I'm reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, because I hate Ayn Rand, and I want to know exactly why I hate her and I want to know her better than her supporters know her and I want to know exactly how I'll go about destroying such an ideology.
It absolutely amazes me that people take her books seriously. They're very well written and well done - Ayn Rand is an amazing author in terms of pure writing ability as well as the ability to structure her world, but they're romance novels between man and his work. The world that she creates is a pale imitation of reality. In a way, I think it helps me understand conservatism a bit better, perhaps, bringing the two wings - the religious and secular, into one coherent whole. It seems that conservatism in all forms, religious and economic, seem to be based upon the idea of living a world based on what it should be, rather than what it is. This world that is structured is composed of two sides: good or evil, competent or incompetent. Society should be geared towards rewarding the good while punishing the bad.
Of course, in both realms, the "good" is geared towards a potential maximization of human character, which scoffs at the idea of inherent flaws in us that cannot become overcome by pure force of will. It helps devise a mindset of superiority in the "good" and leading to cognitive dissonance in overlooking flaws.
Now, I'm sure liberals can be criticized for the same thing in oversimplifications that ignore a messy reality, but I'm not reading a classic liberal tome at the moment. Anyway, this and Atlas Shrugged should be required reading for any intellectual, if only because of their influence, but should be read with a critical eye. I've had quite a few friends that read them in high school, full of romance and got totally swept up in them purely on Rand and her characters' charisma without applying too much critical thinking to it.
“It is a strange paradox that today’s central banks are generally staffed by economists, who by and large profess a belief in a theory which says that their jobs are, at the best, unnecessary, and more likely wealth-destroying. Needless to say, this is not a point widely discussed among respectable economists. Nevertheless, it is an issue worth pondering.”
George Cooper, The Origin of Economic Crises