Proving once again; ignorance is bliss.
Ayn Rand has given rise to neocons with her unbridled laissez-faire ideas. She is ignorant of economics, politics and science but spout political theories that are a radical reaction to soviet system. I see many of her adherents in neocon circles and libertarians. Her portrayal of her heroes are of the soviet mold i.e. doctrinaire but lacking in social skills. Ragnar is a viking pirate, Galt wasn't any hero as he raped Dagny Taggart, Toohey was villainized. These characters would bore people to death and the scenarios seemed so contrived. Nobody speaks speaks the way as it is written. The speeches are all lectures of a skewed mind. It is a laugh to read that Galt managed to silence the communication system of the world and make his spiel almost like the Pravda.
You continue to display ignorance by sampling someone else's opinion. Said someone seems to have confused Galt with Roark, from another novel (one of my main problems with Rand, however... is her willingness to downplay this crime), doesn't seem to realize Ragnar only recaptured ill-gotten, unearned wealth... and not even for himself, at that, and Toohey was from the fountainhead as well and deserved what he got.
Talk- Are you aware of the fact that Alan Greenspan, the former Fed chairman, (who did a pretty decent job, IMO) was one of Rand's "inner circle"?
talk- If a person thinks in an extremely concrete fashion, one can understand that he might find Rand's characters unbelievable. If one can get past the concrete, and relaize that Rand's characters were metaphors for certain concepts and ideals, her message becomes crystal clear.
Who would like to see a movie about a labor strike, see the company in deterioration and capitulate with a finale in which the labor leader gives a long-winded speech? Yawn! Yeah, right! I would not part with my hard-earned money to watch such an inane show as we hear and see about strikes in the television news anyway. Well…Atlas Shrugged is the same thing except it is a gigantic strike with the United States in place of a company and the strikers being industrialists. How likely is that? Don’t the industrialists control the economy anyway…and strike? How silly!
Yes, silliness courtesy of an embittered Soviet émigré. She was born Alisa Rosenbaum in 1905 to a Jewish pharmacist in St. Petersberg. In 1917 with the Bolshevik Revolution the pharmacy was confiscated and they fled to Crimea. Her early leanings were screen-lay and novels. I guess she was into phantasm, typical teenage occupation. She was very opposed to the Bolshevik Soviet system and so she became interested in justice. She took history and philosophy and additional training in history, philology and law perhaps to be a teacher or lawyer on graduation in 1924. She studied screenwriting at the State Institute of Cinema Art in late 1925. She left soon after with her arrival in New York City on February 1926 at the age of 21 on a visa to visit American relatives.
Her bitterness led her to associate every form of group action as evil. This indicates a form of psychosis as the United States becoming overcome by a Soviet style government unless it is the methods she displays in her novels. After all, the United States came into being from a group revolt against the selfish act of King George when he increased the tax on tea. There was the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolutionary War came after. The United States is nowhere near like Russia. The Bolshevik Revolution occurred because of the despotic Tsar and his careless war strategies where there was no regard for soldiers’ lives. Victories were won with enormous lives lost. Those victories seem more like pyrrhic victories. As one can see there is no comparison.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned:
The ‘Collective’ more or less collapsed as they were driven by selfish desires. Ayn Rand kicked out Nathaniel Branden from the ‘Collective’ because she being 50 was no longer attractive to Branden. Nathaniel had begun an affair with an actress named Patrecia Gullison, who appeared in Hawaiian Five O. She married Scott and also changed her name to Patrecia Wynand. She accidentally drowned in 1967 at 37. Ayn Rand expelled Nathaniel Branden and ended Nathaniel Branden Institute. The Collective eventually ended as nearly all were expelled or left on their own accord except for Leonard Peikoff, cousin of Barbara Branden. Looking at it hindsight, it appears all the parties were unprofessional. Teacher student affairs are a breach of trust not to mention adultery. The result is a consequence of the selfish philosophic groundings of an unstable system. Maybe, as shown in the Fountainhead, it was Rand’s weird way of showing love and respect for Branden where Dominique Francon hindered Roark’s career. It shows just a twisted mind. She wanted Branden to find her and rape her like Roark did to Dominique and Galt to Dagny. Who knows…or cares? The breakup of the Nathaniel Branden Institute is a consequence of selfishness where everyone is for him/herself.
