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Ayn Rand And The End Of Love

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“Ayn Rand And The End Of Love?” is the title. Mrs. Frank O'Connor was her real name. What an interesting grilling of Ayn Rand. Rand left Russia in 1926 and she was working in Hollywood in “late” 1926. Here is a condensed version but the full Monty can be found on the net. I hope this doesn't take up too much space, but it is fascinating. Peter

Ayn Rand's HUAC Testimony. Introduction. The following is a full transcript of the testimony by Ayn Rand before the United States House of Representatives' Committee on Un-American Activities (commonly known as the House Un-American Activities Committee, or HUAC) on October 20, 1947 . . . .

Background. The History of HUAC. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) became a permanent (or "standing") committee of the House in 1945, having already existed on a temporary basis since 1938. Although it was charged with monitoring possible foreign influences in the United States, including pro-fascist or pro-Nazi activity, HUAC is most widely known for its investigations of suspected Communist influence in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Along with the investigation of Alger Hiss, the investigation of Communist influence in the motion picture industry is one of the defining episodes in the committee's history. Although HUAC would continue to exist into the 1960s, these memorable hearings are its best-known legacy. The committee's name was changed in 1969, and it was abolished in 1975, when jurisdiction over investigation of foreign influence was transferred to the House Judiciary Committee . . . .

Rand's Role in the Hearings. At the time she was called to testify, Rand was already well-known in Hollywood for her opposition to Communism. She originally planned to testify about two movies -- Song of Russia and The Best Years of Our Lives. The former was made during World War II, with the fairly obvious purpose of making Americans feel more comfortable about being allies with the Soviets during the war. The latter was a popular post-war film that had won several Academy Awards, including the Oscar for best picture. Rand was later asked to testify only about Song of Russia. Some members of the committee thought it was too risky to criticize a popular film like The Best Years of Our Lives. Upset by that she was only allowed to discuss one older movie that was obvious propoganda, Rand demanded a chance to give additional testimony. After some argument, the committee chairman eventually offered to recall her later in the hearings, but never did. Her testimony as it stands concerns only Song of Russia.

Asked years later by Barbara Branden about her opinion of the hearings, Rand said that the hearings were "a very dubious undertaking" and "futile" because a government inquiry would not legitimately be able to investigate the ideological penetration of communism into the movies. (cf. The Passion of Ayn Rand, pp. 200-203) It could only show that there were members of the Communist Party working in the industry. She did believe, however, that it was acceptable for the committee to ask people whether they had joined the Communist Party, because the Party supported the use of violence and other criminal activities to achieve its political goals, and investigating possible criminal activities was an appropriate role of government. In any case, she was glad to have had the opportunity to gain media exposure on the subject, and supported the efforts of private employers to reduce the influence of Communists on the movies. As she had put it in an earlier essay she had written on the subject, "The principle of free speech requires ... that we do not pass laws forbidding [Communists] to speak. But the principle of free speech ... does not imply that we owe them jobs and support to advocate our own destruction at our own expense." ("Screen Guide for Americans," reprinted in Journals of Ayn Rand, p. 366, emphasis in original) . . . .

Transcript

Rep. J. Parnell Thomas1, Chairman of the Committee: Raise your right hand, please, Miss Rand. Do you solemnly swear the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

Ayn Rand: I do.

Chairman Thomas: Sit down.

Mr. Robert E. Stripling2, Chief Investigator: Miss Rand, will you state your name, please, for the record?

Rand: Ayn Rand, or Mrs. Frank O'Connor3.

Stripling: That is A-y-n?

Rand: That is right.

Stripling: R-a-n-d?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: Is that your pen name?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: And what is your married name?

Rand: Mrs. Frank O'Connor.

Stripling: Where were you born, Miss Rand?

Rand: In St. Petersburg, Russia.4

Stripling: When did you leave Russia?

Rand: In 1926.

Stripling: How long have you been employed in Hollywood?

Rand: I have been in pictures on and off since late in 1926, but specifically as a writer this time I have been in Hollywood since late 1943 and am now under contract as a writer.5

Stripling: Have you written various novels?

Rand: One second. May I have one moment to get this in order?

Stripling: Yes.

Rand: Yes, I have written two novels.6 My first one was called We the Living, which was a story about Soviet Russia and was published in 1936. The second one was The Fountainhead, published in 1943.

