Ayn Rand began writing her magnum opus, ATLAS SHRUGGED, on September 2, 1946. September 2 is the day of the year on which the story opens, and a date which is noted several times throughout the novel. This is why I chose today to commemorate Rand’s work, which has now been shown, unfortunately, to have been more prophetic than she would have liked. The reason she was so prophetic was because she understood the power of ideas to influence society for the better — or for the worse. Wrote Rand, in her essay, “Is Atlas Shrugging?” from her book, CAPITALISM: THE UNKNOWN IDEAL:
“There is only one power that determines the course of history, just as it determines the course of every individual life: the power of man’s rational faculty—the power of ideas. If you know a man’s convictions, you can predict his actions. If you understand the dominant philosophy of a society, you can predict its course. But convictions and philosophy are matters open to man’s choice.
There is no fatalistic, predetermined historical necessity. Atlas Shrugged is not a prophecy of our unavoidable destruction, but a manifesto of our power to avoid it, if we choose to change our course.
It is the philosophy of the mysticism-altruism-collectivism axis that has brought us to our present state and is carrying us toward a finale such as that of the society presented in Atlas Shrugged. It is only the philosophy of the reason-individualism-capitalism axis that can save us….”