Winnipeg is only half million in size and suffers thru –40 deg. C/F winters that last a week or two. In the early 40s there would not be many men folks as they off to the war. But two teenagers Nathan Blumenthal (later Nathaniel Branden) and Barbara Weidman (later Barbara Branden) read ‘The Fountainhead’. Barbara Branden and her cousin, Leonard Peikoff, were from Winnipeg. The two Brandens with their friends and relatives met informally with Ayn Rand in 1950 and formed the ‘Collective’ or ‘Class of 43’.
There is a rage in Ayn Rand that can be detected as her heroes both Howard Roark and John Galt rape the heroines Dominique Francon and Dagny Taggart. Rape is not love but aggression and violence.
This aversion to collective action reminds me of people suffering from anorexia. The anorexic person sees every pound of flesh as ‘fat’ and starves himself or herself for a cadaverous look. It also shows the lack of civic responsibility of mostly women’s fashion designers to sell their designs desiring walking clothes hangers irrespective of the health of models. There is a healthy model that shows muscles bones and fat in good proportions. To classify this model as ‘fat’ shows a sick mind that cannot identify a healthy body.
To see aspects of American life as a Soviet system shows a mind that has a sickness. America was formed from a group revolt and a Constitution was drawn up to embody a system of justice thru representation with limits to bodies of the government to prevent abuse. To limit government to a bare-boned anorexic model show a severe lack of understanding. It is like have a jumbo jet using manual controls with a cable system to activate the various flaps on wings and tail fin.
A family would be a good way to illustrate group activity. When there is only two in the family there is not much activity. But as soon as a child is born everything is affected as raising a child requires an enormous amount of effort, time and expenses. Feeding, cleaning the baby washing and taking care of it to ensure it is comfortable. As time passes the education of the child comes in and finally when the child or children moves out the frenzy of activity slows and there is the empty nest. A nation like a family has to adjust to various situations.
Some have raved about government controls as anathema to free enterprise. Let us look at an eye. It is an organ that enables the creature to see. What happens is that light enters the cornea thru the lens, which focuses the images to the retina. The iris of the eye controls light by expanding in darkness or contracting in bright light. The lens controls light by focusing the light to the retina. The retina transforms the light impingements as electrical signals, which the nerves send to the brain. The eye is a light control device that sends external light information to the creature’s brain. We don’t associate it as a control device as we give it a specific name: eye.
Now let us look at the stomach. It is a bag in the alimentary canal that holds the food that the creature has just eaten. When it is full it signals the brain that it is full so the creature would stop eating. Then stomach acid is introduced to the contents of the stomach to break down the food so that it is easier for the intestines to digest the food. When it has done its function the food is pass down the alimentary canal to the next organ to further process the food such as the pancreas and so on. The stomach is another control device to control food intake as well as process the food.
Take any organ or part of a human body and in essence it is a control device. There is nothing in a human body that does not control something. Controls are a part of life except we give ita name and lose the image of control. The brain controls all activities of the body but the conscious level controls external activity while the internal operations are automatic and hidden from the conscious part and communicates thru feelings, discomfort, pain and euphoria.
Corporation as money control device
Now let us look at a company or corporation. It can be either a service oriented company or a manufacturing concern.
A manufacturing company would need a product or products to produce. It must first be designed and checked before going into production to be manufactured. When it is finished it is stored in the warehouse. There is sales department that advertises the product and sales men that fill the order. This product is packaged and shipped to the customer. Then there is the request by customers who want the product with slight modification, which must go to the engineering department to design the changes and checked and sent to manufacturing. After it is made it packaged and shipped. There is work to improve the product as with anything there are limitations to what the product does and design changes are introduced and tested to see if it can fulfill the desired function. The owner or chief executive look over the overall operation but closely check if an operation is profitable or not. If it is unprofitable it will not be produced. However, if the project is huge involving millions of dollars there bound to be parts that are unprofitable. The company may continue as the overall profit is there. The company is a money-controlling device. It takes in revenue thru sales, pays it employees, rent, consumable products, raw materials, outside services to meet customer requirements or government regulations, etc. and at the end comes either profit or loss. If profitable it will survive and if it is unprofitable it will close.
