October 10, 2014

Wings of the Right, Unite!

Following on BR's 'Christians, Libertarians and Ayn Rand' post yesterday I received '5 Things the Right Can Learn from Ayn Rand' from a friend via email. (Subscriptions are about $75 per year, well worth the price if you can afford it.) But until you can, or he publishes the article elsewhere, you'll have to settle for my paraphrase.

Author Robert Tracinski, one of the best Objectivist authors I know, cites the Wilhelm piece as a "less charitable" (to Rand) response to Hunter Baker's earlier piece in The Federalist: 'The Devil and Ayn Rand: Extending Christian Charity to John Galt's Creator.' Of which Trancinski writes, "I have a few quibbles with this piece, but as an advocate of Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy, I appreciate its spirit."

RT summarizes Wilhelm as "basically conceding the point: that the various wings of the right need to work together in a common cause, that

"what pushes these two groups together -- the fact that a big, bureaucratized, powerful government will inevitably smother freedom, crush creativity, and bulldoze people's rights -- also might be one of the few things that Ayn Rand got right."

He then accepts that feeble twig of olive branch and suggests that conservatives "examine Ayn Rand's literature a little more closely and less grudgingly and to take her ideas a little more seriously" before offering "the top five things I think the right can learn from Ayn Rand."

I'll just list the item titles, which he explains fully in his piece. Tell me if any of them sound familiar:


1. The crucial importance of reason.

2. The pathology of altruism.

3. The meaning of work.

4. A third alternative in the culture wars.

5. The importance of big ideas.

The strongest disagreement on these pages has regarded item 2. I suggest that is a case of inconsistent terminology, where the grim and gritty reality of altruism as a code of self-sacrifice is confused with what Baker described as "human solidarity" of which he said, "[Rand] was an atheist and clearly had an insufficient appreciation for (and accounting of) human solidarity, but she loved freedom and she understood the importance of work for human flourishing."

So in conclusion: Remove the devil-horns from Rand, consider her ideas of freedom, self-sufficiency and rational self-interest, and of "dignity, joy and love in work rather than in wealth per se." And then ask yourself if you can find common cause with those other wings in order to defeat the champions of "big, bureaucratized, powerful government."

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:12 PM | Comments (2)
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Great post, JG. A worthy spirit, goal and discussion. The Refugee's only complaint is that it seems to be a bit unidirectional in its goal of understanding. So, please The Refufee to offer a corollary list of items for Randians to consider about faith. (For the record, The Refugee considers himself to be a Spirtualist.)

1. The crucial importance of faith - a belief in the unseeable is what allows one to believe that tomorrow can be better than today. It is also what allowed our founders to believe that it was possible to found a nation dedicated to Liberty based on certain inalienable rights endowed by our Creator. Reason and faith are by no means incompatible, but reflect the dual nature of spiritual beings in a human endeavor.
2. The value of altruisim - altruism really isn't pathological, but becomes so when it crosses into either enablement or co-dependency. An ability to help others help themselves is the rising tide that raises all boats.
3. Living beyond work - work defines what we do, not who we are. Work is an essential component of the human existence, but by itself leads nowhere. Working with a notion of the benefit of a higher power leads to endeavors that can transcend our transient existence.
4. The culture war must be fought within ourselves.
5. The founding of a nation based on idealistic, faith-based principles is probably the biggest idea in the history of mankind.

Pythagoras, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and most of the great scientists were also people of faith. Freedom, self-reliance, enlightened self-interest and faith are indeed compatible, and arguably, intrinsically linked.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at October 11, 2014 11:26 AM
But johngalt thinks:

JG thanks the Refugee for his engagement. First remember that this was a response to what was considered a unidirectional point of view from the other side, and represents the Randian point of view that was missing. As for me, I share the Tracinski attitude about "the Judeo-Christian tradition" of which his goal is not to refute or dismiss it, but to understand it. Tracinski, Baker, and I are only asking for the same in return when it comes to Rand.

And in that spirit, I have no disagreement with your eleoquent defense of faith. It reads to me as a secular argument, in fact.

I think we can agree that "helping others help themselves" is good and that to "live my life for the sake of another man" or "ask another man to life his life for mine" is bad, without agreeing on the exact meaning of the term "altruism." Let's just agree that the concept is not desirable as a "pure principle."

The "meaning of work" is not labor, but achievement. Objectivists see the "higher power" in work not in the material product that is created, but in the pride of creation from which man can derive a "higher purpose" than "merely" helping himself.

The culture war is, by definition, a public rather than private issue. If the conflict were confined within ourselves, as you suggest, it would not be a political football. The third alternative Rand promoted is an objective code of morality, concretes of right and wrong, that answers the secular left's subjectivism but without "that old time religion." It is a powerful code for individual life and happiness, and I submit that it is dismissed by the establishment left and right because it threatens their collectivist control over individuals.

Where you see the founding on "idealistic, faith-based principles" I see it on idealistic, liberty based principles. We will agree that good and necessary changes have been made since the founding, i.e. women's suffrage and abolition of slavery. These are more closely aligned with the principles of liberty than the doctrines of faith, are they not?

All we are saying is give Rand a chance.

Posted by: johngalt at October 12, 2014 3:49 PM

September 13, 2014

Atlas Shrugged Part III - From the other side

And then there is the predictable movie critic review, included in fairness and objectivity, and to illustrate that, yes, the movie has flaws. But then, not every movie has the production values of 'Gone With the Wind' or "Titanic.'

From two scenes about the ultimate destiny of Dagny's sister-in-law, which seem to have been awkwardly shoehorned into the movie after the fact, to a love scene in L.A.'s Union Station destined to enter the Bad Movie Sex Scene Hall of Fame, “ASIII” feels like the most scattershot entry in the trilogy, despite a relative rally toward competence with the second movie.

Ayn Rand's books remain in print and, for better or worse, continue to shape minds and win converts. For all the lasting impact of her literature, it's difficult to imagine anyone not already on board with her ideas being swayed by these singularly awful screen adaptations.

Not just awful. SINGULARLY awful. As in, "The worst movies of all time" awful. This gratuitous ending, to me, betrays a feeling that as much as the reviewer tried to besmirch the creative product of other's efforts with the smug "anyone could have done better than this" attitude of one who has never attempted to do anything himself, he still needed to take one last parting shot.

Thus ends my review of his review.

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:09 PM | Comments (0)

The face without pain or fear or guilt

Dagny and I saw it last night. In every scene, actually, but particularly, when Leader Thompson attempted to negotiate a "name your price" deal with Galt.

The movie was superb. Like the book, it was too short, but you'd expect me to say that. No, I realize that every nuance that I know and love from the book could not be included. And Dagny regretted that Hank Rearden was almost completely left on the cutting room floor. But we are "steeped in the lore." I fear that so much was included and happened so quickly that the neophyte will miss many points. But he won't miss the big point. And if he gets that one he will be back for viewing after viewing. I think the most important message is loud and clear:

"I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine."

"The world you desire can be won. It exists... It is real... It is possible... It is yours."

The title of this post is my answer to the question: Who is John Galt? For fun I did a global search on that phrase and found a very interesting blog by one jg lenhart. (Et tu, jg?)


This blog presents the non-contradictory explanation for God's Nature and Grace...which is the key to resisting Universalism.

But the first thing I saw of it was this page which, among other impressive insights in Part II, Chapter 9, included this about the title phrase:

Eddie – Dagny is Eddie's sound moral code. Not only does he think this moral code is flawed, he found this out at the same moment he discovered what this moral code was. Eddie is reeling. And since he is in the middle of the scale, he can go to the negative side very easily. He ends up going to his only other "friend". Eddie's confessional is no longer set apart from the story. With this visit, the worker enters the narrative. "You know, I never thought you cared whether you saw me or not, me or anybody, you seemed so complete in yourself, and that's why I liked to talk to you, because I felt that you always understood, but nothing could hurt you." The worker is not Eddie's sound moral code because the relationship is one sided; he doesn't know what this worker stands for. Eddie does the overwhelming majority of talking (praying?). "Do you know what's strange about your face? You look as if you've never known pain or fear or guilt…" Isn't that the kind of face God would have?
Posted by JohnGalt at 11:54 AM | Comments (1)
But Jk thinks:

The lovely bride and I liked a lot. I'd say the third is the best, and that most people could get a lot just watching Part III.

No, not cinematic masterpieces, and yes, I spent the rest of the evening thinking of grace notes I wish they'd snuck in. But the truth to the book is important and under appreciated by some fans.

Posted by: Jk at September 13, 2014 5:24 PM

September 11, 2014

War on Terror = War on Collectivism

On this 13th Anniversary of 9/11 I will post a 9 year old article by Atlas Society Founder David Kelley (who is also a Consulting Producer on the Atlas Shrugged films, the third of which premieres nation wide tomorrow.) The Ideas That Promote Terrorism. Hint: It is not, primarily, religious faith. I will excerpt rather liberally:

The war on jihadist terrorism is a battle of ideas, a battle against the ideology of Islamism from which the terrorists emerged.

Though Osama bin Laden and other terrorists constantly invoke the Islamic past, their ideology is actually a modern one. It has more in common with fundamentalist movements in other religions, and with secular totalitarian ideologies like Marxism, than with any historic school of Islamic thought. What all of these movements have in common is a hatred for the values of modern liberal society, values that we in America tend to take for granted because they are so much a part of our culture.

The Islamists, like the communist and fascist totalitarians, hate individualism. There is no room in their worldview for individual freedom of thought, or for the pursuit of individual happiness. Mawlana Mawdudi, founder of Jama`at-i Islami in India and Pakistan and one of the most important and influential theorists of Islamism, advocated a theocratic state in which, as he said, "no one can regard any field of his affairs as personal and private. Considered from this aspect the Islamic state bears a kind of resemblance to the Fascist and Communist states." The Islamists want a society of rigid orthodoxy and censorship, just as communists sought to enforce Marxist dogmas and punish deviants.

(...)

Ultimately, Islamism is not a positive vision of a good society. Beyond the slogans of imposing sharia and the fantasy of restoring the caliphate, Islamists have no real political philosophy or program, and in the few places like Afghanistan where their ideas have been put into practice, the result has been chaos, poverty, and oppression. Islamism is essentially a negative movement, a movement of hostile opposition to the modern world. And, at the extreme, it descends into sheer nihilistic destruction and cult of death, the glorification of killing themselves as well as others, the reveling in gruesome bloody spectacle that is more decadent and degraded than the worst filth coming out of Hollywood.

Those are the ideas that spawned the terrorists: the hatred of individualism, of reason, of progress, of capitalism, of freedom and secular government. Those are the very sources of modern civilization, the sources of all the benefits that we enjoy in America, the benefits we would like to see enjoyed by people everywhere. This is not a conflict between Islam and the West. It is a conflict within the Islamic world, and within the West, between those who accept the values of modern civilization and the nihilists who reject them.

In return for my bald-faced theft of so many paragraphs for their unauthorized reprinting here, I have left a comment on the linked article. The subject: Islamists' claim that they "love death for Allah, like our enemies love life."

UPDATE:

In this 2-week old article from Fox News, contributor Walid Phares gets the problem correct, but the solution all wrong.

"The problem in Western liberal societies... is that we don't act against ideology, we don't have legislation against ideology as the Germans or French have against Nazism, for example," Phares said. "And because we haven't had this possibility, we are waiting - law enforcement are waiting for [Choudary] to make a mistake, to make a mistake with the law."

The correct response to bad ideological speech is good ideological speech, not censorship.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:31 PM | Comments (0)

September 9, 2014

Planning your Friday evening yet?

Visit the Official Atlas Shrugged Movie Web Site!

--

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:38 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Alas, show times are not yet posted for any of the theatres near me. It's a communist plot!

Posted by: johngalt at September 9, 2014 4:50 PM
But jk thinks:

Ellsworth Toohey's column has a complete listing.

Posted by: jk at September 9, 2014 5:02 PM

January 30, 2014

Mystery Movieset Theater

This seems to be the day for posting videos. Try this one. See if you can recognize the fictional setting.



Video streaming by Ustream

Yes, friends, AS3 is filming.

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:11 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2013

'Papas, Don't Let Yer Babies Grow Up to be Princesses'

Lifted directly from a Slate article: This Awesome Ad, Set to the Beastie Boys, Is How to Get Girls to Become Engineers

This is a stupendously awesome commercial from a toy company called GoldieBlox, which has developed a set of interactive books and games to "disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers." The CEO, Debbie Sterling, studied engineering at Stanford, where she was dismayed by the lack of women in her program. (...) As the GoldieBlox website attests, only 11 percent of the world's engineers are female. Sterling wants to light girls' inventive spark early, supplementing the usual diet of glittery princess products with construction toys "from a female perspective."

I'll let readers know my daughters' reaction to it.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:34 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Like.

Posted by: jk at November 23, 2013 2:16 PM

August 5, 2013

Human Ichneumonidae

I'm quite sure blog brother jk linked the George Will piece on Detroit already, but I just got around to reading it today via a still prominent position on the IBD Ed page. It contains an analogy just as apt as Starnesville.

The ichneumon insect inserts an egg in a caterpillar, and the larva hatched from the egg, he said, "gnaws the inside of the caterpillar, and though at last it has devoured almost every part of it except the skin and intestines, carefully all this time avoids injuring the vital organs, as if aware that its own existence depends on that of the insect on which it preys!"

Detroit's union bosses and "auto industry executives, who often were invertebrate mediocrities" were not, however, quite as intelligent as the lowly ichneumonidae. They knawed right through the alimentary canal. Why did the executives go along? Did they not know the lavish compensations were unsustainable? This matters little, for government followed the private-sector lead:

Then city officials gave their employees - who have 47 unions, including one for crossing guards - pay scales comparable to those of autoworkers.

Thus did private-sector decadence drive public-sector dysfunction - government negotiating with government-employees' unions that are government organized as an interest group to lobby itself to do what it wants to do: Grow.

And grow it did, in Detroit and in cities and states as far and wide as union influence stretched.

Detroit, which boomed during World War II when industrial America was "the arsenal of democracy," died of democracy.

Yet democracy lives on, an unnoticed and unindicted threat to the life of all American cities, states, and nation.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:01 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

The Ichneumonidae Appreciation Society is suing Will for this scurrilous comparison...

Posted by: jk at August 5, 2013 5:06 PM

July 22, 2013

Selfishness - Rational vs. Imperial

This reflects a deeper abuse of Ayn Rand's philosophy. The prevailing philosophy of altruism, in denouncing business and profit-making as evil, has to construct a caricature of self-interest designed to make it look bad. In this caricature, "selfishness" is crassly materialistic, viciously adversarial, and stoked by personal vanity. Above all else, self-interest is defined in a way that is superficial and short term--making it into a straw man of that is easy to knock down.

Ayn Rand not only defended self-interest but sought to understand it properly, showing how genuine self-interest focuses on long-term values, on rationality and real achievement rather than preening vanity or lust for arbitrary power over others. -Robert Tracinski in 'Sears: Less "Atlas Shrugged" Than "Game of Thrones'

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:33 PM | Comments (0)

Starnesville

Daniel Hannan at the Telegraph (UK) quotes a description of Detroit from the Observer, then compares it to Starnesville in Atlas Shrugged:

A few houses still stood within the skeleton of what had once been an industrial town. Everything that could move, had moved away; but some human beings had remained. The empty structures were vertical rubble; they had been eaten, not by time, but by men: boards torn out at random, missing patches of roofs, holes left in gutted cellars. It looked as if blind hands had seized whatever fitted the need of the moment, with no concept of remaining in existence the next morning. The inhabited houses were scattered at random among the ruins; the smoke of their chimneys was the only movement visible in town. A shell of concrete, which had been a schoolhouse, stood on the outskirts; it looked like a skull, with the empty sockets of glassless windows, with a few strands of hair still clinging to it, in the shape of broken wires.

Beyond the town, on a distant hill, stood the factory of the Twentieth Century Motor Company. Its walls, roof lines and smokestacks looked trim, impregnable like a fortress. It would have seemed intact but for a silver water tank: the water tank was tipped sidewise.


Statism is turning America into Detroit -- Ayn Rand's Starnesville come to life

UPDATE: James Pethokoukis: Must there always be a Detroit?

Posted by John Kranz at 9:37 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

A more perfect analogy was never made. Ever.

Brother jk, as I read it, appealed to the GOP to make intergenerational debt a focus of future elections. I herewith appeal that they instead simply point to Detroit, and ask: "Do you want your town to be the next Detroit? Then it is time for all of us to start living within our means, earning our own keep, and stop demanding things we have not earned. The Democrat party will NEVER take that approach. You can elect Republicans, or you can live in the next Detroit."

Posted by: johngalt at July 22, 2013 12:03 PM
But johngalt thinks:

And a Comments Update: Investor's: "Government Motors is Alive and Detroit is Dead"

Indeed, the scary part is that Detroit is what Obama wants to fundamentally transform America into: a place where wealth is redistributed, not created, and where government picks winners and losers in an economy in which we all ultimately lose.

Speaking at Ohio State University in May, he told graduates not to listen to "voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that's at the root of all our problems."

Detroit didn't. We should.

Posted by: johngalt at July 22, 2013 5:39 PM

June 8, 2013

Soul of Atlas

Man oh man, the things I find in my email inbox. Is that a receipt from the NSA?

Blog friend sc sends a link to an interview of a guy who is writing a book...oh how can I put this?

A Christian scholar and author has taken the experience of growing up under the influence of a stepfather who cherished the objectivism philosophy of Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged) and his biological father who became a follower of Jesus Christ, to write a book about two world views that he feels can come together for the good of society.

Mark David Henderson's book, The Soul of Atlas, begins by asking the question, "Do the two most influential books in modern culture, the Bible and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, share common ground?" Henderson has a unique closeness to the subject of Rand's book -- his stepfather (who he simply calls John in his book) produced the movie version of Atlas Shrugged.

A very sincere effort.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:59 AM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Paging KA. Mister KA.

Posted by: johngalt at June 9, 2013 10:16 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I was thinking about this yesterday actually. (I have a lot of time to think while driving the tractor, being not the most mentally demanding work.) The area where Christianity, or any other religious faith, overlaps Objectivism, is in the moral lessons. As a form of advice and guidance there is little conflict between the two. Religion gets into trouble when, like government, it seeks to mandate. Or worse, dictate.

I would observe that Christianity and Judaism and probably Buddhism, which I know even less about, seem to be the religious traditions that have most evolved in the direction of individual liberty. This is the original "liberalism." Ironically, as America's representitive republic became more democratic and "liberal" in the modern sense, it actually regressed, more like the early version of these religions, and became illiberal, collectivist, authoritarian and egalitarian. The ill-named movement responsible for this is, Progressivism.

