|In reality, Ayn Rand is dead|
It’s been almost 25 years since David Fennario’s Black Rock Theatre brought a Karl Marx-waxing Joe Beef to the Pointe. Now PSC Community Theatre is picking up the torch. Don't expect to hear quotes from the Communist Manifesto, though. PSC’s next project is to be a production of ultraconservative Ayn Rand's first play, "Night of January 16th", the story of an individual's search for himself in a world of increasing moral decadence (http://www.psccommunity.com/Night-of/index.html).
Of course there are some truly great right-wing writers: Elliot, Pound, etc. Personally I’m quite a fan of the apocalyptic God-will-have-His-revenge-on-atheists-and-feminists novels of Flannery O'Connor.
But Ayn Rand? Failed screenwriter, second-rate novelist and theorist of objectivism,
That’s not to say that no one read her.
In the 1950s a group of graduate students began to dedicate themselves to the study of her work (at least one of them, Nathaniel Brandon, studied more than just her work, maintaining a rather morally decadent illicit affair with her). Though her accolades were few, they were from influential sources, including later Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan.
founded the Nathaniel Brandon Institute, which promoted Ayn Rand speaking tours, and later his colleague Leonard Peikoff founded the Ayn Rand Institute, which distributed Brandon Rand op-ed pieces to newspapers around the world. Over the last 20 years the ARI, as it is known, has found sympathetic ears in the corporate community and in right-wing politics. Rand believed in a totally free market and abolishing the state. She would, though, retain its repressive arms – the police and the judiciary – to protect us from moral decay. If this sounds like Stephen Harper’s electoral program don’t be surprised.
The growing number of institutions dedicated to the proliferation of Rand’s ideas have now amassed massive funds, created think tanks and embarked upon various projects that aim to make Rand’s views known, including the distribution of 700,000 copies of Rand’s books to high schools in the US (since 2005 a Canadian branch of the ARI has been doing the same here). Their success is palpable. A trip to any bookstore catering to a business crowd (a Reisman-owned megastore for example) will likely find a collection of
Rand’s works ten times larger than the next most popular philosopher.
So why is it that a community theatre in Pointe St-Charles has seen the need to promote someone who seemingly has so little to say to 2008? Is it because she’s considered a rebel, since she never gained formal credibility? Or perhaps it’s a just mark of our times, of community groups that have bought into the ideas of the dominant class, completely oblivious that those ideas have nothing to offer them.