Ayn Rand is a Russian-American novelist and philosopher whose ideas have played a major role in shaping the Conservative and Libertarian movement.
Ayn Rand was born Alisa Rosenbaum on February 2nd, 1905. Her father owned a pharmacy. Rand found school unchallenging and began writing screenplays at age eight and novels at age ten. She was twelve when the February Revolution took place in Russia overthrowing Tsar Nicholas. Her father's business was confiscated and they fled to Crimea. After graduating high school, Rand's family returned to Petrograd (St. Petersburg before the revolution) and lived in harsh conditions under the communist regime. She enrolled in Petrograd State University where she majored in history. She became enamored with the works of philosophers like Aristotle and Friedrich Nietzche. She was forced to leave the university along with other bourgeois people, but were eventually allowed to be reinstated. An essay she wrote about actress Pola Negri became her first published work. In 1925 she was granted a visa to America and was so taken by the country that she was determined to stay and become a screen writer. She had a chance meeting with director Cecil B. DeMille and got a job as extra on The King of Kings. She married actor Frank O' Conner in 1929 and a citizen in 1931. She tried to bring her parents and sisters to the U.S. but was unable to get permission to emigrate.
In the 1940s, Rand and her husband became politically active in the Republican Presidential campaign of Wendell Willkie. Three years later Rand published her novel The Fountainhead, which was a world wide success. The novel was about an architect named Howard Roarke, who struggled to deal with "second-handers" whom were people that lived through others and stole creative ideas. That same year Rand sold film rights for the movie to Warner Brothers, but was dissatisfied with the results. She became involved in the Motion Pictures Alliance for Preserving American Ideals and anti-communist American Writers Association. In 1951 Rand moved to Los Angeles, where she began meeting with a small group of admirers to discuss economics that included future Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Nathanial Brendan, Barbara Brendan, and Leonard Peikoff. In 1957 she published Atlas Shrugged, a novel about a strike led by John Galt of all the world's most creative industrialists, scientists, and artists that go and form their own economy independent of the rest of the world. The novel highlights Rand's philosophy of Objectivism. Despite many negative reviews it was an international best seller. Nathanial Brendan founded the Nathanial Brendan Institute in 1959 to promote and teach Ayn Rand's philosophy. In the 1960s, Rand had a falling out with Nathanial Brendan that led to the closing of the Institute and both placing personal attacks on one another. She continued to spread her philosophy until her health began to decline from lung cancer. She died in 1982 from heart failure.
Rand's philosophy Objectivism places man's happiness as their greatest moral purpose and rational egoism acts as the guiding moral principle. Rational egoism insists that it is immoral to sacrifice ones self for others, but also immoral to sacrifice others for ones self. She also believed reality was an objetive seperation from our conciousness, and because of this people have different ideas of what makes them happy. She believed capitalism was the only system man could find happiness as it is the only system that protected individual rights to seek what makes someone happy. She also emphasized the importance of hard work, which helps not only the individual have a place in society, but benefits society at large.