Atlas Shrugged: The Wealth of Nations

Atlas Shrugged, Closing ThoughtsThroughout Atlas Shrugged and her other works, Ayn Rand valorized human ingenuity and drive. In her eyes, the individual ability for achievement is our supreme glory. But where do these desirable character traits come from? What makes one person a productive capitalist while another becomes a shiftless moocher?This is a question that Rand was staunchly incurious about. For all that she glorified brilliance, she never addressed what its origins or … [Read more...]

The Bad Parable of the Prodigal Son

The tale of the prodigal son is one of the Christian Bible's most famous parables. But there's something about it that's never sat right with me:"A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Almighty Dollar

Atlas Shrugged, Closing ThoughtsWe're almost to the end of our epic journey through Atlas Shrugged. I've reviewed the whole book and all three movies, pointing out the logical holes and untenable assumptions as they were spotlighted in each scene. In this post and a few more to follow, I want to step back and look at Rand's philosophy as a whole. We'll see some broader themes that deserve more attention.One of the cornerstones of Objectivism is that laissez-faire capitalism is the only … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Fix Fic

Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt?I sat through the indifferent acting, threadbare script and shoddy production values of Atlas Shrugged Part III for one reason above all: I was eager to see how they dealt with the Eddie problem.As you'll remember, the book ends with Ayn Rand stranding Eddie Willers in the desert to die alone of thirst and exposure, while none of his supercapitalist friends care or even remember him. It's a fate so callous that it even makes some of Rand's … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Also Starring

Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt?On paper, Objectivism and other libertarian ideologies ought to appeal equally to the left and to the right. After all, libertarianism promotes economic deregulation, but also greater personal liberty, such as to take recreational drugs, have same-sex marriages, or use contraception. The parts that conservatives dislike, liberals ought to approve of, and vice versa. Yet in practice, libertarians consistently ally with conservatives and not with … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: 10 Final Lessons from Atlas Shrugged

My latest column is now up on AlterNet, "Ayn Rand's Demented Mind Is Best Understood by Her Idea of the 'Happy Ending' in Her Bestseller 'Atlas Shrugged'". This is the third and last of the "10 Lessons" posts I've been writing, one for each section of Atlas Shrugged, that sums up the moral principles taught in each major section of the book (part two, part one). Read the excerpt below, then click through to see the rest:In Ayn Rand's eyes, this is a happy ending. The government thugs who … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: They Just Didn’t Care

Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt?After plucking her out of the burning wreckage of her crashed plane (an event that, like in the books, only causes minor bruising and slight sleepiness), bargain-basement Matthew McConaughey takes Dagny on a tour of the capitalists' secret utopia. Remember, Galt's Gulch is high in the alpine wilderness of the Rocky Mountains, so it makes total sense that they drive through towering groves of these:These must be the famous majestic redwoods of … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Nth Doctor

Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt?Part of what adds to the general aura of amateurishness around the Atlas trilogy is that the third movie has a completely different cast than the second (which had a completely different cast than the first). Obviously, if it had been either a critical or commercial success, the actors would be more eager to reprise their roles. As is, it seems like everyone associated with the films couldn't cash their paychecks and get out of town fast … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Take Our Word For It

Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt?There was a third Atlas Shrugged movie.If you weren't aware it existed, that's understandable. The first movie was made with a respectable $20 million budget and bombed horrendously, earning back less than one-quarter of that. The second movie was made with just half the budget, and it showed. Despite opening on three times as many screens, it bombed even worse than the first one. You'd think that by this point, a Randian supercapitalist would … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Exeunt Omnes

Atlas Shrugged, part III, chapter XAfter three years and 160(!) posts, we've finally come to the very last scene of Atlas Shrugged. In our previous installment, Ayn Rand lowered the curtain on Eddie Willers, inexplicably abandoned by his closest friends to die in the desert. In this closing scene, she takes us to Galt's Gulch to show what the capitalists are doing instead.It's a quick scene, with just a few lines devoted to each of the protagonists. But in those few lines, like a … [Read more...]