“Atlas Shrugged” Really Isn’t All That Great
By - u-Wot-Brother
I don’t disagree, but in r/books this is the equivalent of saying “murder is kinda bad, guys.”
I disagree: murder is *awesome*. But *Atlas Shrugged* sucks.
There are many TV shows about murder, and exactly zero about how oppressed billionaires are being oppressed by the oppression of the oppressive workers
Atlas Shrugged is dollar store trash with an undergrad thesis crammed into it.
Kinda insulting to undergrads, many of whom put much more thought into their work.
Someone hasn’t graded enough undergrad theses. Generally these are on par with Stephanie Meyer and EL James.
At least Stephanie Meyer is confident in her market and her skills. She doesn't pretend to be some kind of genius novelist. EL James on the other hand.........
She also did like some research, El James didn't even look up the definition of consent.
Nothing ever boosted my ego more than when I started grading papers as a grad student. I thought I was average until I saw what average looks like from behind the podium.
I'm a prof and whenever we hire a new person I tell them 'remember, you were one of the smart kids, most of these people are by definition, average. That said, some of them are smarter than you, they just don't know as much as you do yet'.
And mass published by Billionaires who want the rabble to internalize the book as the propaganda it is.
The beauty of it is that it's internalized propaganda itself.
[Kill everyone now! Condone first degree murder! Advocate cannibalism! Eat shit! Filth are my politics, filth is my life!](https://youtu.be/wTOWIMJkKpc)
Ayn Rand murders subtlety, which is *not* awesome to read. Her writing is the literary equivalent of being forced to watch 1,000 baby seals being clubbed.
Wait, you mean the auther who is literally the poster child for author monologue trope lacks subtlety?
Hey now, a thousand seals would feed a lot of poverty-stricken Inuit. Don't raise Rand's drivel to seal clubbing's level.
Oh really? I’m so sorry. I really should’ve read this subreddit more thoroughly but I was so friggin annoyed by this book that I just went to this subreddit and ranted for a bit.
The biggest thing you learn from that book is insight into those who recommend it.
I've yet to meet any self proclaimed Objectivist who wasn't a total dickhead.
I remember an essay (can't remember by whom) which pointed out that Conservatives tend to go "Well, where's the Liberal Ayn Rand!? Where's your iconic author!?", to which the author of the essay responded, "How do you pick JUST ONE!?" - between Twain, Dickens, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Wells, Orwell... there are too many masters all proclaiming the same philosophy to choose any one over the others!
I disagree with this comment but only because it doesn't list Ursula LeGuin.
Or Margret Atwood.
Octavia E. Butler, even!
Or Herman Hesse
This forum lacks the space for a truly exhausitve list.
Ayn Rand has a very distinct 'philosophy' which really isn't worthy of being called philosophy. It's more some egotistical stance in life which is horrid and uncalled for.
The fact that 'Fuck you, Jack, I've got mine' has been legitimised under the sort-of-intellectual-if-you-squint-a-bit banner of 'Objectivism' is proof that you can, in fact, polish a turd.
Or you can pay someone else a starvation wage to polish it for you.
That’s an “artisanal” turd to you, sir.
And this is justified, as they are less human due to not already having money and privilege. I am the winner for inventing this idea from scratch.
She died collecting social security and welfare. Thank goodness for the system she hated.
Her followers keep exercising the same hypocrisy everywhere to this day. They've learned well.
Paul Ryan, Rand Paul etc
With the similarity in name here and with ayn rand... are we completely sure they arent all part of the same entity? Like the giga-objectivist hivemind or something?
Ayn Rand, Rand Paul, and Paul Ryan walk into a bar... They all die from tainted drinks due to lack of government regulation and no accessible health care, but fortunately the free market hurt the bar's profits until everyone forgot about it a week later.
It's careless cruelty and short sighted self interest wrapped in a costume of pragmatism.
It's narcissism as a political philosophy.
it's really more of a thought experiment - and it's really solid if you consider the world to be puppet show theatre rather than the complex web it is. it really reeks of "if everyone loved jesus and acted like him, everything would be much better. we'd have a utopia!"
she doesn't understand the necessity of conflicting philosophies - even within oneself. it isn't a one time battle that you must win to come out ahead. life is a series of cycles and we are doomed to repeat them.
I always like to say that if your plan involves the phrase "if everybody just" it's going to fail. Everyone will never just do anything.
Well if everybody just knew this...
this Covid Mask movement is the perfect example. it's been 8 months and this whole thing would've been over by now... but you're absolutely right, "Everyone will never just do anything."
You can't really not notice the difference in intellectual capacity between Ayn Rand and the authors you mentioned.
I believe the industry would call it "target demographic"?
Isn't that the point of Objectivism?
yeah the core tenet is basically "selfishness is fine"
Selfishness is not just "fine", but an ethical imperative, the only moral way to behave. Objectivism believes that altruism of any kind is inherently evil. In the words of the author avatar,
> There is one word that is forbidden in this valley: the word 'give.'
As is a libertarian right of passage.
I still cringe when I think back on the time I read The Foundtainhead on the subway and a strange man got all excited and asked me if I was also an objectivist. I hadn't gotten far enough into the book to be able to confidently say no and it haunts me to this day.
I love that the villain of the move [Dirty Dancing](http://dirty-dancing-analysis.blogspot.com/2008/12/medical-students-philosophy.html) carries a well worn dog-eared copy of The Foundtainhead, apparently at all times.