Stripling: Was that a best seller -- The Fountainhead?

Rand: Yes; thanks to the American public.

Stripling: Do you know how many copies were sold?

Rand: The last I heard was 360,000 copies. I think there have been some more since.

Stripling: You have been employed as a writer in Hollywood?

Rand: Yes; I am under contract at present.7

Stripling: Could you name some of the stories or scripts you have written for Hollywood?

Rand: I have done the script of The Fountainhead, which has not been produced yet8, for Warner Brothers, and two adaptations for Hal Wallis Productions, at Paramount, which were not my stories but on which I did the screen plays, which were Love Letters9 and You Came Along.10

Stripling: Now, Miss Rand, you have heard the testimony of Mr. [Louis B.] Mayer?11

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: You have read the letter I read from Lowell Mellett?12

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: Which says that the picture Song of Russia13 has no political implications?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: Did you at the request of Mr. Smith, the investigator for this committee, view the picture Song of Russia?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: Within the past two weeks?

Rand: Yes; on October 13, to be exact.

usr/STRONG>Stripling: In Hollywood?

Rand: Yes.

Stripling: Would you give the committee a break-down of your summary of the picture relating to either propaganda or an untruthful account or distorted account of conditions in Russia?

Rand: Yes. First of all I would like to define what we mean by propaganda. We have all been talking about it, but nobody --

Stripling: Could you talk into the microphone?

Rand: Can you hear me now? Nobody has stated just what they mean by propaganda. Now, I use the term to mean that Communist propaganda is anything which gives a good impression of communism as a way of life. Anything that sells people the idea that life in Russia is good and that people are free and happy would be Communist propaganda. Am I not correct? I mean, would that be a fair statement to make -- that that would be Communist propaganda?

Now, here is what the picture Song of Russia contains. It starts with an American conductor, played by Robert Taylor,14 giving a concert in America for Russian war relief. He starts playing the American national anthem and the national anthem dissolves into a Russian mob, with the sickle and hammer on a red flag very prominent above their heads. I am sorry, but that made me sick. That is something which I do not see how native Americans permit, and I am only a naturalized American. That was a terrible touch of propaganda. As a writer, I can tell you just exactly what it suggests to the people. It suggests literally and technically that it is quite all right for the American national anthem to dissolve into the Soviet. The term here is more than just technical. It really was symbolically intended, and it worked out that way. The anthem continues, played by a Soviet band. That is the beginning of the picture . . . .

Chairman Thomas: Mr. Wood.

Rep. John S. Wood21: I gather, then, from your analysis of this picture your personal criticism of it is that it overplayed the conditions that existed in Russia at the time the picture was made; is that correct?

Rand: Did you say overplayed?

Wood: Yes.

Rand: Well, the story portrayed the people --

Wood: It portrayed the people of Russia in a better economic and social position than they occupied?

Rand: That is right.

Wood: And it would also leave the impression in the average mind that they were better able to resist the aggression of the German Army than they were in fact able to resist?

Rand: Well, that was not in the picture. So far as the Russian war was concerned, not very much was shown about it.

Wood: Well, you recall, I presume -- it is a matter of history -- going back to the middle of the First World War when Russia was also our ally against the same enemy that we were fighting at this time and they were knocked out of the war. When the remnants of their forces turned against us, it prolonged the First World War a considerable time, didn't it?22

Rand: I don't believe so.

Wood: You don't?

Rand: No.

Wood: Do you think, then, that it was to our advantage or to our disadvantage to keep Russia in this war, at the time this picture was made?

Rand: That has absolutely nothing to do with what we are discussing.

Wood: Well --

Rand: But if you want me to answer, I can answer, but it will take me a long time to say what I think, as to whether we should or should not have had Russia on our side in the war. I can, but how much time will you give me?

Wood: Well, do you say that it would have prolonged the war, so far as we were concerned, if they had been knocked out of it at that time?

Rand: I can't answer that yes or no, unless you give me time for a long speech on it.

W

ood: Well, there is a pretty strong probability that we wouldn't have won it at all, isn't there?

Rand: I don't know, because on the other hand I think we could have used the lend-lease supplies23 that we sent there to much better advantage ourselves.

Wood: Well, at that time --

Rand: I don't know. It is a question.

Wood: We were furnishing Russia with all the lend-lease equipment that our industry would stand, weren't we?

