If you happened to go to school in the late 1950s you would have been taught, in the most advanced quarters, that Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged was right-wing drivel. But then you would have been taught as well that J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings books were incipient fascist tracts and Willa Cather’s tales of immigrant settlers in the Great Plains were reactionary propaganda.

But today college kids are asking again, “Who is John Galt?” which is the famous first line of Atlas Shrugged.

CNN reports that in the midst of the credit crisis and the federal government's massive bailout plan, the works of Rand, a proponent of a libertarian, free-market philosophy she called Objectivism, are getting new attention.

"If only Atlas were required reading for every member of Congress and political appointee in the Obama administration. I'm confident that we'd get out of the current financial mess a lot faster," Wall Street Journal columnist Stephen Moore wrote in early January.

It was first published in 1957, and its author has been dead for more than a quarter-century, but Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is riding high once again, Libertarian Bob Barr reports in his column in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“The once-and-future bestseller occupies both the first and second spots on Amazon.com’s bestseller list for Classic works (representing two different editions of the book). For all of us who reject the Big Government policies of the two major political parties and of their two most recent advocate-presidents, and who remain deeply concerned for the survival of free enterprise and other indices of Freedom in the U.S., this is a small but hopeful sign.”

Given that libertarian Ron Paul tied for second place at 13 percent with Sarah Palin in a recent poll of young conservatives for the 2012 presidential race, this could have significance for long-term political forecasts. It could predict a rising trend for the libertarian influence on the Republican Party — one which, if it bonds to a generation still young, will carry with that generation through life.

Visit Mr. Quigley's website at http://quigleyblog.blogspot.com.