Ayn Rand, original name Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, (born February 2, 1905, St. Petersburg, Russiadied March 6, 1982, New York, New York, U.S.), Russian-born American writer whose commercially successful novels promoting individualism and laissez-faire capitalism were influential among conservatives and libertarians and popular among generations of young people in the United States from the mid-20th century.
Her father, Zinovy Rosenbaum, was a prosperous pharmacist. After being tutored at home, Alissa Rosenbaum, the eldest of three children, was enrolled in a progressive school, where she excelled academically but was socially isolated. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, her fathers shop was confiscated by communist authorities, an event she deeply resented. As a student at Leningrad State University, she studied history and became acquainted with the works of Plato and Aristotle. After graduating in 1924, she enrolled in the State Institute for Cinematography, hoping to become a screenwriter.
The arrival of a letter from cousins in Chicago gave her an opportunity to leave the country on the pretext of gaining expertise that she could apply in the Soviet film industry. Upon her arrival in the United States in 1926, she changed her name to Ayn Rand. (The first name, which rhymes with pine, was inspired by the name of a Finnish writer, whom she never identified, and the surname she described as an abbreviation of Rosenbaum.) After six months in Chicago she moved to Hollywood, where a fortuitous encounter with the producer Cecil B. DeMille led to work as a movie extra and eventually to a job as a screenwriter. In 1929 she married the actor Frank OConnor. Soon hired as a filing clerk in the wardrobe department of RKO Radio Pictures, Inc., she rose to head of the department within a year, meanwhile writing stories, plays, and film scenarios in her spare time. She became an American citizen in 1931.
Rands first successful play, Night of January 16th (1933; originally titled Penthouse Legend), was a paean to individualism in the form of a courtroom drama. In 1934 she and OConnor moved to New York City so that she could oversee the plays production on Broadway. That year she also wrote Ideal, about a self-centred film star on the run from the law, first as a novel and then as a play. However, she shelved both versions. The play was not produced until 1989, and the novel was not published until 2015. Her first published novel, We the Living (1936), was a romantic tragedy in which Soviet totalitarianism epitomized the inherent evils of collectivism, which she understood as the subordination of individual interests to those of the state. A subsequent novella, Anthem (1938), portrayed a future collectivist dystopia in which the concept of the self and even the word I have been lost.
Rand spent more than seven years working on her first major work, The Fountainhead (1943), the story of a handsome architectural genius whose individualism and integrity are evinced in his principled dedication to his own happiness. The hero, Howard Roark, blows up a public housing project he had designed after it is altered against his wishes by government bureaucrats. On trial for his crime, he delivers a lengthy speech in his own defense in which he argues for individualism over collectivism and egoism over altruism (the doctrine which demands that man live for others and place others above self). The jury votes unanimously to acquit him. Despite generally bad reviews, the book attracted readers through word of mouth and eventually became a best seller. Rand sold it to Warner Brothers studio and wrote the screenplay for the film, which was released in 1949.
Having returned to Los Angeles with OConnor to work on the script for The Fountainhead, Rand signed a contract to work six months a year as a screenwriter for the independent producer Hal Wallis. In 1945 she began sketches for her next novel, Atlas Shrugged (1957; film part 1, 2011, part 2, 2012, part 3, 2014), which is generally considered her masterpiece. The book depicts a future United States on the verge of economic collapse after years of collectivist misrule, under which productive and creative citizens (primarily industrialists, scientists, and artists) have been exploited to benefit an undeserving population of moochers and incompetents. The hero, John Galt, a handsome and supremely self-interested physicist and inventor, leads a band of elite producers and creators in a strike designed to deprive the economy of their leadership and thereby force the government to respect their economic freedom. From their redoubt in Colorado, Galts Gulch, they watch as the national economy and the collectivist social system are destroyed. As the elite emerge from the Gulch in the novels final scene, Galt raises his hand over the desolate earth andtrace[s] in space the sign of the dollar.
Atlas Shrugged was notable for making explicit the philosophical assumptions that underlay The Fountainhead, which Rand described as only an overture to the later work. In an appendix to Atlas Shrugged, Rand described her systematic philosophy, which she called objectivism, as in essencethe concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.
Although the book was attacked by critics from across the political spectrum for its perceived immorality and misanthropy and its overt hostility to religion (Rand was an atheist), it was an instant best seller. It was especially well received by business leaders, many of whom were impressed by its moral justification of capitalism and delighted to think of their occupations as noble and virtuous. Like The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged also appealed widely to young people through its extreme romanticism, its accessible and comprehensive philosophy, its rejection of traditional authority and convention, and its implicit invitation to the reader to join the ranks of the elite by modeling himself on the storys hero.
