30 Years After Fall of Berlin Wall, Let’s Tear Down Wall of Dogma That Thwarts Our Liberty


Recommended Posts

"30 Years After Fall of Berlin Wall, Let’s Tear Down Wall of Dogma That Thwarts Our Liberty."
By Edward Hudgins

On Nov. 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell as thousands of East Berliners celebrated their liberation from the giant communist prison camp.

Today, 36 percent of American millennials say they approve of communism, and 70 percent say they are likely to vote for socialism—the economic regime that impoverished all communist-ruled countries.

What happened?

After World War II, the United States, Great Britain, and France created the Federal Republic of Germany in the zones they occupied, replacing Nazi totalitarianism with democracy and personal and economic liberty. The Soviet Union, meanwhile, created in its zone the so-called German Democratic Republic, where it imposed communist totalitarianism.

Berlin, located 100 miles inside East Germany, also was divided into East and West zones. East Berliners naturally wanted to live free and prosper, but that posed a problem for the Soviets. By 1961, thousands of East Berliners were moving each day into West Berlin. To halt the mass exodus, the communists of East Berlin built a wall to contain their subjects.

In 1981, I took the closed military train through East Germany to West Berlin. Armed communist guards along the track ensured no one took photos out the windows of the desolate countryside. In the center of Berlin, there was a double wall, with a “no man’s land” in between with guard towers, machine guns ... (Continue reading here.)

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Closed up for brevity and I found 3 misspellings. 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. This annotated transcript of Rand's testimony differs somewhat from others found on the internet. Most transcripts are unedited reproductions of the testimony as it was given in the official Government Printing Office record ("Hearings Regarding Communist Infiltration of the Motion Picture Industry"). While unedited transcripts are valuable documents for historians, they can sometimes be less than enlightening for the general reader due to a lack of context. For example, speakers may refer to people and events that are not fully described anywhere in the text. To make Rand's testimony more meaningful to contemporary readers, this transcript is annotated with explanatory information not found in other versions. It is still a complete transcript, and none of the speakers' words have been altered or omitted. Because the exact history of the hearings and Rand's role in them is widely misunderstood, substantial background material is also provided.

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.

HUAC and Hollywood. In September 1947, HUAC subpoenaed 41 witnesses for its hearings on Communist influence in Hollywood. Of these, 19 were considered "unfriendly" witnesses. The eleven unfriendly witnesses who eventually came to the hearings in October 1947 became the most famous participants in the HUAC hearings. Ten of them -- writers Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Ring Lardner Jr., John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Adrian Scott, and Dalton Trumbo, along with director Edward Dmytryk -- refused to answer questions, denounced the committee, and were held in contempt of Congress. The contempt citations led to brief prison terms for all ten when the Supreme Court refused to reverse their convictions. (The eleventh unfriendly witness, German-born writer Bertolt Brecht, testified he wasn't a Communist and then promptly went back to Europe -- ultimately settling in Communist-controlled East Berlin.) They became known as the "Hollywood Ten," and would be blacklisted from the industry for many years afterward. The blacklist itself was not developed by HUAC, but by a group of studio executives who met shortly after the hearings and adopted a resolution against employing Communists, including the Hollywood Ten. With the exception of Dmytryk, who later changed his position and cooperated with the committee, the Hollywood Ten either did not work on American movies or used pseudonyms for most of the 1950s.

Ayn Rand, on the other hand, was among the "friendly" witnesses who cooperated with the committee. Along with various others -- including studio heads Jack Warner and Louis B. Mayer, and actors Gary Cooper, Robert Montgomery, Ronald Reagan, and Robert Taylor -- Rand agreed to testify about Communist influence on Hollywood movies. Rand's testimony, like that of the other friendly witnesses, was given prior to the debacle of the "Hollywood Ten."

HUAC's initial investigations of Communists in Hollywood ended after the testimony of the Hollywood Ten. The committee resumed investigations of Communist influence on movies in the early 1950s and continued them for several years. Hearings held in 1952 received some historical attention when director Elia Kazan, who testified before the committee on two different occasions that year, was given an honorary award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1999. Nonetheless, the 1947 hearings and their immediate aftermath dominate most discussions of the HUAC investigations -- including, ironically, many of the discussions prompted by Kazan's award.

HUAC and Joseph McCarthy. HUAC is sometimes confused with the Senate Committee on Government Operations, which included Senator Joseph McCarthy. The Senate committee's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations was particularly active in investigating suspected Communists in the 1950s, especially after McCarthy became it's chairman. The House and Senate committees were two separate bodies. McCarthy was not involved in HUAC and never served in the House of Representatives. Although he was a freshman senator in 1947, McCarthy had not yet begun his well-known campaign against communism, which he initiated in February 1950. The later investigations of Hollywood that HUAC began in 1951 might be interpreted as a reaction to the anti-Communist furor raised by McCarthy, but he had no influence on the 1947 hearings at which Rand testified.

Both HUAC and McCarthy's Senate committee were also different from the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, which was the Senate's direct equivalent to HUAC.

R

and'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 propaganda, 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)

For more detailed biographical information about Ayn Rand herself, see the Ayn Rand Biographical FAQ.

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.

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.

Now we go to the pleasant love story. Mr. Taylor is an American who came there apparently voluntarily to conduct concerts for the Soviets. He meets a little Russian girl15 from a village who comes to him and begs him to go to her village to direct concerts there. There are no GPU16 agents and nobody stops her. She just comes to Moscow and meets him. He falls for her and decides he will go, because he is falling in love. He asks her to show him Moscow. She says she has never seen it. He says, "I will show it to YOU." They see it together. The picture then goes into a scene of Moscow, supposedly. I don't know where the studio got its shots, but I have never seen anything like it in Russia. First you see Moscow buildings -- big, prosperous-looking, clean buildings, with something like swans or sailboats in the foreground. Then you see a Moscow restaurant that just never existed there. In my time, when I was in Russia, there was only one such restaurant, which was nowhere as luxurious as that and no one could enter it except commissars and profiteers. Certainly a girl from a village, who in the first place would never have been allowed to come voluntarily, without permission, to Moscow, could not afford to enter it, even if she worked ten years. However, there is a Russian restaurant with a menu such as never existed in Russia at all and which I doubt even existed before the revolution. From this restaurant they go on to this tour of Moscow. The streets are clean and prosperous-looking. There are no food lines anywhere. You see shots of the marble subway -- the famous Russian subway out of which they make such propaganda capital. There is a marble statue of Stalin thrown in. There is a park where you see happy little children in white blouses running around. I don't know whose children they are, but they are really happy kiddies. They are not homeless children in rags, such as I have seen in Russia. Then you see an excursion boat, on which the Russian people are smiling, sitting around very cheerfully, dressed in some sort of satin blouses such as they only wear in Russian restaurants here. Then they attend a luxurious dance. I don't know where they got the idea of the clothes and the settings that they used at the ball and --

Stripling: Is that a ballroom scene?

