I read Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged when I was in college, or was it in high school? I don’t remember any more. I remember reading it a few months after I had finished The Fountainhead. I have to admit that I enjoyed both books. They made me think. I was young and naive. I was an idealist. Those two books are perfect for that kind of profile.
After finishing Atlas Shrugged I was in total agreement with Ayn Rand. We need people with great ideas, the movers and producers of this world, in order to advance and to prosper. Too often mediocrity and jealousy get in the way of great men (and women). What I didn’t realize back then is that Ayn Rand was probably as naive and idealist when she wrote the book as I was when I read it, if not in her personal life, at least in her writing.
The biggest flaw in her book is that her characters have basically no flaws, the capitalists who move the world are not only brilliant they have decency, integrity and honor. While they do not accept to sacrifice themselves for others, they also do not accept others to sacrifice themselves. Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957, 57 years ago, before Watergate, Enron, Madoff, and the subprime mortgage crisis. I wonder what Ayn Rand would think of today’s political and socioeconomic environments. She would most certainly not be a Democrat. She would most likely be a libertarian and Rand Paul would be her buddy. Ayn Rand and Rand Paul sitting in a tree k i s s i n g. Ok, not kissing, but definitely t a l k i n g as he has previously declared, “…I do have a great deal of respect for her.”
Sorry, I got a little carried away. Atlas Shrugged stands against fascism, socialism and communism, and judges them to be fatally flawed. They are. In that, Ayn Rand was right. But capitalism is also fatally flawed if the producers are fueled by a greed and power hunger of such magnitude that they forcibly demand the sacrifice of the many for the benefit of a few. That is where we are right now.
Maybe, today, even Ayn Rand would be shrugging off Atlas Shrugged.