Atlas Shrugged

Beyond Saving
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Atlas Shrugged

 This is for Ken because he asked why so many people subscribe to Ayn Rand's way of  thinking in another thread. I assume you have read Atlas Shrugged, if you haven't, go read it. Even besides the philosophy and social critique it is a fun read. It is a character driven story that I believe is on the short list of greatest literature. Although, Ayn does get a little verbose when she goes off on one of her rants (like the 70 page John Galt speech), which from a literary perspective should be edited because it disrupts the storyline. From a philosophical perspective, these rants effectively lay out her worldview and are what makes the book more than a great work of fiction. For those too lazy to read, there is a movie coming out on April 15th, based on the trailers it looks like it will do a fairly good job. I will post a review after I see it but I find it unlikely that anyone could effectively translate the book into a movie without losing a lot.

 

I read Atlas Shrugged when I was 14 and it had a profound influence on my philosophy, my political views and my morality. I don't mean that I changed my life to conform to Ayn's worldview, rather the book helped me recognize and understand my own philosophy. As a young teenager I was really just starting to approach the questions of life and I had some idea of what I believed but I had not really thought them out. At some point, you have to grow up and figure out how you are going to live your life. When I read Atlas Shrugged, many of the philosophical, political and moral viewpoints rung true. 

 

I believe that the reason many people get so enthusiastic about Ayn Rand is that she laid out a philosophy that is already being lived, but is counter to popular culture. Those of us who live life for ourselves are constantly accused of being greedy, capitalist pigs, selfish etc. even while the production that we create is being consumed by those insulting us. Then those that insult us turn around and expect us to give them the results of our production for nothing. Even when you have a thick skin, it gets irritating being insulted on a daily basis for the simple act of creating and doing what we love. The pure hatred you get from some people is astonishing. So when Ayn says what many people are already thinking, but what is socially unacceptable to say, is it any wonder that people become fans?

 

John Galt wrote:

By the grace of reality and the nature of life, man – every man – is an end in himself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.

 

A core belief of Objectivism and I would argue, a rational extension of atheism. If there is no god, what do you live life for? Your life is the most valuable thing you have. There is no ultimate purpose, ultimate goal or second chance. The only thing any of us have to do is live and die. So why would you live for another? Why give away your most precious asset because another demands it? The flip side of the coin is that if you refuse to live your life for another, you ought not expect another to live their life for you. 

 

Many accuse this belief of being selfish, greedy etc. But what is more selfish than expecting another person to live their lives for you? What is more greedy than expecting someone to give you something without you having to give anything in return? Our society is full of people who declare it their "right" to get X  in exchange for nothing. When we refuse to give the moochers anything, they resort to using government force to take from us while accusing us of being the greedy ones. Those of us who expect nothing from our fellow man except for mutually agreed upon trade of value for value are made out to be the bad guy, while those who use force to take are championed. How fucked up is that?

 

Quote:

So you think that money is the root of all evil? Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?

 

Here Ayn recognizes that money is simply a symbolic representation of production. When you provide something of value that is the result of your physical or mental effort you trade it for money, which can then be traded for the production of another person. She points out the absurdity of accusing money or the pursuit of it as evil when it is obtained through honest trade. 

 

In a world where people expect you to live your life for their pleasure, while accusing you of being selfish, is it a surprise that Ayn's philosophy is attractive? I live a life where I accept people as they are and expect nothing from them. I don't use force against anyone nor claim any right to anyones life. We are all on this planet together and we have two choices. We can attempt to control others through coercion or we can trade peacefully. Objectivism suggest that we ALL choose to trade peacefully and the result will be a better world. I have no desire to control others, and I reject all attempts to control me. It is disappointing that so many people reject such a simple basis of morality and consider it a moral imperative to control others. Everyone is against force when it is used against them, but many fully support it when it is used in their favor. It is disgusting, contemptible and sometimes the only thing I have to say to such people is .

 

In Atlas Shrugged the protagonists did just that. In a world that used force against them, they simply removed themselves and allowed it to collapse. It is a fantasy I indulge in from time to time. Especially this time of year when I calculate exactly how much I am forced to pay the looters and the moochers. Imagine a world where no one used force to take from another. I would like that world. (Yes Brian, I know it is a utopia that will never happen. Doesn't mean I can't try to get closer to it.) 

 

 

  

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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Beyond Saving wrote: Greedy and selfish

        Well , first off, Thank You. I guess that she had a stingy childhood that continued in her later years, sure you live for yourself first, um- no Shit , but I believe that humans beings are social animals that rely on altruism a lot in our lives. I'm no fan of selfishness or Alan Greenspan (also a Ayn Rand follower) and that guy from the Chicago school of economics- Friedman - who was also a fan of Ayn Rand, using Rand's Economics and political philosophy the USA helped to over throw Salvador Allende and installed Pinochet (our type of guy) in Chile on 9-11-73 , the first 9-11 that we don't talk about, because we (USA) are the greedy ones who did not want democracy and socialism to flourish in South America. Ayn Rand does make some good points, but she also makes many errors in my opinon, she reminds me of that line from "WALL STREET" ~ Greed is Good ~  

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Ken G. wrote:       

Ken G. wrote:

        Well , first off, Thank You. I guess that she had a stingy childhood that continued in her later years, sure you live for yourself first, um- no Shit , but I believe that humans beings are social animals that rely on altruism a lot in our lives.

