‘We The Living’ Book Review: ABSOLUTELY STUNNING–Thank you John Aglialoro

Stunning is the best way to describe Ayn Rand’s classic novel, We The Living. Absolutely stunning! I feel upon completing that novel similar to what I felt when I finished Allen Eckert’s novel The Frontiersman—by asking the question, “why hasn’t this book been read by every single eighth grader in America?” Because We The Living should be read by every single person who either calls themselves Americans, or wants to become one. The book is absolutely knock-your-socks-off—stunning. The entire time I was reading the book, I kept thinking back to my teenage years when the restaurant chain Wendy’s used to air commercials like the one shown below at the height of the Cold War during President Reagan’s time in the Oval Office.

I used to think that commercial was a gross exaggeration of what life in the Soviet Union was really like. I thought it was just propaganda designed to steer people away from communism and toward capitalism. But I now know because I read We The Living, that life in the Soviet Union was about 20 times worse than what was shown in that old Wendy’s commercial and I am literally stunned that academia in The United States embraced communism to the high level that they have, because We The Living takes readers on a very intimate journey into the lives of many characters who are struggling to live under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat brought about by the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.

I suppose I have to thank John Aglialoro who is the financial mind behind making Ayn Rand’s classic book Atlas Shrugged into a movie. It was because of the upcoming Atlas Shrugged Part II film that I picked up We The Living to enjoy while I waited for the movie to come out. I waited so I could celebrate Ayn Rand in the weeks leading up to the film’s release with a book that I hadn’t read by her. If not for the Atlas Shrugged movies I may never have picked up We The Living because honestly I have had no desire to read about life in Russia, even though I have always been curious about it. When I think of Russia I think of snow and communism, neither of which I am particularly fond of. I like snow a little bit, but I absolutely despise communism. Collectivism for me has always been a dirty word, well before I ever bumped into Ayn Rand’s work. I feel that way to such a degree that I don’t even let people call me, “brother,” including when I was a part of a large motorcycle group in Ohio. I withdrew as Vice-President of that group because I recognized the collectivism in the bikers as I was making a documentary of how motorcycle riders were, so “independent.” I abandoned the documentary when I acknowledged that most bikers were behaving with collectivism down to the simple process of riding in formation behind a pack leader on the highway which to me was unacceptable. As I delved into the Easy Rider Chillicothe Rodeo and learned that public displays of sexual intercourse and drunkenness were important parts of the culture, I felt so disenfranchised that along with college fraternities, athletic institutions, academic politics and labor unions determined collectivism was a rampant problem that threatened the sanctity of The United States by intending to crush individual identity.

Today Ayn Rand is so hated, so despised by all the members of groups like the ones mentioned because her opinions threaten their existence. Yet the truth is the truth. It cannot be escaped. The hatred for Ayn Rand will be on full display once again when John Aglialoro, Harmon Kaslow and the rest of the Atlas Shrugged film team release ‘Either Or,’ (Part II of the Atlas Shrugged trilogy) on October 12th. Fans will love the movie. Collectivists, democrats, progressives, communists, intelligentsia, hippies, welfare recipients, neurotic parents, bleeding heart liberals, tree hugging green tech advocates, most of the viewership of Comedy Central, MTV, and fans of daytime soap operas will hate the movie. In fact if forced to watch the film they will wither about as though Holy Water had been cast upon their foreheads during a Catholic exorcism ritual inciting demons to flee from their bodies when Atlas Shrugged Part II hits screens in spite of all their efforts to keep the world from reading Ayn Rand or seeing a movie adaptation of her literary work. The question then comes to pass, why is she so hated? If so many people think one way, and only a few think the way she did—in a democracy—aren’t the majority entitled to rule over the majority? The answer is———a resounding——NO!

To understand who Ayn Rand was and how she thought, reading her book We The Living is absolutely essential. I can understand why Rand’s later characters are so hated by collectivists. John Galt and Howard Roark were the way they were in Rand’s later literary work because it was revealed in We The Living the true relationship that Ayn Rand had with her very first love as a 17-year-old teenager in a man named Leo. Leo in the book We The Living was trying to live a good life under a Soviet system that absolutely would not allow for such people to exist, and all during the book I kept thinking that life in America is not very much different. The heroine of We The Living is Kira Argounov which is the literal antithesis of Ayn Rand herself living in Petrograd in the year of 1924 trying to start a life with the man she loved, which was impossible without allowing her personal identity to be smashed into collective soup.

