Atlas Shrugged in one chart

I spent the last weeks, among other things, reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Then I spent a few minutes making a chart about it. Enjoyed the latter more.

AS in one chart

No. Not a fan.

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  1. Atlas Shrugged In One Chart [Mildly NSFW] | Business Insider - pingback on February 18, 2014 at 17:43
  2. Dear Simon…
    Seven million hardcopies sold (AS only…Fountainhead considerably more), unanimous institutional derision for her ideas, still in print 57 years on, fanatical devotion then and now to a philosophy not spoken of in polite society (maybe we own what we own), English as her second language…………..your eminently comparable achievements? Please.
    How about just saying: ‘don’t agree with her views on anything, but hats off to the old bird, because for fuck’s sake, she actually did something with her life, unlike many, including nearly all Economics professors/students…’?

    • and hack wanna-be writers stuck posting articles on websites that rank below 5,000,000

      • and angry nerds whining on internet messageboards

        • And angrier, less educated nerds who call others out to make themselves feel better

          • The irony though

          • amazing that you were able to infer my level of education from only 7 words; i’m sure you werent just wildly and dangerously speculating without evidence like so many randoids love to do

          • It’s not that ironic, just simple deduction. You make it easy.

          • Hahaha simple deduction? Well obviously you must be well versed in logic then right? Would you mind pointing out the multiple logical conclusions that you were able to successfully imply from the multiple premises you formed from those seven words to reach this conclusion? Put them in conjunctive normal form, and obviously I want the deterministic and nondeterministic finite state machines for this “simple deduction” too. I mean, I made it easy.

    • Popularity does not equal merit, so I’m not sure what your point is with sales figures. The Bible keeps selling, ergo god exists! As for”unanimous institutional derision” I think I’d like some sources on that, as its a pretty ridiculous statement on its face.

      As for this whole “well what have you done” nonsense, it’s a pile of garbage. Not only do you get to criticize something even if you haven’t done the same thing yourself, but the idea of the merit of her work in part deriving from the fact she bothered to do it is lazy reasoning at best. You can value her achievements more highly than that of a professor or whatever, but deflecting criticism with “well you suck too”.fails.

      I won’t congratulate someone for achieving something just cause they did when I think the results are terrible.

    • Dear DBears-on-Roids…
      Justin Bieber has sold 12.8 million albums, made $83,341,886 on just one of his tours, has 57,000,000 Facebook fans, has been on the Billboard charts for a total of 1279 weeks (which adds up to 24 years, longer than he’s been alive), and has had over 3.75 billion YouTube views. By the way you bow at the feet of Ayn Rand because of her “accomplishments,” you should be kneeling at Bieber’s feet too, because he’s obviously the worlds best musician ever. He’s also obviously much better, and knows more about music than any music teacher or professor too. Right?

      • good point.

      • Terrible argument, seriously. While I can’t say that Bieber makes good music I can say that he’s accomplished more in his few years than most people have in their entire lives. You don’t have to like his music to acknoledge this fact. Same goes for Ayn Rand so the OP’s comment remains true while you’ve just exposed your lack of logical thinking. Congrats.

        • Nice try. Of course he’s accomplished a lot. That was my point. Just as Rand did too. Saying her philosophy holds an weight at all though is like saying Bieber is an accomplished musician, which he is not. Just as Rand’s books are amateurish at best and her philosophy is full of shlt.

    • Yes, but the Bible has sold more. If you’re going on popularity alone, that is. Probably other books of fantasy, like Grimm’s and Andersen’s Fairy Tales have sold as many as that book of fantasy known as Atlas Shrugged.

      Going on popularity alone is a very, very, very lame, very limp, very impotent argument.

      Why not just say, “I sniff Ayn Rand’s panties”? That at least would be an affirmative statement. Your mingeing jealousy of academics is noted, however.

  3. Nah. Mostly because that’s not at all what I write. I say the book is idiotic (and it is; the caricature of “businessmen as all deserving,” and “government as evil,” is unintelligent); not her. When it comes to her, the book *is* badly written, but that’s not my issue.
    And no, I don’t have any comparable achievements.

