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Part Three: Chapters IX–X (9 - 10) 
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Post Part Three: Chapters IX–X (9 - 10)
Part Three: Chapters IX–X (9 - 10)

Please use this thread for discussing the above chapters. You're welcome to create your own threads too.



Thu Aug 30, 2012 3:55 pm
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Post Re: Part Three: Chapters IX–X (9 - 10)
I've finished reading the book. There are definitely some 1984-esque undertones throughout the book and especially at the end. There is a sentence at the end which truly bothered me but sheds immense light on the naivete that Rand's philosophy is based on. I'm not going to say what is in until more people complete the book as I know readers will browse this topic to see what's been posted - I don't want to spoil anything.

Rand strikes me as a person who's found a hero and is blinded by her devotion to it as the answer and the truth. Her arguments are emotional and fantastic. Whereas 1984 is very much grounded, Rand's story is just not plausible but still has important points to consider.

As a side thought to it all, I often wondered why out of all the main characters, very few had stable relationships and even less had children. Family seemed an afterthought. Her philosophy leaves out a lot of what normal people go through such as the struggle to keep and raise a family.

To say, you should all be super heroes (not what Rand says but I'm using to make my point) is not feasible because not everyone has been hit with gamma radiation and able to turn into a green giant with super human strength. Human weaknesses need to be addressed and considered.

To me, it's almost as though she's able to talk people into 'not thinking'. That she'd like them to believe business knows best. Some people may argue that she doesn't and that I've missed the point of the book. Have I? Her sentence at the end, written by one of her characters vindicates my assumption.

Rand has written as an address to her readership that, "No one helped me, nor did I think at any time that it was anyone's duty to help me." Someone who writes such a sentence has dishonored and forgotten about all the help that they have received.

My father says things like this all the time. "No one helped me", "I did it on my own". Someone who utters such phrases is extremely disillusioned, ungrateful, inconsiderate, and lie to themselves. This is a 'I came into this world alone and I will die alone' type philosophy. Pay attention to people that say things like this. They are the people who don't value what others have done for them. They are the people who deny value to help received and deny the benefit which such help confers to others. In a word they are selfish but it goes beyond that as they fail to pay help forward - thus breaking a very ancient chain of how human knowledge and preservation is achieved.

RAND DID NOT HAVE ANY CHILDREN. Think about it. Think about what that means. Think about the preacher who guides you in relationships that they've never formed and suggests advice about matters which they've never been intimate with. Such a person can never truly empathize with you. How can such a person come up with a comprehensive philosophy for society? Whose personal philosophy is the one of death? Which seeks to live and to endure?

I think a lot of Rand's humanity comes out in the book and not everyone is built like that. Not everyone thinks that it's ok to let oil spill out into the ocean because it's cheaper to let it spill while you think of an answer to salvage the rest than to permanently cap it. That it's fine that regulatory measures weren't set in place to see a disaster like that, if it happened, would be able to be immediately shouldered and rectified by the oil company before it became an environmental disaster. Some people think that's the way it should be done. I don't.

Sure, you can have increased production. You can have a better economy in the short run if you burned the shit out of coal and covered the damn earth in carbon like London was before they OUTLAWED coal. You can do that!!! You can leverage the future so that you can be happy today. You can eat your seed corn. You can eat your dairy cow. You can do these things.

Can't have your cake and eat it too is a popular theme in the book but it can work on either side of this type of debate when extremes are considered; and Rand is an extremist.

I've seen this book on lists of the 100 greatest books of the 20th century! There's nothing amazing about this book. It was repetitive, it was full of lonely house-wife sexual fantasies, its argument was emotional and too exaggerated, and it dragged on slightly less worse than any Russian novel ever written. This book should have been 400-500 pages in length. You want people to think? Present them intriguing puzzles like a brilliant philosopher - don't beat them over the head with your solution and ask why they don't accept it. That's retarded. Especially in a book that begs you to think!



Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:30 pm
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Post Re: Part Three: Chapters IX–X (9 - 10)
Camacho, you are presenting a caricature of Rand's views with your summation 'let business think for us'. Her key theme is that creation of wealth arises from the power of new ideas. When this vision is rejected within a business, they are on a path to failure. The ideas of Dagny Taggart (Rand's alter ego), Henry Rearden and John Galt are presented as entirely contestable. The point is that their opponents do not engage on evidence or principle, but on mere politics, what she calls 'the power of pull'.

Libertarian writers such as Hayek and von Mises share with Rand a vision of the key role of government as setting and enforcing the rule of law. As long as the law is predictable and fair, it provides an environment that enables business investment, with profit and innovation driven by open competition. Brilliant people can then rise unimpeded. Any intrusion of socialist thinking - using political pull to hold down creative innovation by business - is harmful to the ability of pioneers to develop new technology.

