What sells

Abhishek and K.M. have already commented on this idiotic NYT “book review.” But Jeff Tucker at the Mises blog says it best

Whatever your opinion of her work, it is a great thing to encounter a figure who believed very seriously in the notion that what you believe about the world really matters. In fact, she arguably took this notion too far, believing that ideas are the foundational source of all ownership – even to the point of owning the ideas themselves. The book that draws attention to this is Goddess of the Market by Jennifer Burns. This book caused my own admiration of what she accomplished to go way up. To me, this book is a model of what a serious biography of a serious person should be like.

In contrast, there is Ayn Rand and the World She Made, by Anne Heller of Esquire and Redbook, a book that focuses on Rand’s sex life and loves and any other prurient details she can dig up at the expense of the ideological core of Rand and her life. The author apparently can’t conceive of the possibility that Rand’s life was really all about ideology and ideas and why they matter. So guess which book gets the headlines in the New York Times while Burns’s serious work is relegated to a parenthetical statement? To ask the question is to answer it.

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Comments

  • you12  On November 3, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    She is a scapegoat. For both the right and the left. She was no ‘rolemodel’ but a scapegoat she was not. Her work is more mainstream than say Rothbard. And that is her boon and ban.

    In these times-Rand can serve both as an idol of ‘Greed’ and ans an idol of ‘productivity’. Although I don’t believe it has anything to do with her. Mainly because there is no clear distinction between the right and the left.

    Looking around I also found this review-albeit of the Burns’ book.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On November 3, 2009 at 7:26 pm

      The mainstream press has never been interested in intellectual debate. Its easy to attack Rand on the basis of her personality and eccentricities; not so easy to talk about her ethics and politics. Anyone who delves deep into it will find some flaws in the same, but one doesn’t expect the mainstream press to do that. “She was a greedy pig!” and “Rand = Greenspan = Federal Reserve = Laissez-faire capitalism” are considered to be brilliant arguments as far as they are concerned.

      Rothbard, like many others, was fascinated by her. But the claustrophobic atmosphere around her, and the plagiarism charge leveled on him regarding his paper “The Mantle of Science” led him to break away. And he never forgave her after that. But he did maintain his natural rights based political philosophy till the end. He might not be mainstream, but his views are just as radical as those of Rand, at least when it comes to political philosophy.

  • you12  On November 3, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    I think the MSM is interested in debates where the conclusions are pre-decided.

    Discussion about Ethics and principles have long gone from this age. it is actually fashionable to say ‘above ideology’. I do believe what Chomsky says, the press manufactures consent for the state. As such people like Rand and Rothbard serve a purpose. Either quote them selectively or ridicule them baselessly.

    Rothbard certainly was radical but he never wrote fiction that would appeal to the commons. His books unless you are already interested in philosophy and ethics won’t appeal. Rand did appeal-her story had villains and heroes. Thats why she is more mainstream. Plus she had press value. An immigrant Jewish woman with turbulent personal life and on the other hand a normal Jewish economist.

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