In 1950 Rand agreed to meet a young admirer, Nathan Blumenthal, on the basis of his several articulate fan letters. The two established an immediate rapport, and Blumenthal and his girlfriend, Barbara Weidman, became Rands friends as well as her intellectual followers. In 1951 the couple moved to New York, and Rand and OConnor soon followed. There the Brandens, as Nathan and Barbara called themselves after their marriage in 1953, introduced Rand to their friends and relatives, some of whom later attended regular meetings at Rands apartment for discussion and to read newly written chapters of Atlas Shrugged. The group, which called itself the Class of 43 (a reference to the publication date of The Fountainhead) or (ironically) the Collective, included Alan Greenspan, an economics consultant who would later head the presidents Council of Economic Advisers (197477) and serve as chairman of the Federal Reserve (19872006). Among members of the Collective Nathan Branden was unquestionably Rands favourite. She openly acknowledged him as her intellectual heir and formally designated him as such in the afterword of Atlas Shrugged, which she co-dedicated to him and to OConnor.
In the late 1950s, with Rands permission, Branden established a business designed to teach the basic principles of objectivism to sympathetic readers of Rands novels. The Nathaniel Branden Institute (NBI), as it was later called, offered courses in objectivism in New York and distributed tape-recorded lectures by Branden to objectivist centers in various other cities. Despite its outward appearance as an educational institution, NBI did not permit its students to think critically about objectivism or to develop objectivist ideas in novel ways. Through the success of NBI, Branden would eventually become the public guardian of objectivist orthodoxy against innovation or unauthorized borrowing by objectivist sympathizers, especially among the growing student right. In 1962 Branden and Rand launched the monthly Objectivist Newsletter (renamed The Objectivist in 1966). Meanwhile, Rands fame grew apace with the brisk sales of her novels. She was invited to speak at numerous colleges and universities and was interviewed on television talk shows and on the news program 60 Minutes. Growing into her role as a public intellectual, she published her first work of nonfiction, For the New Intellectual, largely a collection of philosophical passages from her fiction, in 1961. The Virtue of Selfishness (1964) and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966) were drawn mostly from lectures and newsletter articles.
In 1968 Rand learned that Branden, with whom she had been having an intermittent affair (with their spouses knowledge) since 1954, was involved in a romantic relationship with a younger woman. Accusing him of betraying objectivist principles, she stripped him of his partnership in The Objectivist and demanded that he surrender control of NBI, which was soon dissolved. The closing of the institute freed various self-described objectivists to publicly develop their own interpretations of Rands philosophyall of which, however, she rejected as perversions or plagiarism of her ideas. She was especially incensed at the use of objectivist vocabulary by young libertarians, whom she accused of disregarding morality and flirting with anarchism. Meanwhile, Brandens status as Rands favourite disciple was assumed by Leonard Peikoff, an original member of the Collective whom she would eventually designate as her intellectual and legal heir.
In 1971 Rand ceased publication of The Objectivist and replaced it with the fortnightly Ayn Rand Letter, which appeared with increasing irregularity until 1976. In 1974 she underwent surgery for lung cancer. Although she recovered, she never again had the energy to pursue large-scale writing projects. In 1979 she published Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, a collection of philosophical articles originally written in 1967. She was working on an adaptation of Atlas Shrugged for a television miniserieseventually unrealizedwhen she died.
Rand was continually frustrated by her failure to gain acceptance among academic philosophers, most of whom dismissed (or were simply unaware of) her work. This neglect, which she attributed to collectivist bias and incompetence, was partly due to the fictional form in which the best-known statements of her philosophy appeared, which necessarily rendered them imprecise by professional standards. Other factors were her idiosyncratic interpretation of the history of Western philosophy, her tendency to rely, even in her nonfiction works, on broad ad hominem attacks, and her general unwillingness to tolerate disagreement with her views among those with whom she associated.
In 1986 Barbara Branden published a memoir, The Passion of Ayn Rand, that disclosed Rands affair with Nathan and revealed unflattering details of her relations with members of the Collective and others. Despite the resulting damage to her reputation, her novels continued to enjoy large sales, and she retained a loyal following among conservatives and libertarians, including some high-ranking members of the Ronald Reagan administration (the most notable being Greenspan). In the 1990s and 2000s her works undoubtedly contributed to the increased popularity of libertarianism in the United States, and from 2009 she was an iconic figure in the antigovernment Tea Party movement. It is for these specifically political influences, rather than for her contributions to literature or philosophy, that she is likely to be remembered by future generations.