Your example of oil spills is irrelevant to Atlas Shrugged, except through the fallacious guilt by association that says 'Republicans like Rand, Republicans support Exxon and BP, therefore Rand supports Exxon and BP.' In fact, there is a large dose of the James Taggart style of corruption in the efforts of the oil industry to shift the costs of their environmental damage onto the community. I may be wrong, but I doubt you could find anything in Rand to say business should not be responsible for damage it causes.

It is a fallacy to say Rand supports capitalism therefore she gives blessing to everything companies do. She gives many examples of companies that are bad, principally when they see their success as relying on collusion with Washington.

Her main theme is that profit from practical creativity is the highest good. Like Nietzsche, Rand sees Christianity and communism as colluding to deny this central truth of human progress. In Rand's view, emotional conversion of resentment and envy into an ideology of moral sullenness and conformity cuts down and ignores the individuals of creative genius instead of celebrating and supporting the rare talents who can lead the world into better days of greater wealth for all.


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Last edited by Robert Tulip on Thu Oct 18, 2012 2:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Part Three: Chapters IX–X (9 - 10)
My reasoning is more inductive than deductive but yes, I wholeheartedly believe that she would support those oil companies. Don't you?

She proposes more than 'wealth arises from the power of new ideas' and doesn't explore how protective measures can be beneficial to society. At the end of the book she rejects all measures which seek to regulate business in any fashion. That means that businesses would not be hindered by laws such as those imposed by the EPA.

Caricature of Rand's views? The whole book is a damn caricature.

I agree with the statement that she recognizes that companies who use the government to limit competition are bad.

Her main theme is that to give unearned assistance hurts more than it helps. To give without value for value is an evil but there is a loophole - charitable donations can be made selfishly. Whatever.

What real message is the summation of all the individual parts, though? All the themes together? Why weren't monopolies dealt with? Why weren't predatory business practices employed without the assistance of the government addressed? What does the most intelligent lawmaker in the book demand in his constitution? Doesn't regulation indirectly abridge production and limit the freedom of businesses?



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Post Re: Part Three: Chapters IX–X (9 - 10)
I have not finished reading the book so I will refrain from commenting on that at this point, but I did read Rand's address to her readers before starting it. I did not take Rand's statement "No one helped me, nor did I think at any time that it was anyone's duty to help me" as her dishonoring or forgetting those who did. I think when people say this (including Rand) they are talking about their career and what they have built for themselves. This does not meant that there was no one to offer support throughout her life or to encourage her as a child. Every individual has those people, but it does take a unique individual to throw caution to the wind and do something wholly original whether everyone agrees with them or not whether it be business ideas or philosophical ones - Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Ayn Rand, Martin Luther King, Jr. etc. You may not agree with them or like them but it much harder to go against society and its beliefs than to go with the flow and this does take a unique individual with personal drive and beliefs.



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Post Re: Part Three: Chapters IX–X (9 - 10)
Rand not having children is irrelevant. She wrote "The Comprachico's" and other writing, she clearly cared about their minds, education, and rights. There is even a school that applies her philosophy to educational theory, its VanDamme Academy:

http://www.vandammeacademy.com/
http://www.pedagogicallycorrect.com/
http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/con ... ndamme.asp
http://capitalismmagazine.com/author/LisaVanDamme/

More application of her philosophy to education, to parenting have been written and lectured about and blogged about by Objectivists.


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Post Re: Part Three: Chapters IX–X (9 - 10)
Oh and btw President, donations can be made selfishly. Take me for one example, I have donated to the Ayn Rand Institute, because financial support can help further the advancement of Rand's ideas and Objectivism in the culture. My favorite to contribute to is the Books For Teachers campaign:

http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer? ... free_books

Oh and on the subject of the EPA, in laissez faire capitalism that would be abolished. Much has been written applying Objectivism, Rands ideas to environmentalism, many op-eds here:

http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer? ... mal_rights
http://www.theobjectivestandard.com/exp ... or-die.asp


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Post Re: Part Three: Chapters IX–X (9 - 10)
Rand not having children is relevant. I already stated that donations can be made selfishly.



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Post Re: Part Three: Chapters IX–X (9 - 10)
President Camacho wrote:
Rand not having children is relevant.


You can repeat it, but have not shown how it is relevant still.

Quote:
I already stated that donations can be made selfishly.


Well, if that is what you did mean, the "whatever" threw me off in thinking you were dismissing that:

"Her main theme is that to give unearned assistance hurts more than it helps. To give without value for value is an evil but there is a loophole - charitable donations can be made selfishly. Whatever."


