“Atlas Shrugged” Riding High

It was first published in 1957, and its author has been dead for more than a quarter century, but Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” is riding high once again. The once-and-future bestsellet occupies both the first and second spots on Amazon.com’s bestseller list for “Classic” works (representing two different editions of the book). For all of us who reject the Big Government policies of the two major political parties and of their two most recent advocate-presidents, and who remain deeply concerned for the survival of free enterprise and other indices of Freedom in the U.S., this is a small but hopeful sign.

As Yaron Brooks, head of the California-based Ayn Rand Institute correctly noted, a major factor accounting for the resurgence in “Atlas” is the fact that it has become clearer than ever in this current economic mess that government control of the country’s economy — which now includes concrete steps being implemented for the direct running of American companies and banks by the government — is causing the very catastrophe Rand described more than half a century ago.

Whether or not one accepts all aspects of Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, as spelled out in her many novels, papers, speeches, interviews and non-fiction books, the essence of her philosophy is of increasing relevance in today’s world in which government control at all levels of government has dramatically reduced the sphere of personal freedom to but a small fraction of what it was even at the time “Atlas Shrugged” was written.

Even though it is good news to see “Atlas” enjoying a revival of sorts, we need to do much more than buy a few more copies of the book in order for us to have any realistic hope of reversing the trends about which its author wrote and which we the living, now suffer under.

80 comments Add your comment

Adittohead

April 27th, 2009
9:35 am

ATLAS SHRUGGED……..Greeeeeeeeeeat Read…..It has come to pass

saywhat?

April 27th, 2009
9:38 am

“As Yaron Brooks, head of the California-based Ayn Rand Institute correctly noted, a major factor accounting for the resurgence in “Atlas” is the fact that it has become clearer than ever in this current economic mess that government control of the country’s economy — which now includes concrete steps being implemented for the direct running of American companies and banks by the government — is causing the very catastrophe Rand described more than half a century ago.”

Gee, and here I was thinking that it was the LACK of government control of the economy, i.e. deregulation of the financial system, that caused the current economic mess. But by all means, lets model our economy after a middling work of utopian fiction, that will fix everything up.

Marty Mason

April 27th, 2009
9:44 am

Who is John Galt?
It is traagic that Atlas Shrugged is not required reading in the 11th grade.
I read it in 1961 at UNC and the philosophy has shaped my life since then.
It is good news that the message hasn’t died.

Adittohead

April 27th, 2009
9:51 am

JOHN GALT is CONSERVATIVISM in EXILE..AMERICA HAS REJECTED CAPITALISM in exchange for French SOCIALISM……BIG INTRUSIVE GOV’T.

Adittohead

April 27th, 2009
9:55 am

Marty…What do you mean ATLAS SHRUGGED should be required reading…90-percent of the 50-percent of Americans who can read do not have that long attention span…

Adittohead

April 27th, 2009
9:57 am

I think 75-percnet of Americans suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder, ADHD…..That is why the TV Remote is so popular.

Sam

April 27th, 2009
10:00 am

Lack of government control? Are you kidding or just completely ignorant. All the social engineering and monetary monopolization by your beloved federal government was the catalyst for this risk-taking behavior and they won’t let it stop. Do you know what the Greenspan Put is? Do You? No, of course you don’t. But you sure know what greed is, don’t you? Got it all figured out. Funny, how “business people” are bad and “government people” are good. Like two different species, aren’t they? Derugulation? You wish. There were over 2000 SEC regulators on the watch over Madoff. Get a clue sheeple.

Butts Wagner

April 27th, 2009
10:14 am

“Gee, and here I was thinking that it was the LACK of government control of the economy, i.e. deregulation of the financial system, that caused the current economic mess.”

