I got to the end of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. It is a great book and has made me think long and hard about my values and my thoughts on the way the world works.
To make its point the book, at times, is a little simplistic. All books have to be. It is impossible to portray the complexity of human life in a book with a beginning and an end.
If I had a criticism then it would be that. In my opinion, Rand’s arguments in the book take a simplistic notion of commerce and its role in creating wealth. Yes it is true that it takes people of courage, brains and determination to develop the products we need to live in the modern world. Behind everything that we take for granted in our daily lives there has been design, toil and manufacturing. Without the vision and associated risks of entrepreneurs we would be languishing in the stone age.
Yet it remains a fact that a product is nothing without a consumer to buy it and use it. A manufacturing plant is nothing without its dedicated and motivated workforce. A market cannot succeed in a society that is failing.
We live in a symbiotic society, that needs all sorts of people, those that make, those that consume, those that can organise and those that can govern. It is keeping all of these in balance that is what society is about. It is wrong to place one group on a pedestal as more important than any other. We all have our roles to play.
I recognise a lot, however, of what she described in the book in today’s climate and this should be a warning to all of us. Society is in flux and not all for the better. I truly believe that a balance needs to be maintained. If history teaches us anything, it is this.
If you get a chance, read the book.