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Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – Review

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Photo by Siddhant Kumar on Unsplash

Ayn Rand’s work has been credited with influencing the growth of neoliberalism around the world. Neoliberalism is an extreme form of capitalism, which is largely responsible for destroying our planet and bringing us to the brink of simultaneous climate, ecological and technological catastrophes. Atlas Shrugged is regarded as Rand’s magnum opus.

Unsurprisingly, Rand’s work has admirers in both the fossil fuel industry and the tech industry – the two industries driving us towards climate breakdown and an AI apocalypse. There are more similarities between these industries than may first be apparent, as I covered in my AI blog. That these crises are happening simultaneously becomes less of a mystery when we understand that people within both industries are following a Randian ideology. In order to shift the world towards a better future, it’s of utmost importance that we understand the ideology they’re following, so that we can begin to tell a new story.

For this reason, I gave myself the unenviable task of reading Rand’s three primary works in the order they were written: Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged.

I was shocked at their brazen language and how they flipped traditional values upside down. There are excessive examples of selfishness and greed. Individualism is king and society is roundly damned. Responsibility is shrugged off. Egotism and narcissism are welcome guests. Things most reasonable people would be ashamed of, are glorified in Rand’s work. Worryingly, these values have resonated with people who have vast amounts of wealth and power – the same people who are steering us towards disaster.

The following review focuses on Atlas Shrugged, and contains spoilers.

What is Atlas Shrugged about?

Wealthy business owners are targeted by an extreme left-wing US government (think communism or socialism on steroids). They are taxed too much, and the state begins making it impossible for them to operate. Many of these wealthy business owners begin disappearing. We learn in time that they’re on strike. This explains why Rand’s working title was The Strike.

No one knows where the business owners disappear too, but it soon becomes apparent that they were essential to keeping the country on its feet. Two hardy business people hold out. One is Dagny Taggart, whose family operates Taggart Transcontinental Railways. The other is Hank Rearden, who produces steel and develops a new stronger, longer-lasting metal called Rearden Metal. Hank is one of Dagny’s three lovers in the book, and his affair with Dagny leads to divorce and further troubles for him. Dagny has no qualms moving between rich handsome men as they come onto the scene, regardless of the pain she leaves behind her.

Despite their best efforts, Dagny and Hank eventually succumb to the impossible situation the government has created and also leave. A common phrase in the book is ‘Who is John Galt?’ The phrase is used in the same way we respond with ‘Who knows?’

We eventually meet Galt. He is an engineer who has developed a motor that can change the way the world operates. It’s actually a form of renewable energy. It’s worth pointing out that this book was written in 1957, when renewables weren’t really a big thing. The climate crisis would only enter global consciousness at Hansen’s US Senate testimony more than 30 years later. Galt refuses to give this ‘gift’ to the world, because of the government. Instead, he creates a hideaway called Galt’s Gulch.

This is where the business people have disappeared to, and they refuse to quit their ‘strike’ until such time as more favourable conditions come about for businesses. The symbol used to represent Galt’s Gulch? A dollar sign. As the book explains it was the only monogram used for currency anywhere in the world.

At nearly 1,200 dense pages long, this isn’t an easy read and I’m quite baffled at the army of loyal readers the book has. A lot more can be said about the plot and the story, but the summary above should suffice for the following analysis.

What influence did the book have?

Atlas Shrugged came second behind the Bible, in a Library of Congress survey in the 1990s of the most influential books in America. In a 1998 survey of readers by the Modern Library, they voted Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead in first and second place in a list of “the greatest books of the twentieth century,” writes Bill McKibben in Falter. It’s difficult to underestimate the impact of this book.

In Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed, Lisa Duggan lists a large number of people in business, finance, entertainment, and politics who’ve been fans of Rand and her work. They include:

  • Jeff Bezos (Amazon)
  • Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia)
  • John Allison (BB&T Banking Corporation)
  • John Mackey (Whole Foods)
  • Mark Cuban (NBA)
  • Peter Thiel (Paypal)
  • Steve Jobs (Apple)
  • Travis Kalanik (Uber)
  • Angelina Jolie
  • Ashley Judd
  • Barbara Stanwyck
  • Brad Pitt
  • Eva Mendes
  • Jerry Lewis
  • Jim Carrey
  • Joan Crawford
  • Raquel Welch
  • Rob Lowe
  • Sandra Bullock
  • Sharon Stone
  • Donald Trump (apparently identifies with Howard Roark from The Fountainhead)
  • Mike Pompeo
  • Rex Tillerson (who apparently said Atlas Shrugged was his favourite book in a feature for a Scouting Magazine)
  • Alan Greenspan (“a regular at Rand’s Collective meetings during the 1950s”, who, “became one of the most important neoliberal policy makers in world history.”)