Posted by: johngalt at June 9, 2013 10:33 AM

March 23, 2013

Explaining Freedom to your Facebook Friends

I recently discovered a few video discussions of scenes from the Atlas Shrugged movies (Part 1 and Part 2) by David Kelley of The Atlas Society. They are well done and I hope can inspire more people to see the movies, if shared with people who otherwise wouldn't be interested.

In this one I found an answer to my Facebook question, "Why are so many people so certain how OTHER people should live their lives?"

"The system bred hatred among people and they began meddling in each other's lives. In this collectivized system where need is a claim on the common pool, everyone's needs are a threat to everyone else."

Now all you have to do is catch them at a time when they're willing to watch a video longer than 3 minutes without cute animals.

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:58 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2013

Atlas Shrugged Part III - Summer 2014

Oh yeah!

"We're not going to get critics coming on board,"Aglialoro said. "The academic-media complex out there doesn't want to like the work, doesn’t want to understand it, fears the lack of government in their lives, wants the presence of government taking care of us."

Insists on demanding the unearned.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has expressed support for some of Rand's writings, and Aglialoro says Ryan's 2012 campaign alongside Mitt Romney could have used a bit more of her thinking.

"It would have served the campaign well if he would have embraced the natural way to capitalism that Ayn Rand, and I think Romney and Ryan should have quoted [her] over and over and over again during the campaign, that it's the producers who should be applauded and appreciated and not denigrated, that 'rich' is not a dirty, four-letter word. It's a good, four-letter word."

But that's in the past and we're looking forward.

Aglialoro is looking at a different politician to carry the mantle of Ayn Rand in Washington: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

"Since they're starting to beat up on Cruz, there must be something good about him. Cruz is new on the scene, on the side of the free market, of limited government, of capitalist instinct in our society. So I think Cruz is somebody who could fit the bill."

Posted by JohnGalt at 11:41 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Great news.

Posted by: jk at March 13, 2013 2:07 PM

February 21, 2013

3!

The new ThreeSources Entertainment Channel: 3!

With surprisingly little fanfare, considering all the Twitter, Facebook, and email lists for which up I am signed, Atlas Shrugged Part 2 was released Tuesday on DVD, Blu-Ray, and Amazon Instant.

The lovely bride and I enjoyed it last night. It's very good to see it again, yet I still think I lean toward preferring Part 1.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2012

Choose Life

From the Ayn Rand essay 'The Objectivist Ethics' I posted on Facebook today:

I will close with the words of John Galt, which I address, as he did, to all the moralists of altruism, past or present: "You have been using fear as your weapon and have been bringing death to man as his punishment for rejecting your morality. We offer him life as his reward for accepting ours."
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:28 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2012

In Lieu of Review Corner

Waiting for my pal JC before I publish my review of "The Dynamics of Change" by Don Fabun. Next week I hope to do a second-time-through on Atlas Shrugged. But today? I got nuthin'. Ergo, bonus Atlas QOTDs.

My sagacious interlocutor of last weekend expresses discomfort with material success as a measure. Less sagacious friends on Facebook are at paties-in-a-wad-defcon-3 because of the rampant consumerism of Black Friday. But I want my nieces and nephews to have the wealth and innovation of 2012 and not 1970. Those who think it's okay to steal 1% of GDP growth a year to feather our nests fail to realize that it will probably be two. And a 2% cut in growth means that my kin will be half as wealthy in 35 years. That is generational theft.

Just material wealth? Dagny sees the power source in Atlantis:

She thought of this structure, half the size of a boxcar, replacing the power plants of the country, the enormous conglomerations of steel, fuel and effort-- she thought of the current flowing from this structure, lifting ounces, pounds, tons of strain from the shoulders of those who would make it or use it, adding hours, days and years of liberated time to their lives, be it an extra moment to lift one's head from one's task and glance at the sunlight, or an extra pack of cigarettes bought with the money saved from one's electric bill, or an hour cut from the work-day of every factory using power, or a month's journey through the whole, open width of the world, on a ticket paid for by one day of one's labor, on a train pulled by the power of this motor-- with all the energy of that weight, that strain, that time replaced and paid for by the energy of a single mind who had known how to make connections of wire follow the connections of his thought.

And the townspeople:
"Alone?" " Used to. But we've grown so much in the past year that I've had to hire three men to help me." "What men? From where?" "Well, one of them is a professor of economics who couldn't get a job outside, because he taught that you can't consume more than you have produced-- one is a professor of history who couldn't get a job because he taught that the inhabitants of slums were not the men who made this country-- and one is a professor of psychology who couldn't get a job because he taught that men are capable of thinking."

"They work for you as plumbers and linesmen?" "You'd be surprised how good they are at it."

Posted by John Kranz at 10:57 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Celebrated a belated Thanksgiving holiday yesterday at my in-laws new place even further into the rural Colorado plains than is my Atlantis. Spent over an hour disassembling, diagnosing and repairing a fifteen dollar toilet tank fill valve. Never regretted a moment of it because, perhaps mostly of many reasons, I was determined to figure out why it had stopped working and whether my diagnosis based on observed symptoms was correct. It was.

This explains the "You'd be surprised how good they are at it" quote. As for material success, theft of individual production, comparative prosperity, a few excerpts from the post-meal conversation with, I'll just say, a prospective family member.

He: "I don't agree with the point of view that someone's money is more important than someone's actual life. If 5 people need help to prevent their death and 5 other people have the means to help them, are you okay with not all of those five helping and some of the other five dying?"

Me: "Yes. Are you okay with government forcing those five to help or else go to jail?"

He: No answer.

More to the point of the original post, I also explained this cause for the oft lamented "growing gap between rich and poor" and asked if he'd rather be a king in the middle ages than a middle class citizen today?

Answer: "The king, because he was so much better off than other people of his era."

So despite his knowing that everyone is objectively happier and more prosperous today, he still would choose to live a shorter and more brutish life because it was better than all of the king's contemporaries.

This kind of irrationality is breathtaking. I'm still pondering what sense of life would permit such a selfish yet anti-self preference.

Posted by: johngalt at November 25, 2012 3:20 PM
But jk thinks:

I see many interesting Thanksgivings ahead...

I'll commiserate/share: a niece who is majoring in business posts on FB:

I can't decide what is worse. Negative political ad campaigns or Black Friday commercials that endorse camping out for sales and greed when there are people affected by sandy still without power living in tents and makeshift homes.

Posted by: jk at November 26, 2012 9:21 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Wait- Do the people camping out for Black Friday have power in their tents? Make them share!

Posted by: johngalt at November 26, 2012 11:57 AM

November 12, 2012

Ayn Rand and Kim Kardashian

If that title does not drive blog traffic, then I'm just gonna quit!

I started Atlas Shrugged again yesterday. It has been 25 years or so, people are talking about it, the movie's out -- and the lovely bride bought it on Kindle®.

I had internalized/accepted the idea that her prose was -- if not bad -- not quite up to snuff. My first reaction was how very good it is. It does not appeal to today's Balph Eubanks because of its moral clarity, but to suggest that it lacks subtlety suggests you missed it. Bonus Balph quote:

"Lillian, my angel," Balph Eubank drawled, "did I tell you that I'm dedicating my new novel to you?" "Why, thank you, darling." "What is the name of your new novel?" asked the wealthy woman." "The Heart Is a Milkman."

The early years with Francisco and Dagny are sweet and powerful. I know they cannot squeeze 1080 pages into even three films, but I was stuck at their omission and their importance in the plot line. I'm hoping for at least some flashbacks in Part III. Among the things I missed: Francisco's ancestor Sebastian "shrugging" from Spain and rebuilding in the new world. What an excellent rhythm from the past and foreshadowing.

I highlighted a dozen quotes in the first seven chapters. I'll share a few as I progress. But today's comes with a bonus Kim Kardashian segue:

Francisco smiled; it was a smile of radiant mockery. Watching them, Dagny thought suddenly of the difference between Francisco and her brother Jim. Both of them smiled derisively. But Francisco seemed to laugh at things because he saw something much greater. Jim laughed as if he wanted to let nothing remain great.

People are struck by economic and political arguments from AS, yet I contend that the preceding quote may be its beating heart.

I snobbishly and rationally avoid celebrity news. I care little for what these people do or think or how they live. I may or may not enjoy their art (cf. Joss Whedon). I hear about the Kardashians all the time but I really don't know for what they are famous. Nor has anyone ever explained it to me.

So I clicked an Insty link today: Reasons Why You Shouldn't Like Kim Kardashian. At last! The answer to my questions. I expected at least some nonsensical celebrity-limousine-progressive nonsense.

No. There are -- in this collection -- zero reasons not to like Ms. Kardashian. Nada, nothing, zip. I don't know that that is an exhaustive list and there might be quite a few very good reasons. But I clicked through six or eight and saw nothing (well, not nothing -- I saw quite a bit of Ms. K and she is not without her charms). But "this Halloween costume doesn't look cute on her" (it does, BTW) and "she's too into fashion" (umm, she is in the fashion business) and "she's even on credit cards" (okay) and "she only cares about herself!" (Ms. Rand, caller on line one -- she said it's an emergency...)

So, disabuse me, but is Kim Kardashian our generation's Randian hero? Like Hank Rearden, she seems to have multiple business ventures. She seems successful and dedicated. She's neither on welfare nor on my TV every night saying that others should be. Like Rearden, she takes care of her family:

"Shall I tell you the rest of the words?"

"Go ahead."

"You stood here and watched the storm with the greatest pride one can ever feel -- because you are able to have summer flowers and half-naked women in your house on a night like this, in demonstration of your victory over that storm. And if it weren't for you, most of those who are here would be left helpless at the mercy of that wind in the middle of some such plain."

"How did you know that?" In time with his question, Rearden realized that it was not his thoughts this man had named, but his most hidden, most personal emotion; and that he, who would never confess his emotions to anyone, had confessed it in his question. He saw the faintest flicker in Francisco's eyes, as of a smile or a check mark.


Rand, Ayn (2005-04-21). Atlas Shrugged: (Centennial Edition) (pp. 146-147). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

Posted by John Kranz at 9:28 AM | Comments (5)
But Terri thinks:

Good for you JK! If this post nets you traffic, we'll call it the gateway post to our more libertarian future.
"They" want to know how to appeal to today's youts, start here boys, start here.

Posted by: Terri at November 12, 2012 11:11 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I can't tell you how pleased I am! I look forward to your more literary interpretations juxtaposed with my mostly philosophical ones.

Your last excerpt was a favorite of mine, and I thought I had quoted it but my earliest quotes come from Chapter 6 and this was not among them.

And that quote serves as segue to a story from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy that I hope to post later.

Posted by: johngalt at November 12, 2012 11:38 AM
But johngalt thinks:

And your analogy is apt. My default stance toward the Kardashians had been disinterest tinged with contempt. The contempt came from what, at a glance, seemed like unearned fame. Your 10 reasons to dislike her link is changing my opinion. I especially like her for reason 7: she's "selfish." And their #1 reason? She didn't build that!

Posted by: johngalt at November 12, 2012 11:48 AM
But jk thinks:

You forced me to cough up tomorrow's. I think you or brother EY did post this. I don't intend to check that my quotes are unique on this site. If I steal one of yours, consider it homage:

"Society is suffering for lack of business opportunities at the moment, so we've got the right to seize such opportunities as exist. Right is whatever's good for society."

"He didn't dig that ore single-handed, did he?" cried Philip suddenly, his voice shrill. "He had to employ hundreds of workers. They did it. Why does he think he's so good?"

Rand, Ayn (2005-04-21). Atlas Shrugged: (Centennial Edition) (pp. 135-136). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

Posted by: jk at November 12, 2012 12:03 PM
But jk thinks:

Mondo heh! I did not make it all the way to #1 before posting; you can deduct blogging points if you wish.

But #1 is indeed straight out of Atlas:

Correct us if we're wrong but having a clothing line, clothing store, and being a spokesperson for an array of products doesn't really seem like it takes much talent to perfect; specially when you have a team of individuals to assist you.

Specially if you had an editor (now that's just mean...)

No, it's tremendously easy to [have] a clothing line, clothing store, and [be] a spokesperson for an array of products. I know that's why I do it!

Posted by: jk at November 12, 2012 1:23 PM

October 13, 2012

No Shrug from Me!

JK went first for Part 1 so I'll break the ice this time. I faintly remember my opinion of the first Atlas Shrugged film suffering from too high expectations so I'll try not to elevate the reader's unreasonably. As for Atlas Shrugged Part 2, this movie was fun. For one thing, it looked and felt more like a modern movie than did Part 1. Cinematography was still run of the mill, but a far cry better than we were made to endure last time. Enough so that I only noticed the deficiency once.

My only complaint is the audio was dull and lifeless, most noticeably during scenes with dramatic music. The scene deserved more from the soundtrack but did not get it - either in volume or fullness. Awareness of this may have been heightened by a too-low volume setting in the theater and I will have a word with the manager on my next viewing.

I really liked the new casting. Characters are more mature and believable, more closely matching my personal expectation from the original prose. But the story was the real star. I think it was all there. Character and relationship introductions were effective, bridging the void for new viewers who didn't have experience to draw upon. A non-sequitur opening scene got the excitement going from the start and it rolled swiftly without being rushed, as ASP1 felt on a recent reviewing. All of the scenes were greatly abbreviated from the novel form but the gist was not lost, even in the completely revised retelling of John Galt's departure from 20th Century Motor Company: Galt left because "the Starnes heirs announced they would manage the company as a collective where we all belonged to each other. Each was expected to work according to his ability, and was compensated based on his need. Galt said he'd have nothing to do with that" and a few more things. The result was also explained: "Productivity declined, the needy got needier, and worker turned against worker." It didn't matter to the story that this was told by a conscientious railroad employee instead of a train-hopping hobo.

I'm really quite surprised by how big a deal it seems to be to so many people that the cast changed from film to film. They really seem to have gotten distracted by the fact. I predict this will pass for those who view more than once.

Stars? I'm giving all five of my Ayn Rand fanboy stars to this one. As with the novel, I didn't want this movie to end. Can't wait to see it again!

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:18 AM | Comments (6)
But Jk thinks:

It was fun. And it was effective at shaping the ideas of the book. And I'll even be kinder than you on cinematography -- the texture of the offices, homes and cars were very rich.

I liked the new cast but preferred the first Dagny. Not a deal breaker, but I'd go with V1.0. The cameo of Raymond Teller lit the lovely bride and I for the whole film.

Posted by: Jk at October 13, 2012 8:24 AM
But johngalt thinks:

My dagny isn't here to speak for herself so I'll repeat her point that the actress who played Dagny "V1.0" was too young for the part. I don't completely agree but I can see her point: I envisioned Rand's Dagny as a thirty-something, not a twenty-something (or a late thirties rather than barely thirty.) We'll see if she feels the same way after seeing Dagny V2.0 (as soon as possible after a horse show this weekend.)

Posted by: johngalt at October 13, 2012 2:17 PM
But jk thinks:

We want to go again -- let us know when y'all are.

Posted by: jk at October 13, 2012 6:51 PM
But johngalt thinks:

We're talking about Thursday, for the Mike Rosen showing in Centennial.

Was too busy buying popcorn to look for you between shows. I did run into brother Bryan though and his entourage. Fun! (Speakin' o' which, where's his bio? Bryan?)

Posted by: johngalt at October 14, 2012 11:13 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Okay, Rosen's screening has been moved Tuesday 10/23 so we're thinking about going earlier than that. Any dates you'd like to recommend?

Posted by: johngalt at October 16, 2012 2:32 PM
But jk thinks:

Centennial on Thursday wasn't grabbing me -- I was going to say "have fun stormin' the castle!"

Tomorrow and Thursday are all day training on-site, but we're pretty flexible otherwise. Please don't miss it 'cause you're waiting for us, but we're in for another viewing if it works out.

Posted by: jk at October 16, 2012 2:38 PM

October 12, 2012

See You on the Red Carpet!

AMC Promenade Westminster at 3:55.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:02 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I and my entourage will see you on your way out brother. Same theater, second showing.

Others who, like me can hardly wait, may also be interested in this Reason interview of several cast members by Reason staffer "Kennedy."

Posted by: johngalt at October 12, 2012 3:53 PM

October 11, 2012

Yaron Brook

Five days before wowing the ThreeSources contingent at Liberty on the Rocks -- Flatirons, Yaron Brook gave a similar speech to the Michigan Tea Party: [link]

UPDATE: EVEN BETTER! Ari Armstrong posts the video from our event -- replete with Brother Bryan's eloquent intro!

Posted by John Kranz at 10:09 AM | Comments (0)

October 9, 2012

ThreeSources Book Club

All the Liberty on the Rocks events have been incredibly interesting. But Dr. Yaron Brook really hit it out of the park last night.

The head of the Ayn Rand Institute brings a superb humor and disciplined presentation of Rand's ideas. I have been sharply critical of some others and don't care to name names -- but Brook is an effective advocate.

Brother jg, blog friend Terri, the lovely bride, my great-nephew and I left with signed copies of his book.

Rather than a standard review corner, I suggest we set a date (Oct 21? 28?) for a wider discussion. Sound good?


Posted by John Kranz at 10:42 AM | Comments (11)
But johngalt thinks:

Thanks for the comment Steve, but I think you may be carrying the "sovereign individual" thing a bit too far. Voting strategies in a democracy affect thousands of votes in every state, not just your own. Furthermore, recent elections have been breathtakingly close - a few hundred votes at times, or just five votes from each of the 67 counties in Florida.

Ours (Colorado) is a swing state. Ohio is even more critical, and folks with principled yet naive votes for minor candidates in these states could deliver the deciding electoral votes to our current disaster of a president (who happens to also be a swell guy.)

If Mitt Romney isn't principled enough to earn your vote (which I'd be happy to discuss in detail) just ask yourself if you're willing to risk 4 more years of economic decay and permanence of a new nationwide entitlement while we wait for a pluarlity of Americans to completely dispense with their worldview and vote for that rilly smart former governor of the state most Americans think isn't even in the USA.

Posted by: johngalt at October 9, 2012 1:11 PM
But jk thinks:

@Steve D: I second the thanks for your thoughtful comment. BUT...

Here is where I'm coming from: I am in a swing state. None of my (many) friends who will be voting for the President can be reached by reason. None of my friends are "undecideds." I know a couple dozen libertarian types, however. They will listen to reason and I will make the case that the differential between Governor Romney and President Obama is so large, that it is worth making the pragmatic choice.

I won't get all of them and I may reach none. But I strongly believe in this large liberty-differential and intend to do whatever I can to elect Gov. Romney and Chairman Ryan.

Posted by: jk at October 9, 2012 3:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Virtual Book Club sounds like fun. Is there an app for that?

Posted by: johngalt at October 9, 2012 4:49 PM
But jk thinks:

We could Skype... I was just thinking of a blog thread, basically holding review corner for a few weeks to give everyone time to complete the reading assignment. Somebody starts a review corner, then pandemonium...

