Atlas Shrugged was one of my favorite books in high school and it was fun to think about those days this week as I watched both Part 1 (on Netflix) and Part 2 in the theater.
No matter your politics, these are good movies worth watching. The writing and the acting and the production value are all good enough -- and the content is interesting to think about given the choice we have approaching on November 6th.
I find these movies even more interesting because I am just now in the middle of Ken Follett's newest book Winter of the World -- about the rise of Nazi Germany and WWII. Patriotism and its extreme cousin nationalism have been used to implement policies that have not just destroyed wealth and prosperity, but millions of souls.
Even though I do not subscribe to Ayn Rand's philosophy entirely, I do believe that a capable person cannot be compelled to carry the people that are not capable of carrying themselves. I do believe that at times people with means will choose to help others. But there is a very wide gulf between choosing to help and being forced to help. I think this even applies to taxes. It is much easier to pay taxes when the money is being put to good use. When it is not, everyone puts the maximum effort into avoiding the payment of taxes.
Another of my favorite themes is that absolute power corrupts absolutely. This is plain in the movie as the role of the socialist government expands and the aptly named Wesley Mouch rises to take over everything. Quite similar to stories of unbridled power of the secret police in many other stories. I also thought it was interesting to compare to the way conservatives often make the same mistake. There was a good story in today's NY Times about the potential self destruction of the 1%.
Even though these seem like opposites - the arc of each story is really the same.