A Thatcher-Rand connection?
In 1976, at the age of 71, Ayn Rand closed down her periodical “The Ayn Rand Letter” with a short essay called “A Last Survey.” Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Margaret Thatcher was leader of the Conservative Party and three years away from becoming prime minister of the United Kingdom. The two women never met, but Rand’s article indicates a possible intellectual connection.
The Thatcher mention came in the context of Rand’s discussion of a July 19, 1975 New Republic column entitled “The Ayn Rand Factor”:
I laughed when I read that column, because the columnist’s fear was obvious. I said to my friends: “If he thinks there’s an ‘Ayn Rand factor’ around, let him think it.” Today, I am beginning to wonder whether there might not be an “Ayn Rand factor” in the world . . . .
A story on Margaret Thatcher, the new leader of the British Conservative party (The New York Times Magazine, June 1, 1975), stated that her “‘think tank’ of intellectuals” is studying and popularizing “the theories of”—and there followed a hodgepodge of so-called rightist names, ending on “Ayn Rand.” I did not pay much attention to that story—but, later, I was told privately that my ideas actually do have an influence on Mrs. Thatcher’s group.
Today, thirty-seven years later, there is most definitely an “Ayn Rand factor” at work in the world. The passing of Margaret Thatcher gives us occasion to pause and reflect on the time required for genuinely new ideas, such as those of Ayn Rand, to percolate through a culture.
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