The participant who borrowed my Japanese translation of Atlas Shrugged last week, brought it back today: she had finished reading it. All 1,200 pages! She gave us some useful background information about the story. Another participant promptly borrowed the book.
We had a wide-ranging discussion which included the following:
- Why is Atlas Shrugged so popular today in the US?
- What is capitalism (and free-market economics)?
- What is socialism?
- What was the New Deal?
- What is the meaning of Karl Marx‘ dictum “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need“?
She believed that capitalism was losing popularity because many people did not fully understand the true meaning of capitalism and of socialism, nor did they understand the philosophical, economic, and moral basis for capitalism. She wrote her novels partly to educate people about these matters and partly to illustrate her philosophy “in action”.
We discussed the philosophies or principles underlying what Hank Rearden says and what his mother says.
One principle which we did not discuss directly, but which is closely connected to our discussion today, is the principle (sometimes called the “axiom”) of non-aggression: that anything is permitted except the use of force or aggression against other people. People can use force or violence to defend themselves or their property, but may not initiate violence or aggression against other people to make them do things they do not want to do.
For more information in Japanese about Ayn Rand, visit 藤森かよこの日本アイン・ランド研究会
Although she wrote about capitalism, Ayn Rand was not an economist. If you want to learn more about free-market economics, I recommend an easy-to-read book Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt (I cannot find a Japanese translation of this; if you know of one, or – even better – a good Japanese book on free-market economics, please tell me).