I had been thinking of reading ‘Atlas Shrugged’ from a very long time but kept postponing the same after looking at the thickness of the book.. Finally picked up the 1100 page novel and finished it within 2 weeks.. I absolutely loved the book… Its a timeless epic, relevant now as much as it was at the time it was written. The book is about 2 classes of people in the world – the thinkers or innovators and the leeches or the looters.
Thinkers, innovators or creators – whatever we call them, are the people who use their intelligence, will power and hard work to accomplish their goals and make the society a better place to live. The book focuses more on industrialists but symbolizes any thinker – a philosopher, a writer, an entrepreneur, a scientist or anyone who uses their mind to achieve the best they can and contribute to the prosperity of the economy. Protagonist of the novel is a lady called Dagny Taggart who runs a railroad and is a progressive industrialist in a male-dominated domain.
Looters are like leeches who use all their might and power to destroy a thinker and thrive on a creator’s labor. These are the politicians, bureaucrats, regulators and law makers of today. These are people who in the name of public interest pass legislations which serve their special interests (laws like Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule or Equalization of Opportunity Bill).
In the novel, the thinkers keep fighting these looters till they realize enough is enough and decide to go on a strike. What would happen when the leeches have no blood to suck? The plot is very gripping at at no point did I feel the novel was boring. There are times when there are philosophical fundae, but it would have been difficult for Ayn Rand to portray the emotional frustration and struggle innovators go through in such situations.
At one place in the novel, one of the creators says he is against Robin Hood because he is the one who supported these leeches indirectly. He was the one who looted from the creators/rich men and distributed it among the poor. He believed in distribution of wealth according to need and not ability. The book strikes because its still so relevant, people complain the business tycoons and CEOs making money – they forget these are the ones who create jobs and technology; promote reservation system to increase their vote bank.
I would recommend reading the book with an open mind and appreciate Rand’s philosophy of objectivism.