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The Ayn Rand Institute: The Center for the Advancement of Objectivism (ARI) is a 501 nonprofit think tank in Irvine, Californiamarker 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:

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-ed 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

The Ayn Rand Institute began operations on February 1, 1985, three years after Rand's death. Rand's heir Leonard Peikoff was the first chairman of the institute's board of directors, which also included psychologist Edith Packer and businessman Ed Snider. Snider was also one of the founding donors for the organization. Its first executive director was Michael Berliner, who was previously the chairman of the Department of Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education at California State University, Northridgemarker. ARI also established a board of governors, which initially included Harry Binswanger, Robert Hessen, Edwin A. Locke, Arthur Mode, George Reisman, Jay Snider, and Mary Ann Sures, with Peter Schwartz as its chairman. M. Northrup Buechner and George Walsh joined the board of advisors shortly thereafter.

ARI's first two projects were aimed at students. One was developing a network of college clubs to study Objectivism. The other was a college scholarship contest for high-school students based on writing an essay about Rand's novel The Fountainhead. Later, additional essay contests were added based on Anthem and Atlas Shrugged. In 1988 the institute began publishing a newsletter for contributors, called Impact.

In 1989 a philosophical dispute resulted ARI ending its association with philosopher David Kelley. Board of advisors member George Walsh, who agreed with Kelley, also left. Kelley subsequently founded his own competing institute, which has been critical of ARI.

In January 2000 Yaron Brook replaced Berliner as executive director. The institute was originally headquartered in Marina del Rey, Californiamarker, but in 2002, it moved to larger offices in Irvine, Californiamarker.

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, ARI spends 81.4% of its expenses on programs, 11.1% on fundraising, and 7.4% on administration. the institute's board of directors consists of Brook, Berliner (as board co-chair), Arline Mann (board co-chair), Carl Barney, Harry Binswanger, Peter LePort, John McCaskey, and John Ridpath.

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, 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 approved of the work ARI has done.


ARI runs a variety of programs:

  • 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 worldwide 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 8th, 9th and 10th graders with a top prize of $2,000, The essay contest on The Fountainhead is for 11th and 12th graders with a top prize of $10,000, and the Atlas Shrugged essay contest is for 12th graders, college undergraduates, and graduate students with a top prize of $10,000. The institute has offered 521 prizes for the 2009 contests, totaling $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.

Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights

In 2008, The Ayn Rand Institute opened the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights ("ARC") in Washington, D.C. to specialize in issues of public policy.
  • During the current economic crisis, the ARC has been a vocal proponent of the position that government intervention is responsible for the crisis, and that the solution lies not in further government regulation but in moving toward full laissez-faire capitalism.
  • On foreign policy, the ARC advocates American national self-interest, including ending the regimes that sponsor terrorism, rather than the Bush Administration's policies which they see as timid, halfway measures that only weaken America's position in the world.

Ideas promoted

ARI sponsored writers and speakers have promoted a number of specific positions in contemporary political and social controversies.

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.

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.

Though some at ARI initially supported the invasion of Iraq, it opposes how the Iraq War has been handled. Since October 2, 2001, the institute has held that Iranmarker should be the primary target in the war against "Islamic totalitarianism."

ARI is generally supportive of Israelmarker. Of Zionism, executive director of the institute writes: "Zionism fused a valid concern - self-preservation amid a storm of hostility - with a toxic premise - ethnically based collectivism and religion."

Other issues

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

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

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

ARI speakers and writers



  1. Reprint of a speech delivered by Peikoff at the Ford Hall Forum in 1986.

External links

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