With the upcoming release of Atlas Shrugged, Part I, many people who know my philosophy have asked if I read the book and was somehow "transformed". I think this is as good a time as any to explain how I view Objectivism.
The simple answer to the question is no, it did not transform me or change my worldview at all. It only made me realize that other people, who think as I do, existed on this planet. The book was in a box of books given to me at age 13 when I was in the hospital for several months and needed something, anything, to occupy my time and get my mind off the pain. It was a huge book with small print, I was not interested. There were Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon "young adult" mysteries to read. However, because I cannot ever throw a book out unless it is hopelessly lost, it sat on my bookshelf for nearly 3 more years and I found myself in need of reading material at the beach. While my boyfriend of the moment and his friend body surfed, I began reading and wound up with the worst sunburn of my life.
It was worth ever blister.
I was captured from the moment Dagny first tells Jim Taggart she will not allow him to ruin her railroad. I knew it, this woman was a "doer". She didn't sit around waiting for the knight in shining armor to save her, she was going to save herself and everyone around her while she was at it. This was a hero I could get behind. Don't get me wrong, the book is extremely dry in places. There were entire chapters I skipped because they were just so God awful. That's the way Ayn Rand got at times, but she was not creating a whole new world like Tolkien or cs Lewis, she was shining a very bright light on what lay beneath the surface of this one.
I could see it, even at the tender age of 16. I could see what was coming back in 1981, why couldn't everyone else? Reagan was in office, hope was resurrected from the husk that hippies left it... what could go wrong? I bring you 30 years into the future and ask you the same question. What's gone wrong?
I won't go into the laundry list of things we have allowed to happen to us. Like Ragnar Danneskjold I have wanted to warn us all about the sin of forgiveness that is the weapon with which we are continually bludgeoned. They use our own virtue, our own sanction to hobble and kill us.
The only thing it did change was my desire to fight this. You can't, it's too inured in our society, this altruism, the demand that you sacrifice your happiness for the happiness of another. In the 90s and the Clintons, I predicted Hilary Clinton would be the Mr Thompson of our time. I predicted that she would be the one to bring our country to the precipice and then push it over. For the children, naturally. I could not honestly imagine anything worse than Hilary Clinton until I saw Barry on an Oprah Windbag show after he won the Illinois Senator's seat. Then I knew that Mr. Thompson was Mr. Obama.
The book gave me that type of clarity. I could look at every regulation and every restriction enacted by federal and state legislature and know it for the evil it was. The moment a politician or community organizer opened their mouth to tell me it was for my own good, I had an archetype to go back to and use to predict their behavior. It was like a primer for understanding the world I was living in.
Many people consider Atlas Shrugged and the Bible the two most influential books in their lives. I consider the Bible the greatest and Atlas Shrugged the "Cliff's Notes" for understand the evil of the people stand behind the former. Knowing THAT changed my life and defined who I am.
We'll get more into the obscene evil of altruism next time.