Skip to comments.Why Atlas Shrugged Changes Lives
Posted on 04/16/2011 5:33:32 AM PDT by Kaslin
Whatever your response to the movie, know that there is no substitute for reading the Ayn Rand novel. (Also see: "Mr. Galt Goes to Washington.")
Hearing about the new Atlas Shrugged movie, I thought back to my first encounter with Ayn Rands epic novel. When I read Atlas Shrugged, I was captivated. There were complicated romantic relationships, alliances and treachery, heroes who overcame obstacles, villains who tried to stop them, and an intriguing question that seemed to be behind it all: “Who is John Galt?” And yet, it was unlike anything I had ever read before. My response was far from unique. From CEOs to college students to celebrities, people declare that reading Ayn Rand’s novel has a life-changing effect. Why?
Through her story and characters, Rand turns conventional thinking on its head. Which businessman would you expect to be a hero: the publicly spirited CEO, James Taggart, who calls for corporations to give back to the community and fights for business to be regulated in the name of the public good — or the wealthy entrepreneur, Hank Rearden, who proudly seeks to generate as much profit as possible, the public interest be damned? James Taggart, right? Not in Ayn Rand’s world.
By introducing to us a new kind of hero, Rand challenges our own thinking. Maybe, just maybe, we’ve been pursuing the wrong ideals in life. Should I pursue a career in business to make money, or so that I have something to give away? Should I be a doctor because I have an obligation to help the needy, or because I love the subject and have exceptional skills and training to trade with patients willing to pay me? Should I be proud of what I’ve earned, or should I feel guilty because others have less? Am I required to accept moral ideals on faith, as religions teach, or are there rational standards by which I can determine right from wrong? For Rand’s characters, the answers to these questions are vital to their happiness, and it is a betrayal of self not to ask them.
Among the novels heroes are ambitious capitalists unapologetically pursuing money, values, and success. There is Hank Rearden, the industrialist who creates Rearden Metal, a new alloy that is stronger, safer, and cheaper than anything else on the market. There is Dagny Taggart, the executive who risks everything on her own judgment in order to build a great railroad. Both want to make as much profit as possible by perfecting their products. In today’s world, as in Atlas, such people are criticized as “selfish” and “greedy.” In today’s world, as in Atlas, antitrust lawsuits and controls to rein in their greed are brought against such people. But in Rand’s world, when the capitalists are faced with these attacks, we see these people as persecuted victims, not wrongdoers.
More widely, when the novel’s heroes learn that they should not feel guilt in the face of irrational demands — even if the demands come from your mother who is nagging you to give your shiftless brother a job he does not deserve — we learn it too. When they learn to stand up for the right to their own lives and happiness — even if this means you will be denounced by your family, colleagues, and the public for refusing to sacrifice yourself — we learn it too. When the novel’s heroes refuse to be sacrificial lambs, we come to agree with their reasons.
And so as readers, sometimes against our previous beliefs, we side with her heroes and want to see them overcome their opponents. After Hank Rearden invests millions and his very soul into creating Rearden Metal, the response is a concerted effort to keep the metal off the market; worse, when its value is grudgingly recognized, people demand subsidized access to it in the name of the public good. How completely unjust! — we think in outrage. We rally behind the proud, value-creating man. We become invested in his success. What our priests and teachers taught us was immoral, Rand boldly presents as heroic — and we wish we could meet her heroes in real life.
How did Ayn Rand reach us with such impact? Her challenge to conventional thinking is presented in the form of a riveting story. We can be inspired by her new ideas, see their concrete meaning, and apply them to our own lives. This is the reason her book has had a lasting impact on so many people since it was published in 1957.
So whatever your response to the movie, know that there is no substitute for reading Atlas Shrugged – or rereading it and reconnecting with why it changed your life.
(Also see: “Mr. Galt Goes to Washington.”)
Any FReeper movie reviews yet? My 18 year old son saw it yesterday and said it was awesome. Reviews have said that it stinks. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 5 out of 100 on the Tomatometer.
Nothing ever changes in the marxist media.
FReeper reviews of Atlas Shrugged here:
I reas Atlas Shrugged at precisely the right time: just after college and as I was starting my first business.
The book was just perfect for me at that age: slightly repetitive, engrossing, dramatic, and filled with new ideas I had never considered about Man and government.
New ideas beget new ideas. I became more open minded about what freedom really means, and little by little, I became a sane American citizen.
Ayn Rand was no “conservative,” but her legacy is a not-so secret weapon in the war against communism and fascism.
Buy the book for ANY 18-25 year old in your periphery.
I wondered who he was. That was about 1980.
Re red everything but “Anthem” a dozen times. “Atlas Shrugged” is such a fine book that for some reason I continue to reread. I have a copy in my car, a copy at work, and a copy on top of my Bible and dictionary, right here.
Given dozens of copies of Atlas and Fountain head out over the years.
I await the new movie. Prepare to see the previous one on TCM.
Maybe it’s time to Freep the Tomatometer... No doubt that’s what is going on over at DU.
I have never understood the fascination with Rand. She was a pompous atheist, nothing more than a early 20th century Eastern european intellectual which today we would call a secular humanist. Is it because she was pro capitalist that many people here read her works with enthusiasm?
I raised three sons and I saw to it that they each had their own copy. I know that each of them at least read most of it, if not all of it. That was good enough for me. And they all have good common sense and value personal freedom so I am happy.
Sounds like the reviews are positive.....Good sign that a lot of people hate the film.....I’d be worried if the Lady GaGa crowd liked it. (Which is most of the population today.)
“Any FReeper movie reviews yet?”
I can’t remember the last movie I saw in a theater. I saw it yesterday. It was excellent. The action was fast-paced. The evil people were right off TV and from the Democratic party. They used all the current buzzwords; fairness, helping others, etc. The movie didn’t even exaggerate anything, it was a straight line from where we are to where we’re going to be if we don’t get off the train. The hero and heroine are powerful (unrealistically young and good looking) millionaires out to do their job. The bad guys could be straight from Obama’s White House. (Van Jones, anybody?)
I believe I screwed up. The old movie was the Fountainhead... I think... Therefore I am... I think...
B&W has a way of slipping away. Like much else lately.
Stopped going because of distaste regarding the feeding of parasites.
Thanks very much!
“Maybe its time to Freep the Tomatometer”
The 5% rating is coming from reviewers. The audience rating is 86%, which is actually pretty good (Source Code is rated 90% by reviewers and 87% by the audience, etc.). So unless Freepers are movie reviewers, “Freeping” isn’t going to influence the 5% score.
Atlas Shrugged was recommended to me by a wonderful friend, years ago. I was apolitical at the time and the book certainly changed my life. I began to pay attention to politicians and whether or not they love big government enough to rob us of our self-reliance and our freedom. I hope everyone will see the movie..I certainly will.
Yeah the “experts” are panning it while, from what I gather thus far, audiences are liking it.
Why reading the book is as important as seeing the movie.
It's an american capitalist interpretation of Jane Austen!
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