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Atlas Shrugged and the 97 lb Weakling Market

When I lived in South Africa in the ’60s, we used to buy Ayn Rand’s books when we traveled overseas, together with those of Henry Miller. They all seemed equally subversive.

South Africa was an apartheid state, its government avowedly conservative and right wing, and the political parties that wanted to treat all individuals as equal were banned. “One man, one vote” (in those pre-feminist days) was a subversive slogan. So, when my friends and I read Atlas Shrugged and its glorification of the selfish individualism it proposed, we saw individualism as a liberal rather than conservative notion, and in our context we sort of assumed she was a left winger, not a right one.

I am reminded of this when I see the extreme role models of private enterprise and capitalism embracing government intervention almost everywhere in the economy. On the real line, plus infinity and minus infinity are the same point.

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