Book Review: ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand Taggart Transcontinental is not to be excluded on the effects of declining economic situations experienced by the whole country. Dagny Taggart, the vice president in-charge of operations, upon her visit to the Rio Norte Line to inspect the damages it maintains, goes straight to her brother's office and reports that the line needs immediate attention and for that she has already ordered Rearden Metal to be used for that line. Jim denounced her decisions and actions not just because she does not have authority to make those orders but also Rearden Metal is not yet tried before by others. Dagny's plan to rebuild this important line is held back when most of the corporation's business contacts and suppliers as well as own personnel's are suddenly leaving and mysteriously vanishing. Meanwhile, Dagny's brother Jim uses his political influence to save his railroad and thus the Anti Dog-Eat-Dog Rule was approved to rid of competitions in railroad, specifically Taggart's competitors. Dagny's plans of rebuilding were further hampered when the State Science Institute publicly deprecates Rearden Metal although this is the best type of metal ever formulated and invented.
Focused to rebuild her line, Dagny decides to start her own company where she would take all the risks and responsibilities of using Rearden Metal, and once the line was built, she would then have to return the line to Taggart Transcontinental. Her decision was not a disappointment and proved to be a surprising success. Then, a new set of law called Directive 10-289 was passed and includes a decree that all patents or inventions are to be taken over by the government for public use. Dagny quits and retreats to an old family house in the mountains.
She was followed there by Francisco where he now tells her everything he has been up to. However, upon hearing news about a new railroad accident, she rushes back to her office and takes over again. Then in pursuit of the scientist she has assigned to rebuild a motor that can transform static energy to kinetic energy that she and Hank have discovered, she crashes into an unknown location where all the missing great minds are living. They are on strike describing it a strike of the mind. There she came to know the real John Galt and was able to live with him for a month. They agreed that she could come back in the valley as long as she is fully ready...
When she returned to her work, she found out that the railroad has also been nationalized. In an effort to gain control of d'Anconia's mills, the government puts on a riot at Rearden Steel where Francisco saves Rearden's life and the latter finally joined the strike of the mind. Just as Mr. Thompson, the Head of the State, prepares to give a speech about the present economic condition, John Galt intercepts the line and gives the real condition of the country. The government seeks Galt for any help that he can offer to alleviate the conditions of the country and when Galt was found by the government, he was tortured to give in to the government's terms. Galt never gave in and at the torture chamber, he was rescued by Dagny, Francisco, and Hank.
Dagny finally joins the strike and returns to the valley with all the rest of the great minds and the strikers. Dagny tells John Galt that this is finally the end but John answers back that this is only the beginning as the looter's time is over and they are now prepared to return. Atlas Shrugged is a novel by Ayn Rand written principally to exhibit her philosophical views and beliefs. Accordingly, the main theme or concept where the story revolves in is about her philosophy of objectivism and the power of the mind.
In the novel, Ayn Rand demonstrated that the mind is the most essential tool for humanity, and reason is its utmost virtue. Without the mind, as illustrated in the novel, the society or human nature in general is destined to absolute failure. The emphasis is laid upon the idea that mind is the only means by which man can arrive at prosperity. The mind is hence the motive power that drives civilization. The ability to think rationally and to apply rational thought in inventive assembly makes man's happiness and success possible. The rational mind, according to Ayn Rand, is behind every idea and invention that has moved the civilization forward.
Without the mind, men are plunged into chaos and cease to produce. The strike of the mind carries with it serious consequences and thus shall never be taken for granted. The withdrawal of the strikers' mind, as exemplified in the novel, hastened the destruction of the civil society and brought the looters closer to their ultimate nothingness. The novel revolves around Rand's idea that if the great minds are being compelled to think not for their own interest but to work in consideration of the welfare of others, the mind for that reason is deprived of maintaining a rational thought.
In Atlas Shrugged, the great industrialists and businessmen are slowly disappearing because their motive for thinking is being bargained with the principles that are contrary to their moral obligations. As portrayed in the novel, the only moral obligation that an individual has is to remain focused on themselves and seek his own happiness through the implementation of his own distinctive talents. That an individual does not have any moral commitment to another man except to respect his rights. Rand in this manner stresses that every man shall never interfere with the businesses of another man. That everyone takes responsibility for themselves, their actions, and their decisions and there shall never be false realities. Rand's another theme of non-interference is clearly demonstrated when, the moment the government interferes with the private businesses of individuals by virtue of the good of the state, would result in the destruction of efficient production.
In the novel, because of this action, the thinkers withdrew their minds to oppose the oppression of thought and the obligatory moral code of self-sacrifice that necessitates them to work only to serve the needs of others. This implicates that men, in whatever matter, should never be compelled to act or believe in any ideas other than his own. Man must be self-motivated and even be selfish. In the sense that he is motivated for his own values so as to achieve happiness and success. This ideal man should then be uncompromising and shall always follow his rational self-interest in his action. The theme presented in the novel is very unique and does carry a fresh insight.
