In defense of Atlas Shrugged (HORROR HORROR)
September 19, 2018 7:43 PM   Subscribe

Today, in the megathread, octobersurprise linked an incredible article: A Warning From Europe: The Worst Is Yet to Come, The Atlantic by Anne Applebaum. Upon reading it, I had an "ah ha!" moment. This article perfectly describes a quibble I've had with Atlas Shrugged for almost a decade.

A few years back, I hate-read Atlas Shrugged because I wanted to fully understand the idealism that drives someone like Paul Ryan.

It was hard.

I could usually only read about 20 to 30 minutes at a time before I was overcome with an intense desire to hurl the book across the room. My wife was studying for her PhD quals at the time, so we at least were able to share the mood. And don't even get me started on Galt's monologue.

To the point: the thing that always gnawed at me and which I could never express effectively was perfectly described in this article.

Superficially, Atlas Shrugged is a twisted fairy tale of the capitalist/libertarian myth, that if the industrialists of our locality were only unfettered from the "Socialist" chains of regulation and lapdog academics and crony politicians, then the world would be just and good.

This makes perfect sense when you figure that Ayn Rand had escaped "Socialist" Russia under Lenin. Of course she hated "Socialism" if Lenin's one-party state was Rand's definition.

The ills that Rand describes her liberal scientists and politicians perpetrating in her fictionalized version of the United States sliding towards "Socialism" are exactly the same ills described in this article & employed by Russia during her youth.

What's more, because I was reading the book critically and well aware that the caricatures of her "Socialist" Americans (the scientists and policymakers) bore no resemblance to any good steward of science or government in our modern era, it was deeply obvious to me that what was odious about the people in her books who were called "Socialists" wasn't their occupation as scientists or politicians, but that they were behaving as Lenin's one-party statists did in her experiences.

Yes, dear reader.

Believe it or not, Atlas Shrugged, while completely intolerable as a work of fiction, is actually a radical criticism of exactly the same kind of behavior that crony capitalists and lawmakers have been perpetrating in the US since Nixon.

The fact that Paul Ryan loves a book that venomously attacks his every policy decision and life choice because he imagines himself to be on the side of the "Capitalists" is both rich beyond measure and deeply depressing. Paul Ryan is a stupid, stupid man.

Literally, until I read this article, I could not find the words. I knew the truth of what Applebaum tells us & I could see it perfectly represented in Atlas Shrugged but I couldn't explain the hypocrisy & the inanity of modern-era Republicans worshipping this tome.

And now, I have the words. I have this article. Thank you, octobersurprise. And thank you, Anne Applebaum.
posted by narwhal (3 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: This is a personal blog post sort of deal, not a post for the front page. -- cortex

Great comment!

In before deletion.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:51 PM on September 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

I read this last week and enjoyed it. I would not have thought of that comparison. Thank you!
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 7:51 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

This seems a little GYOB-y
posted by Jacqueline at 7:57 PM on September 19, 2018

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