Ayn Rand

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ayn Rand, pencil drawing, 2013

Ayn Rand ( ˈaɪn ˈrænd , actually Alissa Sinowjewna Rosenbaum , Russian Алиса Зиновьевна Розенбаум , scientific transliteration Alisa Zinov'evna Rozenbaum ; January 20 jul. / February 2,  1905 greg. In St. Petersburg - March 6, 1982 in New York ) a Russian-American bestselling author who also spoke on topics of economics, political philosophy and ethics . The atheist represented a variant of libertarianism and u. a. the view that morality is based on rational self-interest and an unrestricted capitalism . Her books reached a total circulation of 25 million copies. Rand is one of the most influential and widely read political writers in the United States .


Childhood and Adolescence in Russia

Ayn Rand's parents were Russian Jews ; her father was from Brest-Litovsk , her mother from St. Petersburg. When she was nine, she decided to become a writer. In 1917, she witnessed both the February and October revolutions . Her family's possessions (her father was a pharmacist) were expropriated. As a result, the family became impoverished and soon after moved to Ukraine and a short time later to Crimea , where the sixteen-year-old graduated from school in 1921. In the same year the family went back to Petrograd , where Rand studied philosophy and history at the Petrograd State University . In 1924 she went after successful completion of studies at the State Institute of the Arts film to the script writing to learn. Towards the end of 1925 she received an exit visa for a limited visit to her relatives in the USA. On January 17, 1926, she left her hometown and never returned.

United States

Rand reached Manhattan on February 19, 1926 . She stayed with relatives in Chicago until August ; during this time she also extended her visa . Then she went to Hollywood to work as a screenwriter. Shortly after her arrival she met the film director Cecil B. DeMille , who she employed as an extra in his film King of the Kings (1927) ; here Rand met her future husband, Frank O'Connor. She later wrote film scenarios for DeMille and had a permanent position at RKO Pictures in costume management. In 1931 she became a US citizen. Rand sold her first screenplay, Red Pawn , to Universal Pictures in 1932 . Rand's first play Woman on Trial premiered in Hollywood in 1934.

In 1936 Ayn Rand's novel We the Living (German: From life undefeated ) was published. Based on their youthful experiences in Russia, the work portrays collectivist systems as evil. In the 1930s, sometimes referred to as the Red Decade in the United States , many American intellectuals, including John Steinbeck , felt strong sympathy for the political left. Because of Rand's sharp criticism of the Soviet Union and communism , many publishers rejected the book; The book was not well received by critics and intellectuals either.

Rand's second novel, The Fountainhead (German: The Origin or The Eternal Source ), on which she wrote for over four years, came out in 1943 by the Bobbs-Merrill Company. In it, Rand outlines her moral human ideal, embodied by the protagonist Howard Roark. The Fountainhead became a bestseller two years after its release. The filming under the same title The Fountainhead (director: King Vidor , German: A man like explosives ) was delayed due to the Second World War until 1949. Rand also wrote the screenplay for this film.

The story Anthem (German: Hymne or Die Hymne des Menschen ), which was written at the same time as The Fountainhead , is thematically related to Yevgeny Samjatin's We and George Orwell's 1984 : the individual experiences the oppression of an all-powerful government. The protagonist Equality 7-2521 rebels in the story against the state and rediscovers his own individuality and the forgotten history of humanity in a painful struggle .

Atlas Shrugged (German: Atlas throws off the world or Who is John Galt? Or The Strike ), published in 1957, is Ayn Rand's last novel and her main work. It is about the role and effects of philosophical principles in a society. After finishing work on the novel, Rand fell into severe depression. Atlas Shrugged became a bestseller and, like all of Ayn Rand's other books, continues to sell in large numbers today.

Ayn Rand's grave in Kensico Cemetery

In the following years, Rand tried to apply her ideas to current social events by writing articles, editing magazines and appearing publicly. Several anthologies were created dedicated to their ideas.

Rand was a long-time smoker and had to undergo surgery for lung cancer in 1974 . In 1976, despite strong concerns of her own, she had her attorney's social worker enroll for benefits under the state social security and Medicare program. She received the services in the name of Ann O'Connor. Ayn Rand died of a heart attack on March 6, 1982 in New York . Her funeral was attended by many of her prominent admirers, including Alan Greenspan .