- Revealed: How U.S. Gov't & Hollywood Secretly Worked Together to Justify Atomic Bombings of Japan - Democracy Now! - August 10th, 2020
- California students call to remove Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher busts - Campus Reform - August 10th, 2020
- The GOP Are Standing on Trump's Sinking Ship, But Democrats Need a Vision Beyond Electing Biden - Common Dreams - August 10th, 2020
- Is Donald Trump the Republican Partys future, or its past? - Vox.com - August 10th, 2020
- Conservative Theologically, but Liberal Politically | Gene Veith - Patheos - August 10th, 2020
- Who is Jonathan Swan, the reporter who grilled Trump? And what do kangaroos have to do with it? - The Guardian - August 10th, 2020
- Shaker Heights actors to star in Zoom play: Press Run - cleveland.com - August 3rd, 2020
- Masking Authoritarianism In The Name Of Public Health - CodeBlue - August 3rd, 2020
- The Federal Reserve Works Best When It Sticks With Gold - Forbes - August 3rd, 2020
- Government Grants Loan to Libertarian-Based Ayn Rand Institute - The Great Courses Daily News - July 31st, 2020
- Rest of the Story, Pandemic Edition : Planet Money - NPR - July 31st, 2020
- Law of Integrity the Joke's on Us - India Legal - July 31st, 2020
- No. PAW Patrol Wasn't Canceled. But We Wish It Had Been - Fatherly - July 31st, 2020
- A field guide to the pandemic deniers - Salon - July 31st, 2020
- Mastodon, Tool, Coheed + Cambria, Primus Members Team on Cover of Rush's 'Anthem' - Loudwire - July 31st, 2020
- Daddy Ducey had his chance to deal with COVID; It's time to call Mom | What the Devil won't tell you - TucsonSentinel.com - July 30th, 2020
- Peter Bart: How Hollywood Learned That Mixing Politics And Art Can Turn Big Ideas Into B-Pictures - Deadline - July 30th, 2020
- The saga of the doctor versus the denier continues - Antelope Valley Press - July 30th, 2020
- Making it on your own in pandemic | Opinion - News-Press Now - July 27th, 2020
- Every generation gets 'The Baby-Sitters Club' it deserves - SFGate - July 27th, 2020
- How Amber Heard went from a small town in Texas to centre stage in Hollywood's most explosive trial yet - Evening Standard - July 27th, 2020
- A Failure Of Imagination - The Standard - July 25th, 2020
- Big problems with the Paycheck Protection Program? - The Week - July 25th, 2020
- Daily Reformer: Hagehan The First Couple Of Minnesota Politics - Patch.com - July 25th, 2020
- Passing a new stimulus measure should not be that hard - USA TODAY - July 25th, 2020
- Believe the Hype: 'Watchmen' is the TV Show of the Moment - International Policy Digest - July 25th, 2020
- Bender: The official presidential cognition test - The Dickinson Press - July 24th, 2020
- Ayn Rand - Books, Quotes & Philosophy - Biography - July 22nd, 2020
- Finally: Diamond and Silk are releasing a book - The Spectator USA - July 22nd, 2020
- The Dictatorial Impulse Behind the Shaming of PPP Recipients - New Ideal - July 21st, 2020
- Instead Of Open Or Closed, Dial Your Mind To Active - Forbes - July 21st, 2020
- When MGM and the FBI Chased 'The Father of the Atomic Bomb' - WhoWhatWhy - July 21st, 2020
- Tagore's Gora to Krishnamurthy's Ponniyin Selvan: Add these regional language books to your reading list - India Today - July 21st, 2020
- Westneat: 'Breath of liberty' and some hot air - The Columbian - July 18th, 2020
- Feather: Burrillville's actions are embarrassing - Valley Breeze - July 18th, 2020
- 'We Took PPP Funds and Would Do It Again' - New Ideal - July 14th, 2020
- Tips and Murmurs: Ayn Rand Institute gets government handout - Crikey - July 14th, 2020
- St. Joseph reaps short-lived cash infusion - News-Press Now - July 14th, 2020
- Your Illinois News Radar I'm not sure why this is being treated almost like a scandal - The Capitol Fax Blog - July 14th, 2020
- Paycheck Protection Payouts Give Taxpayers Plenty To Ponder | K. Lloyd Billingsley - The Beacon - July 14th, 2020
- Climbing aboard the PPP train | Opinion | citizensvoice.com - Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice - July 14th, 2020
