The Housing Chronicles Blog: Is life imitating art in "Atlas Shrugged?"

Monday, March 2, 2009

Is life imitating art in "Atlas Shrugged?"

It seems that the economic malaise has helped boost sales of Ayn Rand's 1957 flagship book about capitalism under fire called "Atlas Shrugged." I became a fan of Ayn -- pronounced like "mine" and not "Anne" -- in high school, reading both this book and her book about a idealistic an architect named Howard Roark in "The Fountainhead" (which I actually liked better since it was a quicker read).

Still, both she and her more avowed disciples of objectivism can, in my humble opinion, seem a bit nutty, as if the unfettered free marketplace, dependent as it is upon the actions and behaviors of human beings capable of great greed and self-interest, is the answer to everything. From a story in The Economist:

Reviled in some circles and mocked in others, Rand’s 1957 novel of embattled capitalism is a favourite of libertarians and college students. Lately, though, its appeal has been growing...

Whenever governments intervene in the market, in short, readers rush to buy Rand’s book. Why? The reason is explained by the name of a recently formed group on Facebook, the world’s biggest social-networking site: “Read the news today? It’s like ‘Atlas Shrugged’ is happening in real life”. The group, and an expanding chorus of fretful bloggers, reckon that life is imitating art...

And with pirates hijacking cargo ships, politicians castigating corporate chieftains, riots in Europe and slowing international trade—all of which are depicted in the book—this melancholy meme has plenty of fodder.

Even if Washington does not keep the book’s sales booming, Hollywood might. A film version is rumoured to be in the works for release in 2011. But by then, a film may feel superfluous to Rand’s most loyal fans; events unfolding around them will have been dramatisation enough.

"The Fountainhead" was already made into a film version based on her 1943 book -- way back in 1949 and starring Gary Cooper.

Want to know more about Ayn and her philosophies? Check out the Ayn Rand Institute.


Michael Clendenin Miller said...

... as if the unfettered free marketplace, dependent as it is upon the actions and behaviors of human beings capable of great greed and self-interest, is the answer to everything.

These are the words from one with a shallow grasp of Objectivism. The radical laissez-faire capitalism we advocate would seek to regulate all human interactions, mandating that they occur without the use of physical force i.e., that all exchanges of values, tangible or intangible, must be voluntary.

No other philosophy or politics in human history has imposed such a fetter.

If I choose to voluntarily do business with a person or company known to be greedy or unsavory, or immoral, or ... by what standard do you or does anyone else claim a right to interfere. That is a right you have not earned. And the very definition of greed is a quest for the unearned.

Patrick Duffy said...

Oh, I'm still a fan of the the book. I'm just not sure what's happened lately on Wall Street -- which was the very definition of greed as you define it -- makes a very good defense. I love the concept of objectivism -- I just doubt that our species is ready to take on its responsibilities as well as its rewards.

Anonymous said...

Greenspan was interviewed for the recent doumentary -House Of Cards- on CNBC. About the housing mess.

At the end he is asked if this will happen again and if we need to make radical changes.

He replied and I paraphrase,"I suspect we will be having this conversation again some time in the distant future...would I change much? No this system has created the most evolutionary progress in the worlds history".
To imply the ups and downs as a natural part of the system. Similar to what Harry Dent has said about the dip. He has predicted this for years, irregardless of the CDO's and housing. The politicos are just trying to perhaps look busy and maybe put off the inevitable?