Rand: Yes; the ballroom -- where they dance. It was an exaggeration even for this country. I have never seen anybody wearing such clothes and dancing to such exotic music when I was there. Of course, it didn't say whose ballroom it is or how they get there. But there they are -- free and dancing very happily. Incidentally, I must say at this point that I understand from correspondents who have left Russia and been there later than I was and from people who escaped from there later than I did that the time I saw it, which was in 1926, was the best time since the Russian revolution. At that time conditions were a little better than they have become since. In my time we were a bunch of ragged, starved, dirty, miserable people who had only two thoughts in our mind. That was our complete terror -- afraid to look at one another, afraid to say anything for fear of who is listening and would report us -- and where to get the next meal. You have no idea what it means to live in a country where nobody has any concern except food, where all the conversation is about food because everybody is so hungry that that is all they can think about and that is all they can afford to do. They have no idea of politics. They have no idea of any pleasant romances or love-nothing but food and fear. That is what I saw up to 1926. That is not what the picture shows.

Now, after this tour of Moscow, the hero -- the American conductor -- goes to the Soviet village. The Russian villages are something -- so miserable and so filthy. They were even before the revolution. They weren't much even then. What they have become now I am afraid to think. You have all read about the program for the collectivization of the farms in 1933, at which time the Soviet Government admits that three million peasants died of starvation. Other people claim there were seven and a half million, but three million is the figure admitted by the Soviet Government as the figure of people who died of starvation, planned by the government in order to drive people into collective farms. That is a recorded historical fact.17

Now, here is the life in the Soviet village as presented in Song of Russia. You see the happy peasants. You see they are meeting the hero at the station with bands, with beautiful blouses and shoes, such as they never wore anywhere. You see children with operetta costumes on them and with a brass band which they could never afford. You see the manicured starlets driving tractors and the happy women who come from work singing. You see a peasant at home with a close-up of food for which anyone there would have been murdered. If anybody had such food in Russia in that time he couldn't remain alive, because he would have been torn apart by neighbors trying to get food. But here is a close-up of it and a line where Robert Taylor comments on the food and the peasant answers, "This is just a simple country table and the food we eat ourselves."

Then the peasant proceeds to show Taylor how they live. He shows him his wonderful tractor. It is parked somewhere in his private garage. He shows him the grain in his bin, and Taylor says, "That is wonderful grain." Now, it is never said that the peasant does not own this tractor or this grain because it is a collective farm. He couldn't have it. It is not his. But the impression he gives to Americans, who wouldn't know any differently, is that certainly it is this peasant's private property, and that is how he lives, he has his own tractor and his own grain. Then it shows miles and miles of plowed fields.

Chairman Thomas: We will have more order, please.

Rand: Am I speaking too fast?

Chairman Thomas: Go ahead.

Rand: Then --

Stripling: Miss Rand, may I bring up one point there?

Rand: Surely.

Stripling: I saw the picture. At this peasant's village or home, was there a priest or several priests in evidence?

Rand: Oh, yes; I am coming to that, too. The priest was from the beginning in the village scenes, having a position as sort of a constant companion and friend of the peasants, as if religion was a natural accepted part of that life. Well, now, as a matter of fact, the situation about religion in Russia in my time was, and I understand it still is, that for a Communist Party member to have anything to do with religion means expulsion from the party. He is not allowed to enter a church or take part in any religious ceremony. For a private citizen, that is a nonparty member, it was permitted, but it was so frowned upon that people had to keep it secret, if they went to church. If they wanted a church wedding they usually had it privately in their homes, with only a few friends present, in order not to let it be known at their place of employment because, even though it was not forbidden, the chances were that they would be thrown out of a job for being known as practicing any kind of religion.

Now, then, to continue with the story, Robert Taylor proposes to the heroine. She accepts him. They have a wedding, which, of course, is a church wedding. It takes place with all the religious pomp which they show. They have a banquet. They have dancers, in something like satin skirts and performing ballets such as you never could possibly see in any village and certainly not in Russia. Later they show a peasants' meeting place, which is a kind of a marble palace with crystal chandeliers. Where they got it or who built it for them I would like to be told. Then later you see that the peasants all have radios. When the heroine plays as a soloist with Robert Taylor's orchestra, after she marries him, you see a scene where all the peasants are listening on radios, and one of them says, "There are more than millions listening to the concert."

I don't know whether there are a hundred people in Russia, private individuals, who own radios. And I remember reading in the newspaper at the beginning of the war that every radio was seized by the government and people were not allowed to own them. Such an idea that every farmer, a poor peasant, has a radio, is certainly preposterous. You also see that they have long-distance telephones. Later in the picture Taylor has to call his wife in the village by long-distance telephone. Where they got this long-distance phone, I don't know.

Now, here comes the crucial point of the picture. In the midst of this concert, when the heroine is playing, you see a scene on the border of the U.S.S.R. You have a very lovely modernistic sign saying "U.S.S.R." I would just like to remind you that that is the border where probably thousands of people have died trying to escape out of this lovely paradise. It shows the U.S.S.R. sign, and there is a border guard standing. He is listening to the concert. Then there is a scene inside kind of a guardhouse where the guards are listening to the same concert, the beautiful Tchaikovsky music, and they are playing chess.

Suddenly there is a Nazi attack on them. The poor, sweet Russians were unprepared. Now, realize -- and that was a great shock to me -- that the border that was being shown was the border of Poland. That was the border of an occupied, destroyed, enslaved country which Hitler and Stalin destroyed together.18 That was the border that was being shown to us -- just a happy place with people listening to music.

Also realize that when all this sweetness and light was going on in the first part of the picture, with all these happy, free people, there was not a GPU agent among them, with no food lines, no persecution -- complete freedom and happiness, with everybody smiling. Incidentally, I have never seen so much smiling in my life, except on the murals of the world's fair pavilion of the Soviets. If any one of you have seen it, you can appreciate it. It is one of the stock propaganda tricks of the Communists, to show these people smiling. That is all they can show. You have all this, plus the fact that an American conductor had accepted an invitation to come there and conduct a concert, and this took place in 1941 when Stalin was the ally of Hitler. That an American would accept an invitation to that country was shocking to me, with everything that was shown being proper and good and all those happy people going around dancing, when Stalin was an ally of Hitler.

Now, then, the heroine decides that she wants to stay in Russia. Taylor would like to take her out of the country, but she says no, her place is here, she has to fight the war. Here is the line, as nearly exact as I could mark it while watching the picture:

"I have a great responsibility to my family, to my village, and to the way I have lived."

