TOS Blog: Daily Commentary from an Objectivist Perspective

Rob Lowe Admirably Defends Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged

In a recent Tweet, actor Rob Lowe asks, “Can someone explain the vitriol whenever Ayn Rand comes up? ‘Atlas’ is the greatest motivator for the individual that I can imagine.”

Lowe is right. Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged is immensely inspirational. In addition to offering profound political and philosophical insights, Atlas shows rational, productive men and women—including a railroad executive, a steel producer, a miner, and a philosopher—working to achieve their values. Although the novel proceeds from an unusual premise of the major producers going on strike so far as the broader world is concerned, they continue to pursue their careers in private even after they go on strike, and, by doing so, strive for a future of liberty.

When Hank Rearden spends years working relentlessly to develop a better metal, when Dagny Taggart defies all odds to build a crucial rail line, when John Galt devotes his life to achieving justice for great producers, these characters do more than advance the plot of a novel: They inspire readers to achieve their own rational values, whatever the struggle.

Like this post? Join our mailing list to receive our weekly digest. And for in-depth commentary from an Objectivist perspective, subscribe to our quarterly journal, The Objective Standard.


Image: Wikimedia Commons

Posted in: Ayn Rand and Objectivism

Comments are welcome so long as they are civil.
  • Charles Ivie

    Progressive liberalism is a radical secular religion. No one is more strident than a religious zealot when their belief structure is challenged. Because liberal progressives are true believers they are convinced, like all true believers, that anyone that disagrees with their dogma is evil incarnate and is to be destroyed by any means possible. Ayn Rand and her philosophy poses a direct challenge and thus a threat to the legitimacy of progressive beliefs. Therefore it should come as no surprise that she and her ideas are hated by this group.

  • Richard Foley

    @ Charles Ivie. I know many objectivists, I’m one of them that believes the same only in reverse. All of the ideas that define progressive liberalism are hated by you and me alike. It is necessarily our mission to stamp them out. There is nothing wrong with that on either side of the argument. How do you respond when your belief structure is threatened? The key difference is how the belief structure is formulated. Through reason and thus cooresponding to reality and the nature of man? Or through ideas that are irrational? That’s the crucial difference so you cannot criticize progressives for defending their beliefs. It is right for them to do so!

  • Brian Yoder

    I don’t think it’s quite the same thing. There are plenty of people on the Left I dislike. I consider Marx, Singer, Rawls, Barber, Mao, Pot, and others to be horribly murderously wrong of course, but I have also read what they actually wrote and said. The vast majority of the people with the most vitriol about Rand know nothing about her that didn’t come from some leftist screed denouncing her for loving corporate bailouts and wanting to see poor people starve. The reason such people respond with nothing but emotion is that they don’t have anything else to respond with. I find it rare that someone who has actually read Rand responds in a totally emotional way even if they still vehemently reject her point of view.

  • Abir Mandal

    I have read all that. Doing so just makes me hate the other side more. When someone asks me why I wish Barack Obama and his ilk dead, what can I say but that he is killing my person each day with his new regulations, taxes and petty bureaucrats who want to tell me what I can and cannot do with my mind?

  • Don Kiss

    The vitriol comes from those who sympathize or identify with the villains in the novel (Atlas Shrugged).

  • Theresa Bubenzer

    You don’t seem to be feeling the love.

  • Theresa Bubenzer

    Ayn Rand was an immigrant who turned into quite the little tyrant. Her personal life was rather spotty, to say the least. She also admired sociopathic behavior. I read her books in high school and thought she lacked then. It really surprises me to see her taken up with such fervor. It is basically a rationale for being selfish. Not that most people need one but I guess Rand is the go to if you do.

  • Brian Yoder

    What sociopathic behavior might that be?

    As for your teenaged reading of her books, do you think it is possible that without any experience in the adult world that you might not have understood what she was saying back then?

  • Theresa Bubenzer

    I understood she was a terrible writer. I haven’t changed that perspective. She had immense admiration for a serial killer. She also smoked cigarettes and when she got cancer, didn’t tell anyone not to smoke. She was a toxic personality and very controlling. I don’t know why she got such a following especially among fundamentalist Christians. She was an atheist. Shrugs.

  • David McGraw

    Exactly. Ayn Rand is hated by anyone with an agenda to loot, mooch, or control others.

  • David McGraw

    A person who believes in intellectual, physical, and economic freedom is not a tyrant. Are you speaking English?

  • Theresa Bubenzer

    No. I am writing in English. Ayn Rand was a controlling person. She also collected Social Security until she died. Oh, not on her earnings, of course. But, on her husbands’. Hypocrisy is an English word that comes to mind.

  • Theresa Bubenzer

    And yet, she didn’t mind mooching off the system herself. Hmmm.

  • Ross McNamara

    Liberalism has irrationalism at its fundamental roots, like any other system of thought or set of ideals that is forged in the fire of belief in the absence of proof, it is doomed to be enshrouded by a castle of ignorance where the only ultimate defense of it is a club.

  • Jack

    Rob Lowe has earned my respect.