Matthew T Grant


Tall Guy. Glasses.

A Contradiction I Found in Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”

John Galt says to Dagny Taggart, “Nobody stays here by faking reality in any manner whatever.”

So what does it mean that Rand uses a fictional character to express her philosophy (Galt’s epic and exhausting speech) as well as a fictional narrative depicting a fictional reality in order to illustrate it?

Either we are not meant to take the ideas at the center of this novel seriously, seeing them instead as a parody on par with her caricature of job-killing liberal democracy, or we are meant to take them seriously and, as it turns out, certain truths can only be spoken by faking reality.

While I am perfectly comfortable with this notion, it is anathema to “objectivism.” The world of A=A is for all intents and purposes devoid of irony.

Irony requires a subject as well as an object, and the process of speaking ironically and understanding, or not, something ironically spoken, can best—not to say “only”— be understood dialectically.

Having rejected the dialectic, however, Rand forces us to take her work at face value (like a coin of pure gold).

And thus effaces it.