7 Reasons Atlas Shrugged By Ayn Rand Is More Important Than Ever

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand stands as one of the two most influential books of my life.

The novel was first published a year before I was born in 1957, Rand considered Atlas Shrugged her magnum opus.

The book explores a dystopian United States where leading innovators, ranging from industrialists to artists, refuse to be exploited by government and politically correct society.

The protagonist, Dagny Taggart, sees society collapse around her as the government increasingly asserts control over all industry, while the world’s most productive citizens, led by the mysterious John Galt, progressively disappear.

Galt describes the strike as “stopping the motor of the world” by withdrawing the “minds” that drive society’s growth and productivity. In their efforts, these “men of the mind” hope to demonstrate that a world in which the individual is not free to create is doomed, that civilization cannot exist where men are slave to society and government, and that the destruction of the profit motive leads to the collapse of society.

I saw the new movie yesterday, and my daughter Lauren and I were VERY disappointed. It does not deserve an association with the book. So many nuances were not portrayed and so many characters were undeveloped or misrepresented.

However, that does not discount the importance of the book for today. It is a powerful and more important read than ever for anyone who believes in capitalism, innovation, and free enterprise.

As a seventeen year old I discovered Atlas Shrugged on a library shelf, promptly took it home and devoured it. The minute I finished it, I turned to page one and re-read it. I was spellbound both times. The concepts gripped me as a young boy, and have continued to be a compass point for my life as an entrepreneur.

Fast forward twenty-six years and my seventeen year old daughter Lauren comes into the house and says, “Dad, I have to tell you about a book you will love! It is called Atlas Shrugged, I found it at the school library and could not put it down. As soon as I finished, I turned back to page one and re-read it in its entirety.”

Weird, huh? But true. Some things are far more than pure coincidence.

So, here are seven reasons I believe Atlas Shrugged is more important than ever:

1.) Cultural creatives are fleeing America and disappearing to more favorable environments. New Zealand, Canada and London, England are only a few of the places that are welcoming American creatives who cannot find a home in their own country.

2.) The American government continues to penalize successful businesses. Many businesses are now labeled monopolies that are simply the best at what they do.

3.) The American government continues to legislate free enterprise through socialistic mandates such as affirmative action. In the words of Michael Jackson, “It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white”—in Rand’s words, it only matters if you work hard and earn your wage.

4.) Mediocrity continues to be celebrated and rewarded. When certain American minorities are led to believe that “beating the system” is more important than hard work, we have a major problem.

5.) Social equality is considered more important than free enterprise. Hard work is rewarding. It’s just the way we are made. If everyone would work hard, social equality would take care of itself for the most part.

6.) Innovation is repressed not rewarded. When farmers are paid to burn their crops, we have a big problem. When gas-saving car innovations are squelched because of big oil lobbyists, we have a big problem.

7.) Individuality is discouraged and conformity encouraged. When our own government renders us to a number, not our name, we have a big problem.

If these questions ring true to you—you must read Atlas Shrugged, click the title and order it now!

Question: Even if you have not read the book, do these seven reasons resonate with you? Or do you disagree?

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31 Responses to “7 Reasons Atlas Shrugged By Ayn Rand Is More Important Than Ever”

  1. There’s a billboard on the southern-Georgia strip of I-95 that says “Who is John Galt?” and we all thought rednecks weren’t well-read! From theusreport.com, quoting the small-business owner who bought the bilboard: “If people will read Rand’s book,” Root responded, “or even just a short such as ‘Anthem,’ they can draw their own political conclusions. I think ‘Atlas Shrugged’ would perhaps be even more powerful without her atheist tenet but in any event, I am one of those who consider their first read as life-changing.”

    Drew and I had a long convo about the book on our way home from vacation last summer… Admittedly, I’d probably never read it, but he soaked it up years ago and enjoyed telling me all about it. As “fictional” as the story/world is, Ayn’s got a point. And it’s a scary point. And I could see our great nation turning in this direction… Easily.

    Most of those 7 reasons resonate with me (namely: 1, 3, 4 cringe, and 6), as did the gravity of the book… But, thanks to you, I won’t waste my time & $7.50 on the matinee. I’ll stick with that fantastic convo with my husband. :)

    • Great comment, Mandy! I’m liking your husband more and more. And Anthem also is a life-changing book. Rand’s history is fascinating as well….and gives context to her writings.

  2. I have not read the book yet, but I did see the movie. My dad read the book and told me that I must read it! Trust me, some time soon I will be reading my dad’s copy and I know I will devour it just like he did. :)
    All of your reasons resonated with me in one way or another. Thank you for sharing this on your blog!

  3. Loved the book, when I read it years ago, but I think I need to reread it. Also heard from others that the movie was a disappointment, so I probably won’t see that.
    While I agree with the majority of your points, I struggle with balancing the effects of some with my desire for opportunities for everyone …

  4. Melissa - Mel's World April 18, 2011 at 14:05

    Unfortunately I have not read the book…yet! My 17 year old son read it earlier this year and absolutely loved it. As a matter of fact he talked to the powers that be at his school and along with a group of like minded kids they started a “John Galt Club” shortly after reading it. One of the AP English teachers leads it and they have had some incredible discussions about it.

