Atlas Shrugged is a novel written by Ayn Rand, first published in 1957. The novel takes place in the future United States, where the population refuses to be exploited by the government. The protagonist of the book is a woman named Dagny Taggart. She sees the government trying to take more and more control over its people, which leads to the society collapsing. Meanwhile, a productive member of society by the name of John Galt is leading a “strike” against the government because it tries to take away from individual people’s accomplishments. The book, in over a thousand pages, tries to demonstrate that society cannot exist if its people are slaves to the government and if there is a lack of profit motive in people’s minds.
This novel is very pro-Capitalism. A major theme in the book is the idea of objectivism. Objectivism is the idea of "rational self-interest," which means looking out for you above everyone else. “Rational self-interest” is an idea that stemmed from Capitalism. Capitalism is an economic system where things are produced privately and meant for private profit. People who believe in Capitalism believe that it is the best economic system because it allows for an individual to work hard and earn their profit on their own, without any help from the government. In Capitalism, profit motive is what triggers people to work hard. Capitalists believe that the government should keep out of economic affairs.
Bert Cooper, one of the heads of Sterling Cooper, is a big fan of Atlas Shrugged and suggests to a number of his employees to buy a copy. In the wake of the Cold War, this was a very popular book because it promoted Capitalism, which is what the United States believes is the best economic system. The book suggests that the government as shown in the book, a government that control its people, is a form of Communism. Communism versus Capitalism was the main idea of the Cold War and whoever ‘won’ the War would have the best type of government.
Links referenced: “Atlas Shrugged.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia, 15 Oct 2010. Web. 17 Oct