“Meh, Shrug…” Not sure what the fuss was about…

I finally finished, after a month straight of sleepless nights, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Since the knee-jerk reaction from people is highly dependent on your background I will state those areas:

  • Libertarian
  • Catholic Background
  • Free thinker
  • Engineer by trade

Rand is an efficient story teller hampered by her lack of editor and peer review. The story will keep you interested, but the characters are predictable and stagnant. She uses thinly veiled dialogue as a soapbox for her philosophy, but it works well enough to keep you engaged.

As a geek and engineer this was a great book. She casts the smartest men in the book as the constant underdog, hampered by the ill-will of more inferior minions. I could relate that sometimes builders are held back by the desires of communal good. Where she crosses the line is by painting the protagonists as “good men.” There is a difference in her book between what constitutes a man of good character and a successful man. The lack of grey area in between the two leaves her moderate readers without a home. I kept pondering why using my wealth for good and helping my fellow man made me less of a stand-up guy. If my intent is heartfelt and my drive non-impacted, why should that matter?

The allegory I took away from the book was not that greed is good, but rather that her book shadows our current political climate. We know live in juxtaposed positions of either far right or far left. Those of us in the middle of the isle are left without a team to play for and due to our abilities to rise above the pettiness, do not wish to play the games. Her portrayal of the impact of such opposing ideologies seems applicable. Her fantasy world of greed and good makes very little sense, but  label them Republicans and Democrats suddenly adds another angle to the story. Every 4 years some so called important person states in a  public forum “If that person is elected I am leaving the country!” In Rand’s book they would have Galts secret lair. Either way both sides are egotistical pricks with unrealistic ideologies.

This is not to say the book as a whole was a total waste of my time. I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative and gained much from the little adventure. Her idea of aptitude and action counting for more than labels and name gave me a few rousing mornings as I headed to work. I feel more engaged as a politically minded person and can now at least have an intelligent conversation with objectivists.

To end this I wanted a general dumping zone of bulleted thoughts:

  • Christians need not apply. The book spits in the face for care of your fellow man. Some would argue that by not providing an open hand you are in fact helping them. To me that simply is a rationalization. By Rand’s own admission the views are not compatible.
  • 80% of the politicians who use her book either for, or against, their cause are full of shit. They are banking not he fact the book is enormous and most everyone is regurgitating the ideas they heard somewhere else. Few have read, but many more quote and expound on the “ideas” they think it contains.
  • I am a builder and not a looter
  • Rand enjoyed a good romp in the sack for sure. She writes some pretty graphic sexual scenes in the book. Keep that in mind before recommending

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