I was gifted Atlas Shrugged by a friend in early high school and fell down the ideology hole for a year or two. As an adult, I asked her if she'd really thought so little of me (not that she was wrong). She admitted she had also fallen down the same hole and we had a brief, but wonderful moment of understanding that can be shared only by people who went insane together for a bit.
Ayn Rand books tend to speak to teenagers who hate rules and authority, and don't have as much perspective of the world as they think they do. I never read Rand, but I also flirted with Libertarianism in high school, and I know more than a few others that did.
This is just it. I think Anthem was perhaps her most tolerable work (which isn't saying much, just that it didn't subject you to more than maybe a couple hours of her stilted prose)... But I also took it to mean entirely something other than individual over the state. I took it as "don't follow the herd".
I was fifteen. Then, when I went to a single Objectivist meeting just out of curiosity, I found myself in a room of essentially Young Republicans who didn't want to be labeled as such, and that was enough for me. I never returned to that subject or her books.
In other words, like Krugman suggests, most people read Ayn Rand, but then they grow up.
At my sister's wedding I was sent to pick up one of her cute friends from the airport. It was a long drive, but somehow we got to talking about books and things were going good. Then we got to the subject of favorite authors, and she got on a rant about how much she loved Ayn Rand books. The rest of the drive was silent, I just didn't know what to say.
"So... What movies do you like?"
She's a cute out of towner at a wedding. If going deep leads to a dark alley, go shallow.
Unless she answers, "My favorite movie is Atlas Shrugged." Then just jump out of the moving car.
"Birth of a nation"
Or "The Emoji Movie."
"Triumph of the Wills. It's a shame that whole World War 2 got in the way of the Hollywood remake."
I haven’t read any of Atlas Shrugged but I’m most of the way through The Fountainhead and I feel the same. Actually I can’t tell if it’s because I’m of a different generation or not but my takeaway from the book seems to be the opposite of whatever authorial intent there might be because I felt that the so called “socialists” were more well-adjusted, kinder, communally caring ethical people. This goes double if you read the intimacy scene as rape.
Edit: oh but I very much did appreciate the art criticism of gaudy, non sensical architecture that Roark hates. Those parts of the book actually made me much more critical of non-load bearing columns and grotesque façades on bad hodgepodge buildings. But I will maintain my position that I don’t put any stock in the sort of 1:1 relation Rand ties between circlejerking (socialist?) artists and art; I think those are largely separate problems.
Ursula K LeGuin's "The Dispossessed" is far better than the Fountainhead
The list of books The Dispossessed is far better than is a really, really long list. It’s a much better use of anyone’s time than anything Ayn Rand ever puked up.
Well, the architect behind the removal of ornamental architectural art was obsessed with the idea that if the poor and morally bereft had access to sculpture in architecture it would further degrade their souls, a rebuttal of the work of the city beautiful movement and beaux arts. Also when criticism is laid against non load bearing columns I’d submit for consideration, The Laurentian Library.
Welp, as someone else who doesn't spend hours on reddit, I'm with you. Rant accepted! I got 2/3 through the book and gave up. Just didn't care anymore. Don't force yourself to finish it if you hate it. It won't pay off.
You didn't get to enjoy John Galt's 50 page speech he made on the radio? You really missed out. /s
The problem with the book isn't the Objectivist philosophy (although Objectivism is really just the result of misunderstanding most of Aristotle) it's that the characters are two-dimensional cartoon cutouts.
> it's that the characters are two-dimensional cartoon cutouts.
Even worse, they are like two-dimensional cartoon cutouts that are also caricatures of themselves and each other!
The character construction in that book is laughably bad and I am 100% certain it would not get picked up by a serious publisher today.
I was super disappointed when Goodkind did roughly the same thing in one of the later Sword of Truth books.
From pretty neat generic-ish fantasy to sudden full on Objectivism rant.
Well it was pretty neat generic fantasy with a view on women and relationships that even 18 year old me who was still jerking off to Lady Death in the 90s thought was kinda weird .
God, that's almost all I even remember whenever I think about or hear about that series. I should have just put it down when I read that. I liked the first book, but it was just down hill after that. And the ending was garbage... Ugh I'm still irritated about it 10 years later
Oh man, you missed the best part. Did you get to where she flies off, at the end of part 2?
Cause part 3 is a hilarious shitshow, so much so that if she want Ayn Rand, I would be convinced the author was trying to make fun of the audience that bought into the ideology.
Titillating for a conservative-leaning teenager, mind numbing for anyone else. No reason to push through...
"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
Great quote! Who quoth it?
It seems to be most often attributed to John Rogers.
Have you finished it?
I’m fond of saying that Atlas Shrugged is the best 2/3rds of a book I’ve ever read.
Taking the ideology quite broadly and just talking about story, writing ability, I enjoyed it!...
...until she goes absolutely banana pancakes insane in the last third.
Dagny literally flies off into a magical land in the clouds where everyone gets along because of capitalism and nobility and she just leaves everyone behind who by all rights should be there with her. Her assistant. All those people who volunteered to drive the train.
Those competent people can get fucked. Only the MOST competent people are allowed to go to metaphorical heaven.
The problem with her ideology, which she also doesn’t seem to understand, is that everyone thinks they are Dagny, or Reardon.
They aren’t. They are her idiot brother who ran their lives into the ground.
God it’s like Nixon in China all over again...
