Ayn Rand - Interviews (1959)

Ayn Rand interviewed by Phil Donahue - 1980 (5/5)

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Rand held that the only moral social system is laissez-faire capitalism. Her political views were strongly individualist and hence anti-statist and anti-Communist. She exalted what she saw as the heroic American values of rational egoism and individualism. As a champion of rationality, Rand also had a strong opposition to mysticism and religion, which she believed helped foster a crippling culture acting against individual human happiness and success. Rand detested many prominent liberal and conservative politicians of her time, including prominent anti-Communists, such as Harry S. Truman, Ronald Reagan, Hubert Humphrey, and Joseph McCarthy. She opposed US involvement in World War I, World War II and the Korean War, although she also strongly denounced pacifism: "When a nation resorts to war, it has some purpose, rightly or wrongly, something to fight for -- and the only justifiable purpose is self-defense."

Documentary Description

Ayn Rand, by Britannica.com
born Feb. 2, 1905, St. Petersburg, Russia died March 6, 1982, New York, N.Y., U.S.

Russian-born American writer who, in commercially successful novels, presented her philosophy of objectivism, essentially reversing the traditional Judeo-Christian ethic.

Rand graduated from the University of Petrograd in 1924 and two years later immigrated to the United States. She initially worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood and in 1931 became a naturalized U.S. citizen. Her first novel, We, the Living, was published in 1936. The Fountainhead (1943), her first best-selling novel, depicts a highly romanticized architect-hero, a superior individual whose egoism and genius prevail over timid traditionalism and social conformism. The allegorical Atlas Shrugged (1957), another best-seller, combines science fiction and political message in telling of an anticollectivist strike called by the management of U.S. big industry, a company of attractive, self-made men.

The political philosophy of objectivism shaped Rand’s work. A deeply conservative philosophy, it posited individual effort and ability as the sole source of all genuine achievement, thereby elevating the pursuit of self-interest to the role of first principle and scorning such notions as altruism and sacrifice for the common good as liberal delusions and even vices. It further held laissez-faire capitalism is most congenial to the exercise of talent. Rand’s philosophy underlay her fiction but found more direct expression in her nonfiction, including such works as For the New Intellectual (1961), The Virtue of Selfishness (1965), Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966), Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (1967), and Philosophy: Who Needs It? (1982). She also promoted her objectivist philosophy in the journals The Objectivist (1962–71) and The Ayn Rand Letter (1971–76).

Rand’s controversial views attracted a faithful audience of admirers and followers. She was working on an adaptation of Atlas Shrugged for a television miniseries when she died.

Source: "Ayn Rand." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 02 Dec. 2009

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