  4. fictional caricatures by their nature have a purpose: to inflate the simplicity of the character, and in this case, the message. you’ll never be better at being a caricature than speaking in a tongue you didn’t grow up with. like a movie scene where your girl is from somewhere else, you must tell the girl you love her (we only live once, so of course you have to tell her), instead you end up saying ‘let’s fuck’ in her language. in its perverted expression, a bastardized message like that is all things at once: messy, funny, direct, and honest. that, seems to me, is AR’s achievement from a literary standpoint: messy, direct, honest, and funny (you’re debating a Russian woman’s English book 57 years on – she’d find that funny).
    if you don’t like her simple message, then don’t read her too literally… her love for her own husband eclipsed everything, including her career…so, is AR more a romantic and less a cold piece of business-loving steel? maybe she intended for the book to be more about true love, and less about what you/others assume…
    As that old codger Ray Bradbury said, ‘in the end, it was always about love’.

    • Actually wasn’t it her love for her devotee also-married Nathanial Brandon that eclipsed everything?

      • Exactly, she loved her husband so much she cheated on him. Listen to her interview with Bill Wallace and you’ll see her clearly state that it’s a selfish love she has for him, which means “I use him for my purposes only and don’t have an obligation to him as my husband.”

  5. Dear Simon
    28 years ago, I spent a week reading the book. Today, a few seconds reading your chart. I enjoyed the chart more.

  6. I see what you are doing there. You can’t present and intelligent argument to you resort to low-brow humor!
    The Daily show ought to snap you up quick before Fallon does.

    • “You can’t present and (sic) intelligent argument to you (sic) resort to low-brow humor!”
      You’re the last person qualified to judge somebody’s intelligence.

  7. Atlas is sci-fi. Only the deranged and illogical think it’s reality. That chart would apply to most sci-fi.

  8. So, I get Ayn Rand as a curiosity. I do not get her as an object of anything from admiration to worship. To me, it appears that her delusions are somehow contagious to susceptible individuals. People suffering from these delusions should not be employed as public servants.

  9. I was introduced to Ayn Rand (“Anthem”) by my high school English teacher. I’d read all her fiction by the age of 17. She made a big impression on a lonely, romantic teenager. Then I started to grow up. Looking around me, I started to see how completely removed from reality Rand’s “vision” is. Now I find her merely repellant. Yes, her influence was and continues to be extensive. It is a big mistake to think that has anything to do with literary talent. Rand had the right (far right!) message at the right time: selfishness as the ultimate virtue. I’m mystified as to why otherwise intelligent people—like some Libertarians I know—continue to venerate her. That said, I’m glad I read her when I did — she has helped me understand some of the forces that have so warped society over the past fifty years.

    • So, Randroids, are you going to say THIS person didn’t read the book either?

    • and you do know she received cancer treatments courtesy the U.S. govt that she was so against. why isn’t this hypocrisy pointed out everytime she is canonized?

  10. “I say the book is idiotic (and it is; the caricature of ‘business men as all deserving,’ and ‘government as evil,’ is unintelligent)…”

    Simon, how could you have spent a week reading the book and come away with the idea that the book protrays all businessmen as deserving and government as evil? Rand makes a clear distinction between moral businessmen and immoral ones, the incorruptible ones and the corrupt. And she’s not portraying government as evil; she’s portraying fascist government as evil.

    Rand’s view is that government is coercion and is necessary to protect people against criminals and enemy nations who would use force to violate rights, and to settle legal disputes, but should not get involved in other areas of life. In the book, the men running the government are what Rand calls “pull peddlers” who trade favors with corrupt businessmen and seek to break the independence of the non-corrupt ones,to bring everyone under the supreme control of a fascist dictatorship.

    How is this not realistic?

    Your description of the book is false. You see it as far simpler than what it is. Why is that? Were you reading it with one eye shut? Were you half asleep? Reading it with prejudice so that you couldn’t see what was actually being said? If you think the book is unintelligent, perhaps you were reading it in an unintelligent frame of mind.

    • “Rand’s view is that government is coercion and is necessary to protect people against criminals and enemy nations who would use force to violate rights, and to settle legal disputes, but should not get involved in other areas of life.”
      She died of cancer no doubt caused by the pollution caused by irresponsible dumping of corporate chemicals in rivers, streams, crop dusting, etc… that govt should have prohibited…but lobbying and profit motive let slip into our lives.
      Then govt paid for her cancer treatments as she couldn’t afford them, despite her literary success. She was a terrible hypocrite preaching self interest that made our country worse off then and now by simple minded believers following her flawed philosophies.

