Robb's Reviews > Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
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Apr 24, 08

I guess I can't hate this book. After reading The Fountainhead, I found myself crushing on Objectivism and Rand's brand of rugged self-reliance. Intrigued, I picked up Atlas. 1000 pages later I closed the book, opened my window and threw it into the street. This book cured me forever of this flat, willingly shortsighted b*llshit religion.

I've had my run-ins with the devout and the dogmatic fans of Rand and the big O and their reluctance to even nod towards the notion that saying A is A and that Objective Reality is Real is so much wasted air surprises me. How can a person interrogate the real to such a degree, be engaged in the real so deeply so as to love it and come to rely on it the way an Objectivist *must* and not see how any deep dive into the Universe always, *must* produce nothing but doubt? Mystifying, really. It's turtles the whole way down, that's what I always say.

The characters are awful, beyond cartoonish and they do nothing but mouth Rand's words. All the people that care about their fellow humans are evil. Any motive but self-interest is evil. All situations point to the inevitable and quick demise of any collectivist pursuit or charity. John Galt finally delivers a 50 page long radio speech to the entire country at the end and changes everyone's mind with his words about selfishness and we are led to believe that things begin to really look up after this.

But seriously. What a crock. This book was written when Roosevelt's actions during the Depression were recent memories and the ultra-wealthy (well, at least by the standards of the time) were all hot to further centralize wealth. Well, guess what? They got what they wanted and everything sucks. Yay.
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Comments (showing 1-13)

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message 13: by Hailey (new)

Hailey that sounds bad

Cynthia Hailey wrote: "that sounds bad"

Well, it was ong... the more I think about the story the less that i like it's political views... so, if you have the time when you are old read it, but it is not a must read (it was the book I was reading when you guys were here)

message 11: by Hailey (new)

Hailey oh! That 1000 page book that you were reading when we were making videos? HA!

message 10: by David (new)

David Did you throw the book out of the window as an act of altruism (to enable some one else to read it)? Or was it an act of malice (to hit a random stranger on the head)? Or was it just an act of negligent selfishness? (I'm all right jack and to h*** with the rest)?

message 9: by Glenn (new)

Glenn It doesn't even sound like you read the book.

"John Galt finally delivers a 50 page long radio speech to the entire country at the end and changes everyone's mind with his words about selfishness and we are led to believe that things begin to really look up after this."

That is not what happens. First John Galts radio speech is not at the end of the book. Second you say: "things begin to really look up after this". LOL, the country colapses after the speech. Should I continue.
Next try reading a book before providing a review of it.

message 8: by Петър (new)

Петър Стойков хаха good point, Glenn :)

message 7: by Robb (new) - rated it 1 star

Robb Oh, I read the book. Let's talk about Natty Bumpo. Now, I no longer have my copy (see above), and it has been 20 years... but my guess is that speech is in Part 3 (of 3), Chapter 8. It is somewhere in the 750-850 page range (ie near the end of the book.)

And civilization collapsed in the book, but the world didn't go the way Rand would have had it in that narrative is why, right? We're led to believe that eventually the selfish would win out. And we've lived through something very like that eventuality... haven't we?

As for my analogy, the point was that we live in a more Randian world by a long mark today but that the problems of collectivism still don't seem to be the cause of our ills no matter how many ways countless people try to make them—it is still the greed of the corporate giants that seem a more likely source of our ills and this corporatism that rules us all reads to these eyes as just Rand's Rx in this book.

But now that I'm concluding this I realize that you made no comment other than to laugh at my not having read this, which is not a contribution to discussion anyway.

Karl Evans It is a shame that many are born socialists that want to share in others hard work.

