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Atlas Shrugged: Its Philosophy and Energy Implications (Part V: Energy Crises)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- April 25, 2011

“The Arab oil embargo was not the cause of the energy crisis in this country: it was merely the straw that showed the camel’s back was broken.” (1)

“There is no ‘natural’ geological crisis; there is an enormous political one.” (2)

– Ayn Rand, “The Energy Crisis,” November 5, 1973.

The highly regulated society depicted by Atlas Shrugged includes many things energy. Her 1957 novel and now movie (Part I out;  Part II and Part III to come) has had relevance for U.S. energy policy ever since.

Atlas Shrugged describes oil shortages (342–44, 475), gasoline shortages (pp. 272–73), and electricity blackouts (pp. 669, 671). When the 1970s energy crisis hit, Rand commented:

Many readers have been asking whether I intended to write about the energy crisis. I would be tempted to answer: “I already have” – but they anticipate me by adding that things are “just as in Atlas Shrugged.”