What way had she lived? This is just a polite way of saying the Communist way of life. She goes on to say that she wants to stay in the country because otherwise, "How can I help to build a better and better life for my country." What do you mean when you say better and better? That means she has already helped to build a good way. That is the Soviet Communist way. But now she wants to make it even better. All right.

Now, then, Taylor's manager, who is played, I believe, by Benchley19, an American, tells her that she should leave the country, but when she refuses and wants to stay, here is the line he uses: he tells her in an admiring friendly way that "You are a fool, but a lot of fools like you died on the village green at Lexington."20

Now, I submit that that is blasphemy, because the men at Lexington were not fighting just a foreign invader. They were fighting for freedom and what I mean -- and I intend to be exact -- is they were fighting for political freedom and individual freedom. They were fighting for the rights of man. To compare them to somebody, anybody fighting for a slave state, I think is dreadful. Then, later the girl also says -- I believe this was she or one of the other characters -- that "the culture we have been building here will never die." What culture? The culture of concentration camps.

At the end of the picture one of the Russians asks Taylor and the girl to go back to America, because they can help them there. How? Here is what he says, "You can go back to your country and tell them what you have seen and you will see the truth both in speech and in music." Now, that is plainly saying that what you have seen is the truth about Russia. That is what is in the picture.

Now, here is what I cannot understand at all: if the excuse that has been given here is that we had to produce the picture in wartime, just how can it help the war effort? If it is to deceive the American people, if it were to present to the American people a better picture of Russia than it really is, then that sort of an attitude is nothing but the theory of the Nazi elite -- that a choice group of intellectual or other leaders will tell the people lies for their own good. That I don't think is the American way of giving people information. We do not have to deceive the people at any time, in war or peace. If it was to please the Russians, I don't see how you can please the Russians by telling them that we are fools. To what extent we have done it, you can see right now. You can see the results right now. If we present a picture like that as our version of what goes on in Russia, what will they think of it? We don't win anybody's friendship. We will only win their contempt, and as you know the Russians have been behaving like this.

My whole point about the picture is this: I fully believe Mr. Mayer when he says that he did not make a Communist picture. To do him justice, I can tell you I noticed, by watching the picture, where there was an effort to cut propaganda out. I believe he tried to cut propaganda out of the picture, but the terrible thing is the carelessness with ideas, not realizing that the mere presentation of that kind of happy existence in a country of slavery and horror is terrible because it is propaganda. You are telling people that it is all right to live in a totalitarian state.

Now, I would like to say that nothing on earth will justify slavery. In war or peace or at any time you cannot justify slavery. You cannot tell people that it is all right to live under it and that everybody there is happy. If you doubt this, I will just ask you one question. Visualize a picture in your own mind as laid in Nazi Germany. If anybody laid a plot just based on a pleasant little romance in Germany and played Wagner music and said that people are just happy there, would you say that that was propaganda or not, when you know what life in Germany was and what kind of concentration camps they had there. You would not dare to put just a happy love story into Germany, and for every one of the same reasons you should not do it about Russia.

Stripling: That is all I have, Mr. Chairman.

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.

Wood: 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

Notes deleted for brevity.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 11 months later...
On 11/9/2019 at 11:30 AM, Peter said:

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.

Another transcript? Peter

THE RAND TRANSCRIPT By Chris Matthew Sciabarra

For many years, scholars have sought to understand Ayn Rand’s early education in an attempt to identify possible influences on her intellectual development. Regrettably, very little information has been available on one important phase of that education: her studies at the University of Leningrad in the years 1921-1924.

Having recovered Rand’s college transcript, I am now in a position to shed greater light on this subject.1 I have investigated the nature and significance of the courses that it lists, and the orientation of the professors who probably taught those courses. This essay provides a brief discussion of the transcript’s contents and concludes with some reflections on one important pattern that I see in Rand's studies.

The official transcript copy is signed by the Director of the Central State Archive of St. Petersburg, T. Z. Zernova (30 October 1998).2  The transcript reports that Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, born in 1905, entered the university on 2 October 1921 and graduated from the Social Pedagogical Division of the Faculty (or College) of the Social Sciences of Leningrad State University. This three-year course of the obshchestvenno - pedagogicheskoe otdelenie (Department of Social Pedagogy) was part of the new social science curriculum at the university, which had united the existing schools of history, philology, and law. The integration of the historical and philosophical disciplines sought to prepare students for careers as social science educators.

The transcript confirms all of those facts that I had previously uncovered in the official Rosenbaum dossier, dated 6 August 1992, as part of my research for Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical (1995). It also provides an additional piece of information: that Rosenbaum received her Certificate of Graduation (Diploma No. 1552) on 13 October 1924. Most importantly, it tells us that during her period of study, Rosenbaum passed--or "received credit for" or "fulfilled the requirements of"--twenty-six courses. These are important qualifications for no grades are recorded therein. Rand’s claim to Barbara Branden (1986, 54) that she had "graduated from the university with the highest honors" remains unconfirmed. In fact, during this period, Rand may have done well on her exams, but academic performance was assessed simply as pass or fail, with a "retake" option for those students who received failing grades (Konecny 1994, 201).

As I indicate in my Liberty article detailing the relentless search for the Rosenbaum transcript, it was the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) that first discovered the document. When I had been in negotiations with the ARI to secure a copy of the transcript--a negotiation that eventually failed--its officials had noted that the signatures on the transcript were illegible. That fact was confirmed by the university archivists, who were unable to decipher any of the signatures on the document. However, the ARI officials had insisted that they could not detect the signature of Nicholas Onufrievich Lossky. Its presence, they believed, would have confirmed, once and for all, that he was, indeed, one of Rand's teachers--a question raised by my own work in Russian Radical.

At the time, neither I nor the ARI officials were aware that the signatures next to each listed course were not necessarily or ordinarily those of the teacher. In most, if not all, cases, the signatures were of the rector, or the vice rector, or the dean of the social sciences, or the department chair. (During the period in question, the school moved to unite the social sciences and the humanities.3  Prior to 1922, the Rector was V. M. Shimkevich, while the dean of the Social Sciences was N. S. Derzhavin. There were many other officials who would have acted as official signatories on the document.) Given this fact, even legible signatures, analyzed by handwriting experts, would not necessarily yield more information on the specific teacher of each course.

Nevertheless, a more detailed examination of the university archives might reveal additional information both about the courses offered and the professors who taught them. That investigation awaits the attention of future scholars. At this stage of our inquiry, we can identify the following twenty-six courses, listed chronologically, and taken by Rand between the Fall of 1921 and the Spring of 1924:4

1. General Theory of the State and the State Structure in the RSFSR (Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic) and the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) 5 This course was a fairly straightforward rendering of the Bolshevik politics of the Soviet Union, presented in proletarian class-conscious, Marxist-Leninist terms. Konecny (1994) informs us that during this period "obligatory courses on topics such as political economy, the history of the Russian Communist Party, and the Soviet Constitution" were introduced into the university (111). These party courses did not become compulsory until 1925. While there were few bona fide communist professors in 1921, the courses were still highly recommended for all students (117).