In Falter, McKibben says that according to Steve Wozniak, who co-founded Apple, that Steve Jobs “considered Atlas Shrugged one of his guides in life.” McKibben writes that, “Paul Ryan told the Atlas Society, a Rand fan club, that her books were “the reason I got involved in public service,” and that he had required all his interns to read them.” According to McKibben, many corporate heads and congressman share Rand’s books with each other. He quotes a chief executive of a leading regional American bank, who said that, “I know from talking to a lot of Fortune 500 CEOs that ‘Atlas Shrugged’ has had a significant effect on their business decisions.” He also quotes Elon Musk, who says that Ayn Rand, “has a fairly extreme set of views, but she has some good points in there.”

How communism and socialism broke Ayn Rand (and thus broke the world)

Rand was born in St. Petersburg in February 1905, as Alissa Rosenbaum. She witnessed both the Kerensky and Bolshevik Revolution (the latter of which brought the Bolsheviks into power, and they later renamed as The Communist Party). The Bolshevik’s communist ideology was shaped by Lenin and Marx.

Under this communist rule, Rand’s father had his pharmacy confiscated and their home was taken from them. It’s said that they faced “near-starvation.” Prior to this happening, the family had a good social and economic standing, which they never regained. While studying philosophy and history at the University of Petrograd, Rand experienced “the take-over of the university by communist thugs.” It’s therefore safe to say that Rand’s extreme views were shaped by the communist rule she lived under.

Lisa Duggan puts it bluntly in Mean Girl, writing that, “Socialist revolution made Ayn Rand.” Given how her world was turned upside down by communism, it’s no surprise that she came to detest it and searched out it’s opposite – extreme capitalism.

Thus communism is ultimately responsible for the type of stories that Rand would come to write. And those stories have shaped governmental and cultural thought for decades, which has brought us to the brink of climate, ecological and technological catastrophe. Her stories still dominate the narrative that we hear from political ‘leaders’, corporate executives, and large swathes of the media (particularly the billionaire press and the tabloids). We need a new story to replace the toxic one that has percolated through our culture, and we need it urgently. For there is but a meagre amount of sand left in the sand timer, upon which civilisation’s future hangs.

What are some of the underlying themes of Atlas Shrugged?

Individualism and selfishness

Individualism is fundamental to this story. Every person should do what they feel is right, and everyone (and everything) else be damned. It’s not just selfish and egotistical (“You’re an egoist!” “I am.”), but also borders on narcissism. Just take a look at the dialogue below to get a flavour of what is quite commonplace in the book.

“You can’t be hard on a man who needs you, it will prey on your conscience for the rest of your life.”

“It won’t.”

“You’ve got to be kind, Henry.”

“I’m not.”

“You’ve got to have some pity.”

“I haven’t.”

“A good man knows how to forgive.”

“I don’t.”

“You wouldn’t want me to think that you’re selfish.”

“I am.”

That kind of mentality shows a lack of empathy, sympathy and a fundamental disregard for what it means to be human. To think that politicians in the highest offices, as well as top business leaders, oil company executives, and silicon valley technopreneurs embrace this ideology, is concerning to say the very least. I believe this is one of the reasons why the world is being trashed – because those with the most power and wealth are so self-oriented, that they’ll do whatever they please to bring themselves more wealth and self-satisfaction, even if it comes at our collective expense.

“He had moved toward his goal, sweeping aside everything that did not pertain to it in the world and in himself.”

Could this be why we’re in a climate crisis? Could this be why we’re heading towards a techopalypse with AI? Could this be why our politicians don’t make decisions that benefit society, and why things seem to be leaning towards right-wing authoritarianism around the world? If anything, Atlas Shrugged shows us how the other side think. “He had never liked anyone or expected to be liked,” writes Rand. We might expect most people to have similar values, morals and ethics. But given how many people resonate with Rand’s work, we may have got that wrong. Let’s take a look at another quote from the book.

