Friday, March 30, 2007

Atlas Shrugged

This book was recommended to me by a Kindergarten teacher! I suppose I should clarify that she doesn't read this sort of literature to her students; it might be a little bit over their heads.

Anyway, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is a major commitment, weighing it at 1069 pages in squint-sized print. The basic premise of the book is examining what would happen if the powerhouses of the world went on strike and refused to carry along the leeches and mooches any further. It plays out as a bit of a mystery novel, so, aside from spots where Rand's own philosophy (Objectivism) takes over and weighs things down, the plot moves along pretty quickly.

Some quotes-for-thought from the book:

p. 447 para 2:
"He was seeing the enormity of the smallness of the enemy who was destroying the world. ... If this is what has beaten us, he thought, the guilt is ours."

p. 461 para 4
"People with pleading eyes and desperate faces crowded into tens where evangelists cried in triumphant gloating that man was unable to cope with nature, that his science was a fraud, that his mind was a failure, that he was reaping punishment for the sin of pride, for the confidence in his own intellect--and that only faith in the power of mystic secrets could protect him from the fissure of a rail or from the blowout of the last tire on his last truck. Love was the key to the mystic secrets, they cried, love and selfless sacrifice to the needs of others."

I think that the portion in the last 1/10th of the book, where John Galt takes over the airwaves and preaches his philosophies for three hours, would make an interesting book club chat. But I'm not sure I would want to impose reading this entire book on somebody just to discuss that part....

Anyway, my biggest issue with Rand's theory--that nobody does anything completely honestly unless it also has a selfish motivation--is a bit off the mark. I also think her idea that nobody in society should benefit from a "free ride" off the others is a bit drastic. In Rand's world, children, the disabled, etc. are not factored in to the equation.....

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