2. History of the Development of Social Forms This examined the development of human social relations from the perspective of both Marxist and non-Marxist political thinkers. It included a study of social formations--and their effects on the lives of individuals--as they emerged over time. Heavily infused with notions of historical materialism and evolutionary development, the course was probably taught by the Marxist, K. M. Takhtarev.

3. Psychology Courses in psychology were actually courses in philosophical psychology, offered by the Department of Philosophy.6  Such coursework focused on the philosophy of mind, and on the nature of introspection, self-observation, and volition.7   The most likely teacher of this course was the celebrated neo-Kantian, Ivan Ivanovich Lapshin.8  Like Lossky, Lapshin stressed the importance of mutual immanence in his rejection of solipsism and its "‘false metaphysical dualism between things in themselves and the knowing subject'" (quoted in Zenkovsky 1953, v.2, 689). Lapshin had taught this course several times between 1897-98 and 1917-18.9 But as a critic of dialectical materialism, he was eventually exiled in 1922, along with many other intellectuals, including Lossky.

4. Logic This Department of Philosophy course featured all the traditional discussions of the Aristotelian syllogism, deduction, and inductive inference, as well as an examination of typical logical fallacies. From 1889, it was usually taught by the chair of the department, Aleksandr Ivanovich Vvedensky, also a Russian Idealist philosopher and psychologist, and one of the most important representatives of the neo-Kantian movement in Russia. Vvedensky had served as the president of the St. Petersburg Philosophical Society in 1899. He taught the reality and efficacy of free will, and argued that "the function of logic is to verify what is known and not to reveal the unknown" (GSE 1974, v.4, 647). Despite his deep disagreements with the Marxists, he remained an active participant in the debates over materialism in the early 1920’s, until his death in 1925. He had been a mentor to Lapshin, Askoldov, and Lossky, and was an exceptionally gifted lecturer who attracted thousands of students during his tenure at the university.10

After 1923, the Marxist, Borichevsky, taught the course in logic--but his expertise was limited to Spinoza, Epicurus and materialism. Given that Rand took this course early in her academic career, probably in the fall of 1921, it seems certain that she studied with Vvedensky.11  It is of some interest that this was not the only course on logic that Rand ever took. After graduating Leningrad University, she entered a two-year program at the State Institute for Cinematography, in Leningrad, as a means of honing her writing craft for the screen. Screenwriting was not offered in the first--and only--year of the program in which Rand enrolled. But she did take courses in art history, stage fencing, biodynamics, film make-up, social studies, dance, cinematography and logic (Rand 1999, 10).

5. French Language Rand had been exposed to the French language from a very young age, as her mother had insisted, since this would enable her to read many of the classics of modern literature in their original language, including the works of her beloved Victor Hugo. To take this elective was hardly a surprising choice for the young Rand, who probably sought college credit for a language in which she was already fairly proficient.

6. Historical Materialism  A formal study of historical materialism was recommended for undergraduates. It was this course that probably led the mature Rand to reject "dialectics"--since the Soviets virtually identified the two concepts. For the Soviet Marxists of the period, dialectics was historical materialism, a study of the primacy of the economic forces in history and their predominating effects on other aspects of the social totality. The course would have examined the so-called "inexorable laws of historical development," with an emphasis on the resolution of internal contradictions that would propel the world toward the triumph of communism.

7. History of World-Views (Ancient Period) In her interviews with Barbara Branden (1986), Rand claimed that she had taken "an elective course on the history of ancient philosophy" with the distinguished N. O. Lossky, wherein she studied the pre-Socratics, Plato, and Aristotle (42). In Russian Radical, I argued that the relationship between Rand and Lossky was "of paramount historical importance because it was probably Lossky who introduced Rand to dialectical methods of analysis" (41). But the book raised some doubts about Rand's claims. Because of these doubts, some critics dismissed my attempts to link Rand and Lossky, even though this dismissal damned the integrity of Rand's recollections.

When it first came to my awareness that the Estate of Ayn Rand had secured a copy of the transcript, it was the possibility of a full resolution of the Lossky puzzle that most interested me. In my failed negotiations to secure a copy of the transcript from the Estate, the ARI officials claimed that they could not identify any listed courses on the history of ancient philosophy. I had hypothesized originally that such a course might be untraceable, since it may have been offered as an elective through the university's annex, to which Lossky had been relegated in the 1921-22 academic year. But I was convinced that the ARI’s officials simply did not know what to look for in the transcript. When I finally received an official transcript copy from the Central State Archives, my suspicions were vindicated. The presence of this course--on the "History of World-Views" or Weltanschauungen in the "Ancient Period"--constitutes further evidence in support of Rand's memories of this period. Moreover, growing evidence since the publication of Russian Radical has lent greater credence to my case for a Lossky-Rand relationship. For instance, I had examined, in that book, Rand's discussion of the 1917-18 academic year, in which she befriended a classmate, Olga Vladimirovna, sister of the author, Vladimir Nabokov. I discovered that the Nabokov sisters, both Olga and Helene, had attended the Stoiunin Gymnasium during the period in question. The gymnasium was founded in 1881 by Maria Nikolaievna Stoiunina and Vladimir Stoiunin, the parents of Lossky's wife. Lossky actually taught classes in logic and psychology at the school from 1898 to 1922. It is now virtually certain that the young Rand learned of him while she studied at this famous school for young women.

At the time that I wrote my book, Helene Sikorski, Olga's surviving sister, did not recall ever having met Ayn Rand. She later asked my forgiveness: "I am now 90 years old," she said. It was only after the book was published that she "regret[ted] sincerely" the "delay" in her memory (personal correspondence, 3 January 1996). Before writing to me, she had corresponded directly with Boris Lossky, son of Nicholas Onufrievich. The Nabokov family had known the Losskys quite well, and remained in contact even after their departure from Russia in 1919. Boris explained to me that Helene remembered, quite "unexpectedly," that Alissa Rosenbaum had, indeed, "returned for many visits" to the Nabokov mansion on Morskaya Street in St. Petersburg. Alissa conversed endlessly with Olga; both girls were "enraptured by the February revolution" of 1917. Helene did not quite grasp all the implications of these political subjects, but she remembered them--finally.

In my book, I give voice to Boris's own doubts with regard to Rand's overall recollections. When he ultimately accepted that the young Alissa had been friends with Olga Nabokov, he "wanted to call [my] attention to this fact," since it was now "clear that the friendship of Rosenbaum and the Nabokov sisters [was] not an invention of Ayn Rand." These young women had all studied "in the high school of my grandmother Stoiunin," Boris concluded unequivocally. And by implication, since Rand's recollections of the Nabokovs were of an even earlier time period than her alleged studies with his father Nicholas, Boris seemed willing to give greater weight to the specific conclusions of my "creative work" on Rand's college education (personal correspondence, 21 November 1995).