  11. The book was not an actual novel – it was a 1000-page rant from an ideologue, no more no less.

    • johnny quest

      Yup, a sophist disguising their rhetoric in the more nuanced and more subjective dress of fiction.
      “But, grandmother, what big eyes you have!”

  12. How dare you criticize St. Ayn! She did more than any other person, living or dead, to make our world a better place………..for psychopaths.

  13. Randroid butthurt is amusing. More! More!

  14. There are few books that make me regret the time I wasted reading them: “Shrugged” and “Fountainhead” are two of them.

  15. OakenTruncheon

    A novelist with many unfortunate similarities to L. Ron Hubbard.

  16. I read Atlas Shrugged when I was in college, at the behest of the girl I was dating. By the time I reached the end of it, I realized that it was a hymn in praise of selfishness. I told the girl that it sets up a straw man and then belabors it. She dropped me in favor of another guy who was “stronger” (in the Ayn Rand sense) than I. Best thing she ever did for me.

  17. Quick poll y’all, what book is more realistic: Atlas Shrugged or Battlefield Earth? Both led to irrational pseudo-religions, so yeah, they should be grouped together.

  18. Pure idiot romanticism, in the sense of the Romantic mvt of late 18th & 19th century. Replacing violent royalty with thieving royalty. Infantile shit.

  19. Kennon Gilson

    I’m always amazed at how some people attack ‘Atlas Shrugged’ while hiding what it is: A story of a peaceful strike led by Aristotelian philosophers against a vicious US dictatorship. Apparently they like the dictatorship.
    Rand was one of the great champions of Liberal Democracy, and many of her ideas from LGBT rights to her denunciation of Right-To-Work laws were once derided and are now borrowed by increasingly libertarian-influenced progressives.
    As for info on Libertarians and what they’re actually doing, see

    • As I don’t currently have time to get into a debate about this right now, I’ll just refer you to an article that does an excellent job of summarizing my opinions regarding Atlas Shrugged.

      • Thanks. My response to the SALON article:

        “Meh. Adam Lee ignores in his article what most such critics ignore: that ‘Atlas Shrugged’ is about a peaceful strike led by philosophers against a genocidal totalitarian state.

        He misrepresents the book and Rand thereafter to often say the opposite of what is said, and makes up stuff in the article e.g. that Rand claimed making money was what life is about, though even the quote he gives says no such thing.

        Rand was an advocate of progressive and tolerant Liberal Democracy based on strict attention to rights and interest in science. Such pro-choice Democracy is spreading worldwide, often led not just by Libertarians and progressive allies but by people inspired by works such as ‘Atlas Shrugged’ to use peaceful methods.

        I would suggest googling ‘operation democracy + libertarian’ to start getting informed. “

  20. johnny quest

    Well on the plus side, it’s a great substitute for a Duraflame Firelog. It’ll burn all night. Prolly could use a bunch of copies to bullet proof a nwo bunker, too.

  21. Perhaps Simon Hinrichsen would benefit from a serious/careful reading of
    — “The Virtue of Selfishness” — it’s not what the typical pompous fools here think;
    — “Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal” — the socialism which guides the thinking of the fools, has killed 200 million and impoverishes millions within a single century;
    — “Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology” — the first significant advancement in epistemology since Aristotle (the fools here probably have no idea what “epistemology” actually is).
    — “Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (by Leonard Peikoff) — only for those who can actually follow an argument. Of course, those could not follow the deeper implications of the characters and events in Atlas Shrugged should probably stick with “Where The Wild Things Are”, for the angst, impotence, and need for mommy out of which they never grew.


    • Perhaps you should take a look around and realize that basing an economic system on selfishness and greed benefits those who are most greedy and most selfish. It’s no coincidence that the percentage of CEOs who exhibit sociopathic behavior is four times greater than the percentage of people in the general public who exhibit similar behavior.

    • Awesome. Let’s write in a foolishly pompous tone while calling others pompous fools. Ego worship at its finest.

      I found that most Objectivists (if they can be called that) are the most arrogantly dogmatic, subjective, and narcissistic brats who were most likely drawn to this psychopathic, anti-human philosophy as a means to justify their own pathological egocentrism stemming from their retarded emotional development. Psychopaths and narcissists are emotional retards with hampered limbic development. Apparently you never grew out your mommy, either.

