Atlas raised his eyebrows

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.

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.

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

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

Things Not to Say to a Pregnant Woman

You don't have to tell her how big she is. You don't need to touch her belly.

Video

Maine's Underground Street Art

"Graffiti is the farthest thing from anarchy."

Video

The Joy of Running in a Beautiful Place

A love letter to California's Marin Headlands

Video

'I Didn't Even Know What I Was Going Through'

A 17-year-old describes his struggles with depression.

Video

Google Street View, Transformed Into a Tiny Planet

A 360-degree tour of our world, made entirely from Google's panoramas

Video

The Farmer Who Won't Quit

A filmmaker returns to his hometown to profile the patriarch of a family farm

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

More in Business

Just In