Sweden might seem an odd place to foster a Randian movement. In 1976 she decried its welfare state as “the most evil national psychology ever described” (the country has taken a sharp turn towards liberal economics since then, and is run by a centre-right coalition government). But if English-speakers are excluded, Swedes lead the world in Google searches for “Ayn Rand”. Timbro, a free-market think-tank in Stockholm, has sold 30,000 copies of her books since 2005. In Britain, six times as populous, only 90,000 have been bought.
India ranks after only America and Canada in online English-language searches for Randian topics. Book sales are strong, but understate the craze, says Barun Mitra of the Liberty Institute, an Indian think-tank. They miss the thriving trade in pirated editions, which he used to see only at railway stations but are now on sale in many urban markets too.
Businessmen and Bollywood stars (including the late Shammi Kapoor) name Rand as an influence (though few politicians do the same). Baichung Bhutia, a football star, says his fictional hero is the Randian character Howard Roark. Krishnarao Jaisim, ex-chair of the Indian Institute of Architects, named his firm “Jaisim Fountainhead”. And—perhaps most gratifying of all for those who loathe collectivism and prize the verdict of the market—Rand’s books outsell Karl Marx’s 16-fold.