Why is Ayn Rand Still Relevant: Atlas Shrugged and Todays World
ALL
In Pursuit of Wealth: The Moral Case for Finance
by Yaron Brook | September 30, 2017
Inequality Doesn't Matter If We’re All Paid According to the Value We Create
by Don Watikins | October 18, 2016
Who Cares about Inequality?
by Don Watikins | April 28, 2016
Equal Is Unfair: America’s Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality
by Don Watkins | April 19, 2016
Economic Inequality Complaints Are Just A Cover For Anti-Rich Prejudice
by Don Watikins | April 14, 2016
Equality of Opportunity Doesn’t Exist in America — and That’s a Good Thing
by Don Watikins | April 06, 2016
Inherit The Wind . . . And Not Much Else
by Don Watikins | April 05, 2016
Equal is Unfair: America’s Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality
by Don Watkins | October 20, 2015
Religion in America
by The Editors | December 05, 2014
Religion vs. Freedom
by Onkar Ghate | December 03, 2014
Debate: “Inequality: Should We Care?”
by Yaron Brook | May 08, 2014
Economic Inequality: Who Cares?
by The Editors | March 25, 2014
Our Poverty Problem?
by Don Watkins | March 11, 2014
Is Inequality Fair?
by Yaron Brook | March 05, 2014
Government tries to do too much: Opposing view
by Don Watkins | January 26, 2014
“You didn’t build that,” conservative style
by Steve Simpson | December 09, 2013
Why Do 1.4 Million Americans Work At Walmart, With Many More Trying To?
by Doug Altner | November 27, 2013
Atlas Shrugged Is A Book About Pride In One’s Work, And The Success That Results
by Steve Simpson | November 08, 2013
Bernie Madoff, Steve Jobs, and Wall Street Greed
by Don Watkins | September 26, 2013
Justice Department should let US Airways & American Airlines merger proceed
by Tom Bowden | August 16, 2013
What Are The Search Results When You Google ‘Antitrust’?
by Tom Bowden | April 18, 2013
To Be Born Poor Doesn’t Mean You’ll Always Be Poor
by Yaron Brook | April 12, 2013
We Should Be Embarrassed by the Sequester Debate
by Yaron Brook | March 20, 2013
“Give Back” Is One of the World's Most Impoverishing Commands
by Yaron Brook | March 12, 2013
Capitalism in No Way Created Poverty, It Inherited It
by Yaron Brook | February 25, 2013
3 crucial lessons Ayn Rand can teach us today
by Yaron Brook | February 02, 2013
Capitalism without Guilt
by Yaron Brook | January 21, 2013
President Obama Duels With Ayn Rand Over What Makes America Great
by Don Watkins | October 29, 2012
Why Ayn Rand’s Absence From Last Thursday’s Debate Benefits Big Government
by Yaron Brook | October 15, 2012
The Virtue of Employee Layoffs
by Yaron Brook | September 06, 2012
Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged: A Paean to American Liberty
by Don Watkins | August 17, 2012
President Obama vs. My Grandfather
by Don Watkins | July 30, 2012
The Dog-Eat-Dog Welfare State Is Lose-Lose
by Don Watkins | July 12, 2012
Changing the Debate: How to Move from an Entitlement State to a Free Market
by Don Watkins | July 02, 2012
Private Equity Firms Want Acquisitions To Profit, Not Fold
by Doug Altner | June 05, 2012
Opposing view: Celebrate private equity
by Don Watkins | May 29, 2012
The “On Your Own” Economy
by Don Watkins | March 09, 2012
What's Really Wrong with Entitlements
by Don Watkins | February 21, 2012
Happy Birthday, Ayn Rand — Why Are You Still So Misunderstood?
by Don Watkins | February 02, 2012
America Before The Entitlement State
by Don Watkins | November 18, 2011