Posted by: jk at October 9, 2012 5:47 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:

@SD: a perfect case in point "for your consideration". In CO, our votes can really, REALLY count by getting 9 EVs to Romney. In CA, by brother makes a perfect point that he can with nary an afterthought vote independent b/c Romney will never get CA's electoral votes.

Californication; the 21st century's Twilight Zone.

Posted by: nanobrewer at October 10, 2012 1:53 AM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Say, Insty has this "in the mail" today! Should be good for a few hundred copies. Exxxxcellent.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at October 10, 2012 1:18 PM

October 3, 2012

Olympic Gold Medalist Views Atlas Shrugged Part 2 Premiere

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:19 PM | Comments (0)

October 2, 2012

LIVE STREAM - Atlas Shrugged Part 2 World Premiere

Scheduled for 1830 EDT today.

UPDATE [1847 EDT]: It works! Intermittently. Please be patient. Harmon Kaslow is carrying his Macbook around and wirelessly broadcasting to the known universe. Apparently there's an actual cameraman trying to get set up as well. Perhaps that link will be less fragile. Rather amazing, actually.

UPDATE [1855 EDT]: Harmon came on for 30 seconds to apologize that the live stream wasn't going to be possible. The good news is we still get the new scene, an extended version of the September 5 teaser. See second video frame below.

CORRECTION: I'm pretty sure it was John Aglialoro. I'm fairly certain it wasn't Harmon Kaslow.

UPDATE [10.3.12 1545 EDT]: Well, live blogging certainly proved to be a perilous activity for me. A couple more corrections are in order. It wasn't John Aglialoro live casting from a Macbook, it was Scott Desapio (I am told.) More importantly, I may have given the impression that this video was/is a broadcast of the Atlas Shrugged Part 2 film itself. It was not. It was live coverage of activities surrounding the film's premiere at a theater in Washington D.C. So you aren't missing anything in the first video frame, but the second frame is a brand new release of a 3 minute scene from the new movie. - That should cover it.



Video streaming by Ustream

Hank Rearden meets the "wet nurse." The wet nurse is the central character of one of my favorite scenes in the book.

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:28 PM | Comments (0)

September 28, 2012

Two Weeks!

What are you doing the Friday after next? The producers called me today and asked that I preorder my tickets instead of waiting and buying at the box office. Selling out the theater in advance is the goal.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:25 AM | Comments (0)

September 6, 2012

The Trailer

Okay, so we watched the teaser for the trailer. Now the trailer is out. Anybody think we have "a problem?"

Posted by John Kranz at 6:37 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

I do think a great many people are now "ready."

Content appears genuine.
Acting an order of magnitude better.

Let's roll!

Posted by: johngalt at September 6, 2012 7:44 PM
But jk thinks:

Just me, or do the posters (0:18 - 0:21) come off as "Obamaish?"

Posted by: jk at September 6, 2012 7:48 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

Great catch jk! The "halo" shot. I think I need to read the book (it would be the eigth time) and get Pt. 1 on my Kindle and watch it to prepare for Oct. 12.

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at September 6, 2012 8:30 PM

September 5, 2012

"Rigid Principles"

A special dispatch from Galt's Garrison-

Feature release date: October 12, 2012
Next trailer release date: Tomorrow
Here's just a taste...
(Watch carefully at the very end. There are just a few frames you won't want to miss.)


Page link.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:37 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

On reviewing the prior teaser trailer I noticed something interesting on a script that appears on screen for a few seconds. Check it out here.

Posted by: johngalt at September 5, 2012 3:06 PM
But Ellis Wyatt thinks:

We can all agree that landing a Dwight Sanders monoplane in a mountain valley is much easier than landing a corporate jet...

Posted by: Ellis Wyatt at September 5, 2012 5:22 PM

August 3, 2012

Teaser, Indeed!

Posted by John Kranz at 3:45 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Just noticed on the written script from a scene in the movie (0:35 in clip)-

"ON Hank Rearden moving through a wasteland of tangled... housing with broken windows. Rearden Steel glowing in the ... background. A distance off, a partially broken neon sign... BLINKS. Whatever is said before, ("Stanhope Furniture... Less!"), it now flashes: ...HOPE ...LESS.
Posted by: johngalt at September 5, 2012 3:00 PM

July 25, 2012

Heeeeeeere's Johnny!

"Lost" Ayn Rand Tonight Show tape found!

And in 1967 her celebrity was officially recognized by an invitation to appear on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Those who remember it say that Carson was so fascinated that he scrapped his other guests and kept her on for the whole show. He invited her back twice more. Alas, many of the early Carson shows were lost in a fire at NBC's archive, and Objectivists have lamented the lost tapes ever since. Now a partial tape of that first Tonight Show appearance has turned up, and Libertarianism.org has it:

UPDATE: Hell, let's embed -- this is big news!

Posted by John Kranz at 3:42 PM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

Could Leno or Letterman pull this off? I'm not much of a connoisseur, but I can't imagine their rising to Carson's level of urbanity.

Posted by: jk at July 25, 2012 4:24 PM
But jk thinks:

...Or my correctly using the possessive with a gerund (they're rising, Jeeburz!) Since corrected.

Posted by: jk at July 25, 2012 4:42 PM
But johngalt thinks:

This is SOLID GOLD. I wrote a lengthy comment on it last night but when a technical glitch erased it at 1 am (mountain) I surrendered to the pillow. Dagny asked for the condensed version, one half of which I'll repeat now:

Forget Leno or Letterman, I'd give a month's pay to bring Ayn Rand back for three shows with Jon Stewart. Yes, he's anathema to individualism but he also strikes me as intellectually honest and the impressionable kiddies who follow his pied piping are America's most important audience.

As for the other half, it probably needed another proofreading anyway.

Posted by: johngalt at July 26, 2012 3:24 PM
But jk thinks:

Sorry to hear the aether ate your homework, but I'm glad you are okay. I was going to call 911 if this went another 12 hours without a comment from you.

Totally agree on Stewart. He has the chops. But the -- may I say -- famously prickly Rand required the deferential treatment Carson provided. I suspect that Stewart might piss her off before she got a complete paragraph in but concede that I could be wrong.

Posted by: jk at July 26, 2012 3:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Carson said Rand required that he not "attack her." To me that means interrupting, ad hominem and voice raising. If Stewart held to those rules my money would be on the Russian. And I think he would - call me Pollyanna.

Posted by: johngalt at July 26, 2012 4:41 PM

July 21, 2012

Economic Freedom or Economic Dependency?

Another good Atlas Shrugged vid. This one with Congressman Allen West. Ten minutes long, it includes very good short answers to questions like "How did Atlas Shrugged inspire you" and "Do you see any change in the American culture back towards individualism?" He even uses the ladder to prosperity analogy I use to explain how minimum wage and equal pay laws hurt workers instead of help them.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:39 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Awesome. Rep. West is always visible for his "firebrand" comments. Great to see his more reflective side.

Posted by: jk at July 22, 2012 9:30 AM

Teaser Indeed.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2012

Atlas Shrugged QOTD

What? I can't play? An especially germane selection from the Ayn Rand Facebook page:

"He didn't invent iron ore and blast furnaces, did he?"

"Who?"

"Rearden. He didn't invent smelting and chemistry and air compression. He couldn't have invented his Metal but for thousands and thousands of other people. His Metal! Why does he think it's his? Why does he think it's his invention? Everybody uses the work of everybody else. Nobody ever invents anything."

She said, puzzled, "But the iron ore and all those other things were there all the time. Why didn't anybody else make that Metal, but Mr. Rearden did?"

- Atlas Shrugged, P1C9

Posted by John Kranz at 11:03 AM | Comments (5)
But Terri thinks:

I KNEW there was a quote like that in there. I googled, and googled to no avail.

It makes a good category. "Quotes in Atlas Shrugged that could have come from today's news stories"

Posted by: Terri at July 18, 2012 12:53 PM
But jk thinks:

Sadly, they all can. As Professor Reynolds always says "this Administration views 'Atlas Shrugged' as an instruction manual."

Posted by: jk at July 18, 2012 1:30 PM
But bigjim thinks:

Atlas Shrugged Part 2 will be in theaters Oct 12, 2012.

Posted by: bigjim at July 18, 2012 4:27 PM
But jk thinks:

We're counting the days, bigjim!

Posted by: jk at July 18, 2012 5:53 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You play well, Obi Wan. And your timely post is a perfect place for me to piggyback dagny's [my dagny] observation of yesterday morn:

"If roads and bridges are what make people rich then why isn't everyone in America a millionaire?"
Posted by: johngalt at July 18, 2012 6:14 PM

May 18, 2012

Bought some T-Shirts

galt-t.jpg At the bottom of the receipt:
We swear by our lives, The Atlas Shrugged Movie Merchandise Team. http://www.AtlasShruggedPart1.com/
Posted by John Kranz at 6:57 PM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2012

If I wanted America to Fail

Here we see that Francisco d'Anconia now has a contemporary counterpart with his own YouTube channel.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:49 PM | Comments (0)

April 22, 2012

"My Name is John Galt"

That was D.B. Sweeney speaking. Sweeney is cast in the pivotal role of the next installment of the Atlas Shrugged movie series, Atlas Shrugged: Part II - Either-Or

Sweeney is new to the franchise, partly because the John Galt character had a minor role in the first film and partly because the producers have chosen to recast the entire movie! There has been much consternation about this on the movie's discussion boards but I'm looking forward to it. My sense is that the first movie wasn't as well acted as it could have been. The leading roles of Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden were played by Taylor Schilling and Grant Bowler who, while attractive, didn't seem to have their hearts in their roles. They are replaced by Samantha Mathis and Jason Beghe.

Mathis is a better fit in the role, being born in 1970 instead of 1984, and starring in major motion pictures like Broken Arrow, where she played the fetching park ranger who tracked down John Travolta and his nuclear missle.

And Beghe's name may not be familiar but viewers will recognize him from Judging Amy, G.I. Jane, Thelma and Louise, Castle, and dozens more TV series' where he had supporting roles.

Perhaps the only recognizable name in the cast is Esai Morales who replaces Jsu Garcia as Francisco. Garcia gave, I thought, the best performance of the heroic characters in Part I but Morales is still an upgrade. A consistent theme of the new cast is more experience and more maturity. It can't help but show up as a more compelling movie than the brave and fearless but out-of-its-league production of Part I.

And finally, who is D.B. Sweeney? New York-born in 1961, he set his sights on a pro baseball career. When a motorcycle accident scuttled that he pursued acting. His filmography is heavy on television roles and he had starring and supporting film roles as well, including Eight Men Out, No Man's Land and The Cutting Edge. [The last of these has special meaning to me and dagny. As washed out hockey player Doug Dorsey, Sweeney takes up figure skating with Olympian Kate Moseley and when they first meet, on the ice, Sweeney's effort to impress the young lady is dashed when he catches the ice with the toepick of his figure skate (non-existent on hockey skates) and face plants on the ice. I did the exact same thing on my first date with dagny.] Sweeney has the right build for the role of John Galt, and a natural smirking swagger that both fits the role and can lend it warmth and likeability.

I, for one, am really looking forward to the premier of Atlas Shrugged: Part II in October.

Posted by JohnGalt at 10:20 AM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

I, too, look forward to Part II. But less with this news. We are predisposed to love it because we want so badly for this to succeed.

But I watched it again recently (free on Amazon Prime -- yay!) and, stepping out of my booster space, I certainly see its flaws. Recasting will have a horrible effect on continuity. And I will miss Ms. Schilling, whom I thought did a good job. The discontinuity will provide more ammunition to those who wish to discount this movie.

Interesting bordering on the serendipitous that you post this today. A good friend of mine recently rented Part I only to be extremely disappointed that Pt II wasn't ready yet. My news that we were only 33% there was not greeted warmly.

If Donald Rumsfeld were producing, he'd realize that you go to war with the cast you got.

Posted by: jk at April 22, 2012 11:48 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Here's an interesting question: Should Part III retain the Part II cast, or be fully recast one more time?

I ask this from the perspective that "nobody saw Part I," at least not anyone who didn't seek it out or was otherwise already an accolyte. We "boosters" will have no trouble switching the characters to new actors and neophytes will do better with a higher grade of actor carrying the script. Presumably Part II will have greater box office than Part I. I can easily imagine - not predict, mind you, but imagine - a big budget finale for Part III. Audiences have already shown their willingness to sit through a speech or two by Mel Gibson or his ilk, and there is one humdinger of a speech coming one day in Part III.

Hey, a boy can dream.

Posted by: johngalt at April 22, 2012 3:17 PM
But jk thinks:

Maybe they'll get Mel for PIII...

Sorry, it just seems to be unraveling. Not sure the basis for expecting better box office for PII.

Posted by: jk at April 22, 2012 3:52 PM
But jk thinks:

Digging the idea of three casts. That's a good idea.

Posted by: jk at April 22, 2012 9:39 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Better box office because of:
- Better word-of-mouth due to better film, better acting.
- Better distribution through lessons learned on Part I.
- More compelling storyline in Part II vs. Part I.

Thin, I know, but I think low-budget sequels are often better than the original. (See: Road Warrior vs. Mad Max.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 23, 2012 2:18 PM

April 9, 2012

A Crony by any other Name...

Noooooo!

Maybe "Taggart" isn't the best name for a company that may well devour $300,000 in special-interest tax breaks from Kentuckians. From the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce press release:
Taggart Solar, LLC has announced its plans to locate a new manufacturing facility in the Edmonson County Industrial Park in Edmonson County in a 10,000-sq-ft leased building. The company will employ 30 individuals when the project is complete. The project's announced capital investment is more than $440,000.

Couldn't get any worse. . . Umm . . .
"We're extremely excited to announce our plans to locate in Edmonson County," said Dagney Johnson, president of Taggart Solar.

The head of Arby's was named after Howard Roark I hear...

Posted by John Kranz at 6:52 PM | Comments (5)
But johngalt thinks:

Any word on the "John Galt Solar Battery?"

Posted by: johngalt at April 10, 2012 11:37 AM
But jk thinks:

Hank Rearden Ethanol bought him out -- for pennies on the dollar.

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2012 11:44 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Indeed. Gold pennies.

Posted by: johngalt at April 10, 2012 3:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!

Posted by: jk at April 10, 2012 4:13 PM
But johngalt thinks:

;)

Posted by: johngalt at April 10, 2012 4:54 PM

February 18, 2012

Atlas Shrugged & Public Choice Theory

Have to hat-tip Brother Keith for this. It was one click from the Alex Tabarrok piece he linked.I don't know if anybody had a chance to catch the Bryan Caplan debate I linked last week, but Tabarrok links to Caplan's superb "Atlas Shrugged and Public Choice: The Obvious Parallels" (It's an MS-Word dcoument --- holler if you need conversion.) This particular quote caught my eye:

The economic condition of the country was better the year before last than it was last year, and last year it was better than it is at present. It's obvious that we would not be able to survive another year of the same progression. Therefore, our sole objective must now be to hold the line... Freedom has been given a chance and has failed. Therefore, more stringent controls are necessary. (p.503)

Posted by John Kranz at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

February 2, 2012

Bad News: Atlas Part II starts filming in April

Smug movie criticism? No way -- I was hoping that Pt II was being filmed quietly without a lot of attention and would open on April 15, 2012.

Rube! For you realists: Great News! ASII greenlit!

Santa Monica, CA -- February 2nd, 2012 -- Atlas Productions, LLC announced today that "Atlas Shrugged Part 2", the second installment of the Atlas Shrugged movie trilogy, has been officially greenlit with principal photography to begin this coming April in Los Angeles, Colorado, and New York.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:12 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Last I heard the planned release for II was to be an "October Surprise" rather than a Tax Day Protest. Thanks for highlighting.

D'ja watch the teaser trailer? "...rrreversed and rrrejected." HOSS.

Posted by: johngalt at February 2, 2012 1:17 PM

January 26, 2012

Corporations are not people!

After watching a large part of this David Stockman interview with Bill Moyers I'm about ready to adopt the dirty hippies #Occupy meme. When they villified "Wall Street" and "Greedy Corporations" I always had a mental image of Fidelity Investments and WalMart. But if I replace that with Goldman Sachs and General Electric I think we would agree on more than we differ.

This also magnifies my distrust of the GOP establishment and, by association, the Romney candidacy.

David Stockman on Crony Capitalism from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:15 AM | Comments (12)
But jk thinks:

Made it through. Clearly I'm going to have to change brother jg's password. It's one thing to hack somebody's account for personal gain, but this character assassination borders on libel.

Okay, he doesn't like Jeff Immelt -- thus 50% as reliable as a broken clock.

What what what did you like? A constitutional amendment to keep corporate money out of politics -- a $100 limit on contributions? Government dictating the size, structure, and allowed transactions of banks (my largest disagreement with Gov Huntsman)? Or did you just dig the repudiation of Reagan's economic vision?

If I may quote In Living Color's "Men on Film" segement: "hated it!"

Posted by: jk at January 26, 2012 6:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

If memory serves, I came in at about 21:30 when I switched on PBS last night. Anything before that I'll defer to a future debate.

I liked the expose of GE's bailout and how it should have been done through a dilution of shareholder value and not by a FED bailout.

I liked the assertion, "Free markets are not free. They've been bought and paid for by large financial institutions."

I liked the identification of the "entitled class" of "Wall Street financiers and corporate CEOs" who "believe the government is there to do whatever is necessary ... whatever it takes to keep the game going and their stock price moving upward."

And most of all, I appreciated Stockman's correction that "it is important to put the word crony capitalism on there, because free-market capitalism is a different thing. True free-market capitalists never go to Washington with their hand out. True free-market capitalists running a bank do not expect that whenever they make a mistake or whenever they get themselves too leveraged, or they end up with too many risky assets that don't work out, they don't expect to be able to go to the Federal Reserve and get some cheap or free money and go on as before. They expect consequences, maybe even failure of their firm. Certainly loss of their bonuses, maybe loss of their jobs. So we don't have free-market capitalism left in this country anymore, we have everyone believing that if they can hire the right lobbyists, raise enough political action committee money, spend enough time prowling the halls of the Senate and the House and the office buildings arguing for the benefit of their narrow parochial interests then that is the way things will work out. That's crony capitalism and it's very dangerous. It seems to be becoming more embedded in our system."

What's not to like with any of this? We can argue about causes and solutions, but can we agree on this particular problem?

Posted by: johngalt at January 26, 2012 7:40 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

The Refugee listened to all 34 scintillating minutes and can't quite see what sent JK 'round the bend. Yes, Moyers is an insufferable nincompoop, but we knew that going in. The irony, of course, is that the far left and the fiscal right have finally found common ground in deploring crony capitalism.