Now with a service company instead of a product it provides a service such as a hotel, railroad or lecturing institute. For a hotel it must build, rent or buy the building and model it to provide a look depending on the clientele. It must provide furnishings and get trained employees. It should have a restaurant or rent space to a restaurateur. It could provide bed breakfast service or like a motel just rent out the room and clean the room after the client has moved out. The same goes for the railroad company. It must build the tracks purchase the trains, locomotives, signals, stations. The train may or may not have a dining compartment with cooks and waiters. There would be a ticket master for travelers taking short train rides or for second or third class compartments where only seats are provided. With a lecturing institute it must have an office and lecture rooms, lecturers and lecture materials. It must have expertise or knowledge to convey or train clientele or students. It may rent space for lecture rooms or build them. The fees should pay for the rent; lecturers’ pay, outside services and consumable materials such as chalk projector slides or film, paper, pencils, pens, etc. These service companies too are money-controlling devices, as it must make a profit to survive.
However, the company is a dictatorship with the owner or chief executive in control of everything. Power corrupts and that goes for corporation and companies too. To increase profit margins cheap labor, sub-standard materials and safety was disregarded. Even today where it is known that tobacco can cause cancer, cigarettes are still sold.
Early in the Industrial Revolution, children used to work in the mills. Miners died from black lungs and explosions were common in coalmines as there were pockets of coal gas till they started using canaries to warn of dangerous gases. Workers were injured and maimed from working in dangerous work places. There was violence and unions were formed and safety regulations were put in place.
Corporate uncivil behavior
Companies have campaigned against clean air and safety regulations citing high expenditure but totally ignore health concerns of the community, which could be affected with de-regulation as the air and water are polluted, and workers die on the job.
No government oversight
Many criminals have gone into incorporation as government has turned a blind eye to corporate and white-collar crime. Fraud is perpetrated, false advertising, bait and switch as practiced by George W. Bush using Sept. 11 tragedy to invade Iraq.
With the formation of industry-wide unions many smaller companies were forced into bankruptcy as unions demanded higher and higher wages thus creating an oligarchy of a few industrial companies and unions. As a result companies have bought other companies to form conglomerates to escape unionization by have many smaller plants with numerous names. Some have gone international so plants are built in cheap labor countries and supported free trade. Both corporations and unions have heavily invested in political parties to further their agendas and enrich themselves. Unions wanted welfare so there would be a shortage of workers as those too lazy to work would get the dole while union members would man the strike blockades. This is not true free market economics but power economics as each group is playing power politics. The weakness is that political parties are not funded and there are no public forums where issues can be debated in an inexpensive manner on public television. Lobbying makes politicians merely spokes persons for the organizations footing the bills so there are no proper watchdogs to ensure economic fairness and public safety as untested drugs flood the markets and withdrawn only when a few deaths are reported as the result of using the drugs.
More than barebones government
It would be foolish to limit government only to protect life, liberty and property and not include regulations that are put in place to do just those things. There are secondary aspects that are needed to ensure these primary objectives are met. To protect life one must also include safety at work, prevention of health threatening products and processes, prevention of dangerous and drunk driving, etc. Liberty includes job discrimination, harassment at work, playground or school, etc. Protection of property includes prevention of identity theft, fraud prevention, false advertising, prevention of property damage, etc. after all identity and money are property too.
We want freedom. We want to do what we like. That freedom can be done in a desert or a deserted south sea island. You can scream, shout, drive a car fast, slow or without headlights as there is no one there to stop you or limit your freedom. It gets boring after a while as you have no one to talk to or communicate in any meaningful way. If there is another person then he/she would be treated as an equal you would make concession by being polite and listen when your partner is talking and make accommodations regarding his/her needs as well. Then there is neither food nor water to drink; it is hot in the daytime and very cold at night. There are the buzzards flying overhead. There are certain freedoms obtained in the wilderness yet we are not free. Only a god/goddess would have seemingly total freedom yet the god/goddess needs someone to worship him/her. The god needs to creation in order to glorify himself.
