I got a really good Christmas present last year. A gift that opened up my imagination to an ideal world written by a celebrated writer called Ayn Rand and the book was called Atlas Shrugged. Atlas Shrugged is about objectivism. It is a philosophy which Rand created to advocate reason, independent thinking, scientific advancement, industrial progress, self-responsibility, individual rights, small government and laissez-faire capitalism.
For years I had been a conservative but I hadn’t read any good books on the subject of my beliefs. I found a list of good titles and I started digesting them. So far Atlas Shrugged is perhaps the best of them all. As I read the book I got into the spirit of taking notes from the pages as if I was investigating a religion that was relevant to my faith. But I am not a faith believing person, nor an atheist. I am a spiritually minded person who advocates the power of ability and strength to make me see the best qualities that my autism brings to me.
Rand can be considered the Karl Marx of capitalism. The objectivism philosophy teaches that certain things like moral truths and creations exist independently of human knowledge or perception of them. The novel opens with the line ‘Who is John Galt?’ When I got through to the end I discovered who he was and what the novel was about. The book is set in a dystopian United States where many of it’s entrepreneurs, industrialists and scientists have gone missing. John Galt is the leader of a hideaway society in which all these missing geniuses have gone on strike. It is a strike of the mind in which they have abandoned their country because of people’s lack of appreciation of their abilities and the constant creeping of government regulations. This is something that I have experienced as a clever person who is ostracised by the mainstream for my disability and a refusal to give me an opportunity to better myself with my own creative freedom.
The book’s journey through the value of objectivism is told through a number of characters who in each in turn experience some form of state intervention in their companies. One of them that stands is Dagny Taggart, the vice president of Taggart Transcontinental, a railway company that has a dominance of the USA railroads in the northeast of the country. Dagny is a committed industrialist determined to preserve and sustain her company to the best of her ability. She believes in the preservation of a free economy. For her the company should build railroads for it’s social value to Americans and for the sake of the social responsibilities of the free economy. Along the way she learns of the enigmatic John Galt and tries to find out about the mystery of his significance to the American Dream.
Reading this book has been intellectually stimulating. Rand has shown the strength of the mind is a powerful tool to build a world of imaginative greatness. Thought is a weapon one uses in order to act. Thought is a tool by which one makes a choice. It sets one’s purpose and the way to reach it. The characters are strong and passionate and ambition that they are unique in their own right. One of them Cheryl Brooks left her family behind to get out of the rut that appeared to be insufferable. What was needed to better herself was to get out of the negative drama that was obstructing her thoughts. I am glad to find this person who really has the drive to get something good out of her life. I have a go getting attitude to what I want out of life. For me the reason why people are stuck in their situation is because they don’t make a move to improve themselves. If you have some great ability that can better yourself you need to make people acknowledge it.
Reason is the definition of purpose, practicality and morals in Atlas Shrugged. In the second part we learn morals of wealth and what it means to be rich. It’s about financial security to afford a better living and afford the freedom of choice. Its not for making you vulgar and snobbish. That according to Francisco d’Anconia is where the ‘roots of all evil” within money lie.
Hank Rearden defends himself for his production of his precious metal for the customers he chooses because he has the freedom to make his money the way he chooses. He has his reasons for refusing the sale of his metal to the state science institute because the government could use the metal for a purpose that could be violating his property. Or worse still create something that they could use against him.
One villain in this novel is the government bureaucrat Eugene Lawson, who was a very bad banker before he became a politician. He thinks production shouldn’t be a private choice but a public duty. It’s a social imperative for governments to provide jobs by taking control of the means of production. But that is not a good way to provide wealth production, it actually stifles creativity, individuality and innovation. He is typical of anti-capitalist: he doesn’t love people back, he only hates people who succeed and likes to live in self-denial.
Another character called Gilbert Keith-Worthing is a misguided autocrat that likes to whip people into line. He talks of liberty and human rights as a verbal luxury of the rich. This is the same way in which liberals think that big government is a necessity to maintain order. They think the higher class elite deserve the right to dictate which kinds of people deserve better privileges than others and that inequality helps to achieve equality. Worthing states that America, as an industrially strong country, has incredible naivety in letting people get as creative as they can be. Yet the direction of the government on business is illogical and flawed.
That flawed ideology is enough to drive the men of industry and creativity to go away and leave them to fend for themselves. It’s only then that the people realise just how important they are. Interestingly enough this ideology exists in the liberal metropolitan elite who denounce any form of criticism towards them as a crime. They don’t want people to better themselves or to create something that can shine a bright blue light above them. In my case for leaving the EU I pointed out the flaws that the system had that was holding us back. It’s why British science and technology was constantly outsourcing production of certain things to other countries and why small business was dying in the name of shared common resources.
The third part of Atlas Shrugged finally reveals who John Galt is as Dagny discovers the Galt Gulch. Here nothing but objective values are treasured. The geniuses of enterprise and invention are on strike and they do so to punish the outside world. To them it is a protest for them taking their creations without acknowledging the true value and means that they have to society. It’s an attack on government and people for tampering with science and technology.
It also is a place where an education is valued on the intellectual’s superiority. One of them tells Dagny that the system here does not stunt a child’s brain, does not convince them that reason is impotent, and does not teach that existence is an irrational chaos that can’t dealt with. Thus a child can not be reduced to a state of chronic terror. It’s kind of education that Einstein would value. One in which children are not stupefied or told what to think and or treated like cattle to go to market upon maturity. This is the way of modern day schooling which is dominated by liberal left wing scholars who are undermining the builders of the future. I can tell you about this from my own experience. The schools of Atlas Shrugged are very similar to that of modern education today. They destroy the brains of children with tales that thought is futile and evil before they have even started to think. Citing that they have no minds and that they must never attempt to think!
As a science geek and a conservative I support an effort to help producers, rather than consumers. They are responsible for productivity and development, they deserve our gratitude. It is imperative to support ability, not need. For those with a special ability can give us a grand vision of a prosperity country or liberalism and freedom. But it’s not just experts who deserve all the credit. Corrupt politicians will tell you that too many people think too much. In altruism the claim is that only experts are able to understand the discoveries of modern science. They fill empty headed dreamers than thought is an illusion and that the mind is a myth. That is a pathetic indictment!