Jordan As I read it, caring about fellow human beings was never frowned upon in this book. In fact, it seemed that that was the principle it was trying to promote.

message 4: by Shenanitims (new)

Shenanitims Ha! Just a couple of reviews ago I mentioned that I skipped past Galt's 50-80 page soliloquy; apparently it was an important plot point! Maybe that's why I didn't "get" it. (Though, if, at the end of your 1200 page novel, you have to stop EVERYTHING to explain your philosophy again, because you fear people won't get it, then your philosophy might be a bit flawed.)

message 3: by David (new)

David Shenanitims wrote: "if, at the end of your 1200 page novel, you have to stop EVERYTHING to explain your philosophy again, because you fear people won't get it, then your philosophy might be a bit flawed."

If anything it means that the novel is flawed - not necessarily the philosophy.

Benjamin Virnston When one looks past all of the Randian, big-O dogma, there are a few basic messages that Rand is attempting to purvey.

The first of these is that to ask or demand individuals to sacrifice themselves for the collective (an inherently flawed concept as society or collectives are abstractions and do not exist independently of the individuals comprising them) is immoral and does not result in greater wellbeing for anyone other than those living as parasites off of the production of others (i.e. The political class and their corporate bedfellows).

The second is the libertarian non-aggression axiom, which simply states that the initiation, or threat thereof, of physical violence against another individual is unacceptable, regardless of the intended end or supposed justification. The only moral and just use of force is in cases of self-defense.

Thirdly, "Atlas Shrugged" was a treatise in defense of property rights, which are essential to humanity's ability to settle disputes, allocate scare resources, maintain social stability, and ensure economic plenty and technological progress.

All of these messages are merely applications and extensions of the philosophy of natural rights. This philosophy holds that man's inherent nature requires that each human being be individually sovereign, or self-owning. Therefore, men must be free to act as they wish--assuming they respect the equal rights of others to that same liberty--in order to survive and prosper.

Ayn Rand was by no means perfect, and certainly not an infallible prophet of truth as some see her, but she had a lot of important things to say, which are especially relevant in this age of corporatism and state tyranny. She experienced first hand the misery and utter desolation caused by collectivism (see: "We the Living"), and was inspired to create a philosophy which was a huge step in the right direction, and for that she has my undying respect and gratitude.

I would finally like to point out that the political/economic system present in the United States of America today is a far cry from capitalism (in the true sense of the word), and certainly contains nothing approaching free markets. A few more appropriate terms for this system would be state capitalism, corporatism, or economic fascism. This system is characterized by a close relationship between large oligopolistic, or monopolistic, firms (i.e. corporations) and a large, oppressive state apparatus, which confers special privileges to these favored few. These privileges severely restrict or completely destroy competition from unfavored firms, resulting in a complete lack of incentive to be efficient, innovative, or moral. Thus we arrive in today's world of stagnation, limited choice, barely rising (if not falling) standards of living, and omnipresent corporate and government malfeasance, instead of the world of freedom, general prosperity, and rapid progress that a free market would allow us.

If these ideas ring true to anyone, I would recommend Murray Rothbard's "For a New Liberty: The Libertarian Manifesto," for further reading, and a more eloquent and extensive presentation of these same concepts.

message 1: by Jane (new) - rated it 1 star

Jane Baldwin I am struggling through this broken record of a book. The characters were somewhat interesting at first, but by the time Fransico spoke for several pages (without any interruption by the other party guests? they must have fallen asleep) I finally accepted the fact that I had been duped into reading political propaganda.

I'm about 600 pages in and Dagny is about to rescue the motor project. I have hope that there's some kind of plot action left, but the idea of reading a 50 page radio transcript doesn't appeal to me. Really? 50 pages? Even if that's an exaggeration, I'm not looking forward to it.

I am definitely a fan of hard work and personal accountability, but the way she lumps groups of people into hollow stereotypes really turns me off. And why is she so anti-teacher and anti-college? Because she thinks teachers don't work hard? Or because she thinks you don't have to work hard to get a degree? Or because she labels any thought outside of her philosophy as brainwashing.

Her idea was kind of interesting at first, but she's shot this dead horse so many times by now, I want my misery to end, too.

I hate this book, but I also hate not finishing books. I'll keep it around for an insomnia cure.

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