Helene wrote to me to reinforce Boris's conclusions. She apologized again that she "did not recall in time that Ayn Rand was a dear friend of my sister Olga" (personal correspondence, 7 February 1996). She emphasized: "I remember A. Rosenbaum very dimly. It was in 1917 (I was just 11 years old). But both she and my sister were very excited and interested concerning the February revolution, which they both approved. But all these meetings ended in October 1917, when our family left St. Petersburg. I must confess that I never knew that this lady became a famous writer" (personal correspondence, 3 January 1996).12

Given the intimate relationship of the Nabokovs and the Losskys, and Rand's close friendship with Olga, it is, indeed, extremely likely that Rand learned of Lossky while in attendance at the school founded and operated by his in-laws, and in which he himself taught. That knowledge may have contributed to her selection of Lossky's course in the spring semester of her freshman year at Petrograd University.

The doubts that I raised concerning Rand's attendance in this specific course centered on two important facts: that Lossky had been removed from "official" university teaching duties prior to his house arrest in August 1922, and his exile in November 1922, and that during the 1921-22 academic year, especially in the Fall semester, he was ill with a gallbladder condition. I speculated that if Lossky taught any college-level courses in the 1921-22 academic year, it would have had to have been offered in the spring semester--since Lossky's health improved dramatically in the winter--and it would have been a course taught from the university annex, the Institute for Scientific Research, to which Lossky was reassigned. Indeed, when M. N. Pokrovsky, of Narkompros (the Commissariat of Enlightenment), had barred Lossky from the premises of the university proper, he did not bar him from teaching university courses from the premises of the annex. The record shows that Pokrovsky sought to remove Lossky from the slate of his regular university duties, since Lossky had been engaging in wholesale attacks on the Bolsheviks and the materialists in each of his courses. Konecny (1994) clarifies some of these issues.13  He tells us that Lossky had been quite angry at those boisterous radical students who, he claimed, "were from another planet" (48). Still, says Konecny, Lossky "argued that despite the 'revolutionary fanatics' who constantly corrected him during lectures, he was able to enrich the minds of many young students with the same material he had used for many years" (81).14   Lossky was even able to give adult education lectures at the Petrograd People’s University.15  These programs "were established at most universities in order to give the public an opportunity to attend free lectures by professors on a wide variety of topics" (82 n.74). So, while Lossky may have been in danger of forever "forfeiting" his "right to teach [his] own material," due to the demands of "the new Soviet curricula," he continued to lecture with characteristic conviction (92).16   Hence, though his Spring 1922 activities may have been "untraceable" in the Lossky family "red-book" of his official pedagogical activities, evidence of these activities exists somewhere in the university's archives. Even Boris Lossky, who organized the family "red-book," now believes that it is "perfectly possible" that his father taught this specific course on the history of ancient world-views (interview, 9 January 1999).17

In previous academic years, Lossky had offered courses on Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Leibniz, the theory of judgment, free will, trans-subjectivity, contemporary epistemology, metaphysics, and logic. He also taught introductory philosophy classes, and lectured on materialism, hylozoism, and vitalism.18 None of his listed Petrograd courses in the family's records dealt specifically with Plato, Aristotle, or ancient philosophy--the very subjects that Rand said she studied with him.

Though Lossky had been barred from teaching courses where his anti-materialist, anti-Bolshevik stance would be most obvious, he was not prohibited from teaching survey courses, like the one on ancient world-views. Rand had probably studied (#3 and #4 above) with Lossky's closest intellectual colleagues. Her presumed knowledge of the great Lossky from her experiences at the Stoiunin gymnasium made it even more likely that she would have sought him out at the annex on the strength of recommendation and recollection. (As Lossky's mentor and the department chair, Vvedensky himself was known to recommend his colleague to students in their fulfilment of degree requirements.)

Any doubt that Rand actually studied ancient philosophy in college has now been erased. Given that this course on the history of world-views in the ancient period was sufficiently early in Rand's academic career to qualify as a spring 1922 class, and that the spring semester was the only period in which Lossky could have taught the class, I am convinced now more than ever of the accuracy of Rand's memory.19 That this course appears precisely where Rand said it would appear is further confirmation of the quality of her memory, which always impressed her biographer, Barbara Branden (1986) for its "range and exactitude" (13). Since we can now confirm Rand's recollections of the Nabokovs and of this specific course, it is no great stretch of the imagination to acknowledge the validity of her recollections of Lossky himself. The circumstances coalesce in time so distinctly that it is difficult to escape the natural conclusion: Rand knew Lossky and studied with him.

One very interesting clue concerning this case emerges from a perusal of Lossky's bibliography. Unbeknownst to me at the time of writing Russian Radical, Lossky published in 1924, in Prague, only a year and a half after this university course, an article entitled "Types of World-Views." This article was subsequently expanded to an 84-page monograph of the same title, published in Paris in 1931. These titles are the only ones bearing the phrase "World-Views" in the entire Lossky corpus. It is significant that they were published so close in time to a 1922 course that dealt with the same topic.20  In these articles, Lossky examined metaphysics as the central philosophical discipline, and classified metaphysical systems from the ancients to the moderns according to their materialist, spiritualist, and panpsychic premises.  He ended with a critique of dualism, proposing an "organic ideal-realist" alternative as a "many-sided philosophical synthesis."   Lossky's textual surveys of the history of philosophy often ended with his dialectical pronouncements, a technique that was typical of his lecturing--which is why he got into such trouble with the authorities. Kline reports that, in his courses in New York in the early 1950’s, Lossky would present the systems of Plato or Kant or Hegel, and then, quite habitually, would add, "But I affirm that . . ."--a preface to his own perspective on the issues.

Ultimately, however, my insistence on the Lossky connection remains symbolic, for he was a paragon of all the dialectical tendencies in Russian thought, of the belief that "‘everything is immanent in everything’" (quoted in Scanlan 1998, 833).21   He presented a system in his lectures and books, developing interconnections among metaphysics, logic, philosophical psychology, epistemology, aesthetics, ethics, and philosophy of religion (834). This dialectical orientation was central to the Russian Silver Age, the period of Rand's youth--from its neo-Idealists to its Nietzschean Symbolist poets to its Marxists. It was expressed by every major Russian thinker--from Vladimir Solovyov, who saw the world in terms of universal interconnections, to Aleksandr Herzen, who saw philosophy as an instrument of action.22   The Rosenbaum transcript makes clear that even if Rand had never met Lossky, she would have benefitted from a profoundly dialectical education. Indeed, this Lossky course was just the tip of the dialectical iceberg.

