In this engaging 1959 interview, her first on television, Ayn Rand capsulizes her philosophy for CBS’s Mike Wallace. The discussion ranges from the nature of morality to the economic and historical distortions disseminated about the “robber barons.” She also comments on her relationship with Frank O’Connor, provides some autobiographical information and gives her perspective on the future of America.


Ayn Rand Mike Wallace Interview
Part 1


Part 2

Category: Philosophy, Video

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

21 Responses to “Mike Wallace Interviews Ayn Rand (1959)”

  1. Ayn Rand wrote great comic books. And she did that without even needing to add the illustrations!

    Unfortunately, as a scientist and/or political philosopher she didn’t have a clue.

    I’m looking forward to hearing some response from the Objectivists to the fundamental flaw in their models of de-regulation, self-regulation and “neo” everything…

    Issues in Scaling Civilization: The Altruism Problem

    (sorry to repeat myself… I’d really rather be moving on to other issues… but it seems to me that until this altruism dilemma is recognized, studied and addressed with some rigor… this planet won’t have a prayer of solving its problems which are about to get quite critical)

  2. Greg0658 says:

    perfect thread for:
    Oh No – another ‘ism to worry about ie: “talentism.”—-_b_1423311.html

    talent and the people who push them for capitalism .. booyah :-)

  3. jaytrader says:

    The Simple Fact That Alan Greenspan ran/set monetary/regulatory policy on the fundamental underpinnings of this raving lunatic is simply breathtaking.

  4. keithpiccirillo says:

    Pity Wm. F. Buckley and her could not see eye to eye, especially since they look like they could have been related.

  5. Frilton Miedman says:

    I’ve known survivors of trauma, life threatening situations that adopted radical personality attributes as a way to cope , subconsciously guiding everyday decisions, living by a distorted ideal as a means to compartmentalize and forget the pain.

    A child who was abused by a teacher might grow to adopt a philosophy that all educators or education are evil, rather than confront the fact that it was a sick individual who happened to be a teacher.

    Ayn Rand was obviously traumatized as a girl growing up under the Bolshevik regime, to her anything left of John Birch was socialism.

    Her roundabout rationalizations were twisted, concluding that blind greed is moral, while a good deed to the benefit of others is misguided Communism/Socialism, that we should function as robots.

    She needed therapy,
    Instead she was adorned with praise by economic socialites the same way a renown Jazz Pianist is thought to be an improvisational genius for hitting a wrong note.

    I wonder if it was coincidence that Greenspan was a jazz musician early in his life?

  6. Clif Brown says:

    Gandhi said, “the only salvation for a man is if he can, of his own free will, place himself last” Ayn Rand is the anti-Gandhi.

    To say that people should only be loved if they deserve to be, that they somehow must earn the love of others, is far from the objectivism she claims. In fact, it makes the individual the judge of everyone else.

  7. reddweb says:

    clueless frilton/Clif,

    Ayn argues for objective personal freedom. If it makes you happy to “place youself above others” , by all means do so. Gandhi argues thats the only way for salvation, She is open to that possiblity and any others as long as it makes you free/happy.

    She is not against morals of helping others, or the helpless/incapable people. She argues for your right to that freedom/choice to help. To do, what you want to do. Not some guy like buffett tell you to pay more tax, or some other .gov to to “tell you” do that/this, pay more tax, or for that matter “a church” telling you etc. etc.

    When she says less regulation, she doesn’t mean no punishment for encroaching – infact she would enforce law more effectively. The root of her argument – personal responsiblity/freedom/objectivity/choice, applies here as well. She would have raised hell with current day, and their bailouts. I wish she got chance to elaborate on how laws/punishment for encroaching on “objective freedoms of people or company/industries” (the same mistake ron paul and lot of conservative/tea-prty folks make)

  8. Frilton Miedman says:

    Redd, try opening a discussion without insult, then you won’t be met with insults, like “you’re a moron”….but of course, that’s your “moral” decision to make.

    And, of course, it would be my “moral” decision to interpret “clueless” as an insult, however, my “moral” belief is to reply with a compliment.

    It jut so happens that my “moral” belief is that a great man of extreme wisdom should be labelled “idiot”

    Therefore, I say you’re an “idiot”….bear with me, there’s madness to this method-

    Then, let’s say a break-in happens to a home, a man makes off with thousands in gold, jewelry, cash.

    It’s his “moral” belief that he’s helping society by “providing liquidity” with the value of goods he took.

    That’s his “moral” belief, what right does the government have to stop him?

    He was adept in bypassing the alarm, skillful and nimble as he moved in the dark, he “earned” it, and that’s his “moral” belief.

