I read Ayn Rand’s, Atlas Shrugged, over the late summer. A number of things should be taken as given: First, I love very long books because I’ve been a fast reader since a child. I hate short books because, if good, they are over too fast.
Second, I read this book for a reason. Certain folks in our political arena swear by the theories propounded by Ms. Rand. In fact, one of them at least required his staff to read the book. That would be Paul Ryan, the author of a budget that would basically eliminate Social Security and Medicare over time.
So, to an extent, Ms. Rand is a bible of economic thought. And did I say it was long? Like over a thousand pages.
Frankly, the story is fairly interesting. The creative venture capitalists, one by one disappear from the world as they rebel against a world that has gone “nanny state.” Of course in the world’s race to support everyone, everything becomes lousy, all incentive to do well is gone. People expect a paycheck for just showing up, and sometimes not even for that.
It could have been an interesting and fun fiction of a brave new world as Rand envisions it. But it fails rather miserably because she can’t help telling you constantly about her strange and quite serious economic and political views.
She really believes that the only worthwhile people are the venture capitalists and their drive to create. She believes all will be well in all of society if they are given free rein to do as they wish. Sound familiar? It’s “trickle down” economics in a nutshell.
Oh, and it’s minus religion, for Rand is a rather vehement atheist. This makes it all the more amusing that the far-right in this country has glommed onto this tome as their bible, for they are most assuredly pretty darn evangelical at the same time.
All you really need to know about Ayn Rand and why she thinks as she does, is clear when you know that her and her family fled Russia and communism after losing their middle-class livelihood after the revolution. It is the basis of her beliefs. Collectivism is of course the evil she rails against.
This could have been a good book, based on the fairly interesting characters she devises. It is of course a bit amusing that her “industrialists” are all good, and her collectivists all bad. This even goes to sex, which apparently can only truly be enjoyed to its full potential when both parties give way to utter wanton personal pleasure as their only focus. Then it gets hot. The collectivists all have pedantic and rather boring sex.
Some how this all plays into Rand’s personal life where it was very publicly known that Rand was having an affair with a man with full knowledge and apparent agreement of her husband and the other man’s wife.
Still, I plowed through, and would have enjoyed it, but I thought she actually cut the book off at the wrong point, which is the obvious and inevitable capitulation of the collectivists, admitting their errors. This was foreseeable at page 200 probably.
The worst part of the book was the something like 80-page long “address” by the mysterious John Galt over the airways to all America. Rand here goes on and on and on and on, repeating her points so many times, that it becomes an effort of sheer will to read on through.
It is not her best book. The Fountainhead frankly is better written. Still, if you like ’em long, and can get past the constant and boring economic and political “lessons”, you can enjoy it.
I don’t recommend it or not. I’m fairly ambivalent.
- Review: The Ideas of Ayn Rand by Ronald E. Merrill (tonguesophistries.wordpress.com)
- ♥Prosey♥: How Ayn Rand Seduced Generations of Young Men and Helped Make the U.S. Into a Selfish, Greedy Nation – http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/153454 (friendfeed.com)
- Atlas Drowned (stevenhartsite.wordpress.com)