Three Republican politicians are in the news, for publicly expressing their attraction to Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged. The three are Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan (Mitt Romney’s running mate), Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson (backed by the Tea Party), and Texas congressman Ron Paul (beloved by libertarians).
FT reader Jem Eskenazi does not understand their fascination with a work “of dubious literary merit”.
Yes, this overlong novel … harps on about how market economies work best, profit is OK, central planning does not work, the individual’s power is good; ideas that perhaps excited a 1950s’ Russian émigré but are surely self-evident for most of the contemporary industrialised world.
But it is also a story where superheroes let hundreds of thousands die and millions suffer while they retreat to some utopian paradise instead of dealing with the leeches in government in a proper democratic process; where one of the main characters, Dagny Taggart, lets her devoted and competent right-hand man, Eddie Willers, die a horrible death without helping him even though he is trying to save her railroad; where the same Dagny character jumps from relationship to relationship each time someone better comes along without a care for the previous guy (family values, anyone?) and there is not a single child in more than 1,000 pages; where American natives are dismissed as “savages”; and where politicians are by definition villains.
Is this the kind of world these Rand fans believe in?
Jem Eskenazi, “Inside the covers of ‘Atlas Shrugged’”, letter to the editor, Financial Times, 20 August 2012.
I have never read the novel. Perhaps I should, just for curiosity. But with so much good literature to read, I doubt that I will use my limited time in that way. I am currently reading Karl Popper’s 1974 autobiography Unended Quest (Taylor and Francis e-Library, 2005). This fascinating 300-page book can be downloaded free.
Atlas Shrugged, if you are interested, can also be downloaded free.
I cannot vouch for the legality of either download, but would not contribute a cent to an Ayn Rand trust fund.
Tags: Tea Party