    The billionaire banker who promotes liar loans to people he fully expects to default, packages them into fraudulently rated “triple A” assets and sells them by the trillions to an unknowing market while shorting them without disclosure…

    Guess what his “moral” belief is? (Hint, it’ll involve the words “free market”)

    Ayn’s neatly sorted vision of the world missed a few integral details, she was, after all, a fiction writer, her vocation was to invent the world, less to understand it.

    Without the “collective” morality of the Democracy that America offers, the billionaire banker who now whines about “personal freedom” when told he may have to accept comeuppance in the form of taxation might not have had the chance to soak millions of “stupid” home buyers to begin with if it haden’t been for the freedom of Capitalism said Democracy allowed him.

    To a billionaire that buys politicians and literally writes the law for them to sign, he see’s the term “personal freedom” in a completely different way than someone else..

    So, while Ayn had the world neatly figured out, the question asked now is should Dave Koch be allowed to bribe my country and then call it his right to “freedom of speech”, or claim that him having to pay a higher tax rate is an infringement on his “personal freedom”?

    I WILL give Ayn one point of credit, as with Milton Friedman, much of her message has been conveniently distorted to suit agenda of the messengers in D.C. and on Fox/CNBC.

    Friedman made concerted efforts to point to the dangers of concentrated power, and he NEVER asserted that danger was government only.

  9. victor says:

    Ayns’ is not a philosophy, it is just a point of view elevated to philosophy by her admirers. Want philosophy? Start with Plato, read some Confucius and Spinoza and finish up with… Plato, don’t forget some Pascal in between. That would prepare any of us to deal with the likes of Ayn.

    So depressing to read above comments, throwing rocks at each other.

    For Frilton Miedman: explain to me, an independent, the difference between Koch and Soros and Fox/CNBC and MSNBC please?

  10. wkevinw says:

    Right about Friedman. A lot of the libertarians are gold standard aficionados, but Friedman was not. Google it! He said a lot of things that people don’t know about.

    Friedman was big on law and order (= regulation based on fraud and damages: not allowed).

    Unfortunate that people have gotten so blind, ideological, and lazy about finding out the facts about great thinkers.

    Another subject: efficient markets, is/are not honestly debated. Over the long term, the market is efficient. BUT, this is almost a tautology, as many academic “breakthroughs” are. Some academic just happened to bundle and communicate the concepts better than anybody else. Markets are efficient in the long run.

    Keynesian stimulus: does anybody really believe that large government entities can not have a large impact on aggregate demand? (so that in times of low demand the government might offer some?).

    These ideas just aren’t that profound, and are used as distorted debate points by pinheaded pundits.


  11. Frilton Miedman says:

    wkevinw Says:
    April 14th, 2012 at 9:55 pm
    “Keynesian stimulus: does anybody really believe that large government entities can not have a large impact on aggregate demand?”

    Actually, yes in fact, Friedman did.

    Hence his proposed Negative Income Tax – welfare, literally, a tax to ensure a minimum level of income for stable consumption.

    As for the problem with demand, to solve a problem you first have to recognize a problem.

    Tax cuts, loopholes, deregulation and foreign trade policies designated to further increase top end wealth and diminish the majority, while at the same time trying to cut spending on the low end is pure economic suicide in a demand crisis.

    Neocons are STILL pushing for even more, citing Ayn Rand, and swiss cheese interpretations of Milton Friedman and Reagan.

    Meanwhile the founder of Reaganomics, Paul Craig Roberts, is saying corporate special interest and the Neocon movement is destroying Democracy, while Ayn Rand’s living protege – Alan Greenspan is pleading with anyone who’ll listen that we have to increase taxes before it’s too late.

  12. reddweb says:

    frilton wow! clueless again. ayn would have prosecuted/sent-to-jail that billionarire you speak off. And that man who break-in, will be shot. if nobody at home at that time, as per-ayn philosophy the police/.gov will go after him, and lock him. Why? he violated another person property/personal rights. Is this so complex ?

    you are confusing with whats happening over last 20 yrs with ayn-philosophy. She is not for bankers/wallst leveraging 30x with other-peoples-money. She is for personal (or company) freedom and rights, as long as they dont violate the same principles of others. Gov will have to enforce them, just like national defense.

    I think she summarized well : “Seperation of state and economics” (market). Example: would you have state dictate or influence your spirtual evoliution (religion) ??? Why then would you allow state to influence “material evolution”. It will be lot faster, better, with much less fraud etc. (Ron Paul tries to make this argument in lot of his talks, but apparently itsn’t understood well).

  13. jswap says:

    Let’s pat each other on the back over how dumb Ayn was and how smart we all are! Yay!