“Man is a being with free will; therefore, each man is potentially good or evil, and it’s up to him and only to him (through his reasoning mind) to decide which he wants to be. The decision will affect only him; it is not (and cannot and should not be) the primary concern of any other human being.”

Wrong! The decision to be good or evil doesn’t just affect the person who decides which they want to be – that’s blatantly obvious. Did Hitler’s decision to be evil just affect him? Did Mugabe’s? Do the decision of fossil fuel executives, vested politicians and media outlets only affect them, or are we in a planetary climate emergency? This hypocrisy from Ayn Rand, a philosophical author who keeps talking about “reason” and her admiration for “men of mind”. She has failed to apply either reason or her mind here.

Rand’s obsession with individualism can perhaps be seen most blatantly when Dagny Taggart is taken to Galt’s Gulch. Before being given permission to live in their commune (which is ironic given Rand’s hatred of collectives and communism), each person must take the following oath:


The capitalisation belongs to Rand. That Rand believes no person should live for the sake of another, goes against what humanity is – a social species. This has been backed up by science. Robert J. Waldinger and Marc Schulz wrote The Good Life about The Harvard Study of Adult Development. The study has spanned 84 years and is “the longest in-depth longitudinal study of human life ever done.” They say that if the findings from the research had to be condensed into a single message it would be that, “Good relationships keep us healthier and happier.” Her ideology flies in the face of what it actually means to be human. It’s entirely possible (or even likely) that Rand’s experience with socialism/communism played a role in turning her away from anything that resembled social cohesion and community.

Rand’s beliefs poisoned politics all the way up to the highest level, which can be seen when Margaret Thatcher declared, “There’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.”

This theme is best summed up by Lisa Duggan who writes in Mean Girl, “Gore Vidal commented in his 1961 review of For the New Intellectual, Miss Rand now tells us that what we have thought was right is really wrong. The lesson should have read: One for one and none for all.”

Tearing society apart

We have seen how Rand’s work promoted selfishness. But as mentioned above, she was also against community and society. Is it any wonder then that according to Bill McKibben in Falter, that “The “intellectual architect of Brexit” keeps a photo of her [Ayn Rand] on his desk”?

How often do we hear politicians and certain parts of the billionaire press blame problems on migrants? Or on people who’re on benefits? Well, in 1957, here’s what rand wrote in Atlas Shrugged:

“‘Public welfare’ is the welfare of those who do not earn it; those who do, are entitled to no welfare. ‘The public,’ to you, is whoever has failed to achieve any virtue or value; whoever achieves it, whoever provides the goods you require for survival, ceases to be regarded as part of the public or as part of the human race.”

Such seeds of hatred can have devastating effects on society, as we’ve seen. Now think about another right-wing refrain about cutting aid budgets abroad. As if they’ve forgotten that we’re part of the same human family. Atlas Shrugged is just as blunt:

“All those damned People’s States all over the earth have been existing only on the handouts which you squeezed for them out of this country.”

What about helping those less fortunate than yourself? For being a caring and compassionate person?

“You don’t really care about helping the underprivileged, do you?” Philip asked—and Rearden heard, unable to believe it, that the tone of his voice was reproachful.

“No, Phil, I don’t care about it at all.”

The book is also infused with how socialism and communism drag down a country:

“I read an article,” said one of the women tonelessly. “It said that times of trouble are good for us. It is good that people are growing poorer. To accept privations is a moral virtue.”

Communism unleashed many horrors upon the world and corruption found a way to exist in that ideology, as it does with capitalism. But the world moved away from communism, freeing many people from oppressive regimes. However, the extreme left is once again embracing communism. One can’t help but wonder if they feel any remorse or even understand how their ideology produced the Ayn Rand of Atlas Shrugged, whose work has led us to the point of climate and technological disaster. Are Randians and communists two sides of the same coin with vastly misplaced and damaging worldviews, who both pose a dangerous risk to our collective future?

Greed is good

“The words ‘to make money’ hold the essence of human morality.”

Perhaps due to living under communism, Rand was hellbent on free-market capitalism and the right to make money at any cost. There are far too many examples to choose from in the book, so below is just one:

“Miss Taggart, I can proudly say that in all of my life I have never made a profit!” Her voice was quiet, steady and solemn: “Mr. Lawson, I think I should let you know that of all the statements a man can make, that is the one I consider most despicable.”

In the book, those with socialist attitudes are made out to be the villains. One such person is James Taggart, brother of Dagny Taggart. James tells us that, “Money is the root of all evil.” But this is later countered in a long stretch of dialogue:

“Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper’s bell of an approaching looter.”