The theme, reflecting Rand's philosophy, is in opposition to many of the other philosophers's tance that men subsists not just for himself but also in relation to others. The theme implies that, though not generally, man must live not to relate with others but to advance his own humanity. The theme does not take into consideration the subordination of individuals to other individuals to achieve a common good. Instead, the concept focuses to work merely for one's own good. Moreover, the theme is unique in that it placed huge emphasis of the importance of the mind, and the effects it may cause once this mind halts to exist.
That anti-mind is actually anti-life. And that reason is the most important virtue of all. Rand affirmed, through her novel, that man's mind is his basic tool for survival. Life is given to man whereas survival is not. To remain alive, he must act and before he can act e must know the nature and purpose of his action. That in order to remain alive, one must think.
The premise is also unique in the sense that is has presented a viable and clear illustration of what would happen if the importance of the mind is to be taken for granted, compromised, or restricted. This kind of theme does carry a fresh insight where a reader may find themselves pausing and thinking that Rand's views are appropriate. To safely describe her philosophy, Rand said that it is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute. This theme has that ability to open every readers' mind that this kind of conviction that has not yet been described by other thinkers. The fresh insight comes from the bold move of Ayn Rand to describe what has been wrong with the world and upon recognition of those mistakes, she has presented viable solutions that are quite ambitious yet sensible and logical. I have described her theme as ambitious because in reality, a person would practically choose to consider the needs of others and do a deal with it with his personal codes so as to obtain the needs that can be offered easily by others.
Her theme does touch about human nature. According to her, man is a rational being. Reason, as man's only means of knowledge, is his basic means of survival. Yet the exercise of reason depends on each individual's preference.
Ayn Rand's philosophy rejects any manner of determinism, the idea that man is a victim of forces beyond his control such as God, fate, upbringing, genes, or economic conditions. According to her, human nature exists merely for itself and shall not get involved with anything else. That man shall never give in justice to mercy, independence to unity, reason to faith. That human nature shall not be cursed for its unwillingness to subordinate to others' thoughts and response to others' needs. That human nature exists exclusively for themselves because they have to be independent and uncompromising. Ayn Rand's ideals are impressive and new, however I generally disagree with her.
Generally disagree because she has some points that are really rational and in that sense it makes it correct. For instance, the idea that man shall think an act if he is to live a life proper to a man. This view is actually sensible for everyone must put forth effort to attain any level that he desires to achieve, and to eventually deserve that attainment by virtue of his own standards. On the other hand, the bulk of her beliefs is in contradiction with my own because I firmly believe that man shall not solely consult his self-interests to achieve happiness and success. Man must not forget to associate with others since much can be taken from others in return. Not only in the form of material things but also in the form of intangible things.
Furthermore, I am tightly held by the conviction that there is something or someone bigger than life itself that I must consider when undertaking any effort to achieve my goal. I find nothing wrong in believing that there is a God who is responsible for shaping me into what I am now. That this faith that I embrace is stronger than any other values written and preached by a philosophical prodigy. I also disagree because the people she presented in her novel have no ability to feel or show their true emotions. Their emotions merely exist to subordinate to the mind, which always has a reason for everything. The emotions are therefore dependent and cannot act out of its own reason.
Because for me emotions may, oftentimes, exist to have an outlet for the things or events that we people do not necessarily have a reason, or not that we knew of. Given this kind of human nature, the author presupposes that society works independently for their own well-being and not necessarily for a common cause. That society exists because of the individual interests of each member. And that there is a unique motivation existing in a society. Several parts of the novel are really unforgettable but that portion that bothers me most was the whole John Galt Speech. I must admit that while and after reading that complete chapter, the beliefs that I grew up living with and eventually practicing are disturbed.
Ayn Rand's way of writing that part was truly exceptional and my views were challenged by her ideals equipped with coherent reasons. The author was able to effectively relay her views by illustrating vividly the worst effects if her idea is to be taken for granted. In some parts of that speech, one may not avoid to acknowledge her stand since it is both practical and rational. Every statement was explained in full detail, and every argument was never left hanging with contradictions. In that way, it bothered me since it sort of made me question my own ideals.
On the other hand, I was delighted with how Ayn Rand presented the strong friendship between Hand Rearden and Francisco d'Anconia. The kind of friendship that these two characters are extraordinary taking into consideration that both of them can be described as self-centered yet were able to display such unconditional bond. Also is how she was able to integrate three men in Dagny Taggart's life without making it seem immoral. Any reader wouldn't find it hard to understand why the events have to be that way and why certain circumstances lead into those unpredictable courses. I find it delightful because it in fact added color to the novel and these complications in the main characters' lives made the novel more exciting and readable to people who are not used to reading novels as such.
It would sound more than pass'e if I am to say that there isn't anything in the story that I'd like to change. However, I strongly feel that I should say it as well because there is no need to change anything. I find every little detail in the novel significant and that each detail written is a factor that would make this story etched perpetually in the reader's mind.