I’ve been thinking about this throughout the day, and I have to say that although many books have had a huge impact on me, the one that sticks out the most is ‘Atlas Shrugged’ by Ayn Rand. Rand is an author who immigrated to the USA after the Russian revolution. She was staunchly anti-communism and in her writings created a philosophy called objectivism. This philosophy was dabbled into in her earlier works, but fully realised in ‘Atlas Shrugged’. You can read about the philosophy a bit more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Objectivism_(Ayn_Rand). The basics idea is: ‘that the proper moral purpose of one's life is the pursuit of one's own happiness (rational self-interest), that the only social system consistent with this morality is one that displays full respect for individual rights embodied in laissez-faire capitalism, and that the role of art in human life is to transform humans' metaphysical ideas by selective reproduction of reality into a physical form—a work of art—that one can comprehend and to which one can respond emotionally.’ (Wikipedia)
Atlas Shrugged is like a sonnet towards capitalism and a demonization of all social systems that allow people to lazily mooch off of the talents, hard work, and energy of the movers and shakers in our world. It is 100% anti-any sort of social programmes or any society that breeds leeches on the system through that society’s own neglect of the true reason the world keeps turning: the people who hold it up, the creators and maintainers of industry.
You can then understand why certain political parties quite like the idea. But this book is an amazing example of extremes as well, the extreme of going too far ‘right’ in your point of view; and how a real-life situation (communism in the USSR) can affect the mindset of a person.
The way the story is told, unfolding over 1100 pages of intertwining character stories, past and future, leaves the reader feeling completely in awe of the philosophy Rand created, and really understanding not only where she’s coming from, but why it’s a good idea as well. You feel a deep kinship for the main characters, crying over their pains and revelling in their triumphs. You begin to feel nauseated at the evils done to them in the name of communism or socialism. When you finish this book, you are emotionally drained, and unsure about how the future of our society is going to pan out. At least that is what the book did to me. And I have read this book four times.
Every time I read it, a few days after finishing it I start to realise again that objectivism just isn’t possible, that the world cannot work in the fashion Rand imagines, but MAN, does she know how to create a case for a pure capitalist world where every person must contribute to the society. She weaves an incredible tale, in which any idea you ever had about who is the ‘good guy’ and who is the ‘bad guy’ in our world gets turned onto its head. Overall, I think this book really helps you realise that moderation, politically, socially and economically, is the best way forward. You don’t have to agree with her, but you can’t deny that this book really is a work of art-her own objectivist art, selectively reproduced into physical form.
If you’re ever up for a challenge, I highly suggest reading this book. This is one of those books that by keeping an open mind when you read it, you can see where your own sentiments fall, and learn to understand yourself and what has helped to shape who you are a little bit better.