“Looters” in the book are those who seek to take wealth and possessions away from the rich – similar to what happened to Rand’s father in real life. So, on one side, there is the communist-esque government who say that they’ll, “liberate our culture from the stranglehold of the profit-chasers.” Then on the other side, you have the oppressed wealthy individuals who work for their “own profit”, because they “earn it.”

These business leaders, led by John Galt, proclaim that they will free the country from the looters:

“With the sign of the dollar as our symbol—the sign of free trade and free minds—we will move to reclaim this country once more from the impotent savages…”

How fitting then, to have the dollar sign as their symbol. The amount of societal and environmental damage that’s been caused by the worship of that symbol is hard to put into words.

Take from the poor to give to the rich!

“I set out to show how desperately the world needs prime movers, and how viciously it treats them.”

The rich deserve to be praised! The rich deserve our whole-hearted support! The rich deserve to be helped to enlarge their wealth! That Rand’s fiction and reality resemble one and other is troubling. In Atlas Shrugged, Rand writes:

“I’m after a man whom I want to destroy. He died many centuries ago, but until the last trace of him is wiped out of men’s minds, we will not have a decent world to live in.”

“What man?”

“Robin Hood.”

Rearden looked at him blankly, not understanding.

“He was the man who robbed the rich and gave to the poor. Well, I’m the man who robs the poor and gives to the rich…”

This almost sounds childish, and yet the symbolism is powerful. What Ayn Rand believes is that businesses have been hard done by, and the poor should be made to pay, so that the rich can become wealthier. Rand continues:

“Until men learn that of all human symbols, Robin Hood is the most immoral and the most contemptible, there will be no justice on earth and no way for mankind to survive.”

Rand has inverted reality to suit her worldview. In a work of fiction, that’s one thing. But unfortunately, this book is extremely influential and it’s used by many people as a manifesto. Even if this book isn’t the sole cause of the world going to hell in a handcart, it nonetheless shows the thought process of the other side.

Regulation is evil

Free market capitalism is what the characters in the book want. Government simply gets in the way with those annoying regulations that protect society (and as we know society is also evil according to Rand). Why bother protecting society if you don’t believe it’s a good thing?

Paying taxes also annoys companies in the book. At one point, the pirate Ragnar Danneskjöld who is part of John Galt’s crew, says that he’ll return Hank Rearden’s taxes:

“Your income tax for the last twelve years.”

“You intend to refund that?”

“In full and in gold, Mr. Rearden.”

Taxes go towards keeping society functioning. But why pay your fair share, if you’re only interested in yourself and you think society is amoral? That’s the toxic message here.


As if there weren’t enough contemptible themes in the book, Rand added in some affairs for good measure:

“Listen, you fool, there isn’t a husband who doesn’t sleep with other women and there isn’t a wife who doesn’t know it, but they don’t talk about it! I’ll lay anybody I please, and you go and do the same, like all those bitches, and keep your mouth shut!”

Dagny Taggart has numerous lovers in the book including Francisco d’Anconia and John Galt. She also has an affair with Hank Rearden. Although Rearden feels an obligation to his wife he has deeper feelings for Dagny, and they become lovers. Was it all worth it? No. Dagny leaves Rearden for John Galt. Thus, Rearden is left bereft and divorced. In real-life, Rand began an affair with Nathan Blumenthal. One wonders if this real-life experience influenced the motives of the characters in the book.

Bribery, corruption and double-standards

The wealthy business owners in the book detest the bribery and corruption carried out by the government. They hate it so much in fact that they decide to do it themselves – completely oblivious to the hypocrisy. This is how Dagny behaved:

“She had flown to Chicago, that night, she had got three lawyers, a judge and a state legislator out of bed, she had bribed two of them and threatened the others.”

And Rand’s other hero, Hank Rearden, resorts to the same tactics when seeking to divorce his wife. The divorce arises because he is angry at her for betraying him (which happened after he betrayed her by having an affair behind her back):

“Get me a divorce. On any grounds and at any cost. I don’t care what means you use, how many of their judges you purchase or whether you find it necessary to stage a frame-up of my wife. Do whatever you wish.”

Hypocrisy doesn’t seem to matter to Rand, because through individualism, her actions only concern her and no one else’s opinion matters. Neither it seems, do facts.

