Tag Archives: war

Ayn Rand, the Movies, and the Idea of America

This article was originally published at FEE.org.

Ayn Rand’s monograph “Textbook of Americanism,” now published on FEE.org, is virtually unknown. Written during a decisive turning point in history, it was delivered by Rand personally to FEE’s founder Leonard Read in 1946. The monograph represents Rand’s desire to draw stark lines between an emerging postwar collectivism and the individualism she believed built America. She joined others in pointing out that collectivism had wrought the horrors the world had just endured.

“Textbook of Americanism” also represents her worldview as it came to be shaped by her childhood experiences with communism, her early love of film as a means of artistic expression, and her perceptions about the future of freedom.

As a young student in Russia at the dawn of the Bolshevik takeover, at a small theater for silent films, Rand caught her first glimpse of the New York skyline. The silhouette burned in her mind, a symbol of creative passion and unbounded achievement, outlining the edges of her growing philosophy of individualism.

Continue reading Ayn Rand, the Movies, and the Idea of America

Advertisements

Did Objectivists End the Draft?

This article was originally published at The Atlas Society.

In the mid-1960s, a handful of individuals from Ayn Rand’s inner circle set out to end the draft. Few know the story of their activism. Just how powerful was their influence over Nixon?

IT WAS NIGHTFALL IN BOSTON; April 16, 1967. A wet, icy wind blew off the Charles River and howled down the wide channel of Massachusetts Avenue, gusting into narrow alleyways, and rattling the windows of Jordan Hall on Gainsborough Street. Inside, anticipation was building as the murmuring crowd took their seats on rows of white, wooden benches. Then she appeared; America’s most controversial individualist: Ayn Rand. People leaned over the balconies to catch a better glimpse of the best-selling novelist and diminutive philosopher who stood at the podium. Applause broke out; Rand took in the scene, scanning the room. Her penetrating gaze drifted up to the second level balcony, past the large, gilded clock which faced her. She began in earnest: “The question of the draft is, perhaps, the most important single issue debated today,” Rand said, “but the terms in which it is being debated are a sorry manifestation of our anti-ideological ‘mainstream.’… A volunteer army is the only proper, moral—and practical—way to defend a free country.”

Ayn Rand’s speech, called “The Wreckage of the Consensus,” was her first sustained look at the Vietnam War and the draft. Just one week later, Dr. Martin Luther King would stand at the same podium. And four months prior, General Lewis B. Hershey, the long-time head of Selective Service and the public face of the draft, addressed the forum.

Rand opposed the draft because it was a statist infringement on the right of the individual to own his own life.

Ayn Rand’s position on the draft, like so many of her ideas, was a contrast to both Left and the Right. Rand opposed the draft because it was a statist infringement on the right of the individual to his own life, and because it relied on an ethic of duty and sacrifice. Rand’s philosophical system,Objectivism, which grounded man’s right to life in his faculty of reason and the conditions of his survival, provided a context for consistent, integrated arguments against the draft.

The young intellectuals in Rand’s inner circle—students of Objectivism, at the time—often used the context of her philosophy as the basis of their own activism. And it was now that they began to ask themselves, “What will it take to end the draft?”  Continue reading Did Objectivists End the Draft?