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Fri Nov 02, 2012 9:38 pm
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Post Re: Part Three: Chapters IX–X (9 - 10)
Having just finished reading Atlas Shrugged, I wish now to set out some main immediate responses to it. I like this book. I identify strongly with John Galt. That seems an arrogant view, and egotistical, but the essential elements of the objectivist philosophy are sound.

The core idea of Atlas Shrugged is that our world is ruled by delusion, but that enlightenment is possible. The key to enlightenment is objective knowledge. Ayn Rand grounds objective knowledge on a simple tautological axiom that goes back to the Pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Parmenides, the idea that existence exists. This idea, also expressible as the claim that reality is real, seems pointless and empty at first sight. And yet, Rand’s argument is that upon this innocuous foundation we can build a powerful logical critique of the deluded nature of modern life.

The antithesis of Rand’s axiom is the obviously false idea that nonexistence exists. While that is absurd, Rand argues that much of modern culture is based on it, with the pervasive false view that we can construct our own reality in imagination, that what appears real to our ideologies is in fact the case, that fantasy is truth. Such unscientific reliance on appearance, on rhetoric, on believing what we want to believe, is central to most religion and politics.

Building a systematic philosophy on obvious axioms is not easy. The continual temptation and seductive desire is to accept some belief that we want to be true but that has no objective basis. Grounding thought in existence requires that reason be grounded in evidence. Yet Rand herself, and her followers, depart from this principle with their ideological views about the role of the state, rationalising their assumptions about the political conflict between business and socialism into a metaphysics of good and evil.

It is wrong to simply say as Rand does that socialism is evil. While her views are understandable given her traumatic experience under Soviet communism, (which provides the model for the communistic American dystopia of Atlas Shrugged), it is not so simple. The empowering of the individual that she calls for has to be balanced against the real interests of the community.

As I said, I identify with John Galt, the great hero of Atlas Shrugged. This is for two main reasons, the model he presents of an approach to philosophy, and the challenge he encounters in introducing world-changing new technology.

My own approach to philosophy is one that I regard as objective, but which is hard to explain to others. I start from the premise that the universe exists, that scientific knowledge of reality is the necessary foundation of true thought. Like Rand, I completely reject the supernatural. However, I disagree with Rand on her rejection of the mystical. While supernatural claims can readily be explained as a psychological projection of human wishes, with no real objective reference, such a critique does not actually apply to the mystical.

The mystical is the idea that the part reflects the whole, that we, as entities within the universe, somehow reflect the whole reality of which we are part. A part is always completely consistent with the whole which contains it. The chain of causality presents an unbroken logic from the origin of a whole to the nature of everything within it.

In the case of human life, the whole which we are part of is our planet, which itself is part of the solar system, which is part of our galaxy. In each case, the part reflects the whole, sharing its character. Mysticism is the study of this connection between the part and the whole, of how every entity shares the nature of its encompassing reality, flowing along the stream of time within a real framework. Rand rejects mysticism as a corrupt means of political control, again based on her Russian experience, but this bitter vision fails to see the valid truth behind the degraded cultural expression.

Human life has evolved from the four billion years of DNA on our planet within a stable orbital context, within three primary structures of time – the day, the year, and the axial wobble. The third of these structures is the one I find most interesting as a framework for reality, as a purely objective scientific context for life, a whole of which we are part. Just as John Galt says his vision of self interest is not comprehended by the world, so I argue that my understanding of the axial wobble, as a deep determinant of cultural evolution visible in the slow change of myth, is not comprehended by the world.

Atlas Shrugged is all about paradigm shift, a change of basic prevailing assumptions about the nature of reality. And just as Rand calls for people to be true to their convictions as a matter of personal integrity and spirit of life, with the centrality of mind and ideas as the great drivers of achievement and creativity, my view is that grounding human culture in a sense of connection to the big structures of time for our planet can provide a real connection and framework for what Rand calls our mind, spirit, ideals, and sense of unlimited ambition.

In line with Rand’s broad philosophical idealism of the creative abundance arising from ideas, the story she tells of John Galt’s engine, his invention of a method to produce abundant free energy, and how this work of innovation is ignored and rejected by the world, is something I identify with in my own work on large scale ocean based algae biofuel production. My ideas have not found any support, although I claim they have potential to transform the world economy and provide a sustainable means of regulating planetary ecology with universal abundance.

The audacity of this claim marks me in most eyes as probably insane, rather as Rand was regarded as insane for her isolated audacity in presenting a vision of the individual against the world. It really does not worry me, as my only interest is to be true to myself. My ideas on algae actually derive via a rather tortuous route from my study of philosophy, which I may try to explain some time if anyone has the patience to ask me about it. I sometimes think I might write a novel, starting "Who calls me Shimela Quilt?", with various characters presenting aspects of my ideas. But I am not sure if I have the ability to describe the dynamic conflict with rogues that is needed to sustain plot and interest.

