There are different kinds of ideology in literary works. There’s the obviously evil, straightforward and widely acknowledged one, like in Mein Kampf; there’s the concealed one, but pretty easy to uncover, like in classical fairy tales (for a reference, think Angela Carter); there’s the complicated one, or a certain system of ideologies manipulated by the author himself, like in Pynchon’s early works (think order and chaos). And there’s Atlas Shrugged.
It’s dripping with ideology. From the beginning to the very last sentence (dollar sign as the new cross, seriously) it’s a wild trip across fluctuating, but nevertheless strikingly high levels of ideology. The novel exercises it to all the possible extents, even if that means spending around one hundred pages on just lecturing the reader about its philosophical system.
I’ve read many novels with such unabashedly ideological background but still, I feel that Atlas Shrugged is special in a way. Maybe it’s constructed in such a way as to guide an unsuspecting and innocent reader through a world of fast-panned action build on themes from various popular genres to successfully plant in him a seed of thought which will grow into a full commitment to its ideology. Maybe it’s the scope of that ideological commitment which makes it special. As Gore Vidal said, “nearly perfect in it’s immorality”, the book and its philosophy takes rebelling to a completely different level, and it rebels blindly, fully, in a manner of a stereotypical teenager with a slightly longer attention span (writing a one thousand page long novel is not an easy task, even if you take a lot of Benzedrine). Maybe it’s because I’m sick and my liberal tendencies are trying to fully subdue me. Maybe it’s Maybelline.
Or maybe it’s because I like trains? (I mean, seriously, like in a Sheldon-Cooper-ish way) So it was kinda cool to read about the construction of railway and stuff.
One way or another, I think it’s important to learn how to approach, deconstruct and try to look behind ideology so one may find some interesting things about themselves. And in that next Facebook feud with ancaps you’ll always have some concrete arguments against their beloved idols, so nothing goes down the drain.