Ayn Rand was born 100 years ago today, on February 2, 1905 in St Petersburg, Russia. As the daughter of a Jewish shopkeeper, young Ayn and family were pretty fortunate to have escaped straight up extermination during the communist revolution.
As it was, as a young adult she was determined to escape to America- and she did it. In the sense of really appreciating the things that made America great, articulating and defending them, she may have been the greatest American ever.
Specifically, she wrote perhaps the greatest book of the 20th century, Atlas Shrugged. This and the preceding novel The Fountainhead did more intellectually than any one other person to cut the legs out from under all forms of collectivism and cheap altruism.
This is not to say that she didn’t have some personal flaws or issues, nor to say that everything that ever came out of her mouth was automatically right. I’d give her about 90%, but she definitely had some serious blindspots. “For all have sinned and fell short of the glory of God.” Being a staunch atheist however, I suspect she would not have appreciated that Biblical invocation.
For being so opposed to religion though, she struck a distinctly Biblical figure. With her rough accent, and her hardline judgmental nature, she certainly had a Yahweh thing going on.
The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged definitely work as old and new testaments. Her world could be thought of as BG and AG- Before Galt and After Galt. The Fountainhead describes the fall of man through socialism, altruism and Nietzchean resentment. Then John Galt comes along in Atlas Shrugged as the savior resurrecting the very soul of mankind.
She had a lot of heart, and she fought harder and better than any other intellectual of the century. She is a truly historic figure. Here’s hoping she’s enjoying Valhalla.