5 Things the Right Doesn't Understand About Atlas Shrugged
Despite the fact that we lean pretty left, one of our favorite books of all time is Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. We must've read it at least seven times, and we still find new and brilliant things in every single page.
This tends to baffle our various right-wing and libertarian friends who swear that the book is the guiding light to true freedom. We have two answers to that. The first is that we are a firm believer in self-determination, that you should get up off your tuffet and get some work done if you want to leave a mark in the world, which is a major theme of the book. The other is that most people who say they adhere to the book's principles don't really understand it. They forget that...
The downfall of society in Atlas Shrugged doesn't begin with some kind of environmental regulation or arbitrary redistribution tax. It begins at the behest of various business people who are either too inept to make a profit or are just outright thieves. When Hank Rearden develops an amazing new alloy, it's a less-talented steel manufacturer named Orren Boyle who uses bribes and trickery at every turn to attempt to undermine the accomplishment in order to control the market.
Sure, eventually this degenerates into buying legislation in order to ruin Rearden, but in the end the main culprit in that part of the story is simply an unscrupulous and less talented entrepreneur who doesn't believe in a free market, only in one where he is allowed to use any means necessary to destroy the competition no matter how beneficial Rearden's product is for the country.
With a few notable suggestions, this greed and lack of moral principles is the main driving force behind all the book's villains. To a man they desire prestige and a fortune they didn't earn, and are in fact incapable of earning, and almost exclusively they begin their destruction of civilization from the boardrooms of America. It's only when that fails to work do they begin to try and use government forces to their benefit under the guise of providing humanitarian aid.