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In 1957, when Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” came out, readers loved or despised the book for depicting liberals as dictators and labor unions as evil exploiters of workers. In Rand’s view, governmental organizations endangered the work of noble business people, the true champions of a good society.
As a sequel/rebuttal to Rand’s classic lightning-rod book, Oregon City resident Robert Peate wrote “Sisyphus Shrugged,” asking, “What would happen if labor went on strike? Who is truly indispensable here?”
Peate, who identifies as a liberal Democrat, proposes a new economic arrangement of society in an effort to better address the inequality of U.S. values and rewards under capitalism. After graduating from Oswego High School in New York in 1988, he eventually earned a master’s degree in teaching from Portland State University in 2010 and settled in Clackamas County.
Prior to the 2012 presidential campaign, when Rand admirer Paul Ryan ran for vice president, Peate had been intimidated by Rand’s success. Now “to beat her at her own game,” he saw the relevance of publishing a sequel to “Atlas Shrugged.”
“Ayn Rand advocated selfishness to the point of bragging: ‘We don’t have an obligation to try to save a drowning man we pass by.’ Her work continues to excuse the apathy of many today,” Peate said.
Peate promises a “great literary argument” against Rand’s apathy in a novel packed with “action, adventure, romance and humor.” On the copyright page of his book incorporating names, characters and events from “Atlas Shrugged,” he cites the 2001 decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals saying that significantly transformative parody creates a legitimately new product.
“I agree with Rand that human nature is selfish, that we should help ourselves first and foremost,” Peate wrote in his introduction. “Where I differ with her is that I think we can and should help ourselves and others at the same time as a conscious goal.”
Peate will read from “Sisyphus Shrugged” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 19, at St. Johns Books, 8622 N. Lombard St., Portland.