I’ve been re-reading Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged this summer, as part of a whirlwind ten-week Atlas Shrugged Reading Group for members of Front Range Objectivism. I’ve learned so much more about the novel than I expected. I have enjoyed the process of finding so many new delights in it. In addition to releasing my discussion questions, I hope to blog about some of what I’ve learned this upcoming fall and spring, as I work through the novel again in a slower-paced reading group in Colorado Springs.
For the moment, I just wanted to note my particular pleasure at this near-final passage from Galt’s Speech:
In the name of the best within you, do not sacrifice this world to those who are its worst. In the name of the values that keep you alive, do not let your vision of man be distorted by the ugly, the cowardly, the mindless in those who have never achieved his title. Do not lose your knowledge that man’s proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.
But to win it requires your total dedication and a total break with the world of your past, with the doctrine that man is a sacrificial animal who exists for the pleasure of others. Fight for the value of your person. Fight for the virtue of your pride. Fight for the essence of that which is man: for his sovereign rational mind. Fight with the radiant certainty and the absolute rectitude of knowing that yours is the Morality of Life and that yours is the battle for any achievement, any value, any grandeur, any goodness, any joy that has ever existed on this earth.
Given the sordid state of the world today, I felt like John Galt grabbed me and shook me when I read those words.