Rand's lecture was delivered to a packed room on 26 March 1961 at Ford Hall Forum, a famous stronghold of free speech on the Northeastern University campus in Boston. The lecture proved to be an extraordinary success. In fact Rand was so well received that she went on to give eighteen more lectures at Ford Hall Forum over the next twenty years.
Rand begins her initial lecture by stating that in the 1930's she envied "liberals" for their intellectual approach to political problems. "Today, I have no cause to envy 'liberals' any longer. For many decades, the 'liberals' had been representatives on the intellect in America … while the so-called 'conservatives' allegedly devoted to the defense of individualism and capitalism, went about apologetically projecting such a cracker-barrel sort of folksiness that Li'l Abner would have found embarrassing; the monument to which may still be seen in the corridors of the New York Stock Exchange, in a costly display of statistical charts and models proudly entitled: 'THE PEOPLE'S CAPITALISM." This brings Rand to observe that liberals and conservatives are merging and the Republican and Democratic parties are becoming indistinguishable. "What social or political group today is the home of those who are and still wish to be the men of intellect?" She answers herself, "None. The intellectuals … are now homeless refugees, left behind by a silent collapse they have not had the courage to identify." Rand identifies it: intellectuals of the nineteenth century failed to embrace capitalism. "The rest is history — the shameful, sordid, ugly history of the intellectual development of the last hundred and fifty years."
Rand goes on to deliver a sharp commentary on the intellectual disintegration of today's political dialogue, "the shrinking of issues and debates to the level of single isolated superficial concretes, with no context, with no reference to any fundamental principles, no mention of basic issues, no proofs, no arguments, nothing but arbitrary assertions 'for' or 'against'." For an example, she draws on the Kennedy-Nixon debates of the previous year: "… observe the level on which the last presidential campaign was fought. Did the candidates discuss foreign policy? No — just the fate of Quernoy and Matsu [two islands between China and Taiwan]. Did they discuss socialized medicine? No — just the cost and the procedure of medical aid to the aged. Did they discuss government control of education? No — just who should pay the teachers' salaries: the federal government or the states."
The manuscript is dated 7 March 1961 on the first page. The 52 pages of text are filled with hundreds of Rand's own additions, deletions, and corrections. The markings in red pencil and red ink appear to be those of an editor as the lecture was readied for publication. The original manuscript differs significantly from the published version in Rand's The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought (1989).
COMPLETE MANUSCRIPTS BY AYN RAND ARE RARE AT AUCTION.
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