Catching up with John Galt

From CNN this week came news that the capitalism-themed works of Ayn Rand are in high demand.  As politicians on the right form their messages, this is worth paying attention to.

The only Rand book I’ve read is her most famous volume, Atlas Shrugged.  A 1200-page brick of a book, it was nevertheless a page-turner – and despite the set of beliefs and philosophies behind it, it was first and foremost an extremely well-written story.  Rand’s characters are interesting and her plot is compelling.

That’s exactly why big screen rumors have persisted for years – and there’s no time like now.

The genius of Rand’s social commentary is in its separation of the seemingly synonymous concepts of free market capitalism and “big business.”  She skewers lobbyists for large corporations who seek control of the cogs and wheels of government – in other words, she would have no sympathy for the automakers, banks, or other large companies parading, hat in hand, to Capitol Hill.  In Atlas Shrugged, as is the case today, big businesses are often the first to call for government involvement in the economy because they have the resources and influence to frame the policy.

And there couldn’t be a better way to deliver these messages than through compelling entertainment.  Inside-the-Beltway conservative talking heads just aren’t going to get it done.

And that may be the biggest impediment to a silver screen adaptation for Atlas Shrugged.  Despite a riveting and topical story, its core philosophy isn’t exactly in lockstep with the prevailing Hollywood liberalism.  Don’t get me wrong – there won’t be a conspiracy.  But if I’m a liberal studio executive, and all my friends are liberal studio executives, and most of my political conversations are with other liberals, it won’t take much to convince me that the only audience for Atlas Shrugged would be packs of black-clad anarchical-capitalist “Randroids.”

Perhaps a small, independent studio will take a chance on the product despite the paralyzing group think of industry leaders.  Given the story, that may be more appropriate.

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