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Part Two, Chapters I–II (1 - 2) 
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Post Part Two, Chapters I–II (1 - 2)
Part Two, Chapters I–II (1 - 2)

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



Thu Aug 30, 2012 4:01 pm
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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters I–II (1 - 2)
Quote:
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.

...Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions—and you'll learn that man's mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.

...Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men's stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best that your money can find. And when men live by trade—with reason, not force, as their final arbiter—it is the best product that wins, the best performance, the man of best judgment and highest ability—and the degree of a man's productiveness is the degree of his reward. This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money.

...If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not, it destroys him.

A pretty good rant on the nature of money. Except it's delivered by Franciso D'Anconia? Who deliberately defrauded investors? Who shortly after this speech induces panic about the stock price of his own company? Perhaps all this will be explained later?



Fri Oct 19, 2012 8:22 pm
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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters I–II (1 - 2)
Dr. Floyd Ferris on reason, from his book
Quote:
"Thought is a primitive superstition. Reason is an irrational idea. The childish notion that we are able to think has been mankind's costliest error."
"What you think you think is an illusion created by your glands, your emotions and, in the last analysis, by the content of your stomach."
"That gray matter you're so proud of is like a mirror in an amusement park which transmits to you nothing but distorted signals from a reality forever beyond your grasp."
"The more certain you feel of your rational conclusions, the more certain you are to be wrong. Your brain being an instrument of distortion, the more active the brain the greater the distortion."
"The giants of the intellect, whom you admire so much, once taught you that the earth was flat and that the atom was the smallest particle of matter. The entire history of science is a progression of exploded fallacies, not of achievements."
"The more we know, the more we learn that we know nothing."
P. 260

Interesting and annoying. Regarding the part in bold, I have read recent scientific studies that suggest each person's nervous system is hardwired to make decisions - then your brain kicks in afterwards and fills in the story or logic that justifies the decision. It's possible reason comes after neuro-biology?

Dr. Stadler attacks the author of the book and later drops the book into the trash.
Quote:
"If a drunken lout could find the power to express himself on paper," said Dr. Stadler, "if he could give voice to his essence—the eternal savage, leering his hatred of the mind—this is the sort of book I would expect him to write. But to see it come from a scientist, under the imprint of this Institute!"



Sun Oct 28, 2012 5:06 pm
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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters I–II (1 - 2)
Government bureaucrats are swooping in:
Quote:
Jim had obtained a subsidy from Washington for every train that was run, not as a profit making carrier, but as a service of "public equality."

It took every scrap of her energy to keep trains running through the sections where they were still needed, in the areas that were still producing. But on the balance sheets of Taggart Transcontinental, the checks of Jim's subsidies for empty trains bore larger figures than the profit brought by the best freight train of the busiest industrial division.
Jim boasted that this had been the most prosperous six months in Taggart history. Listed as profit, on the glossy pages of his report to the stockholders, was the money he had not earned—the subsidies for empty trains; and the money he did not own—the sums that should have gone to pay the interest and the retirement of Taggart bonds, the debt which, by the will of Wesley Mouch, he had been permitted not to pay. He boasted about the greater volume of freight carried by Taggart trains in Arizona—where Dan Conway had closed the last of the Phoenix-Durango and retired; and in Minnesota—where Paul Larkin was shipping iron ore by rail, and the last of the ore boats on the Great Lakes had gone out of existence.

"You have always considered money-making as such an important virtue," Jim had said to her with an odd half-smile. "Well, it seems to me that I'm better at it than you are."

Nobody professed to understand the question of the frozen railroad bonds; perhaps, because everybody understood it too well. At first, there had been signs of a panic among the bondholders and of a dangerous indignation among the public. Then, Wesley Mouch had issued another directive, which ruled that people could get their bonds "defrozen" upon a plea of "essential need": the government would purchase the bonds, if it found the proof of the need satisfactory. There were three questions that no one answered or asked: "What constituted proof?" "What constituted need?" "Essential—to whom?"
p. 269

Manipulating the Government has become more profitable than business transactions.



