What would happen if all the entrepreneurs in society went on strike? That is the topic in one of Ayn Rand’s storied novels, “Atlas Shrugged.” John Galt, an iconoclast entrepreneur, calls the entrepreneurs to go on strike and withdraw from a society run by an oppressive dictatorship.

Full disclaimer: I haven’t read the novel yet, but as a solopreneur, the ideas resonate with me. The reality is that scenarios like that depicted in “Atlas Shrugged” have happened before, sort of. The results were not pretty:

In the Soviet Union, because capitalism and private property were more or less outlawed, the productivity machinery of the “superstate” eventually ground to a halt. But not after millions had suffered from famines, shortages, purges, torture, deaths, the Gulags, and a lot more

In Mao’s Communist China, where entrepreneurial initiative was discouraged and the Party and Chairman were considered supreme, again the entrepreneurs more or less were forced to go underground or leave the country altogether. Millions died of starvation and lack as the country’s productive machinery again ground to a halt

In Venezuela today, the Communist experiment seems to have hit a hard patch. Many Venezuelans are eager to leave, or have left, including many of that great country’s hardest working entrepreneurs

I should know something about this. I grew up under Mugabe’s Communist Zimbabwe, and I could never understand why the brightest and wealthiest property and business owners were leaving the country. Fast forward a decade, and there was a shortage of just about anything you could imagine: bread, medicines, gas, just about all the essentials of day to day life.

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I was very skeptical of Ayn Rand’s novels and philosophies, but they seem to explain what I’ve personally witnessed very well, which bugged me early on, because c’mon, this distant American philosopher had never lived in the places and situations I’d lived in, how could she know what would or would not work? But boy, I’ve lived to see her eery predictions pan out in just about any kind of place where scenarios like that in Atlas Shrugged occur – if the entrepreneurs cannot do their work, for better or worse, give or take a decade, as in the case of my Zimbabwe, and the wheels will come right off that grand brand new Rolls Royce, and it will become a machine where weeds grow and the mice roam free.

How I wish Ayn Rand were wrong (I still haven’t read the novels!), but it’s like one guy said, you can ignore the truth, wish it away, hope it were not so, but at the end of the day, there it is.


Note: This is not an endorsement of right wing governments by any means. Right wing dictatorships have produced disasters just as tragic as left wing dictatorships. This is about Ayn Rand’s novels 😉

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