The Intellectual Activist
An Objectivist Review
A Novel of Relevance: Atlas Shrugged
Categories: Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand, a Russian-American author, published Atlas Shrugged in 1957. This novel was her life’s greatest work according to many. It spurned movies, countless discussions, and is still relevant today for its views on philosophy.

A Novel Idea

 

http://www.cgpgrey.com [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Atlas Shrugged follows Dagny Taggart as she works tirelessly to successfully operate her family’s railroad empire. She struggles to keep her integrity in a world full of corruption and greed while the country’s economy is collapsing rapidly. The nation’s best and brightest leaders, entrepreneurs, and engineers have been disappearing without a trace while the government continues to pass crippling legislation that continues to thrust America further into a dystopian society (Rand, 1957).

Eventually new laws called Directive 10-289 are passed that requires any new patents be signed over to the government. More industrial leaders go missing, which Dagny believes is the work of the destroyer, someone intent on further crumbling the weak nation. While attempting to keep a scientist she knows from disappearing, she stumbles upon a hidden valley, “Gault’s Gulch” in the Colorado mountains. This is where the industrialists have all been, led on a strike of the mind by John Galt. They refuse to work under the current government dictatorship and wish for society to understand the necessity for a person’s right to live their own life. Dagny eventually joins the strike which ends after the government has managed to cause the collapse of America, thus allowing the strikers to return after having demonstrated to the American people how desperately pure capitalism is needed (Rand, 1957).

Thought Provoking Themes

One reason for the success of Rand’s novel lies in the fact that the conversation it starts and the ideas perpetuated on the human condition are extremely relevant in our world today. The novel makes it clear that there are two types of people, those who get things done and those who do not. A larger theme running throughout the novel is that effectiveness trumps efficiency. John Galt is the ultimate character for those stressing the importance of the human mind and using your intelligence effectively. Rand’s novel also highlights the evils of a government that believes in collectivism.

In closing, the idea of valuing intelligence is one that has importance in any society. Rand’s magnum opus details the importance of rejecting a government based on collectivism and the need to celebrate the right to individual rights. Atlas Shrugged is one of those rare pieces of literature that continues to have relevance, especially in our world’s current state and political climate.

Reference:
Rand, A. (1957). Atlas shrugged. New York: Random House.

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