Sunday, July 4, 2010

Atlas Shrugged and Stuff

Ayn Rand.  Her name alone is enough to inspire either testicle curdling fear or respect.  I respect her, though I don't often agree with her religious faith in the power of capitalism.

One of Rand's most well-known books is the mammoth Atlas Shrugged.  It is an incredible work of literature that is full of passion and actually comes across as a working manifesto for Rand's philosophy of objectivism.  (Look it up if you want to know what it is, or you can read this book or Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal.) Unlike most books that would attempt such a thing, it works as both.

I don't agree with everything Rand espouses.   I think that if capitalism really remained true to her ideals we may actually be better off in some ways, as the capitalism we have now (exploitation across the board, corporations at the government tit, lack of ethics) is really, to quote MDC, cannibalism.  That said, I still enjoy her work and find her passion for her beliefs to be amazing.  She was an active promoter of ego (and while she stated she was not primarily an advocate of capitalism, she definitely promoted the ideal), and she hated things like anarchism (which to me is the ultimate in egoism combined with a shared sense of ecological well-being) and socialism.  I believe that if she were alive today she would damn all capitalist and call Wall Street a whiny bunch of cokehead cry babies who can't control themselves even when they do themselves harm.

I know people have a hard time with Rand.  That's a given.  Her books are long, they require an intellectual investment, and you can disagree with her ideals.  Disagreeing is different than dismissing, however.  To understand her ideals, first you must read them.  She has thought them out.  She has applied meaning to them.  She is not afraid to put them to the test.

Shun her if you will.  Avoid her work if you must.  But don't dismiss her without at least reading Atlas Shrugged.  That would be pure ignorance on your part ... and it would prove her right.  


  1. Objectivism has no experience in reality. None. Not once in history has any society existed which Rand could point to as an a proof she was right about anything at all.
    Fiction is fiction sometimes, no matter how realistic it seems.

  2. You have indicated an equivocation on what capitalism is. As Ayn Rand defined it, "Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights, including property rights, in which all property is privately owned."

    What we have in the United States today is not capitalism, but fascism, where is state owns and, importantly, regulates, property so that the "owners" don't really have the right of use and disposal of their property.

    Thus, don't blame capitalism for the economic downturn you see today. It was caused by the government and the kind of "businessmen" that clamor for government favors.

    Mark A. Hurt, MD

  3. I do agree that part of the downturn was the "businessmen" who clamor for government favors, but it was also due to pure greed with no responsibility to society at large. Capitalism, as Rand puts forth, is more pure than what we have today, but any system based on exploitation is not one I want to be a part of.