And the “clever people” part of that is the secret to [Atlas Shrugged‘s] popularity – at least in the US (it’s never really made any impact anywhere else in the world, and only really came to the rest of the world’s notice as the Internet made the idiosyncracies of local cultures more readily available. Most people in Britain, for example, have still never heard of it). It says that if you think you’re cleverer than everyone else around you but you don’t make as much money as a plumber or a welder, it’s not because the plumber or welder has a more useful skill than you, it’s because you’re being held down by evil looters. On the other hand if you, as a computer programmer or an advertising copywriter or a politician, are making more money than them, that’s because you are a supergenius who really deserves even more, because the looters are still holding you back.
Of course, to anyone who feels even the slightest resentment about their position in life (and who has no basic empathy or understanding of social structures), this is a perfect excuse for every failure and justification for every success. It’s even better than blaming black or Jewish people for those purposes, because you can draw the lines however you want. Obviously you are one of the productive people, and obviously whoever you dislike is one of the looters. I’m OK, you’re a leech who should be killed for the improvement of humanity.
Andrew Hickey on Atlas Shrugged.
As usual with Hickey’s reviews, the whole post is pretty much gold and you should totally go read it. Also, this comment totally nails the book’s (sadly) enduring appeal…