Atlas raised his eyebrows

More

Perhaps predictibly, Ayn Rand is making a comeback on the right, with Congressmen handing out her books, and loose talk of rich people "Going Galt". 

I don't think that we will see a mass exodus of productive people to secret hideouts.  I look to Atlas Shrugged more for conveniently totable beach reading than an economic blueprint.  What's interesting to me, though, is how many details Rand did get right--like the markets in "unfreezing" Ukrainian bank deposits, so similar to the frozen railroad bonds of Atlas Shrugged.  Or the cascading and unanticipated failures, with government officials racing to slap another fix on to fix the last failing solution.  If only the people in her novels had acted remotely like actual people, rather than comic book characters, I, too, would be rereading the thing now.


She was able to describe these things so well, of course, because she'd seen what an economy looked like while it was being wrecked.  All of Rand's writing is dominated by the fact that she lived through the birth pangs of Soviet Russia, and saw her family's business destroyed by Lenin's ideology, and extraordinarily incompetent economic management.  Her philosophy does not work, at least if by work we mean generate a framework by which a person or society can order itself.  But she was actually a really very gifted observer, and she had a quite subtle understanding of how all the interconnected elements of an industrial economy fit together.  It's a pity she didn't quite get how human beings worked, especially herself.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In