Let's take a look at Mr. Atlas, shall we?
There he stands, hunched over, supporting not the Earth, but the entire heavens, the universe (as the Greeks understood it).
Atlas, with his brother Menoetius, sided with the Titans in their war against the Olympians, the Titanomachy. His brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus weighed the odds and betrayed the other Titans by forming an alliance with the Olympians. When the Titans were defeated, many of them (including Menoetius) were confined to Tartarus, but Zeus condemned Atlas to stand at the western edge of Gaia (the Earth) and hold up Uranus (the Sky) on his shoulders, to prevent the two from resuming their primordial embrace. Thus, he was Atlas Telamon, "enduring Atlas," and became a doublet of Koios, the embodiment of the celestial axis around which the heavens revolve. (Wikipedia)
In the Randian view, this great burdon is the masses. The common people, the people who toil away in factories and on farms. Atlas is, of course, the "productive" class (i.e. capitalists) bending under the oppressive weight of the semi-barbaric horde.
The book was produced in a time of great labor strength. Unionism was strong and the public honored and respected labor and working people. Rand saw this kind of collectivism and respect for collectivist ideas as both distasteful and unhealthy. She sought to convince people that it was the owners of capital who produced the wealth, not the workers. In her way, she echoed the works of Milton Friedman and the monetarists of the Austrian school. Value derives from the top, not from the bottom.
This view inverts the more accepted construct that it is the capitalists who live parasitically from the labor of others and it is the capitalists who extract labor value from the masses. Rand's inverted world view drives everything that the right today stands for. To them, the masses are "dirty hippies," "lazy teachers" and "union thugs." They should be lucky to even have jobs in the Randian utopia that the Tea Party wants to see ushered in. Caesar si viveret, ad remum dareris!
Of course, the Tea Party are really just the populist face of this ugly strain of American political thought which seeks to denigrate the dignity of labor and working people for its own selfish ends. To maximize profits and limit expenses, front groups like Americans for Prosperity fund these assaults on workers and their rights. And the Tea Party shuffle along, like zombies, dancing to the tune of discord from the pipes of their corporate masters.
But I think that people are waking up from this Fox News induced scam-coma. Newsweek ran an article entitled War on the Weak: How the GOP Came to View the Poor as Parasites -- and the Rich as our Rightful Rulers.
The enduring heart of Rand’s totalistic philosophy was Marxism flipped upside down. Rand viewed the capitalists, not the workers, as the producers of all wealth, and the workers, not the capitalists, as useless parasites.It's would be comical if it weren't so cruel and if we weren't living in a time where our political leaders are actively trying to bring about this Randian New World Order. Paul Ryan is a Randian. And he's setting GOP economic policy in the house.
Representative Paul Ryan, also of Wisconsin, requires staffers to read Atlas Shrugged, describes Obama’s economic policies as “something right out of an Ayn Rand novel,” and calls Rand “the reason I got involved in public service.”
Does anyone not see the irony in this? Someone claiming that Ayn Rand drove him to public service? How is that possible? Rand absolutely despised public service. The only thing worse than the dirty laborers in Rand's world were the public servants. So what does it mean when Paul Ryan says that it was Ayn Rand who led him to public service? Could it be that Paul Ryan got involved in public service so he could destroy public service?
Ayn Rand is informing our public policy like never before. I, for one, find this more than a little alarming. But then, I'm just a "dirty hippie" aren't I?