It is sometimes said that science does not advance through the work of isolated individuals. This becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because anyone who works outside of the institutional frameworks of the world is shunned. What I like about Atlas Shrugged is the uncompromising vision of integrity and inner strength, the sense that an individual can change the world through the power of ideas. Rand suggests that institutions suffer from a suffocating inertia, a cynical group-think that prevents them from understanding new ideas. Her broad brush characters are like the stereotypes of medieval morality plays, with names like Stupidity, Flattery, Thug and Manipulation. Galt is the messianic figure who explodes the vacuous self-serving lies of these characters who don't understand their own failings.

Atlas Shrugged is a crude apocalyptic clash of good and evil, a polemic against the danger of collective agreement stymying individual initiative, with a roughness and simplicity of language that owes something to Hemingway. But her psychological palette is like Van Gogh, drawing out character with deft choice of colour and emphasis in her language, providing character portraits that end up having far more depth of personality than we might expect from the initial cardboard cutouts.

Ayn Rand's brilliance and influence rests in her call for the audacity of freedom as a way to break open the closed systems of dominant culture, liberating thought for new conversations about how objective knowledge and practical creativity can provide new frameworks for an exhilarating global transformation of human life.


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Post Re: Part Three: Chapters IX–X (9 - 10)
Whatever. To suppress human needs, wants, and desires is to deny reality. To deny more liberal trends in history have brought increased prosperity is to deny reality. To accept Rands extreme position is to support a reversal in history and support for tyranny. To deny collective action is to deny democracy.



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Post Re: Part Three: Chapters IX–X (9 - 10)
President Camacho wrote:
To accept Rands extreme position is to support a reversal in history and support for tyranny.


So supporting individual rights and the system that recognizes, upholds and protects them, laissez-faire capitalism, means that one supports tyranny, in your view? But a system that violates rights, wouldnt be tyranny, in your view?

Rand opposes tyranny, by limiting the government by the principle of individual rights. To make such a claim as you do, nothing in Rands writing or philosophy is in support of tyranny, as such.


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Post Re: Part Three: Chapters IX–X (9 - 10)
MrA, it doesn't matter how many times you say it. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

By defending SOME people's rights, you allow them to infringe on OTHER people's rights. The violation to others is often LARGER than the violation to the original person.

Therefore to violate one person's right has the consequence of protecting many other peoples rights.



You DO support violating people's rights, even though you refuse to see how that's the case. You protect the employer, the employee's rights are then open for violation. That's a truth you can't dance around with words. That's why people have stopped responding to you here. It's obvious, and it's the reason you're wrong. But you continue saying you're against violating rights as if saying it enough makes it true.


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Post Re: Part Three: Chapters IX–X (9 - 10)
Rand argues the producer has more rights than the consumer. The producer is the creative source of wealth, while the consumer is dependent on the producer's willingness to take risks and explore new ideas. Production trumps consumption, to use a Donaldism. But this Galt myth of the oppressed innovator bears only vague relation to the actual reality of the military-industrial complex as the political backer behind Ryan's neo-Randism.

Rand is no democrat. She is focussed on the elite few who have ideas, and implies they should rule as philosopher kings over the ignorant rabble. The trouble, as seen in the recent election with Paul Ryan as the torchbearer for John Galt, is that the Republicans are hypocrites, claiming to present an ethical capitalism while doing no such thing. They are owned by special interest groups who are more like Orren Boyle than Hank Rearden.

The undemocratic nature of Rand's ideas makes me think the USA is slowly heading towards a new civil war, with the Republicans using the military to install a capitalist dictatorship like the Roman Empire, once the voting majority in favour of Democrats becomes too big for the Republicans to swindle and buy off. Romney behaved like a swindler in this election, refusing to discuss his real agenda and seeking to steal power on false pretences. I wonder if it is possible for the Republican Party to return to an economic policy that is not corrupted.


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Post Re: Part Three: Chapters IX–X (9 - 10)
Robert Tulip wrote:
Rand argues the producer has more rights than the consumer.


She absolutely does not. The principle of individual rights applies to all individuals. Consumers, producers, etc.

Btw, why are you posting your thoughts after having read the book, in the thread, near the middle of the book, itself?

Interbane: "You DO support violating people's rights, even though you refuse to see how that's the case. You protect the employer, the employee's rights are then open for violation"

You are absolutely wrong. I do not support any rights violations of employers or employees. Stop making erroneous claims.
Again, for the third time, have you read Atlas Shrugged?


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