Earth Hour and Atlas Shrugged
There has been a lot of commentary recently on the relevance of Atlas Shrugged to our economic woes and our government’s response. But the novel’s relevance to current issues extends far beyond the financial crisis.
Consider the phenomenon of Earth Hour, which takes place this Saturday (March 28), and which I criticized in a recent op-ed. During Earth Hour, participating cities turn off the lights of major skylines and landmarks to signal a commitment to fighting climate change. In my article I discuss why I think this is a travesty.
So how does this relate to Atlas Shrugged?
Well, without giving away the novel’s plot, all I can say is that part of the climax involves a blackout in which the lights of New York City are extinguished. What’s interesting and highly revealing is the contrast between the novel’s involuntary blackout, which the city’s residents bewail in panic and despair, and the voluntary blackout of Earth Hour, which is offered as an inspiration and a rallying point. As I conclude in my op-ed:
The lights of our cities and monuments are a symbol of human achievement, of what mankind has accomplished in rising from the cave to the skyscraper. Earth Hour presents the disturbing spectacle of people celebrating those lights being extinguished. Its call for people to renounce energy and to rejoice at darkened skyscrapers makes its real meaning unmistakably clear: Earth Hour symbolizes the renunciation of industrial civilization.