Monday, April 25, 2011

Atlas Shrugged ... So do I

The rise of interest in Ayn Rand's monstrous and fantastical ode to the wealthy elite - Atlas Shrugged - has baffled me for a while. It seems that many don't actually read it - but rather check the Wikipedia entry - and if they do read it, they don't read it with any sense of reality. For the one thing everyone - including Rand - seems to miss is that no true capitalist would ever pursue the principled stand of John Galt. In fact, if Galt is as principled as he seems, he never would have become successful in the first place. The reality is that innovators and business leaders like Galt are driven by, for lack of a better word, greed. And they aren't going to walk away from making more just to prove a point to the government and all those needy, lazy workers who are sucking them dry.

It's just such a preposterous thesis - and a truly disconnected viewpoint from someone who claimed to preach the gospel of unfettered capitalism. The creative and economic elite wouldn't shut everything down - they'd do what they've always done - buy politicians. No one is going to stand on principle and stop making money, though they may grandstand about it. But if I know anything about business leaders it is this - they would pretend to join the crowd, all the time planning to back out and take over in the vacuum that would result from all the business leaders walking away. And, of course, many of the innovators are people like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, who are calmly creating away in their garages and dorm rooms, and not worrying that someday the government will take away all their riches, so they just won't create in the first place. That'll show 'em!

What a bunch of hogwash.


steven said...

Michael, you might think that I just adore Ayn Rand, but you'd be wrong. Read "The Libertarian's Albatross" by Butler Shaffer. Shaffer has judged Ayn Rand and the objectivist movement perfectly. This is one of my favorite articles of all time. It's short, but very potent.

mmazenko said...

Thanks. I'll check it out.

I actually really enjoyed The Fountainhead. But Atlas Shrugged ...? Ugh.