Rand's objectivism

Main article: Objectivism (Ayn Rand)

In the novel Atlas Shrugged , Rand also summarizes her own ideas, which she gives the generic term “objectivism”, in literary terms. It is based on a reality that is independent of human consciousness (in this sense “objective”). The mind can recognize these through reliable observation , application of concepts , logic , etc. Rationality is also a main virtue of ethics . By this, Rand understands the use of the mind in the pursuit of a "highest value", which Rand identifies with human life . The self-worth of life has the central function of making it possible to draw conclusions from the nature of man as a self-sustaining being on "objective" values and virtues. What is of value is what promotes the life of the individual. Rand speaks of “rational egoism ”, by which she understands sensible, productive action for one's own benefit and while safeguarding the negative protective rights of other individuals (essentially the right to life, freedom and property in the sense of a defense against physical, i.e. also “structural” violence ). These rights are viewed as a prerequisite for people to live together in society in a way that is conducive to life. The only task of a state is to protect these rights by averting danger. Any initial use of force against a citizen of the state should therefore be prevented or punished. In contrast, it largely rejects positive protective rights in the sense of active help to survive. So Rand advocates so-called laissez-faire - capitalism .

Impact history

While Ayn Rand's publications are largely ignored or criticized in the field of philosophy, Ayn Rand has a great influence outside of the field as an author on political topics, especially in the USA.

Popular reception

Edge Quote in Epcot Center , Florida

A survey by the Library of Congress asked readers which books had changed their lives. After the Bible , Rand's work was named Atlas Shrugged second . Rand's effect was compared to that of Karl May .

Cult-like behavior has been described for some circles of followers, as early as 1972 by Murray Newton Rothbard , himself an influential thinker of libertarianism , and extensively in Jeff Walker's monographic study on Rand's popular reception. In particular, the Ayn Rand Institute is supported by Walker and others with e.g. B. Scientology compared.

In the 2016 comic book Supercrash - The Age of Selfishness by the British author Darryl Cunningham , the close teacher-student relationship between Ayn Rand and Alan Greenspan is thematized and an at least indirect causation of Rand's philosophy for the financial crash of 2008 is implied.

In contrast to the massive impact in the United States , Rand's works have remained relatively unknown in Germany for a long time. Since the beginning of the 21st century, a number of her works have been reprinted or translated. Her main work Atlas Shrugged was first translated as Atlas throws the world from 1959, another edition appeared under the title Who is John Galt? and in 2012 a new translation appeared under the title The Strike .

Reception in US politics

Alan Greenspan , US economist and later President of the Central Bank of the United States , was close friends with Rand, published in Rand's books and adopted political and economic ideas from Rand. In an interview, Greenspan describes his development: “Before I met Ayn Rand, I was a freelance market economist in the sense of Adam Smith, impressed by the theoretical structure and efficiency of the markets. I owe her the insight that capitalism is not only efficient and practical, but also moral. "

At the protests against the health care reform by Barack Obama 2009, played Ayn Rand Institute and its chairman Yaron Brook an important role. Michael S. Cullen says that Rand preached with her books for years to a world in which the hero says: Only I count, the community doesn't count, the government is terrible and has to go, the government prevents my happiness. "This kind of philosophy has been absorbed into their mother's milk by some tea party followers ."

Reactions to Rand in Philosophical Science

Michael Huemer tried to show in a longer essay that the so-called "objectivism" contains several verifiable errors. In another essay, he argues that the central argument in Rand's The Objectivist Ethics , which he reconstructs in 12 steps, already contains eight serious shortcomings.

Robert H. Bass (Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina) argues that Rand's central ethical ideas are incompatible with Rand's central political ideas.

Robert Nozick maintains the basic argument of Ayn Rand for a logical fallacy , especially since it does not explain why it irrational be need to prefer one's own death and non possession of values; their defense of egoism is therefore incomprehensible, nor is Rand's reaction to Hume's law .

One of the exceptions in the philosophical reception is the monograph by Tara Smith, which tries to reconstruct Rand's virtue ethical ideas by presenting the seven individual virtues accepted by Rand and defending this approach by Rand.

