"What to make of Atlas Shrugged"
The train facing the tunnel and beyond.
No. This is a tome concerning the rights of Capitalism but the principles expressed simply don't work. Very interesting read though.
Ayn Rand's diatribe, for that's what it essentially is, creates a world where 'capital' fights it's cause. The key premise is that those accruing vast capital do so by their own efforts solely and therefore have no responsibility to their society. This is an inane argument as we all must accept that there is no such person as 'the self made man' and it only the notional power of money that could conclude otherwise. This is novel that tells us that power (in this case wealth) never tells the truth or (more specifically) never admits it's wrong.
In a way this is much the same argument that many 19th century intellectuals and philosophers use to describe their thoughts and although not specifically related to capital you'll find similar arguments used by Adolf Hitler in his books of the 1920s leading to the 2nd World War.
Ayn offers no ideas and merely suggest a future of economic hegemony and of a withdrawn capital owning class and fails completely to understand that such a withdrawn culture makes capital ownership actually worthless.
There's a strong sexual component too and one (certainly me) can't help feeling that her mass argument amounts to nothing more than sexual longings of her own. Herself a very plain and rather unattractive woman it's quite hard not to see her female characters as possessed of a beauty and sexuality she may have lacked. While I may hear feminists bounding up to her defence I very much doubt that I'll hear many similarly bounding toward her ideas - as expressed in Atlas Shrugged.
Basically the central premise of this novel is just plain silly. It has truths (in my opinion), it most certainly isn't worthless. For me it just astounds - however, I have a longer view and my own arguments with capital are 70 years more knowing and probably a great deal more damning than this trite piece of 1950s kitsch. A good read overall.
"Interesting theory eloquently put into a story"
Having never read the print version of this book I can only give comments on the audio version and would say well written, read and would recommend a listen of this book to any body that might have an anti capitalist view.
I have not experienced a book like this one before.
Scott Bricks performance was excellent.
I found on several occasions finding my self arguing with Ayn Rands philosophy. Though the foundation of the theory which holds the story together does work well here and can be compared to current times and our corruption in political positions, I do think and believe the people would act and survive if this situation did ever occur.
before I read this book I was an anti capitalist, this book has made me think how we are all human beings dealing with life in the best way our intellect allows us. It has not made me pro capitalist but has made me rethink how we can work together and rethink other options.
"Naive (and badly written) but with originality"
If the book was 500 pages instead of 1000, I would have given it five stars, because I think it would then be well worth reading. At 63 hours, it is hard to justify the time spent. In fact, you can save 62 hours of your valuable time by directing yourself to Ayn Rand's interview with US TV host Mike Wallace in 1959 (on Youtube) as she gives a much condensed account of her philosophy there. She has this one idea, which I think is original to her and a complete rejection of the moral position of the Christian church. This is that clever and hard-working people can be exploited and made to feel guilty by lazy, less endowed people. That a human's primary responsibility is to pursue one's own happiness and one should not try to 'love one's neighbour as oneself.' If you are really taken with that you can read the book. Unfortunately, in the book her solutions and working through of this philosophy are hopelessly naive and really get nowhere.
The book is a joke as a novel - terrible writing style, and painfully repetitive. There is no dialogue, just speeches - everyone (including the odd tramp) talks philosophy and politics. The characters are wooden. Superheroes and wimps. The plots contradicts itself - for example, she spends the (future) profits of the John Galt railway line three times - once mortgaging them to her brother (the owner of the parent company), once to her investors (including Hank Reardon who goes in with $1m) and then for herself as she expects to become stinking rich through her enterprise. She doesn't understand business, but she also doesn't understand politics. There is a strange lack of violence. A prosperous industrialised country (the US) is being destroyed by a wimpy group of socialists. The only 'model' I can think of is the Nazi take over of Germany. This is partly a battle of ideas, but it has to sink into brutality as sensible, rich people never give up without a fight and genuine terror. Rand sort of knows this and does have one torture scene - where the hero John Galt is VERY BRAVE and breaks into a light sweat.