“There are no objective facts,” he had said. “Every report on facts is only somebody’s opinion. It is, therefore, useless to write about facts.””

As if to show how much Rand disliked facts, McKibben writes in Falter that Rand was a smoker and contracted lung disease, despite receiving medical warnings to stop smoking. Instead of listening to the science, Rand went the other way and lectured about the “unscientific and irrational nature of the statistical evidence” between smoking and disease. This hypocrisy is par for the course with Rand, and also resembles the attitude of today’s climate sceptics.

Other themes

  • Racism is evident in the novel.
  • Materialism is encouraged, for how can the great industrialists survive if we don’t purchase their products? How will free market capitalism stand on its feet without needless consumption? Never mind that this has driven the world to the brink – one must avoid thinking of facts or of other people (because society is bad, and one must only think of themself).
  • Rand makes out that working hard is almost exclusive to her ideology in the book. Everyone else is super lazy and depends on handouts, and only has themselves to blame. But we know this isn’t the case, because as George Monbiot says, “If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire.”

How did Ayn Rand achieve her goal of sharing her ideology?

Rand used the power of storytelling to disseminate her ideas. We know that stories can engage people on an emotional level and that readers can live vicariously through characters. This allows for messages to be more easily conveyed than through science. I won’t go into detail here as I’ve covered this on Mongabay.

As McKibben writes in Falter, “Had she devoted herself then to essays and manifestos, she would have been a minor and forgotten example of that twentieth-century type, a crank. Instead, she wrote stories. And that made all the difference, because, of course, stories are how we understand the world.”

It’s worth pointing out that Rand broke many rules with this novel. Perhaps one of the biggest was writing a speech that spanned 60 pages (!) which apparently took Rand almost two years to put together. To have dialogue from one character that takes up 60 pages would be frowned upon to say the very least. But Rand understood the rules and felt it necessary to break them, for in those 60 pages, she set out much of her ideology. As a reader, it felt at times that the voice dipped from the character into Rand’s own. This is a big no-no and something to be avoided. But it seems to have diminished little for her most ardent admirers.

Interesting quotes from Atlas Shrugged

One of the reasons why Rand’s novels are embraced with such fervour is because she was a good writer. She understood not only the power of stories, but crucially how to write stories that could influence people. These are some of the less pernicious quotes from the book:

  • “Wisdom lies in knowing when to remember and when to forget.”
  • “Morality ends where a gun begins.”
  • “The man who chooses to spend his years in the obscurity of menial employment, keeping to himself the fire of his mind.”

What else do we know of Ayn Rand and her ideology?

Despite the fact that Ayn Rand’s stories have been adopted and used as manifestos by neoliberals, she wasn’t one herself. Yes she believed in free market capitalism, and in removing regulation, and in championing big business. But as Lisa Duggan explains in Mean Girl, Rand wasn’t a neoliberal as she was “too purist”.

Yet, Ludwig von Mises, who founded the neoliberal Mont Pelerin Society, was said to be a fan of Atlas Shrugged, according to Duggan. In Mean Girl, Duggan also writes that, “Her spirit certainly guided major neoliberal institutions and publications—including the Cato Institute.” Duggan says that Rand’s primary contributions to neoliberalism are that her novels served as “conversion machines”. When Maggie Thatcher and Ronald Reagan took over in 1980, neoliberalism spread like a cancer across Europe. In 1992, Duggan writes that the EU was founded on neoliberal principles under the Maastricht Treaty. Today neoliberalism dominates our lives and shapes our world (for the worse).

While not a neoliberal, Rand developed an ideology known as objectivism. There are some notes at the end of Atlas Shrugged which explain this ideology. I’ll explore two of them.

Firstly, objectivism rejects the idea of determinism (which says that a person is subject to forces outside their ability to control, such as genetic inheritance, the way you were brought up, and the economic conditions at the time). Yet I believe that those factors do have an impact, and it’s more of a question of ‘how big an impact’. If you’re born in harsh economic times, where perhaps food was scarce, that could influence how a person physically develops. If you’re born with an inherited health issue, that can drastically affect your quality of life, your confidence and your self-esteem, which could therefore also impact your ambitions and your success in life. And a whole field of research shows the importance of raising children properly, and what happens when they aren’t.

