alohawolf: (Default)
alohawolf ([personal profile] alohawolf) wrote2011-04-24 04:21 am

Atlas Shrugged.

So, recently, I have been chatting with some friends of mine who are a bit more on the objectivist side of the road, and they convinced me to read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.

I could give a traditional review of the book, and suppose I should, but first there is a lasting impression I wanted to impart. Its a quote fromPart II, Chapter II:

"An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced." (Page 381)

It's a theme that reappears over and over again thought the book, and its false, full of hot air, and is possibly the most dangerous sentiment uttered in the last 80 years. Objectivism has one assumption - everyone is able to produce enough to sustain their own life, and its an assertion I think is utterly wrong. In this world, there are people, for whom they best then will be able to do a menial labor, and its not a small number, its a significant minority of the population, be it, they are not smart enough, are emotionally disabled or have some other hang up that prevents them from performing a the self supporting level.

Objectivism appeals to the part of me that strongly believes in self determination, that only Me, myself and I should be the ones to set my destiny, but I have, and have always had a strong belief in Social Justice, to which Objectivism has no room for, So the question I ask, is what of them, what of the people who cannot produce what they need to consume to exist? I think this question alone rules out Objectivism (and by extension Anarcho-Capitalism and Libertarianism) as a practical way of living - its striving for a "reality" that has never been.

If you look at it just as fiction, its fair, not great, but fair, the philosophy gets in the way of the story, and the story gets in the way of philosophy. , I actually enjoyed it quite a bit, and while I disagree with some of the tenants - I agree with the overiding theme of "Don't let anyone tell you something isn't possible" but disagree in greed without sharing. Atlas Shrugged however is worth reading, at the very least it gives you a vision of what the Tea Party is both striving for, and fears.

[identity profile] 2011-04-24 02:04 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you for posting this. I haven't read Atlas Shrugged, but I agree with your assertions on Objectivism 110%. As you said, there will always be people who physically or mentally do not have the capacity to provide for themselves. What should we do with them? The Objectivists and many on the right-wing don't want to have to pay taxes for anything that does not directly and immediately benefit them, so we can't put them on public assistance.

Not to mention, sometimes shit happens. I used to be one of those "pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps" kinds of people...until the bootstraps broke, and I was left to a very long, very hard, fall. A couple of my co-workers were talking about someone's teenage daughter who has recently become pregnant. One of my colleagues said he felt bad for the girl, and the other one replied, "Not me! It's her own damn fault for being stupid. If she was my kid I'd kick her out of the house and she wouldn't get a dime from me." I had to jump into the conversation at that point...basically I said, you don't want your tax money to go to birth control, and you really don't your taxes paying for her pre-natal care or for an abortion. What exactly should she do? The fact of the matter is that in life, mistakes happen. Misfortune happens. I believe in taking responsibility for one's choices and mistakes...but how are people supposed to learn and grow from them if no grace and no second chances are given, and there's not a safety net available.

Sorry for the rant...any discussion of Objectivism tends to really make my blood boil.

[identity profile] 2011-04-24 03:24 pm (UTC)(link)
I think one thing that people over look when they read books like Atlas Shrugged is that for the point to be made, you have to show the extremes of the two sides in the discussion as it were. You really can not have a middle ground because it would blur the lines you are drawing too much. The accident with the Chic express I think really draws a clear picture of those that are part of the problem today.

But the points you bring up are valid, but from my perspective, the problems you mention are interwoven with the causes and good intentions to the point that they are both thier own beginning and own end.

[identity profile] 2011-04-24 04:58 pm (UTC)(link)
Atlas Shrugged is an ego-centric book written by an author who was so seeped in her own narcissistic ideas that she allowed her followers to exalt her to a position of infallibility as to change the basic premise of the book into a cult.

I think I will stick to the Tao of Pooh.

[identity profile] 2011-04-24 06:38 pm (UTC)(link)
You can say that about a lot of people, sad enough as it is.

[identity profile] 2011-04-24 09:52 pm (UTC)(link)
And yet, this book is the most popular work of fiction in America (and possibly the Western world). It is responsible for the development of the modern school structure, including such horrors as "self esteem," and the modern American work ethic. Ayn Rand (pronounced "αιn") is purported to be thoroughly anti-communist, but this book seems to suggest strongly otherwise.

[identity profile] 2011-04-24 10:04 pm (UTC)(link)
I would say she is strongly anti communist, but the difference between an objectivist utopia and a communist one is slight, In an objectivist Utopia, its "To me, according to my ability", in a communist one, its "To me according to my needs" Otherwise the ideal is the same.

[identity profile] 2011-04-25 12:15 am (UTC)(link)
Having read 'Atlas Shrugged', I recommend that you play the game 'Bioshock'. The priciples of the underwater city of Rapture are those proposed by Rand - and taken to a logical conclusion. As the framework for a physically gorgeous game, it makes the play experience delightful. That the plot of the game is also top-notch just adds frosting to the 'win' cake.

If you don't have an xbox 360, 'Bioshock' is frequently sold on sites like Steam for $20 or less.

[identity profile] 2011-04-25 10:11 am (UTC)(link)
How about this statement: My free will is your destiny.

That pretty much sums up the gaping hole in Objectivism. When does someone else's choice override the set of possibilities that are allowed to you? Otherwise, I consider the book a work of Nerd rage-porn and the dark side of tribalism: "Some day, our kind of people will go on strike and the entire world will fall apart."

This is, basically, Pride writ-large. Pride is not a sin, nor a virtue. It is simply a condition that requires humility to balance it. With no humility, no sense that even despite your best efforts, something can undo your careful attempts at self-sufficiency, the fall lasts until you die.

[identity profile] 2011-04-25 07:30 pm (UTC)(link)
Rand's philosphy works well if you become or are born wealthy. It has mostly been said above, but this book and philosophy is the the basis for certain individuals (generally republican or libertarian, and middle or upper class) to take a hands off, no new taxes, no sharing attitude to their lives, believing that they are specially blessed with success because they earned it. Of course, I've done well too (and I've earned it) but that shouldn't make one believe that successful folks are morally superior and come first over everyone else. I run into these folks all the time. They don't contribute anything to society unless there is a direct payback to them (which is why no new taxes works for them). Objectivism is a cold and harsh way to view the world.

[identity profile] 2011-04-26 05:55 pm (UTC)(link)
I read that once. It could have done with being one book rather than a collected trilogy. The pirate was kinda dashing, but I deplored the wastage of resources that he committed. Would also like to see top management held responsible for the accident in the mountain.

Objectivism is a nice philosophy at times, but it leads to harsh treatment of people who perhaps might do better with investment.

Objectivism has one assumption - everyone is able to produce enough to sustain their own life, and its an assertion I think is utterly wrong.

Not quite. The assumption is that such people should die, and decrease the surplus population. In short, nobody is owed a life. If you have some form of disability - well, that is your problem.

That said, with everyone producing to the best of their ability, it might not cost very much to keep yourself alive.

[identity profile] 2011-05-08 05:53 pm (UTC)(link)
"An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced."

I would say that what you exploited from other people *was not earned*. It was stolen from the people you exploited.

After the business's capital needs have been served, and your one-person's value paid (perhaps five times the normal wage earner since you have highly specialized skills) the rest of the profit should go to the workers who created it. They created it. They should get it.

[identity profile] 2011-05-08 06:06 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm not sure Ms. Rand would disagree with you. I think how each of you wants to get there is different.
Edited 2011-05-08 20:24 (UTC)