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From Mrs. Logic to Patron Saint of the Tea Party : The Changing Images of Ayn Rand

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abstract To the respondents of a survey by the Library of Congress in 1991, she is the author of the most influential book, second only to the Bible; to many conservatives, libertarians and Tea Party adherents, she was what historian Jennifer Burns dubbed “a gateway drug to life on the right”; to many scholars, she was simply the author of bad novels who paraded as a philosopher without a PhD and who did not get involved in the academic discourse; and to The New Republic, she is just one of the most overrated intellectuals: Ayn Rand (1914-1982), repeatedly believed to be no longer relevant, polarized during her lifetime and still does so today.
Thanks to the Tea Party movement, her ideas have experienced a renaissance, letting some even refer to her as an icon of the movement. This paper suggests, however, that self-professed admirers of Ayn Rand unwittingly perceive the atheistic writer, who had railed against traditionalists, conservatives, libertarians, allegedly leftist academics and intellectuals alike, as little more than a convenient libertarian pop icon. Their idea of Rand tends to be as overly simplistic as the vilifying portrayals by her former opponents and in popular culture.
The paper will retrace how the image of Ayn Rand evolved over time, and how it contradicts Rand’s actual positions and her own vision of what a public intellectual should be. It will first summarize Rand’s rise to fame and her perception of the intellectuals of her time. It will then analyze how Rand has become part of popular culture and how this has transformed her public image, turning her into a political icon appropriated by groups that contradict many of her ideas and values.
   
type conference paper (English)
   
keywords Ayn Rand; libertarianism; Tea Party movement; iconization; public intellectual
   
name of conference 3rd Public Intellectuals Conference (Harvard University, Cambridge, MA)
date of conference 14-4-2012
page(s) 27
publisher ---
review external review
   
citation Brühwiler, C. F. (2012). From Mrs. Logic to Patron Saint of the Tea Party: The Changing Images of Ayn Rand. In , pp.27: ---.