How is it altruism to take what another is unwilling to give away? Who is truly more charitable, the person who donates their own time/money generously because it fulfills their own happiness, the person who takes money from another to donate, or the person who donates simply for social standing?  

 

Ken G. wrote:

I'm no fan of selfishness or Alan Greenspan (also a Ayn Rand follower)

Greenspan is a fucking dumb ass who used the most intrusive government control of the economy while professing laissez-faire. Using government power to set interest rates is about as polar opposite of everything Ayn Rand stood for as you can get. I don't even know if he recognizes the huge cavern between his professed beliefs and his actions. The bad guys in Atlas Shrugged were business tycoons who used government power rather than the free market to increase their businesses. Alan Greenspan was a central figure in increasing that practice throughout the 90's. 

 

Ken G. wrote:

using Rand's Economics and political philosophy the USA helped to over throw Salvador Allende and installed Pinochet (our type of guy) in Chile on 9-11-73 , the first 9-11 that we don't talk about, because we (USA) are the greedy ones who did not want democracy and socialism to flourish in South America.

Other than Ayn Rand's anti communist stance, what does that have anything to do with her philosophy? I don't see how objectivism can be construed as supporting any dictator. It certainly does not support the enemy of my enemy is my friend beliefs that led to Pinochet or really any other dictator that the US installed in the fight against communism. So Pinochet allowed a free market, so what? Ayn Rand was clearly anti-authoritarian. Pinochet was clearly authoritarian and anti-individualism. Your argument here is the equivalent of the "Hitler was an atheist, therefore, atheism is bad."

 

Ken G. wrote:

Ayn Rand does make some good points, but she also makes many errors in my opinon, she reminds me of that line from "WALL STREET" ~ Greed is Good ~  

Such as?

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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Beyond wrote:A core belief

Beyond wrote:

A core belief of Objectivism and I would argue, a rational extension of atheism. If there is no god, what do you live life for? Your life is the most valuable thing you have. There is no ultimate purpose, ultimate goal or second chance. The only thing any of us have to do is live and die. So why would you live for another? Why give away your most precious asset because another demands it? The flip side of the coin is that if you refuse to live your life for another, you ought not expect another to live their life for you. 

Now, that sounds good in principle, and I personally agree with you in that I hate moochers and people that use self pity as a roadblock to their personal growth.  I will have to borrow from folklore to reply, however, 'everybody needs somebody, sometimes'.  You and I hold the same morals now, but I had immigrated here.  When we arrived we relied on others for support for the first few months or so.  Prior to integrating in the society, I relied on others giving me the benefit of doubt.  If everyone lived for themselves I wouldn't be where I am now. 

Communism sounds good in principle also, but this ultimate capitalism polar opposite cannot be the answer either.  The ideal self sustaining system has to be closer to the center.  While communism failed miserably, it is not without it's noteworthy benefits.  And in an ideal communist society value is being recognized differently.  You may not make a LOT more money, but you receive a LOT more respect and recognition.  Also since we're idealizing here, in said utopia everyone's basic needs have been looked after, so really, making more money is just the gorilla's equivalent of smacking your chest.  

Of course in reality this doesn't work because humans tend to be greedy pricks, and every leader ends up hoarding everything for themselves, hence the dictatorships, and so on and so forth.  Realistically the opposite is true for what you're proposing, because we're all pricks deep down inside, and it's only a matter of time before some asshole starts abusing the power gained by being more valuable, to hurt others that have less actualized value.

In the end, it is human nature that prevents any idealized system from actualizing.  We're left with the best of the worst system that we have in place today.  Far from perfect, but just good enough so it survives, I guess you can look at it as organic evolution.  As long as it survives long enough to pass the memes over to the next generation, it is good enough Smiling

 

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


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 I started to read Atlas

 I started to read Atlas Shrugged because it's on the modern library's list - the reader's list, it doesn't appear on the board's list - of the 100 best novels of the 20th century as number 1. I don't think Ayn Rand's books are taken seriously as scholarly works of philosophy but I can kind of understand the appeal it has for some. I found it to be a thoroughly unreadable piece of garbage but it's hard to criticize because that would entail reading it with attention, something I am unwilling to do.

 If you are interested in books that deal with Randian type objectivism I'd recommend "Beggars in Spain" by Nancy Kress. It's a science fiction novel about a class of genetically engineered, super-productive people who never sleep.  Though it's not really a pro-Objectivist book, from what I've read about Objectivism Kress made the strongest case she could for it. The downside is that as a shorter novel it's much less effective as a doorstop.  

