ATLAS SHRUGGED PART I CAHAPTER I: A WILLPOWER OF A WOMAN
A captivating story titled ‘Atlas Shrugged’ by Ayn Rand wins the heart of many astute readers from different literary cycles. It portrays the power embedded in a woman (the heroine) who finds herself in the shackles of male chauvinism and some weaklings among men. Her willpower, as we see in the first chapter and perhaps in subsequent ones, apparently allowed her to pursue what she believes is right.
This magnificent quality could be seen in the character of the character, Dagny Taggart whose fighting spirit has never been a match to that of her brother, James Taggart. They both are top management staff of Taggart Transcontinental Railroad. James was the president while Dagny the vice. For James to occupy the position of president of the company and Dagny the vice seems to me, very awkward and lopsided due to the starling qualities of the later.
My reading of the book informs a decision to change my lackadaisical attitude of not wanting to heed the commonsensical saying that: ‘what a man can do, a woman can, even better’.Dagny proves her worth by being steadfast and fought to the last, the cankerworm-corruption, eating deep into the fabric of the American industrial production personified in her brother, Jim Taggart and his allies. No wonder they always seem to have parallel perception as to what meritocracy implies! The author stages a formidable character in the heroine in this chapter.
As the saying goes in my clime that; ‘behind a successful man is a woman’, characters like Hank Rearden of Rearden Steel have been very supportive, or better put, Rearden being another reputable businessman became an ally with Dagny to give Rio Norte Line the best and quality products to service Colorado. This is, according to the author, a sharp contrast to what the politicians would want in their so-called ‘public interest’, and of course, what I see as a self-enriching venture typical of most if not all politicians if left unchecked.
In many developing countries, Nigeria inclusive, you find many of James Taggart as politicians and those saddled with the responsibilities of leadership. Dagny’s character is also found but could not hold sway due to what Eddie Willers, a special assistant to Dagny Taggart in the book, symbolizes as oak tree. You see a structure formidably standing on its feet but right inside is an empty nest caused by the unwholesome activities of the likes of Taggart the politician.
A strong and willing character cannot be deterred by a weakling and a corrupt minded personality. However, a situation where merit is relegated to the background and social vises in the form of favoritism, nepotism, ethnocentrism, ethno-religious intolerance, structural imbalance and so forth, a state of anomy became the order of the day! Corrupt practices pave way for many evils in societies. Unemployment and youth restiveness are borne out of corrupt and bad leadership.
Not everyone has a tendency to succumb to social pressure resulted from a perceived social malfeasance. The book reminds me of an analysis puts forward by an American sociologist, Robert Merton. Merton in J.B. McK (1981), asserts that deviant behavior will occur on large scale while society holds out, above everything else, “certain common success goals for the population at large, while the social structure rigorously restricts or completely closes access to approved modes of reaching these goals for a considerable part of the population…”
The insurgency in the northeast was linked to a non-conformity issue where some aggrieved individuals who seemed not to align with what they see as discrepancy in the system and hence chose not to conform to norms and values of the society. They became deviants (belligerents) and take up arms consequent upon a failure on the part of the authority to properly manage the situation in good time.