The most objectionable part of Stockman's comments was his assertion that we need to change the First Amendment to deny corporations the right to lobby and give political contributions. (Why corporations should be muzzled but not unions or enviros remains a mystery.) Nevertheless, his comments against crony capitalism and in support of pure capitalism seemed to make a lot of sense.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 26, 2012 9:55 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, at least our ratings are up. I got an email from a good friend of the blog who is enjoying this argument very much.

You know, brothers, Governor Howard Dean doesn't like bailouts and crony capitalism either. I'm sure I can find a clip of his discussing it with Katrina Vanden Heuvel and Rachel Maddow. I'll post it and we'll all agree how very swell it is.

I do not trust either of these men. Both have done extreme damage to this great nation and our concept of liberty and personal achievement. Just because we all agree Jeff Immelt is a dickhead, I am not going to embrace them.

When Stockman longs for the Republican Party of his youth, he is longing for Eisenhower and Ford. Moyers, of course, never came to grips with the idea of a Democrat Party without LBJ.

"Free markets aren't really free" does sound like ThreeSources and I'm sure he'd like to sell us each a copy of his book. But when it comes from a guy who wants to dictate banks' size and business practice, propose extreme campaign finance rules, and has an, ahem, history of government expansion -- I do not accept that he is now calling for lasseiz faire.

Posted by: jk at January 27, 2012 10:47 AM
But johngalt thinks:

I must say my first reaction to this recording was one of excitement over the fact that it could lead to a bridge between left and right so wide and so strong as to absolutely overpower the entrenched crony establishment with a popular laissez-faire revolution. After a second viewing I remain hopeful, and as long as my password continues to function I will strive to advance the topic. (Yes, I know yer just joking about yanking it.)

Let me ask that we seek a point of agreement before we debate whether Stockman is the GOP antichrist or Phil Gramm precipitated TARP. I'm sure we're all on board with "crony capitalism is very dangerous" so how about, this:

When the net worth of a collection of six financial services conglomerations and their six boards of directors approaches the annual GDP of the entire United States private sector, and the members of those boards of directors have unprecedented influence throughout the depth and breadth of the federal government, our principled free-speech rules may no longer be sufficient for preventing this "entitled class" from manipulating the government for their own narrow interests to the detriment of individual liberty and property, particularly in a mixed economic system with fiat currency.

In my youth, "Ma Bell" was deemed "too big" and was broken up. Today, "Wall Street" is deemed "too big to fail" and is instead propped up - by devaluing the net worth of every dollar-denominated individual. Cui bono?

Posted by: johngalt at January 27, 2012 12:44 PM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

While The Bad Guys and Three Sourcers can agree that crony capitalism is bad, our reasons for believing so are very different. The Bad Guys view capitalism, in toto, as undesireable. Thus, anything that props it up in any form is a bad thing. Three Sourcers, on the other hand, view crony capitalism as a misuse of taxpayer funds, misallocation of resources and questionable ethics. Because The Bad Guys believe that all things good emanate from the government, when crony capitalism falls capitalism will fall with it. Three Sourcers believe the opposite, and that a lack of crony capitalism will lead to better allocation of resources and therefore economic expansion. Thus, we are willing to accept this deal with The Bad Guys (all other things being equal).

We don't have to embrace them, we just have to outmaneuver them.

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at January 27, 2012 12:46 PM

December 30, 2011

Obama is the President of Equality

Ayn Rand Institute's Yaron Brook on TheStreet.com:

Posted by John Kranz at 9:52 AM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

Yaay Yaron!

Posted by: johngalt at December 30, 2011 12:57 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I was going to post this as 'Obama is the President of Equality II' until I saw that a blog site license for the cartoon is priced at $10. And they don't even offer the English language version that was printed in the Denver Post December 12!

Translation: "...TO KEEP THINGS FAIR."

I didn't pay but I will suck up - Click on the "Eric Allie" hyperlink to see more great work by this talented cartoonist. ('Impartial Cheerleader' Heh.)

Posted by: johngalt at December 30, 2011 1:12 PM
But jk thinks:

Yaron Brook, by the way, is the best thing to happen to The Ayn Rand Institute. He comes across so well in interviews, explaining the ideas well without the crazy guy demeanor.

You and I have talked about Leonard Piekoff. I was thinking of all these guys again of late as Lew Rockwell (The Mises Institute) is suspected of being the author of the Nazi stuff in the Ron Paul newsletter. As I've griped, these people don't do many favors for those whose names and ideas they are promoting.

We've differed but I s'pect we both like Yaron.

Posted by: jk at December 31, 2011 12:41 PM

December 4, 2011

Quote of the Day

"I was so shocked by being handed this bag today at your Portland, Ore., store that I literally WALKED BACK to return this horrific bag," one customer wrote on Lululemon's blog. "In this political and economic climate, I find it baffling that your company would choose such an inflammatory and offensive statement."
That's from a NYTimes story on Lululemon Athletica: "the retailer of yoga pants and hoodies, has long decorated shopping bags with slogans that appear to have been lifted from self-help books. But this month its bags have asked a question that some may find more provocative: 'Who is John Galt?'"
Posted by John Kranz at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

November 8, 2011

Woo Hoo!


I mentioned that I had purchased a Blu-Ray® player for its Internet streaming capability.

Well, my first Blu-Ray disc just arrived. It's a little Indy flick, I doubt any of you folks have heard of it.


Posted by John Kranz at 3:22 PM | Comments (3)
But johngalt thinks:

I'm waiting for the "Special Edition Blu-Ray" version. I'm enduring the wait with my two copies of the DVD version that arrived yesterday.

Posted by: johngalt at November 8, 2011 5:02 PM
But jk thinks:

Enjoyed seeing it again. Sorry you're suffering through it in lo-def.

Posted by: jk at November 8, 2011 10:26 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, well, my version includes 35+ minutes of individuals proclaiming "I am John Galt" (including my dear dagny at 3:10 but not, inexplicably, me.) I couldn't escape the thought that more people submitted videos of themselves celebrating the indivdualist, egoist hero than have attended all of the "Occupy" urban squats combined.

Posted by: johngalt at November 9, 2011 2:42 PM

October 29, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Shrugs

Robert Tracinski has additional analysis of events such as in the New York Post story JK posted last weekend. In a TIA Daily email he explains how Occupy Wall Street Shrugged.

Over at Occupy Boston, a protester complains, "It's turning into us against them. They come in here and they're looking at it as a way of getting a free meal and a place to crash, which is totally fine, but they don't bring anything to the table at all." Another report concludes with a similar sentiment.
"We have compassion toward everyone. However, we have certain rules and guidelines," said Lauren Digioia, 26, a member of the sanitation committee. "If you're going to come here and get our food, bedding and clothing, have books and medical supplies for no charge, they need to give back," Digioia said. "There's a lot of takers here and they feel entitled."

These people had better watch out. If they start thinking that like this, pretty soon they might find themselves at a Tea Party rally.

"Our" food? What did they do to earn it? Who is it who really feels "entitled?"

Then he refrains a tale he dubs The Spaghetti Bolognese Incident.

The Occupy Wall Street volunteer kitchen staff launched a "counter" revolution yesterday—because they're angry about working 18-hour days to provide food for "professional homeless" people and ex-cons masquerading as protesters.

For three days beginning tomorrow, the cooks will serve only brown rice and other Spartan grub instead of the usual menu of organic chicken and vegetables, spaghetti Bolognese, and roasted beet and sheep's-milk-cheese salad.

They will also provide directions to local soup kitchens for the vagrants, criminals and other freeloaders who have been descending on Zuccotti Park in increasing numbers every day.

To show they mean business, the kitchen staff refused to serve any food for two hours yesterday in order to meet with organizers to air their grievances, sources said.

Behind the hypocrisy, there are real lessons to be learned: lessons about the relationship between productive people and freeloaders. About the need for police to protect decent people from criminals. About how con-men and the power-lusters always take over utopian schemes for their own benefit. About the taxing power and unaccountability of central authorities.

The spaghetti Bolognese incident sums it up. The workers who provide the goods everyone else lives off of are going on strike to protest against their exploitation by freeloaders. Has anyone else noticed that this is the basic plot premise of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged? Yet that is the story line they are unintentionally acting out. Call it Occupy Wall Street Shrugged.

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:03 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2011

He. Is. John. Galt.

In Don Luskin's glowingly reviewed "I am John Galt," Luskin and Andrew Greta correlate Rand's fictional characters to some of today's corporeal personalities. I was thinking of the book when I heard the news of Steve Jobs's retirement as CEO of Apple. Jobs was Howard Rourke in the book.

The character I knew least was BB&T's John Allison, who is presented as John Galt.

It's no secret that John Allison, the retired chairman and chief executive of BB&T Corp., is a devotee of author Ayn Rand and the conservative philosophical theory called objectivism.

The theory extols rational individualism, creativity, independent thinking and a limited role for government as a protector of peace. It is most often associated with Rand, who wrote the novels "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead" and the nonfiction book "The Virtue of Selfishness."

Allison's passion for objectivism is being felt by a foundation he established called the Moral Foundations of Capitalism, which has provided $1 million-plus gifts to at least 10 universities in North Carolina for programs that typically have had a connection to Rand and objectivism.


Today, Glenn Reynolds interviews Allison for Instavision:

Hoss.

UPDATE: My search led me to Luskin's iamjohngalt.com blog. His speech at Freedom Fest on his book and his appreciation for Rand is a good watch. (I just watched part one, he might extol the virtues of Communism in the next three).

UPDATE II: Part three describes Allison -- must view.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:06 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

As Glenn suggests I will repeat: "Capitalism is the only moral [economic] system, because it's the only system consistent with man's fundamental nature as an independent thinking being."

I also agree with Allison that sound money does not require a gold standard, but any kind of objective, unchangable reference will do. The US Dollar needs to be traceable to the NIST Bureau of Standards, accurate to twenty decimal places.

Posted by: johngalt at August 25, 2011 2:46 PM

July 24, 2011

Still the only guy posting Atlas Shrugged movie quotes

On May 8 some self-promoter bragged here that he posted the first movie quote on the IMDB 'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' page. He's at it again.

(My favorite has to be the line by Wesley Mouch.)

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:43 PM | Comments (0)

July 2, 2011

My new favorite third baseman...

is in the American League.

"This is my bible," Cabrera said. "It's over 1,000 pages long."

Cabrera's copy of Rand's 1957 novel is worn. The spine of the book is taped over to help hold it together. Cabrera said he reads it every year.

"The book is about objectivism. It's about many things," Cabrera said. "It's about how to be successful in life. It's about how to live life now while you're still alive."

The novel tells the story of a strike by the great minds in the United States against the government.

Go Tribe!

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:09 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

Heh. I sent this to a Tribe aficionado you may know...

Posted by: jk at July 2, 2011 9:35 PM
But johngalt thinks:

It made me think of him too when I wrote the close.

Posted by: johngalt at July 3, 2011 10:39 AM

June 21, 2011

Ayn Rand Comic Book

CATO:

John Blundell, former director of the Institute of Economic Affairs in London, has written a new comic book biography of Ayn Rand. Find it in comic book stores, at Barnes and Noble, or on Amazon. Publisher Bluewater says:
"Female Force: Ayn Rand" will hit comic shops and online retailers on June 22nd. The 32-page comic retails for $3.99....

I preordered several copies (some relatives will be getting special presents if it's good).

Posted by John Kranz at 3:12 PM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2011

Review Corner

Five stars. A masterpiece.

I did not want ThreeSourcers hanging on with bated breath to see if I liked Don Luskin and Andrew Greta's I Am John Galt. It is one of the most entertaining books I have read in some time.

I suggested in my pre-review, that it was an informative and miraculously satisfying overview of Rand's philosophy. I consider the book in total to be like an engineering text that reifies abstract physical phenomena by application. Seeing Rand's ideas in the book's subtitle of "Today's Heroic Innovators Building the World and the Villainous Parasites Destroying It" bring the ideas to life.

A second but not secondary benefit is this book's historical record of factors which caused and exacerbated the financial meltdown of 2008. The roles of Wesley Mouch/Barney Frank, Angelo Mozilla/James Taggart, and Alan Greenspan/Robert Stadler receive careful study, as does the contrary example of BB&T's John Allison as John Galt. The sum of these chapters is a comprehensive, factual, rational explanation of the crisis and how it could have been lessened or averted.

Brother jg was good enough to give me props for fulfilling my end of a bargain and reading "Making Peace with the Planet" by Barry Commoner. Trust me that was a walk in the park compared to my first paying $3.99 and then watching Inside Job at the request of another Facebook friend.

Inside Job gives us Matt Damon's view of the crisis -- really, isn't that what we have all been waiting for? At the risk of some spoilers, the basic problems were:

  • Greedy Wall Street Guys made too much money;
  • Big bonuses were paid out;
  • Something or other about deregulation. It is not important enough to describe, but understand it is real bad;
  • Wall Street guys snorted coke and saw hookers, missing the moral heights attained by Damon's industry;
  • George Bush was a really bad guy. And dumb, and evil.
  • Wall Street guys made too much money.

"I am John Galt" provides a different version of the story in the context of Randian philosophy (I have to laugh that the authors use the work Randian non-pejoratively).

My reading oscillates between dry factual (okay, dismal) economics and history and boisterous, partisan polemics. IAJG delivers an excellent mix of pointed commentary, factual information, and some well deserved whacks at people who behaved very badly. I suggested I might shave a fractional star for Luskin's chapter on Paul Krugman/Ellsworth Toohey because he was "too close" to the topic. I'll not. Ms. Rand would not pull punches on a second-hander like Krugman and I was wrong to think -- even for a minute -- that Luskin should.

NOTES ON THE REVIEWER'S EDITION: I pre-ordered before the Kindle® version was announced, so I have an honest-to-goodness hardcover copy available for loan to any Colorado ThreeSourcer. I finally met commenter "nanobrewer" who borrowed "Lochner Revisited."

Posted by John Kranz at 5:35 PM | Comments (2)
But johngalt thinks:

Hey, can I get a copy of that Inside Job movie instead?

(Hopefully I made somebody spray a mouthful of coffee with that one.)

Dagny asked if I told you we'd like to borrow it and I said, "Not yet." We'll arrange a meeting time when we can buy you guys a Starbucks.

Posted by: johngalt at May 31, 2011 1:40 AM
But jk thinks:

Great news! You can still rent "Inside Job" from Amazon (mea culpa, it's $3.99).

Book swap and coffee sounds fun, lemme no.

Posted by: jk at May 31, 2011 9:44 AM

May 24, 2011

Donald Luskin's New Book

The hardcover I had preordered arrived last week. I think every ThreeSourcer will at the very least enjoy this video where Luskin connects today's heroes and villains to Rand's fictional ones.

Posted by John Kranz at 3:00 PM | Comments (0)

May 8, 2011

"The Words You Will Need..."

All readers know we're fond of quotations 'round here. Most readers know I'm fond of quoting Atlas Shrugged. I can now officially report that I have the distinction of posting the very first quotation on the IMDB page for the Atlas Shrugged Part 1 movie.

Henry Rearden: What is your purpose in talking to me?

Francisco D'Anconia: Let's just say it is to give you the words you will need for the time you will need them.

I was pleasantly surprised to even find an entry for the film and frankly, even more surprised to find that I could add to the content personally. I plan to add more after my third viewing... with dagny, Mike Rosen and Michael Brown. (Get tickets while they last here.)

Posted by JohnGalt at 9:56 AM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Nicely played!

Posted by: jk at May 8, 2011 11:10 AM

May 6, 2011

This Guy Really Makes me Appreciate Jon Stewart

Stephen Colbert's lame take (but I repeat myself) on Atlas Shrugged, Part 1.

UPDATE: Stewart, hell, this guy makes me appreicate Ellsworth Toohey.

UPDATE II: They have lashed out at Colbert once or twice today. @Atlas Shrugged The Movie

Atlas Shrugged is currently #1, #2, AND #4 at Amazon - guess Colbert was right about no one being interested. If only we could get a hold of that pesky #3 spot too.

Posted by John Kranz at 12:32 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

This strikes me as exactly why I dislike and distrust Comedy News.

I'm a strange choice for the defender of Ayn Rand's honor 'round here, but even her detractors generally admit a certain seriousness. Her book sales and the depth of her following bespeak a certain "there there."

Colbert's got a gag to complete. Rand fans are blaming studio and distribution bias in Hollywood and not the out-of-mainstream elements in Rand's philosophy or storyline. It's a fair cop to a point. But Colbert's fan base, for all their claims of sophistication, can not be trusted to know who the hell she is or to trust the cartoonish view of her work that allows the gag to work.

So, Colbert spends 40 seconds "explaining" Rand to his audience. There are a lot of thinkers with whom I disagree violently and I cannot think of many who deserve to be dismissed in a 40 second caricature. Hegel deserves a more nuanced view (and got hundreds of pages in Popper's "The Open Society and its Enemies"), Mises and Hayek give careful consideration to clarifying the ideas of Karl Marx before they contradict. Christopher Hitchens and Arundhati Roy have made Marx's case in the Nation.

But Colbert viewers don't have the patience for all that. The jokes have to come bang, bang, bang. Actually, a full minute was devoted to explaining Rand, but 20 seconds was spent on "explaining" with the greeting card to grandma.

Now a bunch of the smartest people in the world are all convinced that they understand the philosophy of Ayn Rand. You learn soooo much watching Colbert and discussing it with your really really smart friends on Facebook.

Posted by: jk at May 6, 2011 3:17 PM
But johngalt thinks:

"A culture is made -- or destroyed -- by its articulate voices." -Rand, 'The Voice of Reason'

And now, all of Colbert's viewers "know" that Rand's purpose of life is to pursue your own happiness "with no regard for others."

"If 'everybody knows' such and such then it ain't so, by at least 10,000 to 1." -RAH

Posted by: johngalt at May 7, 2011 2:08 PM

May 1, 2011

'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' - Only the Beginning

I enjoyed the very fair Pollywood review of 'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' by two relatively pro-Rand film writers, Lionel Chetwynd and Roger Simon that JK linked for us. They had some very good points and I fully expect the producers to follow as much of their advice as possible in future efforts. This first production clearly had some handicaps that led to its shortcomings, many of which will not apply to the sequels, e.g. the looming expiration of contratual rights, inexperience of the independent production company, and perhaps most importantly... working with the most tedious and least compelling portion of the novel, i.e. the first third. As a first-time reader I wasn't hooked by the story until the tunnel scene, which won't transpire until Part 2.

If the Aglialoro-Kaslow Atlas Shrugged franchise produces better products with its promised sequels than was the original it will not be the first such situation in motion picture history. I'm thinking of the progression in production value, if not necessarily the story line, of the Australian 'Road Warrior' series. The film by that name was far more entertaining and compelling than the predecessor 'Mad Max.' And it's a well-known fact of life that improving on an existing product is a shorter bridge than must be crossed when blazing an original trail.