How Did Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged Predict an America Spinning Out of Control?
by Onkar Ghate | October 31, 2011
What We Owe Steve Jobs
by Don Watkins | October 06, 2011
What’s Missing From The Budget Debate
by Don Watkins | July 12, 2011
Does America Need Ayn Rand or Jesus?
by Onkar Ghate | June 29, 2011
When It Comes to Wealth Creation, There Is No Pie
by Yaron Brook | June 14, 2011
It’s Time To Kill The “Robin Hood” Myth
by Yaron Brook | May 06, 2011
Using Ayn Rand's Values to Create Competitive Advantage in Business
by John Allison | April 04, 2011
In Defense of Finance
by Yaron Brook | February 15, 2011
The Tea Party Will Fail — Unless it Fully Embraces Individualism as a Moral Ideal
by Tom Bowden | January 21, 2011
How About Tax Reparations for the Rich?
by Don Watkins | January 18, 2011
The Guilt Pledge
by Don Watkins | September 22, 2010
How To Succeed In Business: Really Try
by Don Watkins | September 13, 2010
The U.S. Anti-Business Epidemic
by Don Watkins | August 17, 2010
Atlas Shrugged’s Timeless Moral: Profit-Making Is Virtue, Not Vice
by Yaron Brook | July 20, 2010
Capitalism: Who Needs It — Ayn Rand and the American System
by Yaron Brook | June 09, 2010
Apple vs. GM: Ayn Rand Knew the Difference. Do You?
by Don Watkins | March 02, 2010
Commercialism Only Adds to Joy of the Holidays
by Onkar Ghate | December 18, 2009
Why is Ayn Rand Still Relevant: Atlas Shrugged and Today’s World
by Yaron Brook | August 10, 2009
The Corrupt Critics of CEO Pay
by Yaron Brook | May 2009
America’s Unfree Market
by Yaron Brook | May 2009
Energy at the Speed of Thought: The Original Alternative Energy Market
by Alex Epstein | Summer 2009
Is Rand Relevant?
by Yaron Brook | March 14, 2009
Stop Blaming Capitalism for Government Failures
by Yaron Brook | November 13, 2008
From Flat World To Free World
by Yaron Brook | June 26, 2008
Vindicating Capitalism: The Real History of the Standard Oil Company
by Alex Epstein | Summer 2008
The Right Vision Of Health Care
by Yaron Brook | January 08, 2008
Deep-Six the Law of the Sea
by Tom Bowden | November 20, 2007
The Influence of Atlas Shrugged
by Yaron Brook | October 09, 2007
The Morality of Moneylending: A Short History
by Yaron Brook | Fall 2007
Say “No Way!” to “Say on Pay”
by Yaron Brook | May 22, 2007
Atlas Shrugged — America's Second Declaration of Independence
by Onkar Ghate | March 01, 2007
Pay Is Company’s Prerogative
by Yaron Brook | January 08, 2007
Religion and Morality
by Onkar Ghate | October 18, 2006
Net Neutrality vs. Internet Freedom
by Alex Epstein | August 16, 2006
Why Are CEOs Paid So Much?
by Elan Journo | May 11, 2006
To Outsource or to Stagnate?
by Onkar Ghate | August 01, 2004
Ayn Rand's Ideas — An Introduction
by Onkar Ghate | June 02, 2003
Capitalists vs. Crooks
by Elan Journo | July 22, 2002
Forgotten Heroes of 9/11
by Onkar Ghate | May 17, 2002
Religion vs. America
by Leonard Peikoff | 1986
The Sanction of the Victims
by Ayn Rand | November 21, 1981
Egalitarianism and Inflation
by Ayn Rand | 1974
The Moratorium on Brains
by Ayn Rand | November 14, 1971
What Is Capitalism?
by Ayn Rand | November 19, 1967
POV: What Is Capitalism?
by admin | November-December 1965
Is Atlas Shrugging?
by Ayn Rand | April 19, 1964
The Fascist New Frontier
by Ayn Rand | December 16, 1962
America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business
by Ayn Rand | December 17, 1961
The “New Intellectual”
by Ayn Rand | May 15, 1961
Capitalism vs. Communism
by Ayn Rand | 1961

