December 2, 2012
The John Galt speech was awesome. No, it's not short. But even Rand fans joke about its length, and I've heard some say it is a somehow superfluous summation of the rest of the book. I disagree. It underscores and focuses the philosophical points of the book. It strikes me that in many interviews with Rand -- who wrote a bunch of non-fiction -- she refers most frequently to Atlas Shrugged and to the speech.
She found, in fiction, the best vehicle to advance her beliefs.
This is my second trip through Atlas. First was in my early twenties and it awakened me from the muddled platitudinous thinking Rand opposes. I went on and read everything I could find of hers. I'm funny I read by authors. I did not dig up magazine interviews or Objectivist publications, but if she wrote it and it was released in paperback, I read it. Brian Dougherty has a chapter in "Radicals for Capitalism" called "It all started with Ayn Rand." I hate to participate in a cliché, but yes she was my gateway drug into the liberty movement.
The 2012 election, and two great books by authors influenced by Rand, Yaron Brook's Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand's Ideas Can End Big Government and John Allison's The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why Pure Capitalism is the World Economyís Only Hope, set me up to reconsider a more fundamental approach to liberty. I looked forward to reconsidering Rand's ideas but was surprised at how much I enjoyed her prose. The book is frequently derided, but that is unfair.
I was at the home of a long-time friend last night and mentioned I had just reread it. I knew my host had read it in high school and he surprised me by saying he had reread it two years ago. He's not certain about the philosophy (political moderate, I'd bet he voted for Obama twice) but says "it's a very good book" and that he recommends it all the time. He's got the part one of the movie sitting on his DVR but hasn't got around to watching. How unusual to find somebody borderline ambivalent about Atlas Shrugged.
I'm not. I give it five stars of course. And a final quote:
"Don't be astonished, Miss Taggart," said Dr. Akston, smiling, "and donít make the mistake of thinking that these three pupils of mine are some sort of superhuman creatures. They're something much greater and more astounding than that: they're normal men-- a thing the world has never seen-- and their feat is that they managed to survive as such.
Posted by John Kranz at December 2, 2012 11:34 AM