Some years ago, my wife and I faced a quandary. We were at the movies and there wasn’t anything playing at the time that we really wanted to see. One movie title made us curious; it was “Atlas Shrugged.”
We had no idea what the move was about. I know that might sound strange, today, but we’re both liberals. We had no idea it was the holiest of holies for the right wing, that it was their “Second Bible,” the creation of the great Ayn. We went to see it.
It was a confusing story. For those of you who haven’t seen it, which I imagine is most people, it was a bomb, as it told of a dystopia America, where top business leaders are crushed under the weight of government regulations and are under the thumb of the all-powerful unions. The two main characters try desperately to improve this version of America, but at every turn, the enemies of progress, unions and government, thwart them.
I thought maybe it the moviemaker intended it as a comedy. One aspect in particular made me chuckle. Dagny, the main protagonist, is trying to build a high-speed rail system. As these are common throughout most, if not all, of the industrialized world, it seemed a modest goal. I also found a tad irony, in that conservatives should embrace such a story, as they are the ones who have been blocking such a rail system in our country for decades!
The perspective was a fantasy. It held that the government would stand up to big business. Then there was how the enigmatic John Galt recruited smart and dedicated industrialists to the new world. Galt told the industrialists of a wonderland of perfect business, a community where they were free to create jobs and wealth, where there was almost no government. Naturally, without a shred of confirmatory evidence, they would instantly left with Galt.
The movie ended on a cliffhanger. The idea for “Atlas Shrugged” was as a trilogy. We didn’t see the second movie, but I made a point of renting the third installment, if only to see how it ended.
Once again, it was practically a comedy. Let’s see, where to start? First, this perfect community was rural, no heavy industry, it looked like Napa Valley and everyone seemed to enjoy wine on a regular basis. People worked for themselves and did nothing for anyone else, as that was inappropriate. The new wonderful world was a place of sole proprietorships, no big companies at all. Again, not the sort of thing conservatives are in favour of or support with massive tax breaks.
If you wanted to help someone, it was your own decision. In the so-called normal world, were people felt band or for their success and, thus, forced to help others, well that was wrong. When Jesus said we should help the poor, feed the hungry, heal the sick and care for children and the elderly, we shouldn’t do that unless we wanted to do it. It’s not as if we had to do it as a condition of being a good person or a good Christian, it was optional, in the new business wonderland.
When it came to medicine, they were way ahead of the rest of the world, as they had no government to get in the way. Physicians could use new devices and products they created. Who needs the FDA or EPA? Three words do, for example, Children of Thalidomide!
John Galt created an incredible energy motor that could power the nation. The government didn’t want it. When I saw the machine, which somehow drew power from the air, all I could think was Green Energy.
If used, the Galt machine spelled the end to fossil fuels. As we know, the government does want that, doesn’t it. Let me guess, the powerful coal miner unions would object. The coal and oil industry wouldn’t care, would it and even if they did, the government wouldn’t listen to them, right.
The entire story was a complete twisting of reality. I could only view it as fantasy. What I find even more fantastic is, somehow, all three movies, in the trilogy, filmed.
The biggest fantasy, of all, is some right wingers believe we are living in the world of John Galt. What a pity they can’t click their heels together and jet off to the secret valley of Galt. Frankly, I think we’d be much better off.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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