“Rand-a-Thon” was a marathon overnight collective reading of Ayn Rand’s classic Atlas Shrugged around the burning barrel at Chevy-in-The-Hole, Flint, MI. Reading together in the refuge of outsourced industrialization, we met in a wasted, barren landscape, in the imprint of a demolished General Motors Plant.
It is the end of the world and a few copies of this best-seller are scattered around. Can it help us now? Who is that lone hero of the modern world? Free shots of Russian Vodka to readers! Here ye, seekers of capitalism, years later, it’s the End of the World and we are wasted.
Come share and huddle around the flame of the trashcan fire in an All Night Collective reading of the World’s Last Remaining Book! Rumored to be the most printed book next to The Bible, Atlas Shrugged is the premiere emblem of the power of the individual at any cost. In this barren industrial wasteland, it is easy to imagine that it actually IS The End Of The World!
We sat on crates in the imprint of an eminent GM plant turned Superfund site. Here, now gone, collective action transformed the country, fueling the industrial revolution and America’s place in the world. Today, the industry has left, outsourced away, leaving a(nother) toxic site in it’s wake: Flint, Michigan is now, according to FBI statistics, the most dangerous city in the U.S.
The “Rand-a-Thon” playfully calls into life, and into question, the objectivism of Ms. Rand, the way of industrialization, the glories of capitalism and, for me personally, my own Rand-discipled family and their Michigan roots. Set against the darkened plot of an actual site in an actual place, where these demons have taken over the lives of multitudes of “collective” people… then left. In the face of real struggle, is it not the collective that will share in order to help each other survive? What happens to the lone individual on a cold night, with a single earmarked book, an empty pit, little wood, no fire, no coffee, and no vodka? Will they survive the night? Sitting, standing in this all-night reading of Atlas Shrugged, we burned pieces of foreclosed houses so easily found around town and brought this question into full context. This Is It, it’s the end and this is all we have to read. Can it help us now? And do we want it to?
What transpired was an energetic night of local Flint residents sitting together reading in funny voices, explaining the book to each other, drawing pictures, drinking vodka and enjoying each other’s company. The next day, visitors came back and we stayed up late sharing ghost stories and tall tales. The following day, the visitors again came and together wrote up plans to enliven Flint with their new friends.