Why Atlas Shrugged
Ayn Rand’s Objectivism glorified wealth-creators over moochers, but the Wall Street traders who worship her might be surprised to learn which category they’re in.
As the dysfunctional nature of our economy becomes increasingly apparent, the media is appropriately focusing on the whether the ideas of economic thinkers from earlier eras can help to solve today’s problems. Recently, NPR devoted a segment to the thinking of Ayn Rand.
The NPR segment quoted from an extensive television interview with her conducted by Mike Wallace in 1959, now available on YouTube. As the segment noted, Rand is a hero to many Washington politicians who advocate free markets. In the Wallace interview, Rand said, “I am opposed to all forms of control. I am for an absolute, laissez-faire, free, unregulated economy.”
The Washington establishment has, in fact, misinterpreted what Rand valued and what she would advocate today.
At this moment, what’s relevant to our nation is not the laissez-faire policies Ayn Rand advocated in the late 1950s as an outgrowth of the philosophical system she called “Objectivism,” but what the philosophy itself considered important, how these principles should be applied to our modern economy, and whether we believe implementing these ideas would aid the economy.
The central statement Rand stressed repeatedly in her interview with Wallace is that entrepreneurs and businessmen are the producers who create the goods and services that make our economy run. They deserve their wealth, are her heroes, and no one including the government has the right to take their property. As NPR notes, “In Atlas Shrugged, which Rand considered her masterpiece, the wealthy corporate producers are the engines of the American economy.” In this fictional tale, the economy starts to stagnate when these producers go into hiding, leaving behind what she calls “the moochers.”