I have never read Atlas Shrugged.
That last sentence will be the sticking point for any small-government conservative or Tea Party activist perusing this blog who cannot wait to stop reading so they can decry me with angry comments and hyperbolic insults.
And I completely expect that, because it is indicative of the flawed-logic used by those very same people who think that Atlas Shrugged is a book worth basing your political ideology on: if you cherry-pick quotes or ideas in a text that “prove” your emotional concerns about an issue are correct, you need not learn anything else that could bring you to a common sense solution to the problem.
To ruin a quote from the book: “You are, and therefore you shall think”… as long as what you end up thinking doesn’t jeopardize who you were to begin with, right?
So, yes, I am guilty of having not read the book—but that is not essential to the point I will make. But to the uninitiated, and the interested, I have done a little research for you; and these, I would think, are indisputable facts about it.
- The book is a work of fiction.
- It was written by a woman named Ayn Rand.
- Ayn Rand grew up in the Soviet Union and intended Atlas Shrugged to be an allegorical (heavily symbolic) work with the plot centering on the concept of a dystopian America in which big government stifles the inventiveness and creative nature of its populace.
- Libertarians/The Tea Party often reference Atlas Shrugged as an influence in their politics, which also center on big government stifling the inventiveness and creative nature of its populace.
And those points are really all you need to know.
Go ahead and pick up the book if you want to. I hope you enjoy it. I hope you give it to other people to enjoy. I hope that you give it to your son or daughter and they grow up drawing pictures of the main character Dagny Taggart on their Trapper-Keeper.
And, truthfully: congratulations to anyone who picks up an allegory and deciphers it for themselves. Because we seriously have a critical-thinking deficiency in our nation right now.
But don’t forget that first part.
Atlas Shrugged is a work of fiction.
And, inspirational as it may be, it is still a novel, and novels are still fiction. Fiction is for escaping reality, not adapting to it. There is a word for people who cannot escape a fictional world when living in their everyday lives, and it is “insanity.” And if you don’t believe me, Google the name Mark David Chapman.
Still, I can hear the fingers tapping. I can hear the wheels turning. I can feel your anger, Tea Partier. I can barely wait to read your comments WHICH WILL BE IN ALL CAPS AND BAD GRAMMER WITH TEN EXCLAMATION POINTS SO I KNOW YOUR REALLY REALLY SERIOUS!!!!!!!!!!
So, before we have this war, I give in.
You can have it your way. You win, and I lose.
I don’t want your hate spewed forth upon me. After all, “The evil of this world is made possible by nothing but the sanction you give it.”
So, I’m adopting your philosophy. Not the whole “big government is coming for you,” thing.
I can’t make that leap in logic just yet — especially since it’s so obvious to me that big government is currently a shallow husk of a concern compared to big business.
But I will at least cater to your logic.
And so I am starting a campaign for liberals to adopt Lord of the Flies as their allegorical and ideological tome of choice.
Yes, Lord of the Flies.
Everyone knows that book you read in tenth grade, right? The one where the boys are stuck on the deserted island after the plane crash? First, they democratically elect Ralph, who makes several rules for the benefit of the community. Shelters are built and (a fat boy nicknamed) Piggy’s glasses are used for the good of many to start fires to facilitate their rescue.
Things are good for a while, until power-hungry-rival Jack breaks off a faction and starts his own dictatorship under the allure of anarchy. Jack’s Tribe makes war on Ralph’s tribe, stealing from their community, and setting up a sort of weird religious cult where they paint their faces and hunt pigs. Then Jack brainwashes Ralph’s Tribe to join them, crushes Piggy with a giant rock, and sets fire to the entire island trying to kill one person (Ralph)—which ironically leads to their rescue by outsiders.
That’s my political philosophy now. We need good, strong government so societies can run efficiently; otherwise angry, fascist, religious Jack will take over and destroy our country with his weapons and brainwashing.
Or… um… wait. Maybe it’s really a cautionary tale against anarchists and religious demagogues (like Rick Santorum); and how democratic-minded peoples must strongly deal with them before they become egomaniacs who brainwash society.
No, um… hang on. I got this. Maybe we should adopt the philosophy that we should make war constantly on weaker peoples, because then we could destroy the world in fire, facilitating our rescue by aliens.
Oh! No, I got it! We should crush all our fat people with big rocks.
No, that’s not right…
Man! How do you guys make stuff up like this?