Atlas Shrugged

So I have noticed that on the radio and on some TV that the Book Atlas Shrugged has been mentioned a lot lately. I also noticed the other night when I was watching a TV show a character referred to 9/11 and then referred to the famous scene in one of Tom Clancy’s books. It made me sit back and ponder how often does a work of fiction gain enough notice based solely on current events.

Does life reflect art? Is it really stranger than fiction? Or are we influenced by fiction and try to mold fiction to reflect fact?

The Grapes of Wrath (1939) by John Steinbeck. Although fiction, it was based on reporting from the field and most readers took it as gospel truth. Portions were read into the Congressional record as evidence of the plight of labor migrants in California. At the urging of FDR and Mrs. Roosevelt, Congress passed emergency relief bills to provide aid. In those days, fiction was making history.

Yes, The Grapes of Wrath is probably a prime example.

In the UK in the late '60s Cathy Come Home (, a TV drama about a homeless family and their struggles with the authorities, helped to shift public opinion and led to legislative changes.


Kathy come home was important for several reasons.
It brought to light private landlords practice of easy eviction.
If the evicted was a family the local council had a duty to rehouse. If however they took the children into care there was no duty to house the adults. How to screw a family.

As well as the legislative changes it was the start of the modern housing association movement which is now a multi billion pound provider of social housing on a not for profit basis.

Writers can change more than the inner world of the reader.


I’d like to see Cathy Come Home, but apparently it’s not available on DVD from my usual sources.
Will see if sells copies. Thanks for the tip; I’m a fan of British documentary and drama.

Whoa, just checked: dvd version, for 36 quid, or about 53 dollars. And it’s probably a Region 2 disc. :frowning:

The book is on Ebay at a reasonable price but I understand how you would want the 60s black and white experience.


Heyup snapper!!!
Try this:

The reason you are seeing a lot of references to Atlas Shrugged recently is because we are living it. Not the exact particulars, but living it nonetheless.

Plus any time the government makes large intrusions into the economy (after totally screwing it up first, of course) you will hear a lot of commentary from economic and business analysts since Atlas Shrugged is seen by most to be the Bible of capitalism.

That and Alan Greenspan (Ayn Rand’s long since defunct student) just got done lying through his teeth to congress that his free markets beliefs must have been wrong all this time because look at the mess he made acting on those beliefs. You don’t spend 20 years screwing with the money supply at your whim like some two-bit dictator and get away with saying you believe in free markets!

So, yeah, life imitates art, and art can imitate life (although that art is not so exciting). Let’s hope we don’t live that book to the end - it does not have a happy ending. It is only the few civilization builders that make it out, and as an extension future generations - but basically you’re f’ed!

Life imitating art, part two: Paul Volcker, commenting on Alan Greenspan’s confession that he’d been mistaken, quoted Claude Rains, the police chief in Casablanca: “I am shocked - yes, shocked - to learn that gambling has been taking place here.”

Hmmmm…vicpine…any family connection? :unamused:
The price there is 15 pounds + 1 for shipping. Much better deal.
Thanks for the tip, Vic. I owe you a wee dram or two.

Uh, no.

I’ve read a great deal about the financial crisis, and haven’t seen a single reference to Atlas Shrugged or any of Rand’s other books.

When serious economists think of the important texts of capitalism, they usually mean Adam Smith or maybe John Maynard Keynes.


Galbraith’s “The Great Crash 1929” also seems to be coming back into fashion, although perhaps more as history than economic text. … sis-128286

Ayn Rand’s view of the world and human nature is a frightening one, and I wouldn’t want anyone who subscribes to objectivism to be allowed within a three-day hike of political power. If the economic crisis begins to convince society that her philosophy is a good idea, I’m going to take a serious look at buying an isolated cottage in the middle of a very large and very remote forest.

You left off “on a different planet”.

The problem is that you will run into me there. Probably Wock too. vic-k is pretty safe under the table but he might join us if we take all the liquor with us.

Hitlers pronouncements couldnt make my blood run any colder, or fill me with such dread, as Galt`s oath does!
Take care

Yes, I too shake in utter terror from a man that wishes to be left alone and wishes me no harm. God help us. That is just as frightening as Hitler.

I don’t know if there are awards here for most ignorant comment, but yours takes the cake in any conversation I’ve ever had, and I’ve got religious nuts in my family.

I think you misunderstood the quote entirely. In terms much closer to those we simple minded fools use, Galt is saying “F. U. world! I will never give a rats backside for you so do me a favor and bugger off!”

On the surface this seems harmless. One person asking to be left alone. But re-read it slowly and you see this is not a request to be left alone, but a philosophical justification of reducing your fellow man to … ← this space left blank to show what you mean to Galt. Blank as in nothing, non-existent. This philosophy in action is was allowed Hitler to succeed. Without this level of apathy toward, nay, out right refusal to be concerned with, your fellow man most “war crimes” could never exist. Holocaust, Rwanda, Taliban, Al-Quida, Israel/Palestinian conflict (not taking a side there), the list goes on and on.

Think about it for a minute.

But then again, vic-k and I are slower and less intelligent than others. We are just ignorant, uneducated, simple-minded fools who are lucky if we manage to string a few words together into a coherent thought. We have a pretty good record of making ignorant comments.

Here’s what Ayn Rand said about the Gault quote in a Playboy interview in the 70s:

<<PLAYBOY: In Atlas Shrugged your hero, John Galt, declares, “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.” How is this related to your basic principles?

RAND: Galt’s statement is a dramatized summation of the Objectivist ethics. Any system of ethics is based on and derived, implicitly or explicitly, from a metaphysics. The ethic derived from the metaphysical base of Objectivism holds that, since reason is man’s basic tool of survival, rationality is his highest virtue. To use his mind, to perceive reality and to act accordingly, is man’s moral imperative. The standard of value of the Objectivist ethics is: man’s life – man’s survival qua man – or that which the nature of a rational being requires for his proper survival. The Objectivist ethics, in essence, hold that man exists for his own sake, that the pursuit of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose, that he must not sacrifice himself to others, nor sacrifice others to himself. It is this last that Galt’s statement summarizes.>>

and, about Hitler:

<<PLAYBOY: In Atlas Shrugged, one of your leading characters is asked, “What’s the most depraved type of human being?” His reply is surprising: He doesn’t say a sadist or a murderer or a sex maniac or a dictator; he says, “The man without a purpose.” Yet most people seem to go through their lives without a clearly defined purpose. Do you regard them as depraved?
RAND: Yes, to a certain extent.
RAND: Because that aspect of their character lies at the root of and causes all the evils which you mentioned in your question. Sadism, dictatorship, any form of evil, is the consequence of a man’s evasion of reality. A consequence of his failure to think. The man without a purpose is a man who drifts at the mercy of random feelings or unidentified urges and is capable of any evil, because he is totally out of control of his own life. In order to be in control of your life, you have to have a purpose – a productive purpose.
PLAYBOY: Weren’t Hitler and Stalin, to name two tyrants, in control of their own lives, and didn’t they have a clear purpose?
RAND: Certainly not. Observe that both of them ended as literal psychotics. They were men who lacked self-esteem and, therefore, hated all of existence. Their psychology, in effect, is summarized in Atlas Shrugged by the character of James Taggart. The man who has no purpose, but has to act, acts to destroy others. That is not the same thing as a productive or creative purpose.>>