The journal Reason Papers , in which philosophical scholars also publish, has a. a. a special edition on ideas by Ayn Rand.


  • The Ayn Rand Institute tries to exert political influence in the spirit of radical liberalism Ayn Rand and operates an online dictionary that tries to provide answers to almost all socio-political questions. The institute's annual donation income is over $ 6 million.
  • The Atlas Network coordinates various institutions and organizations that represent Ayn Rand's political philosophy in public.
  • Objectivist Center , also The Atlas Society , is considered a liberal offshoot of the Ayn Rand Institute.
  • Nathaniel Branden Institute

Popular culture

  • The design of the computer game BioShock and its sequel BioShock 2 is inspired by ideas from the book Atlas Throws the World . Many other computer games such as Fallout 3 or Portal 2 partly deal with elements of the novel.
  • The character of Ayn Rand as well as her philosophy and her work Atlas Shrugged play an important role in the novel GAS Die Trilogie der Stadtwerke by Matt Ruff . The novel is dedicated to her, but her statements are very critically commented and refuted there.
  • As a result, the stage is clear for Marge of the animated series The Simpsons , Maggie Simpson is placed in the day care center "Ayn Rand School for Tots", which is presented in its educational concept as excessively strict, cool and strongly ideological. As a parody of Ayn Rand's philosophy, there are posters on the walls of the day-care center with the words “Helping is Futile” (in German: “Helping is futile”).
  • In the animated series Futurama, you noticed a feeling chip in the episode ? Bender the robot that the Old New York Library (which only offers reading material that New York residents flush down the toilet) appears to be made up of "crumpled porn and Ayn Rand" while holding up a copy of Atlas Shrugged .
  • In the TV series Mad Men , the advertising agency owner Bertram Cooper is an avid fan of Ayn Rand and gives away or recommends Atlas Shrugged in various scenes of various episodes, for example the episode Honorary Member ( The Hobo Code ).
  • In the Chickenlover episode of the cartoon series South Park , Officer Barbrady announces after reading Atlas Shrugged that this "brain jerk" convinced him never to read a book again.
  • In the fantasy comedy Heaven should wait (1978), Julia Farnsworth reaches for an edition of The Fountainhead in order not to appear suspicious at the discovery of the murder of her husband (alleged or canceled by a body switch ).
  • In the film Dirty Dancing , the waiter shows Robbie the heroine "Baby", who reproaches him, an edition of the novel The Fountainhead and explains that the book inspired him.


  • We The Living (1936, first performed as Woman on Trial )
    • German: undefeated by life. Translated by Hansjürgen Wille and Barbara Klau. Holle, Baden-Baden 1956.
  • Anthem (1938)
    • German: The anthem of the people. Translated by Sascha Tamm. Kopp, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-933631-06-8 . Also as: hymn. Translated by Sascha Tamm. GEWIS, Hamburg approx. 2002, ISBN 3-932564-62-6 .
  • The Fountainhead (1943)
  • Atlas Shrugged (1957)
  • Ideal (2015)
Plays and scripts
  • Night of January 16th (1934)
  • The Unconquered (1940, stage adaptation by We The Living )
  • You Came Along (1945, screenplay, with Robert Smith)
  • The Fountainhead (1949, screenplay based on the novel of the same name)
Nonfiction and essay writing
  • For the New Intellectual (1961)
    • German: For the new intellectual: a pamphlet against the pseudo-intellectual seducers in the media and universities. Translated by Philipp Dammer. Institute for Value Economics, Vienna [2016], ISBN 978-3-902639-36-3 .
  • The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism (1964, with Nathaniel Branden )
    • German: The virtue of egoism: a new conception of egoism. With further contributions by Nathaniel Branden. Translated by Philipp Dammer. TvR Medienverlag, Jena 2015, ISBN 978-3-940431-55-4 .
  • Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (with Nathaniel Branden, Alan Greenspan and Robert Hessen)
    • German: Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. With further contributions by Nathaniel Branden, Alan Greenspan and Robert Hessen. Translated by Philipp Dammer. TvR Medienverlag, Jena [2017], ISBN 978-3-940431-63-9 .
  • The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature (1969)
  • The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (1971)
  • Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology (1967)
  • Philosophy: Who Needs It (1982)
    • German: Philosophy: who needs that? Introduction by Leonard Peikoff. Translated by Philipp Dammer. Jewels, Tönisvorst 2016, ISBN 978-3-945822-43-2 .
  • The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought (1989)
  • Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (1999)
    • English: Back to the Stone Age: the anti-industrial revolution. With an introduction and additional essays by Peter Schwarz. Translated by Philipp Dammer. Lichtschlag, Grevenbroich [2017], ISBN 978-3-939562-67-2 .
  • Why Businessmen Need Philosophy (1999)
  • The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers (2000)
  • The Art of Nonfiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers (2001)
Collections and editions of works
  • The Early Ayn Rand: A Selection from Her Unpublished Fiction (1984)
  • The Ayn Rand Column: Written for the Los Angeles Times (1991)
  • Ayn Rand's Marginalia: Her Critical Comments on the Writings of Over 20 Authors (1995)
  • Letters of Ayn Rand (1995)
  • Journals of Ayn Rand (1997)
  • The Ayn Rand Reader (1999)
  • Russian Writings on Hollywood (1999)
  • Three Plays (2005)
  • Ayn Rand Answers: The Best of Her Q&A (2005)


