Friday, January 9, 2009

TBAR: "Atlas Shrugged" and Texas

Because times are bad, I was drawn to a book I had not read in a long time: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. As I read it, I thought, "wow, this is all happening now, the collapse of the American economy because corrupt, incompetent business men threw in their lot with corrupt politicians."

Then the Friday 1/9/09 Wall Street Journal runs this great essay:
"'Atlas Shrugged': from Fiction to Fact in 52 Years" by Stephen Moore.

Here is a quote from the essay:
"Many of us who know Rand's work have noticed that with each passing week, and with each successive bailout plan and economic-stimulus scheme out of Washington, our current politicians are committing the very acts of economic lunacy that "Atlas Shrugged" parodied in 1957..."

I think it is important for Texans to read and discuss Atlas Shrugged if Texas is to lead America back to prosperity.

There is already a connection between Texas and Ayn Rand. The University of Texas at Austin has a Chair for the Study of Objectivism and an Anthem Foundation Fellowship, both held by Professor Tara Smith in the Philosophy Department. And if Texas is to wrestle control away from the New York power brokers and restore the American republic, the citizens of Texas need to understand how dangerous corrupt businessmen can be to our nation.

Texans need to understand the important issues depicted in Atlas Shrugged, recognizing the philosophical errors in Ayn Rand's book. Yes, her thinking is flawed. She paints an accurate picture, then misinterprets the underlying causes of the problems she depicts. The issues in the book are too important neglect this work just because she is imperfect. I believe a healthy discussion on the book's strengths and weaknesses would help Texas chart our path to greatness.

I also see a connection between Atlas Shrugged and the Texas Publishing Project. I envision a business-hero genre. Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart are heroic business people. Businessmen are almost always portrayed as villains. A few successful books from Texas publishers depicting heroic Texas businessmen could create a vibrant publishing industry. The approach might be as simple as "translating" a cowboy novel plot into the corporate world. A more sophisticated approach might fictionalize a struggle between virtuous, God fearing Texas business persons and a corrupt cabal of New York businesses and their corrupt New York bankers and Wall Street financiers. That's easy, read today's newspapers to see what the bad guys look like. If you don't know what I'm talking about, Google "Bernie Madoff" as a starting point. If you don't know what I mean when I say "business cabal", read The Creature from Jekyll Island by G. Edward Griffin.

When you read Atlas Shrugged, you get pulled into the story and start cheering for Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart. We could be cheering stories of successful Texas business persons. When our children think of business as exciting and heroic, then we might bring America back to vigorous economic prosperity.

Robert Canright

Disclaimer: I am not endorsing Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism. I am recommending we examine her vision of business corruption and the heroic business person. Following are links related to "Atlas Shrugged"

Here is a link to "Le Monde Diplomatique Discovers Ayn Rand" By Judith Apter Klinghoffer in the History News Network.

Ayn Rand: "Atlas felt a sense of déjà vu" from The Economist print edition, Feb 26th 2009

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