Ayn Rand. Photo courtesy of the Ayn Rand Institute.
Europe is looking really bad. Like it will blow up at any moment. Not blow up as in ICBMs: but kabooming into some sort of unprecedented economic chaos. Then, I just read a piece by economic journalist Michael Lewis about how the city of Vallejo, California is actually in bankruptcy, the city of San Jose is pretty close to it, and the entire state of California is next. Followed by the whole of America, I guess.
I started remembering how, in that crazy Ayn Rand book, Atlas Shrugged, this character called John Galt takes all the smart, creative people to a secret valley in Colorado and starts America over again.
Like many precocious teenagers, I found Atlas Shrugged, with all its melodrama and bodice-ripping simplicity, to be impossible to put down. I remember a summer day when I had to walk to town for some reason (maybe the book was due at the library!) and I read Atlas Shrugged for the whole two miles. (Probably not as bad as texting and driving.)
But when I tried to re-read the book as an adult, I couldn't get through it.
Ayn Rand was a bit like one of the characters in her book(s)--if that is possible. You can read about her enormously eccentric life in one of her biographies.
But, we can at least say she had experience with the world falling apart when, as a child, she and her family in Saint Petersburg, witnessed the Russian Revolution, the White Russian counter-revolution, and the famine and purges that followed.
So, I guess it isn't any wonder that when she got to America she looked at everything through that lens and wondered if the worst might happen here too.
Now I'm beginning to wonder if, just because she took that idea to a novelistic extreme, it doesn't mean she couldn't be right. (Lots of qualifications in that sentence, you'll notice.)
I'm sad to say, within one of the recent articles I've read about all the economic problems facing the West, I have learned a new word: autarky. "The state of being self-sufficient."
I really hope it doesn't come to autarky, as I think my blood sugar couldn't tolerate a strict diet of just my tomatoes, along with my apple, blackberry, apricot, and guava crops. Though, if I could just find my father's .22, I could supplement those with a few squirrel pot au feu for extra protein.
The worst thing I fear about economic breakdown is that I'm afraid someone will make me read Atlas Shrugged again.
But, just in case: does anyone have John Galt's iPhone number?
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