Everything You Need to Know About Atlas Shrugged

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It sounds nice, especially to a teenager. Miss Taggart, we have no laws in this valley, no rules, no formal organization of any kind. We come here because we want to rest. But we have certain customs, which we all observe, because they pertain to the things we need to rest from. For Rand, the ultimate failing of the world is that people do things for other people rather than themselves.

We create worth for others, in her metric, by creating it for ourselves with impunity. I read somewhere once about the teenage impulse to point at the world and call bullshit. My teenage impulse was different. My impulse was to point at myself and call bullshit. A useless do-gooder. During the day, I would install soffit the material that allows a roof to vent on the eaves of a home on the sides of quick-build relief housing for victims of Katrina.

At night, I would read a bristling fusillade criticizing the weak and the downtrodden. Renna was German. She was beautiful, but that was secondary. She had seen the movies I had seen, read the theater that I cared about, and carried herself with a grace and intelligence that I still try to emulate. The first second I met her, I was in love, and in the second second, I knew that I was never going to be enough. We met because people meet in places like this, and I had borrowed scissors from the front desk to cut my fingernails like a barbarian, which the desk clerk informed me of after she snatched them from my hands having seen what I was doing.

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After this little tiff, Renna walked over and struck up a conversation with me. When you become an adult, you learn to ignore it. You learn the impracticality of caring when it comes to suffering. How can one person take on the weight of the world? One person is so small, so insignificant, so overblown with their sense of importance. It caters to self-hatred, and the hatred of the other because it divides people into the weak and the strong, the capable and the incapable. You are in one camp or the other.

It violates one of the most important values I now hold dear: that every human being is a unique entity. There will never be another like you, twee as that sounds.

Believe It or Not, I Learned Something About Love and Virtue from “Atlas Shrugged”

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In , with the global economy hemorrhaging jobs, and Western governments pouring hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money to bail out troubled financial firms and large companies, frustrated people and political analysts turned to a book written over 50 years earlier as a guide out of the abyss. Though Atlas Shrugged had been a popular title when Ayn Rand published it in , its quite possible that the only reference to it that many Americans heard before came from the hit series Mad Men.

Everything You Need to Know About Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead

However, this staple of conservative and libertarian reader took on new life as the new Obama Administration sought to use government resources to fix financial problems. Conservative commentators like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh praised the book for their audiences, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas labeled it one of his favorite novels. In that time, the giant novel Rand considered her magnum opus has seen its sales spike dramatically, eventually reaching the top of Amazons bestsellers list.

Even today, it is still within Kindles Top titles, making it one of the most heavily read books of the last several years. Today, many have heard of the title and are partially familiar with it, but the sheer size of the book makes it inaccessible for people who dont have a lot of time to read or ponder Rands philosophy. Thankfully, that problem is now solved with Everything You Need to Know About Atlas Shrugged, a primer that can get anyone caught up to speed on the plot, characters, themes, symbols, and philosophy of Rands classic in 30 minutes.

In addition to covering the book in detail, Everything You Need to Know About Atlas Shrugged includes a biography of Rands life, discussion about the inspiration for the novels characters, and a full-fledged explanation of Objectivism and the sources of Rands political philosophy.

With Atlas Shrugged and its underlying themes as relevant as ever today, get caught up quick with this resourceful guide. Skip this list. Ratings and Book Reviews 0 1 star ratings 0 reviews. Overall rating 5. How to write a great review Do Say what you liked best and least Describe the author's style Explain the rating you gave Don't Use rude and profane language Include any personal information Mention spoilers or the book's price Recap the plot.

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You've successfully reported this review. We appreciate your feedback. OK, close. Of course, in the real world, only minor trifles, like radar, space flight, nuclear power, GPS, computers, and the Internet were brought about by government research. The first time they have sex, he doesn't ask for consent, but throws her down and does what he wants: "She knew that fear was useless, that he would do what he wished, that the decision was his. Later on, Dagny has an affair with Hank Rearden who's married to someone else at the time, but this is the sort of minor consideration that doesn't hold back Randian supermen.

Almost as soon as their relationship begins, he demands to know how many other men she's slept with and who they were. When she won't answer, he seizes her and twists her arm, trying to hurt her enough to force her to tell him. Believe it or not, none of this is meant to make us judge these characters negatively, because in Rand's world, violent jealousy is romantic and abuse is sexy.

Atlas Shrugged is absurd but strangely compelling | Books | The Guardian

There's never a need for conservation, recycling, or that dreaded word, "sustainability. One of the heroes of part I is the tycoon Ellis Wyatt, who's invented an unspecified new technology that allows him to reopen oil wells thought to be tapped out, unlocking what Rand calls an " unlimited supply " of oil. Obviously, accepting that natural resources are finite would force Rand's followers to confront hard questions about equitable distribution, which is why she waves the problem away with a sweep of her hand. Rand sees nothing implausible about this, because in her philosophy, human ingenuity can overcome any problem, up to and including the laws of thermodynamics, if only the government would get out of the way and let them do it.

Pollution and advertisements are beautiful; pristine wilderness is ugly and useless. Rand is enamored of fossil fuels, and at one point, she describes New York City as cradled in " sacred fires " from the smokestacks and heavy industrial plants that surround it. Uncoiling from among the curves of Wisconsin's hills, the highway was the only evidence of human labor, a precarious bridge stretched across a sea of brush, weeds and trees. The sea rolled softly, in sprays of yellow and orange, with a few red jets shooting up on the hillsides, with pools of remnant green in the hollows, under a pure blue sky.

There's no burglary, no muggings, no bread riots, no street crime of any kind. This is true even though the world is spiraling down a vortex of poverty and economic depression. Apparently, in Rand's view, poor people will peacefully sit and starve when they lose their jobs. And that's a good thing for her, because accepting that crime exists might lead to dangerous, heretical ideas — like that maybe the government should pay for education and job training, because this might be cheaper and more beneficial in the long run than spending ever more money on police and prisons.

Only that. Whatever else you are, will come from that. It's the only measure of human value. All the codes of ethics they'll try to ram down your throat are just so much paper money put out by swindlers to fleece people of their virtues.

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The code of competence is the only system of morality that's on a gold standard. You'll note that this speech makes no exceptions for work whose product is actively harmful to others. If you burn coal that chokes neighboring cities in toxic smog, if you sell unhealthful food that increases obesity and diabetes, if you sell guns and fight every attempt to pass laws that would restrict who could buy them, if you paint houses with lead and insulate pipes in asbestos — relax, you're off the hook!

None of this matters in the slightest in Rand's eyes. Do you make money from it? That's the only thing anyone should ever care about. Almost all of Rand's heroes smoke, and not just for pleasure.