      Proper application of this philosophy will lead to poor cognitive and emotional development, alienation of anyone unlike yourself (ie. bigotry, of which Ayn Rand was the master), superficial friendships and relationships, awful marriages most likely leading to divorce (put two narcissists in a room and they’ll compete with each other, and we all we all know they don’t like competition), violent and forceful sex (Rand’s idea of romantic love making was immortalized by having Dagney Taggert raped), no real friends – not even from other Objectivists/Narcissists, and no creative or inventive ability.

      PS – The chart above is line with my experience reading the book.

  22. My reading list, 2014 — yours 2015 | Macro Exposure - pingback on December 17, 2014 at 14:16
  23. I’m always amazed at how some people attack ‘Atlas Shrugged’ while hiding what it is: A story of a peaceful strike led by Aristotelian philosophers against a vicious US dictatorship. Apparently they like the dictatorship.
    Rand was one of the great champions of Liberal Democracy, and many of her ideas from LGBT rights to her denunciation of Right-To-Work laws were once derided and are now borrowed by increasingly libertarian-influenced progressives.
    As for info on Libertarians and what they’re actually doing, see

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  25. It is interesting how much Ayn Rand has been debated this century. Rand said she wrote Atlas Shrugged so that what she described would not happen.  We have begun to see that she failed. Many are saying she told you so. And they are looking for a solution where there is none, really. The novel itself Illustrates that: escape, run for the hills and take care of your own, do not enable exploitation by giving the sanction of the victim, and let the system collapse so that we can rebuilt a prperfect one.  The only solution to our present circumstances involves great pain, epochical change. It is politically impossible. Think our present circumstances through to any logical conclusion and you will see societal collapse and war followed by totalitarism.  Am I pessimistic? Damn right I am. Galt’s Gulch is science fiction and was intended as such.

    Some doomsayers say that a black swan will trigger a sudden catastrophic collapse.  They convently overlook that the powers that be are now aware of the problem and they are continually seeking more power to make their system work.  They only know state action and they are doubling down on their mistakes, doing the same thing over and over and thinking they will get a different result. Insanity.  

    No, the collapse will not be sudden. We will continue to slither down the slippery slope that has no bottom.  Consider that Since 1913 the value of the dollar has declined 95%.  There were some major disruptions but no societal collapse (in the US).  And the vast majority of today’s population is oblivious to the dollar’s decline. Some think we are nearing the bottom but we are traveling some logarithmic scale that goes on to infinity.

    Don’t ignore that Atlas Shrugged is fiction, a fantasy that serves as a vehicle for articulating a philosophy. So to say it is unrealistic or juvenile misses the point entirely.  As a fantasy it is a fun read, especially if you are predisposed to accept the general proposition that socialism doesn’t work without coercion and it doesn’t work with coercion either.  But the book can be read on a deeper level. Get past the dogmatic absolutism in the novel and evaluate what she develops as a philosophy of objective reality.  Understand what she says about metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, politics and economics, and it makes consistently good sense. 

    The vast majority go through their lives without asking, “Where am I? [metaphysics]  How do I know? [epistemology]  What should I do? [ethics]” Most find such questions irrelevant to their lives or the answers obvious. Or they have accepted the dangerous proposition that this existence is merely an imperfect shadow of a greater, unknowable reality.  A proposition which leaves them at the mercy of shamans and demagogues.  As Ayn Rand told the cadets at West Point (“Philosophy. What Good Is It?”), philosophy is important. Erroneous philosophy and its consequences have brought us the world we have today and has been responsible for unspeakable horrors throughout history.

    Ayn Rand and the “Objectivists” made a big mistake in the sixties by the manner in which they tried to develop a following. It was juvenile, narcissistic, dogmatic and worse. And it gave the left ample ammunition for criticism and distain without even reading the book.  It has dogged Objectivists to this day. It lessened the credibility of the attempted movement and retarded its growth.

    Don’t look to Ayn Rand or the portions of her life and works that lack adequate support in reality (e.g., sex, esthetics). Take the part that is well founded in reality and makes consistently good sense.

  26. If you believe that those characters are ridiculous, that’s because you didn’t live in a fucking colectivism society like Argentina. We have much more ridiculous characters in real life, and they are in the government choosing our destiny.

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