Today’s Intellectual State

In this 1968 radio interview, Ayn Rand analyzes the deep divide between the American people and their intellectual leaders. Americans, she argues, are increasingly uneasy about their government’s intrusion in economic and private affairs, but their intellectual leaders fail to identify such intervention as a problem, to locate its causes or to offer solutions. “What the people are starved for,” Rand says, is “a consistent, rational ideology, instead of the insane, pragmatic chaos of pressure-group warfare, empty slogans and blatant hypocrisy in which we are now drowning.” Rand illustrates the consequences of the prevailing anti-ideology by discussing the Republican appeasement of liberals in the 1940, 1952 and 1968 presidential elections.

This program lasts 30 minutes.

The Wreckage of the Consensus

In this 1967 lecture, Ayn Rand discusses two prominent issues of the day: the Vietnam War and the military draft. Focusing on Vietnam, Rand argues against the morality of fighting a war that does not serve any national interest. Rand also explains how the military draft violates the rights of those conscripted. Relating both of these controversies to an earlier talk, “The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus,” she argues that current events demonstrate the fragility and inevitable breakdown of the alleged ideal of “government by consensus.”

The lecture lasts 48 minutes.

The Student “Rebellion” at Columbia University

In this radio program, Ayn Rand analyzes the 1968 student “rebellion” at Columbia University. Throughout her talk, Rand gives voice to a contrasting group of Columbia students that she believes should be heard — the Committee for Defense of Property Rights — by approvingly reading a series of statements they issued. These statements describe in detail the thuggish acts of the student “rebels,” argue that those acts are indistinguishable from the tactics of fascist groups in the 1930s, and critique the response of the university administration as appeasing and ineffectual.

Rand then adds her own observations and analyses, placing the Columbia protests in the context of other student “rebellions” of the 1960s. Assessing the philosophical principles of the students’ sympathizers, Rand argues that the political system actually advocated by the so-called New Left is fascism.

The program lasts 30 minutes.

The Structure of Government

In this radio interview, Ayn Rand discusses the purpose and proper structure of government, addressing such issues as the importance of a written constitution, the difference between a republic and a democracy, federalism, checks and balances, the judiciary, “one-man-one-vote”  and filibusters.

The recording lasts 30 minutes.

The Significance of the Goldwater Campaign

This recording combines two interviews bookending the 1964 presidential election contest between Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson. The first interview, recorded just days before the election, features Rand’s views on the candidates and issues, along with her advice on how to vote thoughtfully. The second, recorded the week after the election, offers her analysis of the election and stresses that the case for political freedom must be made through education and advocacy before it can be expected to influence political campaigns.

This program lasts 54 minutes.

The Psychology of Altruism

In this 1964 radio interview, Ayn Rand defines altruism as “an ethical system which claims that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that the sole justification of his existence is the service he renders to others, and that self-sacrifice is his cardinal basic virtue, value and duty.” Explaining why altruism should not be confused with kindness or respect for the rights of others, Rand addresses some of the psychological consequences of attempting to embrace an ideal of self-sacrifice. She also discusses whether anyone can consistently practice altruism, and whether altruism can be justified as self-interested by the claim that it makes one happy.

The interview lasts 30 minutes.

The Press in a Free Society

This recording combines two radio interviews in which Ayn Rand responds to questions from university students about the role of the press in a free society. Rand touches on a variety of topics including the role of objectivity in news reporting, the importance of freedom of the press, the immorality of laws requiring “equal time” for opponents of a broadcaster’s editorial policy, why media coverage of the Vietnam War was poor, why a free press is crucial for fair and public trials, and why government licensing of TV and radio stations is a form of censorship.

This program lasts 57 minutes.

The New Fascism: Rule by Consensus

In this 1965 talk, Ayn Rand discusses the “anti-ideology” of pressure group warfare and unlimited majority rule known at the time as “government by consensus.” Rand explains why America, “a country which does abhor fascism, is moving by imperceptible degrees — through ignorance, confusion, evasion, moral cowardice, and intellectual default — not toward socialism or any mawkish altruistic ideal, but toward a plain, brutal, predatory, power-grubbing, de facto fascism.”

The lecture lasts 54 minutes.

The “Robber Barons”

In this 1966 radio interview, Ayn Rand argues that nineteenth-century industrialists were unjustly vilified by the epithet “robber baron.” Pointing out the need to distinguish between businessmen who get rich by production and voluntary trade, and those who get rich through government favoritism and legalized coercion, Rand observes that all the evils popularly ascribed to capitalism were actually caused by government interference in the economy. Her detailed historical analysis centers on the transcontinental railroads, with discussions of coercive monopolies and the phenomenon of controls breeding more controls. She also argues that the antitrust laws are non-objective and unjust.

The recording is 26 minutes long.

The Nature of Rights

In this radio interview, Ayn Rand explains her theory of rights as a social application of morality, designed to ensure “those conditions of existence which are required by man’s nature for his proper survival.” The individual’s rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness, she argues, protect his ability to act on his own rational judgment, to choose his own values, and to keep the material product of his efforts. Rand addresses and rejects theories that rights are gifts from a supernatural power or from society. She also discusses the contradiction involved in asserting welfare rights to goods and services.

The program lasts 25 minutes.