8. Biology Prior to 1922, biology was taught by Sergei Nikolaevich Vinogradsky, who became an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Vinogradsky left the Soviet Union in 1922, and went to France to direct the division of agricultural microbiology of the Pasteur Institute (GSE, v.5, 1974, 482). In the Spring of 1922, when Rand took biology, Lev Semenovich Berg was its most likely teacher. Berg was one of the organizers, in 1918, of the Geography Institute (GSE, v.3, 1973, 186). He worked in the area of Russian geography and biology. As the author of Theories of Evolution, he embraced an idealist and teleological approach, which emphasized the evolution of biological and social forms.

9. History of Greece In Russian Radical, I suggested that Rand had enrolled in several literature courses. The transcript shows, however, that Rand did not register for such classes. But literary works were integrated into her history and philosophy studies. This was not unusual, considering the Russian penchant for synthesizing the literary arts with social critique. The State Academic Council had attempted to reduce "parallel" courses in the different departments so as to highlight the "organic" connections among disciplines. In a course on the "History of Greece," Rand studied such classic Marxist texts as A. I. Tiumenev's three-volume, Essays on the Socioeconomic History of Ancient Greece and his Did Capitalism Exist in Ancient Greece? (both of which I highlight in Russian Radical). The Tiumenev works were typical in their stress upon history as a developing unity of complementary "moments":   culture, politics, aesthetics, literature, art, economics, sociology, and philosophy. Such dialectical integrations were taught even by non-Marxist scholars, like Faddei Frantsevich Zelinsky, whose classes on ancient Greece stressed the works of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Greek mythology. Zelinsky focused too on the recovery of antiquity in the works of Friedrich Nietzsche.23 Other teachers, such as the archaeologist Boris Vladimirovich Farmakovsky, stressed the Hellenistic period of Greek sculpture (GSE, v.27, 1981, 104).

10. History of Rome  Previously, Michail T. Rostovtsev had taught the history of Rome. He was praised by Anatoly V. Lunacharsky, the head of the Commissariat of Enlightenment, for his archeological expertise. Around the time of Rand's tenure, however, it was O. F. Val’dgauer, a 1903 graduate of the university and an historian of ancient art, who probably taught this course. Val’dgauer studied at the University of Munich (1900-03) with the classical archaeologist A. Furtwängler.24  He was an expert in ancient artifacts and documents who "was among the first to introduce scientific methods of organizing museum exhibitions" (GSE, v.4, 1974, 478). Val’dgauer linked his studies of the ancients to crucial issues current in Soviet art studies of the period, including the problems of realism and the portrait. This course used such Marxist texts as V. S. Sergeev’s History of Rome (discussed in Russian Radical).

11. Russian History  It seems odd that in her studies of history, Rand did not focus extensively on the experiences of her native land. Yet, this course was essential for any history major. Taught until 1925 by Sergei Fyodorovich Platonov, a specialist in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Russian history, it used such texts as S. I. Kovalev's General History Course. A representative of the conservative-monarchist tendency in Russian historiography, Platonov was a renowned professor at St. Petersburg from 1899. He eventually became director of the Pushkin House, the Institute of Russian Literature in the Academy of Sciences, from 1925 to 1929. Platonov may have been the target of Marxist critics who doubted his ability to understand "class contradictions," but his work was highly respected. He surveyed the Time of Troubles and focused on social conflict in Russian society. As with Rand's study of ancient history, this course probably included some literary readings. Here, the emphasis would have been on the Golden Age of Russian literature, in which such writers as Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Dostoyevsky represented the "dialectical" conflict of ideas through the characters of their stories.

12. Medieval History This was the first of five courses that Rand attended on European medieval history. It is no coincidence that Rand studied the Middle Ages so intensely. The Petrograd history department was an internationally acclaimed center of medieval scholarship.25   "Medieval History" was probably the last course that Professor Lev Platonovich Karsavin taught prior to his exile at the end of 1922. A student of Ivan Mikhailovich Grevs, and brother of the Russian ballerina, Tamara Platonovna Karsavina, he earned his degree at St. Petersburg. He began teaching in 1912 at the St. Petersburg Institute of History and Philology, and was appointed professor of history at the University of St. Petersburg in 1916. He held the chair of the history department until his departure. Karsavin was a close intellectual associate of Lossky. Influenced by Solovyov, he sought to create a unified religious world-view. As the Great Soviet Encyclopedia puts it, Karsavin interpreted Solovyov’s concept of "total-unity"

as a dynamic principle of development, of "growth of being," and consequently as a fundamental category of the historical process: any existing thing does not so much "exist" as "become" and thus appears as one of the manifestations of total-unity. Interpreted in this manner, historicism becomes a universal principle in Karsavin's metaphysical system, rendering it in certain respects similar to Hegel's dialectical process. (GSE, v.11, 1976, 463)

As a specialist in the history of medieval religions and spiritual life, Karsavin stressed, in all his works and lectures, the interlocking coincidence of opposites in historical development. For Karsavin, as Zenkovsky (1953) puts it, "everything is connected in one whole" (v.2, 851). Historical science is a structured totality, an organic unity, in which different levels of generality--the person, the family, the nation--relate internally, with each constituting and expressing the other. Studying with Karsavin, Rand may have rejected his spiritualist monism--much as she had rejected the materialist monism of the Marxists. But she would have learned, yet again, the dialectical form of social and philosophical analysis. As a nonreductionist orientation, dialectics cautions against the reification of culture, politics, economics, ethics, ideology or language as wholes unto themselves. Each aspect is mutually implied in every other aspect, Karsavin declared, and all the aspects taken together are dynamically and systemically related in the constituted whole.

In "Medieval History," Rand would have also studied important historical works, including such pre-Marxist classics as P. Vinogradov's Book of Readings on the History of the Middle Ages and D. N. Egorov's The Middle Ages through Their Monuments.

13. History of Socialism Among the standard Marxist social science courses that were recommended for study was this survey of the history of socialism (David-Fox 1997, 61). Part intellectual history, part social history, the course covered the gamut from ancient Platonic expressions of collectivism through the utopians, Marxists, and revisionists. Among the teachers of this course was Aleksandr Evgen’evich Presniakov, a 1907 graduate of the university who, despite his socialist politics, did not agree entirely with Marxist ideology. Presniakov began as a privatdocent at St. Petersburg, and was appointed professor in 1918. A member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR from 1920, Presniakov taught also at the Institute of Red Professors. The Bolsheviks had "attempted to convert the existing higher education structure into a network of academic institutions training specialists for the demands of a socialist society" (Konecny 1994, 1). The Institute was a graduate-level Bolshevik training center for higher learning that sought to boost Marxist university scholarship in the social science programs, achieving a veritable "Revolution of the mind" (David-Fox 1997, 133, 23).