Without debating whether this statement is correct, do you believe that bailing out the financial institutions who created this mess is the correct way to fix the economy? Seems to me that that’s rewarding failure. Before talking about ‘fixing’ the economy, shouldn’t those who are failures be allowed to fail and learn lessons from it? I’m referring to greedy financial executives who thought the economy would never take a downturn. I’m referring to homeowners who overextended their personal credit. And I’m referring to everyone in between. Won’t this make consumers and financiers more savvy in the future knowing they are assuming all risk for their decisions? And in the long run, won’t this create more stability in the economy? This seems like a pretty simple line of reasoning to me. Are people really so greedy that they believe that there will never be a bad day? Isn’t one of life’s major lessons that there are good days and bad days and that if you just stay calm and don’t do anything rash you’ll be ok in the end?

Janette

April 27th, 2009
10:25 am

Atlas Shrugged is indeed a great read, and unfortunately it is about to be destroyed by being turned into a Hollywood movie. I think this must be stopped.

The other shoe

April 27th, 2009
10:29 am

Rand consistently applied her philosophy to other aspects of Big Government as well, which may not play very well with the social conservatives: “Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?”
http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/abortion.html

Democrap Party

April 27th, 2009
10:45 am

Yep…read it again a few weeks ago. Ann was a smart person. And WAY ahead of her time.

Democrap Party

April 27th, 2009
10:46 am

Misspelled her name. AYN. My bad.

Bob, why are my comments “awaiting moderation?” Wonder if the AJC has had President Teleprompter add my name to the terrorist watch list because I am a “right-winger.”

Libertarian

April 27th, 2009
10:47 am

“Gee, and here I was thinking that it was the LACK of government control of the economy, i.e. deregulation of the financial system, that caused the current economic mess. But by all means, lets model our economy after a middling work of utopian fiction, that will fix everything up.”

You might want to take a closer look at the situation before you buy into the conventional wisdom. An alternate view is that well-intentioned government intervention (legal tender laws, artificially lowered interest rates to stimulate the economy, politically motivated encouragement of home ownership, federal reserve system and deposit insurance support for inherently unstable fractional reserve banking practices, etc.) removed many of the self-regulating aspects of a truly free market that would have prevented the abuses. Given the government’s monopoly control over the money supply it’s pretty hard to argue that we’ve had anything approaching a “free market” for well over 100 years.

booger

April 27th, 2009
10:51 am

Ayn Rand lived through the Marxist revolution in Russia. One thing interesting in her writings and speeches is her disdain for the press. She firmly believed this revolution succeeded because of a biased press. Something we should keep in mind.

Davo

April 27th, 2009
10:56 am

My liberal friends like to frame Rands philosophy of Objectivism as an example of the uncaring and selfishness of conservatism. I do agree with them on one point…for an individual I think that you can’t call yourself a Christian and say your also an Objectivist…they are polar opposites. That is not to say that Govt would carry that burden. There is seperation of church and state in this country for the very reason that Govt should not be allowed to interfer with an individuals liberty and that each of us should be allowed to earn the rewards of our labor without having to answer to ‘The Man’ in the form of taxes or regulations.

Remember what Obama said in regards to healthcare…’I am my brothers keeper’. While this is an admirable and very Christian notion, for a Govt to enforce this on it’s citizens is just plain evil. Give me a fair govt and the rest will take care of itself.

booger

April 27th, 2009
11:02 am

Enter your comments here

Richard Charles

April 27th, 2009
11:10 am

REGARDING SAYWHAT?

THERE IS SOMETHING COMMENDABLE, IF UNNECESSARY, ABOUT ADMITTING TO THE WORLD/INTERNET THAT YOU’VE BEEN FUNDAMENTALLY WRONG IN YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF ECONOMICS.

Gee, and here I was thinking that it was the LACK of government control of the economy, i.e. deregulation of the financial system, that caused the current economic mess.

BUT SWEET JESUS DON’T UNDO IT IN THE VERY NEXT SENTENCE.

But by all means, lets model our economy after a middling work of utopian fiction, that will fix everything up.

