Apparently 50 years ago this month, Ayn Rand penned her most famous book Atlas Shrugged, in which she wrapped up all of her philosophical ideals (objectivism) into one “steamy soap opera fused into a page-turning political thriller”. At around 1200 pages – it IS quite a large book.
At my previous job (travel insurance), I met quite an interesting character. To quickly get to the point, his ideals (both work and life) were wrapped up in this book. I strongly anticipate that he felt a purpose in spreading the [eye-opening] knowledge and towards that, h gave me a soft-back copy. It really took awhile to read it, but sometime around January I finished it. I had been wanting to post something about it but just didn’t get around to it… until I read this article from Christian Science Monitor.
I’m not sure where I specifically stand in response to the book… I do believe that the ideals proposed in Atlas Shrugged are worth some consideration for anyone, especially for ones that may be considered “looters”. I do believe that those considered in the wrong in the book are just that, but what is quite scary is the association of those that are religious with those that appear to me to be on the wrong side… especially in viewing the concept that helping the poor is looked so down upon.
There are several concepts I didn’t like:
The root of all evil… the book proposes that society claims money is the root of all evil. I am still not 100% sure what Francisco claimed the root of all evil is (possibly the opposite of money? the “looters”?), but I believe the root of evil is sin. What is sin? Anything against God. I don’t immediately believe money is necessarily against God, but the almightly dollar certainly can be treated like it is a god (i.e. an idol) – and THAT is a sin. I agree that money is simply a tool of exchange and made possible by our work. Work is not evil either – not working can bring about evil, but settling down and getting to work, earning your own living usually keeps us out of other people’s business.
Simplification of people into moochers/looters/etc.
Are there not people that provide a great service, but which does not “produce” something that can be exchanged per-se like raising children?
Man’s mind is the root of all the goods produced…
Out gifts and abilities that are our mind allow for such to be possible. But who provided man with our mind? I believe in a God – and that He provided it. But if you don’t believe, then it’s a different matter I assume… As I see that God provided me with my abilities, I am best served in using them like He intended. But also giving part of what I make to Him – which can be in various ways, like the less fortunate/poor/homeless/my church/etc…
Those without means to work – what are they?
What about people that don’t have the means to produce anything like the crippled/diseased? Those that do serve and work, but have an accident occur while working? They will no longer be able to work, and will require assistance. Is sharing the outcome of our gifts and abilities the evil? It appears so, but maybe I got it wrong.
Randian Motto and Altruism
“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man nor ask another man to live for mine.” For Ayn Rand, the highest form of happiness is fulfilling one’s own dreams, not someone else’s – or the public’s. But what is our purpose beyond our dreams? And what does it truly fulfill in us? I just don’t get this concept at all as a parent. Where will my children be if I am not willing to sacrifice part of me for them? If their parents are not willing to give their time for their sake alone, who will?
Well, I really enjoy using my gifts and abilities to make software to help others. I value efficiency and making things more efficient. I like making things better. Part of me liked what this book was proposing, but a large part of me didn’t like the rest that came with it. I didn’t see morality clearly shown – more of a gray fuzzy area that I think became a slippery slope that went down.
In getting back to the Christian Science Monitor article, I completely agree with page 3’s sentiment of another choice: “If society is to survive and prosper, citizens must find a balance between the two extremes of self-interest and public interest.” I just might have to look into this Adam Smith fellow, and his “The Theory of Moral Sentiments.”
“Interesting” other links:
- Imitatio Christi
- Objectivism Forum about “Should Atlas Shrugged Have Had a Religious Figure”
- Yahoo! article
- “Francisco’s Money Speech” (Capitalism Magazine)