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Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

2012/09/06

After all the recent hubbub about Ayn Rand’s works being an inspiration for Paul Ryan’s foray into politics, I decided I should probably at least attempt to read “Atlas Shrugged” in the interest of being informed. I’d always been a little intimidated by the sheer size of Rand’s works, and it took a full three weeks to plod through this one; by the time I got to John Galt’s speech near the end, I was skimming in a desperate attempt to find the end before getting bogged down.

Do I agree with Rand’s philosophy as promoted by Galt throughout the novel? Not necessarily. Do I think that her perspective on being “given a job” as spoken through Hank Rearden to Phillip Rearden has merit? In relation to today’s struggling job market and influx of overly educated, non-technical graduates, it is completely applicable. Do I believe that poor people are poor because they are lazy and undeserving? No, but I agree that the systems we have for helping the poor are faulty and tend towards encouraging inaction and dependence.

This book did make me think considerably about my own conservative rearing and about why I have started to shift away from that ideology. I found Dagny as a character to be fascinating — the businesswoman and how she was treated by the men in her world throughout the novel. I’m not sure I would jump to recommend this book to anyone due to the high pagecount and the sometimes repetitious and overly verbose writing, but it was certainly an interesting look into an ideology that is being reflected (frighteningly) in today’s politics.

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