Monday, 6 April 2009

Are we really all Keynesians now? [update 4]

Maybe not.

According to Wikirank over the last ninety days interest in Ayn Rand has been some 132 times more than it has been in the failed economist.

And at Amazon, Rand's fifty-two-year-old ode to reason, egoism and capitalism is at #15, while Keynes's seventy-year old paean to big government, statism, and illogic is at number #1,777,580

So it would be more truthful to say we're all Randians now?

Or perhaps just those of us who live outside the realms of big government.

UPDATE 1: Crampton says no. Using Google Search Insights for worldwide rankings Marx still beats Rand, and so so does John Maynard. But only just. But for the USA and India, things are not so clearcut.

And it's easy to see where all the Keynesians live in New Zealand.

UPDATE 2: After correcting for inclusion errors, Crampton says "Maybe."

UPDATE 3: Edward Cline puts Atlas into historical perspective:

In a dramatically telescoped way, Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, is experiencing the same rediscovery in the 21st century [as Aristotle's rediscovery after the Dark Ages]. . . Although its sales success has been steady and almost without precedent since its publication, until now the novel was ignored, relegated to the cultural sidelines, and deprecated by the cultural establishment. . .
It has taken little over half a century for men to rediscover it and the significance of Rand’s mind and work. . The parallels between the events in the novel and those in the real world have become too obvious for even the novel’s detractors to ignore. They still hurry to denigrate it, but their protests sound peevishly feeble. . . The catalyst for the rediscovery is the current moral and economic crisis for which government actions are only the symptom. What men will do about it remains to be seen.
In an intellectual and philosophic sense, the works of Aristotle acted as a “prime mover” of human culture and civilization. Without them, no Renaissance and Enlightenment would have been possible. Their rediscovery and advocacy by the men of those periods accelerated human progress in terms of a mastery of the physical world, which manifested itself in the Industrial Revolution. But, as Rand herself so succinctly and eloquently observed in her numerous articles and speeches, the Aristotelian influence went only so far, because the skeleton hands of the philosophy of altruism and unreason remained clutched firmly to men’s notion of morality and men did not bother to throw them off. They believed that microwave ovens and cars could coexist with a morality that condemned the ovens and cars, as well as themselves.
Also in an intellectual and philosophic sense, Atlas Shrugged is acting as a “prime mover,” reemerging from behind its curtain of unrecognized existence as something to fear or to reexamine. Men are learning now that the philosophy which made possible their earthly well-being is irreconcilable with its antipode, which makes possible their recurring moral crises. . .
UPDATE 4: See Atlas Shrugged and the Tea Parties:


  1. I wish you were right, Peter, but I don't think you are. Let's try a more comprehensive ranking.
    Ayn Rand vs Keynes on Google Search Insights. That tells you the time path of queries on Rand and on Keynes on the whole web rather than just at Wikipedia.

    Amazon book rankings don't mean much here either: you'd really want to correct for base rates. Keynes' book is not meant for popular consumption. It's opaque, even for professional economists. Atlas Shrugged is a great fun read; the General Theory isn't. It's like saying that Harry Potter is better than The Virtue of Selfishness on the basis of sales.

    Again: I wish you were right. But I don't think so.

  2. Correction: the better search has them running neck and neck. Apparently there's a guy named Milton Keynes that needs to be culled from the search results.

  3. And the still better one pulls out everybody else that shows up. Who'd have thought there were so many others named Keynes. Lots of co-movement in the series.

  4. I have to assume you're joking about Milton Keynes... ?

  5. Milton Keynes is a very, very boring 'guy' indeed.

  6. To let you know how far you have to go: I just looked at an economics textbook for secondary education used in The Netherlands. They mention only one economist, and his name is Keynes...

  7. The Netherlands? Is that outfit important?



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