Friday, January 05, 2007

Talk about a girl who liked Capitalism!

In an attempt to read classic books I may have missed earlier in my life, I decided to educate myself and read books I've heard about but never read. I started with Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. The basic premise of the book, as I understand it is, that the true Capitalists that build the companies which earn the money and supply the jobs for our country are the true heroes and that the government is wrong to tax and or in any way impede the growth and development of business or their owners. Further that the only duty a person owes is to themselves. Forced charity such as welfare is wrong, and is essentially a "sin" against the person who is working hard to run their business.
In the story, the worlds greatest capitalist essentially go on strike and disappear. They refuse to run the railroads, steel yards, automotive plants etc. As the businesses fail the country crumbles. The government nationalizes industries and runs them into the ground. All the while complaining that the missing business types have committed economic treason by denying their countries their brains.
I guess I am just stunned that anyone could actually believe (and this was a manifesto of the author's beliefs) that business savvy makes one person's gifts to the world more important to the world. That a Henry Ford is the moral equivalent of Mother Teresa. That a human beings wants and desires should be his only moral compass and that a business owes nothing to his employees, customers or government. It is suggested that society in general is a parasite living off the largess of industry.
There are books out there, considered classics that people just love and I do not understand why. This is one of those books. I read an article that said that interest in this book and associated websites went up one hundred fold after the Enron scandal hit the fan. I wonder whether that was people looking for answers or justification.
This book could be considered insight into how some peoples' ideas of right and wrong are formed and the belief system of uber-capitalism, There's action, sex, violence, betrayal, greed, lust. All the makings of a big Hollywood movie (which is in pre-production, and is scheduled to star Brangelina).
I read books to edify, entertain and enlighten myself. This book though not uninteresting, is not one I would read again, but I am glad I read it. Don't know if I'm going to read her other "masterpiece" The Fountainhead, though. What do you think?


Salesdiva said...

Hey Terry,
I've read all of Ayn Rand's books and I've liked each one in its own way. I think she has some interesting points in Atlas Shrugged and didn't walk away from it with such black and white right and wrongs. Anyway, I think her other books are worth the read.

Kerri said...

Your review of this book is very interesting. I haven't read it but I did read The Fountainhead years ago. I don't remember it all, but I liked it at the time.
It's fascinating the way the human mind works...and comes up with a philosophy. So many varied ways of thinking! I'm stunned too that anyone can think the way this author does.