'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' also suffered from an almost maniacal focus on keeping a quick pace. This led to many stilted scenes where a bit more dialogue would have fleshed out the scene considerably. For example, the "old wounds" in the relationship between Francisco and Dagny are only hinted at in their solitary scene together alone. Rand wrote a richer storyline than was presented to viewers of this film and allowing it to "balloon" to a full two-hours wouldn't have hurt its flow one bit.

But I must disagree with Mr. Chetwynd over his characterization of Rand's novels as mere "ciphers" for her philosophy, having no "depth of character" and lacking the undescribed qualities that would have resulted from "a reflective, creative work." I did find the character portrayals in the film to be rather two-dimensional but I attribute this to the aforementioned limitations and not to the source material to which the producers "slavishly" adhered. I would have liked to see more of the warmth and vulnerability of the literary Dagny in the movie character - an extended scene with Francisco could have provided this. In contrast with Messrs. Chetwynd and Simon, Robert Tracinski observed:

But Ayn Rand started out her career--in the 1920s through the 1940s--as a Hollywood screenwriter, working for such legends as Cecil B. DeMille and Hal Wallis. She wrote her novels in a very cinematic style, with stark visuals, sharp exchanges of dialogue, and peaks of high drama. She gave a director everything he could ask for to keep the audience in their seats: visually beautiful settings from the skyline of New York City to the mountains of Colorado, large-scale action scenes set on railroad lines and in steel mills, big ideas expressed in sharp-witted exchanges of dialogue--and, of course, passionate love scenes with handsome leading men and beautiful leading ladies.

If you can't figure out how to make a good movie out of all of that, then brother, you don't know your own business.

I applaud the passion and dedication which drove Aglialoro, Kaslow, and the entire The Strike production company to complete this much anticipated movie that so many have tried and failed at previously. I am encouraged by their reaction to the predictable reception these Hollywood outsiders were given for their faithful adaptation of Rand's paramount though controversial work. I look forward to bigger and better products to follow, on both the big screen in Parts 2 and 3 and in special DVD releases such as director's cuts and a possible miniseries. These film adaptations can only add to the inspiration and defense of liberty offered by the most influential book ever written save the Bible.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

April 30, 2011

So-Called "Thinkers"

Heh.

Posted by JohnGalt at 6:36 PM | Comments (0)

April 27, 2011

Another 'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' Movie Review

Because, if we aren't talking about it every day it isn't often enough.

Via email from Dr. Clifford Asness who produces the excellent Stumbling on Truth website, where he posts periodic original columns on topics in economics and investing. This as much a review of the reviewers as a review of the film. First, the film:

"I am telling you it's good. Particularly if what you're looking for is a rather straight (though adopted for modern times) telling of the story. Does it have its amateurish moments and characteristics? Sure. It was made for a trifle by Hollywood standards. The same critics that, if this tiny amount of money was spent on a poorly produced and acted "Indie" film, that happened to be about a hermaphrodite Palestinian boy who after escaping fascist Israeli persecution moves to Texas to face fascist American persecution (and isn't immediately granted his full "right" to all the healthcare the USA can afford), would sing it's praises and laud it's signs of a tight budget as "authentic."

OK, I guess that was about the reviewers too. Or maybe even mostly about the reviewers. But this is really about the reviewers:

"The book was also savaged by critics of the left and right in 1957, but loved by its giant number of readers beyond almost all others. History is repeating, but that's because sadly little has changed. We have to fix that. On Rotten Tomatoes (wouldn't the left love for me to have left off the "e"?) the critics have been running, wait for it, 6% for the movie, 94% against. The people have been running 85% for the movie. Now, you could argue that the people have tended to be Rand fans so that's biased. That's a bad argument. Rand fans would be the first, the absolute first, to savage it if it wasn't a good movie (have you ever seen Rand fans agree on anything except loving Rand?)."

And his conclusion:

"If you love the book, if you like the book, if you are at all open to the arguments in the book, you will love this movie. If you're a leftist who hates liberty, or a snob who enjoys destroying civilization with your superior-sounding mendacity, you probably won't like it so much.

Go see the movie."

Uncut and unedited version follows, including a link to the LA Times story where Aglioloro hints he might not make Parts 2 or 3 because "he's going on strike."

I've sent to this distribution list essays on limited government, and wonky quant finance papers. Now a movie recommendation (that is itself kind of a mini-essay on limited government).

Go see Atlas Shrugged. I did and loved it.

The critics hate it like socialist cats in the bath. The movie's producer, a hero of mine, is close to shrugging (see link below). It's hard to spend money, time, and blood on something, and have the critics savage it (which sadly matters a lot to success if not at all to truth), and go on.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/movies/2011/04/atlas-shrugged-producer-critics-you-won-hes-going-on-strike.html
I am telling you it's good. Particularly if what you're looking for is a rather straight (though adopted for modern times) telling of the story. Does it have its amateurish moments and characteristics? Sure. It was made for a trifle by Hollywood standards. The same critics that, if this tiny amount of money was spent on a poorly produced and acted "Indie" film, that happened to be about a hermaphrodite Palestinian boy who after escaping fascist Israeli persecution moves to Texas to face fascist American persecution (and isn't immediately granted his full "right" to all the healthcare the USA can afford), would sing it's praises and laud it's signs of a tight budget as "authentic."

I'm not sure if we have art imitating life or the other way around, but the critics are themselves Randian characters. They have an agenda - punish those who love liberty and have the temerity to defend it, then go to parties and be lauded by their friends for their heroic progressivism. And if they can make some snobby lies about cinematography along the way, more the better. (note - a small minority of critics have not seemed ideologically motivated, with them I simply disagree thinking they are using the wrong standard)

The book was also savaged by critics of the left and right in 1957, but loved by its giant number of readers beyond almost all others. History is repeating, but that's because sadly little has changed. We have to fix that. On Rotten Tomatoes (wouldn't the left love for me to have left off the "e"?) the critics have been running, wait for it, 6% for the movie, 94% against. The people have been running 85% for the movie. Now, you could argue that the people have tended to be Rand fans so that's biased. That's a bad argument. Rand fans would be the first, the absolute first, to savage it if it wasn't a good movie (have you ever seen Rand fans agree on anything except loving Rand?).

If you love the book, if you like the book, if you are at all open to the arguments in the book, you will love this movie. If you're a leftist who hates liberty, or a snob who enjoys destroying civilization with your superior-sounding mendacity, you probably won't like it so much.

Go see the movie.

-- Cliff

p.s. The movie superbly preserves a message from the book that gives the lie to so much the left says about it. The heroes are not "businessmen" and the villains "government". The book and movie clearly show the heroes are liberty loving creators and the villains totalitarian thieves - and those thieves come in the form of big business crony capitalists (those who don't create but use the state's power to steal to enrich themselves) as often as government apparatchiks (and never the defenseless poor). Look for this. The movie and book are honest, the critics are not.

Posted by JohnGalt at 9:23 PM | Comments (6)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Only slightly off-topic - different movie, related theme of issues with a meddling, over-reaching, central-planning government: http://bit.ly/jUjK3W

Doubtless near and dear to the hearts of all the ThreeSources brethren...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 28, 2011 11:33 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Umm, right link? Day by day?

Posted by: johngalt at April 28, 2011 3:14 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Yes, read the word balloons - I won't tell you who Sir Golfsalot thinks is the hero of Joss Whedon's movie and spoil it. I'll just say that you can't stop the signal.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 28, 2011 3:56 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes! I came back for a pre-emptive Mea Culpa but you beat me to the click. I was stuck on "movie." For some reason Mal and the kids are first and foremost a teevee phenomenon to me.

Sir Golfsalot. Heh. Trump is trying to make it Sir Hoopsalot.

Posted by: johngalt at April 28, 2011 4:20 PM
But jk thinks:

Is that Donald Trump, the leader of the Republican party? That Trump?

Posted by: jk at April 28, 2011 4:45 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Well, one sunshiny ray of hope - at least it's looking like Mike Hucksterbee won't be "the leader of the Republican Party." Sources on the ground say he's dissolving his campaign apparatus.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 28, 2011 7:23 PM

April 21, 2011

Online Education Rocks!

This time, in history and literature.

First JK brought us the Khan Academy for math and science.

My contribution in kind is Shmoop University.

No one will be surprised that I found these guys by searching for something relevant to Atlas Shrugged.

In the brief time I've spent perusing the voluminous content they offer on this controversial and revolutionary novel I have been greatly impressed. The treatment is honest, accurate and thorough. I hope to use it to help explain some of the book's themes to others. (And to refer to other literary titles and, when time permits, move on to history topics.)

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:44 PM | Comments (0)

Looter of the Spirit

When I explain to people that environmentalists and some in the government don't really have any aspirations of their own, they just want to deny the aspirations of others, they typically ask me why anyone would choose to live that way. Here's an excellent explaination derived from Ayn Rand's novel 'Atlas Shrugged' courtesy of Shmoop dot com:

But then Jed Starnes died and his three children took over the factory. These children were all horrible people who ran the factory into the ground and inspired Galt to begin his crusade. The kids preached the slogan "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." Basically they did away with salaries and had people "vote" on what others should earn based on their "needs." This turned into a disaster.

Ivy Starnes was considered the worst of these kids. Jeff Allen, a man who worked in the factory, has this to say about her:

"She had pale eyes that looked fishy, cold, and dead. And if you ever want to see pure evil, you should have seen the way her eyes glinted when she watched some man who'd talked back to her once and who'd just heard his name on the list of those getting nothing above basic pittance." (2.10.1.110)

Dagny herself actually met Ivy and tried to get answers out of her, back when she was searching for the elusive inventor of the motor. Ivy sadistically preys on people's emotions and enjoys tormenting them. In this respect, she is what Galt calls a "looter of the spirit" and has a lot in common with James Taggart, who also enjoys destroying people for his own amusement. What's truly terrible about Ivy is that she acts sadistically but speaks in terms of charity and brotherly love. She embodies the very worst of what Galt considers looter ideology.


Posted by JohnGalt at 2:34 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

I had a difficult time with the Rand villains, most notably Ellsworth Toohey. I did not see, as a young man, what was in it for a Toohey or the charming Starnes children.

Then I met a couple hundred of them.

Posted by: jk at April 21, 2011 4:40 PM
But nanobrewer thinks:


Misery loves company, and sadly it's easier to spread disappointment and failure to others than enthusiasm and perseverance.

Btw, my take on AS is that it won't be very successful if at all. Artistically, it well captured the spirit of the novel, but that didn't make for a compelling story.

nb

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 27, 2011 9:48 AM

April 16, 2011

Going Galt - The Ayn Rand Factor and the Atlas Shrugged Movie

Robert Tracinski is one of the best Objectivist writers on the scene so I was very interested when I recieved this 'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' movie review from him in my inbox. In short, he is glad the film was made but thought it should have been of higher quality.

I have seen the film, at an advanced screening arranged by the producers, and I am afraid that it is a pale shadow of the book. A friend of mine calls it "a Roman copy of a Greek original," a reference to the Roman empire's penchant for copying Greek sculptures of gods and heroes--but when you compare the copy and the original side by side, you inevitably find that the energy in the limbs has gone slack and the life has gone out of the eyes. The details are reproduced, but the animating spirit has been lost.
But Tracinski does not suggest that all of the story's spirit has been lost.
This same combination--vaporous leftist "idealism" and cynical looting by gangster government, all of it wrapped up in appeals to "sacrifice"--might remind you of an important political leader in today's environment.

The movie's greatest signifance, according to Tracinski, is its relationship with the TEA Party.

The Tea Party movement began, in last 2008 and early 2009, during a huge surge in interest in Ayn Rand's masterwork, when talk of "going Galt"--a reference to one of the novel's heroes--sent Atlas Shrugged back onto the best-seller lists after more than 50 years. The two phenomena are connected. The financial crisis and the giant government bailouts sparked a renewed interest in Ayn Rand's intellectual and literary defense of capitalism, and in turn Atlas Shrugged helped give ideological confidence to the nascent Tea Party movement. Now the Tea Parties and their supporters have repaid the favor by winning a 300-theater opening for the small, unheralded film version of the novel. [emphasis mine]

[For the hopelessly obsessed, such as myself, I've posted the entire article including original hyperlinks below.]

TIA Daily • April 14, 2011

FEATURE ARTICLE

Going Galt

The Ayn Rand Factor and the Atlas Shrugged Movie

by Robert Tracinski

After more than 50 years, a movie version of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand's perennially best-selling pro-capitalist epic in finally coming to the big screen—but through the strangest route possible.

That the film hasn't been made long ago, despite being one of world's most successful literary properties, is surprising—but not too surprising. No, it's not because the novel is difficult to adapt to the screen, as you will sometimes hear from both its critics and its admirers. Yes, the book has long, complex exchanges of dialogue that have to be ruthlessly condensed. But Ayn Rand started out her career—in the 1920s through the 1940s—as a Hollywood screenwriter, working for such legends as Cecil B. DeMille and Hal Wallis. She wrote her novels in a very cinematic style, with stark visuals, sharp exchanges of dialogue, and peaks of high drama. She gave a director everything he could ask for to keep the audience in their seats: visually beautiful settings from the skyline of New York City to the mountains of Colorado, large-scale action scenes set on railroad lines and in steel mills, big ideas expressed in sharp-witted exchanges of dialogue—and, of course, passionate love scenes with handsome leading men and beautiful leading ladies.

If you can't figure out how to make a good movie out of all of that, then brother, you don't know your own business.

Hollywood, as many of us have long suspected, does not know its own business. Plenty of big-name directors, writers, producers, and stars expressed interest over the years. But whether it was the pro-free-market politics, the larger-than-life heroic characters, or the big philosophical ideas, the book forced modern Hollywood outside its comfort zone, and no one was able or willing to figure out what to do with it.

So the version that comes to us now is one that was hastily put together at the last minute, with only weeks to go before the film rights lapsed. It has a small budget, no recognizable stars, an inexperienced director, and a script co-written by a producer with no literary or artistic experience whatsoever. The resulting film was unable to find a major distributor, so even though it was scheduled for April 15—a perfect symbolic date for a protest against big government—the movie was originally set to open only in a dozen small "art" theaters in a few big cities.

That was about six weeks ago. Then something remarkable happened.

Atlas Shrugged is set to open tomorrow in 300 theaters across the country. True, that's still a fraction of the opening distribution for a big blockbuster—but it's an awfully big fraction. This means that the film won't just be opening in a few big cities but will play in quite a number of towns across the heartland. Places like Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, and Lakeville, Minnesota. In politics, we ask: but will it play in Peoria? Yes, it will, at the Grand Prairie 18 in Peoria, Illinois.

More remarkable is how this happened: as a result of grass-roots pressure and agitation from fans of the novel. This allowed the producers, who decided to self-distribute the film, to convince many local theater operators to give the movie a chance.

I know from local experience that a lot of this pressure came from Tea Party groups or individual Tea Party members, many of whom have taken inspiration from the novel, so this huge jump in distribution has to be seen as the latest success—and as a show of strength, numerical and ideological—for the Tea Party movement.

I have never seen a film spread through this kind of grassroots groundswell of enthusiasm, with zero support from movie critics, cultural elites, or celebrities. This is all the more remarkable because most of the people clamoring for the film are doing so sight unseen. So we have to interpret this as an enormous demonstration of support for Ayn Rand's novel, which readers hope will be faithfully adapted in the film.

I have seen the film, at an advanced screening arranged by the producers, and I am afraid that it is a pale shadow of the book. A friend of mine calls it "a Roman copy of a Greek original," a reference to the Roman empire's penchant for copying Greek sculptures of gods and heroes—but when you compare the copy and the original side by side, you inevitably find that the energy in the limbs has gone slack and the life has gone out of the eyes. The details are reproduced, but the animating spirit has been lost.

The movie does not adulterate or rewrite the ideological content of the novel. Rather, the script has a tendency to take Ayn Rand's complex and original characters and reduce them to Hollywood clichés. Yes, you read that right. Contrary to the usual literary smears against Rand, it is her characters who are fresh and complex, while it is Hollywood's stock heroes and villains who are two-dimensional cardboard cutouts. The novel's version of Lillian Rearden, for example, is a fascinating study in how the left uses its pose of moral and intellectual superiority to keep the people who do the actual thinking and the actual work—the world's innovators and wealth-creators—intimidated and suppressed. Lillian's goal is to prevent these men from expressing pride in their achievement and to make them eager to demonstrate their subservience to their "progressive" overlords. She does this in high society by using her husband's money and position to support a salon of leftist artists and intellectuals. Much more memorably, she does it at home by subjecting her husband—an innovative, self-made steel tycoon—to a constant drumbeat of emotional abuse intended to make him feel that business, like sex, is not a subject to be mentioned in polite company. (He eventually learns to question both of those assumptions.) Lillian Rearden is a totally original yet instantly recognizable archetype of manipulative power-lust—yet in the film, she is reduced to not much more than a catty trophy wife of the type we've seen many times before. So Hollywood found a way back to its comfort zone, after all.

Unfortunately, this persistent flaw takes a good deal of the ideological and dramatic punch out of the story and may leave some new viewers of the film wondering what all of the fuss is about. I hope they take the time to find out by picking up the original novel, because there is a lot there that will justify the enthusiasm of Ayn Rand's fans and of the Tea Partiers who have picked up her novel in recent years.

The film covers just the first part of the novel. The producers wisely chose to divide Ayn Rand's densely plotted thousand-page epic into three segments, with the plan of presenting them in a trilogy of films. The main story line in Part 1 is the struggle of the protagonist, railroad executive Dagny Taggart, to hold her railroad together and save an American economy dying from suffocating taxes and government regulations. Sound familiar?

But Dagny's story isn't just about economics. It is about her sense of loneliness and isolation in a world where men of enterprise, initiative, and ability seem to be disappearing. And more: we see her loneliness in a culture where clear-eyed rationality and self-assertive ambition are no longer valued. Dagny faces a world that has fully adopted, in all of its ugly actual details, the left's credo of "need, not greed." Everyone has needs—expressed in long, whining complaints about how "sensitive" they are—and no one has the guts to take responsibility for supporting his own life and achieving his own happiness. In short, these guys have taken over.

Dagny finds an ally in the steel tycoon, Hank Rearden, who helps her build a crucially needed rail line to the nation's last remaining industrial boomtown—and I think you can guess that they find, in each other, a solution to their problems.

Dagny's main obstacle is her older brother, Jim, who is no good at running the railroad but knows how to run to Washington. While Dagny tries to keep the railroad alive by supporting the last growing industrial enterprises, Jim is always scheming for short-term profits from political favors and government subsidies. Again, sound familiar? He is the perfect fictional villain for the age of bailouts—the era of Government Motors and banks being turned into "government sponsored entities."

It is Jim's cabal of politicians and politically connected businessmen who begin the action in Part 1 by plunging the nation into an economic crisis, from which Dagny saves them, and they end Part 1 by causing another, worse crisis. Again, sound familiar? But while the film presents Jim as another Hollywood cliché, a soulless young corporate schemer, the novel's portrayal is more complex, interesting, and relevant to today's political environment.