In the last third there is a scene where one of the characters gives a friend a lift in his car for a couple of miles and expects to be paid for it. Never mind if I agree in theory to the ideology (I don't) but I found the practical consequences so ridiculous. What a waste of time to do this every single time you deal with your friends. "Hey want to play Mario Party? We can do it at my place. Just give me a nickle for every 5 minutes we play. Want a beer? Sure! That's 70 cents. How much blue cheese dressing did you eat with your chicken wing?" Fuck off, I don't want to live like that.
I was shooting heroin and reading “The Fountainhead” in the front seat of my privately owned police cruiser when a call came in. I put a quarter in the radio to activate it. It was the chief.
“Bad news, detective. We got a situation.”
“What? Is the mayor trying to ban trans fats again?”
“Worse. Somebody just stole four hundred and forty-seven million dollars’ worth of bitcoins.”
The heroin needle practically fell out of my arm. “What kind of monster would do something like that? Bitcoins are the ultimate currency: virtual, anonymous, stateless. They represent true economic freedom, not subject to arbitrary manipulation by any government. Do we have any leads?”
“Not yet. But mark my words: we’re going to figure out who did this and we’re going to take them down … provided someone pays us a fair market rate to do so.”
“Easy, chief,” I said. “Any rate the market offers is, by definition, fair.”
He laughed. “That’s why you’re the best I got, Lisowski. Now you get out there and find those bitcoins.”
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m on it.”
I put a quarter in the siren. Ten minutes later, I was on the scene. It was a normal office building, strangled on all sides by public sidewalks. I hopped over them and went inside.
“Home Depot™ Presents the Police!®” I said, flashing my badge and my gun and a small picture of Ron Paul. “Nobody move unless you want to!” They didn’t.
“Now, which one of you punks is going to pay me to investigate this crime?” No one spoke up.
“Come on,” I said. “Don’t you all understand that the protection of private property is the foundation of all personal liberty?”
It didn’t seem like they did.
“Seriously, guys. Without a strong economic motivator, I’m just going to stand here and not solve this case. Cash is fine, but I prefer being paid in gold bullion or autographed Penn Jillette posters.”
Nothing. These people were stonewalling me. It almost seemed like they didn’t care that a fortune in computer money invented to buy drugs was missing.
I figured I could wait them out. I lit several cigarettes indoors. A pregnant lady coughed, and I told her that secondhand smoke is a myth. Just then, a man in glasses made a break for it.
“Subway™ Eat Fresh and Freeze, Scumbag!®” I yelled.
Too late. He was already out the front door. I went after him.
“Stop right there!” I yelled as I ran. He was faster than me because I always try to avoid stepping on public sidewalks. Our country needs a private-sidewalk voucher system, but, thanks to the incestuous interplay between our corrupt federal government and the public-sidewalk lobby, it will never happen.
I was losing him. “Listen, I’ll pay you to stop!” I yelled. “What would you consider an appropriate price point for stopping? I’ll offer you a thirteenth of an ounce of gold and a gently worn ‘Bob Barr ‘08’ extra-large long-sleeved men’s T-shirt!”
He turned. In his hand was a revolver that the Constitution said he had every right to own. He fired at me and missed. I pulled my own gun, put a quarter in it, and fired back. The bullet lodged in a U.S.P.S. mailbox less than a foot from his head. I shot the mailbox again, on purpose.
“All right, all right!” the man yelled, throwing down his weapon. “I give up, cop! I confess: I took the bitcoins.”
“Why’d you do it?” I asked, as I slapped a pair of Oikos™ Greek Yogurt Presents Handcuffs® on the guy.
“Because I was afraid.”
“Afraid of an economic future free from the pernicious meddling of central bankers,” he said. “I’m a central banker.”
I wanted to coldcock the guy. Years ago, a central banker killed my partner. Instead, I shook my head.
“Let this be a message to all your central-banker friends out on the street,” I said. “No matter how many bitcoins you steal, you’ll never take away the dream of an open society based on the principles of personal and economic freedom.”
He nodded, because he knew I was right. Then he swiped his credit card to pay me for arresting him.
“Strangled on all sides by public sidewalks” and shooting the mailbox a second time on purpose is genius.
For the record if you write a book like this I'll buy it. I'll even read 15 or so pages before I get tired of the schtick and move on.
How I wish I had wrote this, but it's a copypasta. I'd buy the book too haha
Worst part is, in her own made up fantasy world, Rand isn't even consistent in this thought process. If you remember at the end, the main character invites over their friends to dinner, completely free of charge, which is the exact opposite of how that scene should play out. It's hilarious that even in her make believe utopia, she can't actually accept the consequences of her own philosophy because they'd be too ridiculous, namely that every social interaction in society would involve money exchanging hands.
Everybody thinks they're going to be titans of industry. They always forget someone has to clean the toilets.
What's that expression again, about capitalism managing to convince working class Americans that they are just temporarily embarrassed millionaires?
>Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.
My absolutely favorite take on this is Douglas Adams Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy when a civilization figured they could fix overpopulation by getting rid of a bunch of lower class people by sending them to nowhere and telling them they were chosen to be colonists for a new world.
The original civilization dies from a plague that happened when all the cleaners left.
It wasn't lower class people though, it was bullshit job people, like marketing execs. Had all classes, and a \*lot\* of middle management. And Douglas Adams was absolutely savage in portraying these people negatively. They burnt down forests after they declared leaves currency as a fiscal management scheme
I honestly interpreted the original civilisation dying of a dirty telephone because they didn't have "telephone sanitisers" as just an amusing quip to end it all (and possibly a reminder that it's hard to tell which bullshit jobs we actually need). That bit is also preceded by them living long and happy lives.