Sun Oct 28, 2012 5:19 pm
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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters I–II (1 - 2)
Hi Landroid, I think the quotes you highlight about manipulating the government being more profitable than working is what is slowly making the earth stop in this book. As more and more people stop working and rely on the government they are running out of natural resources and ways to make money, not just redistribute it. This creates a nasty cycle though as those who have been working get tired of fighting the government and seeing all their hard work go to others who benefit and never work...then they disappear like Ellis Wyatt. We see in these chapters that Rearden starts down this path of not apathy and is dragged back after seeing Dagny who is still very much focused and working.

Regarding Frisco's quote, yes he defrauded investors but with the point of trying to show them the error in their thought process. The majority of his investors were proponents of providing jobs for social good, not because of work, providing housing and taking a loss on it. They just didn't want to be the ones to take the loss- they always want it to be someone else (like Rearden or Ellis Wyatt). Also, his investors have hardly ever worked a day in their lives or taken responsability for anything they've ever done. In the quote you highlighted Frisco is setting himself squarely opposed to society and the alleged great minds of the day (your Ferris quote above) who state that man has nothing to do with success and therefore neither man has any right to anything better than another. Frisco is saying they do because individuals create opportunities and new technology too make money AND to benefit society.

We haven't yet learned the answer to "Who is John Galt?" or some of the other questions posed so far but it feels like Frisco is working for the same team as Dagny and Rearden he is just doing it in a more subversive way and playing the game in a more sneaky tactical method...similar to the government not explaining the purpose of Project X but demanding supplies and secrecy for it.



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Sun Oct 28, 2012 6:30 pm
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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters I–II (1 - 2)
Regarding Reardon selling steel illegally to Danagger:
Quote:
He thought that he had been made to hide, as a guilty secret, the only business transaction he had enjoyed in a year's work—and that he was hiding, as a guilty secret, his nights with Dagny, the only hours that kept him alive. He felt that there was some connection between the two secrets, some essential connection which he had to discover. He could not grasp it, he could not find the words to name it, but he felt that the day when he would find them, he would answer every question of his life. p. 293

This book is full of these potential insights, kept secret from the character striving after them. Not sure if I'm enjoying that aspect or starting to get annoyed. Taking note of this one to see if the connection is revealed along with the answer to every question in Hank's life, or is this a teaser?



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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters I–II (1 - 2)
LanDroid wrote:
A pretty good rant on the nature of money. Except it's delivered by Franciso D'Anconia? Who deliberately defrauded investors? Who shortly after this speech induces panic about the stock price of his own company? Perhaps all this will be explained later?


It will become clearer, later.


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Wed Oct 31, 2012 1:39 am
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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters I–II (1 - 2)
Part 2 Ch.1

Quote:
“You know, Miss Taggart, I don’t think that such a motor should ever be made, even if somebody did learn how to make it. It would be so superior to anything we’ve got that it would be unfair to lesser scientists, because it would leave no field for their achievements and abilities. I don’t think that the strong should have the right to wound the self-esteem of the weak.” She had ordered him out of her office, and had sat in incredulous horror before the fact that the most vicious statement she had ever heard had been uttered in a tone of moral righteousness.


The “I don’t think that the strong should have the right to wound the self-esteem of the weak” part reminds me of a lecture I bought at the Ayn Rand Bookstore’s new estore:

https://estore.aynrand.org/p/188/the-as ... 3-download

It reminded me of the “feel good” approach in educational theory.


Also in this chapter we meet what the steel workers call the “Wet Nurse”. There is a clip of the film adaptation of that scene from Atlas Shrugged Part 2 on you tube:




