Plot/Themes

Plot

John Galt’s strike of business leaders opposed to the overbearing leftist Thompson Administration in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged resulted in a pendulum swing rightward.  After the Thompson regime collapsed, a Galt ally and fierce opponent of organized labor named Richard “Rick” West took office.  He began to end regulations, social programs, and the taxes to pay for them, despite the outcry of those whose lives depended on them.  Death, disease, and crime increased dramatically.  The survivors slave away at two or three jobs a day without unions, safety standards, weekends, or a minimum wage.

Evelyn Riley was fortunate enough to obtain a decent job in the midst of the changes for the worse.  A political liberal, she abhors what has been done to America by West and his successor, David Lang.  She supported Lang’s opponent, Laurence Sterling, in the most recent election.  Sterling, a liberal, vowed to restore America’s labor laws and standards, progressive taxation, and the social programs for which America had been known the World over. Elected over the intense opposition of Lang’s supporters, Sterling will take office in a matter of weeks.

One day in January 2029, mere days before the Sterling inauguration, Evelyn’s boss shares a rumor from a friend in the Government: both productivity and absenteeism at General Motors, one of the two remaining car companies in Detroit, have increased in recent months.  Intrigued and asked to investigate, Evelyn embarks on the adventure of a lifetime.  Little does she know that John Galt is planning his return to fight Sterling, or that this time labor is not going to stand idly by.  A new generation of labor leaders is preparing a strike of its own.

Themes

Sisyphus Shrugged covers several themes, but the two biggest are:

The free person is a member of society.  Am I an island?  Do I do everything for myself without assistance in a vacuum, or do I need other human beings?

The member of society enjoys both rights and responsibilities.  How should human beings treat each other?  Is it perfectly acceptable to walk past a drowning person, or do we have obligations to each other?  What is morality?

Amazingly, these questions continue to lack consensus answers after thousands of years of discussion.  This book represents my two cents in the conversation.