Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged is, in essence, a dissertation treatise of Ayn Rand’s unique philosophy written in the form of a novel.
From the aspect of a novel, this classic has it all: love, adventure, and intrigue. It is a drama of epic proportion, is intellectually engaging, provides a touch of magical realism, has unforgettable characters, gives graphic descriptions of the dark somber climate the characters must endure as chaos descends upon the country, has the wit to make you laugh out loud, and the power to leave you in deep thought.
The plot involves a battle between good and evil, big business against big government, the brains and producers against the looters and moochers of the world. As the corrupt, bloated, incompetent government makes greater and greater demands on the highest achievers, they each, in their own time, come to the conclusion that they aren’t going to take it anymore. They cease their successful careers and become social drop-outs…go on strike, so to speak. And as the genuine intellects go on strike, the morally bankrupt country slowly comes to a stand-still. I first read Atlas Shrugged around 1970, and the story is still relevant. In fact, considering the dire economic conditions in our country and the excessive, crippling entitlement programs, it is more relevant today than ever before.
Ayn Rand was a Russian immigrant who personally witnessed the Russian Revolution and workings of the communist party, before coming to the United States in 1925. She ascribed to some of Aristotle’s theories and was influenced by Nietzsche. She strongly believed in Individualism and founded the philosophy of Objectivism, which basically subscribes to the belief that “man is a heroic being with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life with productive achievement as his noblest activity and reason as his only absolute.” She believed that it is each individual’s responsibility to selfishly make the utmost of their lives through rationality, independence, integrity, honesty, justice, productiveness and pride. Through Atlas Shrugged she demonstrates the ultimate outcome of a society where socialist dogma prevails.
In Atlas Shrugged there are three kinds of characters. The non productive government looters who take what they want by force, the complacent moochers who rely on pity, sympathy, and undeserved handouts usually under the guise of helplessness, weakness, or just plain laziness, and the producers who are caught in the middle.
As the plot unfolds the reader gets a vision of Ayn Rand’s views on human rights versus property rights, morality, happiness, sacrifice and altruism, Original Sin, and several lengthy monologues debating justice, morality, and if money is the root of all evil.
Atlas Shrugged is one of my all time favorite books. If you browse through the several thousand reviews of the book that are floating around on the internet, you will quickly see most people either love the book or hate it. It certainly evokes a powerful emotion from all readers. I strongly object to readers rating it a 1 Star simply because they don’t agree with the philosophy. Ironically, that would be the liberals who profess to revere broadminded values, personal freedom, and tolerance. Regardless of your own personal philosophy or political affiliation Atlas Shrugged is a must read!
Rated 5 Stars Feb. 2011
All contents © 2011 Lois Weisberg. All rights reserved.