3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2014
Imagine an America where Ayn Rand's ideas were actually adopted and enforced. Imagine this 67 years later, when there is no longer any social safety net, nothing but a contrast of the impossibly rich with no curbs on greed and dishonesty and the rest of us - unprotected and essentially abandoned by our government.
This calls for satire, which Mr. Goldstein provides in abundance. The book is by turns outrageous and, in the end, a bit frightening. The author pushes Rand/John Galt concepts further and further until, with impeccable, but infernal logic, he creates an America that is an exaggerated nightmare, but not entirely unthinkable.
This should appeal to anyone who ever flirted with the Ayn Rand ideas in college, and who, hopefully, recognized their danger and limitations in time to lead more productive, humane lives.
23 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2013
The larger problem with this work is its basic plot line -- it looks at the US years after Atlas Shrugged happens to destroy the various myths of Ayn Rand's economic theory (or non-theory). The absurdity of Atlas Shrugged -- that the nation would give a damn if the giants of US industry went into voluntary exile -- makes it hard to accept this derivative work at any level. The writing itself is bad, very bad -- poor dialogue, no character development, et al. There is some attempt to make the book humorous, but it really has no particularly funny scenes, characters, or dialogue. In truth, I could not finish the book, it was that bad.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2013
A great read. I heartily recommend this volume. Searingly funny as well. I will read the new one coming out in 2014 as well.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2013
Imagine waking up in the middle of a dream - the Ayn-Randianization of the United States is celebrating its 67th anniversary. A wet dream or your worst nightmare, depending on one's socio-economic-political viewpoint.
The satirical novel "Atlas Drugged: Ayn Rand Be Damned" is the farcical sequel to the FICTIONAL (caps provided for those who confuse novels with reality), and equally farcical "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. John Galt and Dagney Taggart are long gone but the 'virtue of selfishness' (the title of another Rand novelette) is alive and well.
As a satire, in "Drugged" the credos of 'greed is good' and 'self-interest is the only defensible motivating force behind one's actions' have evolved and hardened to their heartless, perhaps incredulous extreme. But then again who would have ever thought the National Socialistic German Worker's Party would turn into the concentration camp party, or for that matter, American corporations would become people, politicians genuflecting at their feet. The message is clear to the worshippers of rugged individualism. Be careful what you wish for.
As a parody, this work brilliantly mocks the paper-thin, un-life-like, cardboard characters portrayed in "Shrugged". And like-wise, the constant repetition is a reminder of the mind-numbing 1,070 pages that it takes Rand to say "communism and socialism bad; capitalism good!"
If a reading of "Atlas Drugged" accomplishes only one thing - saving you from the laborious task of reading "Shrugged" - then it will have been worth it.
Stephen Goldstein, a Sun Sentinel political columnist, demonstrates prescience. His imaginary hard-to-believe fictional characters preceded the real-life hard-to-believe 2012 presidential candidates, and sadly resemble too many of our lawmakers in Congress and legislatures across the nation. A foreboding work of fiction with frightening premonitions for the future of America. Dream or nightmare? You decide.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2014
When I was a kid in college, Nathaniel Branden came to UVA to give a lecture about Ms. Rand's philosophy and ideas -- the first thing he said was: "We do not swim in your streams." About twenty of us got up and left the hall with that comment! Mr. Goldstein has successfully debunked the truly stupid and ill-founded concepts of Ms. Rand in an absolutely wonderful and entertaining way. This book is a must read for anyone who has ever read anything by Ayn Rand. Mr. Goldstein has fleshed out Dorothy Parker's wonderful review of "Atlas Shrugged" - - "This is not a novel that should be tossed aside lightly, it should be thrown aside with great force." -- Enough said -- Charles Bryant
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2013
I loved the book, especially the humor. I also enjoyed Atlas Shrugged, mainly because it was different than anything else I had read at the time, and was therefore a "discovery." In later years it interested me because it was the doctrine of a cult, and I find cults facinating. "Atlas Drugged" is like the de-programming from the cult. Also has some good ideas as to how to counter the Randian cult that is taking over our politics.
30 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2012
The Florida Sun Sentinel has for many years been rather unique, as a corporate newspaper with a regular columnist who's actually good, and I don't mean just good for the context, but actually worth reading even if the masses of South Florida weren't reading along. Happily, they are.
Stephen L. Goldstein has just published a book, also worth reading, called Atlas Drugged (Ayn Rand Be Damned!) It's fiction, often hilarious fiction, aimed at debunking the notion that Ayn Randian "free-market" trickle-down crapitalism can coexist with basic human decency. "This is a work of fiction," says the back cover. "But any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely intentional. The names have been changed but, hopefully, not enough to protect the guilty."
In fact, while the book takes rightwingerism to an extreme, it blends in plenty of elements from reality. Imagine the most outlandish carrying of so-called conservatism to its logical conclusion, and abandoning New Orleans to a hurricane, or watching a fire department stand by while a house burns (because the owner didn't pay the proper fees) fits right in.