 

There are twists of time and space, of vision and reality, which only a dreamer can divine
H.P. Lovecraft


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There are some parts of Ayn

There are some parts of Ayn Rand's philosophy that I disagree with, but as a whole, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Just like you, Atlas Shrugged helped shape some of my worldview when I read it.   

 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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Ayn Rand most certainly gave

Ayn Rand most certainly gave me a different perspective. I read the Fountainhead when I was about 15 and was introduced for the first time to characters who had absolute personalities. I think what appealed was the purity of form and the artistic ideals that the protagonists were striving to. About 5 years later I was ready for Atlas Shrugged - and yes, the phrase "Who is John Galt" still resounds. Time for a reread before the movie comes out I think.

What did I carry away from her books, having been raised in the cocooned environment of the SDAs? A very simple thought: that it isn't about doing things for the afterlife that determine the course of our daily interactions, but that the ultimate experience is the pure joy of living an authentic life. One where you are working at capacity at the thing which is your passion. A passion that is so great, that, were there life after death, you'd be doing it there too!

I'm not a big thinker or philosopher but will try getting Nancy Kress' book from my library - thank you for the recommendation Gauche.

If any of you have some other good reads which are about objectivism, but preferably in a simple format please add them here: my book list needs some new inputSmiling thank you very much, rgds Sam

What Would Jesus Drive? Well, God preferred an old Plymouth, "God drove Adam and Eve out of the garden of Eden in a Fury"; Moses was said to ride a motor bike, "the roar of Moses’ Triumph is heard in the hills", while the apostles would carpool in a Honda, "the apostles were in one Accord".


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Ktulu wrote:Now, that sounds

Ktulu wrote:

Now, that sounds good in principle, and I personally agree with you in that I hate moochers and people that use self pity as a roadblock to their personal growth.  I will have to borrow from folklore to reply, however, 'everybody needs somebody, sometimes'.  You and I hold the same morals now, but I had immigrated here.  When we arrived we relied on others for support for the first few months or so.  Prior to integrating in the society, I relied on others giving me the benefit of doubt.  If everyone lived for themselves I wouldn't be where I am now. 

In what way is helping another person in need inconsistent with living for yourself? Ayn Rand was not against helping those in need. She was against society forcing people to be charitable. I assume that you did not take a gun and point it at the people who helped you to gain their assistance, that they helped you on their own volition. I would also hope that you have repaid those who assisted you in some manner. I once found myself in a position where I relied on charity to pay some medical bills, I have since repaid that charity with substantial interest.

 

There is nothing wrong with charity, there is a lot wrong with institutionalized altruism; expecting and forcing one person to sacrifice for another. Charity, when accepted, should be taken with an appreciation and understanding that it is at the benevolence of the donor. In Atlas Shrugged the difference is illustrated by the expectation of charity in Reardon's wife and brother (who ironically seeks Reardon's charity to support an organization that is trying to destroy Reardon's business) and the assistance that Dagny receives when she first arrives at the valley. The former is expected by the receiver as a matter of course, with no capability or intention of offering anything in return including love. The latter is given and received with the full intention of repaying the generosity at the earliest opportunity.

 

If you have read my previous posts on the subject you know I am a huge supporter of charitable organizations. I see private charity as the logical replacement of the few government programs that actually help those who need it. It is a shame that so many people hurry to government force in the name of the "public good" but those same people donate very little of their own money to charity. I find it ironic that when I attend a high dollar charity event the majority of the people there are inevitably us "greedy" and "selfish" Ayn Rand types. (well not all of them are Ayn Rand types. Some are Christians that reject Ayn Rand because she was an atheist, but we are all generally the "greedy and rich" business owners.) Sometimes you come across a left winger that is consistent which I respect. If you are going to tell me I have to give almost half my money for the "public good" the least you can do is lead by example.

 

Then there are others like our illustrious President who donated shit until he decided to run for president. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/26/us/politics/26taxes.html  In 2004 the Obama's made over $200k and donated a whopping $2500. 

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2009/04/obama-and-biden-release-tax-returns.html

Even now he only donates 5-6% of his income. Personally, I would be embarrassed if I was him and I certainly wouldn't have the audacity to come out and suggest the everyone in America has to "sacrifice" for the greater good. To me it is just evidence that most of those who profess to be seeking the public good are really just seeking their own personal power. /tangent

 

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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AtheistSam wrote:Ayn Rand

AtheistSam wrote:

Ayn Rand most certainly gave me a different perspective. I read the Fountainhead when I was about 15 and was introduced for the first time to characters who had absolute personalities. I think what appealed was the purity of form and the artistic ideals that the protagonists were striving to. About 5 years later I was ready for Atlas Shrugged - and yes, the phrase "Who is John Galt" still resounds. Time for a reread before the movie comes out I think.

What did I carry away from her books, having been raised in the cocooned environment of the SDAs? A very simple thought: that it isn't about doing things for the afterlife that determine the course of our daily interactions, but that the ultimate experience is the pure joy of living an authentic life. One where you are working at capacity at the thing which is your passion. A passion that is so great, that, were there life after death, you'd be doing it there too!

I'm not a big thinker or philosopher but will try getting Nancy Kress' book from my library - thank you for the recommendation Gauche.

If any of you have some other good reads which are about objectivism, but preferably in a simple format please add them here: my book list needs some new inputSmiling thank you very much, rgds Sam

 

I would recommend any of Robert Heinlein's works. "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" was my favorite. He isn't really an objectivist but he has some really interesting ideas about society, individualism, economics and freedom that sometimes coincide with Ayn Rand and other times depart.  

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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Beyond Saving wrote: Those

Beyond Saving wrote:

 Those of us who live life for ourselves are constantly accused of being greedy, capitalist pigs, selfish etc. even while the production that we create is being consumed by those insulting us. Then those that insult us turn around and expect us to give them the results of our production for nothing.

I generally agree with her principles. But in reality, things are not so black and white.

In many cases, people can't be productive because they don't have access to the means of production. What happens in this liaise-fair capitalism is a small number of capitalists end up buying all land, water, minerals, energy, etc... Since the earth has finite size, they create a monopoly, often keeping out more productive alternatives. How can a man be a productive farmer if there's no available land or water for him to be productive with? Does Ayn Rand ever address this issue?

What if your lifestyle requires that you own a big house, many cars, etc... So you have to use lots of resources and create a lot of pollution for your lifestyle vs. someone that is less productive. What right do you have to use more resouces and pollute the earth more than others? Do you own the earth?

With this libertarian philosophy, you don't up with a meritocracy where the most productive win. With this type of capitalism, those that control the resources and the political system end up winning. To have a true meritocracy, we would need to have public ownership of all natural resources that could only be leased for productive usage beneficial to everyone.

Taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society. The higher the tax level, the greater the failure. A centrally planned totalitarian state represents a complete defeat for the civilized world, while a totally voluntary society represents its ultimate success. --Mark Skousen


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Beyond Saving wrote:We can

Beyond Saving wrote:
We can attempt to control others through coercion or we can trade peacefully.

It's too bad that you don't uphold this philosophy through deed as well as word, as many the individuals you engage in apologetics for do so abundantly engage in coercion.

Such is the nature of politicians these days, I suppose...

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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EXC wrote:What if your

EXC wrote:
What if your lifestyle requires that you own a big house, many cars, etc... So you have to use lots of resources and create a lot of pollution for your lifestyle vs. someone that is less productive. What right do you have to use more resouces and pollute the earth more than others? Do you own the earth?
 

Such a lifestyle would be against objectivist principles though. As the philosophy emphasizes achievement and purpose, I'm pretty sure that Rand would consider someone who just hoarded property while producing very little of value to be a bad "second-hander," as she calls them i.e. the person with this lifestyle justifies his existence with material possessions and other peoples' opinions of him.

I guess the problem is there isn't a way of preventing this from happening in liaise-fair capitalism. So, even though she would hate something like this happening, the very economic system she promotes kind of makes it inevitable. Perhaps she thinks only objectivists that don't waste resources would be able to stay at the top.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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 What would Ayn Rand call a

 What would Ayn Rand call a person who wrote a bunch of pop psychology bullshit about how people who take government handouts are parasitic leeches and then collected social security after she squandered the book proceeds? I know, she'd call them Ayn Rand.

There are twists of time and space, of vision and reality, which only a dreamer can divine
H.P. Lovecraft


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I read Atlas Shrugged as a kid

 

and again more recently. As some one hinted up thread, I found the characters to be singular, undeveloped puppets who showed all the depth of Dan Brown's finest. I couldn't work out who I disliked more - Dagney ' Choo Choo' Taggart or Francesco D'anconia, lord of hydraulics. You'd almost think nothing had ever been discovered by curious, weird amateurs growing penicillin in beer fridges or nobodies trying to make softer riding tyres for invalid sons.

I agreed with some elements of Rand's thinking but disagreed with plenty. I know she was making a point but the complete lack of recognition for the dispossessed aborigine, for the simple, meaningful contributions of faceless people, galled me. When I was younger I did not see this but on the second go it was in my face from the start. You were either an industrialist who moved the world, or a leech, according to Rand. I didn't finish the book in the second instance because I thought she was being a major pain in the arse.

For every steel magnate with dreams of creating the perfect metal, there's some guy getting up at 3am to bake bread or plow his fields, or a mother waking up to feed her kid, or some guy driving around in a missionbeat van putting blankets over drunks. Success is not necessarily about relentless production, as the melting ice caps and fast vanishing forests would tell us if they could. As a closed system, Earth needs balance.

Now I have most the whining out of the way, I certainly got a lot of pleasure from her visceral techno worship. Seeing a big ship or a powerful train is a profound experience and I have a girl mate who was so moved at Cape Canaveral during a shuttle launch that she burst into tears. Point is, these are human qualities shared by all - they are not the personal domain of pin-dicks like John Galt. Nor is the presence of a social conscience the telling quality of a pinko leftie bloodsucker.

Anyone who agrees implicitly with Rand's philosophy should read Douglas Stewart's poem 'Mending the Bridge'. And anyone who thinks average Joe gives no fuck about the quality of his spend should ask themselves why so many of the cars on the road are being made in Japan. Companies that make crap fail. Companies that exploit their staff deserve to fail. Ethical winners use robotics and manic R&D. Perhaps Ayn Rand would approve.

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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French Connection

French Connection wrote:

 What would Ayn Rand call a person who wrote a bunch of pop psychology bullshit about how people who take government handouts are parasitic leeches and then collected social security after she squandered the book proceeds? I know, she'd call them Ayn Rand.

You left out the part about about the senseless rape fantasies

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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Atheistextremist wrote: For

Atheistextremist wrote:

 For every steel magnate with dreams of creating the perfect metal, there's some guy getting up at 3am to bake bread or plow his fields, or a mother waking up to feed her kid, or some guy driving around in a missionbeat van putting blankets over drunks. Success is not necessarily about relentless production, as the melting ice caps and fast vanishing forests would tell us if they could. As a closed system, Earth needs balance.

Does she ever address the issue of who should own the earth? Is her philosophy pretty much if you got the money to buy it up or an army to take it, you can do with it what you please? This is where most libertarians/conservatives are total hypocrites, because they believe having money or their God grants them special rights to unlimited access to the earth's resources. So they have their special rights while leftists are ridiculous for claiming welfare and education rights.

Taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society. The higher the tax level, the greater the failure. A centrally planned totalitarian state represents a complete defeat for the civilized world, while a totally voluntary society represents its ultimate success. --Mark Skousen


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Rand's objectivism elevates egotism and self.

EXC wrote:

Atheistextremist wrote:

 For every steel magnate with dreams of creating the perfect metal, there's some guy getting up at 3am to bake bread or plow his fields, or a mother waking up to feed her kid, or some guy driving around in a missionbeat van putting blankets over drunks. Success is not necessarily about relentless production, as the melting ice caps and fast vanishing forests would tell us if they could. As a closed system, Earth needs balance.

Does she ever address the issue of who should own the earth? Is her philosophy pretty much if you got the money to buy it up or an army to take it, you can do with it what you please? This is where most libertarians/conservatives are total hypocrites, because they believe having money or their God grants them special rights to unlimited access to the earth's resources. So they have their special rights while leftists are ridiculous for claiming welfare and education rights.

 

She was against altrusim and welfare of any kind which is kind of fucked up, in my opinion. There are people who do need help.

For Rand, the people with the brains and drive and energy are a sort of aristocracy. In some ways she pushed a Locke-style of nationhood with a restricted form of government and unlimited capitalism. A lot of this I have no great problem with. There is a sort of libertarianism to Atlas Shrugged and Anthem and Rand certainly hated collectivism.

Personally I don't think the sort of state she advocated is possible. There are times government needs to flex considerable power and that can't happen unless there's connective tissue all of the time. I don't think she supported war or violence or active oppression.

In Atlas Shrugged the industrialists all fuck off to Whistler and spend their time getting massages and riding mountain bikes while listening to the exploits of their favourite pirate Captain Ragnar Sparrow on the Ham set and fantasising about how their sudden disappearance will stall the industrial engine of the earth.

Rand had never heard of China, apparently.

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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i have never read any ayn

i have never read any ayn rand. 

number one, from what i've been told of and read about the philosophy of "objectivism" (a name which seems to make no sense), it was neither original nor sophisticated.  the idea that every human working for his or her own benefit will cumulatively benefit society goes back at least as far as adam smith. 

number two, novels should just not be that long.  in my experience, after plowing my way through the stand, the brothers karamazov, east of eden, finnegan's wake (which i admit i abandoned well before the halfway point), and other massive novels, i've found that those over 300 pages or so inevitably have about a 1:3 ratio of actual interesting material versus self-indulgent chaff that could have easily and beneficially been excised.  a master novelist can make a point without beating you over the head with it.  flannery o'connor, for example, could pack more pith in a 25-page short story than most novelists can in 150 pages.

"I have never felt comfortable around people who talk about their feelings for Jesus, or any other deity for that matter, because they are usually none too bright. . . . Or maybe 'stupid' is a better way of saying it; but I have never seen much point in getting heavy with either stupid people or Jesus freaks, just as long as they don't bother me. In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I. . . . And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either. But as long as I know there's a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots."
--Hunter S. Thompson


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I have not read Ayn Rand -

I have not read Ayn Rand - even the way her name is spelled sets my teeth on edge.  From what has been described, "Atlas Shrugged" is just too simplistic.  People are not just one thing, they don't fit in that pigeon hole.  We may be mostly <libertarian> <liberal> <conservative> <moochers> <looters> <business tycoons> <etc> but have significant disagreements with these concepts over here.  I hate being stuffed in a pigeon hole - I don't fit - and I don't want to stuff anyone else in one, either.  Not even BS or EXC.

For that matter, how is making your business profitable on a tax loophole that was specifically crafted for your business/industry, not being a moocher?

I read "Stranger in a Strange Land" in high school and I can't say it significantly impacted my thoughts - my best recollection is skimming large portions of it as Heinlein pontificated.  I haven't read some of his other books as the pontification factor is just too much.  "Friday" was good.  I like/liked Heinlein's free love philosophy.

Haven't attempted most of what is called great literature and the ones I have tried are usually a snooze.  I tried to start the Gormanghast trilogy and it was too boring.  The Great Gatsby - boring.  Forever Amber - supposedly a girl trip - boring and lame.  1984 - didn't get past the first chapter.  You would think I was ADD or something - nope.  Just easily bored.

So don't expect me to even start on Ayn Rand -

It wasn't a book that formed my life philosophy - it was living life.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


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Based on everything I have

Based on everything I have heard about Rand and her works, I have far more important things to do with my time than engage with such super-simplistic ideas.

She seems worse than Karl Marx at making incredibly naive and uninformed and hopelessly optimistic assumptions about human nature.

Of course there would be some ideas which I would agree with, to an extent, but they are extrapolated to an absurd degree, and she seems to ignore so many important aspects of human nature and society that I could not take her seriously, or anyone who 'worships' her as the Goddess of Libertarianism.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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BobSpence1 wrote: She seems

BobSpence1 wrote:

 

She seems worse than Karl Marx at making incredibly naive and uninformed and hopelessly optimistic assumptions about human nature.

 

well, the problem with marx was he didn't believe in human nature at all.

"I have never felt comfortable around people who talk about their feelings for Jesus, or any other deity for that matter, because they are usually none too bright. . . . Or maybe 'stupid' is a better way of saying it; but I have never seen much point in getting heavy with either stupid people or Jesus freaks, just as long as they don't bother me. In a world as weird and cruel as this one we have made for ourselves, I figure anybody who can find peace and personal happiness without ripping off somebody else deserves to be left alone. They will not inherit the earth, but then neither will I. . . . And I have learned to live, as it were, with the idea that I will never find peace and happiness, either. But as long as I know there's a pretty good chance I can get my hands on either one of them every once in a while, I do the best I can between high spots."
--Hunter S. Thompson


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iwbiek wrote:BobSpence1

iwbiek wrote:

BobSpence1 wrote:

 

She seems worse than Karl Marx at making incredibly naive and uninformed and hopelessly optimistic assumptions about human nature.

 

well, the problem with marx was he didn't believe in human nature at all.

 

That is the problem with most of these economic theories.  All of them.  People are not all the same and they are not all motivated by the same desired outcomes.  Hell, people aren't consistently motivated during a single day, let alone throughout their entire lives. 

Pure communism, socialism, capitalism, libertarianism, objectivism, etc-ism did not, does not, and can not work.  Blended economies are all that exist on this earth with some peppered a little more heavily from one -ism or another.

 

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


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Hi OP

Hi OP,

No wonder your philosophy is as shallow as Paris Hilton. Wow.

I doubt that it formed your philosophy. You probably are speaking in the general terms of how you look at the world. If you are talking specifics, then how did Atlas Shrugged form your thinking on Value Theory?

Unlike you, my philosophy was formed by Scripture, which logically makes my philosophy of substance.

I would not based my philosophy on a book that is profane for its first 200 pages. Thus making your philosophy evidently profane.

Respectfully,

Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).

A Rational Christian of Intelligence (rare)with a valid and sound justification for my epistemology and a logical refutation for those with logical fallacies and false worldviews upon their normative of thinking in retrospect to objective normative(s). This is only understood via the imago dei in which we all are.

Respectfully,

Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).


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Jean Chauvin wrote:Hi OP,No

Jean Chauvin wrote:

Hi OP,

No wonder your philosophy is as shallow as Paris Hilton. Wow.

I doubt that it formed your philosophy. You probably are speaking in the general terms of how you look at the world. If you are talking specifics, then how did Atlas Shrugged form your thinking on Value Theory?

Unlike you, my philosophy was formed by Scripture, which logically makes my philosophy of substance.

I would not based my philosophy on a book that is profane for its first 200 pages. Thus making your philosophy evidently profane.

Respectfully,

Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).

There's your problem, Jean.

You base your philosophy on the ideas of a one particular group of people recording their ill-informed and often primitive tribalistic myths and taboos, rather that by more direct examination and contemplation of broader reality. Since humans are finite and fallible, any of their writings must inevitably share that significant probability of error, confusion, misinterpretation, imperfect remembrance, misunderstanding of second-hand testimony etc, etc.

At the very least, if you want to go that route, you should compare and contrast the ideas from as many belief-systems as possible.

Even so, such an approach would be one of the most uncertain and error-prone paths to knowledge. So by own criteria, it is not a path to any kid of knowledge.

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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Jean Chauvin wrote:Hi OP,No

Jean Chauvin wrote:

Hi OP,

No wonder your philosophy is as shallow as Paris Hilton. Wow.

I doubt that it formed your philosophy. You probably are speaking in the general terms of how you look at the world. If you are talking specifics, then how did Atlas Shrugged form your thinking on Value Theory?

Unlike you, my philosophy was formed by Scripture, which logically makes my philosophy of substance.

I would not based my philosophy on a book that is profane for its first 200 pages. Thus making your philosophy evidently profane.

Respectfully,

Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).

 

Dear Jean,

 

 

Respectfully,

Beyond Saving

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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Now to reply to those that are at least semi-serious

 

exc wrote:

I generally agree with her principles. But in reality, things are not so black and white.

In many cases, people can't be productive because they don't have access to the means of production. What happens in this liaise-fair capitalism is a small number of capitalists end up buying all land, water, minerals, energy, etc... Since the earth has finite size, they create a monopoly, often keeping out more productive alternatives. How can a man be a productive farmer if there's no available land or water for him to be productive with? Does Ayn Rand ever address this issue?

Nothing is black and white. And in Atlas Shrugged Ayn recognizes that. You have the valley which is her "utopia" which ultimately the heroes decide to leave in an attempt to save the "real" world. Of course there was a lot that was unrealistic in it, it was a work of fiction.

If she did it would have been in the "Virtue of Selfishness" but it has been really long since I read that book and I can't really recall. Ayn Rand WAS against oligarchies although to what extent she believed government should be involved in breaking them up using force I don't know. In the US there is plenty of space and resources that a practical monopoly is virtually impossible without government assistance. Especially in modern times with transportation and relocation being so easy. One might theoretically obtain a monopoly within a small geographical area (as in the gas station in the middle of nowhere) but there is competition within driving distance.

 

Kapkao wrote:
 It's too bad that you don't uphold this philosophy through deed as well as word, as many the individuals you engage in apologetics for do so abundantly engage in coercion.

Such is the nature of politicians these days, I suppose...

I don't? Exactly who's coercion have I ever defended? I have been an outspoken critic of any company that uses the government as a tool to the point that I attempt to boycott them. As Ayn was as well. The main antagonists in Atlas Shrugged were corporations that were buddy buddy with government goons, not much unlike many of the corporations controlling DC today.

 

@ Gauche, I actually agree with you on the SS thing. Rather hypocritical, she attempted to rationalize it since money for it had already been taken from her by force but I disagree. Anyone who accepts SS has to recognize that they are leeching off of the current working class. As such, they do not have the moral high ground when that working class decides to cut their benefits or in Bama's words - tell them to take a pain pill because surgery is too expensive. If you rely on SS, you have failed to take care of yourself and you are now relying on the charity and goodwill of everyone else, personally I find that a disgraceful position to be in. 

 

As for the characters in Atlas Shrugged, yes they were extreme representations of certain personality traits. They were intended to be caricatures to illustrate the differences in what personality traits she considered good and bad rather than realistic characters with a mixture of good and bad traits. This is a common literary device, especially in a book that is critiquing popular politics and society at large.

 

It isn't, and I don't believe it was meant to be, a complex explanation of the economic system and how it works. If you want that, read The Wealth of Nations. It is a very dry read. Atlas Shrugged is a book that makes many of the ideas of free economies, individual freedom, and the potential evils of the "public good" accessible to readers who might not have a strong background economics or philosophy. To that extent, I think it has been a very successful book and is hardly a waste of time to read, even if you do not agree with the philosophy underlying it. If you simply want some dry philosophy read her non-fiction. 

 

And I would love to see someone put together a good argument as to why it is moral to use force to take from one person and give to another simply on the basis of need. I have seen much complaining that the book was "too simplistic" no one has actually addressed any of the concepts except EXC. I find it intriguing that a group of people who for the most part are pacifistic, apparently have no problem using government force to take for a wide variety of handouts. I assume that most of you wouldn't go mug your neighbor for the same handouts, yet when the government is the one doing the dirty work you support it. Is there really a difference, besides your conscience? Indeed, it is the one who suggests that we ought not steal from our fellow man who is considered extreme.

 

For a healthy society, I think it is important that we agree I will not steal from you, if you do not steal from me. Whether you use government or not as the tool makes no difference. It is clear from history that majorities can be tyrannical. Does it matter that the majority went to a poll to vote before using tyrannical force to take from the minority? The end of our freedom started when politicians realized they could buy votes by taking money from the minority and handing it out to the majority. The smallest minority is the individual, protect minority rights before they are gone completely.

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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Scott Walker is no stranger

Scott Walker is no stranger to the (mostly) legal blackmail of job loss... over a bill that has little to do with union-busting in terms of its scope. He isn't the plucky free market hero he portays himself as.

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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Beyond Saving wrote:Jean

Beyond Saving wrote:

Jean Chauvin wrote:

Hi OP,

No wonder your philosophy is as shallow as Paris Hilton. Wow.

I doubt that it formed your philosophy. You probably are speaking in the general terms of how you look at the world. If you are talking specifics, then how did Atlas Shrugged form your thinking on Value Theory?

Unlike you, my philosophy was formed by Scripture, which logically makes my philosophy of substance.

I would not based my philosophy on a book that is profane for its first 200 pages. Thus making your philosophy evidently profane.

Respectfully,

Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).

 

Dear Jean,

 

 

Respectfully,

Beyond Saving

Hear, hear!

“A meritocratic society is one in which inequalities of wealth and social position solely reflect the unequal distribution of merit or skills amongst human beings, or are based upon factors beyond human control, for example luck or chance. Such a society is socially just because individuals are judged not by their gender, the colour of their skin or their religion, but according to their talents and willingness to work, or on what Martin Luther King called 'the content of their character'. By extension, social equality is unjust because it treats unequal individuals equally.” "Political Ideologies" by Andrew Heywood (2003)


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I think there's nothing

Jean Chauvin wrote:

Hi OP,

No wonder your philosophy is as shallow as Paris Hilton. Wow.

I doubt that it formed your philosophy. You probably are speaking in the general terms of how you look at the world. If you are talking specifics, then how did Atlas Shrugged form your thinking on Value Theory?

Unlike you, my philosophy was formed by Scripture, which logically makes my philosophy of substance.

I would not based my philosophy on a book that is profane for its first 200 pages. Thus making your philosophy evidently profane.

Respectfully,

Jean Chauvin (Jude 3).

 

at all wrong with incorporating libertarian capitalism into a personal philosophy. In a lot of ways Rand reflected the US of her day - a vigorous, confident, industrial powerhouse that was driven by aspiration and personal reward based on merit. No one in the West should denigrate the achievements made in the last century by societies that still work like this. Of course, such achievements are just one side of a successful society. Welfare and healthcare is another.

I can understand not wanting to pay for spongers. But governments are so stupendously wasteful I don't see how putting a 200 dollar weekly cheque in the hands of a single mum so her kid can go to school with lunch is sillier than buying billion dollar submarines with propulsion systems that sound like half bricks in cement mixers.

Maybe the new movie will restart America's industrial engine - stalled not by cranky industrialists but by financial vultures who gambled on defaults while writing impossible new loans, and governments without the balls to regulate financial markets which cheerfully played tiddlywinks with the life savings of fiscal serfs. Ultimately it comes down to our own decisions. There's no such thing as a bargain. If you are getting more that 5-6 per cent return the system is leaking.

 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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 I don't begrudge Ayn Rand

 I don't begrudge Ayn Rand landing in a social safety net, that's why they exist. Even Ayn Rand was a human being, but she was lucky not to live in the kind of society she promoted. As we all are.

 

She's not really taken seriously as a philosopher though because the leading ideas associated with her were developed more rigorously by other people.  It's just egoism, which as a moral theory is completely worthless in terms of its ability to resolve conflicts of interest like other moral theories. You really need to have a fundamentally different conception of morality.  If the point of view of morality were self-interest there couldn't be moral solutions of conflicts of interest but for most people the whole point of morality is that it's applicable when there are conflicts of interest. 

 

It's quite arbitrary I think. As a theory it's of the same type as nationalism or racism. To elevate oneself above all others. It's the realization we are on par with one another that's the reason morality includes recognition of the needs of others and why egoism fails as a moral theory.

 

 

There are twists of time and space, of vision and reality, which only a dreamer can divine
H.P. Lovecraft


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Beyound Saving wrote:"Hitler was a atheist,therefore atheism is

  Bad      WTF,wrong !, anyway I was typing out a reply and all of a sudden,when I was moving the arrow across the screen,it changed the screen to the thread, soooooo, I'll give it another try tomorrow, I had typed out a few paragraphs from a book that I started Saturday "Griftopia" by Matt Taibbi, who really dish Ayn Rand for about 3 pages, along with calling Alan Greenspan "Asshhole of the Century" and a member of Rand's Collective, anyway I'll get back to this reply later    .  Well, I guess that this thread is dead,so I won't waste my time on this any more, just last night I was checking out "The Oxford Companion guide to Philosophy" and they have put alot of philosophies in this book,it's huge, but there is no Ayn Rand in it, I was wondering why? I guess that they consider her work to be pseudo-philosophy ?

Signature ? How ?