Patri Friedman Reads Atlas Shrugged
By Bryan Caplan
I’ve repeatedly braved mockery by naming Atlas Shrugged as my favorite novel. So I’m overjoyed to see one smart guy move from mockery to admiration as a result of… actually reading Rand’s masterpiece. From Patri son of David son of Milton:
Now’s a good time to note that while I’ve spent most of my career as a
libertarian thinking of Objectivism as a subject for mockery, I am now
reading Atlas Shrugged for the first time, and loving it. It hasn’t
changed my mind about any of the things I think are wrong with the
philosophy, and I do get annoyed by things like her constantly equating
certainty with strength/good and doubt with weakness/evil (sorry Ayn,
but the world is Bayesian and posteriors are rarely 100%. Certainty may
be sexy, but it is rarely correct).
The focus of his praise:
But the good things about it are things that hardly appear anywhere
else, and are needed now more than ever. The whole theme of how bad
laws turn honest people into criminals and outlaws, into hiding from
other men instead of taming nature, and what an awful reversal this is
of how a good society should be, is just awesome. That’s how I’ve felt
my whole life – I just want to create value, not constantly struggle
with stupid artificial constraints, and to live my life openly, not
constantly have to hide my consensual activities.
My real dream, though, is to persuade Robin Hanson to finish AS despite its Manichean characters.