  • Barbara Branden: The Passion of Ayn Rand. Doubleday, New York, 1986.
  • Nathaniel Branden: My Years with Ayn Rand. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco 1999, ISBN 0-7879-4513-7 .
  • Jeff Britting: Ayn Rand. Overlook Press, Woodstock (NY) 2004, ISBN 1-58567-406-0 .
  • Catherine Daligga: Ayn Rand (1905-1982) . In: Paula E. Hyman & Deborah Dash Moore: Jewish Women in America. An Historical Encyclopedia. Routledge, New York 1997, ISBN 0-415-91936-3 .
  • Alexander Dietz: The philosophy of Ayn Rand. In: Christian Polke u. a. (Ed.): Nobody is an island - being human at the intersection of anthropology, theology and ethics. De Gruyter, Berlin 2011, ISBN 3-11-024788-7 , pp. 261-287.
  • Allan Gotthelf: On Ayn Rand. Wadsworth, Belmont (CA) 2000, ISBN 0-534-57625-7 .
  • Anne C. Heller: Ayn Rand and the world she made. Anchor Books, New York 2009, ISBN 978-1-4000-7893-6 .
  • Tibor R. Machan: Ayn Rand. Lang, New York 1991, ISBN 0-8204-4144-9 .
  • Ronald E. Merrill: The Ideas of Ayn Rand. Open Court, LaSalle (Ill) 1991, ISBN 0-8126-9158-X .
  • Leonard Peikoff: Objectivism. The Philosophy of Ayn Rand. Penguin Books, New York 1993, ISBN 0-452-01101-9 .
  • David Shah: Ayn Rand: Your life. Lichtschlag, Grevenbroich 2008, ISBN 3-939562-15-7 .

Films about Ayn Rand

Michael Paxton's documentary Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life was nominated for an Oscar in 1998 .

Barbara Branden's biography The Passion of Ayn Rand was filmed for television in 1999 by Christopher Menaul with Helen Mirren in the title role. The film focuses on Rand's affair with Nathaniel Branden, Barbara Branden's first husband, who is 25 years his junior.

All watched over by machines of loving grace (2011) by Adam Curtis deals with Rand's influence on the Californian ideology , especially in Part 1 Love and Power .

