The Influence of Atlas Shrugged
October 10, 2007
Irvine, CA--On the 50th anniversary of its publication, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand's epic about a group of businessmen who rebel against a society that shackles and condemns them, is everywhere. Hardly a day goes by without a mention of the novel in the media or by some prominent celebrity or businessman as the most significant book he's read. Meanwhile, Ayn Rand's novels, including Atlas Shrugged, are being taught in tens of thousands of high schools. And last year, sales of the novel in bookstores topped an astonishing 130,000 copies--even more than when it was first published.
Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, commented on the novel's influence on the present--and the future: "I'm continually gratified by how many people, from every walk of life and every part of the planet, from high school students to political activists in countries from Hong Kong to Belarus to Ghana, eagerly tell me: 'Atlas Shrugged changed my life.' If you have read Atlas Shrugged and entered the universe of Dagny Taggart, Hank Rearden, and John Galt, you can understand why the novel has inspired so many in this way. Atlas Shrugged portrays great businessmen as heroic, productive thinkers, and it venerates capitalism as the only moral social system. It gives philosophic and artistic expression to the uniquely American spirit of individualism, of self-reliance, of entrepreneurship, of free markets.
"But while Atlas Shrugged has provided millions with inspiration and with some level of appreciation for the virtues of capitalism and the evils of statism, it has not had nearly the influence it could have had, had its underlying ideas gained wider understanding. Though it has changed individual lives, it has not changed the world. But I believe it could--and should.
"Imagine a future America guided by the principles found in Atlas Shrugged--a culture of reason, where science is cherished and respected, not banished from biology classrooms and stem-cell research labs--a culture of individualism, in which government is the protector of individual rights, not its primary violator--a culture in which business innovators understand that ambition, productive effort, and wealth creation are not just practical necessities, but moral virtues--a culture in which such innovators, proudly asserting their right to their work, are fully liberated and their productive genius fully applied to the generation of unimaginable economic progress.
"This is the world that Atlas Shrugged challenges us to strive for. But in order to get there, the novel's full philosophic meaning must be grasped. This is precisely why the Ayn Rand Institute exists: to convey Rand's profound message. And her message is getting out, all the way to professional intellectuals, on campuses and elsewhere across America, who are taking up Ayn Rand's ideas with a seriousness that they never have shown before. With more and more thinkers giving it the attention it merits, I am confident that the real influence of Atlas Shrugged has yet to be felt."
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