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Italian Futurism was an art movement in early 20th century Italy which celebrated youth, violence & technology:

Marinetti expressed a passionate loathing of everything old, especially political and artistic tradition. "We want no part of it, the past", he wrote, "we the young and strong Futurists!" The Futurists admired speed, technology, youth and violence, the car, the airplane and the industrial city, all that represented the technological triumph of humanity over nature, and they were passionate nationalists.

They repudiated the cult of the past and all imitation, praised originality, "however daring, however violent", bore proudly "the smear of madness", dismissed art critics as useless, rebelled against harmony and good taste, swept away all the themes and subjects of all previous art, and gloried in science.

There were Futurist movements in England and Russia, Mayakovsky being the most prominent exponent of the movement in Russia where it fed into Soviet Social Realism - the celebration of the Worker and the Factory.

As one of the Soviet Unions leading poets and propagandists, Mayakovsky was allowed to visit Mexico and America in 1925 and was greeted by the New York Times as the:

"generalissimo of the army of revolutionary minstrels"

Ayn Rand, in her novel Atlas Shrugged, similarly celebrates Technology & Strength; Rand herself on her own philosophical exposition points towards only Aristotle in an almost gestural way; considering herself as a philosopher sui generis;

On this reading one could say that Rand was a point of diffusion of Futurist ideas in the States, which places her in the tradition of polemical artistes or rhetoricians rather than discursive philosophers such as Aristotle.

One might place her as a counter-point to Mayakovsky, and paraphrase the New York Times and call her the 'Tsarina of counter-revolutionary ministrelettes'.

To the Heroic Worker she counters the Heroic Industrialist

To the Strike of Labour she counters the Strike of Intellect

To the Salvation of the People she counters the Salvation of the Economy

To Proter-Kult she counters Kapita-Kult

To primitive-communism she counters primitive-capitalism (Galts Valley)

An inversion & a revolution around the fixed-point of Technology. As Marx turns Hegel upside down, she turns Marx upside down. And so it goes...

  • Now this is an interesting question :) – Joseph Weissman Dec 28 '13 at 14:51
  • (Rand + Cosmism might be another juxtaposition to engage here...) – Joseph Weissman Dec 28 '13 at 14:51
  • Cosmism? I had to look that up... – Mozibur Ullah Dec 28 '13 at 19:38
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I'm making this an answer instead of a comment because it turns out to be too long.

The TL;DR version is that while it's possible to draw parallels and contrasts between any person and any other person, firstly, the number of permutations is going to be astronomical or even economical, and secondly, in this particular instance, I suspect it's not going to be fruitful. Try to contrast The Futurist Manifesto with any book by Rand.

Italian Futurism was an art movement in early 20th century Italy which celebrated youth, violence & technology:

Youth and technology have been celebrated by an innumerably large number of people, especially the former. Rand abhorred violence, except in self-defense.

On this reading one could say that Rand was a point of diffusion of Futurist ideas in the States, which places her in the tradition of polemical artistes or rhetoricians rather than discursive philosophers such as Aristotle.

While one could say anything at all; neither was she, herself raised on any such tradition, nor did she try to mentor others into following such a tradition herself. Based on what I know of Rand, I'd say any such resemblance is only coincidental. From what I know about Rand, she does not seem to be a discursive philosopher. Her methods seem more like the methods of Marx or Nietzsche.

To the Heroic Worker she counters the Heroic Industrialist

To the Strike of Labour she counters the Strike of Intellect

I'd agree with your impression.

To the Salvation of the People she counters the Salvation of the Economy

I disagree here. Rand cared about freedom (i.e. individual liberty) foremost. In her discourse, the economy, i.e. capitalism, is what comes about when individual rights (including property rights) are respected.

To primitive-communism she counters primitive-capitalism (Galts Valley)

The idea of like-minded people trying to start afresh is not really original either. But then, I don't see what this has to do with Italian Futurism.

An inversion & a revolution around the fixed-point of Technology. As Marx turns Hegel upside down, she turns Marx upside down.

Technology, just like the economy, is not the cause for Rand. It is, rather, the effect. But, I'd agree that in economics, she is pretty much the opposite of Marx. Again, I don't see the connection to Italian Futurism.

  • What do you mean by TL;DR? One of the main point of Futurist Art as an artistic legacy is to be at home in the Technological world; its one of the main streams that pushed against Romanticism (of Nature) and Classicism. The affinities that one sees - is its association on the right of the political spectrum, and its unbridled technological optimism. Rands novels stand outside the main-stream of modern European literature. She doesn't appear to gain much from or be influenced by indigenous American authors like Twain, Melville or Whitman. – Mozibur Ullah Dec 30 '13 at 7:48
  • One of her main influence appears to be the scientific socialism of HG Wells, transmitted through Zamyatins We (a dystopian critique of the Soviet Revolution); but tying the socialism to dystopia and individualism to utopia. Futurism died in Europe when Europe descended into War. – Mozibur Ullah Dec 30 '13 at 7:55
  • One of the artistic avant-garde techniques she appropriates is the manifesto - she turns it into the form of the novel. I was comparing her to Mayakovsky deliberately to remark on her proper vocation as a polemicist & propagandist rather than as a philosopher. This is why I was pointing out the inversions as an artistic technique, not one on the level of proper philosophical & rational thought. – Mozibur Ullah Dec 30 '13 at 8:11
  • No, she was not influenced by Twain, Melville, Whitman, etc., and there is little reason to be; she did not write in that genre. In this aspect, she had a lot more in common with Orwell and Huxley. I had not heard of Zamyatin, but Wikipedia says it influenced one of Rand's novels. I find this connection a lot more believable. I, of course, disagree entirely with what you see as her "proper vocation". This has been addressed in another question on Phil.SE. If I may ask, which books of hers have you read? – prash Dec 30 '13 at 8:31
  • I've tried reading Atlas Shrugged; its style put me off - it reminded me too much of the SF that I read as a teenager; possibly her influence on that genre. I'm planning on reading her Objectivist Epistemology. – Mozibur Ullah Dec 30 '13 at 9:37

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