Quote:
“Mr. Rearden,” said the man, “the government needs your Metal. You have to sell it to us, because surely you realize that the government’s plans cannot be held up by the matter of your consent.”
“A sale,” said Rearden, slowly, “requires the seller’s consent.” He got up and walked to the window. “I’ll tell you what you can do.” He pointed to the siding where ingots of Rearden Metal were being loaded onto freight cars. “There’s Rearden Metal. Drive down there with your trucks— like any other looter, but without his risk, because I won’t shoot you, as you know I can’t— take as much of the Metal as you wish and go. Don’t try to send me payment— I won’t accept it. Don’t print out a check to me. It won’t be cashed. If you want that Metal, you have the guns to seize it. Go ahead.”
“Good God, Mr. Rearden, what would the public think!”
It was an instinctive, involuntary cry. The muscles of Rearden’s face moved briefly in a soundless laughter. Both of them had understood the implications of that cry. Rearden said evenly, in the grave, unstrained tone of finality, “You need my help to make it look like a sale— like a safe, just, moral transaction. I will not help you.”
The man did not argue. He rose to leave. He said only, “You will regret the stand you’ve taken, Mr. Rearden.”
“I don’t think so,” said Rearden.


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Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:07 pm
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Post Re: Part Two, Chapters I–II (1 - 2)
Part 2 ch. 2

We get to hear Francisco’s famous money speech.

Right after speaking for 45 minutes about money, the people that have heard it, say:

Quote:
There were people who had listened, but now hurried away, and people who said, “It’s horrible!”—“ It’s not true!”—“ How vicious and selfish!”— saying it loudly and guardedly at once, as if wishing that their neighbors would hear them, but hoping that Francisco would not. “Señor d’Anconia,” declared the woman with the earrings, “I don’t agree with you!”
“If you can refute a single sentence I uttered, madame, I shall hear it gratefully.”
“Oh, I can’t answer you. I don’t have any answers, my mind doesn’t work that way, but I don’t feel that you’re right, so I know that you’re wrong.” “How do you know it?”
“I feel it. I don’t go by my head, but by my heart. You might be good at logic, but you’re heartless.”
“Madame, when we’ll see men dying of starvation around us, your heart won’t be of any earthly use to save them. And I’m heartless enough to say that when you’ll scream, ‘but I didn’t know it!’— you will not be forgiven.” The woman turned away, a shudder running through the flesh of her cheeks and through the angry tremor of her voice: “Well, it’s certainly a funny way to talk at a party!”


So none of them address what he actually said, none of them take lines from it and try to refute what he had said. The woman merely goes by her feelings in regards to her judgment of it, instead of judging it with her mind. Two of the seven virtues of Rand’s morality is rationality, another virtue is independence - using ones rationality, one’s minds, one’s reason, - not feelings, any emotionalism, faith in trying to understand, in order to judge something. Any one that would like to read up on her virtues, besides Rand’s own writing about them (like in her The Virtue of Selfishness), I highly recommend Tara Smith’s Ayn Rand’s Normative Ethics: The Virtuous Egoist which is a great presentation of Rand’s virtues in her morality, and it shows why the virtues of Rand’s morality are in one’s self-interest, and beneficial to ones life.

What also is great in this chapter, is once again, Taggart’s moral ideals are throw right in his face by Frisco - by Frisco’s practical realization of them, like he had done during the wedding anniversary of the Rearden’s which I had quoted earlier in another thread:

Quote:
“Why, James,” said Francisco, smiling, “what’s the matter? Why do you seem to be upset? Money is the root of all evil— so I just got tired of being evil.”
Taggart ran toward the main exit, yelling something to Orren Boyle on the way. Boyle nodded and kept on nodding, with the eagerness and humility of an inefficient servant, then darted off in another direction. Cherryl, her wedding veil coiling like a crystal cloud upon the air, as she ran after him, caught Taggart at the door. “Jim, what’s the matter?” He pushed her aside and she fell against the stomach of Paul Larkin, as Taggart rushed out. Three persons stood immovably still, like three pillars spaced through the room, the lines of their sight cutting across the spread of the wreckage: Dagny, looking at Francisco— Francisco and Rearden, looking at each other.



In the film adaptation, Atlas Shrugged Part 2, the speech is cut to reflect it’s essence, I think, and I thought the scene was decently done. If a you tube of it comes up, I’ll post it, if not, one can always watch the film to see the scene in it.


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- Cyril Connolly

My seven published books are available for purchase, click here:
http://www.amazon.com/Steven-L.-Sheppard/e/B00E6KOX12


Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:08 pm
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