Ayn (rhymes with "mine") Rand (February 2, 1905 - March 6, 1982) She was born Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, to a Jewish family in Saint Petersburg, Russia. While she grew up in Russia, she watched the Bolshevik revolution bring poverty to her middle-class family. Deciding that Communism would lead to the destruction of not only Russia, but the world, she acquired a visa to visit some relatives in Chicago. Once there she vowed never to return to Russia. She then moved to Los Angeles and changed her name to Ayn Rand to protect her family back in Russia.
Ayn Rand was a staunch advocate for capitalism and individuality during the 20th century. Her experience in the Soviet Union before immigrating to the US showed her how a collective mindset can lead to brutality. While most of the World crept towards collective economies, she founded the Objectivist movement, wrote logical defenses of economic freedoms and individual rights, and popularized libertarian ideals.
The Objectivist movement emphasizes rational moral reasoning over subjective emotional appeals. Objectivists believe that charity must come from ones own funds, because the ends of charity do not justify using violence to collect the funds. They acknowledge that occasional emergencies call for private voluntary charity, but they believe that a long term dependency on charity leads to asymmetrical and abusive relationships. They praise the reciprocal generosity that capitalism fosters. They also celebrate the accomplishments of individuals.
She wrote many rational explanations of Objectivist views. When asked what will become of the poor in a capitalist society, she responded, "If you wish to help them, no one would stop you." This argument challenges a socialist to put his money (as opposed to his neighbor's money) where his mouth is. She defended the right to free expression, but reminded readers that they must use their own resources and labor to express themselves. During the Civil Rights movement, Rand praised the goal of tolerance, but objected to some of the means. She praised integration, but believed that persuasion, not legislation, was the best way to integrate people in the private sector. Rand echoed Locke by declaring that all humans have identical rights regardless of their group affiliations. She pointed out that while minority groups often face challenges, the most vulnerable minority is the minority of one.
Her first published novel was We The Living, set in Russia after the Russian Revolution, a harsh portrayal of life under the new totalitarian regime of Leninism.
Her novel Anthem was written as the account of a person living within a future totalitarian society in which singular first-person pronouns such as "I" had been banned. The society had attempted to stamp out individualism in this way. The novel is the story of his escape from this society and his rediscovery of the concept of the individual.
The Fountainhead, published in 1943, was her first major commercial success. Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957 was also a major success, and was Rand's last major work of fiction. Atlas Shrugged is considered by many to be her magnum opus.
She subsequently concentrated on non-fiction writings on philosophical and economic subjects and on the Objectivist movement. Her non-fiction writings include Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, The Virtue of Selfishness, The Romantic Manifesto, and For the New Intellectual.
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