In the novel, Jim has pretentions of being an intellectual and a deep, sensitive, "spiritual" type. Even when his schemes have the obvious ulterior motive of extorting unearned wealth, they are always pitched in terms of altruist bromides. But he really means the bromides, and Ayn Rand's point is that you can't tell where the "idealist" motive leaves off and the cynical one takes over. Jim believes that someone needs to be sacrificed to "the public good"—and he always tries to make sure he is "the public" and not the one being sacrificed.

This is summed up in a scene early in the novel when Taggart concludes the negotiations for one of his corrupt deals by offering a macabre toast: "Let's drink to the sacrifices to historical necessity."

This same combination—vaporous leftist "idealism" and cynical looting by gangster government, all of it wrapped up in appeals to "sacrifice"—might remind you of an important political leader in today's environment.

This is just scratching the surface of an epic novel, and the story widens and deepens as it goes beyond Part 1. But I think you can now see how an obscure, low-budget film has become a grassroots crusade before it even opens in the theaters. The spread of the Atlas Shrugged movie is just part of a wider Atlas Shrugged phenomenon—and part of the Tea Party phenomenon.

The Tea Party movement began, in last 2008 and early 2009, during a huge surge in interest in Ayn Rand's masterwork, when talk of "going Galt"—a reference to one of the novel's heroes—sent Atlas Shrugged back onto the best-seller lists after more than 50 years. The two phenomena are connected. The financial crisis and the giant government bailouts sparked a renewed interest in Ayn Rand's intellectual and literary defense of capitalism, and in turn Atlas Shrugged helped give ideological confidence to the nascent Tea Party movement. Now the Tea Parties and their supporters have repaid the favor by winning a 300-theater opening for the small, unheralded film version of the novel.

The novel has not yet found anything near its fullest and best expression on the screen—nor have we seen anything near the full scope of its impact on American politics.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:05 PM | Comments (0)

Review Corner

I'm astonished to be the first. I snuck out of work early and caught the 4:45 Atlas Shrugged Part 1 in Westminster. It was sparsely filled -- not empty, not packed. The lovely bride and I grabbed the two handicap seats in the front section that look like they're reserved for the Queen and VP Biden or something. Only two others braved the front section but I heard a good number in back laugh at some of the lines. And there was significant applause at the end.

I liked the movie better than I thought I would. It's been two decades since I last read the book, so I was not doing a page by page comparison, but I found that when I expected something to happen, it always did.

More important was a faithful portrayal of the characters, and on this account I will be generous with the stars. Taylor Schilling's Dagny Taggart was flawless. She has to carry the first part on her own and did; I'll give props to the writers and Ms, Schilling. Casting Rep. Barney Frank as Wesley Mouch was a bit of genius. No, seriously all the characters were well cast, though I think Francisco d'Anconia gets short shrift from the writers. Perhaps his role (and role) will be better fleshed out in subsequent releases.

The pacing and cinematography were very good. The action happens in the plot and people and nothing got in the way. By the same token it looked good, moved crisply, and had a serious score with classical themes instead of hip hop.

Five stars. I loved it and will buy the DVD the day it is released and watch it again.

Posted by John Kranz at 10:41 AM | Comments (4)
But johngalt thinks:

First, thank you. Thank you for being the first. Honestly I have to say I wasn't sure where to start so I am glad that you broke the ice. Let's start here: L-I-K-E. 5 stars. Not perfect, mind you, but as close as was practicable; particularly since fear of falling short of perfection may be the single greatest reason it took 50 years to make it to the screen. Going in I calibrated expectations by telling people not to expect Ben Hur on a Blair Witch budget.

Our venue was the 7pm screening in Boulder and when we arrived early there was one couple in line and the ticket agent told us it was "nearly sold out." The crowd was late to arrive and almost filled the auditorium. Our crowd reaction was identical to yours, with most of the laughs being led by my very own father. Watching with him was a joy. He had read the Cliff's Notes but not the book and many of the scenes really seemed to move him.

A very thoughtful review by Robert Tracinski via email, which I'll share soon, lamented that the characters were two-dimensional. I won't go that far but I did think there was room for more powerful portrayals, particularly by Francisco. The Francisco in my imagination was more Ricardo Montalban and less Erik Estrada. It may be a generational divide - I asked my wife and her 16-years the junior sister during the film "is Francisco a hottie?" In unison dagny said "no" and her sis said "yes." :) He was good, but could have been better. His scenes with Rearden covered the essential points but I really thought this 1 hour 40 minute film could have withstood an extra 5 minutes to more fully explain the relationship between Francisco and Dagny. Our only other quibble was that the actor playing Jim Taggart was too handsome, trim and fit for his character. A minor criticism, to be sure.

The Rearden Metal bridge was spectacular. Jim's taking credit for his sister's proactive steps in Mexico was a foreshadowing of Obama's 2012 campaign where he will take credit for the TEA Party Republicans' budget slashing. The cameo of Ayn Rand herself on Dagny's computer screen was a warm touch, and the Atlas statuette on Hank's desk also spoke to those of us "in the know." I was thorougly entertained and satisfied with the message. I think its quality bodes well for the prospects of Parts II and III.

Finally, I'll leave you with the opportunity to listen in on an 8-minute dialog between 850 KOA's Jon Caldera and yours truly. The entire hour's segment is an excellent discussion of Rand and this movie but to skip ahead to my segment just slide the bar to the 25 minute mark, or 27 minutes if you just can't wait to hear my voice.

Posted by: johngalt at April 16, 2011 1:47 PM
But jk thinks:

Nicely done, bro. I didn't know Caldera had a radio show; he is a true friend of liberty in this state.

Posted by: jk at April 17, 2011 11:34 AM
But jk thinks:

And another thing...you must get a way to watch "Stossel." He had your too-handsome-by-half Matthew Marsden on with the director and financier. I think Marsden would have won you over.

Posted by: jk at April 17, 2011 11:38 AM
But Boulder Refugee thinks:

Heh! I listened to that segment live and did not put the Eric from Ft. Lupton together. Great discussion, although you forget to slip a reference to ThreeSources.com in there...

Posted by: Boulder Refugee at April 18, 2011 10:33 AM

April 14, 2011

One more day...

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:19 PM | Comments (4)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Doesn't seem to be a theater anywhere near me - mayhaps there's not enough receptive viewers in California? From the look of the theater listing, I'll be waiting for this to hit cable...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 14, 2011 3:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Torrance? Central LA?

http://www.atlasshruggedpart1.com/theaters#California

Me and my kinfolk are going to the premier in BOULDER. (Yes, that Boulder.)

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2011 3:53 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

Both are nearly an hour from me, and through downtown traffic. Yeah, I'm just whining. Eleven million people in the LA area who desperately need to see this, and it's showing on two gorram screens. You'd think a market this size...

Who am I kidding? We can't even hold onto an NFL franchise. I've got no reason to believe that this American Idol level, entertainment-addicted wasteland has the synaptic firepower to understand this movie. They're still waiting for Meet the Fockers VII.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at April 14, 2011 6:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

LOL

One should count himself lucky it's on any LA screens. It's tantamount to Friedman's 'Free to Choose' airing in Moscow in the 1920's.

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2011 11:36 PM

Don Luskin on Ayn Rand

This link should be good for 7 days for non-subscribers.

Those who have given the pound of flesh to Rupert: here

Rand was not a conservative or a liberal: She was an individualist. "Atlas Shrugged" is, at its heart, a plea for the most fundamental American ideal--the inalienable rights of the individual. On tax day, with our tax dollars going to big government and subsidies for big business, let's remember it's the celebration of individualism that has kept "Atlas Shrugged" among the best-selling novels of all time.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:41 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Refreshing. An honest biography of one of the world's greatest philosophers. And nary an accusation of her being a "solipsist."

Posted by: johngalt at April 14, 2011 3:16 PM

April 13, 2011

Two more days...

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:48 PM | Comments (0)

April 12, 2011

High, Fast, Over the Plate

Joy Pullman is not so keen on the Atlas Shrugged movie. What's it need? Compromise:

Refusing a philosophical compromise on the book's message makes the script and its performance, in some scenes, as unconvincing as the book.

"Most Americans will find Ayn Rand's worldview distasteful, immoral, and absurd" screams the subtitle which may or may not be Pullman's. It's not quite Whittaker Chambers, but it is equally surprising coming from the AEI.

I'm in no position to comment on the film, but the idea that you'd water it down to appeal to modern tastes is patently ridiculous and antithetical to everything for which Rand stood. I can't imagine anybody (except perhaps Pullmann) who would enjoy an apologetic, diluted Randian tale.

Posted by John Kranz at 1:10 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Heh. It could have been worse!

Once again the reviewer chides Rand for "greed" when she never advocated such a thing. There is a difference between greed and "rational self-interest" which the reviewer accurately quotes as one of Rand's four basic tenets. And the term "selfishness" which Rand has used, is a synonym for greed only among altruists. In fact, selfishness is the antonym of selflessness. (A basic tenet of the altruist philosophy.)

The reviewer also fails to understand the true replacement for "abused authority." (She uses the modifier "abused" to shield her cherished principle of a "valid" authority outside of the individual.)

"She appeals to the natural and highly American intolerance of abused authority; but she locates a replacement authority inside the individual himself, stripping away any mediating institutions, deity, or natural law."

To the contrary - the "mediation" for man's individual authority is an epistemology of reason applied to a metaphysics of objective reality or, as the reviewer might say, "natural law." Addle your body and brain with drugs if you please but you cannot escape the damage it will objectively do to your life. A moderating deity on the other hand is nothing more than another abuse of authority.

I'll ignore her obligatory mention of Rand's occasionally imperfect life decisions but I must sternly disagree that Rand sought to replace existing authority figures with herself. Which of her four basic tenets encompasses authoritarianism? How does one make a rational case for rational self-interest by demanding one submit himself to the authority of another?

Will these distinctions be lost on viewers of the movie? Perhaps, but compromising the ultimate authority of a man's mind is no winning bargain. One may only lead a horse to water...

For my part it is sounding like a home run.

Posted by: johngalt at April 12, 2011 3:22 PM

April 11, 2011

A Little Free Advertising

Posted by John Kranz at 12:43 PM | Comments (3)
But nanobrewer thinks:


I'm getting teased: I'm stuck in Sillydeplphia all week, back Friday at 5 pm. Someone tell me where it's playing, please!!

Posted by: nanobrewer at April 11, 2011 6:03 PM
But jk thinks:

Century 16 in Boulder. AMC Promenade 24 in Westminster. All colorado locations

Posted by: jk at April 11, 2011 6:26 PM
But Amy thinks:

My husband and I will be at the Friday night showing at the Aurora Century 16! Should be interesting.

Posted by: Amy at April 12, 2011 9:00 PM

March 4, 2011

Quote of the Day

"Atlas Shrugged" is a lengthy parable about individualism and freedom. Set in the not-too-distant future, it depicts an America whose economy is falling apart under the weight of an overweening government run entirely by people with approximately the integrity, cognitive ability and humility of a New York Times editorialist. -- James Taranto
Posted by John Kranz at 5:57 PM | Comments (6)
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, the non-sequitur of passenger trains in 2016 may undermine the film's credibility.

As for John Galt-

"Ask yourself, Arianna, what would happen if the producers disappeared--if the "men of the mind," tired of carrying your weight on their shoulders, went "on strike" and vanished from the Puffington Host.

And now we know who John Galt is."

Posted by: johngalt at March 5, 2011 8:17 AM
But jk thinks:

Yup, coals-to-Newcastle to link to Taranto, but this was a special day.

Posted by: jk at March 5, 2011 11:30 AM
But johngalt thinks:

No, I'm glad. I no longer receive him daily via email (maybe I'll resubscribe) so I really appreciated it.

Posted by: johngalt at March 5, 2011 11:46 AM
But jk thinks:

Thought Taranto was free -- no more?

Posted by: jk at March 5, 2011 1:20 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Shhhh.

I was, however, unable to find a link for subscribing via email.

Posted by: johngalt at March 5, 2011 4:51 PM
But jk thinks:

The link on the blogroll used to go straight to Taranto and now takes you the front of the Opinion section. I don't know if that is fallout from web design or if they are repositioning away from a popular (but free) feature. Something dark from Rodger & Rupert one presumes...

Posted by: jk at March 7, 2011 11:00 AM

February 12, 2011

Fictional 'Atlas Shrugged' Becomes America's Reality

With the 'Atlas Shrugged' movie [thanks for the link KA] set to open in just two months it is nice to see favorable treatment of the book in the press. This short column by Michael Smith of the Panama City News Herald includes one of the most objective summaries of the plot that I've ever read. But the main point is to show how the 1957 fictional plot so closely mirrors 21st century current events.

Hayek and Rand provide examples that are simplified views of our current times and the evolution of governmental control using collectivist policies in a "crisis" as an effective approach to problem resolution. A similar march toward a predictable endgame pitting the "looters" against the "producers" of value is clearly visible today.

And yes, he does also quote Hayek. (Now you can't resist clicking through, can you!)

Posted by JohnGalt at 5:23 PM | Comments (0)

Otequay of the Ayday

While looking for publication numbers for Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged' I found the data on this review page. It included this sarcastic quip by the New Yorker magazine in their review of the book upon its release:

The review in the New Yorker called the theme unbelievable and pointless. "After all," wrote the reviewer, [in October, 1957] "to warn contemporary America against abandoning its factories, neglecting technological progress and abolishing the profit motive seems a little like admonishing water against running uphill."

Nah, those things could never happen in contemporary America.

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:51 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Insightful and prescient as ever over at the Times. Mister Toohey write that himself?

Stunning.

Posted by: jk at February 13, 2011 10:38 AM

February 11, 2011

Compromise?

Here are a few words of advice to the fellows behind the "No Labels" movement:

Part III, Chapter 7 - "This is John Galt Speaking:"

"The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the world. Reality is an absolute, existence is an absolute, a speck of dust is an absolute and so is a human life. Whether you live or die is an absolute. Whether you have a piece of bread or not, is an absolute. Whether you eat your bread or see it vanish into a looter's stomach, is an absolute."

It's even more pointed if you continue reading...

UPDATE: Yes, the word "break" instead of "bread" (underlined) was a typo. My 21st printing copy has it correctly. The error must have been imposed on the electronic version I own and excerpt from.

"There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil. The man who is wrong still retains some respect for truth, if only by accepting the responsibility of choice. But the man in the middle is the knave who blanks out the truth in order to pretend that no choice or values exist, who is willing to sit out the course of any battle, willing to cash in on the blood of the innocent or to crawl on his belly to the guilty, who dispenses justice by condemning both the robber and the robbed to jail, who shoves conflicts by ordering the thinker and the fool to meet each other halfway. In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit. In that transfusion of blood which drains the good to feed the evil, the compromiser is the transmitting rubber tube."
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:55 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Like. (typo: "eat your bread" perhaps?)

Posted by: jk at February 11, 2011 4:25 PM

February 8, 2011

Existence Exists

Why state the obvious, you may ask? Because many postmodern schools of thought deny it.

Part III, Chapter 7 - "This is John Galt Speaking:"

"We, the men of the mind, are now on strike against you in the name of a single axiom, which is the root of our moral code, just as the root of yours is the wish to escape it: the axiom that existence exists."
"Existence exists -- and the act of grasping that statement implies two corollary axioms: that something exists which one perceives and that one exists possessing consciousness, consciousness being the faculty of perceiving that which exists.

"If nothing exists, there can be no consciousness: a consciousness with nothing to be conscious of is a contradiction in terms. A consciousness conscious of nothing but itself is a contradiction in terms: before it could identify itself as consciousness, it had to be conscious of something. If that which you claim to perceive does not exist, what you possess is not consciousness.

"Whatever the degree of your knowledge, these two -- existence and consciousness -- are axioms you cannot escape, these two are the irreducible primaries implied in any action you undertake, in any part of your knowledge and in its sum, from the first ray of light you perceive at the start of your life to the widest erudition you might acquire at its end. Whether you know the shape of a pebble or the structure of a solar system, the axioms remain the same: that it exists and that you know it."

This is the foundation of my philosophy and world view. What's yours?

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2011

Who is "Responsible" for the Tucson Shooter?

(This is not a court of law, so I need not include the superfluous term "alleged.")

From Atlas Shrugged, Part III, Chapter 7 - "This is John Galt Speaking"

"Man's life is the standard of morality, but your own life is its purpose. If existence on earth is your goal, you must choose your actions and values by the standard of that which is proper to man -- for the purpose of preserving, fulfilling and enjoying the irreplaceable value which is your life."

Like the mysticism of fundamentalist Islam teaches the Jihadi, one of the western mysticisms taught a young Jared Loughner that his life on earth is not of value to him, that existence on earth should not be his goal, or that such an existence does not depend on his choice of actions. He was not prepared to live a happy and prosperous life. He was "a metaphysical monstrosity."

"Since life requires a specific course of action, any other course will destroy it. A being who does not hold his own life as the motive and goal of his actions, is acting on the motive and standard of death. Such a being is a metaphysical monstrosity, struggling to oppose, negate and contradict the fact of his own existence, running blindly amuck on a trail of destruction, capable of nothing but pain."

Why is it so common to find a man who is depressed and confused and desperate to discover some "meaning" for his life? Because those who purport to give him that meaning do nothing of the sort. Whether the self-described "moralists" tell man that he needs no morality or that self-sacrifice is morality's greatest virtue, they do so in contradiction with reality. When man's rational faculty attempts to resolve this contradiction it must either abandon faith, abandon reason, or self-destruct.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:51 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Like.

Posted by: jk at January 18, 2011 5:03 PM

January 13, 2011

Two Wings of the Same Bird of Prey

How may a nation, "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal" long endure when it is afflicted with a moral code such as this:

Part III, Chapter 7 - "This is John Galt Speaking"

"You have heard no concepts of morality but the mystical or the social. You have been taught that morality is a code of behavior imposed on you by whim, the whim of a supernatural power or the whim of society, to serve God's purpose or your neighbor's welfare, to please an authority beyond the grave or else next door -- but not to serve your life or pleasure. Your pleasure, you have been taught, is to be found in immorality, your interests would best be served by evil, and any moral code must be designed not for you, but against you, not to further your life, but to drain it."
Posted by JohnGalt at 2:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2011

The Strike of the Human Mind

The final entry of 2010 told us why we have an ongoing world economic disaster. The new year begins with a description of "the strike." Part III, Chapter 7 - "This is John Galt Speaking"

We are on strike, we, the men of the mind.

"We are on strike against self-immolation. We are on strike against the creed of unearned rewards and unrewarded duties. We are on strike against the dogma that the pursuit of one's happiness is evil. We are on strike against the doctrine that life is guilt.

