Because of her uncompromising espousal of individualism and capitalism, Rand is usually identified with the right, rather than the left. Indeed, her intellectual heir, Leonard Peikoff, has gone so far as to describe himself as "to the right of Attila the Hun." Nevertheless, in at least two crucial areas of thought, Rand's views are much closer to the left than they are the right. I am referring specifically to Rand's views on human nature and social change.
Although there are some important theoretical differences between Rand and academic radical leftism, particularly in terms of economics and social morality, their ultimate conclusions about man and history converge in surprising ways. Rand and the Left both adhere to the belief that human nature is largely malleable--that, in other words, there exists little in the way of innate tendencies of behavior that make certain political, economic, and moral schemes impractical and dangerous. Although they differ in their basic explanations of human behavior (the Left claims that behavior is culturally or socially determined, Rand that it is determined by man's fundamental premises), in the end, their explanations are not so very different. Both Rand and the Left contend that most human beings are governed by ideas or premises or modes of thought and feeling that, in the leftist version, are imposed by the ruling class, or, in the Randian version, are absorbed from intellectuals by the unfocused masses. In either version, ideas, in a very broad sense of the word, are the ultimate determinants of society. For the left, it is the ideas of the ruling or master class. For Rand, it is the ideas of the great philosophical system builders. But in either case, it is ideas that are the means by which social change comes about.
Because of Rand's fierce commitment to free will, she tends to downplay the deterministic implications of her theory, in effect declaring that the masses more or less choose (even if unwittingly) to allow themselves to be determined by the predominant philosophy of a given age. The radical Left, on the other hand, because of its obsession with victimhood, emphasizes the powerlessness of the masses to resist the cultural hegemony of ruling class. But their ultimate conclusion is the same: most people, whether by their own free will or not, are determined by the predominant "ideas" in society. And, even more to the point, both Rand and the Left look to the intellectual as the agent of change. The intellectual, guided by philosophers or theorists, can, by challenging the predominant ideas in society, change the entire society. Rand talks about changing people's psycho-epistemology; the Left, about raising people's consciousness. But there really is not much difference in the two phrases. To be sure, Rand and the Left disagree on the type of ideas that trigger social change. Rand believed that metaphysical and epistemological ideas were key. The Left, on the other hand, tends to favor ideas about social and economic relations--though some on the left, particularly those that have bought into post-structuralism and other such intellectual frauds, also are increasingly looking to epistemological ideas in a way that draws strong parallels to Rand.
Rand may have disagreed about a lot of specific issues with the left. But on the broad essentials concerning human nature and social change, there isn't much difference between Objectivism and some of the more academic varieties of radical leftism.