Jesus. Aristotle. Alexander. Hitler. Dr. King. These men have all cast long shadows over human affairs and ultimately have driven the forces of history. As this century takes form it’s clear that this age will be shaped by one of two people; Ayn Rand or L.Ron Hubbard.

Both leaders have spawned legions of influential disciples who drive the twin engines of culture and commerce. The followers of both groups often find themselves under attack from critics from within and without, but each day their reach expands.
Jenny Turner chronicles the quiet ubiquity of the Randians in the latest London Review of Books:
Objectivism is also promulgated by the Objectivist Center in Washington DC, ... The Center supports lectures and social events, a journal called the New Individualist (until recently the Navigator), a venture called the Atlas Society and an online Objectivism Store selling T-shirts, bags, hats, badges and inspirational posters.
Rand is everywhere on the internet: stickers, coasters, car number plates, CDs featuring a Randian ‘Concerto of Deliverance’ at starshipaurora.com. Randians can meet ‘at least’ four thousand others, it is claimed, through the Objectivist dating agency at theatlasphere.com, …Professional philosophers can join the Ayn Rand Society at aynrandsociety.org.

Rand’s influences are noticeable in the political ethos that flourished in the literary environment she provided. A politics that manifested itself in the form of Ronald Reagan and his political offspring. An ideology that focused on destroying the overt collectivism of the Soviets and the more subtle socialism found in western democracies. Money is the fountainhead of political societies and her impact is even more direct in this regard. The business focused climate she facilitated ushered in an unrepentant form of hyper-capitalism that remains the hallmark of her adopted nation. Long time U.S. Federal Reserve Bank chairman Alan Greenspan (who was a flute playing early acolyte of Rand’s) has used his pulpit to shape global monetary policy in a way that many consider to be in adherence with Randian goals.

Her death hasn’t stalled the movement. The emotional content of her writing has helped her words to find leverage in the hearts of adolescents around the world, and her books continue to be bestsellers. Turner describes Rand’s continued popularity as a combination of rapture and intellectual fireworks: Post-Rand, Objectivism has become more secular and suburban, but as is the way with suburbs, also more widespread. If nothing else, Objectivism might inject romance, victimhood, entertainingly bohemian personal chaos, into the otherwise uneventful right-wing life

Her adherents are diverse and growing. As Scott McLemee describes:
(Randians include) the novelist and screenwriter Nora Ephron, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the Canadian bombast-rock group Rush. (The album 2112 was inspired by her philosophy.) Rand died in 1982, but her spirit lingers in Silicon Valley, with its anarcho-entrepreneurialism. At least one dozen Playboy centerfold models have named The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged as their favorite book. And Camille Paglia has proclaimed Rand an intellectual prototype of her own bad self--than which no higher praise can be imagined, from that source.

Meanwhile Scientology has grown to become the pre-eminent religion in the employ of those who control celebrity culture. Since its beginnings, Scientology targeted celebrities to grow the profile of the fledging church. To this day the high profile of some the church’s more celebrated members like Tom Cruise and John Travolta are only the most public face of group that has been able to recruit followers from all walks of life. From prison out-reach, school drug treatment programs, to the foot soldiers offering e-meter testing on the sidewalks of cities across the globe, Scientology has used yeoman tactics to grow its base. Hubbard’s text Dianetics (subtitled: The Modern Science of Mental Health) has become the bible for millions of followers around the world. Recently, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized the late founder as the most translated author in the history of the world.

Scientology’s appeal lies largely in its ability to tap into man’s quest for self-examination and self-improvement. While rigorously (and litigiously) maintaining secrecy about the inner-workings of the church the faith is welcoming to any and all who strive.

Like the Randians, Scientologists are mired in controversy. Some consider the church little more than a pyramid scheme wrapped in a pious veneer. Others criticize the church for being more cult than religion. And most recently the church has found itself waging an increasingly public (and at times surreal) battle with the medical establishment. These skirmishes over the image of the church has brought the fight into a battlefield it knows all too well; the realm of popular culture.
Even Wall St. sees the folly of the current drug policy.

It's time to consider a dramatic shift in policy. Instead of the battle cry "war on drugs," let's try the mantra "legalization, regulation, and taxation."