November 1, 2010

Book Review: Atlas Shrugged


Title: Atlas Shrugged (1957)
Author: Ayn Rand
Publisher: Plume (1999)
Pages: 1168
Genre: Philosophical fiction

Atlas Shrugged is the philosophy of Objectivism argued in the form of a fiction novel. Objectivism is the doctrine that reality exists separate from consciousness. Reality is that which we can sense. We can sense our creation of an object, but we cannot sense the idea of creation. It is not real until it is created and when created, it is ours. The philosophy is a strong proponent of capitalism, private property and minimal outward influence from regulations and rules. Man can only truly live life through the means of action and the fruition of his interests and skills.

Storyline: Men of action are disappearing from the country. Men of inaction are gaining control of the government and creating regulations which limit freedom of business. When the population recognizes that those with ability are taxed and those with need are pampered, the cities, infrastructure and lives of a once great nation crumbles at its core; spiraling into destruction without the freedom of competition. The men of ability create a retreat in which they may exist as they know man must live.

Creating a fictional world to portray a philosophy that is supposed to apply to our complex and real world is not very convincing. The antagonists are extremely shallow and stupid, performing their role of supporting Objectivism as if it were scripted. The book is overly long and repetitive. The countless dialogues between good guy and bad guy is almost always a repeat of the first dialogue between good guy and bad guy. The exchange of speech is good argument verses nonsensical repeating of meaningless phrases. Ignoring human nature and God except where it supports the agenda, this is a frail attempt to support a philosophy that has respectable and strong ideas.