Not having read the book, my comments are based on a documentary about Ayn Rand, featuring her novel, Atlas Shrugged. In the program, a young woman quoted protagonist Dagny Taggart, “I swear by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” I suppose that summarizes Taggart’s personal statement of the author’s philosophical thrust.
Rand’s not-so fictional antagonists were the welfare enforcers who exploited the poor as their stairway to power. But they also exploited the Christian virtue of charity, warping it into a mandate for state-run welfare. Her analysis of the welfare mindset was precisely on target; professional do-gooders who ultimately profit from making the poor dependent on them.
A second villainous persona was the corporate executive. Sidestepping market forces, they sold out productivity by trading support for politicians and their programs, for government contracts and subsidies.
Short-list of principles presented in the book:
- Objectivism—a form of materialism where ones goal is to achieve fulfillment of their objective, without compromising the responsibilities attendant to it.
- Individualism vs. collectivism—the right to responsibly pursue the rewards of ones own productivity without having the burden of “The Greater Good” imposed on them by the government.
- self-interest vs. altruism—altruism is the socio/cultural mandate for “The Haves” to sacrifice the rewards of their own productivity to bring about equality with the “The Have-Nots.”
Rand stood staunchly for The American Dream of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Those three rights, however, must be defined according to the Biblical, New Testament world view if they are to work as our nation’s founding fathers envisioned. Otherwise, they produce survival-of-the-strongest, anarchy, and the pursuit of self-gratification. Ambition, without grace, exploits the weak, and defines success by who dies with the most toys left to their spoiled kids.