The civil war of ideas: Ayn Rand, intellectual freedom, and the regulation of thought in the Soviet Union and United States, 1905-1943

Josue Rey, Florida International University

Abstract

The philosopher and novelist Ayn Rand (1905–1982) is an icon of American culture. That culture misunderstands her, however. It perceives her solely as a pure market conservative. In the first forty years of her life, Rand's individualism was intellectual and served as a defense for the free trade of ideas. It originated in the Russian Revolution. In 1926, when Rand left the Soviet Union, she developed her individualism into an American philosophy. Her ideas of the individual in society belonged to a debate where intellectuals intended to abolish the State and free man and woman from its intellectual snares. To present Rand as a freethinker allows me to examine her anticommunism as a reaction against Leninism and to consider the relation of her ideas to Marxism. This approach stresses that Rand, as Marx, opposed the State and argued for the historical importance of a capitalist revolution. For Rand the latter, however, depended on an entrepreneurial class that rejected Protestantism as ideology – which she contended threatened its interests because Christianity had lost its historical significance. This exposes the nature of Rand's intellectual individualism in American society, where the majority on the entire political spectrum still identified with the teachings of Christ. It also reveals the dynamics of her anticommunism. From 1926 to 1943, Rand remodeled American individualism and as she did so, she determined her opposition first to the New Deal liberals and second business conservatives. To these ends, Marxism and Protestantism served Rand's individualism and made her an American icon of the twentieth century.^

Subject Area

Literature, Modern|History, World History|Literature, American

Recommended Citation

Josue Rey, "The civil war of ideas: Ayn Rand, intellectual freedom, and the regulation of thought in the Soviet Union and United States, 1905-1943" (January 1, 2010). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. Paper AAI3420033.
http://digitalcommons.fiu.edu/dissertations/AAI3420033

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