have made an honest mistake.
Declaring that "growth is a necessity of survival," Branden condemns political doctrines that oppose economic and social change. "Capitalism, by its nature, entails a constant process of motion, growth and progress." This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness.
Rand recommends Mason's book as clearly illustrating the problems with bureaucratic power and non-objective law.
Greenspan condemns "consumer protection" regulations on several grounds, including the fact that they are "gradually destroying the only reliable protection the consumer has: competition for reputation." This article is reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
Rand condemns racism as "the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism." This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness.
Despite reservations about some sections of the book, Branden praises it as being "of the first rank of importance" and "a major economic classic."
This printed speech by Rand explains her view of what fiction ought to achieve and what she personally attempts to do in her writing. She rejects Naturalistic literature as uninteresting and misguided. "That which is not worth contemplating in life, is not worth re-creating in art." This two-part article was completed in the November 1963 issue, and is reprinted in The Romantic Manifesto
Branden answers a question about why altruism appeals to those who do not benefit from it by noting that "altruism is the only ethical code most men have ever known." He also says, "It is harder to achieve self-esteem than to practice self-sacrifice."
Rand recommends that her readers register to vote as Republicans in order to support Barry Goldwater in his primary bid against Nelson Rockefeller, because of insulting, anti-capitalist statements made by Governor Rockefeller.
Hessen gives a generally positive review to Chu's book about the economic and social problems of Communist China.
The link above goes to a complete electronic copy of this article. This article is reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
In response to a question, this brief item rejects the idea that capitalism is not practical for complex societies.
Rand explains her definition of government, why it is important to have government, and what the limitations of government should be. This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
Branden updates readers on "the spread of Objectivism and its impact on our culture," including the sales of Rand's novels and the activities of the Nathaniel Branden Institute.
Rand says that collaboration and compromise with the forces of irrationality and collectivism is wrong and dangerous. "The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles." This article is reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
Hessen recommends Crocker's book about Franklin Roosevelt's relationship with Joseph Stalin during World War II, calling it "engrossing and powerful."
In response to an "Intellectual Ammunition Department" question, Branden distinguishes the Objectivist theory of free will as one which "locates man's free will ... in a single basic choice: to focus his mind or to suspend it; to think or not to think."
Branden discusses the psychological origins and ethical status of pleasure. This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness.
In response to an "Intellectual Ammunition Department" question, Rand suggests ways government could be financed without involuntary taxation. This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness.
In this very brief item, Branden thanks readers for their positive response to his December 1963 article on the spread of Objectivism.
Rand gives her views on how to evaluate candidates in electoral races, and specifically recommends Barry Goldwater in that year's US Presidential race.
Blumenthal gives a positive revew to Hoffman's book on multiple-choice testing, which he claims is a flawed method of evaluating applicants for educational admissions and scholarships.
Rand recommends private ownership of broadcast frequencies over the existing system of government licenses. "The number of broadcasting frequencies is limited; so is the number of concert halls; so is the amount of oil or wheat or diamonds; so is the acreage of land on the surface of the globe. There is no material element or value that exists in unlimited quantity. And if a 'wish' to use a certain 'facility' is the criterion of the right to use it, then the universe is simply not large enough to accommodate all those who harbor wishes for the unearned." This article is reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
In a follow-up to previous articles on free will, Branden responds to a question about choosing to think. "The choice to focus (or to think) does not consist of moving from a state of literal unconsciousness to a state of consciousness," writes Branden. "To focus is to move from a lower level of consciousness to a higher level ... ."
Branden responds to an "Intellectual Ammunition Department" question by stating that the Objectivist ethics does not hold that "one's only or foremost concern should be immediate, physical self-preservation."
Branden says that "men who fail to achieve self-esteem ... strive to fake it," and then gives a variety of examples of how this can be manifested.
Efron gives positive review to this book about how Russian spies obtained atomic bomb secrets.
Rand supports the existence of patent and copyright protections in response to an "Intellectual Ammunition Department" question. This article is reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
Rand says that moral judgements must deal in "black and white." "In morality, 'black' is predominantly the result of attempting to pretend to oneself that one is merely 'gray.'" This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness.
Rand identifies a category of fallacy for which the article is named. "[T]he psychological pressure method consists of threatening to impeach an opponent's character by means of his argument, thus impeaching the argument without debate. Example: 'Only the immoral can fail to see that Candidate X's argument is false.'" This article is reprinted in The Virtue of Selfishness.
Branden discusses the psychological and moral failings of those who fail to adopt or express unpopular ideas due to fear of being denounced or rejected by others.
In this lecture for the Ford Hall Forum, Rand compares contemporary events to those of her novel Atlas Shrugged. This article is reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
Rand introduces the idea of the "anti-concept" and uses it to evaluate contemporary political charges of "extremism." This article is reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
Peikoff recommends (with some caveats) three works on philosphy: Jones' History plus Philosphic Classics, edited by Walter Kaufmann, and A History of Philosophy, by Wilhelm Windelband.
