Monday, January 12, 2009

Atlas Shrugged: from fiction to fact?

Came across an interesting editorial from Stephen Moore in the Wall Street Journal (hat tip - Safehaven).

In this January 9 piece entitled, "Atlas Shrugged: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years", Moore suggests that the fictional scenarios laid out in Ayn Rand's classic novel have largely been realized today, thanks to ever-increasing bailouts and government intervention into the economy.

Here's a summary excerpt from Moore's column:

"...Many of us who know Rand's work have noticed that with each passing week, and with each successive bailout plan and economic-stimulus scheme out of Washington, our current politicians are committing the very acts of economic lunacy that "Atlas Shrugged" parodied in 1957, when this 1,000-page novel was first published and became an instant hit.

Rand, who had come to America from Soviet Russia with striking insights into totalitarianism and the destructiveness of socialism, was already a celebrity. The left, naturally, hated her. But as recently as 1991, a survey by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club found that readers rated "Atlas" as the second-most influential book in their lives, behind only the Bible.

For the uninitiated, the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism..."

Interested to hear your thoughts on this. Do you see similar parallels between Rand's fiction and current economic/political reality?

As a fellow "Atlas Shrugged virgin" (I have read and enjoyed Rand's relatively brief novel, Anthem, but haven't gotten around to reading Shrugged), I'd love to hear from those who have read the book and have an opinion.


bmbull said...

I'd be interested in others' comments as well. I picked up the paperback at a garage sale not long ago, but getting through that book will be a monumental task for someone like me, who isn't a very avid or patient reader.

David said...

I know, we should check YouTube to see if some kid has made an "Atlas Shrugged in 3 minutes" video for an overview :).

Here's more fuel for the fire: Reuters' new story on Treasury bond prices, "Bonds ease as Bernanke hints at 'asset' buying".

Check the first two paragraphs of that story and tell me that doesn't fit in with what we're talking about here!

bmbull said...

I saw some of the lines from his speech on the CNBC screen this morning, and they made me cringe.

The TARP changed course and didn't buy up the bad assets like originally planned - but now Bernanke's talking about doing it anyway.

The amount of intervention and interference we've seen over the past year or so has been simply staggering.

bmbull said...

Certainly there must be 'Cliff notes' for Atlas shrugged...

I think even the audiobook versions are condensed.

David said...


(Enter Ed McMahon): You are correct sir!

Here's the Amazon link to the Atlas Shrugged Cliff Notes. Note the most recent reviewer's (January 7, 2009) comments...

bmbull said...

"Since we are living it." Hmm, I guess that tells us what we were looking for...

Interesting. I guess I'm going to have to find some time to read that huge honkin' book then. Of course, if we're living it, then maybe I can just kick back and watch the 'series' being taped before this live audience...that we're all members of!

Ruth said...

It is well worth the time and effort to read Atlas Shrugged. I first read it over 30 days ago and reread it from time to time. In fact, I finished it again about 6 weeks ago.

It effected me more deeply this time around, as there are so many current day events that parallel the novel. I went so far as to order a sweatshirt and a bumper stick (that I display proudly on my Jeep) that says...Who Is John Galt?

Our current events with the government interventions/policies are chilling to me.

David said...

Very interesting, thanks Ruth.

Good to hear from someone who's read (and re-read) the book. I may just have to read it someday.

Anonymous said...

Buy the audiobook.

Best story ever.