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Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed

by Lisa Duggan University of California Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 136 pages
AU$37.99 NZ$39.12
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Ayn Rand’s complicated notoriety as popular writer, leader of a political and philosophical cult, reviled intellectual, and ostentatious public figure followed her beyond her death in 1982. In the twenty-first century, she has been resurrected as a serious reference point for mainstream figures, especially - but not only - those on the political right, from Paul Ryan to Donald Trump. Mean Girl traces the posthumous appeal and influence of Rand’s novels via her cruel, surly, sexy heroes, outlining the impact of her philosophy of selfishness. Following her trail through the twentieth century from the Russian Revolution to the Cold War, Mean Girl illuminates the Randian shape of our neoliberal, contemporary culture of greed and the dilemmas we face in our political present.




Introduction. “What Is Good for Me Is Right”
1. “Proud Woman Conqueror”
2. “Individualists of the World Unite!”
3. “Would You Cut the Bible?”
4. “I Found a Flaw”

Key Figures
Selected Bibliography

“Lisa Duggan gets it exactly right . . . when she writes that Rand's ‘particular gift was not for philosophical elaboration, but for stark condensation and aphorism. She deployed this gift to create a moral economy of inequality to infuse her softly pornographic romance fiction with the political eros that would captivate a mass readership.’"
Lisa Duggan is a historian, journalist, activist, and Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. She is author most recently of The Twilight of Equality? Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy.