Monday, February 14, 2011


Would anyone ever put their lives on the line for any entity, be it a corporation or a country, where no one really belongs, where there are no citizens in the usual sense of that word, but only paying customers?

I think not.


JCF said...

For a real (unintentionally-induced) larf, Doug, you've GOT to check out the trailer to (Part One of a Trilogy?!?!) the new Atlas Shrugged. It's a cringe-tastic farce!

[It's posted on YouTube. Opens "April 15" for the Teabagger mob...]

Counterlight said...

They actually made a movie out of Ayn's unedited vanity publication?

JCF said...

Atlas Shrugged, P1 (trailer)

Don't say I didn't warn you!

[There's universal WTF-ness, re keeping the 1930s economic plot, but setting it in the present. :-?]

William Lang said...

Here is a pertinent comment I read last year:

There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs. (This was from a blog called "Kung Fu Monkey," as quoted by Paul Krugman in his New York Times blog. Sorry no links.)

Boy am I glad it was The Lord of the Rings that I read when I was 14!

MarkBrunson said...

I am so glad that someone else sees this "philosophy" as the long-winded self-pitying by a moderately well-educated adolescent mind (regardless of the chronological age of the writer).

Counterlight said...

I never read Atlas Shrugged.

I tried to read The Fountainhead many years ago, but gave up half way through.

I certainly agree that the novel with the orcs is more realistic.

JCF said...

Did my link to the trailer disappear?

Counterlight said...

Your trailer link for some mysterious reason showed up in my spam file. I rescued it.

Counterlight said...

A movie version of "Atlas Shrugged."


I'm guessing that the truly devout Randians won't like it. They don't think of her writings as literature so much as scripture.

kishnevi said...

I've heard that the movie was a low budget project thrown together because the producer's option on the book was about to expire.

I tried to read AS last year, and put it down about a hundred pages in, when it struck me that had any of the major characters been real people, they would have been psychotics. This includes the so-called heroes and heroines.

That said, Doug, if you actually read Rand, you would find more than a little you would like. Her moral principles were very sound, although sometimes she herself got wobbly in applying them--for instance, in regards to Native Americans/First Nations and homosexuals.

Her morality can really be boiled down to four things:
1) You have a brain, so use it!
2) No one should be able to force you to do something, or to keep your from doing something, unless direct harm to another person is involved
3) Your only duty is to yourself. Everything else should be a duty or obligation that you freely accept. IOW, give your unemployed brother money because you love him, but not because your mother would be angry at you if you didn't.
4)You have a brain, so use it!

She criticized the sort of crony capitalism that is now coming to dominate our country roundly and often. Her fault there lay in not recognizing that even in the fifties and sixties, crony capitalism was rampant in some important areas of life. Her dislike of religion really stemmed from the way in which religious authorities abused their power at the expense of the community of believers. And Atlas Shrugs imagines a society in which the economic and political elite try to manipulate everything so that they could maintain their own power and wealth at the expense of everyone else. Sound familiar?

And libertarianism simply takes what I gave as her second rule and applies it to political life. The real aim of libertarianism is to keep elites from manipulating things for their own benefit. This happens with all sorts of governments, so the logical thing to do is to get rid of government--or at least trim it down drastically so those elites can't benefit very much from their manipulations of government. Remove the power of government to force you to do what you don't want to do, or to force you not to do what you want to do, and you remove the power that elites derive from government.

MarkBrunson said...

I understand that this is what it sounds like, in theory, Kishnevi, but none of the points you bring up in the "four things" are particular to Rand's philosophy. They are part and parcel for centuries of liberal humanist thought, whether religious or non-religious.

They are just as much a driving part of most socialism as they are of Libertarianism, which indicates that they are broad points with no indication of absolute moral value.

The true "contribution" of Rand's philosophy - as indicated in the ramifications of your own final paragraph - is merely a core of self-gratification at the expense, or at least the complete disregard, of others. This is also the apparent core of Libertarianism.

If a Libertarian wants to go and live - absolutely alone - on their own property, mill their own lumber, build and maintain their own house, provide their own utilities, school their own children, grow their own food, provide their own entertainment and make absolutely no demands on anyone else, including care for, or even tolerance of their offspring, then they could legitimately claim that they are living their values. As it is, what the Libertarian position actually does is require a larger society to support their comfort while being held to no reasonable expectation of their own responsibility to the community. And, no, their word or their good nature isn't enough - human nature is a reality, and tends to greed and avoidance of communal responsibility.