Atlas Shrugged or Fountainhead? To me it’s always Atlas Shrugged :)

Atlas Shrugged or Fountainhead? To me it’s always Atlas Shrugged 🙂

91 Answers

  • Neither? I read these back in high school, and found the stories compelling. But the socioeconomic legacy of Ayn Rand is too problematic for me to be a real fan.

  • Problematic indeed. “The core of Ayn Rand’s philosophy is that unfettered self-interest is good and altruism is destructive.” Her philosophy is the opposite of my own.

    • , amen to that. I want no part of a purely selfish, transactional society, where heart and helping others has no place. (And is even viewed as a moral wrong.)

    • that is correct. many do things totally in their self interest, but it has unintended consequences. take edision, we ended up with electricity. people think rand is selfish. ii call it enlightened self interest.rand was not always correct, but she encourages you to think. she was writing in reaction to the collective state she grew up in, in russia

    • I’d also like to point out that Ayn Rand died on welfare. She was so freaking judgmental and didn’t even practice what she preached.

      Note: I believe welfare programs are a good thing and I do not judge her for using or needing them. I am just pointing out the difference in her words and actions.

    • I strongly disagree. I’m not sure why not having time to think has anything to do with it. I’m speaking as someone who makes altruism part of my everyday life.

  • I found both books offensively laced with her communist inspired point of view which rendered her characters less than compelling.

    • I always felt that is what made them human. Just because I couldn’t understand their point of view or agree with them, I was that much more interested. I prefer the Fountainhead, though.

    • I did understand. But then I’m old enough to have been affected by the same things that motivated the author at the time she wrote the books.

    • Um. Exactly. She was anti-communism. She promoted low-regulation capitalism.

      I’m still confused.

    • Deborah, I feel that maybe you are mixing up the words “capitalism” and “communism.” There literally is not an author in history who hated Communism more than she did. She wrote extensively on that subject.

      Here are some of her more famous quotes on the matter.

      Most notably:

      “The Communists’ chief purpose is to destroy every form of independence—independent work, independent action, independent property, independent thought, an independent mind, or an independent man. Conformity, alikeness, servility, submission and obedience are necessary to establish a Communist slave-state.

      “Screen Guide for Americans,”
      Plain Talk, Nov. 1947, 41”

    • i have to agree. she believed that individual freedom was sacred. she believed in true capitalism, not the corporate welfare state we have now. i believe she was trying to look in the potential goodness in man their ability to be good human beings. that ideal has always appealed to me.

    • read hannah arendt the origins of totalitarianism. statism can come from from the right hitler or the left stalin. free market capitalism, not crony capitalism is the way to go.

    • When I read this in high school, it turned me upside down. I ignored the political ideology, I really did. It was just a revelation to me. I wonder how I would feel now, about 40 years later.

    • read it again, i reread both atlas and the fountianhead every 5-10 years for 40+ years,

    • Since then, I’ve learned more about Rand and her ideas. I don’t really want to spend my precious reading time on that crap, but at the time it was all so different from my 16 year old suburban bubble.

    • She was the opposite of communist – she believed in what she called Objectivism. She advocated for a radically selfish emphasis on individual rights and laissez-faire capitalism. She opposed any kind of collectivism, including communism and democratic socialism.

    • Alan Greenspan, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, blamed his involvement in creating the housing crisis by removing federal regulations saying he “made a mistake in presuming” that financial firms could regulate themselves. I swear he tried to pretend like his Ayn Randian objectivist ideology clouded his grasp on reality. I think he was full of it and was saying whatever random thing he could come up with because he couldn’t tell the truth which was that he was guilty of letting greedy people rob our country blind while they all profited off it.

    • Yes, she’s a hero of Libertarians and Conservatives. A little perplexing, since her philosophy is also antithetical to Christian moral teachings, and the Conservative wing is so heavily Evangelical Christian. Strange bedfellows. 🤔

    • Or maybe not enough! lol ugh! Never read Atlas Shrugged myself. Fountainhead was lovely but I wouldn’t get all carried away with it like some chairmen of the federal reserve claim to.

    • She was the opposite, even a casual perusal of her ideas should easily reveal that.

  • Atlas Shrugged although I do not agree with Rand’s philosophy.

  • Ack. Neither. Read a good book instead. May I suggest Toni Morrison, Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie? Those authors are splendid.

  • Oh, how the literati lacks understanding of economics. I like how everyone has a really strong opinion whether they know the subject or not.

    • I understand economics. I find her philosophy to be vile. Tell me again why you think the two are mutually exclusive?

    • i too understand economics and find her ideas compelling, but we have traveled so far away from her ideas.

