Friday, Atlas Shrugged Part II hits theaters. Based on Ayn Rand's influential magnum opus, the second part of the book further develops what the decline of an irrational society looks like. Given the nature of our society today — the over reliance on government sponsored services, a philosophical foundation based on irrationality and collectivism, a general hatred towards individualism — the movie cannot come at a better time. Regardless of if the latest presidential election were being held in two weeks or two years, our society needs more objectivism. To that end, Atlas Shrugged Part II is a welcome piece of entertainment that will serve America well.
Make no mistake, as a piece of cinema, the film has to improve on the shortcomings of the first. The casting was good, but the script was an abhorrent example of what amateurs produce. While trailers alone cannot determine the quality of a movie, the latest does at the very least show that the producers John Aglialoro and Harmon Kaslow have taken a different direction this time around. They seem to have positively learned from their mistakes of the first film, and hopefully have created more of a cinematic piece that can effectively communicate the message of Ayn Rand and her philosophy of objectivism. Admittedly, though, that ultimately can only be answered by watching the movie.
Nonetheless, the film does come at a critical time. Some of the most important parts of Atlas Shrugged —the pieces that provide the philosophical foundation for the novel — are included in part two of the book. Given our current economic condition and the outright disregard our current crop of elected officials in the Obama administration and Congress have for the concepts of rational governance, more people need to be exposed to these philosophical ideas.
"Money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver."—Ayn Rand
Francisco D'Anconia's monologue on the nature of money, value, and trade will be an important part of this film. Far too many people in this country think that having a large sum of money is necessarily a guarantor of success. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Those who understand the value of money as a tool in the marketplace do have a great advantage over those that don't. It is exactly why some people can be paid millions for their ability to entertain individuals as performers or athletes but still end up bankrupt when their initial career is over. However, it also explains why the massive government stimuli have failed to rocket the economy back into the growth we need as a first world nation, and it also explains why quantitative easing has failed in any meaningful sense to boost the economy. People have forgotten the value of the dollar in this country, and that value is based on the usefulness of the goods and services we purchase from one another.
"I hold that there is no clash of interests among men who do not demand the unearned and do not practice human sacrifices."—Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged character Hank Rearden's critique of irrational lawmaking is a lesson that most in Washington need to seriously consider when debating legislation. The feverish debate about millionaires and billionaires proffered by the Obama administration is sadly the same tact taken by the administrators trying Hank Rearden. "Paying their fair share" is nothing more than stating that Obama wishes for those with wealth to legitimize the government's theft of it. Obama completely misunderstood the nature of voluntary market relationships when his speech in Roanoke derided the ability of entrepreneurs to build their own brand and business. The Occupy Movement is built on the concept that government giving money to banks and barons of industry is wrong, but giving money to other interest groups in society is right. It is a reflection of the irrationality that our society bases its policy on. Our society best functions when government protects the ability of private individuals and organizations to develop relationships from which everyone benefits. Nobody benefits more from this more than the poor, but then again, the wealthy do well as a result, too.
Everyone has the opportunity to prosper should they choose to pursue success.
As the movie hits theaters, objectivists will undoubtedly rush to see the film. Hopefully, they look at it with a critical eye to both its entertainment value and its social message. The individual no longer exists to the degree it should in our society. The power of our minds, our capabilities to rationally find solutions to life's problems, has been demagogued to a disgusting degree. Hopefully, the movie spurs more conversation among voters at the polls. We've lost our philosophy as a society, and we desperately need it back before we find out how the world will look when Atlas does decide to shrug.