Last Saturday evening, I went to see “Atlas Shrugged part 2: The Strike” for the 2nd time. The first time was an 11:45 AM showing on opening Friday, which, surprisingly, had a rather full audience. On Saturday evening, however, the theater seemed crowded, and when the closing credits came up, there was loud applause (as I stood up to go, I saw some people standing and clapping, but I don’t know if it was a standing ovation, or if they were still clapping as they got ready to leave, as I was doing).
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics rate the movie at 5%, while their audience rating was 79% favorable. What this says to me is, those who are open to the movie’s message to begin with, are very enthusiastic about that message, while critics, like most Hollywood types, are progressive douchebags. A redundancy, I know.
Ayn Rand’s name is often spoken with the same disdain reserved for Machiavelli, and, in my opinion, with equal injustice. The same idiots who would proudly cite the despot Sun Tsu from “The Art of War”, sneer at Machiavelli without having read “The Prince”. Machiavelli laid out the reality of politics, just as Sun Tsu laid out the reality of war. Rand, one might say, laid out the reality of individualism.
And millions responded. Her novel, “Atlas Shrugged” has been a best seller for decades. People frequently recount how it changed their lives. As with Machiavelli, the power brokers who wish to take advantage of general ignorance for their own aggrandizement and profit, condemn Rand. While Atlas is not currently shrugging, and probably will not shrug, at the height of progressivism’s greatest advancement, Atlas is shuddering.
The shudder began with the rejection of the “racist” canard. People who knew in their hearts that they were good, that they bore no ill-will to members of other races, recognized their own color-blindness, and finally ceased reacting with guilt and shame at every opportunistic cry of “raaacist!”. They began to question many of the “givens” that the left has foisted upon the public mentality over the past century.
Beginning with “A is A”, people, libertarians and conservatives, established who they were, not who society said they were based upon countless categories. Armed with that knowledge, they took the next step, and began to question the accepted “truths” of “the public good” and the nobility of altruism. Their desire to be productive, creative; to trade value for value they, finally, were able to differentiate from the “cronyism” that has come to dominate the American public sector. They recognized that the real problem wasn’t capitalists and capitalism, but the very looters and moochers of whom Rand spoke. People who could not compete in an honest, rational world, and so applied the levers of guilt, scandal, and socialism, until they warped our honest, rational, capitalist society into the grotesque it has become today.
As the progressives began to feel their grip slipping, in panic they heightened their rhetoric, until it became obvious that “rhetoric” is all it was. Grand theories based, not on the rational world, but manipulating human emotion. And once individuals began applying their new-found rationalism to the emotional rhetoric of the progressives, the rhetoric became completely ineffective.
But, it’s a shudder, not a shrug. Producers are not disappearing off to some hidden valley. However, they are moving their enterprises overseas. They are finding new and creative ways to hide the profits and benefits of their creativity and productivity. In some cases, they’re “going Galt” in-place; merely doing the bare minimum expected or required of them, offering no creativity, no productivity beyond that which they must to maintain their current status. Atlas is shuddering, but Atlas is also waiting.
He’s waiting to see what’s to become of the world. If the looters and moochers manage to remain in control of government after this election, Atlas’ shudder, as a precursor to an earthquake, may well turn into a shrug. Then “going Galt” will become more than a fictional catch-phrase.
But, if the producers, the motor of the world, the Atlases, sense that rationalism has regained ascendancy, the shudder will be nothing more than Atlas adjusting his stance, tightening his grip, bracing himself to launch the world into a capitalist paradise of creativity, productivity, affluence, expansion unimagined before. Because now Atlas knows who he is. And, like Rearden Metal… he is good.