Rand: That is right.

Wood: And continued to do it?

Rand: I am not sure it was at all wise. Now, if you want to discuss my military views -- I am not an authority, but I will try.

Wood: What do you interpret, then, the picture as having been made for?

Rand: I ask you: what relation could a lie about Russia have with the war effort? I would like to have somebody explain that to me, because I really don't understand it, why a lie would help anybody or why it would keep Russia in or out of the war. How?

Wood: You don't think it would have been of benefit to the American people to have kept them in?

Rand: I don't believe the American people should ever be told any lies, publicly or privately. I don't believe that lies are practical. I think the international situation now rather supports me. I don't think it was necessary to deceive the American people about the nature of Russia. I could add this: if those who saw it say it was quite all right, and perhaps there are reasons why it was all right to be an ally of Russia, then why weren't the American people told the real reasons and told that Russia is a dictatorship but there are reasons why we should cooperate with them to destroy Hitler and other dictators? All right, there may be some argument to that. Let us hear it. But of what help can it be to the war effort to tell people that we should associate with Russia and that she is not a dictatorship?

Wood: Let me see if I understand your position. I understand, from what you say, that because they were a dictatorship we shouldn't have accepted their help in undertaking to win a war against another dictatorship.

Rand: That is not what I said. I was not in a position to make that decision. If I were, I would tell you what I would do. That is not what we are discussing. We are discussing the fact that our country was an ally of Russia, and the question is: what should we tell the American people about it -- the truth or a lie? If we had good reason, if that is what you believe, all right, then why not tell the truth? Say it is a dictatorship, but we want to be associated with it. Say it is worthwhile being associated with the devil, as Churchill said, in order to defeat another evil which is Hitler. There might be some good argument made for that. But why pretend that Russia was not what it was?

Wood: Well --

Rand: What do you achieve by that?

Wood: Do you think it would have had as good an effect upon the morale of the American people to preach a doctrine to them that Russia was on the verge of collapse?

Rand: I don't believe that the morale of anybody can be built up by a lie. If there was nothing good that we could truthfully say about Russia, then it would have been better not to say anything at all.

Wood: Well --

Rand: You don't have to come out and denounce Russia during the war; no. You can keep quiet. There is no moral guilt in not saying something if you can't say it, but there is in saying the opposite of what is true.

Wood: Thank you. That is all.

Chairman Thomas: Mr. Vail.

Rep. Richard B. Vail24: No questions.

Chairman Thomas: Mr. McDowell.

Rep. John R. McDowell25: You paint a very dismal picture of Russia. You made a great point about the number of children who were unhappy. Doesn't anybody smile in Russia any more?

Rand: Well, if you ask me literally, pretty much no.

McDowell: They don't smile?

Rand: Not quite that way; no. If they do, it is privately and accidentally. Certainly, it is not social. They don't smile in approval of their system.

McDowell: Well, all they do is talk about food.

Rand: That is right.

McDowell: That is a great change from the Russians I have always known, and I have known a lot of them. Don't they do things at all like Americans? Don't they walk across town to visit their mother-in-law or somebody?

Rand: Look, it is very hard to explain. It is almost impossible to convey to a free people what it is like to live in a totalitarian dictatorship. I can tell you a lot of details. I can never completely convince you, because you are free. It is in a way good that you can't even conceive of what it is like. Certainly they have friends and mothers-in-law. They try to live a human life, but you understand it is totally inhuman. Try to imagine what it is like if you are in constant terror from morning till night and at night you are waiting for the doorbell to ring, where you are afraid of anything and everybody, living in a country where human life is nothing, less than nothing, and you know it. You don't know who or when is going to do what to you because you may have friends who spy on you, where there is no law and any rights of any kind.

McDowell: You came here in 1926, I believe you said. Did you escape from Russia?

Rand: No.

McDowell: Did you have a passport?

Rand: No. Strangely enough, they gave me a passport to come out here as a visitor.

McDowell: As a visitor?

Rand: It was at a time when they relaxed their orders a little bit. Quite a few people got out. I had some relatives here and I was permitted to come here for a year. I never went back.

McDowell: I see.

Chairman Thomas: Mr. Nixon.

Rep. Richard M. Nixon26: No questions.

Chairman Thomas: All right. The first witness tomorrow morning will be Adolph Menjou.27

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