- Mississippi PPP loan recipients: See the full searchable list of who received them - Hattiesburg American - July 14th, 2020
- Indiana PPP loan recipients: See the full searchable list of who received them - Courier & Press - July 14th, 2020
- Whats the Deal With Parler and its Rising Popularity? - The Wire - July 14th, 2020
- We Talked With the Cast of 'Brave New World'! - The Mary Sue - July 14th, 2020
- What a real small business thinks of loan for Jelly Belly - Los Angeles Times - July 12th, 2020
- Local anti-tax groups find even they need big government aid sometimes - Seattle Times - July 12th, 2020
- Mississippi PPP loan recipients: See the full searchable list of who received them - Clarion Ledger - July 12th, 2020
- Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Randi Weingarten | TheHill - The Hill - July 12th, 2020
- Vocal Opponents Of Federal Spending Took PPP Loans, Including Ayn Rand Institute, Grover Norquist Group - Forbes - July 11th, 2020
- North Carolina PPP loan recipients: See the full searchable list of who received them - Citizen Times - July 11th, 2020
- The Ayn Rand Institute received PPP loan between $350k and $1 million - Archinect - July 10th, 2020
- Saugatuck ice cream shop denies it received or even asked for millions of federal coronavirus relief funds - Detroit Metro Times - July 10th, 2020
- Coronavirus Roundup: A Red-Hot Real Estate Market in Upstate New York - The River Newsroom - July 10th, 2020
- Ayn Rand | Biography, Books, & Facts | Britannica - July 4th, 2020
- Who Is Ayn Rand? - The Objective Standard - July 4th, 2020
- What's Wrong With Ayn Rand's Philosophy? - The Objective ... - July 4th, 2020
- What's the deal with Twitter competitor Parler? - Slate - July 4th, 2020
- B Magazine: Holly Rehder interview with B Magazine (7/3/20) - Southeast Missourian - July 4th, 2020
- LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Fail to condemn evil | On personal liberties | Give D.C.'s land back - Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - July 4th, 2020
- Bolstering Separation of Money and State Following the 244th Independence Day - Bitcoin News - July 4th, 2020
- Guest Opinion: Socialism is about government control - Opinion - The Intelligencer - July 4th, 2020
- Ayn Rand - - Biography - June 22nd, 2020
- When Tribal Journalists Try to 'Cancel' Ayn Rand (Part 2) - New Ideal - June 22nd, 2020
- The Jio-FB tie-up: Will it subliminally influence and monolpolise Indian minds? - Economic Times - June 22nd, 2020
- Shockingly, Law School Named For Affirmative Action Opponent Bad At Race And Diversity - Above the Law - June 22nd, 2020
- When Tribal Journalists Try to "Cancel" Ayn Rand (Part 1) - New Ideal - June 16th, 2020
- Meet Wikipedias Ayn Rand-loving founder and Wikimedia Foundations regime-change operative CEO - The Grayzone - June 16th, 2020
- What Big Tech Wants Out of the Pandemic - The Atlantic - June 16th, 2020
- THE STROLLER: Digest these words and these flowers - Martinsville Bulletin - June 16th, 2020
- From farmers to salad toppings: 26 weirdly niche dating web web sites. This updated tale had been initially published Feb. 8, 2012. Rebecca Ruiz... - June 16th, 2020
- Journal Junction for May 11th - Martinsburg Journal - June 1st, 2020
- Meaningful thoughts pass test of time - Bouldercityreview - June 1st, 2020
- To Take or Not to Take - New Ideal - May 18th, 2020
- Analysis: What happened to Elon Musk? - WICZ - May 18th, 2020
- A Philosophic Perspective on Infectious Disease Pandemics - New Ideal - April 27th, 2020
- An Alternate View: Why Right-Wing Billionaires are Financing the Reopen Protests - Clare County Review - April 27th, 2020
- Letters: Find a way to preserve public sector jobs, pay; Teachers need support; Vitamin D3 to help prevent disease - Honolulu Star-Advertiser - April 27th, 2020
- The immigrant era - Meduza - April 27th, 2020
- Stars to fans on World Book Day: The more you read the more youll know - SocialNews.XYZ - April 27th, 2020