Saturday, September 15, 2007

New York Times on 'Atlas Shrugged' and Businessmen

By Joseph Kellard

The New York Times today published a generally positive article on how “Atlas Shrugged” is an inspiration for businessmen, particularly as a moral tract that justifies their self-interested pursuits.

I could tell right from its first few sentences, which are devoid of any snide adjectives, that the article would be generally positive: “One of the most influential business books ever written is a 1,200-page novel published 50 years ago, on Oct. 12, 1957. It is still drawing readers; it ranks 388th on’s best-seller list … The book is ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ Ayn Rand’s glorification of the right of individuals to live entirely for their own interest.”

Among those quoted in the article are Objectivist businessman John Allison, the chief executive of BB&T bank, and Jeff Britting, the archivist at the Ayn Rand Institute. The article also mentions Mark Cuban, owner of professional basketball’s Dallas Mavericks, and John P. Mackey, the chief executive of Whole Foods, and how “they consider Rand crucial to their success.”

One business executive, John P. Stack, is quoted as saying: “It’s the best business book I ever read. I didn’t do well in school because I was a big dreamer. To get something that tells you to take your dreams seriously, that’s an eye opener.”

Drawing on its opening sentences, the article later mentions how hundreds of thousands of copies of Miss Rand’s novels are sold annually in book stores and are provided free by ARI to high schools.

There’s no reason for me to repeat here some of the article’s low points, except to say they are few, minor and brief.

Overall, this is a positive piece by a newspaper that has mostly been unfriendly to Miss Rand and her philosophy. It certainly appears that the Times can no longer ignore the sustained and growing influence of her books. While publications such as Commentary magazine sense this and smear Ayn Rand at every chance, the Times, at least this time out, showed some respect for her books and devotees.

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Copyright © 2007 Joseph Kellard

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