Heinlein is considered a fairly "libertarian-leaning" author. Were there many mentions or references in his works of either Ayn Rand, her works/heroes, or Objectivism (explicit mentions, not merely espousing same/similar philosophy)?

I can think of one - in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Mike is characterized by Mannie as "our Scarlet Pimpernel, our John Galt, our Swamp Fox, our man of mystery", therefore RAH was obviously aware of Rand's work.

  • 2
    You should read RAH's "Expanded Universe" and especially "Grumbles from the Grave" - I always thought his relationship to Rand's work was complicated. Especially with the semi-satirical point of Mike being a computer, therefore a mere tool and also called a "john galt" by the unknowing characters
    – SteveED
    Mar 25, 2012 at 22:04
  • 2
    I find it very hard to imagine Ayn Rand approving of Mr. Kiku in The Star Beast. A faceless career bureaucrat who operates solely based on his sense of duty...and saves the world.
    – user2490
    Feb 25, 2014 at 1:32

3 Answers 3


The only philosophical elements that Rand shares with Heinlein is the idea of self reliance and rational self interest. They both believed that that only duties chosen voluntarily were really worthwhile, and that only free individuals could really choose those most worthwhile values.

Beyond that, Rand was an atheist who viewed altruism as immoral, while Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land is a wholesale indictment of Rand's assertion that altruism is a fake value. He also firmly endorses religion in this book, even to the point of making his protagonist into the Archangel Michael. Heinlein also clearly thought very little of those who rejected such values as duty, honor, patriotism, and self-sacrifice, as seen in Starship Troopers. This makes it likely that Rand would have considered Heinlein “ultimately an altruist” and thus abhorrent to her view that the individual mattered more than the group in all circumstances and that any system of values which rejected that was oppressive.

The character in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, compared to John Galt, has been noted to have been a computer in an attempt to satirize Rand's work. Further, in Beyond This Horizon, all basic human needs are free, and one character is quoted as saying, in a shocked tone of voice: “Naturally food is free! What kind of people do you take us for?”

  • 1
    While overall, I really like this answer, the last paragraph has a technical error. In "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", the character is question (Mike the computer, aka Mycroft) was only compared to John Galt, not called John Galt - as is mentioned in the question. Apr 27, 2012 at 13:06
  • 3
    Actually, Rand did not believe that altruism was immoral - you are majorly misreading "Atlas" here. She merely believed that EXPECTING altruism and treating it as a virtue is immoral. In other words, if YOU personally choose to be altruistic, a (proper) Objectivist at best will say "good for you" and at worst will consider you wierd. The problem will ONLY arise if/when you (a) Use the fact of your altruism to claim you are BETTER in some way than someone who's not altruistic; and/or (b) Try to COMPEL someone to be altruistic. May 6, 2012 at 1:18
  • 3
    In addition, I must object to 'Heinlein also clearly thought very little of those who rejected such values as duty, honor, patriotism, and self-sacrifice, as seen in "Starship Troopers"' as well. He (using one of his mouthpieces, an instructor at the academy) very cleary stated that those who served were neither more virtuous nor smarter than those who didn't. They merely have a very specific quality which (according to RAH's philosophy as espouse in the book) makes them uniquely qualified for stable political power - namely, ability to place the good of the species above their own. May 6, 2012 at 1:21
  • 4
    DVK, you are mistaken about Rand...don't try to guess her ideas based solely on that one novel. In her article The Virtue of Selfishness, she explicitly condemned altruism, although of course she was butchering both "virtue" and "selfishness" according to only one simplistic reading of what they mean, and really provided a straw man for statists when she did so.
    – user7122
    Jun 25, 2012 at 15:42
  • 3
    @DVK, what Kaz said. She was VERY clear in her personal letters to others, using vitriolic language and personal attacks, regarding any action that wasn't 100% grounded in self interest. This is the main reason that I dislike her philosophy, while I embrace Heinleins 100% for the most part. "Naturally food is free! What kind of people do you take us for?" is an amazing statement when combined with "Physical violence is the ultimate authority" and "Those who have killed and died for the Republic are the only people qualified to help guide it." Politically I'm pretty wonky. Jul 3, 2012 at 23:26

The most explicit mention is in Moon when Prof de la Paz and Wyoming Knott are discussing politics during their initial meeting in Hotel Raffles. When Knott asks as to what Prof's political philosophy is and he replies "Rational Anarchist". To which she then asks if he means "Randite". My supposition has always been that this is referring to Ayn Rand. To which Prof replies that he and Randites can get along.


There are vague philosophical similarities between AR and RAH, but they only serve to accentuate the significant differences.

Free love and self-reliance is about as far as they go together.

Ayn Rand never really "examined her own premises" as she so often recommended to dissenters from Objectivism. RAH seemed to have a grand time bouncing his left/right wing ideas off of each other.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.