  14. Moss says:

    Better off reading the Bible and The Road to Serfdom by Hayek.

  15. Frilton Miedman says:

    reddweb Says:
    April 14th, 2012 at 11:03 pm
    “frilton wow! clueless again. ayn would have prosecuted/sent-to-jail that billionarire you speak off. And that man who break-in, will be shot”

    I applaud your talent & ability to use the word “cluesless”, however, you thoroughly missed my metaphor.

    Where Ayn Rand says morality is a personal choice (that rule of law is based on), as you stated above “She argues for your right to that freedom/choice to help.”

    Ayn failed to delineate who’s version of morality should dictate rule of law. (collective morality – the “C” word)

    Where you note the billionaire bankers ought be prosecuted, why haven’t they been?..Who’s version of morality is being represented?

    Why do we prosecute thieves?…Aren’t we violating their version of morality?

    Ultimately, Ayn Rand’s idea’s leave the door wide open for self regulation, which leads to plutocracy, monarchy or dictatorship where the most powerful & wealthy version of “morality” reigns, because she refused to consider anything that might incorporate the need for a collective process.

    She was a little girl terrified of anything bearing the slightest semblance to her early life oppressors.

    She needed therapy, she was given a podium instead.

    Like the jazz musician that hits the wrong note and is labelled brilliantly improvisational, Ayn was hitting wrong notes, she was also labelled brilliant.

    MOSS – Hayek was a fraud, in 1972 he turned down an offer from Charles Koch to move to America, citing he was afraid of losing his government medical benefits in Austria.

    Charles wrote back suggesting he might qualify for U.S. medicare.

  16. victor says:

    Frilton Miedman: Hayek was one of the greatest modern economists, the likes of Ayn couldn’t hold a candle to. Koch reminded him that he does qualify for US SS because he had paid into it for 10 years as well medical coverage. This does not make him a “fraud” anymore than Buffett minimizing his taxes all the while advocating higher taxes for billionaires.

  17. Frilton Miedman says:

    Vic, Hayek was as integral to economics as the negative pole is to a battery.

    He only acknowledged a piece of the overall mechanism of economics, a brain surgeon with a meat cleaver, all government is bad government and therefore should be eliminated altogether.

    On his own unwillingness to give up Austrian medical entitlements, I stand firm, the man was a fraud, he refused to practice his preaching s, but it was fine to do to others.

    Ayn Rand was a fiction writer with emotional issues who lived her life around distancing herself from her monsters, a quick listen to the video above on her thoughts about the definition of “love” makes that crystal clear.

  18. victor says:

    Frilton: I suspect you actually did not study Hayek’s work (for which I do not really blame you) because your characterization is simply wrong. And, to boot you call him a fraud because “he refused to practice his own preachings”, but forget that, he ended up sick? and was scared by horror stories about US health care costs? c’mon man, you expect him to be a Saint? BTW most Saints if not all also sinned….

    Ayn Rand: very provocative, interesting fascinating view of the modern world; has many adepts and adulators. I, much more modest and humble stick with my favorites I already listed above. Add Ecclesiastes to the list.

    Personally I maintain that countries’ economies are way to complex to be modelled, even understood and thus managed by any means or by any entity. I adhere to “small is beautiful” and I think Ayn Rand’s views are a lot of well packaged fancy stuff, rarely applicable with any success to real life situations.

    Henry Kissinger said that Economics are boring and I agree, mind you, ECON 101 micro and macro should be obligatory in our high schools. Beyond that, I’ve been looking forward to the day Economics would be expelled from among the Sciences and relegated to something else just like poor little Pluto was downgraded from “planet” to a “massive dwarf”.

  19. Frilton Miedman says:

    Vic, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on the Austrian, to say “he was afraid” nullifies his personal decision to defy the standards he wanted to set for everyone else just doesn’t cut it, not for me.

    It’s not like he was impoverished at the time, yet he felt just dandy to set that as a standard for the impoverished, M Friedman at least had the intelligence to acknowledge the need for a minimum income level, if not for “lefty” style compassion, then to stabilize consumption.

    Ayn Rand wasn’t provocative, she was nuts.

    Really, watch the video of Mike asking her about love, she wanted a freaking society of performance based emotionless robots where only the most productive are allowed “love”, this is the way an untreated emotional trauma victims think, they compartmentalize their fears into a more manageable reality.

  20. V says:

    Yee-haa doing an interview while smoking.

    Barry crack open a big cuban next time you’re on Bloomberg. – Christ how many govt depts would show up to arrest you.

  21. V says:

    She is right on a number of points, despite the caricature that is often made of her.