That's not quite right.
The civilisation divided the population into thirds: the lower class people (the 'doers'), the people at the top (the 'thinkers'), and the middlemen, who mostly had worthless bureaucratic office jobs. The `middle section' of worthless job people were sent to a new planet, leaving just the thinkers and doers behind.
One of the bullshit jobs was 'telephone sanitiser', and years later everyone was killed by a plague that started from a dirty telephone.
> years later everyone was killed by a plague that started from a dirty telephone.
Old Doug was pretty damned prescient sometimes...
Lets not forget that the middle civs that were launched were told that the planet was going to be destroyed and the other 2 groups were coming too. Building their new civilization they were always waiting for those other 2 ships. The burning trees to help the economy thing is some of the most on the nose social commentary ever.
You know it's so crazy to me so many people love the last third of the book and I totally agree with you that it just flies right off the rails.
I was annoyed someone would make a whole post about such a casually obvious opinion, but if you're in a world where everyone around you thinks Atlas Shrugged is great I have to forgive you.
I'm just imagining that OP is an heir to some empire worth billions and they came here with no understanding of what regular people would think of that bullshit book lol.
"It's a banana Michael, how much could it cost? $10?"
I guess to push your criticism a bit further, I would argue that in fact it should be unsurprising that Atlas Shrugged is garbage literature given that Rand's philosophy itself fails to grapple with any kind of complexity. It's is both metaphorically and in its actual origin a coked-out fever dream.
Shrugged is decidedly unlike reading, say, Marx for the first time, where you realize that what he's actually arguing is far more nuanced than the caricature of communism held up as a strawman. Rand's views are in fact a caricature of libertarian strains of thought.
She's a hack. But I mean Trump and Hitler gained followers, so there you go.
I don’t blame you tbh. People don’t usually read it with good expectations, I’m sure your disappointment was considerable.
Books hates Rand almost as much as fantasy hates her fanboy, Goodkind!
Not even on reddit. I think nowadays most people who have read Atlas Shrugged don't think it's all that lmao. At least that's what I've noticed when talking to other about it, it's kind if a joke now
Haha, my immediate though was
"... hot take -__- "
I remember reading it at 15 after playing bioshock and hearing it was related to it. It was pretty dry, like it was about trains and steel production. At the time I just breezed past all the talk about being selfish, since it was pretty repetitive. I remember getting pretty hype for John Galt, he was built to be like this super interesting character. I was pretty disappointed when he finally showed up and just lectured for pages.
I was actually mad he was real and thought she should have used him as a clever metaphor
His whole character was just dumb and unbelievable
Also the 50 page rant near the end where he becomes Ayn Rand was literally torture
Come on now, it wasn't 50 pages!
(it was 60)
>dumb and unbelievable
You're describing every character in the book.
I guess you didn’t hear that Bioshock is a pretty vicious takedown of Atlas Shrugged.
Would you kindly explain?
I think a pretty basic breakdown is that on atlas shrugged, unfettered capitalism is what is needed to save the day. Throughout the book, socialism and helping others via the government is bad. Only those who are titans of industry can save the world, and they're disappearing.
In bioshock, we see an alternate version of where they're disappearing to, and it's slowly torn itself apart. We learn this has happen due to their selfish drives to do more and more. They've slowly ripped everything apart in their pursuits.
In the end atlas shrugged showed this selfish pursuit to be the key to utopia, bioshock said that with no limits, that same pursuit would be their very destruction.
Edit: ha, and I just now noticed the would you kindly. I guess a slave obeys.
Basically Ayn(drew) Ryand goes to build an Ojectivist Utopia. A decade and a half later (when the game takes place) the entire place has torn its self apart and everyone left is insane, a genetically engineered monster or both.
[which is basically what happens in real life too lol](https://magazine.atavist.com/barbearians-at-the-gate-new-hampshire-libertarians-fake-news)
[It's apparently literally an unavoidable consequence of that type of society](https://www.vice.com/en/article/bn53b3/atlas-mugged-922-v21n10)
somebody post this on all the ancap subreddits, im too sleepy
I’ve always seen Bioshock (because when is it not on sale on Steam ever) and thought it looked interesting, but I’ve never played it. Now I want to.
Do it! Highly recommend, I slept on it for a long time too because I don’t particularly love grim settings but when infinite came out I went back and played the earlier games and they’re just so excellent. Check isthereanydeal and I bet you can get it even cheaper than the steam sale prices from time to time.
Easy straightforward shooter - but great atmosphere/story/philosophic intrigue. A must play from that gen of games IMO.
Nice try Frank Fontaine.
But if anyone is actually interested basically Rapture was supposed to be Ayn Rand's Wet Dream taken to its logical conclusion, as in completely full of hypocrisy which lead to its inevitably downfall at the hands of rampant libertarianism.
Also, in a world without regulation, the most successfull buissness are indistinguishable from a mafia.