    He’s shared bits and pieces of it with me, but now after reading your post I think it is a must read for me too! Thanks for your honest input on the movie…I was going to see if he wanted to go see it, but now I am thinking that if I read the book then we can have our own discussions about it together.

    Thanks for opening my eyes to just how awesome this book really is! Have a great day! ~ Melissa

    • Yes, my daughter (she is now 25) and I have had endless fascinating discussions about the book. It has enriched our lives. And we were sitting next to each other yesterday squirming and lamenting as we watched the movie.

  5. Randy

    I’m going to take liberty with point #7 (above) and add to it this thought. Perhaps the Christian community is as guilty of diminishing ‘individuality’ as any local, state or federal government. Peterson would argue that we need alert listeners to give dignity to those stretches in our lives when we are not aware of participating in anything we think might be embraced by the kingdom of God……with such listening, we get used to living a mystery and not demanding information to footnote everything that is going on….and this conversational ‘spiritual direction’ (from such listeners) takes seriously the uniqueness of each person and the actual circumstances in which each lives. It wont lump souls into catagories…to be dealt with by an efficient formula….as we grow into maturity in Christ our distinctiveness is accentuated, not blunted.

  6. I haven’t read the book, but it has now been added to my future reading list. Thanks Randy.

  7. too many christians glorify rand… and i don’t know why. she was an objectivist (their the ones who claim that christianity is a threat to american liberty) and an atheist. she referred to christianity as “the best kindergarten of communism possible.” crazytown. population, ayn rand and the rest of the objectivists.

    as i always say, atlas shrugged because atlas didn’t know what in the hell ayn rand was talking about. if you really want a non-fiction read that helps you truly understand the issues outlined in randy’s post, check out adam smith’s “wealth of nations”, or f.a. hayek’s “road to serfdom”.

    i’d never encourage any christian who was curious about liberty to read this book. sorry, randy, but i’m not with you on this one.

    • Wow! I totally disagree with your assessment of Rand. But I totally agree about Smith’s “Wealth of Nations.” I suppose I feel we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

      Brooks, I’m sincerely curious about what you mean by “liberty?”

      thanks for joining the conversation!

      • @randyelrod,

        i really encourage you to read hayek’s “road to serfdom” in addition to smith’s works.

        it’s no secret that rand was an atheist and that objectivists are anti-christianity. in addition to her quote, which i included above, she also held the following positions.

        from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ukJiBZ8_4k

        “I am against God for the reason that I don’t want to destroy reason.”

        “My morality is based on man’s life as the standard of value…that his highest moral purpose is the achievement of his own habits…that each man must live as an end in himself.”

        and she was pro-abortion:
        “An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).”

        “Abortion is a moral right – which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?”

        rand’s ideology was hardly the sort that should be propped up by christians.

        american liberty is where men live under the god-given right to be free from arbitrary or despotic control.

        • @Brooks Bayne, thanks, Brooks, I will definitely get hayek’s book. I still maintain that to throw ALL her teaching out with the bath water, because of her beliefs is a mistake. she has valid arguments against socialistic thinking.

  8. Love the book! Right on, Randy.

    I too saw the movie and was pretty disappointed. I think it was mostly expected though. While it was a relatively unknown cast and a small budget, the biggest obstacle was splitting a lengthy, complex plot into three 100min films. Not possible.

    I’d also recommend a couple of articles tackling the intersection of Ayn Rand and faith:

    “The Ethics of Ayn Rand” – John Piper
    http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/articles/the-ethics-of-ayn-rand

    “Ayn Rand & Christianity” – Reginald Firehammer, The Independent Individualist
    http://theautonomist.com/atnmst/jrnl_ii.php?art=51

  9. I picked it up today at our local library (man that’s a lot of pages) but I’m going to do this. I already see your influence from this book (the preface used the word RE-CREATE in the first sentence!)

    Trudging on!

    Jim

  10. i bought it with my Christmas money, but have not delved into it. i want some definite time to devote to it. i think your points are on target. i’m currently trying to develop some business ideas. never done that before.

  11. You forgot this quote from John Galt: “If man is evil by birth, he has no will, no power to change it; if he has no will he can be neither good nor evil; a robot is amoral.” Maybe Ayn Rand is important today because she realizes the dangers of religion?

  12. I read Atlas Shrugged in high school and loved it (also The Fountainhead) and probably about a year ago picked up a copy of Atlas Shrugged at Costco (ironically, I saw it there again today) since I had lost the one I read and re-read in high school. Unfortunately I haven’t gotten around to reading it again, though now perhaps I will. (so many books, so little time is my problem!)

  13. Rand was an egomaniac, selfishness was her motto, and an atheist elitest. She should be disreguarded, period

  14. I read it when I was 17 too…and “spellbound” is exactly the right word to describe my reaction.

    I think I may need to read it again!

  15. She is not one of the great minds.

    Maybe she should not be disregard period, she should be understood so people will know what not to think and believe.

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