David Kelley’s Retirement and the Future of Objectivism

David Kelley, the founder and leader of the Open Objectivist movement, is retiring at the end of the year, the organization he founded has announced.

David Kelley even looks like an Ayn Rand hero. Photo by Judd Weiss.

David has had an extraordinary career as an intellectual leader. It was he who insisted that Objectivism is not a cult with a single authority who gets to say what — or who — is in or out, but a philosophy and a movement where we can think freely and build on what we learned from Ayn Rand. From its beginning, Objectivism was theoretically committed to the independent judgment of the individual mind. David put that commitment into practice.

The movement he created has been invaluable for me and probably nearly every other person, other than Rand herself, who has done worthwhile work in Objectivism. Many of us, including me, have benefited directly from his teaching. And his own intellectual work — most famously on benevolence and toleration, the bedrock of the movement — is a legacy for him to be proud of.

But under the leadership of Jennifer Anju Grossman, the organization David founded, The Atlas Society, is focusing on bringing Ayn Rand’s message to new people, not developing the philosophy. Outreach is, of course, important work. But the Ayn Rand Institute is also doing it, with more resources; even if Ms. Grossman can do it better and more creatively, it isn’t the one thing TAS is uniquely placed to do. More