That's why Ryan hated fontain so much, not just because he was his biggest competitor, but because fontaine was basically a mafioso that rose to the top of his little utopia. Not a captain of industry, not some kind of inventor that revolutionised the world, just a mafioso. Fontaine's rise to the top showed Ryan that his ideology was flawed, and that his objectivist and libertarian utopia just lead to "parasites" (in his mind, as in, not a "proper" buissnessman) taking advantage of the lack of laws. And Ryan responded by (trying to) execute said parasite, and by doing that fundamentaly betrayed the very principle on which he built the city, which lead to discontent, which lead to fontaine ressurfacing under the alias of "atlas" and using said discontent as a weapon agaisnt ryan, detroying the city in the process.
In the end, Rapture as a libertarian utopia was to end up being run by a mafia like organisation, because mafia and criminal organisation are basically what a corporation that don't have to follow any law look like. The complete breackdown of the city didnt' happened strictly because of libertarianism, but because Ryan saw where "his" city was headed, and it was completely at odds with what he imagined (enlighten captain of industry leading the city, basically free of any injustice becasue everybody would be absolutely free) and then tried to "correct" the situation by killing the problem, and such a city build upon a single idea can't survived when said idea is betrayed.
Basically, had ryan decided to follow his idea 'till the very end without ever acting in an authoritarian fashion, the city *probably* wouldn't have fell into such a state of decay... But fontaine would have probably seized the reign and then become an authoritarian dictator himself. Truly, the city was doomed to fail in it's very conception.
It's also a pretty good study on how libertarian leaders with power will always resist giving up complete control. Rapture was a one way ticket. Not very libertarian to close your borders, trap your citizens, and make outside trade impossible. Andrew Ryan betrayed his own ideals.
Ha, that's also why I picked up the book when I was 17. I certainly did not expect plasmids and splicers, and the first half was interesting enough, but I was waiting for it to work towards some nuanced conclusion, which, well...
I recently replayed Bioshock, some of the audiologs of Andrew Ryan now do have a bit more context.
Only now do I see it after all these years:
Andrew Ryan = Ayn Rand
Bioshock is a better story than anything Rand ever wrote. Love that game!
Also bioshock has a far more interesting take on it's society and the ideological concepts it critiques.
That's probably because it's not a completely literal take on the ideas of the author. The person who wrote Bioshock understood juxtaposition, and even satire, are important when getting a point across in literature
Well that, and bioshock has more believable characters and storylines.
Bioshock was a critique on the book. One of the things i recall was who builds the utopia and keeps it clean? It certainly is not the elites the book touts about.
>I remember getting pretty hype for John Galt, he was built to be like this super interesting character. I was pretty disappointed when he finally showed up and just lectured for pages.
Sums up my experience as well.
Not bad if you just read it as a sci fi novel and skip past the lectures
Honestly the only reason I read it. I was promised an awesome "Men choose, slaves obey." Story. But all I got was disappointment.
I made the same mistake though I stopped reading a quarter through because I couldn't give less shits about what happened in the book. Maybe now, years later, I will try again. I later learned however that Bioshock is meant more as a satire of the book which makes sense considering the objectivist's utopia that is Rapture goes to shit before you even enter the city.
“There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: [The Lord of the Rings](https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10254806.The_Lord_of_the_Rings) and [Atlas Shrugged](https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9365.Atlas_Shrugged). One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."
The other good comparison is with Heinlein. If you like libertarianism and kinky sex you’re better off reading Heinlein, you’ll have fun, at the end you’ll wish the book had been longer, and you’ll probably have learned something.
I read Starship Troopers for the first time a couple of years ago and it's such a strange experience. Brief forays into elite mech suited soldiers battling monster bugs on faraway planets, and then endless pages setting out his ideal political and social structures. Which mostly involve combat veterans apparently being the pinnacle of human society.
*edit as a lot of people have been mentioning it - I haven’t read any other Heinlein stuff and didn’t know he tends to try out different socio-political ideas in different books.
Still even if the military fascist state isn’t HIS ideal, it was the structure that made it so weird to read.
It’s kinda like he wrote a political theory out and then just added a bunch of sci-fi scenes he happened to have on his desk.
But then you read *Stranger in a Strange Land* and it's anti-authorianism, human connection, spirituality and group sex.
Heinlein was all over the place.
Anti-authoritarian group sex all the over the place? You son of a bitch, i’m in.
*The Moon is a Harsh Mistress* also by Heinlein, is also up there, for anti-authoritarianism, but more of a Libertarian streak, and exotic relationship structures, forced by Moon settlers being like 90% male in the first generation. And AI. Not bad, for a book written before the first Moon landing.
I loved that book. Just a lot of fun.
Fucking Mike, man. One of the best artificial intelligence characters of all time.
The part where he explains that going down stairs in 1/6th gravity is an art form, and that unless you've been born and raised on the moon you'll either eat shit or be really slow on the stairs, and then there's a firefight in a stairway and the Moon people get the upper hand because they can navigate the stairs and the Earth people can't is my favorite.
Also I read a French translation of the book (I was like twelve give me a break), so it took me litteral years to understand why answering "Pourquoi pas?" to someone who's name is Wyoming Knott was funny.
> The part where he explains that going down stairs in 1/6th gravity is an art form, and that unless you've been born and raised on the moon you'll either eat shit or be really slow on the stairs, and then there's a firefight in a stairway and the Moon people get the upper hand because they can navigate the stairs and the Earth people can't is my favorite.
What's really great about that is that it was written three years before any human being had experienced walking in reduced gravity.
Heinlein seemed genuinely interested in exploring views he also disagreed with. To me that’s the sign of a smart person.
