Why did Atlas Shrug ?

This is not a question answered by Ayn Rand’s novel ‘Atlas Shrugged’ however it does shed light on a dystopian world which is rushing towards a total economic collapse. Businesses suffer due to a corrupt and meddlesome governing authority putting up burdensome laws. The story follows railroad executive Dagny Taggart in her struggle against ‘looters’ that exploit their productivity. In this world more and more successful leaders and thinkers abandon their business and seemingly disappear as a strike against the looters. The novel pushes a capitalist world where everyone gets what they deserve. This novel takes the idea “what if all thinkers decided to go on a strike” and revolves around the consequences.

This world has a common saying “Who is John Galt ?” which means “why bother” this phrase not only confuses the protagonist but drives her. Dagny sets out to save her company from the economic collapse by setting out to make a new rail line with the help of Hank Rearden who creates a new alloy lighter and stronger than steel. A government research foundation “State Science Institute” wants to buy the alloy from Rearden but he’s unwilling to sell. The institute then publishes a report condemning the metal without proper analysis still succeeds in making many significant organizations boycott the train line. To counter the boycott Dagny declares the new line an independent line with the name John Galt line to protect Taggart transcontinental. Dagny and Hank find out that Ellis Wyatt a supporter of the rail line set his oil fields to fire and disappeared along with a few other leaders. Meanwhile an old friend of Dagny’s Francisco d’Anconia is found by Dagny and hank to be damaging his own business for unknown reasons.

After the completion of the John Galt line and eventual inauguration Dagny and Hank find out an incomplete motor that works on the atmospheric static electricity. To find more about this mysterious motor she hires a scientist by the name of Quinten Daniels. The authority then imposes a directive where employees are forbidden from leaving their jobs and all the patents are nationalized in protest of this Dagny resigns. Due to a major disaster in Taggart Transcontinental’s tunnels Dagny returns to work and is notified that Quentin Daniels is resigning too. She tries to stop him from doing so, on the way she finds the secret about the motor which was created by an engineer named John Galt. She chases after Daniels in a plane and crashes into a hidden valley called Galt’s culch while inadvertently discovering the reason behind all the disappearances.

She meets John Galt who is leading the organized strike of the “men of the mind” against a society composed of looters and exploiters. Dagny stays at the culch and begins to understand Galt’s motives and reasoning behind the strike. Galt wishes for the world to be devoid of the leeches and looters. Galt asks Dagny to join his strike which is supported by many prominent figures like d’Anconia but Dagny refuses to abandon the railroad.

Dagny leaves Galt’s culch and finds herself back in her world which has devolved into dictatorship. d’Anconia finishes the sabotage of his own industry and invites Rearden to support the strike after stopping a government sanctioned armed takeover of Rearden Steel. Meanwhile Galt follows Dagny to New York and delivers a long speech about his ideals but is captured by the authorities he is then rescued by his followers joined by Dagny. The novel ends as Galt announces the way is clear for the strikers to re-join the world and help rebuild it due to the downfall of the government.

In conclusion I’ll say that the novel is definitely not a small one which an avid reader could finish in a weekend but is definitely worth reading as the world seems to be going in the same direction the author feared.

Categories: Book Review

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