We The Living was the first time I had ever gained intimate knowledge of what life was like behind the Iron Curtain. This was my first realistic glance at what went on behind the Berlin Wall, and why people risked life and limb to climb over, to get away from the oppressive, Soviet dominated East Germany. We The Living takes readers on a journey into the bread lines at the co-operatives, into the minds of the communists ruling as Karl Marx’s proletariat, into the minds of the bourgeois, into their education system, into their economic engine, into their whole philosophy. The genius of the book is in how effectively the characters are developed so that their demise into having their individuality stripped away completely is revealed from the years of 1924 to 1926. In just a few years, once proud families were stripped down to nothing, forced to live like insects in public housing seized by the state, and begging for a job run by the state so they could receive a food ration card. The living conditions were absolutely appalling. The way the communists gained control of each and every person’s life in Russia was revealed in graphic detail and their motivations for doing so was also exposed. Many of those methods can be found in the modern United Nations Agenda 21 initiative, which was written by former fans of open communism, now calling themselves socialists and progressives.

For me the most heart-wrenching scene was when a young couple was thrown into Siberian jails because of their counter-revolutionary intentions against the great Dictatorship of the Proletariat. The couple simply wanted to eat, and because they didn’t belong to any of the trade unions, they couldn’t get a job, and therefore couldn’t get a food ration card. So they plotted to overthrow the government by passing out flyers in factories urging people to stand up against the communists. They were sentenced to 10 years in Siberia at different prisons which they both knew was a death sentence because nobody came back from Siberia. They typically died from suicide or consumption, there just wasn’t any food in that frozen land but what was brought in by train. The couple rode for most of the trip together in a train holding each other as long as they could. Then at a particular train stop the woman was ripped from the arms of her man and put on another train to head to a different prison and that was the last they would ever see of each other ever. It was a terrible scene beautifully written. I often thought of Steven Spielberg’s Schindlers’ List during these kinds of scenes where the content was just terrible, but the delivery was magnificent.

The book is filled with scenes like that; all of them absolutely catastrophic. It is no wonder that it took three years to get published in the United States in 1936 and was rejected by a dozen publishing houses before Macmillan finally considered it over the violent protests of Granville Hicks, who would later get revenge on Ayn Rand through the New York Times when he was sought out by them to review Atlas Shrugged twenty years later. The owner of Macmillan overruled Hicks by saying “I don’t know whether the book will make any money, but that it was important and ought to be published.” Hicks was revealed to be a card-carrying member of Communist Party USA as was many members of the media, academia, and labor unions in the period of the 1920’s to the 1950’s. They were later forced to go underground into hiding behind the Democratic Party disguised as political progressives. And it was clear that the Soviet Union Dictatorship of the Proletariat planned for the entire world to be converted to communism. They had extremely elaborate plans to move their utopia of misery to every nation on earth, and many in the United States were willing to help them do it, because they didn’t see the real conditions of what the people in the Soviet Union were undergoing. All they saw was the idealistic utterances broadcast from Moscow through the G.P.U, and later the K.G.B.

During my reading of We The Living I kept thinking of modern life in America and how much communism has shaped the way many people think. I thought of the green movement, particularly the smart meters that are going onto all of our homes for all the reasons that the government in 1920 Russia controlled the food supply, so that the citizens would have to follow instructions in order to eat, and if they stepped out of line, the card would be taken, and the people would starve. This control was not taken over night, but gradually, over a ten-year period. The same thing has been going on here in The United States over the last thirty years. Government, which leans toward communism by its very nature, is gaining control of the food supply, and is placing a particular emphasis on power supply. If the government can control how much electricity flows into a home, they can control the behavior of the people who live in that home and this is how so many people in Russia allowed themselves to be ruled by a Dictatorship of the Proletariat, because their everyday lives were completely focused on just trying to eat. They didn’t have the time, or mind to question anything about freedom—because they were just trying to survive moment by moment, which was by design.

