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Ben Bayer and Gregory Salmieri discussing Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.
Mark Da Cunha

The Atlas Project Explores a Novel Deeper Than Its Politics

The year 2017 marked the 60th anniversary of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. People often think of it as a political novel about the clash between industrial titans and government looters, but the story goes much deeper than that. 

In recognition of the anniversary, Greg Salmieri and I have been leading The Atlas Project, an online reading group featuring weekly Facebook Live broadcasts. In these livestream sessions we discuss the most interesting literary and philosophical aspects of the latest chapter. You can catch up with what you’ve missed, here.

Greg has a superlative grasp of the plot and characterization of the novel, and he prioritizes ensuring that participants understand how the events of the novel interconnect and are driven forward by the choices and conflicts of the uniquely drawn, multidimensional characters. Greg only proceeds to explore the philosophical meaning of the story after having grounded us in its literary art, from which its meaning can then be induced.

To indicate the broad range of topics we’ve explored, I’d like to show you a few of my favorite clips from the first half of the Project sessions. In these clips we explore the novel’s unique perspective on topics such as morality, nature, and love and sex.

A deeper understanding of morality (1:01:28 – 1:07:49):

The meaning of being a man and the meaning of that relation to nature (30:18 – 44:56):

The “pleasures” of the depraved (43:30 – 54:29):

Sex as an end in itself (40:55 – 53:02):

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Ben Bayer

Ben Bayer, PhD in philosophy, is a fellow and director of content at the Ayn Rand Institute and the author of Why the Right to Abortion Is Sacrosanct (2022). Ben is a managing editor of New Ideal and a member of the Ayn Rand University faculty.

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