ATLAS SHRUGGED WAS A NOVEL. IF YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND HER PHILOSOPHY YOU SHOULD READ HER BOUND PERIODICALS, OPAR BY LEONARD PEIKOFF, OR GO TO THE FOLLOWING WEBSITE AND LISTEN TO HER INTERVIEWS AND SPEECHES.

https://secure2.convio.net/ari/site/SPageServer?pagename=reg_ar_library&JServSessionIdr010=x0uhz8sy15.app44b

BEST OF LUCK IN YOUR DISCOVERY AND UNDERSTANDING OF MANKIND’S 1ST PHILOSOPHY FOR GROWNUPS SAYWHAT?

Davo

April 27th, 2009
11:12 am

Good op-ed here….

Is Sean Hannity Now Cool? (No)
by Jack Hunter on April 24, 2009

http://www.takimag.com/article/is_sean_hannity_now_cool_no/

booger

April 27th, 2009
11:21 am

saywhat?

Well gee, you were wrong. The initial government involvement in the financial system forcing them to make risky loans caused the problem. Granted wall street later made a mess of things by their trading practices, but the root of the problem was bad loans. The reason we had bad loans was government.

Edwin Burgh

April 27th, 2009
11:27 am

That must be why Greenspan, a long-time devotee of Rand, apologized for the failure of his preferred ideology to perform as it was supposed to. Because Rand is still relevant. And because the extreme neoliberal economic policies she espoused didn’t cause, for the most part, our current economic problems. Oh…wait…

Really, Barr?

Alex

April 27th, 2009
11:33 am

I had written a whole elaborate comment here only to realize that “saywhat?” had said it all, or, at least enough of it. Ayn Rand, John Galt we call your bluff. The book, and its philosophy, are nonsense and a very weak attempt at valorizing the narcissism of the so-called captains of industry.

freeme

April 27th, 2009
11:39 am

Saywhat, speaking only from the housing side, it was the manipulation of the government pushing the banking institutions to lend money to more people (inner city minorities, speculative credit ratings, etc.) who did not have the wherewithal to be able to pay it back because they wanted to artificially spread the american dream is where we got to where we are. Regulations were in place to put a halt to it, but no one had the balls to stop it. By doing so it may cost them their next chance at re-election. Career polititians are dangerous not only in their actions, but also in their motives.

Copyleft

April 27th, 2009
11:40 am

Yeah, we’ll never run out of smug, selfish teenagers… or people who evidently never outgrew that stage.

NativeAtlantan

April 27th, 2009
11:40 am

saywhat – obviously you’ve never read Atlas…I assume a simple request of “give it a read and then give us some comments” would be too much to ask?

PinkoCommie

April 27th, 2009
12:06 pm

Objectivism is ALIVE AND WELL! Ayn Rand lives … in Somalia! Who is John Galt? He’s a Somali Warlord! Talk about no government interference, that’s like an advertisement for the free market in Somalia and we see where it’s gotten them. I think the Objectivists and Scientologist should have a mixer. Freedom sucks for those without the guns.

sane jane

April 27th, 2009
12:18 pm

The Fountainhead is a better story. If you haven’t read ANY Ayn Rand, that’s where to start.

Max

April 27th, 2009
12:28 pm

Rand stood for amoral relativism – the ultimate “what’s in it for me” philosophy…

And this is what the party of “Family Values” wants to base itself on?

More right wing hypocrisy, more right wing lack of understanding, more right wing epic fail.

The REAL GodHatesTrash, Superstar

April 27th, 2009
12:40 pm

sayhwat? is right. Greenspan is an Ayn Rand apostle.

Greenspan is the biggest screw-up in the whole Wall Street pile of them, he bought the “unregulated market” nonsense hook, line, and sinker.

Rand’s social nihilism and glorification of greed have been thoroughly discredited.

