By Shoshana Milgram
In January 1962, Ayn Rand launched The Objectivist Newsletter, serving as co-editor, co-publisher and author of leading articles in each issue (usually on page 1, under the heading “Check Your Premises”). Later that year, she inaugurated a weekly column in the Los Angeles Times.
Why did Ayn Rand, best known as the author of two best-selling novels, decide to become an editor as well as a writer? Why did she deem it necessary to start a new publication? How was the goal of publishing The Objectivist Newsletter
different from the goal of writing a weekly newspaper column? Who was the newsletter’s target audience? What were the original plans, and how did the plans change? How did each venture provide opportunities to explain the applications of her philosophy, to fight against injustice and to offer a “cultural commercial” for her work? Why did she say, of the readers of her Los Angeles Times
column, that the general public is much more intelligent than its alleged leaders give it credit for”? Why did her weekly column end after twenty-six articles, whereas the monthly newsletter expanded to a sixteen-page magazine?
Beginning with Ayn Rand’s first English-language nonfiction publication, this lecture examines her experiences with writing for periodical publications and working with political allies associated with such periodicals—and her eventual realization of the kind of magazine she herself would like to have, and of which she would be the final editor.
At a time when she could not count on the press to represent her words and ideas accurately even when she provided a written text, she was committed to making everything within her own publication fully professional, accurate and representative of her philosophy.
This lecture considers the range and nature of the articles and book reviews, the process of her editing and the overall description of the first Objectivist periodical: “The basic function of the Newsletter as a whole is to arm and educate students of Objectivism on a relatively popular and cultural level—to give them intellectual ammunition.”
What can we learn, fifty years later, from the history of The Objectivist Newsletter?
This lecture was recorded at the 2012 Objectivist Summer Conference in San Diego, CA.
(MP3 download; 1 hr., 32 min., 66.62 MB)