I recall in the mid 1980's or 10 B.I. (Before Internet), as the Ayn Rand Institute was just being formed, about the only existing national connection to Objectivism was through the sporadically published Intellectual Activist. I then remember the excitement I had helping to form an Objectivist club in college and having the opportunity to bring in national speakers and host local meetings. I was naively shocked by the seeming paradox of such intense and widespread interest in Ayn Rand amid a complete shut out by official academia. I remember leftist thugs literally stealing our pamphlets and assorted literature from outside a lecture hall and throwing them in the Mississippi River. (By the way, that demonstrated to me the essential difference between fascists and socialists - fascists burn books while socialists drown them.) I remember the same group coming into one of our meetings and brazenly stealing the literature off of the table. When we chased them down and asked them if they had ever bothered to read anything they stole from us, a pale frumpy girl from the thought police posse snapped: "All you have to do is read the titles." Well, give them credit for one thing - they feared the right "titles."
In the intervening years, a lot has happened. ARI has steadily grown, the internet has given an impassioned voice to Objectivism, and incremental but necessary steps have been taken. However, even as of a few years ago, I had the same sense of foreboding that I had while attending a disappointing auction of Ayn Rand memorabilia in the 1990's - a sense that we had a long way to go.
How inspiring then, all these years later, to have attended the Atlas Shrugged Revolution benefit in New York City a few days ago. To see a packed room full of successful businessmen, prominent media personalities, and brilliant intellectuals in an event to raise serious money for the Ayn Rand Institute was unlike any event I had previously attended. This came on the heels of manning a table at a Tea Party Express event a few weeks ago where thousands of people gathered on the way to the larger Washington D.C. march that attracted over one hundred thousand outraged Americans. All of this is occurring amidst daily mentions of Ayn Rand in the national media, Objectivist intellectuals appearing regularly on national television, and record sales of Atlas Shrugged. Sitting at this benefit, listening to speeches by front line educators and businessmen, presentations on the startling successes to date, and plans for efforts to literally change the world, it dawned on me in a way that was not as abstract as it had been in the past - it dawned on me that we could win this thing.