It would seem that a book written over 75 years ago would resemble very little of the modern world, but on virtually every page I read something that reminded me of what I read recently in my local newspaper, or heard from some politician declaring that the rich in America make too much money and that they should give some of it to the poor. That statement started in the Soviet Union in the opening days of communist rule chronicled so effectively in We The Living and we hear it today under labor unions, and politicians—particularly on the Democratic side. After reading We The Living it is not far-fetched at all to consider that communists would plot with great care to place a president into power like Obama. For those who have seen the movie Dreams of my Real Father, you know what I’m talking about. The communists have planned for such things as far back as the turn of the century. Progressives started in America what the communists did in Russia. The only difference was that America had a culture of independence that was difficult to overcome, and it would take a long time—but they were prepared to wait. In We The Living the communists spoke of Soviet education, which is alive and well in America right now. If you have a child in public school, they are getting that education right now. If you are going to college, or sending a child through college, then you already know the rest of the story. It is not by accident, it has all been on purpose. We The Living shows clearly what the plan has always been and we are living it today in 2012 what was planned with great detail in 1920 to implement.

If I hated communism before I read We The Living, I don’t think there are human words yet invented to describe the level I despise such a collective concept now. I liked Ayn Rand before I read We The Living, but now I think she may be the greatest author in the last 200 years. I think Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead are two of the greatest books not only in American literature, but in world literature, and yes that includes the great classics. I would say that We The Living is more important than The Diary of Anne Frank, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, or The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne. We The Living should be read by every single human being on planet earth.

We The Living is in its most simple form a skeleton key to understanding Ayn Rand. If only 50% of the book were true, which I think is closer to 80%, but even at fifty, Ayn Rand had great reason to hate communism and those who advocated it, which these days are a majority of the American population. Rand lost her first love to communism and she despises it for damn good reason. It destroyed everything she cared about. She was unique because she didn’t allow communism to crush her spirit the way it did so many of her friends and family. If she hadn’t gotten out of the country, she may have been crushed within a year or two of 1926 when a guest at a party she attended in Russia found out she was leaving The Soviet Union and asked her to get the message out of what was happening behind the Iron Curtain. “When you get there, tell them Russia is a huge cemetery and that we are all dying. Tell them We The Living told them.” Ayn Rand kept her promise and wrote We The Living which was criticized, and shut down in the United States for nearly 25 years. It was only after the success of Atlas Shrugged in 1957 that Random House finally re-released it to the public. Today We The Living is enjoying a renewed interest almost 80 years after its publication in large part because John Aglialoro, and Harmon Kaslow are making a modern movie of Ayn Rand’s work Atlas Shrugged and curious minds like mine are reading We The Living because we want more of what Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead offered. It is too bad that the new interest didn’t happen 60 years ago, otherwise America might avoid the pain and suffering it is about to go through. So when the bad reviews for Atlas Shrugged Part II come out, it is for all the reasons told above and more, not because the film is bad. Communist sympathizers, which extend from Barack Obama and Joe Biden all the way down to the local unionized firehouse and FOP station, do sympathize with communism. Anyone who preaches the message of the proletariat (middleclass) advocates communism and that message is no clearer upon the world stage than in the book We The Living.

We The Living is a must read. If you have not read it then you must do so as soon as possible. I would recommend closing this site right now and going over to Amazon.com and buying We The Living right now! Don’t rent any movies, don’t go to any public meetings, don’t watch any sporting events until you have read this book and understand that the communism of that book is as real today as it was then. IT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW IN AMERICA FOR GOD’S SAKE, and Ayn Rand was trying to warn the world, and they didn’t listen, because the communists were already in place the way the party began to come into power in 1915 in Russia, when the world thought the Bolsheviks were “small potatoes.” It is not an overstatement to say that this is an emergency. It might have taken nearly 80 years to get the message out, but don’t let it become 81 or 82 years. Get the message today so you can act tomorrow, because you have to know who and what you’re fighting. In America we let the communists change the names of what they are without calling them on it, and we are paying for it dearly. 12 years of the Bush presidents, 8 years of Clinton, and now 4 years of Obama have delivered America to the doors of communism as it was established as a world revolution in Petrograd–1924 after the revolution of 1917. And it took one little woman out of the millions trapped in that country of collectivism to escape and report to the world what was happening, and that the wave was about to hit them too. That warning came in her book We The Living, but people didn’t listen. So she knew that she had to provide a blueprint for how to rebuild society after communism collapsed it. That is why she wrote The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged, so people could see for themselves how things “should” be, since they were unable to act based on what “was” happening. We The Living is just a stunning portrayal of life in the Soviet Union and a vision of what intelligentsia has in mind for America, and provides the evidence to even the dullest minds what the intent has always been. It is a book that must be read, must be understood, and must be communicated to every friend, family member and loved one. It is in my mind the most crucial, historical novel of our time, not because its content is uplifting, but because it’s all too real.

Rich Hoffman

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