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On Rereading "Atlas Shrugged"

October 22, 2009 3:05 PM

I did it. I finished Atlas Shrugged. It was the third time that I had started it, and the second time I finished it. Over a thousand pages. This time I got it. I really got it. I credit Barack Hussein Obama and his political cronies for giving me the motivation.

Back when I had voted for Ronald Reagan in preference to the loathsome Jimmy Carter, the first time any member of my FDR-adoring family had voted for a Republican, I decided to read Atlas Shrugged, and I read it cover to cover, although I kind of skipped over much of Galt's Speech. After Atlas, I read all of Ayn Rand's published writing and I took several taped lecture courses on the Objectivist philosophy produced by Leonard Peikoff. Afterwards came the Reagan Revolution, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the Nathaniel Branden scandal.

When I started to reread Atlas Shrugged last month, I thought I had outgrown Ayn Rand and her Objectivist philosophy. Boy, was I wrong! Rather than having outgrown it, I had grown into it. I had lived long enough and seen enough to really understand what she had written.

Why did I reread it? Having heard that "Atlas" has undergone a resurgence of popular interest in the USA I considered rereading it to refresh my memory. Then there were all those tweets which called the book "eerily prescient" of the Obama administration.

In my opinion, Atlas Shrugged's predictions of the current state of our government was not merely "prescient" and its accuracy is not merely "eerie." It is like reading the warnings page on the instruction book for a new electrical appliance. Don't throw this toaster into the bathtub if it is plugged in. Well, folks, it looks like America threw its toaster into the bathtub on November 5, 2008.

What makes the book so "eerily prescient" is its detailed characterizations of the bureacrat-villains and appeasers, the fighting spirit of the protagonists who didn't want to knuckle under to those villains, and, most of all, the events whereby the villains took over America, business by business and industry by industry, while spouting the kind of high-sounding claptrap propaganda that you can read in every issue of the New York Times. Hope and change indeed.

Do I think anyone who reads this blogpost should read Atlas Shrugged? You betcha! If you find it hard going the first time you read it, try Ayn Rand's book, Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal first.

A few minor points: Rereading the book got me considering the facts that Ayn Rand was 1) a Russian, 2) A woman, and 3) a philosopher. Coming from the Soviet Union, from which she literally escaped, she was very critical of the soft-headedness of Americans who grew up in freedom and material abundance, and who took it all for granted. As a woman novelist, she paid a lot of attention to the psychology of her female characters, more attention than a male reader might expect or find interesting.

Finally, a philosopher, Ayn Rand's focus was on the philosophic principles she had articulated over decades. The real heroes of the book was not merely her heroic characters, but those principles. For most Americans, who think that philosophy is a lot of bunk (or worse, for those who think that the mass murderer Mao Zedong was a "political philosopher,") Ayn Rand's determination to resurrect philosophy from the intellectual boneyard might be confusing and mysterious.

Of those principles which are the true "heroes" of Atlas Shrugged, in my opinion the greatest hero is "man's mind," the source of all that is good. In a culture where millions think that Barack Hussein Obama is "smart," and thousands think that Al Gore's hatred for man's productivity is progressive, the role of man's mind in America's greatness is not automatically obvious. Perhaps some day it will be.

[Keywords: impeach-them-all.org atlas ayn book rand read shrugged think ]