"There is a difference between our strike and all those you've practiced for centuries: our strike consists, not of making demands, but of granting them. We are evil, according to your morality. We have chosen not to harm you any longer. We are useless, according to your economics. We have chosen not to exploit you any longer. We are dangerous and to be shackled, according to your politics. We have chosen not to endanger you, nor to wear the shackles any longer. We are only an illusion, according to your philosophy. We have chosen not to blind you any longer and have left you free to face reality -- the reality you wanted, the world as you see it now, a world without mind.

"We have granted you everything you demanded of us, we who had always been the givers, but have only now understood it. We have no demands to present to you, no terms to bargain about, no compromise to reach. You have nothing to offer us. We do not need you.

[Italics in original]

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:36 PM | Comments (0)

January 6, 2011

Here Comes John Galt

To the big screen.

Here IT comes. The film version of my favorite novel, which we last discussed here and here, is in post production and should appear in theaters "No later than Tax Day, April 15."

Many of my trepidations about making this story into a movie have been salved by this interview with executive producer and financier (read: owner) of the film, John Aglialoro.

Ranked by Forbes Small Business as the 10th richest executive of any small publicly-traded company (revenues under $200 million) in 2007, Aglialoro is one of those rare corporate executives who fully "gets" the philosophical message in Atlas Shrugged.

So the storyline should be safe. The scope of this movie is Part I of the book, which readers can review key points from by reading those entitled entries in Three Sources' "Atlas Shrugged QOTD" archive.

And the casting appears excellent as well. In my mind's eye I can envision Ms. Schilling walking through an abandoned factory, or consoling her poor, misguided young sister-in-law. And the movie's Hank Reardon, played by Grant Bowler, seems a perfect fit. I can easily see him telling Tinky Holloway that his game is up.

But we'll have to wait for the second sequel for that scene. I've heard that the intentions for Parts II and III of the book are to be separate sequels, each following about a year after it's predecessor.

Judging by some of the scene photos the setting of the movie will be decidedly modern. Apparently it will be set in our time, not in that of the book's writing. This is as it should be. The uninitiated youth will be more captivated than with a more faithful portrayal of the book. And, more importantly, we are closer to the events of the story becoming reality today than at any time in history.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:46 PM | Comments (4)
But jk thinks:

Fun. But how's he intend to make a film without the wisdom of Hollywood?

They should steal Glenn Reynolds's tagline: "It's Ayn Rand's world, we're just living in it."

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2011 4:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I expect that production values will be the last thing for which critics will pan this film.

Posted by: johngalt at January 6, 2011 5:32 PM
But jk thinks:

I was being a liiiiiitle more sarcastic than that.

Posted by: jk at January 6, 2011 6:32 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I read the sarcasm. But I took it as a "quantum comment." It can have multiple meanings at the same time. (Alas, in our era it has no literal meaning whatsoever until a judge says it does.)

Posted by: johngalt at January 6, 2011 8:21 PM

December 23, 2010

The World Crisis - Part 2

It is a moral crisis - not of failing to behave morally, but of failing to define morality.

Part III, Chapter 7 - "This is John Galt Speaking"

"Since virtue, to you, consists of sacrifice, you have demanded more sacrifices at every successive disaster. In the name of a return to morality, you have sacrificed all those evils which you held as the cause of your plight. You have sacrificed justice to mercy. You have sacrificed independence to unity. You have sacrificed reason to faith. You have sacrificed wealth to need. You have sacrificed self-esteem to self-denial. You have sacrificed happiness to duty."

"You have destroyed all that which you held to be evil and achieved all that which you held to be good. Why, then, do you shrink in horror from the sight of the world around you? That world is not the product of your sins, it is the product and the image of your virtues. It is your moral ideal brought into reality in its full and final perfection."

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:54 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2010

A Report on the World Crisis

Part III, Chapter 7 - "This is John Galt Speaking:"

"Ladies and gentlemen," said a voice that came from the radio receiver -- a man's clear, calm, implacable voice, the kind of voice that had not been heard on the airwaves for years -- "Mr. Thompson will not speak to you tonight. His time is up. I have taken it over. You were to hear a report on the world crisis. That is what you are going to hear."

Three gasps of recognition greeted the voice, but nobody had the power to notice them among the sounds of the crowd, which were beyond the stage of cries. One was a gasp of triumph, another -- of terror, the third -- of bewilderment. Three persons had recognized the speaker: Dagny, Dr. Stadler, Eddie Willers. Nobody glanced at Eddie Willers; but Dagny and Dr. Stadler glanced at each other. She saw that his face was distorted by as evil a terror as one could ever bear to see; he saw that she knew and that the way she looked at him was as if the speaker had slapped his face.

"For twelve years, you have been asking: Who is John Galt? This is John Galt speaking. I am the man who loves his life. I am the man who does not sacrifice his love or his values. I am the man who has deprived you of victims and thus has destroyed your world, and if you wish to know why you are perishing -- you who dread knowledge -- I am the man who will now tell you."

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:27 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2010

"I Order You to Solve it"

This one also has a personal meaning to me. My PhD electrical engineer father tells a story of his university's chancellor making a quip during technical difficulties prior to a speech he was about to give to the faculty, including the entire electrical engineering department: "We ought to be able to get this problem fixed with all of these electricians here in the audience." None of them moved to help him.

Part III, Chapter 7 - "This is John Galt Speaking:"

In a moment, he went on, his voice oddly solemn: "It looks like a wall of radio waves jamming the air, and we can't get through it, we can't touch it, we can't break it.... What's more, we can't locate its source, not by any of our usual methods.... Those waves seem to come from a transmitter that ... that makes any known to us look like a child's toy!"

"But that's not possible!" The cry came from behind Mr. Thompson and they all whirled in its direction, startled by its note of peculiar terror; it came from Dr. Stadler. "There's no such thing! There's nobody on earth to make it!"

The chief engineer spread his hands out. "That's it, Dr. Stadler," he said wearily. "It can't be possible. It shouldn't be possible. But there it is."

"Well, do something about it!" cried Mr. Thompson to the crowd at large.

No one answered or moved.

"I won't permit this!" cried Mr. Thompson. "I won't permit it! Tonight of all nights! I've got to make that speech! Do something! Solve it, whatever it is! I order you to solve it!"

The chief engineer was looking at him blankly.

"I'll fire the lot of you for this! I'll fire every electronic engineer in the country! I'll put the whole profession on trial for sabotage, desertion and treason! Do you hear me? Now do something, God damn you! Do something!"

The chief engineer was looking at him impassively, as if words were not conveying anything any longer.

"Isn't there anybody to obey an order?" cried Mr. Thompson. "Isn't there a brain left in this country?"

The hand of the clock reached the dot of 8:00.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:22 PM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2010

The Crippling of Young Minds

If there is a passage in this monumental tome that strikes a stronger personal chord within me than this one, I have yet to find it.

Part III, Chapter 6 - 'The Concerto of Deliverance:'

[Read slowly, with reverence. "He" is Hank Reardon.]

He walked, as if this were his form of last tribute and funeral procession for the young life that had ended in his arms. He felt an anger too intense to identify except as a pressure within him: it was a desire to kill.

The desire was not directed at the unknown thug who had sent a bullet through the boy's body, or at the looting bureaucrats who had hired the thug to do it, but at the boy's teachers who had delivered him, disarmed, to the thug's gun -- at the soft, safe assassins of college classrooms who, incompetent to answer the queries of a quest for reason, took pleasure in crippling the young minds entrusted to their care.

Somewhere, he thought, there was this boy's mother, who had trembled with protective concern over his groping steps, while teaching him to walk, who had measured his baby formulas with a jeweler's caution, who had obeyed with a zealot's fervor the latest words of science on his diet and hygiene, protecting his unhardened body from germs -- then had sent him to be turned into a tortured neurotic by the men who taught him that he had no mind and must never attempt to think. Had she fed him tainted refuse, he thought, had she mixed poison into his food, it would have been more kind and less fatal.

He thought of all the living species that train their young in the art of survival, the cats who teach their kittens to hunt, the birds who spend such strident effort on teaching their fledglings to fly -- yet man, whose tool of survival is the mind, does not merely fail to teach a child to think, but devotes the child's education to the purpose of destroying his brain, of convincing him that thought is futile and evil, before he has started to think.

From the first catch-phrases flung at a child to the last, it is like a series of shocks to freeze his motor, to undercut the power of his consciousness. "Don't ask so many questions, children should be seen and not heard!" -- "Who are you to think? It's so, because I say so!" -- "Don't argue, obey!" -- "Don't try to understand, believe!" -- "Don't rebel, adjust!" -- "Don't stand out, belong!" -- "Don't struggle, compromise!" -- "Your heart is more important than your mind!." -- "Who are you to know? Your parents know best!" -- "Who are you to know? Society knows best!" -- "Who are you to know? The bureaucrats know best!" -- "Who are you to object? All values are relative!" -- "Who are you to want to escape a thug's bullet? That's only a personal prejudice!"

Men would shudder, he thought, if they saw a mother bird plucking the feathers from the wings of her young, then pushing him out of the nest to struggle for survival -- yet that was what they did to their children.

Armed with nothing but meaningless phrases, this boy had been thrown to fight for existence, he had hobbled and groped through a brief, doomed effort, he had screamed his indignant, bewildered protest -- and had perished in his first attempt to soar on his mangled wings.
But a different breed of teachers had once existed, he thought, and had reared the men who created this country; he thought that mothers should set out on their knees to look for men like Hugh Akston, to find them and beg them to return.

Posted by JohnGalt at 1:39 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2010

"A Temporary Adjustment"

Part III, Chapter 6 - 'The Concerto of Deliverance:'

"We can't theorize about the future," cried Wesley Mouch, "when there's an immediate national collapse to avoid! We've got to save the country's economy! We've got to do something!" Rearden's imperturbable glance of curiosity drove him to heedlessness. "If you don't like it, do you have a better solution to offer?"

"Sure" said Rearden easily. "If it's production that you want, then get out of the way, junk all of your damn regulations, let Orren Boyle go broke, let me buy the plant of Associated Steel -- and it will be pouring a thousand tons a day from every one of its sixty furnaces."

"Oh, but … but we couldn't!" gasped Mouch. "That would be monopoly!"

Rearden chuckled. "Okay," he said indifferently, "then let my mills superintendent buy it. He'll do a better job than Boyle."

"Oh, but that would be letting the strong have an advantage over the weak! We couldn't do that!"

"Then don't talk about saving the country's economy."

"All we want is -- " He stopped.

"All you want is production without men who're able to produce, isn't it?"

"That … that's theory. That's just a theoretical extreme. All we want is a temporary adjustment."

"You've been making those temporary adjustments for years. Don't you see that you've run out of time?"

"That's just theo …" His voice trailed off and stopped.

"Well, now, look here," said Holloway cautiously, "it's not as if Mr. Boyle were actually … weak. Mr. Boyle is an extremely able man. It's just that he's suffered some unfortunate reverses, quite beyond his control. He had invested large sums in a public-spirited project to assist the undeveloped peoples of South America, and that copper crash of theirs has dealt him a severe financial blow. So it's only a matter of giving him a chance to recover, a helping hand to bridge the gap, a bit of temporary assistance, nothing more. All we have to do is just equalize the sacrifice -- then everybody will recover and prosper."

"You've been equalizing sacrifice for over a hundred" -- he stopped -- "for thousands of years," said Rearden slowly. "Don't you see that you're at the end of the road?"

"That's just theory!" snapped Wesley Mouch.

Rearden smiled. "I know your practice," he said softly. "It's your theory that I'm trying to understand."

He knew that the specific reason behind the Plan was Orren Boyle; he knew that the working of an intricate mechanism, operated by pull, threat, pressure, blackmail -- a mechanism like an irrational adding machine run amuck and throwing up any chance sum at the whim of any moment -- had happened to add up to Boyle's pressure upon these men to extort for him this last piece of plunder. He knew also that Boyle was not the cause of it or the essential to consider, that Boyle was only a chance rider, not the builder, of the infernal machine that had destroyed the world, that it was not Boyle who had made it possible, nor any of the men in this room. They, too, were only riders on a machine without a driver, they were trembling hitchhikers who knew that their vehicle was about to crash into its final abyss -- and it was not love or fear of Boyle that made them cling to their course and press on toward their end, it was something else, it was some one nameless element which they knew and evaded knowing, something which was neither thought nor hope, something he identified only as a certain look in their faces, a furtive look saying: I can get away with it. Why? -- he thought. Why do they think they can?

"We can't afford any theories!" cried Wesley Mouch. "We've got to act!"

"Well, then, I'll offer you another solution. Why don't you take over my mills and be done with it?"

The jolt that shook them was genuine terror.

"Oh no!" gasped Mouch.

"We wouldn't think of it!" cried Holloway.

"We stand for free enterprise!" cried Dr. Ferris.

"We don't want to harm you!" cried Lawson. "We're your friends, Mr. Rearden. Can't we all work together? We're your friends."

There, across the room, stood a table with a telephone, the same table, most likely, and the same instrument -- and suddenly Rearden felt as if he were seeing the convulsed figure of a man bent over that telephone, a man who had then known what he, Rearden, was now beginning to learn, a man fighting to refuse him the same request which he was now refusing to the present tenants of this room -- he saw the finish of that fight, a man's tortured face lifted to confront him and a desperate voice saying steadily: "Mr. Rearden, I swear to you … by the woman I love … that I am your friend."

This was the act he had then called treason, and this was the man he had rejected in order to go on serving the men confronting him now. Who, then, had been the traitor? -- he thought; he thought it almost without feeling, without right to feel, conscious of nothing but a solemnly reverent clarity. Who had chosen to give its present tenants the means to acquire this room? Whom had he sacrificed and to whose profit?

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:00 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

That's the trouble with fiction. Like any of this stuff could actually happen...

Posted by: jk at December 16, 2010 4:38 PM

December 15, 2010

The "Radical Center"

Part III, Chapter 6 - 'The Concerto of Deliverance:'

"Can't we all stand together for the sake of the country in this hour of emergency?" said Dr. Ferris. "Can't we disregard our differences of opinion? We're willing to meet you halfway. If there's any aspect of our policy which you oppose, just tell us and we'll issue a directive to --"

"Cut it, boys. I didn't come here to help you pretend that I'm not in the position I'm in and that any halfway is possible between us. Now come to the point. You've prepared some new gimmick to spring on the steel industry. What is it?"

"As a matter of fact,"' said Mouch, "we do have a vital question to discuss in regard to the steel industry, but … but your language, Mr. Rearden!"

"We don't want to spring anything on you," said Holloway. "We asked you here to discuss it with you."

"I came here to take orders. Give them."

"But, Mr. Rearden, we don't want to look at it that way. We don't want to give you orders. We want your voluntary consent."

Rearden smiled. "I know it."

"You do?" Holloway started eagerly, but something about Rearden's smile made him slide into uncertainty. "Well, then --"

"And you, brother," said Rearden, "know that that is the flaw in your game, the fatal flaw that will blast it sky-high.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:33 PM | Comments (0)

December 10, 2010

Mommy, Where do Jobs Come From?

Part III, Chapter 5 - 'Their Brothers' Keepers:'

Hank Reardon and his freeloading brother Philip conversing at Reardon's steel mill...

Philip's body drew a shade tighter together and his eyes became a shade more glazed, as if in fear of the place around him, in resentment of its sight, in an effort not to concede its reality He said, in the soft, stubborn whine of a voodoo incantation, "It's a moral imperative, universally conceded in our day and age, that every man is entitled to a job." His voice rose: "I'm entitled to it!"

"You are? Go on, then, collect your claim."

"Uh?"

"Collect your job. Pick it off the bush where you think it grows."

"I mean..."

"You mean that it doesn't? You mean that you need it, but can't create it? You mean that you're entitled to a job which I must create for you?"

"Yes!"

"And if I don't?"

The silence went stretching through second after second. "I don't understand you," said Philip; his voice had the angry bewilderment of a man who recites the formulas of a well-tested role, but keeps getting the wrong cues in answer. "I don't understand why one can't talk to you any more. I don't understand what sort of theory you're propounding and --"

"Oh yes, you do."

As if refusing to believe that the formulas could fail, Philip burst out with: "Since when did you take to abstract philosophy? You're only a businessman, you're not qualified to deal with questions of principle, you ought to leave it to the experts who have conceded for centuries -- "

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:32 PM | Comments (0)

December 9, 2010

Since you have the privilege of strength, I have the right of weakness

Part III, Chapter 5 - Their Brothers' Keepers:

Dagny Taggart's realization, after being scolded by her brother Jim: "You're the realist, you're the doer, the mover, the producer, the Nat Taggart, you're the person who's able to achieve any goal she chooses! You could save us now, you could find a way to make things work—if you wanted to!"

There was the goal of all those con men of library and classroom, who sold their revelations as reason, their "instincts" as science, their cravings as knowledge, the goal of all the savages of the non-objective, the non-absolute, the relative, the tentative, the probable - the savages who, seeing a farmer gather a harvest, can consider it only as a mystic phenomenon unbound by the law of causality and created by the farmers' omnipotent whim, who then proceed to seize the farmer, to chain him, to deprive him of tools, of seeds, of water, of soil, to push him out on a barren rock and to command: "Now grow a harvest and feed us!"
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:00 PM | Comments (0)

December 7, 2010

"My Life is the Highest of Values"

Part III, Chapter 4: 'Anti-Life'

"Cherryl, what you've been struggling with is the greatest problem in history, the one that has caused all of human suffering. You've understood much more than most people, who suffer and die, never knowing what killed them. I'll help you to understand. It's a big subject and a hard battle - but first, above all, don't be afraid."

The look on Cherryl's face was an odd, wistful longing, as if, seeing Dagny from a great distance, she were straining and failing to come closer. "I wish I could wish to fight," she said softly, "but I don't. I don't even want to win any longer. There's one change that I don't seem to have the strength to make. You see, I had never expected anything like my marriage to Jim. Then when it happened, I thought that life was much more wonderful than I had expected. And now to get used to the idea that life and people are much more horrible than anything I had imagined and that my marriage was not a glorious miracle, but some unspeakable kind of evil which I'm still afraid to learn fully - that is what I can't force myself to take. I can't get past it." She glanced up suddenly. "Dagny, how did you do it? How did you manage to remain unmangled?"

"By holding to just one rule."

"Which?"

"To place nothing—nothing—above the verdict of my own mind."

"You've taken some terrible beatings … maybe worse than I did … worse than any of us.… What held you through it?"

"The knowledge that my life is the highest of values, too high to give up without a fight."

She saw a look of astonishment, of incredulous recognition on Cherryl's face, as if the girl were struggling to recapture some sensation across a span of years. "Dagny"—her voice was a whisper—"that's … that's what I felt when I was a child … that's what I seem to remember most about myself… that kind of feeling… and I never lost it, it's there, it's always been there, but as I grew up, I thought it was something that I must hide.… I never had any name for it, but just now, when you said it, it struck me that that's what it was.… Dagny, to feel that way about your own life - is that good?"

