Well, I finished the book. I was driven to finish the book. I will admit I skipped over the 65-page-or-so speech of John Galt because I wanted to get the end and I figured I had already heard most of that speech throughout the book, but I will probably go back and re-read it intently to see if I missed anything.
There’s a lot of descriptive narrative in the book, almost too much for my taste, but I could have a short attention span. It is amazing to me how far down human nature can and will go. The people in Atlas Shrugged seemed to have lost their minds because they could no longer think for themselves. Government had taken over doing their thinking for them. Is our country in danger of doing the same? I fear there are plenty of people out there who want someone else to think for them, to do for them. Today’s generations are not those who grew up as my grandparents did who struggled during the great depression and worked hard for what they gained, who took personal responsibility.
Once a people start denying personal responsibility, they start denying their own reality. I personally believe the spiral is only downward from there. Deception, lying, stealing are symptoms of this lack. Take for instance the road comissioner who puts in a culvert for the local bank president on that man’s personal property, then bills the township for the cost of it, or the township trustees who say nothing but give their approval for payment. Or the same man, paying workers at his private business by billing the same township coffers. What is to be done about it by the few who even care? What about those in the position of authority who could, but refuse, because they want re-election, to do anything about a candidate who doesn’t even live in the township for which he wants to hold office? Or the states attorney who won’t prosecute certain “crimes”, lest it ruin his re-election chances? This is the premise of Atlas Shrugged, as the corruption and cronyism continues to spread and there are fewer and fewer with a mind and the courage to stop it, because they don’t think they can or they no longer care. And it can only get worse from here. Emboldened by the fact that no one is stopping them, how much longer before a worse crime is committed, before someone’s life is taken? It’s a pessimistic world Ayn Rand paints. And every place where evil is unchallenged and justice is not upheld becomes that world where no one is truly free.
“The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”–Edmund Burke