There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs. — Screenwriter John Rogers
I read Ayn Rand’s novels in high school. All of them, “Atlas Shrugged”, “The Fountainhead”, “Anthem”, and “The Virtue of Selfishness”. It was time, long past now, when English class was more than just the eight parts of speech. We actually read book, good and bad. It was the right time and age to be absorbed by philosophy that presents a total world view as a moral imperative.
For those who don’t know, “Atlas” tells the story of a future oppressive liberal government that strangles the productivity of strong-headed individualists in the name of equality and fairness. Eventually the poor rich people decide to go on strike and retreat to a small government greedtopia headed up by a reclusive billionaire John Galt. Without these ultra productive rich people keeping the world moving, society proceeds to completely collapse.
Does any of this sound familiar? Have we not heard this same garbage from the Tea Party and the Republicans? Against any program supported by liberal commie Nazis.
Her books stressed what she called Objectivism, a view that held rational self-interest as the highest moral calling. It is selfishness, which she praises. She asks why does man need a code of values? Do we need a code of values at all. She lays them out in book “The Virtue of Selfishness”, values stressed in “Atlas Shrugged.” I felt as I had just escaped from prison or a religious cult after I moved on to college and a much better class of fiction.
Rand based her world view on a construct that posed as something as serious as the works of Aristotle. Actually, it a load of shit. Smoke and mirrors. Her observations are attributed to her escape from Russia than to any epiphany of logic. Her ideas are exactly the opposite of communism.
She had good reason to hate Stalin, but she confused economics with reality. Capitalism is an efficient means of producing goods and services. But if it was a rad map for good, then Wall Street bankers, hedge fund managers would be the most moral people among us and Enron employees would have gotten medals and awards instead of prison cells. I’ll be honest, i would not shed a tear if Donald Trump or the Koch brothers decided tomorrow to pull up stakes and head to the Bahamas. Let the greedheads decide to drop out of society and head to oblivion. I have learned during my time on this planet that even when some greedy assholes drop out of the game there is always another greedier asshole happy to take his place.
I want to hear Rand explain how the powers that be of BP couldn’t have benefitted from government oversight as they went searching for oil in the Gulf of Mexico last year. Rand disciple and former Fed Chairman, Alan Greenspan told a congressional committee that he was stunned by the economic collapse caused by just the kind of deregulation Rand championed. I was shocked that someone responsible for the health of the U.S economy was not aware that there were many criminally greedy people on Wall Street.
It is a simplistic world that Rand created in fiction. I wonder how anyone can believe that her philosophy would work in a world inhabited with real people. After my dalliance with unrestrained laissez-faire economics and a look at the actual world I live in, I decided that anyone who professes to have the perfect economic system just doesn’t know what he or she talking about.
I cower with the same embarrassment of seeing a picture of myself in bell bottoms as I do when I think of reading “Atlas Shrugged.”
She sees a world, her ideal world. No regulations, few taxes and a small number of very rich people living very well while most people simply struggled to survive. We call it now, Randality, not just Ayn but Paul. Backed by the Tea Party.
Have they asked themselves the question[s]….What happens when there is no health care and millions die. What happens when Head Start is ended and mothers can’t afford day care and they lose their jobs because they have to stay home to care for their children, who have no health care, food or other necessities? What happens to the elderly without Social Security? No mention of answers in the play book of the rich and infamous. Just self-interest.
Any warning they make on just leaving us swarthy robbers to our own designs should make us all collectively shrug.