I guess I feel stupid cause I always thought *Starship Troopers* was a sort of dark satire, which why I didn't bat an eye at the stark differences between it and *Stranger in a Strange Land*. Like the ending where his dad is now a soldier who reports to the main character (I can't remember his name) felt just so dystopian and depressing to me. Especially in context of modern American politics where a generation of soldiers are starting to take over for their parents in Afghanistan.
Starship Troopers gets that confusing point where everyone confuses the book, which is pretty unironic military wanking, with the movie, which basically mocked the book and was more a satire than a faithful adaption.
I find the relationship between the book and movie so fascinating because both are, in their own way, very good at what they set out to do.
And then you read Time Enough for Love and seeing the immortal main character do the math to >!comfortably and enjoyably fuck his own mom in the past!<
I quite like the idea that perhaps if the Earth was threatened by an alien race of super-bugs the best way to deal with it might be [essentially] fascism. Like, if the survival of the entire species depended on our ability to fight creatures in a war, then we'd probably be wise to create a military-foxused society.
That was my take from it, anyway.
Edit: when I say 'I quite like the idea', I mean as a premise, not that I want a fascist government in a constant state of war.
And incest! *Lots* of incest.
Ho yes. Nice!
I've never seen this before. Thank you stranger, this made me very happy.
I absolutely agree and realistically the book is just a vessel to flesh out her philosophy. Unfortunately, I also found that the characters were very one dimensional and lacked any real unique depth. To me, the book also felt unecessarily long with the main themes recycled over and over with very little development.
I was reading it on public transit and people would come up to me and comment how it was such a fantastic book. I politely acknowledged them but felt like they must have read a different book.
This is why when an author fleshes out an implicit philosophy through imagination that crafts a unique and internally consistent world and characters, you actually feel like it's compelling. That kind of writing can't help but somehow be "true", even if it's fiction. Oftentimes the author writes himself somewhere he/she never expected to end up, but it's the right place nonetheless. Creativity is really weird like that if you pay close attention to it.
Writing that's top-down, like Ayn Rand's, just reads like lazy propaganda.
> Writing that's top-down, like Ayn Rand's
Top-down writing? Sounds like Rand is a statist!
Look at her personal life. She was.
Disagree with her and you're out of the club.
It's probably really good if you already agree with the premise and just want someone to tell you you're right in any fashion.
Its a book that tells self-centered people its not only *okay* to be self-centered but actually the *best* thing. I can see how that would appeal to a certain type of person, but I would also run a mile from anyone who included it in their top 10.
Her term is "rational self interest". I guess its different than regular self interest?
You have successfully summarized the popularity of this book.
Funny. I find her philosophy one dimensional and lacking depth, too.
I liked Anthem when I read it in middle school, Brave New World would remind me of it later on. I don't think I'd have the same impression of Anthem now, but it's very young adulty. Which, I guess, a lot of YA is focused on individualism so that tracks.
Reading a plot summary on Wikipedia now...yeah it's very on the nose.
If you can call it a philosophy; it's barely that, and what is there is clearly cribbed from better minds, despite her insistence to the contrary. Ayn Rand was neither particularly intelligent, nor a decent person.
I also read this on public transit and I kept having people stare at me because I kept laughing out loud as I read it.
I read everything that Rand wrote as a teenager. I was riveted by the characters. I read all her non-fiction too. Then I grew up and realized that her work only appealed to my rebellious nature. She has zero nuance and her characters and philosophy are one-dimensional.
Edit: also didn’t hurt that I had a crush on a girl who was reading “The Fountainhead”.
One of the best descriptions I ever heard of Atlas Shrugged was that it’s the book that every 16-year-old thinks is brilliant, and every 25-year-old is embarrassed to have liked when they were 16.
Teenage me loved We the Living but I never bothered with her other work. I was thinking about giving it a reread soon.. but now I don’t know 😂
Anthem and The Fountainhead are both enjoyable, but Atlas Shrugged feels like it was written by a robot, with a decent number of characters who all fit into two character types: the comically strong willed individualist, and the weak-spined societal parasite.
Teenage me loved Anthem. I never read any of Rand’s other works, but having since done research on her philosophy, I’m assuming Anthem is on the more tame side. Part of me wants to re-read it to see if I’d even still like it. I was even very liberal as a teenager so I’m not sure what appealed to me so much. I guess the concept of individuality? I always was an edgy fuck.
anthem was fine as i remember, but i was like 15. it seemed like a pretty reasonable post-apocalyptic story where it was wrong to fail to conform. which seems like a cool idea. in her larger framework it points to individuality meaning, uh, other things though.
i also liked the fountainhead a lot but i think that was mostly because i found all the architecture stuff cool and pretty much hated all the characters except for howard roark’s washed up mentor
Story of my life as well.
I first read Atlas Shrugged when I was 16. As the little weirdo kid of the school who tended to a black-and-white worldview, I found most of the book riveting and the philosophy somewhat appealing.
As I look back, though, one of the problems I had back then was that I wasn't very good at analyzing texts. I actually wouldn't get a good lesson in that until I was in my early 20s watching and analyzing *Buffy the Vampire Slayer* so it made sense that 16 year old me liked what was a rather simplistic and blunt book.
I tried re-reading it a couple years ago and found myself being embarrassed by the prose, the dialog, and the philosophy. After taking a simple class in macroeconomics, I found myself laughing at her economic ideas. I found the characters unappealing due to the fact that authors like George RR Martin spoiled me with characters that worked in shades of gray. I rolled my eyes at her idea of morals and social justice because the growth in my Christian faith caused me to become significantly more liberal.
