Ayn Rand Institute

The Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism (ARI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit think tank in Irvine, California that promotes Ayn Rand's philosophy, called Objectivism. It was established in 1985, three years after Rand's death, by Leonard Peikoff, Rand's legal heir. Its executive director is Yaron Brook.

ARI's stated goal is: spearhead a cultural renaissance that will reverse the anti-reason, anti-individualism, anti-freedom, anti-capitalist trends in today's culture. The major battleground in this fight for reason and capitalism is the educational institutions—high schools and, above all, the universities, where students learn the ideas that shape their lives.

ARI is mainly an educational organization, but also has "outreach programs." Its various programs include classes on Objectivism and related subjects offered through its Objectivist Academic Center, public lectures, Op-Eds articles, letters to the editor, competitions for essays about Rand's novels, materials for Objectivist campus clubs, supplying Rand's writings to schools and professors, and providing intellectuals for radio and TV interviews.

History and context

Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand's designated legal and intellectual heir, founded the Ayn Rand Institute in 1985, three years after her death. Both Rand and Peikoff had expressed negative thoughts concerning the formation of bureaucratic organizations designed to promote Objectivism. Rand never intended that Objectivism would become an organized movement (especially not with her leading the movement), but she approved of rational individuals with the same ideas working toward a common goal. Peikoff was initially wary of creating ARI, but was eventually persuaded to do so, and in 2006 he commented that he approves of the work ARI has done.

The Institute was originally headquartered in Marina del Rey, California and its executive director was Dr. Mike Berliner. In 2000, Dr. Yaron Brook replaced Dr. Berliner as executive director and the Institute was moved to Irvine, California.


Free books to schools

ARI offers to give to high schools classroom sets of Ayn Rand's novels Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. ARI also continues this program at the university level by offering professors free review copies of Rand's writings.

Student essay contests

ARI sponsors essay contests on Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. Students from across the United States, and sometimes other countries, submit essays based on questions about Rand's novels which stress her ideas and their importance in today's world.

The Anthem essay contest is for 9th and 10th graders with a top prize of $2,000, the Fountainhead essay contest is for 11th and 12th graders with a top prize of $10,000, and the Atlas Shrugged essay contest is for high school seniors entering college and full-time college students, with a top prize of $10,000.

The Institute has offered 521 prizes for the 2008 contests, totalling $81,250.

Campus clubs

ARI offers copies of essays, pamphlets, and recorded lectures, and provides live speakers to Objectivist clubs at universities and high schools.

The Objectivist Academic Center

ARI runs an educational program called the Objectivist Academic Center (OAC), which conducts classes on Objectivism and related fields.

Student assistance

ARI offers financial assistance to students applying to graduate school, and provides mentors for OAC students.

Academic outreach

ARI offers free copies and classroom sets of Rand's books to professors, as well as class syllabi which include Ayn Rand.

Media appearances

Intellectuals from ARI often appear on radio and television, and their Op-Ed articles and letters to the editor have appeared in many major newspapers.

Public lectures

ARI fellows frequently give public lectures in Orange County, California. They also lecture elsewhere, including college campuses across the U.S.

Ayn Rand Bookstore

ARI operates the Ayn Rand Bookstore, which sells lectures and other materials from Objectivists.

Objectivist conferences

ARI organizes a conference each summer which features lectures and dance classes from Objectivists.

Views on religion in politics

Atheism being a tenet of Objectivism, ARI promotes the separation of church and state, and its writers argue that the Religious Right poses a threat to individual rights. Its writers have argued against displaying religious symbols (such as the Ten Commandments) in government facilities and against faith-based initiatives. The Institute argues that religion is incompatible with American ideals and opposes the teaching of "intelligent design" in public schools. ARI also supports women's right to choose abortion, voluntary euthanasia, and assisted suicide.

Views on Islam and the War on Terror

ARI has taken many controversial positions with respect to the Islamic world.

They hold that the motivation for Islamic terrorism comes from Muhammad's own teachings, not "poverty" nor a reaction to Western policies.

They have urged that the US use overwhelming, retaliatory force to "end states who sponsor terrorism," using whatever means are necessary to end the threat. In his article "Ends States Who Sponsor Terrorism," which was published as a full page ad in the New York Times, Leonard Peikoff wrote:

The choice today is mass death in the United States or mass death in the terrorist nations. Our Commander-In-Chief must decide whether it is his duty to save Americans or the governments who conspire to kill them.

In response to the Muhammad cartoons controversy, ARI started a Free Speech Campaign.

Though some at ARI initially supported the invasion of Iraq, it opposes how the Iraq War is now being handled.

Since October 2, 2001, the Institute has held that Iran should be the primary target in the war against "Islamic totalitarianism.

The Institute is generally supportive of Israel, though critical of some aspects of Zionism..

Environmentalism and animal rights

ARI is highly critical of environmentalism and animal rights, arguing that they are destructive of human well-being.

Diversity, affirmative action, and multiculturalism

The Institute is also highly critical of diversity and affirmative action programs, as well as multiculturalism, arguing that they are based on racist premises.

Charitable status

Charity Navigator, which rates charitable and educational organizations to inform potential donors, gives ARI three out of four stars. According to the latest data from Charity Navigator, the Institute spends 80.6% of its expenses on programs, 11.3% on fundraising, and only 8% on administration.

Board of Directors

ARI speakers and writers



External links

Sites critical of ARI

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