Book: Canadians Promoted Ayn Rand to Destabilize U.S.

rand-bkUltra hard-righter Ayn Rand, one of the most influential voices in American politics in the last 50 years, was a nobody until a cabal of Canadian expatriates made her a star in a quest to destablize the United States so that Canada could gain a geo-political edge over its southern neighbor, according to a blockbuster book released yesterday.

“People think of Canada as this quiet, do-gooder country that goes the extra mile to get along with its much bigger neighbor,” says Samuel Harper, a political science professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Harper is author of Ayn Rand Conspiracy: How Canada Unleashed the World’s Kookiest Political Philosopher on an Unsuspecting United States (Basic Books: 2014), which landed on the New York Times bestseller list upon its debut.

“The fact is, Canadians are at the core of Ayn Rand’s popularity, and their interest in her is anything but benign,” Harper. “They knew very well in the 1950s and 1960s her politics would completely polarize this country, and it has. And today, when people around the world compare the United States to Canada, which country gets the accolades and which country gets the boos? Well, you can see the answer every day in the news. People hate the United States and they love Canada. Mission accomplished, I’d say.”

Rand is at the heart of the United States’ political polarization today, says Harper. The Russian emigre’s Objectivism, which calls for as little government as possible and rejects altruism as a moral value, is central to the country’s lurch to the right and provides the philosophical underpinning of the tea party movement.

Conservative commentators, from Rush Limbaugh to Glenn Beck, cite Rand as the godmother of far-right politics, as do top Republican lawmakers like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the 2012 Republican vice president nominee, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

Harper contends in his book that Rand’s two big literary works, Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, would have been relegated to the remainder table at bookstores if it weren’t for her core group of followers, known as “The Collective,” who used their influence to turn her books into a political movement. Certainly the most famous of her followers is Alan Greenspan, who would go on to become one of the most influential chairs of the Federal Reserve ever, and on whose watch, critics say, the seeds of the worldwide economic debacle called the Great Recession germinated.



But while Greenspan was the most well-known, he was a minor player in The Collective. The leaders were all Canadian: Nathaniel Branden, who was Rand’s right-hand man and also her lover; Branden’s wife Barbara; and Leonard Peikoff, who went on to head up the Ayn Rand Institute.

“These three, easily the most important voices of Objectivism next to Rand herself, were Canadian expats,” says Harper. “They understood very well how toxic Rand’s philosophy would be to American politics and foresaw the dysfunction that it would create in American government.”

Harper says the Brandens and Peikoff “hated the second-fiddle role Canada always played to the United States in international affairs and longed to put the U.S. in its place by unleashing ‘this crazy philosophy and this even crazier woman’ onto an unsuspecting nation.”

Spouting Rand loudly

Spouting Rand—loudly

Even with The Collective shoving Rand’s work down the throats of Americans, the Objectivist movement flagged in the 1970s, but then, out of the blue, came another trio of Canadians to breathe new life into her cause. The trio of Canadians is the rock group called Rush, who hit the American scene in the mid-1970s with a loud, heavy-metal music that spouted Randian philosophy in the lyrics.

“Anthem,” “2112,” “Something for Nothing,” “Fly by Night”—these and other songs from that mid-1970s era were heavily influenced by Rand’s philosophy, and as the band gained in popularity, so did the philosophy of Rand.

In the same way that Rand did, “Rush developed a core following in the United States, but the band is Canadian through-and through and were using their influence over impressionable American teenagers to unleash this ultimately destabilizing philosophy onto the country,” says Harper.

Rush is comprised of Alex Lifeson on guitar, Geddy Lee on bass, keyboards, and vocals, and Neil Peart on drums. Peart is also the main lyricist. Lifeson and Lee were school chums in Toronto when Lifeson started the band in 1968; Peart was from a small town in Ontario called Saint Catharines and joined the band in 1974, right after the band released its debut album and was starting its first U.S. tour. It was Peart who brought the Rand influence to the band, and starting with its second album, called Fly by Night,” Rand was all over the lyrics.

“The band was pushing the idea that you have to live for yourself because there’s no one else more worth living for,” says Harper. “Other bands at the time were singing about coming together and loving one another, but not Rush; they were talking about people writing their own story and achieving their own glory. It was a very individualistic, Randian message.”

Rush came totally out of the Radian closet in 1976, with it’s breakout song, “2112,” which was credited directly to Ayn Rand in the album liner notes. That song, about a futuristic hard-left society that trounces individual liberty, was based on Rand’s early novella called Anthem. “No song was more important to Rush than ‘2112,’ because it was the song that made a name for the band, and that song is Randian to its core,” Harper says. Even the band’s big hits from the 1980s, like “Tom Sawyer,” “The Trees,” and “Closer to the Heart,” among others, are Randian in their point of view.

“Thanks to Rush,” says Harper, “the effort by The Collective to destabilize the United States was given new life, and here we are today: Rush is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Ayn Rand is bigger and more influential than ever. And, guess what, American politics are the most dysfunctional they have ever been and Canada’s star is shining brighter than it ever has. And it’s all because of these Canadian connivers. You think Canada is little Miss Nice Country? Clearly, the country is as Machiavellian as any. And The U.S. is paying the price for its evil project. Thanks a lot, Canada. I hope you’re satisfied with yourself!”

This is a work of satire. It is fictional news article not meant to be taken seriously. Images (some modified): sv and spn (Creative Commons). Not necessarily an endorsed use of images.

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