Branden discusses the concept and application of "psycho-epistemology," which he defines as "the study of the mental operations that are possible to and that characterize man's cognitive behavior."
In a review marking the republication of Paterson's book, Rand recommends it, although with some reservations.
Rand gives a negative review to Mickey Spillane's novel, Day of the Guns.
In this brief item, Rand warns that Senator Goldwater is likely to be defeated in the US Presidential election.
Rand reprints the introduction to her essay collection.
In this very brief item, Rand thanks her readers for their numerous submissions of material for the "Horror File."
Rand dissects the failings of Barry Goldwater's Presidential campaign. "It is too late for the 'conservatives.' There is nothing left to 'conserve.' It was too late for them in the election of 1932. It was much later than they thought. But for us -- for the radical advocates of capitalism -- it is merely the beginning."
Branden describes the progress of Objectivism in the past year, with a focus on the achievements of the Nathaniel Branden Institute and The Objectivist Newsletter. "The power of Objectivism, as a future cultural movement, lies in the fact tht its adherents are the one group today whose intellectual fire has not been extinguished ... and who are moved by an authentic moral enthusiasm."
Rand discusses Romanticism and Naturalism in popular literature, movies and television. This article is reprinted in The Romantic Manifesto.
Branden expands on his theory of "social metaphysics" and describes several distinct variants of this "psychological disorder from which the majority of men suffer in varying degrees of intensity and destructiveness."
Responding to an "Intellectual Ammunition Department" question, Rand explains that each individual must make his own moral and political evaluations, based on the facts of reality. "The answer, here as in all other moral-intellectual problems, is that nobody 'decides.' Reason and reality are the only valid criteria of political theories. Who determines which theory is true? Any man who can prove it." This article is reprinted in The Voice of Reason.
Rand explains the importance of art as a representation and reminder of our highest moral ideals, and warns of that turning away from the art one loves is a sign that one is betraying those ideals. This article is reprinted in The Romantic Manifesto.
Rand discusses "the psycho-epistemological function of art." This article is reprinted in The Romantic Manifesto.
Branden discusses the status of various people and groups who claim to support Objectivism: "We suggest ... that one never give one's intellectual or material support to any organization or activity merely on the grounds of its leaders' professed agreement with Objectivism. Tags or labels are not adequate criteria. Each case should be judged on its own merits -- on the basis of objective evidence."
In this printing of a Ford Hall Forum lecture, Rand says that Lyndon Johnson's efforts at "government by consensus" represent a movement towards fascism in the United States. This article is reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
With some "minor reservations," Anderson recommends this book.
Besides "Horror File" and "Objectivist Calendar" items, the only article in this issue is the continuation of Rand's "New Fascism" article from the previous issue.
Rand analyzes student rebellions at the Univeristy of California at Berkeley, and says that they are the natural result of the ideas taught to those students. "If a dramatist had the power to convert philosophical ideas into real, flesh-and-blood people and attempted to create the walking embodiments of modern philosophy -- the result would be the Berkeley rebels." This article is reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal and Return of the Primitive.
Branden discusses the psychological concept of "alienation." This article is reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal It is also reprinted, with some changes, in Branden's book The Disowned Self.
Besides "Horror File" and "Objectivist Calendar" items, this issue contains only continuations of Rand's and Branden's articles begun in the previous issue.
Besides "Horror File" and "Objectivist Calendar" items, this issue contains only the conclusions of the three-part articles from the two previous issues.
Rand reacts to contemporary suggestions that the term "capitalism" should be abandoned because it is viewed negatively by many. She suggests instead that the label "capitalism" should be considered a "badge of nobility." This article is reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
Meltzer gives a mostly positive review to Crane's book about how socialists use education as a means of spreading their political views.
Rand explains what capitalism is and why it is the only moral social system. "Of all the social systems in mankind's history, capitalism is the only system based on an objective theory of values." This article is reprinted in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.
Branden discusses psychological maturity in response to an "Intellectual Ammunition Department" question. "The first and basic index of psychological maturity is the ability to think in principles."
Branden recounts a number of events in the world of Objectivism during that year, ranging from a government offer to preserve Rand's manuscripts in the Library of Congress to plans to develop a "national psychotherapy referral system" for Objectivist therapists.
Rand tentatively recommends a new magazine called Persuasion to her readers.
The philosophy of Ayn Rand, the late Russian-American novelist and philosopher, is known as Objectivism. The Objectivism Reference Center provides resources about Rand, her ideas, her works, and places where those are discussed and debated. Visit the Site Information page for details on site policies. Suggestions for additional materials or additional links are welcomed.
Copyright © 1999-2009 by Richard Lawrence. All rights reserved.