- Mini Bio
- Name: Ayn Rand
- Born: 2nd February 1905, St. Petersburg, Russian Empire
- Died: 6th March 1982, New York City, New York, U.S.
- Resting place: Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, New York, U.S.
- Birth name: Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum
- Alma Mater: Petrograd State University
- Occupation: Writer and philosopher
- Philosophy: Objectivism (she was the founder of this school of philosophy)
- Notable works: The Fountainhead (1943), Atlas Shrugged (1957), The Virtue of Selfishness (1964) and Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (1979)
- Marriage resume: Frank O'Connor, 1929 to 1979 (his death)
- Influenced by: Aristotle, Edmond Rostand, Friedrich Schiller, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Nikolay Chernyshevsky, Thomas Aquinas and Victor Hugo
- Inspired: Alan Greenspan, Brad Pitt, Daniel Hannan, David Nolan, Donald Trump, Ed Snider, Erika Holzer, Eva Mendes, Ira Levin, John Allison, John P. Mackey, Kay Nolte Smith, Leonard Peikoff, Lisa Duggan, L. Neil Smith, Mark Cuban, Neil Peart, Paul Ryan, Sajid Javid, Steve Ditko, Tara Smith, Ted Cruz, Terry Goodkind and Travis Kalanick
- Nickname: The mother of objectivism
"Communism proposes to enslave men by force, socialism - by vote. It is merely the difference between murder and suicide"Ayn Rand
"Collectivism is the tribal premise of primordial savages who, unable to conceive of individual rights, believed that the tribe is a supreme, omnipotent ruler, that it owns the lives of its members and may sacrifice them whenever it pleases"Ayn Rand
"Ask yourself why totalitarian dictatorships find it necessary to pour money and effort into propaganda for their own helpless, chained, gagged slaves, who have no means of protest or defense"Ayn Rand
"My philosophy, in essence, is the 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"Ayn Rand
"There are only two means by which men can deal with one another: guns or logic. Force or persuasion. Those who know that they cannot win by means of logic, have always resorted to guns"Ayn Rand
"Let no man posture as an advocate of peace if he proposes or supports any social system that initiates the use of force against individual men, in any form"Ayn Rand
"Remember also that the smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights, cannot claim to be defenders of minorities"Ayn Rand
"What is greatness? I will answer: it is the capacity to live by the three fundamental values of John Galt: reason, purpose, self-esteem"Ayn Rand
"Every novelist is a philosopher, because one cannot present a picture of human existence without a philosophical framework"Ayn Rand
"It is typical of today's culture that the proponents of seething, raging hostility are taken as advocates of love"Ayn Rand
"The worst evil that you can do, psychologically, is to laugh at yourself. That means spitting in your own face"Ayn Rand
"The fight we are in here, make no mistake about it, is a fight of individualism versus collectivism"Ayn Rand
"There is a level of cowardice lower than that of the conformist: the fashionable non-conformist"Ayn Rand
"Art is a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist's individual value-judgments"Ayn Rand
"Do not let the hero in your soul perish"Ayn Rand
"The difference between a welfare state and a totalitarian state is a matter of time"Ayn Rand
"I am interested in politics so that one day I will not have to be interested in politics"Ayn Rand
"Some day, the world will discover that, without thought, there can be no love"Ayn Rand
"The hippies are the living demonstration of what it means to give up reason"Ayn Rand
"The quickest way to kill human spirit is to ask someone to do mediocre work"Ayn Rand
"Free competition enforced by law is a grotesque contradiction in terms"Ayn Rand
"The moral precept to adopt...is: Judge, and be prepared to be judged"Ayn Rand
"Statism survives by looting; a free country survives by production"Ayn Rand
"The entire history of science is a progression of exploded fallacies"Ayn Rand
"Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism"Ayn Rand
"To fear to face an issue is to believe that the worst is true"Ayn Rand
"Force and mind are opposites; Morality ends where a gun begins"Ayn Rand
"It is not death that we wish to avoid, but life that we wish to live"Ayn Rand
"It is man's irrational emotions that bring him down to the mud"Ayn Rand
"A society without intellectuals is like a body without a head"Ayn Rand
"A culture is made - or destroyed - by its articulate voices"Ayn Rand
"Do not sacrifice this world to those who are the worst"Ayn Rand
"Anyone who fights for the future, lives in it today"Ayn Rand
"Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent"Ayn Rand
"It is man's reason that lifts him to the stars"Ayn Rand
"Honor is self-esteem made visible in action"Ayn Rand
"Racism is a doctrine of, by and for brutes"Ayn Rand
"All progress is the work of individuals"Ayn Rand
"Every loneliness is a pinnacle"Ayn Rand
"I am. I think. I will"Ayn Rand
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Ayn Rand's Legacy
From Russia to controversy, the legacy of Ayn Rand of one of the classic marmite writer whose cynical views create division, derision or adoration depending on the view of the reader.
She was opposed to collectivism, communism, religion and socialism. Rand viewed altruism as a form of self-denial that is incompatible with free markets and individual rights. Her views on objectivism considered the logic of rational selfishness that favoured individualism. She gave meaning to a man creating his own happiness through his own productive efforts.
Her unwavering ethical vision of rational self-interest set a societal tone for an adoption of moral virtues to mould tunnel visioned individuals who then habitually look after their own interests without the inclination to help others or allow others to help them.
