America’s second most influential book after the Christian Bible is a favorite of mine, as it is of many or most libertarians. This entry a bit ago got me to wondering: not everyone appreciates it for the same reasons and exploring the differences, amongst those who like it, could be an interesting study.
Offhand, I’m thinking of the central theme or device of the novel; that is, the producers (those to whom capital naturally flows because they know how to turn it) go on strike. Of course, anyone with an introductory high school understanding of economics can predict what happens. Unlike the fraudulent implication underlying strikes by employees (that they are particularly needed or particularly valuable), the world goes to hell in a hand basket. It’s one thing to have a (temporarily) vacant job; quite another to have no jobs to be vacant and no resultant fruits of production to be had at any price.
To me, that’s more or less the entirety (essential) of the message:
the world ought to be on its knees daily thanking the God of Capitalism
for its very existence. In terms of public policy and those who strive
to influence it (government, religion, big business, anti-big-business,
junk-science, fear mongers, et. al.), virtually everything is
parasitic in nature. In nature, capital flows to those who know how to
turn it. In a parasitic environment, capital flows to the most cunning
parasites. Everyone gets it wrong: they thank their favorite parasite
and usually go so far as to view their biggest benefactor as itself a
— necessary evil — parasite.
So, aside from the plot device of having producers actually
illustrate in vivid color what happens if they refuse to produce, I
wonder how many take it as the chief message that it’s somehow or kinda
better not to, or at least with reserved or chortling encouragement.
Let the parasite die: as central message and theme. And since it’s
hard to argue that such a fate is not exactly what it justly deserves,
there’s a certain moral superiority implied in being a shrugger
over a producer who, rather than shrug, decides to just go ahead and
produce even more and more and more. The more they try to take and
control, the more he produces and struggles to produce.
Though I certainly get the classic romantic aspects of the story and
delight in it very much, I must conclude that the latter producer, as a
human being, is onto the winning strategy; and is indeed morally
superior to the shrugger.
Call me crazy.