One Voice

April 27th, 2009
1:11 pm

Rand is roundly considered an intellectual lightweight by scholars of literature, philosophy, psychology, and economics. She didn’t have the education or expertise in any of those areas to make a compelling or substantiated argument that would stand up to the scrutiny of experts. I find it sad that citizens would model their beliefs after such a flimsy piece of fiction. I wouldn’t consider teaching Rand’s work in any of my literature or psychology courses. A teacher who used her work in an economics course or philosophy course should be questioned on the rigor of their material. Surely we could come up with more realistic models of how society should operate, but I guess that’s what we get from a small portion of the populace who are also discussing the ridiculous notion of secession.

neo-Carlinist

April 27th, 2009
1:21 pm

I must admit that I am a libertarian who missed the memo on Atlas Shrugged/Ayn Rand. as a writer I find Rand, who was a former script-polisher, painful to read. ironic that Rand-worshippers fear Atlas Shrugged will be “runied by Hollywood”. if Rand (or her estate) sold the rights to Hollywood, Hollywood has the right to do with it as it sees fit – that’s how a true free market operates. and, Hollywood is where the beloved Rand made her bones (ruining other peoples’ work, as it were) and honed her ability to churn out PONDEROUS, infantile prose. I pride myself on being well-read and I couldn’t get through Shrugged (in my 30’s or 40’s). maybe it would’ve had more impact had I read it as a teenager or young adult, but I was too busy studying the Constitution and honing my libertarian chops. nope, as a philosopher or gadfly, she was a self-absorbed whiner. true libertarians should be asking “Who is Thomas Paine?” the “libertarian era” in US history occurred BEFORE the Mayflower. once colonists came ashore and pushed out the natives, they NEEDED a government to protect them from the aforementioned natives, French, Spanish, etc. I’ll take Col. Nathan Jessup (”…sleep under the mantle of freedom I provide, and then question my method of providing it…”). forget about Atlas Shrugged or Rand’s prescience; Thomas Paine called this mess 235 years ago.

ByteMe

April 27th, 2009
1:41 pm

Rand should be required reading high school along with Tolkien. Both are ponderously bad writers with interesting ideas worthy of discussion.

But to base a $10 trillion economy on either’s philosophical underpinings is just foolish.

What caused the current credit crisis is indeed just the logical outcome of following Rand’s ideas. “Getting government out of the way” is just another way of saying “Let’s throw out all the rules that bind society together and keep us all playing on the same level field.” Even soccer matches played by 6-year-olds have rules that everyone has to follow and a referee to enforce those rules. We had rules and no referees, because they were told to “get out of the way” by Congress and the last two administrations (yes, TWO… you think Enron happened because government was enforcing the rules?).

If you really think that the government getting out of the way would help resolve the current crisis, then you truly do not understand economics, the Paradox of Savings, and the Paradox of Deleveraging. Thank goodness the economic dunces here are not responsible for helping us through this economic crisis.

SuperNova's Hate CopyLeft

April 27th, 2009
1:46 pm

Greenspan was a central planner, kind of like the USSR – UNDERSTAND? He didn’t apologize. He tried to save face and cover his butt. Instead, let’s have CopyLeft make our decisions for us. Lets let it take the lead and volunteer for public service and forfeit even more of its income for Saudi Arabian military bases, canceled presidential helicopters, and more boondoggles than a free market could ever conceive of.

CopyLeft can’t conceive of the fact that market risk is vital to controlling decision making and when Sallie Mae removes it, you know that “GSE”, or when Long Term Capital Management is bailed out with the Greenspan Put, you know like with Fascism, that causes irrational bone-headed federal government derived riskiness to be pursued…it calls it greed, like that means a damm thing…why not…were just gonna get bailed out by CopyLeft’s voluntary extra taxes. Hooray for CopyLeft the ignorant sheep.

LeeH1

April 27th, 2009
1:54 pm

Ayn Rand, as a novelist, used to be the intellectual’s pornographer. Now that title is owned by Gary Jennings (Aztec, Raptor, Spangle, etc.)