In the wilderness food, shelter, clothing showers and other necessities are lacking. Humans are neither physically powerful nor self-sufficient like the divinities. Survival in the wilderness put us in a situation where there are no rules or more precisely under nature’s hidden laws of the jungle. The human physique is not imposing or well equipped to fend off all predators. We can only survive in groups thus comes the rules of society. The group leaders impose their rules or you are kicked out to fend for yourself. In primitive groups inequality sets in as the leaders take the choicest foods, accommodations and mates. Group dynamics are all different for different groups i.e. the rules would be different. A familial group would be ruled by love rules would be tolerant as the leaders are loving parents. A selfish dictatorial leader would have the most difficult work done by others while the choicest meats; shelters and so on would be his. A loving father or mother would fight dying so that the offspring may live while George W. bush would rather send Democrats to war so his family holding in ‘Kellogg’ and ‘Brown & Root’ within Halliburton would thrive. Rules enable freedom in human society as there are limited resources must be shared. Rules are meant to apply to all so there is harmony and each must limit themselves in time or direction for a specified time such as in the street whether driving a car or walking downtown. We wait for the streetlights and follow marked zones.
Atlas Shrugged is a dud.
Inventor of Perpetual Motion Machine
The history of fraudulent inventions is replete with innumerable perpetual motion machines in which an inventor comes along with a machine that does work without any source of energy. There is a law in Science called the Law of Conservation of Energy i.e. energy is neither created nor destroyed. Invariably, a hidden source of energy is found somewhere. John Galt joins a long list of these perpetual motion machine inventors.
The Interstate Highway System came into reality in 1958 and was a technological marvel at the time. It was modeled after Nazi Germany’s Autobahn road system that allowed swift motor travel. General Dwight Eisenhower noticed its efficiency while serving as Chief of Allied Forces during WWII. Earlier in 1919 as a young Army Tank officer he took part in a military exercise to highlight a need for an efficient road system when a contingent of army trucks and various motor vehicles embarked on a cross-country journey from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco. The convoy of 81 vehicles traveled 3,200 miles averaging 6 miles per hour, 58 miles per day. It was a success as it made the case for an improved road system in America. When Ike became president he made sure that the federal highway system was brought into existence.
Ayn Rand came to America in 1926 and therefore would not know of the need for a highway system nor the impending completion of the Interstate Highway System in 1958 a year after Atlas Shrugged was published. Rand’s America is pre-highway with the railroad system the main means of public travel as in Soviet Russia. Rand’s America also ignores the World Wars. America has been railroaded in Atlas Shrugged.
Isolated America; historical America ignored
It is also an isolated America, which is not true. An America weakened from the colossal strike would be untouched by external forces is an exercise in ignorance. America was built in revolt against King George’s unilateral tea tax. Britain would love nothing better than to regain her rebel colony. France would also like to regain the original Louisiana that was included the Midwest and the West Coast. Mexico lost the territory of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California to American adventurers. Mexico would love to regain her territories. If the World Wars are included, a weakened America would lead to a German victory in Europe for both wars and German U-boats would be visiting American shores. Another possibility would be Soviet involvement in the strike and Alaska’s return to Russian control.
A strike is a co-ordinate action by a collection of people against a person or company. It is a collective action. John Galt’s call for a strike by innovators is clearly the author’s literary device and that is not based on actuality or reality. John Galt would be called a quitter as he makes demands like a prima donna, all-or-nothing kind of juvenile brat. His actions in real life be labeled as abrasive, uncompromising rebel who acts like a commercial artist who is true to his ‘art’ but cannot meet his clients’ needs. There are artists that sell their paintings based on their own choice of object, scenery or subject matter and there are the artists for hire. John Galt as described falls in the second category and making demands like the first group. Clearly there is a mistaken work ethic at work here.
John Galt would clearly fail as innovators are solitary souls whose financial interests are based on secrecy, privacy and proprietary design, would not expose their work to other fellow designers as their ideas could be stolen. Once their design is completed and in production then only would they discuss their work to potential customers.
Thomas Alva Edison and Nicola Tesla are two very innovative persons. Each has made tremendous contributions to society due to their work. Edison invented many things among the most famous being light bulb, movie and sound recorder. A little known fact is that he also invented the DC motor and created General Electric. Nicola Tesla was an electrical engineer who invented the AC motor. In generating electricity the AC motor is superior. DC motors are good many things among them as electric drives for light rails or city trams. Edison being the more powerful individual with greater clout ruined Tesla as they both competed with their motors in the market place. Edison as an industrialist was ruthless and despicable but as an inventor was inspiring. In a competitive arena, individuals turn on each other, as did Ayn Rand and Nathaniel Branden after their affair fizzled.
