Finally completed Atlas Shrugged and it was above and beyond expectations. The philosophical underpinnings of the book resonated for some parts with my beliefs, while other parts was quite diametrically opposite to my own ideology. Still, you can take it or leave it – it doesn’t take away from the artistic achievement of the book and my idea going in that Ayn Rand would be a poor author turned out to be completely misguided.
What most lazy criticism of the book completely miss is that it is obviously an allegory and though deadly serious in its message, it’s not meant to be realistic (you’d think inventing a perpetuum mobile would be a giveaway…) but to convey the underlying world view and philosophy as clear as day.
Further, seeing Ayn Rands upbringing in Russia – witnessing the Soviet Communist revolution and it’s impact on society, that her Magnum Opus turns out to be a dystopia in the vein of Animal Farm, contrasting the individual freedom of capitalist society with the collectivistic nightmare of Communism, should come as no surprise.
My main takeaways from the book is the idea of romantic love not as a blind irrational force but rather as an expression of the admiration in others of the virtues one values in the world, and the mindset that love is something to be earned, not something to expect for nothing.
Further, the reminder that it is scientific discovery, technological break throughs and entrepreneurial drive that has transformed the world from where we were before the Age or Reason – and there is no natural progression of history that determines that we will continue to move in that direction if we give up on those values.
I am not by principle against redistribution of wealth, and thus clearly not an Objectivist, but society needs to remember which values it is that produces wealth in order for there to be something to redistribute, and seeing how Venezuela is falling apart in our present day I’d say this reminder is as relevant as ever before.