Atlas Shrugged Reaches 50th Anniversary

The New York Times notes that next month will mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Atlas Shrugged and it is fitting that this comes in the business section. Ayn Rand has many critics on both the right and the left, but she also has many admirers:

But the book attracted a coterie of fans, some of them top corporate executives, who dared not speak of its impact except in private. When they read the book, often as college students, they now say, it gave form and substance to their inchoate thoughts, showing there is no conflict between private ambition and public benefit.

“I know from talking to a lot of Fortune 500 C.E.O.’s that ‘Atlas Shrugged’ has had a significant effect on their business decisions, even if they don’t agree with all of Ayn Rand’s ideas,” said John A. Allison, the chief executive of BB&T, one of the largest banks in the United States.

“It offers something other books don’t: the principles that apply to business and to life in general. I would call it complete,” he said.

Rand certainly has many faults, but that does not mean that those who wish to write her off completely are correct, as I discussed last month. Putting aside those who go overboard in making Objectivism a religion, Rand did say things worth considering. Rand fled the Soviet Union and her ideas were shaped by “when the Bolsheviks broke into her father’s pharmacy and declared his livelihood the property of the state.” During a period when Marxism was often seen as the dominant philosophy reshaping the world, Rand helped provide a much-needed moral argument for capitalism. While the viewpoint can be taken too far, Rand also displays a bold message on the power of the individual and value of excellence.

More on Ayn Rand at Q&O, Wake Up America, and The van der Galiën Gazette.

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