EJ Moosa

April 27th, 2009
1:56 pm

Liberals know the true meaning of Atlas Shrugged. It’s why they edit the Wikipedia entry so heavily.

http://www.nolanchart.com/article6235.html

Suck Me

April 27th, 2009
1:57 pm

ByyteMe is a Keynesian lunatic. Enron committed fraud. It’s illegal, like robbing banks and murder. Of course we know that there are still murders and bank robbers even though there are police and death penalties. But they’re OK, unlike those evil accountants and auditors. Of course, now every business under the American sun is presumed guilty until proven innocent with Sarbanes-Oxley and it’s associated costs.

Economics is the participative decision making of millions of individuals. You CAN NOT CENTRALLY PLAN economics you totalitarian moron. What are you gonna say when the dollar crashes and hyper-inflation hits.. huh?..Mr. Academic Intellectual Know-It-All. You gonna spend us out of that too. You gonna punish savers and set negative interest rates? Huh? Is that what you’re gonna do? You gonna spend a few more trillion on banks and GM? Is that what you’re gonna do? Byte this and dictator yourself.

Festus McSorley

April 27th, 2009
2:04 pm

How much does the AJC pay Bob Barr to copy and paste the best seller numbers from Amazon? Can’t this information and commentary be obtained elsewhere for free. Why, AJC, do you continue to waste your precious remaining dollars on such material that is not original reporting about the Atlanta community? I don’t think Ayn Rand would approve (well, she’d admire Bob Barr for capitalizing).

EJ Moosa

April 27th, 2009
2:09 pm

Byteme says: What caused the current credit crisis is indeed just the logical outcome of following Rand’s ideas. “Getting government out of the way” is just another way of saying “Let’s throw out all the rules that bind society together and keep us all playing on the same level field.”

If you think government was out of the equation in this mess, you need to get help. Our economic environment is regulated to the nth degree. It would be hard to find part of any business that does not fall under some sort of regulation.

As far as rules and soccer: those rules work because they are not changed in the middle of the game, unlike what the government does every time they feel the need to fix something.

The REAL GodHatesTrash, Superstar

April 27th, 2009
2:15 pm

Rand’s philosophy is a mixture of moral and intellectual infantilism.

No wonder the righties love it.

Copyleft

April 27th, 2009
2:20 pm

Well, Rand’s style appeals to the simplistic (not to say simple-minded) folks who like to FEEL smart without actually acknowledging the complexities of the real world.

No matter how many times she said it–no matter how loudly she shouted–Rand did not succeed in turning stupidity, greed, and selfishness into virtues.

booger

April 27th, 2009
2:45 pm

Copyleft, You obviously didn’t read ayn rand or you missed the point. I do not recall her calling stupidity, greed or selfishness a virtue. The theme of her writings is the virtue and power of the individual when not burdened by govt.

PinkoCommie

April 27th, 2009
3:11 pm

booger, Ayn Rand wrote “The Virtue of Selfishness”. I didn’t bother reading it, but I’m pretty sure she came up with the title.

ByteMe

April 27th, 2009
3:19 pm

“Suck Me” isn’t worth responding to, because he has nothing but name-calling to fall back on.

EJ: There’s a difference between “regulation” and the government having the ability to enforce the regulations and monitor compliance. There are no regulations on the ratings companies who were the enablers of the current mess by calling mortgage-backed securities of unknown risk “AAA” just because they were paid by the investment banks to do so.

The regulations that said that you could not leverage above 12:1 was waived by the SEC for the big 6 investment banking firms (and lobbied for by Hank Paulson, by the way), so they could leverage as high as they want, which made their fall to earth that much louder. If the regulators are in your pocket, that’s not “regulating.”

As the above example with the waiving of the rules by the SEC, if the government regulators are being told to “get out of the way” by ideologues, then the regulations aren’t worth the paper they were written on.

Jobu

April 27th, 2009
3:20 pm

Being over the age of 16 and believing Atlas Shrugged is quality fiction is prima facie evidence of an unsophisticated, underdeveloped intellect. It is overlong, over-wrought, over-written, unbearably simplistic political pabulum, with Tall Taciturn Anglo Supermen besting Weak Villainous Cowardly Collectivists – characterizations that makes Marvel Comics look like William Faulkner. Ayn Rand can be studied as a political philosopher, but as a fiction writer she was ridiculously lowbrow, the literary equivalent of a black velvet Elvis painting. No wonder Bob Barr praises her book — even conservatives like George Will have long recognized Libertarians are the intellectual children of American political life.