All in all, I couldn't get past the fact that every single one of her characters acted in ways that seemed so unnatural. She would've had a better shot if she had prefaced the story with "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."
"Growth in my Christian faith caused me to become significantly more liberal" - this speaks to me, because it just makes sense. It really annoys me that evangelicals believe that liberals cannot be Christian. I believe that if you are truly following the Christian ideals, you cannot help but be a liberal.
Wow. I guess you could say that you put away childish things.
The IDEA of Atlas Shrugged is (to me) fascinating. The WRITING of Atlas Shrugged is like reading a phone book. A lot of times people confuse one with the other.
The hundred page “speech” at the end was the killer for me. Still managed to finish it, but it was a hell of a slog.
I was not warned about the speech at the end. Jesus that was unbearable. I felt like a character in a horror movie rapidly turning the pages of a haunted book, wondering when that speech was going to end.
I saw this book mentioned here before, while I was in the middle of reading it. Someone complained about the monologue before I read that far, so I was able to skim past it, but man!!! Had I not known about that monologue, I would have never gotten through it. That book was rough, took me almost a year to get through and I read quickly. I always donate my used books after I read them, but not Atlas Shrugged, that got thrown in the trash. What a terrible book lol
The IDEA of \[insert title\] being fascination but the WRITING being horrible is pretty much the bane of all fiction.
I couldn't tell you how much bad books I have read because it had a good idea, even though the execution was horrible.
I could not put this into better words. I’ve actually been typing and deleting a comment for a little while that tried to put this into words, but I just couldn’t.
The only thing that kept me reading was how fascinating the concept of this book was. I’m a sucker for unpopular ideologies, so the IDEA begins this book was awesome to me. Then I realized Ayn Rand’s writing style has about the same amount of style as a wet piece of wheat toast.
So socialism for yourself and capitalism for everyone else (the poor) was what they wanted all along. No surprise there...
Just like Rand herself getting Social Security.
This just in: Ayn Rand is a fucking hypocrite.
> the poor
Especially the poor minorities. You can generally trace back the distancing from public goods and social programs to their desegregation, as soon as blacks get to access , X is bad and should not be public because that’s communism, no matter how much popular support it has just before.
Should be called *Atlas Jerks Himself Off Overhand While Looking in the Mirror*
by Chuck Tingle
God helped me, I actually liked it. I liked Dagny and Reardon as characters (even if Reardon is an immensely messed up person—he was a super-interesting character to me) and their relationship as well. And the first portion of the book is written almost like a horror story; people disappearing with no explanation and no apparent choice; Dagny’s fear over that and certainty that she wouldn’t go; and *what* is John Galt (I know the famous line is “who is John galt?” but for so much of the story he’s almost like a monster in the shadows).
And then John Galt actually shows up and holy hell do things plummet. Reardon just gives up his feelings for Dagny because...IDK, John Galt. There’s the magical town, which yeah, bonkers (if not entertaining bonkers) and then of course the 100-page speech.
But I really did enjoy the book. I’m glad to have read it.
Others on this thread: Talking about how the book is not that great, agreeing with OP.
Me: Still trying to get trough the triple negative of "It's not that I don't dislike the ideology"
That's Ayn Rand for you. You've found the rat in the pudding, so to speak, and good on you, because some people never do. In literary fiction, there are books that might have higher themes, more meaningful symbolism and maybe even a political or philosophical message—but these things should be somewhat organic, and they should serve to complement and enrich the story. You mentioned Orwell, so take both *Animal Farm* and *1984* as examples. They're both political cautionary tales, and some of the symbolism is very on the nose, but they are also engaging on their own merit as pieces of fiction.
*Atlas Shrugged* and *The Fountainhead* (and her other works too, probably) are vehicles for objectivism. The characters are department store mannequins who exist only for Rand to dress them up. Everything is contrived to push the message and nothing is allowed to unfold naturally (or satisfyingly, from a reader's perspective). It's a Trojan horse.
There are successful philosophy books that use literature as a delivery method: Voltaire's *Candide* or Nietzche's *Thus Spoke Zarathustra*, for example. The difference in quality, and the maturation of the ideas presented, between these books and Rand's should be obvious after even a quick perusal.
Some purport to enjoy *Atlas Shrugged*, or at least to support the messages in objectivism, but there are better books for people of a conservative or libertarian bend. Knowing what we know now, and faced with the prospect of modern companies and modern technologies, I think that a philosophy hinged on *laissez-faire* capitalism looks not only incredibly dated but also irresponsible. We are dealing with many crises caused directly or indirectly by unrestrained corporate greed, so I think today's readers are far less likely to put up with Rand's bullshit fairy tales.
>Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead (and her other works too, probably) are vehicles for objectivism. The characters are department store mannequins who exist only for Rand to dress them up. Everything is contrived to push the message and nothing is allowed to unfold naturally (or satisfyingly, from a reader's perspective). It's a Trojan horse.
That's a long way of saying it's just propaganda written by a feckless nitwit.
A more correct and convincing way too
Yeah. I understand the Objectivism philosophy a bit, but Damn that book is rough. None of the characters are likable. There's the world's longest monolog in it.
Living in a red state full of people who think masks can block CO2 molecules, but can't stop a virus has me asking who John Galt is though.