The opening scene is basically a CPAC conference set in a world in which normal had become one of today's CPAC conferences. The speeches of the fascists who populate this book ought to echo in the reader's head when he or she later hears the speeches of actual politicians, because the former are just slightly exaggerated versions of the latter.
The heroes of the book are part Occupy Wall Street, part Anonymous. People march by the millions. They organize and inspire. They shut down all the department stores owned by a particular plutocrat, simply by "shopping" en masse, without actually buying anything. But other tactics, from stunts involving animal dung (you have to read it) to hacking into the sound system at important events, rely on a small, secretive band of super-heroes -- too much so, I suspect. A real revolution is more likely to come through a combination that relies more heavily on popular action and less on the secret heroics of beings who fuse together Julian Assange with the Yes Men and MacGyver.
I also wish there weren't quite so much nationalism in what is after all a fantasy of an ideal future at war with a kleptocratic dystopia. But if you're going to go all in for the founders and the red-white-and-blue, it would have been better to remember the one thing the founders got most right that we have most forgotten: you don't give a single individual power. You can't solve tyranny through a presidential election, replacing a bad tyrant with a good one. You have to divide and check power, reducing the president to an impotent executive. In fact, one would hope that after a couple of centuries we would be able to at least fantasize about moving further toward direct democracy, and away from monarchy.
Be that as it may, it's not as if "Atlas Drugged" is going to move people in the direction of pinning their hopes on presidential candidates more than they already do (a physical impossibility). It is, however, going to deservedly and comically drag through the mud of its own making the disgustingly stupid idea that greed and selfishness are the smart way to be kind and generous. The result, I hope and expect, will be a greater ability to spot the absurdity of the political philosophy being satirized. If THIS is where free-market principles lead, if the catastrophe carved out by the job-creators in this book is what we're consciously attempting to arrive at, then we'd better reject as absolutely evil many of the assumptions and claims we encounter every day in the rhetoric and the policy coming from our politicians, including of course -- this being reality after all -- both of our leading candidates for president.
13 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2012
It intends to restore to American society its lost moral compass and, in great part, succeeds in helping to do just that through satire and a vision of community and commitment that is entirely achievable; in fact, that vision of community is, for Goldstein, a vision we once had and need to make real again. The book's satire of Free-For-All economics in the persons who speak and act for it is trenchant and enables Atlas Drugged to make its point in very literate ways. The book's indictment of self-interest rests on the power of moral vision to correct a reality that is pernicious. The phrase Free-For-All itself moves in several directions: according to Goldstein, our economics, implicitly our social life, and our politics rests on unconstrained Randian greed: what's mine is mine and what's yours is mine -- or potentially mine. This renders life a "free-for-all," but not quite a chaotic free-for-all because, according to Goldstein, we are free, which sounds good, to be unequal, which doesn't quite work out for the common good. Those who have feel justified in wanting more and those who don't have don't get a chance to have, and this is not chaos, but a working, sometimes conspiratorial convergence of self-justifying self-interest.
Although the book initially seems like a work that imagines political change from a dystopia to a utopia -- the victory of community and commitment -- at its highest level the work is really about moral renewal that is not impossible to achieve, a renewal that would not banish the entrepreneurial spirit, but only make it serve a common good; in this way, the book's vision of renewal is not a counter tyranny of skewed values: pure moral idealism. Sometimes the book's picture of renewed values can strike the reader as unexamined for its vision of community and commitment is never subject to satire; but the book's trajectory is reaffirmation, which we're not used to hearing, so that Goldstein's dream -- Dan Ryan's dream in the novel -- can sound uncritical. But the book is about recovering an idea of social connection Americans once experienced and should again make the ground for an American affirmation of the values that enabled it to shine. The book's moral vision makes its satire redemptive: one mocks in order to replace something pernicious with something better.
There is in fact near the end of the book a picture of a new kind of America, a "shining city on a hill," that should be our social icon: it is a picture of an eternal tree (implicitly "of life") on high ground, affording a vista from which we can see what is happening below us. Around that tree a family has constructed a house that honors nature, connecting the family to a nurturing earth it does not spoil, so that human acquisitiveness is checked, and checks itself, as it constructs its renewing habitation. Bottom line: read this book, for it furthers our reconnection to values.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2013
I read Ayn Rands book "Atlas Shrugged" a long time ago and really enjoyed it. This book shows what could have happened when those idealists who started that revolution died away and a new group took over. They weren't quite so idealistic, and the result is shown in "Atlas Drugged". The book covers the struggles of those who are disenchanted with the new business oriented climate. I think you will enjoy this book immensely.
12 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2012
For anyone who has gone down the Ayn Rand road, this book should be required reading.
A little background. Maybe 30 years ago, I read everything that Rand had written. Her bio. Got a copy of the Fountainhead on VHS. At the same time I always realized that all of this was fiction that was written by a Jewish woman who's family had fled the Bolsheviks in Russia.
That these writings have morphed into a political and economic policy is beyond me. All it is is a justification for narcissism.
This book is one of the nice pieces of satire that I've read in a long time. It belongs right up there with Gulliver's Travels and other books.