If you have not read Ayn Rand’s classic novel, Atlas Shrugged, you really should think about it. Now I know that the chances are pretty good that the obnoxious guy at work with all of the opinions, the one who hates both political parties, ranted at you about it enough to turn you off to it but you really should give it a chance. And do not worry about this whole “Objectivist” thing… you can take a lot of things away from reading Atlas Shrugged without getting all a-flutter about something abstract (and arguably worthless) like “A is A”.
I have been a voracious reader since I was in elementary school but no other book in my life ever affected me as much and stuck with me like that one, though in a very similar way reading Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm also “left a dent” in me. I first read Atlas Shrugged at my dad’s insistence when I was about 14, and I really enjoyed it, but I got a lot more out of it when I read it again at about 18 or 19. I give credit to reading this book, and Orwell’s books, for preventing me from going through that liberal stage that so many young people go through – I think that young people are attracted to collectivist ideas because they are still scared at the prospect of going it alone. Churchill may have declared that I had no heart at 20, but at least I had a head. I have always had this feeling that Atlas Shrugged is sort of the antidote to Marx’s The Communist Manifesto.
What got me thinking about this was seeing Stephen Moore at the WSJ’s Opinion page point out that Rand’s classic novel describes what is happening today in America. From his essay, titled Atlas Shrugged: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years:
For the uninitiated, the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises — that in most cases they themselves created — by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.
The two things that I took out of Atlas Shrugged that have helped form the person that I am and the philosophy that I carry around with me are 1) the rights of the individual are immensely important and should not be trodden over by alleged group rights, and 2) the motors of the world are not kept going by government but by regular people with a desire to improve their condition and increase their wealth.
Read the book. And everyone will understand if you bail before the end of the radio address, it gets monotonous! If you have not gotten the point by that stage in the book then you have not been paying attention.
Will people ever wake up to the damage often done by alleged do-gooders in government?
Who is John Galt?