AKA Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum
Birthplace: St. Petersburg, Russia
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Buried, Kensico Cemetery, Valhalla, NY
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Author, Philosopher
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Atlas Shrugged
Outspoken advocate for minimalist government which, she believed, would lead to maximum freedom, productivity, and creation of wealth. A role model for many present-day American "libertarian" activists and politicians (for example, Congressman Paul Ryan).
As a high school student in Crimea, Alissa Rosenbaum witnessed many horrors of the Russian Revolution. After college, Alissa fled to America on a travel visa, changed her name, and moved to Hollywood just in time for the Great Depression.
Eventually finding work as a screenwriter, Ayn Rand was shocked to discover that the motion picture industry was riddled with writers and actors sympathetic to the Communist cause. Most of them were simply naive, never having actually witnessed the nightmare of Communism, much less having lived under its oppression. But there were doubtless Soviet-funded infiltrators as well, with the mission of injecting pro-Soviet propaganda messages into American entertainment.
It was a rude awakening. From the Hollywood movies she had grown up watching back in Russia, Rand assumed that Americans were uniformly proud of their freedoms and would categorically reject any attempt to undermine their individual liberty. She was naturally sickened by the thought of any free people seeking to emulate the Soviet Union.
At the studio, Rand complained to her supervisors, as well as the executives. She decried the fact that subtle pro-Soviet messages were being snuck into mass entertainment. Rand was surprised again, this time by the apathy of the studio owners. Their pictures were profitable, so they didn't want to rock the boat. Their sole priority was making money. It made no difference whatsoever if their product was undermining the civic morality of the American people.
In a 1947 tract written for the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals (a group she co-founded), Rand implored:
The influence of Communists in Hollywood is due, not to their own power, but to the unthinking carelessness of those who profess to oppose them. Red propaganda has been put over in some films produced by innocent men, often by loyal Americans who deplore the spread of Communism throughout the world and wonder why it is spreading.
Rand insisted there was no proof that cigarettes were dangerous, up until her own diagnosis of lung cancer in summer 1974. Whereupon she immediately quit her two-pack-a-day habit.
The purpose of the Communists in Hollywood is not the production of political movies openly advocating Communism. Their purpose is to corrupt our moral premises by corrupting non-political movies -- by introducing small, casual bits of propaganda into innocent stories -- thus making people absorb the basic premises of Collectivism by indirection and implication.
Few people would take Communism straight. But a constant stream of hints, lines, touches and suggestions battering the public from the screen will act like the drops of water that split a rock if continued long enough. The rock they are trying to split is Americanism.
The following year, Rand called upon the readers of her newsletter to oppose then-Governor Ronald Reagan's Presidential aspirations:
I urge you, as emphatically as I can, not to support the candidacy of Ronald Reagan. I urge you not to work for or advocate his nomination, and not to vote for him. My reasons are as follows: Mr. Reagan is not a champion of capitalism, but a conservative in the worst sense of that word -- i.e., an advocate of a mixed economy with government controls slanted in favor of business rather than labor (which, philosophically, is as untenable a position as one could choose -- see Fred Kinnan in Atlas Shrugged, pp. 541-2). This description applies in various degrees to most Republican politicians, but most of them preserve some respect for the rights of the individual. Mr. Reagan does not: he opposes the right to abortion.
And her animus toward the man did not soften after he became President, even after he was nearly assassinated in March 1981. Rand reiterated her dismal opinion of the Gipper in her final public speech, in November 1981:
What do I think of President Reagan? The best answer to give would be: But I don't think of him -- and the more I see, the less I think. I did not vote for him (or for anyone else) and events seem to justify me.
Rand similarly loathed the economist F. A. Hayek. In her copy of Hayek's bestseller The Road to Serfdom, she wrote the following marginalia: "The man is an ass, with no conception of a free society at all."
The appalling disgrace of his administration is his connection with the so-called "Moral Majority" and sundry other TV religionists, who are struggling -- apparently with his approval -- to take us back to the Middle Ages, via the unconstitutional union of religion and politics.
The threat to the future of capitalism is the fact that Reagan might fail so badly that he will become another ghost, like Herbert Hoover, to be invoked as an example of capitalism's failure for another fifty years.
Observe Reagan's futile attempts to arouse the country by some sort of inspirational appeal. He is right in thinking that the country needs an inspirational element. But he will not find it in the God-Family-Tradition swamp.
Father: Zinovy Zacharovich Rosenbaum (pharmacist, d. 1939 heart disease)
Mother: Anna Borisovna Rosenbaum (teacher, d. Nov-1941)
Sister: Natasha ("Natalia", b. 1907, d. Jun-1942)
Sister: Eleanora Drobysheva ("Nora", b. 1910, d. 1999)
Husband: Charles Francis O'Conner ("Frank", actor-painter, b. 1897, m. 15-Apr-1929, d. 1979)
Boyfriend: Nathan Blumenthal ("Nathaniel Branden", author, b. 1930, affair c. 1955)
High School: Yevpatoria, Ukraine (1921)
University: University of Leningrad (1924)
University: State Institute for Cinematography, Leningrad, Russia (1924-25)
RKO Radio Pictures Script Reader (1934-35)
RKO Radio Pictures Filing Clerk, Wardrobe Department (1929-32)
Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals Executive Committee (1944-47)
Expelled from School University of Petrograd (12-Dec-1923), readmitted (1924)
Abortion per Ayn Rand and the World She Made (unproven)
Naturalized US Citizen (13-Mar-1931)
HUAC Hearings friendly witness (20-Oct-1947)
Surgery lung cancer tumor removal (1974)
Risk Factors: Former Smoker, Lung Cancer
Rotten Library Page:
Author of books:
We the Living (1936, novel)
Anthem (1938, novella)
The Fountainhead (1943, novel)
Atlas Shrugged (1957, novel)
For the New Intellectual: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (1961, philosophy)
The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism (1964, essays)
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966, essays)
Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (1967, philosophy)
The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature (1969, philosophy)
The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (1971, essays)
Philosophy: Who Needs It? (1982, philosophy)
Night of January 16th (1934)
Appears on postage stamps:
USA, 33 cents, issued 22-Apr-1999
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