To some, objectivism seems a reversion to the basic human instincts that has kept the species alive for millions of years, hunt, gather and look after number one. The other side of that coin is collectivism encouraged teamwork, the sharing of resources and wholesale mercantile trade that benefited the majority. It is easy rationalise one philosophy as superior to the other but quite another to put that belief system into practice as the revisionism of the theories of Karl Marx can testify.
Quotes About Ayn Rand
The historian Ludwig von Mises paid her an enormous compliment with this meaningful description:
"The most courageous man in America"
The writer Whittaker Chambers conveyed his thoughts of gallows humour:
"From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard ... commanding: 'To a gas chamber-go!'"
The economist Friedrich Hayek provoked a response:
"We had a very brief exchange. She swelled in anger and spun away, remaining only long enough to say, ‘You are a compromiser’."
The author Chris Matthew Sciabarra described her thus:
"Her works had inspired passionate responses that echo the uncompromising nature of her moral vision"
The journalist Nick Gillespie describes her legacy:
"Rand's is a tortured immortality, one in which she's as likely to be a punch line as a protagonist. Jibes at Rand as cold and inhuman run through the popular culture"
The philosopher Tibor Machan was impressed to say:
"From the initial outline Ayn Rand provided, a very rich and powerful philosophy emerges – e.g., it solves such problems as science versus free will and moral responsibility, knowledge versus the fact of fallibility. Merely because Rand's ideas were not born in academe or developed in full detail by her, it cannot be concluded that they are unsound"
The Australian satirist Clive James shared this critique:
"There have even been outright bad writers blessed by the visitation of a poetic title. Ayn Rand had one with The Fountainhead, and another with Atlas Shrugged: a bit of a mouthful, but nobody has ever spat it out without first being fascinated with what it felt like to chew"
The businessman John Mackey shared this opinion:
"I think that in some ways the libertarian movement - possibly due to the combined influence of Ayn Rand and many economists - has gotten to a kind of ideological dead end that I don't think does justice to business or capitalism or human nature"
The writer Jesse Larner was torn to say:
"Like her other works of fiction and nonfiction, the book Atlas Shrugged manages to be both deeply sinister and deeply ridiculous, which isn't so easy to do"
An Objectivist scholar, John David Lewis was impressed to declare:
"Rand wrote the most intellectually challenging fiction of her generation"
The clinical psychologist Bruce E. Levine shared this assessment of her legacy:
"Ayn Rand helped make the United States into one of the most uncaring nations in the industrialized world, a neo-Dickensian society where healthcare is only for those who can afford it, and where young people are coerced into huge student-loan debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy"
Bruce E. Levine went on to say:
"While Harriet Beecher Stowe shamed Americans about the United States' dehumanization of African Americans and slavery, Ayn Rand removed Americans' guilt for being selfish and uncaring about anyone except themselves"
The philosopher Greg Nyquist offered this opinion:
"Rand tended to believe that questions of fact could be determined by the manipulation of vague terms"
The journalist Brian Doherty was a fan:
"the most influential libertarian of the twentieth century to the public at large"
The author Adam Weiner talked of her influence:
"Rand had effectively chucked a ticking time bomb into the boiler room of the US economy"
The biographer Jennifer Burns shared this observation:
"In moments of liberal dominance, people turn to her because they see Atlas Shrugged as a prophecy as to what’s going to happen if the government is given too much power"
The author William F. Buckley Jr was not so impressed:
"Her novel Atlas Shrugged... a thousand pages of ideological fabulism. I had to flog myself to read it"
It is fair to say Gore Vidal was not a fan:
"For to justify and extol human greed and egotism is to my mind not only immoral, but evil"
Donald Trump was impressed to say about The Fountainhead:
“It relates to business, beauty, life and inner emotions. That book relates to ... everything"
The journalist Jonathan Freedland summed her up thus:
"Rand was Gordon Gekko with A-levels"
Historian Jennifer Burns recognised the political attraction:
"the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right"
Jennifer Burns went on to state:
"For a long time, she has been beloved by disruptors, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, people who see themselves as shaping the future, taking risky bets, moving out in front of everyone else, relying only on their own instincts, intuition and knowledge, and going against the grain
The CIA director Mike Pompeo commented that Atlas Shrugged:
"really had an impact on me"
The writer Johann Hari shared this appraisal:
"Rand was broken by the Bolsheviks as a girl, and she never left their bootprint behind. She believed her philosophy was Bolshevism's opposite, when in reality it was its twin. Both she and the Soviets insisted a small revolutionary elite in possession of absolute rationality must seize power and impose its vision on a malleable, imbecilic mass. The only difference was that Lenin thought the parasites to be stomped on were the rich, while Rand thought they were the poor"
The journalist Corey Robin made this comparison:
"St. Petersburg in revolt gave us Vladimir Nabokov, Isaiah Berlin and Ayn Rand. The first was a novelist, the second a philosopher. The third was neither but thought she was both. Many other people have thought so too"
Jack Wheeler described her ethics as:
"a most immense achievement, the study of which is vastly more fruitful than any other in contemporary thought"
The philosopher Sam Harris shared this view:
"Objectivism - a view that makes a religious fetish of selfishness and disposes of altruism and compassion as character flaws. If nothing else, this approach to ethics was a triumph of marketing, as Objectivism is basically autism rebranded. And Rand's attempt to make literature out of this awful philosophy produced some commensurately terrible writing"