The thing that pissed me off about John Galt is this:
If a businessman were to retreat from society, he would not teach society shit. Some businessmen would follow him, but, guess what? Other businessmen would start their own ventures to replace the departing ones because that is how markets work.
Oh, and he would be a goner the second he tripped and broke his leg. Since he is surrounded by businessmen and healthcare professionals were abandoned with the rest of the leeches in society.
Like, he is presented as some sort of iconoclastic genius capable of bending society to his will by the power of his absence. He would be the equivalent of a fed up retail worker who fantacizss about his chain going to shut when he quits in the real world.
A doctor follows the businessmen in the book. He develops a cure/treatment/prevention (can’t recall which) for strokes which would save millions from being disabled or killed. He refuses to share it because he isn’t getting adequately compensated for his work (we, the public moochers, believe he should share it for the good of the human race, I guess).
Forgot about that.
Lol. Truly the kind of person I’d want in my society. Especially monopolizing it! He could keep his little cure in the woods and live a shit life camping for all I care. In the real world, you couldn’t trust a person who behaved in that way to work in public interest, and if he wants to ‘punish’ the public by living like one of Robin Hood’s men in the woods instead of cashing doctor checks in society...okay. Boy did he show us mooching peasants.
How did the doctor come up with that, without public moochers subsidizing his education (a resident sets the state back about 200k/year), plus peer reviewed research? Facilities?
Ah, well. When John Galt breaks his leg, at least that dude will be on hand to charge him 100k compensation he feels he is owed for his services.
That was the other thing about the hypocrisy of Objectivism. The ones crying ‘mooch!’ Live very nice lives that they could only have due to collectivist is interventions.
The best part, the absolute best part of the book, is realizing that, by dagny’s own admissions, she could not have done it alone (who will drive the train?), and her constant praise of her assistant...
...and then absolutely abandoning all of these very competent people that allowed her to achieve new heights...
...by pulling a poochy and flying back to her home planet.
It’s a literal castle in the sky scenario and if it wasn’t Ayn Rand I would have praised the author for flipping back the sheer fantastical nature of the conclusion as proof that the author really implies that no, Rand Paul, if you bought into the first two thirds of this stupid ideology you really are living in a fantasy land, you twat.
Yup. Ayn Rand is like a textbook case of a traumatized person who never healed in a healthy manner.
So obsessively filled with hatred for the USSR after being Jewish in it that she creates a fantasy world that wold be the capitalist version of the USSR.
I don’t know if I’ll get downvoted for saying this, but - I have read Atlas Shrugged (and We The Living, and The Fountainhead), and while I do not agree with Ayn Rand’s philosophy at all, or her views on capitalism, I think her writing was important for its time.
Do I think Ayn Rand is wrong? I do. But it’s important to note that her books I’ve referenced above were written in the 1930s-1950s. She was writing about this stuff before Animal Farm was written, when Russia had been communist for less than two decades. There was far, far less written about the subject than there is today. And there was a lot of academic debate about communism at the time, and some writers, like George Bernard Shaw, thought communism was working pretty marvellously for the USSR. To many writers, communism did seem viable and perhaps inevitable. So Rand was an early vocal critic of communism in an era where many did not agree.
I hope it’s not controversial to say that when the Berlin Wall fell and the USSR collapsed, it showed that the USSR was not as economically successful as some had thought. And I feel that Rand’s writing, while it does a terrible and unrealistic job of describing American capitalism, did a fascinating job exploring some of the reasons why communism failed in Russia, especially considering she was one of the first to be writing on that topic in America.
So I view her writing more or less like I view Freud’s writing about psychology compared to research today. Much like Freud, her ideas are comical by today’s standards. Both Freud and Rand were determined to build up a mythos surrounding their work, and they sought disciples who would not break from their ideologies. It’s a good thing that many of their followers DID break from them and sought to advance our understanding of the field. But - both still had early contributions to the field which were important. And I think it’s important not to simply bash early contributors to a field for having bad ideas, when their work was some of the only work being done in the field, with much of the knowledge we take for granted today not being known.
That’s my take on Rand’s writing - she, of course, would hate it. 😁
Thanks for the insight and context. My grandmother was a big Rand fan, but none of her political or economic views really matched up and that puzzled me. Realizing that she was reading Rand's work at the time of first publication reminds me that as a young independent, strong willed woman, my grandmother may have been identifying with Rand herself and the core idea of personal individualism rather than societal individualism...if that makes any sense.
Thanks for putting this into a phrase I can communicate. I’ve been reading through this thread trying to figure out why everyone is bashing one of the most important developmental books for me, personally. I mean, writing and ideology aside, reading Atlas Shrugged helped me understand that I had been doing things for other people all my life at the expense of my own. Learning about the core idea of personal individualism helped me figure my own shit out to a point where I’m much happier to help others. There’s also a phrase that gets tossed around along the lines, ‘Contradictions don’t exist. Whenever you think you’re facing one, check your premises’. I simply thought this was a good bit of advice for navigating the chaos that is life. Call me out if I’m wrong but you don’t have to buy into everything a book is written about to get something positive from it
Nah, man. You made a very important point! Again, my favorite genre is political-fiction, so ha dir not been for her pioneering of the field in general I may have not had all of my favorite books. This was needed to point out, so thank you.
I still think her writing is extremely dull though.
I thought the books was pretty good, but 30 percent too long. The same points could have been made with way less droning on.
The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress is an infinitely superior way to rock out to some libertarianism.