There was a marked change in the content of Presniakov’s scholarship over time. His prerevolutionary works expressed a "positivist" sociology that centered on such topics as the history of political relations and state formation in pre-sixteenth-century Russia, the sources of sixteenth-century Russian chronicles, and the history of nineteenth-century social thought (GSE v.20, 1977, 524). But after the 1917 revolution, Presniakov moved toward mastering Marxist dialectical methods, as reflected both in his writings and lectures. He focused primarily on socioeconomic questions and the history of revolutionary movements--the important and inseparable link between theory and practice, an omnipresent theme throughout Russian intellectual history.

14. Special Course: Social Movements in 14th Century France This was the first of several "special courses" that Rand attended. A special course, in which a half-dozen students participated, was similar in style to a seminar. Seminars, however, were usually open only to senior undergraduates majoring in history. During this period, more and more seminar-like courses, stressing "activity methods of teaching," were introduced into the university's social science curriculum. "Social Movements in 14th Century France" was probably taught by the famous liberal historian, Nikolai Ivanovich Kareev, who, as an Idealist, was somewhat critical of Marxism. Like Lossky, Kareev stressed the "personalist" credo that "‘the individual is the supreme principle in the philosophy of history’" (quoted in Zenkovsky, v.1, 375). Stressing the role of ideas, he was, like the mature Rand, extremely critical of the monistic approach of Marxists who advocated "economic materialism" as the sole causal agent in social evolution. Moreover, he was adamantly opposed to censorship. In 1899, he had actually been expelled, along with the historian Grevs, by the Ministry of Education, following his demonstration against Tsarist police intervention at the university (Konecny 1994, 31). Kareev was an outstanding Russian sociologist and an expert in historiography. With Grevs, he lamented the post-revolutionary impediments to genuine democratization in higher education, and worked tirelessly to augment one-on-one personalized study between students and professors.26

Kareev counted among his influences Nicholas G. Chernyshevsky (who had made a huge impact on Lenin), N. A. Dobroliubov, D. I. Pisarev, and the Populists, P. L. Lavrov and N. K. Mikhailovsky. But he was also affected by Marx's Capital--making him a rather eclectic intellectual. Though Kareev's work on the French peasantry exhibited certain "positivist" assumptions, Marx himself praised it as "first-rate." Kareev's The Peasants and the Peasant Question in the Last Quarter of the 18th Century (1879) was among his many published books. Others included: Studies in the History of the French Peasants From Earliest Times to 1789 (1881); a 3-volume dissertation, Basic Questions of the Philosophy of History (1883-90); a seven-volume History of Western Europe in Modern Times (1892-1917); and a three-volume study of Historians of the French Revolution, praised by the Soviets as "the first composite survey--not only in Russian but anywhere in the historical literature--of the historiography of the Great French Revolution" (GSE, v.11, 1976, 441).

In a course such as this, Kareev would have stressed the interlocking political, economic, military, and religious dynamics of the period, during which France warred with England, and was internally divided by peasant restlessness and the spread of the "money economy." Kareev brought to his students the high quality of his scholarship.

15. Special Course: History of the Crusades In this special course, Rand probably studied with the renowned historian, Ol'ga Antonovna Dobiash-Rozhdestvenskaia. "Dr. Dobiash," as she was known, was widely acknowledged for her work in medieval history and paleography. Of greater significance, perhaps, was her status as "the first woman in Russia to receive a master's degree (1915) and doctorate (1918) in general history." Her work, in scholarly descriptions and the printed catalogs of early Latin manuscripts, was central to her position, from 1922 to 1939, in the manuscript section of the Saltykov-Shchedrin State Public Library (GSE, v.8, 1975, 329). Dr. Dobiash was originally a teacher at the Bestuzhevskii Women's Courses, a higher or post-secondary school for women that by the turn of the century was granted university accreditation for most of its offered classes.27  But as a Leningrad University professor, a member of the Academy of Sciences, and a model for women educators, Dr. Dobiash was first and foremost a cultural historian. Her lectures on the crusades focused on the importance of culture and its interconnections with religion, politics, and economics. Almedingen (1941) describes her as "thorough." In fact, Dr. Dobiash was known for grilling her students, especially those in "formal seminar studies" (209).

16. Modern History  This was the first in a series of courses that Rand took on "modern history."  It was probably taught by Evgenii V. Tarle, whose work in Marxist historiography was fast becoming even more important than the work of Kareev. A frequent lecturer at the Petrograd House of Scholars, he was decidedly "non-Marxist," however (Konecny 1994, 140). Tarle was a student of I. V. Luchitsky. He wrote many works, including those on Royer-Collard, G. Canning, C. Parnell, L. Gambetta, Lord Rosebery, an analysis of More's Utopia (his master's thesis), and a two-volume doctoral dissertation on The Working Class in France During the Revolutionary Epoch. In fact, he qualified as "the first historian of the Russian school to focus on the history of the working class" (GSE, v.25, 1978, 385). Tarle's prolific writing drew from his archival work in Paris, London, and the Hague. After defending his doctoral thesis in 1911, he went on to write such books as The Continental Blockade (1913) and The Economic Life of the Kingdom of Italy During the Reign of Napoleon I (1916). His later work centered on European imperialism, Napoleon, Talleyrand, the history of diplomacy, the French bourgeoisie, and the Crimean war. These works contributed to his receipt, in the 1940’s, of three State Prizes. He also authored textbooks on higher education.

In terms of his historiography, Tarle moved closer to the Marxists as he interpreted modern history from "a historical viewpoint" (GSE, v.25, 1978, 386). This process-oriented approach was reflected both in his books and lectures.28

17. Modern History of the West It seems likely that Rand studied with Kareev, who probably taught course #14 as well. Indeed, Kareev's work in Western history was unparalleled. The class probably used Kareev's own seven-volume work on The History of Western Europe in Modern Times, which, despite its "eclecticism," was praised by the Soviets, who cited "its wealth of factual material" in which "socioeconomic processes are accorded an important place" (GSE, v. 11, 1976, 441). He presented a general review of historical conflict from a Marxist perspective, as well as topical studies on the Reformation, the development of culture, and the English Revolution.

18. History of Modern Russian. Rozhkov taught "History of Modern Russia" in 1923. It was a survey course that included an examination of everything from the Great Reforms to the February and October Revolutions to the New Economic Policy. It was most likely skewed toward Marxist explanations in terms of economic forces, drawing from such works as M. N. Pokrovsky's Russian History in Briefest (1923).