MORE FROM THE BLOG:

Government And Business in Voice for Reason
Government & BusinessCapitalism

Why is Ayn Rand Still Relevant: Atlas Shrugged and Today’s World

by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins | August 10, 2009 | CNBC

Those who haven’t yet picked up Ayn Rand’s 1957 classic novel Atlas Shrugged may be wondering why so many people are invoking the book in discussions of today’s events.

Well, the short answer is: because today’s world is strikingly similar to the world of Atlas Shrugged.

Consider the government’s affordable housing crusade, in which lenders were forced to make loans to subprime borrowers who allegedly “needed” to own homes.

“We must not let vulgar difficulties obstruct our feeling that it’s a noble plan motivated solely by the public welfare. It’s for the good of the people. The people need it. Need comes first…”

Those might sound like the words of Barney Frank, but in fact they belong to Eugene Lawson, a banker in Atlas Shrugged who went bankrupt giving loans to people on the basis of their “need” rather than their ability to repay. In the quoted scene, Lawson is urging his politically powerful friends to pass a law restricting economic freedom for the “public good” — long-range consequences be damned.

Or consider this cry from Atlas Shrugged villain Wesley Mouch, head of the “Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources”:

“Freedom has been given a chance and failed. Therefore, more stringent controls are necessary. . . . I need wider powers!”

This mirrors the incessant claims by today’s politicians and bureaucrats that all our problems would disappear if only they had more power. They tell us that health care is expensive and ineffective — not because the government has its tentacles in every part of it and forces us to pay for other people’s unlimited medical-care wants and needs — but because there is no bureaucrat forcing us to buy insurance and dictating which tests and treatments are “necessary.” They tell us that American auto companies failed to compete — not because they were hamstrung by pro-union laws and fuel efficiency standards — but because there was o government auto czar. They tell us that we are reeling from a financial crisis — not as a result of massive, decades-long government intrusion in the financial and housing markets — but because the intrusion wasn’t big enough; we didn’t have a single, all-powerful “systemic risk” regulator.

Atlas Shrugged shows us an all-too-familiar pattern: Washington do-gooders blaming the problems they’ve created on the free market, and using them as a pretext for expanding their power. And more: it provides the fundamental explanation for why the government gets away with continually increasing its control over the economy and our lives. The explanation, according to Atlas, is to be found in the moral precepts we’ve heard all our lives.

From the time we’re young we are taught that the essence of morality is to sacrifice one’s own interests for the sake of others, and that to focus on one’s own interests is immoral and destructive. As a result, we want the government to protect us from doctors and businessmen out for their own profit. We want the government to redistribute wealth from the successful to the unsuccessful. We want the government to ensure that those in need are given “free” health care, cheap housing, guaranteed retirement pay and a job they can never lose. We want the government to take these and many other anti-freedom measures because virtually everyone today believes that they are moral imperatives.

This view of morality, Atlas argues, inevitably leads to the disappearance of freedom.

A free society is one in which the individual’s life belongs to him, where he can pursue his own happiness without interference by others. That is incompatible with the view that morally his life belongs to others. So long as you accept that self-sacrifice for the needs of others is good, you will not be able to defend a capitalist system that enshrines and protects individual freedom and the profit motive.

The only way to stop the growth of the state and return to the Founding Fathers’ ideal of limited government is to recognize that individuals not only have a political right to pursue their own happiness, but a moral right to pursue their own happiness. This is what Ayn Rand called a morality of rational self-interest. It is a selfishness that consists, not of doing whatever you feel like, but of using your mind to discover what will truly make you happy and successful. It is a selfishness that consists, not of sacrificing others in the manner of a Bernie Madoff, but of producing the values your life requires and dealing with others through mutually advantageous, voluntary trade.

It’s no accident that, at the very instant Washington is extending its grip over our lives, Atlas Shrugged is selling faster than ever before. Americans sense that Atlas has something important to say about this frightening trend. It does. If you want to understand the ideas undermining American liberty — and the ideas that could foster it once again — read Atlas Shrugged.

About The Authors

Yaron Brook

Chairman of the Board, Ayn Rand Institute

Don Watkins

Former Fellow (2006-2017), Ayn Rand Institute