A new publication by the free market think tank, The Institute of Economic Affairs, “The Representatives of Business in English Literature,” Readings 53, takes a look at how businessmen have received a bad deal in fiction. In a nice review in the Financial Times (registration necessary for the article, via www.ft.com), writer Stephen Overell notes that Ayn Rand’s classic, Atlas Shrugged, was a ‘freak’ in that it celebrated business and the trader ethic.
And I had to laugh. For Overell starts his analysis by quoting the ‘sacred text’, as Adriana Cronin would describe it, of Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, the bit where Francisco D’Ancona praises the idea of ‘making money’. Overell goes on to show how Rand’s view of wealth creation stands in total contrast to 99 percent of literature’s portrayal of capitalism and businessfolk. Just so.
I like to think that this review, by a FT journalist not necessarily well disposed towards libertarianism, puts the recent jousting on Samizdata about Rand into some kind of perspective. It seems some of the biggest haters of Rand are libertarians, while non-libertarians seem quite intrigued by her writings, so much so that they could even turn people on to capitalist ideas. To quote Margaret Thatcher, it is a funny old world.