25 February, 2016
This is John Galt speaking...
There are authors whose works are prolific – like Enid Blyton. She is credited with a prodigious 750 written works! There are others who have stamped their literary authority with just a few works - Joseph Heller with Catch 22, Harper Lee with To Kill a mocking bird & Ayn Rand with Atlas Shrugged & Fountainhead. Many of you would have read these books.
It’s Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged that I read recently. It made a huge impression on me. The brand of philosophy called Objectivism, is fresh in it’s approach. It has as it’s central percepts, the pursuit of one’s own happiness, respect to the individual’s rights & embodies Capitalism, in it’s pure form. It’s very interesting to get the perspectives from her central characters, at opportune moments, during the narrative.
The style of writing is not the reason why you would want to read this book. It is the story which has been woven skillfully to bring out the full glory of the objectivism philosophy, that is appealing. She brings in strong characters who live her philosophy & help us understand what would have been otherwise abstruse. Dagny & Hank, for instance, are the epitome of the go-getter – those who will make things happen. They know their capabilities & live for themselves with the object of finding their happiness.
Then there are the socialists who slowly take over the system, ostensibly to help the Toms of the world, to stand up and be counted. Something like the garibi hatao, we keep hearing. The idea is to bludgeon the productive people into submission & make their businesses subservient to “social objectives”. The social objectives actually are a cover for self-enrichment & usurping and carving out available markets among cronies. If this looks like what is happening today in India it does not surprise me – the template looked déjà vu to me!
I was even able to map the characters. Jack Taggart looked like Pappu. Wesley Mouch, Cuffy Meigs, Floyd Ferris – all are the quintessential commies, whose only contribution is spouting expressions that look like they are good but are actually destructive. You will be able to see the entire pantheon from the left brigade – the Rajas, Yechuris, Karats etc. among these characters.
The commies over time bring down one business after another through their “rules” & central control. The productive enterprises soon find it difficult to survive. And then inexplicably, the titans of the industry start vanishing, one by one. This hastens the crumble in the economy.
It becomes apparent much later in the book that a scientist called John Galt is making people vanish. No one knows this. They keep wondering – Who is John Galt?
When the economy has almost fully crumbled & the commies know of the existence of John Galt, they want his help to clear the mess & reboot the economy. He refuses, even under duress. He obviously will – for he had vowed to stop the motor of the world, run by these relics.
There are some very well-reasoned speeches in the book – Francisco D’anconia’s speech on money is worth reading & re-reading. The speech by John Galt which he starts with – This is John Galt speaking – is long, too long & a bit of strenuous to read, considering it goes to some 45 pages or so!
Overall a very good read, though a bit long… about 1100 pages. But, when you want to read what is acknowledged a classic, you should permit some leeway.
Else, you will keep wondering “Who is John Galt?”, like the public in the book!
Author – Suresh Sadagopan | Founder | Ladder7 Financial Advisories