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Monday, August 13, 2012

Who Is Ayn Rand?

“I am. I think. I will.”
— Equality 7-2521, in Anthem

Ayn Rand was—and is—an intellectual revolutionary. Throughout a lifetime of observing the minds of men, she steadily formulated and added to her philosophy of rational being—which was, in short, that in order to truly affirm life, one must live proudly and unwaveringly for oneself. Rand was the author of an immense amount of literature, both fiction and nonfiction, that advanced her philosophy of Objectivism and unquestionably changed the face of modern political thought.

Best known as a compelling, lucid, and intelligent novelist, as well as a screenwriter and editor The Objectivist magazine, Rand boldly declared, in the midst of the worldwide conflict between individualist and collectivist thought, that man’s first and only duty is to himself. From We the Living—her first and semi-autobiographical novel against Communism—to Atlas Shrugged—her timeless classic espousing her refined worldview—Rand turned the tables on collectivist philosophies of all stripes. Through these works, she was, and continues to be, a stout contrarian in the face of those who wish to claim control over the individual.

Born in 1905, Rand was raised and educated in Russia where she felt the reaching effects of the Russian Revolution of 1917. She left for America in 1925, where she was intent on writing freely and became a moderately successful screenwriter. The Fountainhead marked her first true success as a novelist, and her political activism brought her into friendship with several well-known libertarian thinkers—such as Ludwig von Mises and Henry Hazlitt—who, like her, continue to be regarded as great. Throughout her later life she focused on many nonfiction publications, lectured, and actively spread her philosophy until her death in 1982. Her legacy remains prominent today.

This article was also published by The Libertarian Review.

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