Rand also has a particular idea of female sexuality which involves super-hero dominant males, and she plays this out ad nauseum throughout the book - her character being the only complete female in the book, she gets to sleep systematically with all the superhero industrialists her pigmy imagination can invent (they are all so alike, why bother?) As a woman, I could neither identify with the main character nor like her. I was ashamed of her.
After an interesting beginning (woman fights for her right to take charge over her life) the story drifts into black and white. black is everything social white is (neo)capitalism.
If you like Thatcher Bush and affiliates or like to understand this type of concervative stream, this might be you book.
He is could develop more different voices for different characters (compare Humphry Bower, Frank Muller etc)
"Might make a good short story..."
Let's forget for the moment my personal distaste for the "philosophy" contained within the novel, the logic is weak and disjointed and the author has no respect for the intelligence of the reader; repeating and reiterating themselves ad infinitum. Dull witted and outmoded.
"Must read, for high tax payers despised by society"
How much value do different people generate? How much do they deserve in return for generating it? How much right does society and the common good have to the success of those individuals? Why are the wealthy so often regarded as undeserving and disliked for being so? This book answers these questions with a brilliant narrative.
"More important than reading through Bible"
A book to be read over and over again, and to live by, if man has to realise and reach his full potential.
"The Illuminati secret society..."
Global economic collapse coming.
Dissapointed as Rand did not reveal the fatal flaw to the New Atlantean Illuminati conspiracy to 'stop the motor of the world' - the existence of God -- It's supposed to be a metaphor put forward by them "to show the world whom depends on whom, who supports whom, who is the source of wealth, who makes whose livelihood possible.." Yet the conspirators, as in times past; again choose to exclude all knowledge of Jesus Christ the Creator from their thinking. What's going to happen when God withdraws His labour and `stops the motor of His world` as Rand puts it... even the Sun and Moon ?
Job 38:3 "Now gird up your loins like a man, And I will ask you, and you instruct Me! Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding,.."... Hence, one might regard the Illuminati if they could reply to that which God asked of Job.. but all that's really revealed is the limitation of Lucifer and his secret societies.
The train tunnel crash scene.. wait for it !
Thank you Scott Brick.. well read, especially Rearden.
"Brilliant. Only the ending is a bit vague"
The book describes the purpose of human existence in the form of a story. The characters are brilliant. Only the ending is childish and stupid.
"1984 and Thus Spoke Zarathrustra have a child"
Atlas shrugged is first and foremost Original. it follows no standard story arch or character model, but to enjoy it you have to treat it as an inspirational novel rather than as a philosophical treatise.
Characters are larger than life and it is obvious who are the heroes and who are the villains. But this starkness only adds to the grandeur of the novel; it is more like Lord of The Rings than Game of Thrones. However, the villains aren't really villains as such. The people that the protagonists struggle against aren't like 'the party' in 1984. They aren't so clearly evil (from the reader's perspective). instead, little by little, they subvert the world all in their genuinely stated aim of 'the common good,' and this subversion is believable. Indeed, it's more believable that the world could progress as Atlas Shrugged describes, little by little, all in the name of supposed altruism, than it is believable that the hyperbolically authoritarian world of 1984 should come about. The current price controls imposed in Venezuela, and the resultant shortages, may well have described the United States in Rand's Novel.
there are lots of speeches, and in between the progression of the storyline, you will hear familiar platitudes. the style of pronouncements is just like that of Thus Spoke Zarathrustra, and I recommend absorbing it as a poetic philosophical emotions, rather than a serious philosophical work. so long as you do this, the speeches will just add to the larger than life character of the protagonists (though it may be useful to increase the speed).
The story itself was my favourite bit. It foreshadowed itself effectively, maintaining connection between the earlier and later parts of the book. It wasn't completely predictable, but it hinted at what would happen next. The core concept had never, to my knowledge, been explored before, and even if you disagree with Rand's descriptions, it is worth asking yourself what would happen if industrialists disappeared. As stated earlier, the direction of national policy is perhaps the most relatable element of the story, whereas the characters are aspirational. listening to them overcome can be quite a boost to your own morale. The only part of the story I was a little perplexed with was the not too infrequent dive into Rand's sexual machinations, but hey, that's not necessarily bad.
Don't treat it as a work of philosophy, and you'll be inspired by an epic story.