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Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged is more popular than ever among economic conservatives, precisely because it offers a full-blown defense of rapacious, predatory capitalism in a time of vast inequality.
 
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This is Francisco D’Anconia’s Money Speech from the novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. An article on the Alternet site, ’10 Things I Learned About the World from Ayn Rand’s Insane “Atlas Shrugged”‘ reminded me of the book that I first read almost forty years ago. Atlas Shrugged is a fantasy about intense inventive individualistic industrialists who Rand presents as the ‘Atlases’ that sustain the world. Rand appeals to the individualist in all of us and we can empathise with the dedication and determination of her heroes. I’ve not re-read Shrugged in thirty years or so but I remember it fondly, as a fantasy, as I also remember ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Dune’, ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ and ‘The Dispossessed’ all of which I read in the 1960’s and 70’s. I took ideas from these novels and they have all influenced my imagination and the way that I see the world. It’s quite likely that Rand’s book (which is really quite vicious in a heroic Wagnerian) warped my perception for a while but I’m a fundamentally decent chap and it didn’t corrupt me too much or too long. Unfortunately Rand does seem to have corrupted and warped the perception of generations of Americans with her presentation of capitalism as a corollary of freedom and competence. Those who have read ‘Shrugged’ can hear its baleful echoes in a lot of the discourse of US politicians and media pundits, many of whom openly treat Rand’s text as sacred script as is revealed in this article.

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