19. History of Pedagogical Doctrines In his tenure as head of Narkompros, Lunacharsky had stressed progressive pedagogy, influenced heavily by the teachings of John Dewey.  "Activity methods of learning," with increased pupil participation and student-teacher meetings, was the educational credo of the day. Dewey’s works on educational theory and practice were published in the Soviet Union. In fact, from 1918 to 1923, five of Dewey's books were translated.29 As I argue in Russian Radical, it is entirely possible that Rand studied progressive pedagogy closely; this early exposure to Dewey's educational theories may have left an impression, since she remained deeply critical of the progressive approach.30

"History of Pedagogical Doctrines" was probably taught by V. A. Zelenko.31 In addition to stressing progressive pedagogy, Zelenko incorporated crucial dialectical insights into his lectures, noting especially the links between education and socio-economic principles, and the integration of socialist culture, science, and art.

20. Methodology of the Social Sciences Whether this course was actually taught by Tarle or Kareev or even Takhtarev, it centered on one essential theme: dialectical method as applied to the social sciences.32 Most certainly, this dialectical application was heavily infused with Marxist concepts steeped in historical materialism. It was this kind of "dialectic materialism" that Rand rejected unequivocally.33  But the dialectical form of its presentation was crucial. It required that one view society as a developing system, that is, not as a random conglomeration of unrelated organizations and institutions, but as an integrated, evolving totality of related structures and processes. It stressed "reciprocity between things and the reciprocity of aspects and moments within a thing" (GSE, v.8, 1975, 190). It celebrated Lenin's "methodological conclusion," "one of the basic principles of the dialectic," that "in order to genuinely know an object, one must seize it and study it from all sides, with all its interconnections and [mediations]" (GSE, v.8, 1975, 186).34

21. The Politics and Organization of Popular Education in the USSR This course, which discussed the branches of Soviet education, was probably taught by Zelenko, who was the likely teacher of course #19. Given that Rand was enrolled in the Department of Social Pedagogy, both courses were probably part of the curriculum, which sought to increase the number of educators in the Soviet Union.

22. Special Course: History of Medieval Trade This "special course" was most likely taught by Grevs, who was a specialist in medieval European history. He focused on the fathers of the Latin Church and on the medieval humanists, Dante and Petrarch, but was also well-known for his work on the development of socio-economic forms. Like N. D. Fustel de Coulanges, Grevs saw continuity between the social structure of the late Roman period and the early Middle Ages. He authored such works as Essays From the History of Roman Landownership and Essays on Florentine Culture (GSE, v.7, 1975, 418). Of greatest significance, perhaps, was Grevs's prominent advocacy of higher education for women. He was a pioneer of the seminar system and of university field trips, and it is likely that Rand would have benefited from his intense interest in promoting the intellectual success of his women students. Among the texts that would have been used by Grevs was D. M. Petrushevsky's Essays on the Economic and Social History of Medieval Europe, despite its decidedly non-Marxist tenor.

23. Political Economy Part of the standard Marxist social science curriculum (David-Fox 1997, 61), this course may have been taught by the Marxist, N. A. Trebesnul, who also taught on the "Sociology of Labor." It entailed a study of contemporary Marxist concepts of economic analysis, including the labor theory of value, the exploitation theory, the critique of capitalism--and the communist alternative as exemplified by the new Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

24. Seminar in Modern History (16th Century England) In what was probably Rand's final semester at the university, she registered for senior-level seminars in history, the first of which was probably taught by Sergei Rozhdestvensky, who specialized in sixteenth-century landholding and lectured at the university throughout the 1920’s. He used important Marxist texts by N. M. Pakul and I. I. Semenov on the Dutch and English revolutions, which stressed the interconnections of economics, politics, culture, and ideology. He may have also surveyed some of the period’s great literary works of poetry and drama.

25. Seminar in Modern History (17th Century France)  This seminar was probably taught by Tarle, who was the most likely teacher of course #16.

26. Seminar in the History of the Middle Ages (the Medieval Estate) This seminar was probably taught by Grevs, who was the most likely teacher of course #22. Grevs used such texts as D. M. Petrushevsky's Essays on Medieval Society and State.

Ayn Rand: The Russian Radical proposed a daring idea--that Rand had absorbed a dialectical orientation from her teachers. Because there was not much archival information available at the time that I authored my book, I was compelled to "combine significant factual evidence with a certain degree of reasonable speculation" (Sciabarra 1995, 67). The recovered transcript provides more persuasive evidence of Rand’s exposure to some of the finest dialectically-oriented Russian scholars of the Silver Age. Many of these scholars I had previously identified and discussed in Russian Radical as among Rand’s most probable teachers. We now have a clearer picture of the high caliber of Rand’s education; indeed, the quality of her undergraduate coursework was on a par with current doctoral programs in the social sciences--minus the dissertation requirement.

Most importantly, the transcript strengthens the central historical argument of Russian Radical, a thesis quite apart from the question of whether Rand studied with Lossky, or with any other particular scholar. Ultimately, it is the content and method of her education that matters. Indeed, "[w]hether she was reading her Marxist texts or attending the lectures of her non-Marxist professors, Alissa Rosenbaum was fully exposed to the dialectical methods distinctive to Russian thought and scholarship" (81-82). We now have more credible evidence than ever in support of this contention.

Given the character of the subject-matter and of the teachers with whom she probably studied, it is clear that the dialectical motif was present quite explicitly in nearly three-quarters of the courses in which Rand enrolled. In those courses where that motif was distorted by Marxist propaganda, the young Rand still may have gleaned important lessons. For instance, in studying "Historical Materialism" (#6) or "Political Economy" (#23), Rand may have comprehended a key dialectical principle in terms quite different from its materialist monist exposition: that there are reciprocal interactions among the different aspects of society--economics, politics, aesthetics, culture, and psychology--and that these interactions are at the foundation of social change. And while Rand may have rejected the notion of "socialist" culture, science, and art, as put forth in such courses as "History of Pedagogical Doctrines" (#19), she may have learned to appreciate organic connections among seemingly disparate factors, branches of knowledge, and social practices. Even in "Biology" (#8), Rand would not have escaped the process-orientation of dialectical method, since this theme was present in the work of its most likely teacher, L. S. Berg.35

In her full-bodied study of ancient, medieval, and modern history--in courses on Greece (#9), Rome (#10), France (#14, #25), the West (#17), Russia (#18), England (#24), among others--Rand would have been taught to view each society as a structured, dynamic totality of many interrelated aspects. The university historians of the period taught their students to grasp the whole from the vantage point of any part--be it literature, architecture, or social structures--and to synthesize these diverse perspectives into a coherent totality. Through the use of such techniques, Rand's professors provided her with an interdisciplinary, multitextured approach to history that highlighted the integration of theory and practice.

While we will never be completely sure just what Rand learned from her studies, we are now in a better position to understand, at the very least, what Rand studied. On the basis of the transcript, I reaffirm my deeply-held conviction that Rand was educated in the methods of dialectical inquiry, and that this sensibility informed her entire literary and philosophical corpus.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now