“Hank, what’s wrong with the country?”
“I don’t know.”
“I keep thinking of what they told us in school about the sun losing energy, growing colder each year. I remember wondering, then, what it would be like in the last days of the earth. I think it would be … like this. Growing colder and things stopping.”
“I never believed that story. I thought by the time the sun was exhausted men would find a substitute.”
“You did? Funny. I thought that, too.”
This exchange between Dagny Taggert and Hank Reardon in Atlas Shrugged crystallizes Rand’s whole image of Man as an individual. Ayn Rand had the highest regard for Man and for his inventiveness, his ingenuity, his ability to overcome and invent his way out of anything and everything, even to the snuffing out of the sun.
Atlas Shrugged sweeps the reader into its own world of larger-than-life characters—including the productive genius who becomes a worthless playboy and the great industrialist who doesn’t know that he is working for his own destruction. The story is a mystery about a man [John Galt] who said that he would stop the motor of the world—and did. Society disintegrates, food shortages spark riots, factories shutdown by the hundreds. Is this man a vicious destroyer—or the greatest of liberators? What is the motor of the world? What is required to restart it? AynRand.org
Its uplifting message of Mans ability to strive for and secure his own freedom is a universal message of all mankind, no matter his country or his station in life. His natural tendency to be a producer and keep the fruits of his production is the core desire of all men. Atlas Shrugged speaks simply to all.
It’s no wonder that Atlas Shrugged (original title was The Strike) is #1 in readers choice best novels of all time (Random House) and makes many other top 100 best novel lists.
Rand’s explanation and definition of Objectivism:
- Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.
- Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
- Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
- The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.
It’s impossible for any thinking person to find argument with the bulk of her philosophy. And it fits perfectly and logically with the Founders vision of a civil society and a government of laws.
It’s no wonder that she chose to leave collectivist Russia (post bolshevik revolution) and make her home in capitalist America.