Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal... [R]esistance to the Message cannot be tolerated because disagreement can never be merely honest, prudent, or just humanly fallible. Dissent from revelation so final (because, the author would say, so reasonable) can only be willfully wicked. There are ways of dealing with such wickedness, and, in fact, right reason itself enjoins them. From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: "To a gas chamber — go!" The same inflexibly self-righteous stance results, too (in the total absence of any saving humor), in odd extravagances of inflection and gesture-that Dollar Sign, for example. At first, we try to tell ourselves that these are just lapses, that this mind has, somehow, mislaid the discriminating knack that most of us pray will warn us in time of the difference between what is effective and firm, and what is wildly grotesque and excessive. Soon we suspect something worse. We suspect that this mind finds, precisely in extravagance, some exalting merit; feels a surging release of power and passion precisely in smashing up the house. A tornado might feel this way, or Carrie Nation.
Now we can all argue over whether this passage overreaches or not. Chambers has clearly indulged in a bit of hyperbole to emphasize his point. But the point itself is well worth emphasizing! Atlas Shrugged does indeed exhibit, in the tone of the piece, a very disdainful contempt toward anyone who might be so horrid as to disagree with its author, and that in places it even exults in the deaths of those who refuse to follow Rand's moral ideals.
That Rand and her acolytes delight in the demise of those whom they regard as "immoral" can be demonstrated by quoting a letter Alan Greenspan sent to the New York Times in defense of Atlas, back in the fifties:
Atlas Shrugged is a celebration of life and happiness. Justice is unrelenting. Creative individuals and undeviating purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfillment. Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should.
"Perish as they should"! Keep in mind that the phrase "parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason" is a rather wide abstraction that potentially includes, not merely the usual unsympathetic drunk hobos and intransigent shirkers and malingerers, but also the mentally ill, the retarded, congenitally poor reasoners, people who can't make up their mind, and people maimed and demoralized by tragedy. Such people, it is here suggested, not only will die, but should die. "Justice is unrelenting"!
- Greg Nyquist