Another case would be the great scientists and mathematicians Sir Isaac Newton, Godfried Leibnitz, Robert Hook and the Bernoulli brothers. All of them are worthy gentlemen but their interaction with each other was dismal. Both Sir Isaac Newton and Godfried Leibnitz invented calculus. However, Newton was the greater mathematician and went much further than anyone with his invention. However, his nomenclature was not easy to understand while the symbol used by Leibnitz was clearer and easier to understand so calculus flourished in Europe while it stagnated in England. The rivalry between the two giants were such that the Bernoulli brothers issued challenges in scientific publications with complex problems to see who solve them to ascertain the true inventor of Calculus. Leibnitz sought a year’s time to solve while Newton on seeing it solved it in one night. The Bernoulli brothers realized how great was Newton’s mathematical genius and referred to him as a lion. There was also the rivalry between Hook, discoverer of Hook’s Law, and Newton on the theory of gravity. Once again Newton triumphed. He eventually published his ‘Principia Mathematica’ to explain the mathematical principles of mechanical physics and gravitation. I see no strike against society among the true innovative geniuses unlike the contrived fictional ‘geniuses’ of Atlas Shrugged.
Let us just for heck of it let us envision a strike succeeding as in the novel. As boring as it sounds a slow motion breakdown of America is hardly interesting. Of course, we have seen where a power failure led to looting, gunfights and fires as those living at the edge took advantage of the situation. For example, with Hurricane Katrina’s striking New Orleans led to extensive damage and lives lost. As no National Guardsmen were available reason being that they were stationed in Iraq, instead private security personnel were called to stem the criminal activity. Later it was revealed that even some local police officers were in the crowd of looters.
The Soviet Union fell 70 years after it took power. Rand seemed inordinately obsessed with group or collective activity and sees visions of Soviets in even the land of the free. The collapse of all forms of collectivism in America may take even longer as people are not oppressed and they can make their voices heard through the voting booths while the voting process in the Soviet Union was just a public relations sham. John Galt would be dead before he sees the fruits of his strike besides his hoard of supplies for survival in the woods or valley would run out too. As the America described seems to be of the 1920s without interstate highway system any military response to domestic violence would be very slow as the road are not up to snuff to bear heavy equipment and trucks loaded with troops. As in the military exercise in 1919 the army convoy took a whole day to travel just 58 miles.
A slow decline by such a strike would cause immense havoc, as it would be demoralizing as well. There would serious riots and gangsters would reign free with slow military response. Real politics, domestic and international, is neither portrayed adequately nor accurately. There would be calls in Congress and news outlets for law and order and John Galt would be arrested for treason as a foreign agent to disrupt the peace or killed as a traitor. With Cold War background he would be arrested as a Communist. On the international arena with a weakened United States, agents for Britain, Mexico, France and Russia would be hard at work planning or aiding in the dissolution of America as the strike slowly takes hold and dissection of an impending splintered America becomes more and more apparent segments of America starts infighting over control.
The Rand’s portrayal of industrialists is unrealistic. The executives of Enron created a monopoly by buying up power companies and cut power production. They reaped enormous profits by holding the State of California hostage, as it was a major power consumer with the world’s fifth largest economy. They laid out a lot of money in the 2000 presidential election to elect George W. Bush. The executives had cooked their books and found guilty of fraud.
Andrew Carnegie was an employee of the railroads and got inside information on railroad expansion plans. He bought companies that supplied materials to the railroads and thus became very rich. His philanthropy helped in polishing his shady business dealings.
John D. Rockefeller built his fortune by secret deals in which he obtained discount from the railroads for his oil shipments based on volume. His company grew too big before his rivals caught on and also demanded the same discounts from the railroads. His companies took predatory action where he destroyed smaller companies by lowering their oil prices till it was no longer profitable for the smaller companies to operate and were either bought upon bankruptcy sales or entices to sell with threats of destruction. Anti-trust laws were setup and Standard Oil was broken up. However, Mr. Rockefeller owned shares in all the broken companies, Mobil, Exxon, Chevron, Amoco, Gulf, etc.
Barbara Branden website
Talk- Are you aware of the fact that Alan Greenspan, the former Fed chairman, (who did a pretty decent job, IMO) was one of Rand's "inner circle"?
A moderately simulative rate policy with a hands-off approach as performed by a chimpanzee would have produced equal if not better results with arguably less volatility. Read up on Random Walk and the Efficient Market Theory and your views on the efficacy of Fed Chairmen may change.
That is not to say they do not have a place and a purpose. I'll talk more on that if you show an interest