Copyleft

April 27th, 2009
3:45 pm

Booger, Rand specifically tried to turn selfishness into a virtue. And, of course, the myopic and infantile libertopia she proposed was the essence of stupidity, which she also tried to turn into a virtue.

Rand was a bad thinker and a worse writer, which explains why MOST of her teenage fans grow out of their infatuation with her stuff soon after college.

robjr75

April 27th, 2009
4:11 pm

What’s hilarious about this is the real reason for the spike in sales of this book. For you Republicants, it’ll be a tough pill to swallow, as it’s not the horrible Obama administration that you think will be the downfall of the U.S. along with the rest of the world. It’s because of a video game… yes a video game. A sequel to one of the highest rated games of all time is scheduled for release in the next 3-6 months, and teasers, trailers, and other such info has been coming out recently in order to fuel interest. The original game was influenced heavily by Rand’s works, particularly “Atlas Shrugged”. A main character in the game is even named Atlas. Look it up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BioShock and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BioShock_2

The REAL GodHatesTrash, Superstar

April 27th, 2009
5:57 pm

Neo-con Land is a Bizzarro World – physical cowards like Bush are considered heroes, Silver Star and Purple Heart winners are considered liars and charlatans, morons like Joe the Plumber and Sarah the Simple are considered geniuses, college dropouts like Lush and Hannity-poo are considered intellectual giants, chickenhawks like Dubya, Cheney, Lush, etc. are considered warrior/patriots.

So no surprise the simpleton simple-mindedness of Ayn Rand is considered deep thinking.

saywhat?

April 27th, 2009
6:30 pm

“BEST OF LUCK IN YOUR DISCOVERY AND UNDERSTANDING OF MANKIND’S 1ST PHILOSOPHY FOR GROWNUPS SAYWHAT?” Thanks a bunch Richard Charles. I guess you fail to understand that Rand’s philosophy is hardly for grownups, but rather, as noted by others here, for narcissistic life long adolescents of stunted moral development. Objectivism, while as a Utopian ideal is a lovely thought, stands no more chance of practical application than does true Communism.

What’s amusing is the vehement rebuttals by the Randian cult members to any criticism of their sad little heroine.

herbK

April 27th, 2009
6:46 pm

Bob, no one cares about ann rand. Bottom line is this nation is spiraling the commode & and is on it’s way to hell. I, for one, am glad. The quicker people in this country lose what they have, and once those morons are deleted, by whatever means, the balance who knows what to do, the better off we’ll be.

hryder

April 27th, 2009
7:07 pm

We are in the finanicial mess due to the total self centered desires of a widely diversified assortment of persons whose goal seems to be self aggrandizement and/or pleasure regardless of any other person(s). There were many different times and situations in which no one said that you can not do what you are attempting to do because it is not right. Analyzing this mess leads many to say that the ultimate culprits are those in DC known as Congress. Almost all allowed the meltdown to occur incrementally by buying votes with backing supplied directly or indirectly by a variety of lobbists, including the President and Cabinet members. Term Limits seems to be the answer until power hungry greed heads figure a way around that. Additionally, more people need to say “no” to others who ask for others to give them something which they have not earned and are certainly not a “right” just due to being a citizen of the US. As a citizen you are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness(not the achievement of happiness, the pursuit). And yes, “O”, Barney, Joe, Hillary, Bill, George, Dick, et al, most of you are the people who are the power hungry brokers who continue, or were, until ousted by the limit of terms, to give away any and everything as long as it keeps you in power.

glen

April 27th, 2009
8:58 pm

Baa! Baa!…Ayn Rand, have you any ” Bull” …yes sir!, yes sir !…a whole “big” book full!