Sixty years ago, Ayn Rand anticipated Obama’s “You didn’t build that”—and also provided the perfect response to it.
No matter how weird, false, and hate-filled Ayn Rand’s Objectivist ideology is, it remains the case that as our society keeps becoming more leftist and collectivist, many of the elements in her epic novel Atlas Shrugged keep becoming more relevant and prescient.
Recently I have been re-reading Atlas Shrugged, with the aim of writing a summary of what’s terrific, what’s good, what’s bad, and what’s unreadably bad about it. (The title of the article will be, “Atlas Shrugged: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”) Two nights ago I came upon the following passage, on page 246. In the scene, James Taggart, one of the novel’s principal villains, a man who hates all achievement, has just met an idealistic young woman named Cheryl Brooks and is talking to her about the genius steel industrialist Henry Rearden. After ten years of unremitting effort, Rearden has invented a new metal alloy lighter and stronger than steel called Rearden Metal. Fighting against the massed forces of public opinion and every effort to stop him, he has used the Metal to build a new railway line that will save the country’s economy.
Here is the exchange between Taggart and Cheryl:
“He didn’t invent iron ore and blast furnaces, did he?”Cheryl’s reply is of course the correct and perfect reply to Obama’s “You didn’t build that.”
Terry Morris writes:
I remember that exchange from the book, but I don’t recall, is that the way it ends? [LA replies: The conversation continues, but on other points.] Taggart didn’t continue to press his point about everyone using everyone else’s work? He didn’t say something like:Terry Morris writes:
Speaking of Rand’s windiness, I loaned my copy of Atlas Shrugged to a friend, warning that Rand “seems to have had a unique ability to cram into five or six paragraphs what most of us could say in one or two.”
Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 31, 2012 11:03 AM | Send