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Ed Hudgins

What Would Ayn Rand Think About Americanism Today?

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What Would Ayn Rand Think About Americanism Today?
By Edward Hudgins

June 30, 2016 -- Seventy years ago Ayn Rand, thankful for finding refuge in the United States from the totalitarian Soviet Union, wrote a short essay series entitled “Textbook of Americanism.” As we mark the 240th anniversary of this country’s birth, we can ask, “What would Ayn Rand think about Americanism today?” and “What lessons can her work offer us?”

1940s Hollywood in love with communism

“Textbook” first appeared in 1946 in The Vigil, which was published by the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals. At the time, Rand was becoming well-known for her novel The Fountainhead. But Hollywood was becoming well-known for its Communist sympathies.

Rand’s novel from 1937, We the Living, was set against the backdrop of the horrors of communism. It was not well received in Hollywood where she returned to work in the mid-1940s. So she saw a need to define exactly the principles on which America was founded and that made it a great country.

Individualism vs. collectivism

Her “Textbook” essays focused mainly on politics, so to the question of what she would think of the political situation in America today, a thesaurus would be necessary to extend the equivalents of “disgust” and “horror.” But her “Textbook” also helps us understand the sad nature of our political situation and points to a positive road ahead.

The “Textbook” is organized around a dozen questions. To the first, “What Is the Basic Issue in the World Today?” Rand answers that it is “between two principles: Individualism and Collective.” It was then and it remains so now.

Individualism, she tells us, holds that “each man exists by his own right and for his own sake... (Continue reading here.)

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