hero, Howard Roark, an aspiring youngnarchitect, and the dean of his college,nwho is about to expel him for his unorthodoxnideas. The dean declares thatnthere has been nothing new in the fieldn• of architecture since the Parthenon, andnRoark answers: “I inherit nothing. Instand at the end of no tradition. I may,nperhaps, stand at the beginning of one.”nAlthough this appears in a work ofnfiction, it clearly expresses Rand’s ownnview of her relationship to the history ofnideas. As she gathered a group aroundnher, Rand’s chief appeal, at least to thenyoung, was that this was something unprecedented.nLike Howard Roark and thengoddess Athena, Ayn Rand sprangnfourth fully armed from the head ofnZeus—or so went the official mythology,na fiction maintained to this day by annew generation of acolytes.nEspecially after the birth of the organizednRandian movement, which she insistednon calling “Objectivism,” Randnwas emphatic in denying any connectionnwith “the so-called conservatives.” Althoughnbitterly opposed to communism,nand politically indistinguishable fromnmany on the extreme right, she energeticallyndenounced all conservatives asnineffective dolts who did more to discreditncapitalism than to defend it.nThe Randian influence grew at a fantasticnrate during a time of culturalnanomie, the 1960’s, in which it was fashionablento despise all traditions, and tonpretend that we could or should abolishnhistory and start anew. The Objectivistnmovement pandered to this trend bynclaiming to be something entirely newnunder the sun. This deluded her young,nand generally not very well-read followersninto isolating themselves from thencorrupting influence of competing ideas,nand accepting her word, and the word ofnher leading followers, as gospel. I inheritnnothing. And therefore, everything mustnbe created from scratch: philosophy,nmetaphysics, ethics, economics, politics,nesthetics. In the Randian Cultural Revolution,nnothing and no one wasnspared—with the single exception ofnAristotle, the only thinker to whom shenever acknowledged an intellectual debt.nThis claim to uniqueness is a lie onntwo levels. First, for her disciples tonclaim that Rand inherited nothing fromnthe Western tradition of classical liberalismnis simply a confession of an ignorancenso abysmal that it could only benexcusable in the very young. It does notntake much research to discover thatn48/CHRONICLESnthere is ample precedent for her ethicalnand political views not only in Spencer,nbut also in Mencken, Nock, RosenWilder Lane, Chodorov, Isabel Paterson,nand indeed in the entire tradition ofn19th-century classical liberalism. Paterson’snThe God of the Machine, particularlynthe chapter “The HumanitariannWith the Guillotine,” is infused withna theme, tone, and spirit that ought tongive readers and admirers of Rand’snwork a shock of deja vu.nBut there is a second, and deeper, levelnon which the assertion of Rand’snuniqueness is a lie. While any halfeducatednundergraduate can see thatnRand’s philosophical ideas are obviouslynderivative, the real source of hernfame—and her true talent—was innher novels. The Fountainhead, AtlasnShrugged, and two early works. We thenLiving and Anthem, sell in prodigiousnquantities: hundreds of thousands ofncopies every year since the early 60’s.nUnique among American ideologues,nthe Randian inhabits a fictional universe,na mythic landscape unlike anynother. But here, too, the Randian versionnof the Virgin Birth is falsified. Fornit turns out that Rand the novelist is justnas derivative as Rand the would-benphilosopher. The evidence is a 1922nnovel by Garet Garrett, The Driver,nwhich bears such a strong resemblancento Atlas Shrugged that there arises a realnquestion as to whether Rand passednthe boundaries of acceptable behavior inn”borrowing” a little too much. Here Inwant to emphasize that I mean “acceptablenbehavior” by her standards; thatnis, the sort of behavior one might expectnfrom someone who makes a virtue outnof “inheriting nothing.”nAtlas Shrugged, published in 1957,nhas the aura of one of those long, involvedndreams that grip you while younare in it, and yet seem incoherent ornpreposterous in the morning. The story,nset in the United States of the not-toodistantnfuture, relates what happensnwhen the men of ability go on strike.nThe leader of the strike, one John Gait,nis described as being little short of a god,nand the whole thing—with its squarejawednindustrialists, including HenrynRearden, a steel magnate, and DagnynTaggart, lady president of a transcontinentalnrailroad—has the air of a religiousntext. The characters do not speak, theynspeechify, at great length and on everynsubject under the sun: the meaning ofnmoney, the meaning of sex, the mean­nnning of life and morality. At the end ofnthe book, as civilization is collapsing andnthe lights of New York City blink out.nGait commandeers the airwaves and deliversna climactic tirade that goes on fornsixty pages. To the extent that Randnmanages to carry it off, it is through thensheer demonic power of her high-octanencliff-hanging narrative.nThe Driver also has a character namednGait: Henry M. Gait. Like AtlasnShrugged, this novel also takes placenagainst the backdrop of great Americannindustries, initially the railroad industrynand eventually branching off into othernareas. Henry Gait is a Wall Street speculator—likenRand’s Gait, Henry is a genius—whontakes over the bankruptnGreat Midwestern Railroad and turns itninto a mighty empire. Along the way henis persecuted and attacked by his fellownbusinessmen and by government. In thenend, his enemies conspire to put him onntrial for violation of the Sherman Anti-nTrust Act. At the trial, he defends hisnprofits and his right to them in termsnreminiscent of an Ayn Rand hero. LikenAtlas Shrugged, The Driver is a paean tonthe entrepreneur as creator, and Gait isnportrayed in language Rand might havenused to describe any in her pantheon ofnheroic industrialists. “The ready explanationnof Gait’s rise in a few years to thenrole of Wall Street monarch is that henwas a master profit maker,” writes Garrett.n”The way of it was phenomenal.nHis touch was that of genius, daring, unaccountable,nmysteriously guided by anninner mentality. And when the resultsnappeared they were so natural, inevitable,nthat men wondered no less atntheir own stupidity than at his prescience.”nThis sounds like Rand’s descriptionnof Midas Mulligan in AtlasnShrugged: “He had never taken a loss onnany investment he made; everything hentouched turned into gold. . . . Nobodyncould grasp the pattern of his investments:nhe rejected deals that were considerednflawlessly safe, and he put enormousnamounts into ventures that nonother banker would handle. Through thenyears, he had been the trigger that hadnsent unexpected, spectacular bullets ofnindustrial success shooting over thencountry.”nBut what is shocking to the readernwho is also familiar with Rand is the factnthat a stylistic device used throughoutnAtlas Shrugged also occurs in The Driver.nWhile it is plausible that two differentnauthors could come up with a similarn