Editor’s note: This article was originally published at Foundation for Economic Education.

In 1946, a Russian immigrant to America tried to remind her fellow citizens what America was all about. A publication called The Vigil printed an article that was meant to be the first in a series called Textbook of Americanism. (No further installments were published.)

The author was Ayn Rand.

As a young girl growing up under a totalitarian regime in Soviet Russia, Rand fell in love with America through its movies. America’s individualist values and heroic achievements contrasted starkly with the collectivism that dominated Russia and the bitter fruits of communism. As a young woman in 1926, she made her dreams come true by immigrating to the United States where she would build a career as a screenwriter in Hollywood.

But to Rand’s dismay, she soon witnessed collectivism metastasizing in America, not only in its policies (as in the New Deal), but in its stories, especially in literature and film. Rand heroically countered that trend by championing individualism and exposing collectivism through her writing, especially her novels. Her breakthrough work was The Fountainhead, published in 1943.

Although Textbook of Americanism was a work of non-fiction, its objective was to improve the stories being produced by reminding the movie industry about America’s original ideals. . . .

Americanism isn’t a matter of where you live or what government rules over you. It’s a matter of the principles that recognize individuals as individuals with their own minds and lives, and thus enable them to live by the judgment of their minds.
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