“You can’t publish this,” Peter said.
“Why not?” Evelyn asked.
“It’s too shocking.”
“That, it seems to me, is the reason to publish it.”
“No one will believe it.”
“Then no harm will be done.”
“If you have ever read Atlas Shrugged, whether you liked it or not, you really should read this book.”—David Scott Moyer
Listen to Robert’s KBOO-FM interview here.
Sisyphus Shrugged is Robert Peate‘s sequel/rebuttal to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, written in such a way that one doesn’t have to read that work first.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand depicts good business leaders as the Atlases holding up the Cosmos of American society despite the predations of evil government, evil labor unions, and even evil business leaders. (To be fair, she does depict good and bad business and union leaders–only when they come into relations with government do they become evil.) When the Atlases “shrug” off their work and go on strike, American society collapses, proving the good business leaders indispensable.
Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is a depiction of America as a totalitarian state, inspired by her upbringing in the Soviet Union. In the name of “the people”, the Soviets took away Rand’s family home and business, causing great trauma and almost starving her family to death. She was temporarily purged from free public university for having been a member of the bourgeoisie. As a result of these and other abuses, Rand saw a thug in every liberal. Rand thought America was on the same road (she expected FDR’s New Deal to usher in another Soviet state), wrote stories reflecting this view, and influenced generations of conservatives and independents to think American liberalism was akin to totalitarian dictatorship. To think this is to hold a skewed world view, to say the least. To act on such a false view is to cause harm.
As a result of far too many taking Rand far too seriously for far too long, I felt that Atlas Shrugged was a book desperately in need of a serious rebuttal.
Rand’s writing is almost universally misunderstood. Her views are not immoral. There is nothing wrong with caring about oneself. The reason her writing has occasioned opposition is that she spent so much time writing about the importance of the individual and independence from the mob (and mischaracterizing liberals as death-worshiping destroyers) that she gave the impression she did not care about anyone or anything else. She was a charming, at times extremely generous, woman who hated Communism and devoted her life to the civil rights of the individual citizen. She was indirectly involved in ending the military draft in the United States as an infringement of rights. Her flaw was in not seeing how her selective focus would come across and be used, but she was not evil. I have even come to like the old girl. I hope my work leads to a greater understanding of her merits as well as her flaws.
But as Adam Lee of Patheos has said, “If Atlas were just a work of pulp fiction, an Art Deco mystery about square-jawed heroes and tough-as-nails heroines fighting to survive in a world gone mad, then its parade of Mary Sues wouldn’t occasion comment. But Rand intended, and her devotees believe, that this book is a mirror of the real world, and that its characters both good and bad are type specimens of real people. In short, Rand’s followers think they live inside Atlas Shrugged, that they’re the heroes of the story, and that people like you and me are the villains.”
And it’s true. On October 4, 2015, a Rand devotee said to me, “Rand predicted Obama when she wrote it.” It’s a shame, really.
My mission was to respond to Rand’s vision with my own in the context of an entertaining story. I asked myself, “Who are the truly indispensable ones here: the business leaders or the workers? What would happen if labor went on strike?” What I came up with was Sisyphus Shrugged.
From the back cover:
“I think we need to be beholden to each other.”
The second strike is on.
John Galt’s strike of the “men of the mind” brought down Roger Thompson’s dictatorship and ushered in a conservative dream: no taxes, regulations, or social programs. The end of government services such as policing, firefighting, and infrastructure-building has created a vacuum filled by unscrupulous and unregulated businesses that few can afford them. With no safety or labor standards, most Americans have abandoned their homes to work several jobs in the cities. After eight years of living in a dog-eat-dog wasteland, America has elected liberal Senator Laurence Sterling (D-VT) president.
Mere days before Sterling’s inauguration, twenty-six-year-old World Times reporter Evelyn Riley learns that both absenteeism and productivity have risen in recent months at General Motors, one of the remaining two automobile companies in Detroit. Her mother’s death decades before reminds her daily of the importance of family and human connections as she investigates. Little does Evelyn know that John Galt is planning his return to fight Sterling, or that this time a new generation of labor leaders is preparing a strike of its own.
If you’re a conservative or libertarian who likes Ayn Rand, you will find this book provocative. If you’re a liberal who dislikes Ayn Rand, you will find it therapeutic.
Either way, I took seven months taking and breaking down Atlas Shrugged point by point. Sisyphus Shrugged is a complete and thorough sequel/rebuttal in the context of an entertaining story containing action, adventure, romance, and humor. Enjoy!
FAIR WARNING TO OBJECTIVISTS AND OTHERS:
As there are in Rand’s work, there are caricatures in my work designed to facilitate political arguments. If Rand can engage in caricatures, I can too. Unlike some, I know they are caricatures.
For more information about Sisyphus Shrugged and how to order a copy, please follow the links in the black bar across the top of this page.
SPECIAL POST-2016-ELECTION NOTE:
Like the rest of the World, I was horrified and devastated by Donald Trump’s fluke/”accidental” electoral victory, which threatened everything we held dear–a hundred years of progress.
This book has been called a prophecy, because everything I imagined as a nightmare scenario is on the verge of coming true, but all I did was pay attention to what they said and did and project what they would do if they could.
Hopefully Sisyphus will rise again.