The Atlas Shrugged Index

From recession-culture trends we’ve written about on this blog lately, a recession icon of sorts emerges, wrapped in a Snuggie, puffing on a pipe — and now with a copy of Ayn Rand‘s Atlas Shrugged on his lap.

The Economist reports that the book’s sales rank on Amazon is far above what it’s been in previous years (and briefly topped Obama‘s The Audacity of Hope).

Furthermore, says The Economist, data from TitleZ.com show recent sales spikes of the book coinciding with major political events, such as the passing of the stimulus plan.

The spikes, The Economist surmises, happen when people (including a handful of bloggers, politicians, and economists) notice the eerie similarities between real-life events — like the recent spate of sea pirate attacks — and the scenarios Rand described in her book.

As long as the halls of Congress don’t start ringing with the question “Who is John Galt?” let’s hope it’s just a case of life imitating art.

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  1. Lori says:

    When everything started falling apart last fall, the first thing I did was change my facebook status message to “Who is John Galt?”
    A few people understood the connection!

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  2. Scott Supak says:

    Yeah, maybe people are just interested in the connection between Rand and Greenspan–the man probably most responsible for the deregulation that got us into this mess.

    Every time I hear Andrea Mitchell ask someone how we got here, I scream at the TV: “Go ask your husband!”

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  3. Karl Bielefeldt says:

    I picked up a copy because I kept hearing commentators mention it and I’d never read it, not directly because I was “looking for literature that paralleled current events” or something. I just hate being left out of the loop.

    Of course, I also get way too much pleasure than I should from pretending I’ve been in the loop all along, when I only finished the book yesterday for the first time.

    I imagine more than a few people will pick it up out of curiosity after reading this article.

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  4. Jerry says:

    I did the same. And many people understood and echoed the same sentiment: Who is John Galt?

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  5. Danny says:

    Before Atlas Shrugged (and even afterwards), when people notice eerie similarities between current events and scenarios from a book, people would buy more bibles. Maybe that explains the appeal of Ayn Rand. She created a movement that mimics a religion, down to prophetic visions of a dystopian future.

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  6. Wes Hartline says:

    I read the book back in the fall of 2007 on a trip out west to Colorado and Utah with some friends. Backpacking through the Canyonlands in Utah was one of the best decisions I could have made. I have continually recommended the book to friends and family since then, but never more than I have been over the past 4 months.

    I wish I could say that changing a facebook status or twitter to “Who is John Galt” brought about a chorus of voices confirming that they loved the book or affirmed what I said. In reality, I mostly got questions about who John Galt was and why I was asking who he was.

    Apparently, we need more copies of Atlas Shrugged down here in Nashville.

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  7. P says:

    “Maybe that explains the appeal of Ayn Rand. She created a movement that mimics a religion, down to prophetic visions of a dystopian future.”

    Yeah, because socialism isn’t a religion at all, nope, it’s all scientific rigor and grounded in the real world of real human beings, with no magical thinking required for it to work.

    Ayn Rand took it too far with Objectivism, but she said a lot of things that needed saying, and fifty years later we still don’t have enough people saying it, hence the book sales.

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  8. JH says:

    Considering where the Alan Greenspan-deregulated free market has taken us, maybe it’s fitting that “John Galt” was most recently the name chosen by shady construction executives for a shell corporation, later implicated in shoddy practices resulting in a fatal fire during the demolition of the Deutschbank building.

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