Secondly objectivism rejects any type of collectivism (due to Ayn Rand’s experience with communism and socialism), and also rejects the idea that governments should regulate the economy and redistribute wealth. Instead it believes that “The only social system that bars physical force from human relationships is laissez-faire capitalism.” Coming back to what we discussed above, we know that humans are a social species and thus we work better when we work together. So, she’s wrong from a scientific point of view. But she is right to reject communism and fascism, for history has shown us the damage these ideologies have caused.

Laissez-faire capitalism is not the solution either, as Rand claims. Without regulations, businesses have trashed the natural world, polluted our land, atmosphere, rivers, and oceans with toxins of every kind, and also treated employees with disdain and disregard. Thus, our best bet for the future is likely the Doughnut Economics model proposed by Kate Raworth, which ensures that humanity lives within social and ecological boundaries.

Atlas Shrugged as an involuntary example of cli-fi?

Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged before the climate crisis had become common knowledge. It was also published many decades before cli-fi was coined. Yet there are elements of cli-fi in there, especially regarding fossil fuel barons, AND a new form of renewable energy that could power the world.

John Galt made a motor that could make energy from static electricity. This could’ve transformed the world. But when his factory was taken over by a collective, he was the first to leave and refused to give his motor to a world full of ‘looters’. And yet when you read the description of the motor, it becomes clear that this was a type of renewable energy:

“Those men, long ago, tried to invent a motor that would draw static electricity from the atmosphere, convert it and create its own power as it went along…Who’ll want to look at a Diesel? Who’ll want to worry about oil, coal or refueling stations? Do you see what I see? A brand-new locomotive half the size of a single Diesel unit, and with ten times the power. A self-generator, working on a few drops of fuel, with no limits to its energy. The cleanest, swiftest, cheapest means of motion ever devised. Do you see what this will do to our transportation systems and to the country?”

A pity then that this didn’t become the focus of the book. Imagine what the world would look like today if instead of free market capitalism, we’d gone hell for leather on renewables and championed them over fossil fuels.


McKibben writes in Falter, that one could argue that Rand is the most important philosopher of all time, given that her ideology threatens to bring our civilisation to an end. It’s hard to disagree with this. After reading Atlas Shrugged, I see how her ideology has deeply permeated everything.

As a writer, the most urgent question on my mind is how to write a story that counters Rand’s work. It’s worth pointing out that this novel took Rand twelve years to write. But we only have a few years to act on the climate and technological emergencies. We certainly don’t have the luxury of twelve years while greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, and technology potentially develops AGI, threatening immediate human extinction.

Rand’s novels are seen as a gateway to right-wing politics, and they’ve had around 70 years to enmesh themselves into everything. Trying to free the world from their grip feels a bit like trying to unknot a shipping container’s worth of fishing line, in the dark, with one hand tied behind your back, whilst jumping on a pogo stick on a tight-rope with a river of lava below, and being forced to recite Homer in chapter and verse from memory. To put it simply, this is a monumental challenge.

In a previous blog, I spoke about one of the mantras within the tech industry, which is “move fast and break things.” Duggan writes in Mean Girl, that another mantra within the tech industry is taken from Ayn Rand: “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” This mindset explains why Silicon Valley doesn’t care about the damage their products are causing. Election interference through social media? Worsening mental health crisis? So what? As long as they get to make their money, that’s all that matters.

We’re at a pivotal moment in human history. Never before have we faced down two simultaneous overwhelming challenges that have the power to bring civilisation to an end. Yet that’s what both the climate and AI crisis pose. The fact that the people in the fossil fuel industry and the tech industry are driving us to the brink of collapse, and both sets of people are ardent admirers of Ayn Rand’s work, should come as no surprise. But it should serve as an urgent wake-up call.

Reading her books showed me how her doctrine has poisoned business, media and politics. The disregard for people and planet shows why we live in a society engulfed in loneliness and mental health issues, and why we’ve exceeded six out of nine planetary boundaries. We therefore need new stories to counter Rand’s dangerous philosophy, and we need those stories in an absolute hurry.

Lastly, it almost goes without saying, but I urge the world to heed Lisa Duggan’s concluding advice in Mean Girl: “Reject Ayn Rand. After all, she rejects you.”

My new cli-fi children’s picture book, Nanook and the Melting Arctic is available from Amazon’s global stores including Amazon UK and Amazon US. My eco-fiction children’s picture book, Hedgey-A and the Honey Bees about how pesticides affect bees, is available on Amazon’s global stores including Amazon UK and Amazon US.

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