Ayn Rand was born in St. Peterburgh, Russia in 1905 and named Alissa Rosenbaum. Her father was a chemist named Zinovy. Her mother Anna, was the daughter of a successful tailor.
At the time of the Russian Revolution, her father’s chemistry shop was closed and young Alissa (the future Ayn) witnessed the social upheaval of what became the Soviet Union. Her father was forced to find work in the Soviet shop system. She studied history and graduated with the highest honors from the University of Petrograd in 1921. Emigrating to America in 1926, she changed her surname to a portion of the company’s namesake stamped on the typewriter she used; the company name was Remington-Rand. Reminton-Rand owned the world’s first super computer, the Univac, in the 50’s. It was developed for military purposes and then expanded its abilities to be used for census and data retrieval and compilation.
From 1926 to 1949 Rand stayed in Hollywood and moved through various positions of the movie industry, including her start in script writing. She worked for big names like RKO Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. With Hal Wallis Productions she contracted to work for the studio for six months and the remaining six months of the year was dedicated to pursuing the completion of her own writing. Her first best-selling novel, The Fountainhead, became a movie in 1949.
Rand first married an actor Frank O’Connor in 1926, and soon became a naturalized American citizen. She loved her adopted country, capitalism, and the pursuit of happiness for self. She was an atheist, philosopher and leading intellectual who did not approve of the social state that offered welfare to the unemployed. She adhered strictly to capitalism and dedication to self esteem and self preservation. She hated altruism–the sacrificing of self for the happiness of another. “Altruism is suicide,” states Rand in an interview with Phil Donahue in the late 70s. She loved Aristotle, the philosphical father of reason–and hated Plato.
Her complicated opinions left many scratching their heads because of her atheistic belief. She certainly leaned toward Social Darwinism–and survival of the fittest. One of her greatest complaints was the billions of dollars given to handicapped children who would never contribute to the progress of humanity, and the neglected opportunity of also giving funds to gifted children.
Rand wanted less government–no taxes, not health care, and certainly, no welfare. The ability to produce a product should bring one enough capital to exist–without the altruism of a socialistic system.
One of Rand’s favorite television shows was Charlie’s Angels . She desired human perfection with perfect government that allowed the individual to excel in the venue of lives, and life styles, chosen. She couldn’t stand the ideas of big government, god, socialism and totalitarianism. Mussolini had her work banned in fascist Italy.
The observation of reality was the standard of existence–not the hope of a godly impact on your life. “You are destroying your own mind–when you believe in God–you are denying your own ability to reason. It is giving your life away, hoping that there is a world after this one,” states Rand.
“You are going against reality,” Rand reasons, “You are going against the nature of reality when you give up your existence on the hope of a supreme being as the guide for your life. I hate the people that conceived of the idea of God. I know that there isn’t a god, because there is no evidence. However, I have no right to hold people to my belief system.”
Rand’s conclusions about religion include the facts that most people are born into a faith or are emotionally moved to join a faith. “It is not logical to follow a being that has no evidence of existing. In the philosophy of logic–we can not prove a negative–so, for me to prove that God does not exist is impossible–one doesn’t prove a negative in the school of reason. I have no evidence that he does exist, therefore he doesn’t. It would be an illogical task to undertake–an impossibility.”
Ayn Rand’s dogmatic conclusions found many enemies to her world of pure logic and intellectualism. She was very critical of President Carter during his term in office, declaring that his eternal smile was an altruistic front that would only lead to insanity. She felt that the right needed more leadership in creating a more American reality for the individual.
The fascinating paradox of her work is that it required all people of a state, nation or country to think intellectually, logically and objectively at the same time. It was an utopian dream. If a nation could come to the point of atheistic reason by eliminating religion a major tenant of freedom would be eliminated–the right to the freedom of religion.
What Rand wanted was freedom from religion. To each individual the right to come to a philosophical belief that would result in various methods of prosperity without the guidance of an invisible, non-existent entity guiding the people. The success or failure of an individual’s philosophy would be indicated by their ability to create capital, ie. make a living.
She will continue to be a major force in philosophical circles even though she passed into the great beyond almost thirty years ago. If she couldn’t prove the existence of god during the course of her lifetime–most theologians would proclaim,”She knows now!”