Web links

Commons : Ayn Rand  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Book Lists - The Library of Congress ( Memento of April 5, 2005 in the Internet Archive ) (English)
  2. Jennifer Burns: Trump's house intellectuals (online zeit.de February 27, 2017 )
  3. schweizermonat.ch: Who is afraid of Ayn Rand .
  4. Frieder Leipold: Ayn Rand: Atlas shakes off the world ( Memento from July 13, 2012 in the web archive archive.today ). In: Historio. June 15, 2011.
  5. ^ Anne C. Heller: Ayn Rand and the World She Made. New York: Doubleday, 2009, ISBN 978-0-385-51399-9 .
  6. ^ Scott McConnell: 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand. New York: New American Library, 2010, ISBN 978-0-451-23130-7 .
  7. ^ Gary Weiss: Ayn Rand Nation: The Hidden struggle for America's Soul. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2012, ISBN 978-0-312-59073-4 .
  8. See e.g. B. Irfan Khawaja: Review of Allan Gotthelf: On Ayn Rand , Wadsworth 2000 . In: Teaching Philosophy 25/1 (2002), pp. 87–91, here 81: “professional philosophers take a dim view of her at best ... most philosophers would find it hard to believe that Rand is in any sense” original thinker '". Chandran Kukathas: Ayn Rand . In: Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy : “most commentators have concluded that her argument falls victim to the same difficulties [as an Aristotelian approach] [...] Rand's political theory is of little interest [...] and her attempts to resolve the difficulty are ill-thought out and unsystematic ".
  9. Jeff Walker: "The effectiveness of this writer can be compared with that of Karl May in earlier times in Germany on young people, but with more intensive effect - also for influential members of the so-called elites - also in later life." In: The Ayn Rand Cult , in: Peru, FIllinois: Open Court, 1999 ISBN 0-8126-9390-6 ( limited preview in Google book search)
  10. See MN Rothbard: The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult
  11. Jeff Walker: The Ayn Rand Cult . Open Court Publishing, La Salle, Illinois 1999, ISBN 0-8126-9390-6 . OCLC 39914039.
  12. Lauren Davis: Webcomic biography of Ayn Rand puts her works in context . In: io9 . ( gizmodo.com [accessed November 28, 2018]).
  13. ^ Felix Stephan: Ayn Rand: Dollhouse prose of the capitalists. In: zeit.de . August 17, 2012, accessed January 20, 2015 .
  14. See The Alan Greenspan Timeline (English)
  15. ^ Newsweek, Feb. 24, 1975, p. 31; it is an interview on the occasion of his swearing-in as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors , which Rand was also present.
  16. a b Opponents call health insurance "National Socialist" ( Memento from November 19, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  17. a b Torsten Krauel: Blind trust in Obama is dangerous. In: welt.de . February 27, 2009, accessed January 20, 2015 .
  18. Jacques Kommer: Ayn Rand: The Philosophy of a Psychopath. In: freitag.de. March 6, 2012, accessed January 20, 2015 .
  19. Cf. M. Huemer: Why I am not an Objectivist ( Memento from October 21, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
  20. See M. Huemer: Critique of “The Objectivist Ethics” ; see. from Huemer to Rand, for example, Why Ayn Rand? Some Alternate Answers .
  21. See Robert H. Bass: Egoism versus Rights ( Memento of July 14, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 190 kB). A Dialogue on Ayn Rand's Ethics. In: The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 7/2 (2006), pp. 329-49. Compare Bass's answer to two replicas by Rand's followers in the same journal: Defending the Argument (PDF; 135 kB). Rejoinder to Chris Cathcart, "Egoism and Rights," and Robert L. Campbell, "Altruism in Auguste Comte and Ayn Rand" (Spring 2006). In: The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 7/2 (2006), pp. 371-381.
  22. See Robert Nozick: On the Randian Argument . In: The Personalist 52 (1971), pp. 282-304.
  23. See T. Smith: Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: the Virtuous Egoist , Cambridge 2006, ISBN 0-521-86050-4 . On this see the review by Helen Cullyer; Lester Hunt: Tara Smith, Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist . In: Ethics 119/2 (2009), pp. 394-397.
  24. ^ See issue 23 (1998) and other articles in the journal's online archive .
  25. MEET OUR EXPERTS. In: aynrand.org. Retrieved January 20, 2015 .
  26. ^ Conceptual Index — Ayn Rand Lexicon. In: aynrandlexicon.com. Retrieved January 20, 2015 .
  27. According to the Charity Navigator Raiting Charity Navigator Rating - The Ayn Rand Institute. In: charitynavigator.org. Retrieved January 20, 2015 .
  28. Thomas Lindemann: "Bioshock 2" is a shooting game for the intellect. In: welt.de . February 18, 2010, accessed January 20, 2015 .
  29. Matt Ruff: GAS The Trilogy of Stadtwerke . Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich, Vienna 1997, ISBN 3-446-19290-5 , especially chap. 16.
  30. ^ Warren Martyn, Adrian Wood: A Streetcar Named Marge. BBC, 2000, accessed August 24, 2007 .