Friday, August 17, 2007

Good Op-Ed on "Atlas Shrugged"

By Joseph Kellard

The East Valley Tribune, a Phoenix newspaper, on August 4, 2007 wrote an editorial, “Defending freedom, vigorously,” that seems to generally understand and praise Ayn Rand’s great novel “Atlas Shrugged.”

Here’s an excerpt:

“‘Atlas’ and her other books are still radical today. The Soviet Union, which she fled, has crumbled, but the underlying philosophy that despises competition, freedom and individualism is still dominant throughout the world, even in America. Which is why ‘Atlas Shrugged’ still inspires, enthralls and angers people. It’s still relevant. As a novel, it is more gripping than the typical nonfiction account about why an expansive government is so troubling.

“People respond to strident defenses of ideas, rather than to mealy-mouthed apologies. And Rand was no shrinking violet. Rather than make apologies for capitalism as, say, a necessary evil, she portrayed it as a moral good. She championed the ‘virtue of selfishness,’ explaining that individuals should pursue their own self-interest. That also happens to lead to the public good, although that was not her concern. The basic storyline of ‘Atlas Shrugged’ is quite satisfying to those frustrated by the cravenness and incompetence of government and a system that rewards political connections and power over freedom, productivity and rationality.”

Except for some unqualified generalizations at its conclusion, such as the claim that Ms. Rand’s attacks on altruism could be “quite disconcerting,” this op-ed demonstrates not only that the wider culture is coming to understand and agree more with the novel’s radical ideas, but also that this fact indicates that “Atlas Shrugged” will continue to be “relevant” far into the distant future—when most Americans eventually comes to understand and *live* by those ideas.

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