Excerpt of Ayn Rand’s testimony before HUAC, October 20, 1947
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?
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.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Excerpt of Ayn Rand’s testimony before HUAC, October 20, 1947." (Viewed on January 18, 2017) <https://jwa.org/media/excerpt-of-ayn-rand-s-testimony-before-huac-october-20-1947>.