    • Because of the subjective theory of value and preference scales. I don’t agree with Rand on a few things because she was focused on what should be and I am more interested in what is, but she valued human life above all things, so unless you don’t like humans it’s difficult to make the case for it being vile.

    • True, but humans have never been close. Her heroes are somewhat unachievable, which is why her heroes are thin in her books.

    • sorry don’t see it. the villains are all too believable. floyd ferris to hank reardon.sorry for paraphrasing what to me is a country of law abiding citizens? cuffy meigs with a pistol in one pocket rabbit foot in the other saying about the long run?a in the long run we will all be dead. she could sketch a character in a few sentences and develop them in 2-3 paragraphs. hank reardpn and his wife lillian. please

    • Yes, she was great at characterizing villains. That is why reading Atlas Shrugged is a lot like reading the news, but there is no John Galt. Henry Ford and Elon Musk are probably the closest real life examples of Randian like heroes, maybe Mark Cuban or Charles Koch, but none of those really fulfill the role of a Randian hero. She wrote villains as they are and heroes as they should be, which means so idealistic that they are not achievable and thus less real and authentic.

  • I loved the architectural side of Fountainhead, but Atlas Shrugged is a better book. The problem with them all is Rand’s characters are always so black and white: they’re a saint who can do no wrong or the worst person ever. This lends to the books being juvenile.

  • Hey guys you know you can enjoy a book without agreeing with the content politically? In fact I recommend it, it’s good for keeping an open mind.

    • Kathryn, as I mentioned, I did enjoy both books at the story level when I first read them. But her works are intentionally polemical, and it is because I did read them, and reflected on them, that I debate her assertions – as was her intention. She meant to provoke debate, so that goes with the territory in discussing her literature.

    • But still… the books are so badly written. Her characters are one-dimensional (at best), her prose is ridiculously overblown and she goes off on political rants that are as boring as they are offensive. Readers are likely to burst out laughing – not because she’s included any humor, but because her style is just so ridiculous.

    • i disagree. her characters are either black or white but they are fully developed

    • I know this is immature of me as a reader, but it’s the political content that prevented me from being able to finish Atlas. The characters were so offensive, I got to the point (about mid-way through) that I just couldn’t read another danged word of it. I did make it through Fountainhead though, even though that one had the same political/social garbage as Atlas.

  • I have read Fountain Head during my Univ days. And Atlas Shrugged is somewhere in my ‘Yet to read’ list. This year I will surely read it. No views till then 🙂

  • I really am not a fan of her unnuanced character development but I thought Atlas was better written

  • I would say the Fountainhead but truly….I loathed both books and when I read about Ayn Rand, I hated HER, too.

  • Am with you. Don’t you think that should be mandatory reading for everyone?

  • Never read any Rand, never intend to – Paul Ryan has based his entire obnoxious life upon her – ’nuff said!

    • That’s actually a reason to try to choke down at least one of the books.

    • “I’ve been Ayn Randed, nearly branded a Communist ’cause I’m left handed … if that’s the hand you use?… well, never mind.” Paul

  • Where’s the kindness, people? Just because you don’t like the books, for whatever reason, you don’t need to crap all over someone else’s post. Don’t reply if you’re going to be a tool about it.

    • This forum is for the free exchange of ideas…. if you can’t handle strong opinions, then DON’T read them 🙂

    • I love opinions, I love strong opinions, I don’t care for nasty opinions… just say’n

    • I think this post has garnered such strong reactions because “Where’s the kindness?” is exactly the question to ask regarding Ayn Rand’s work. She strenuously advocates self-interest above all other things. She’s also a serious hypocrite since, for all her complaints about social programs, she was perfectly happy to cash all her social security checks. She inspires the very worst of our politicians, those who like anti-Robin Hoods, want to steal from the poor to give to the rich. Her philosophy is “get ahead at any cost… and no worries if you hurt others in the process.” Ayn Rand is about as far from being an advocate for humanity and kindness as it’s possible to be. Those who admire her do so because she makes them feel better about being terrible, selfish human beings. She made her views on charity for religious reasons well-known too. She was an outspoken atheist who argued vehemently against religion, which she considered ludicrous. There’s nothing “kind” about Ayn Rand.

  • I love ‘Atlas Shrugged’ as a fictional literary work, and not for her philosophy. Objectivism is nothing but selfishnessism. I don’t like the philosopher in her but I love the writer in her. That’s why I don’t like ‘Fountainhead’. It has no literary value. It’s merely a vessel to carry her philosophy, but Atlas.. has many more things to it. To me it’s a marvellous work 🙂

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