I read eclectically. My younger brother gave me a Kindle in 2011 which solved two of my biggest problems: Finding myself without a book at hand; and making it impossible for random onlookers to realise that I’m reading a low-brow, serial killer stupidity as opposed to “serious” literature or something academic.
As was to happen, it was through the Kindle’s Amazon’s snooping algorithms that I found myself, embarrassed and outraged, reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.
Atlas Shrugged is one of her homages, her opus even, to her steely view about the centrality of industrial capitalism to the world’s progress, and the extreme dangers of individuals and states who concern themselves with distribution, sacrificing the mind, innovation and reason, productivity and labour in an avaricious, deliberate and insidiously predatory manner couched in the name of the collective and the social good.
No surprise therefore, that Rand’s novels and philosophical stance have been appropriated by and inspired no small number of American conservatives and libertarians. Even though, contradictorily, she herself defied current-day Republican norms by being pro-choice, and anti-any legislation as concerns gay rights.
Which is not surprising since she came from a secular Jewish family that lived through the Russian revolution, lost its property and herself ultimately “purged” from higher education. She moved to the United States where she finally made sense of what had happened to her family.
Pronouncing herself a “radical for capitalism,” a defender of rational self-interest and individual rights, she denounced collectivism and statism as exemplified by communism and any impulse towards forced altruism.
So, what is it I’m finding so engrossing and relevant to Kenya today, where there’s not even a pretence at a distributive e