"Cherryl, listen to me carefully: that feeling—with everything, which it requires and implies—is the highest, noblest and only good on earth."

"The reason I ask is because I … I wouldn't have dared to think that. Somehow, people always made me feel as if they thought it was a sin… as if that were the thing in me which they resented and … and wanted to destroy."

"It's true. Some people do want to destroy it. And when you learn to understand their motive, you'll know the darkest, ugliest and only evil in the world, but you'll be safely out of its reach."

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:39 PM | Comments (0)

December 6, 2010

Compassion Unmasked

All of us have been taught that compassion is a moral human virtue, and it is said to be even more virtuous when that compassion is blind. But what is wrong with unearned compassion?

Part III, Chapter 4: Anti-Life:

"You know, Miss Tag--Dagny," she said softly, in wonder, "you're not as I expected you to be at all.... They, Jim and his friends, they said you were hard and cold and unfeeling."'

"But it's true, Cherryl. I am, in the sense they mean - only have they ever told you in just what sense they mean it?"

"No. They never do. They only sneer at me when I ask them what they mean by anything … about anything. What did they mean about you?"

"Whenever anyone accuses some person of being 'unfeeling,' he means that that person is just. He means that that person has no causeless emotions and will not grant him a feeling which he does not deserve. He means that 'to feel' is to go against reason, against moral values, against reality."

He means… What's the matter?" she asked, seeing the abnormal intensity of the girl's face.

"It's … it's something I've tried so hard to understand … for such a long time.… "

"Well, observe that you never hear that accusation in defense of innocence, but always in defense of guilt. You never hear it said by a good person about those who fail to do him justice. But you always hear it said by a rotter about those who treat him as a rotter, those who don't feel any sympathy for the evil he's committed or for the pain he suffers as a consequence. Well, it's true - that is what I do not feel. But those who feel it, feel nothing for any quality of human greatness, for any person or action that deserves admiration, approval, esteem. These are the things I feel. You'll find that it's one or the other. Those who grant sympathy to guilt, grant none to innocence. Ask yourself which, of the two, are the unfeeling persons. And then you'll see what motive is the opposite of charity."

"What?" she whispered.

"Justice, Cherryl."

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:46 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2010

Are you thinking of truth?

Rand's words of fiction resemble non-fiction more and more with each passing day of the Obama Administration.

Part III, Chapter 3 - Anti-Greed:

[Dr. Floyd Ferris:] 'Robert Stadler' is an illustrious name, which I would hate to see destroyed. But what is an illustrious name nowadays? In whose eyes?" His arm swept over the grandstands. "In the eyes of people such as you see around you? If they will believe, when so told, that an instrument of death is a tool of prosperity - would they not believe it if they were told that Robert Stadler is a traitor and an enemy of the State? Would you then rely on the fact that this is not true? Are you thinking of truth, Dr. Stadler? Questions of truth do not enter into social issues. Principles have no influence on public affairs. Reason has no power over human beings. Logic is impotent. Morality is superfluous. Do not answer me now, Dr. Stadler. You will answer me over the microphone. You're the next speaker."

(...)

"I am proud," Dr. Stadler read into the microphone and into the attentive silence of a nation, "that my years of work in the service of science have brought me the honor of placing into the hands of our great leader, Mr. Thompson, a new instrument with an incalculable potential for a civilizing and liberating influence upon the mind of man …"

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:15 PM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2010

Right and Wrong in a Mixed Economy

I haven't yet quoted enough of Ragnar Danneskjold for the unfamiliar to know that he robs from looters and statists and returns the wealth to those from whom it was taken, by force, in the form of govenment taxes. Here he explains the balance due to Dagny Taggart.

Part III, Chapter 2 - The Utopia of Greed

"Your account, however, is not as large as some of the others, even though huge sums were extorted from you by force in the past twelve years. You will find - as it is marked on the copies of your income-tax returns which Mulligan will hand over to you - that I have refunded only those taxes which you paid on the salary you earned as Operating Vice-President, but not the taxes you paid on your income from your Taggart Transcontinental stock. You deserved every penny of that stock, and in the days of your father I would have refunded every penny of your profit - but under your brother's management, Taggart Transcontinental has taken its share of the looting, it has made profits by force, by means of government favors, subsidies, moratoriums, directives. You were not responsible for it, you were, in fact, the greatest victim of that policy - but I refunded only the money which was made by pure productive ability, not the money any part of which was loot taken by force."

When liberals denounce "corporate welfare" I agree with them to the extent they refer to such "government favors, subsidies, moratoriums, directives" no matter what corporation may be the beneficiary. Yet what do those same liberals then resort to when they want to foist their "new energy economy" upon us? Government favors (green energy use in government buildings) subsidies (tax rebates for "green" producers and consumers) moratoriums (outlawed light bulbs and artificial carbon caps) and directives (mandates for "renewable" energy production.)

NO MORE CORPORATE WELFARE!

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:40 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

COEXI$T!

Posted by: jk at October 28, 2010 4:27 PM
But johngalt thinks:

The first ten stickers arrived today. Now we need to disuss a marketing plan...

Posted by: johngalt at October 28, 2010 11:11 PM

October 25, 2010

What "free trade" looks like

Now we are in Part III of Atlas Shrugged, entitled "A is A"

Chapter 1 - Atlantis

She smiled and asked, pointing at the machinery, "Shale oil?"

"Uh-huh."

"That's the process which you were working to develop while you were on earth?" She said it involuntarily and she gasped a little at her own words.

He laughed. "While I was in hell--yes. I'm on earth now."

"How much do you produce?"

"Two hundred barrels a day."

A note of sadness came back into her voice: "It's the process by which you once intended to fill five tank-trains a day."

"Dagny," he said earnestly, pointing at his tank, "one gallon of it is worth more than a trainful back there in hell--because this is mine, all of it, every single drop of it, to be spent on nothing but myself." He raised his smudged hand, displaying the greasy stains as a treasure, and a black drop on the tip of his finger flashed like a gem in the sun. "Mine," he said. "Have you let them beat you into forgetting what that word means, what it feels like? You should give yourself a chance to relearn it."

"You're hidden in a hole in the wilderness," she said bleakly, "and you're producing two hundred barrels of oil, when you could have flooded the world with it."

"What for? To feed the looters?"

"No! To earn the fortune you deserve."

"But I'm richer now than I was in the world. What's wealth but the means of expanding one's life? There's two ways one can do it: either by producing more or by producing it faster. And that's what I'm doing: I'm manufacturing time."

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:41 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2010

"His name was John Galt"

As ending to the previous entry...

"But what about John Galt?" she asked.

"Oh …" he said, remembering. "Oh, yes …"

(...)

Gerald Starnes, who was chairman, kept hammering his gavel for order, and we quieted down some, but not much, and you could see the whole place moving restlessly from side to side, like water in a pan that's being rocked. 'This is a crucial moment in the history of mankind!' Gerald Starnes yelled through the noise. 'Remember that none of us may now leave this place, for each of us belongs to all the others by the moral law which we all accept!' 'I don't,' said one man and stood up. He was one of the young engineers. Nobody knew much about him. He'd always kept mostly by himself. When he stood up, we suddenly turned dead-still. It was the way he held his head. He was tall and slim - and I remember thinking that any two of us could have broken his neck without trouble - but what we all felt was fear. He stood like a man who knew that he was right. 'I will put an end to this, once and for all,' he said. His voice was clear and without any feeling. That was all he said and started to walk out. He walked down the length of the place, in the white light, not hurrying and not noticing any of us. Nobody moved to stop him. Gerald Starnes cried suddenly after him, 'How?' He turned and answered, 'I will stop the motor of the world.' Then he walked out. We never saw him again. We never heard what became of him.

(...)

We began to think of him whenever we saw another collapse in the world, which nobody could explain, whenever we took another blow, whenever we lost another hope, whenever we felt caught in this dead, gray fog that's descending all over the earth. Perhaps people heard us crying that question and they did not know what we meant, but they knew too well the feeling that made us cry it. They, too, felt that something had gone from the world. Perhaps this was why they began to say it, whenever they felt that there was no hope. I'd like to think that I am wrong, that those words mean nothing, that there's no conscious intention and no avenger behind the ending of the human race. But when I hear them repeating that question, I feel afraid. I think of the man who said that he would stop the motor of the world. You see, his name was John Galt."

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:31 PM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2010

The Common "Good"

This one is rather long for "quote" status, but every word is worth the effort to read it. Part II, Chapter 10 - The Sign of the Dollar.

And when you saw it, you saw the real motive of any person who's ever preached the slogan: 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.'

"This was the whole secret of it. At first, I kept wondering how it could be possible that the educated, the cultured, the famous men of the world could make a mistake of this size and preach, as righteousness, this sort of abomination - when five minutes of that should have told them what would happen if somebody tried to practice what they preached. Now I know that they didn't do it by any kind of mistake. Mistakes of this size are never made innocently. If men fall for some vicious piece of insanity, when they have no way to make it work and no possible reason to explain their choice - it's because they have a reason that they do not wish to tell. And we weren't so innocent either, when we voted for the plan at the first meeting. We didn't do it just because we believed that the drippy old guff they spewed was good. We had another reason, but the guff helped us to hide it from our neighbors and from ourselves. The guff gave us a chance to pass off as virtue something that we'd be ashamed to admit otherwise. There wasn't a man voting for it who didn't think that under a setup of this kind he'd muscle in on the profits of the men abler than himself. There wasn't a man rich and smart enough but that he didn't think that somebody was richer and smarter, and this plan would give him a share of his better's wealth and brain. But while he was thinking that he'd get unearned benefits from the men above, he forgot about the men below who'd get unearned benefits, too. He forgot about all his inferiors who'd rush to drain him just as he hoped to drain his superiors. The worker who liked the idea that his need entitled him to a limousine like his boss's, forgot that every bum and beggar on earth would come howling that their need entitled them to an icebox like his own. That was our real motive when we voted - that was the truth of it - but we didn't like to think it, so the less we liked it, the louder we yelled about our love for the common good.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:32 PM | Comments (2)
But Keith Arnold thinks:

"It's for the common good." Second only to "it's for the children" as a specious BS rationale for taking from producers and redistributing to the have-nots based on their imputed victim status.

Need alone does not ever endow entitlement. I have a right to keep what I earn, benefit from what I produce, and profit by what I put effort into. Those things - not need, not want - entitle me to my possessions.

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 19, 2010 5:22 PM
But johngalt thinks:

You are welcome in the valley brother.

Posted by: johngalt at October 20, 2010 5:46 PM

October 15, 2010

Produce or Perish

An intentional play on the academic mantra "publish or perish." Here Francisco explains to Dagny that production - that which is necessary for human life in any state of technological progress - does not come from material, or labor, but from man's intellect.

Moving on to Part II, Chapter 8 - By Our Love:

Dagny, learn to understand the nature of your own power and you'll understand the paradox you now see around you. You do not have to depend on any material possessions, they depend on you, you create them, you own the one and only tool of production. Wherever you are, you will always be able to produce. But the looters - by their own stated theory - are in desperate, permanent, congenital need and at the blind mercy of matter.

Do you want "progress?" Then concentrate on production, not redistribution or "equality" or the "rights" of every living creature except man.

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:57 PM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2010

It Can't Be Done

Part II, Chapter 7 - The Moratorium on Brains:

"But Christ Almighty, how do they expect us to move trains without engines?"

"Miss Taggart didn't," said the road foreman. "Mr. Locey does."


Posted by JohnGalt at 2:53 PM | Comments (0)

October 7, 2010

Executive Genius, and Lack Therof

Part II, Chapter 7 - The Moratorium on Brains

When things go well—which is never longer than half an hour - Mr. Locey makes it a point to remind us that 'these are not the days of Miss Taggart.' At the first sign of trouble, he calls me into his office and asks me - casually, in the midst of the most irrelevant drivel - what Miss Taggart used to do in such an emergency.
Posted by JohnGalt at 2:56 PM | Comments (0)

October 6, 2010

Justice: When Man is Free to Profit

Part II, Chapter 7 - The Moratorium on Brains:
[Continuation of yesterday's AS QOTD]

"Why should you be shocked, Mr. Rearden? I am merely complying with the system which my fellow men have established. If they believe that force is the proper means to deal with one another, I am giving them what they ask for. If they believe that the purpose of my life is to serve them, let them try to enforce their creed. If they believe that my mind is their property - let them come and get it."

"But what sort of life have you chosen? To what purpose are you giving your mind?"

"To the cause of my love."

"Which is what?"

"Justice."

"Served by being a pirate?"

"By working for the day when I won't have to be a pirate any longer."

"Which day is that?"

"The day when you'll be free to make a profit on Rearden Metal."

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:18 PM | Comments (0)

October 5, 2010

Looter, Victim, or ...

Part II, Chapter 7 - The Moratorium on Brains:

"Ragnar Danneskjöld …" said Rearden, as if he were seeing the whole of the past decade, as if he were looking at the enormity of a crime spread through ten years and held within two words.

"Look more carefully, Mr. Rearden. There are only two modes of living left to us today: to be a looter who robs disarmed victims or to be a victim who works for the benefit of his own despoilers. I did not choose to be either."

"You chose to live by means of force, like the rest of them."

"Yes—openly. Honestly, if you will. I do not rob men who are tied and gagged, I do not demand that my victims help me, I do not tell them that I am acting for their own good. I stake my life in every encounter with men, and they have a chance to match their guns and their brains against mine in fair battle. Fair? It's I against the organized strength, the guns, the planes, the battleships of five continents. If it's a moral judgment that you wish to pronounce, Mr. Rearden, then who is the man of higher morality: I or Wesley Mouch?"

"I have no answer to give you," said Rearden, his voice low.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:44 PM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2010

Look for the Union Label

Chapter 7 of part II flew by and I'm into chapter 8 already but here's an excellent scene about labor unions and government that I forgot to post from the beginning of Part II, Chapter 6 - Miracle Metal.

"Do you think the country will stand for it?" yelled Taggart.

"Stop kidding yourself," said Kinnan. "The country? If there aren't any principles any more—and I guess the doc is right, because there sure aren't—if there aren't any rules to this game and it's only a question of who robs whom—then I've got more votes than the bunch of you, there are more workers than employers, and don't you forget it, boys!"

"That's a funny attitude to take," said Taggart haughtily, "about a measure which, after all, is not designed for the selfish benefit of workers or employers, but for the general welfare of the public."

"Okay," said Kinnan amiably, "let's talk your lingo. Who is the public? If you go by quality—then it ain't you, Jim, and it ain't Orrie Boyle. If you go by quantity—then it sure is me, because quantity is what I've got behind me." His smile disappeared, and with a sudden, bitter look of weariness he added, "Only I'm not going to say that I'm working for the welfare of my public, because I know I'm not. I know that I'm delivering the poor bastards into slavery, and that's all there is to it. And they know it, too. But they know that I'll have to throw them a crumb once in a while, if I want to keep my racket, while with the rest of you they wouldn't have a chance in hell. So that's why, if they've got to be under a whip, they'd rather I held it, not you—you drooling, tear-jerking, mealy-mouthed bastards of the public welfare! Do you think that outside of your college-bred pansies there's one village idiot whom you're fooling? I'm a racketeer—but I know it and my boys know it, and they know that I'll pay off. Not out of the kindness of my heart, either, and not a cent more than I can get away with, but at least they can count on that much. Sure, it makes me sick sometimes, it makes me sick right now, but it's not me who's built this kind of world—you did—so I'm playing the game as you've set it up and I'm going to play it for as long as it lasts—which isn't going to be long for any of us!"

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:54 PM | Comments (0)

September 24, 2010

A Justice Worth Defending

Part II, Chapter 6 - Miracle Metal closes with this life-altering realization:

When one acts on pity against justice, it is the good whom one punishes for the sake of the evil; when one saves the guilty from suffering, it is the innocent whom one forces to suffer. There is no escape from justice, nothing can be unearned and unpaid for in the universe, neither in matter nor in spirit--and if the guilty do not pay, then the innocent have to pay it.

It was not the cheap little looters of wealth who have beaten me--it was I. They did not disarm me—I threw away my weapon. This is a battle that cannot be fought except with clean hands--because the enemy's sole power is in the sores of one's conscience--and I accepted a code that made me regard the strength of my hands as a sin and a stain.

Productive accomplishment is no vice, and for it no Atonement is owed.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:55 PM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2010

The Unearned: Love and Wealth

Today's is the penultimate entry from the turning point that is Part II, Chapter 6 - Miracle Metal:

I broke their code, but I fell into the trap they intended, the trap of a code devised to be broken. I took no pride in my rebellion, I took it as guilt, I did not damn them, I damned myself, I did not damn their code, I damned existence—and I hid my happiness as a shameful secret. I should have lived it openly, as of our right—or made her my wife, as in truth she was. But I branded my happiness as evil and made her bear it as a disgrace. What they want to do to her now, I did it first. I made it possible.

I did it—in the name of pity for the most contemptible woman I know. That, too, was their code, and I accepted it. I believed that one person owes a duty to another with no payment for it in return. I believed that it was my duty to love a woman who gave me nothing, who betrayed everything I lived for, who demanded her happiness at the price of mine. I believed that love is some static gift which, once granted, need no longer be deserved—just as they believe that wealth is a static possession which can be seized and held without further effort.

Posted by JohnGalt at 7:16 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2010

Original Sin -> Guilt -> Self-Immolation

In this passage Reardon learns how to break the cycle.

Part II, Chapter 6 - Miracle Metal:

He thought: Guilty?--guiltier than I had known, far guiltier than I had thought, that day--guilty of the evil of damning as guilt that which was my best. I damned the fact that my mind and body were a unit, and that my body responded to the values of my mind. I damned the fact that joy is the core of existence, the motive power of every living being, that it is the need of one's body as it is the goal of one's spirit, that my body was not a weight of inanimate muscles, but an instrument able to give me an experience of superlative joy to unite my flesh and my spirit. That capacity, which I damned as shameful, had left me indifferent to sluts, but gave me my one desire in answer to a woman's greatness. That desire, which I damned as obscene, did not come from the sight of her body, but from the knowledge that the lovely form I saw, did express the spirit I was seeing—it was not her body that I wanted, but her person--it was not the girl in gray that I had to possess, but the woman who ran a railroad.
Posted by JohnGalt at 2:45 PM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2010

The Moral Code of 'Life'

Again, Part II, Chapter 6 - Miracle Metal

This passage immediately follows yesterday's ASQOTD:

"Yours was the code of life," said the voice of a man whom he could not forget. "What, then, is theirs?"

Why had the world accepted it?—he thought. How had the victims come to sanction a code that pronounced them guilty of the fact of existing?… And then the violence of an inner blow became the total stillness of his body as he sat looking at a sudden vision: Hadn't he done it also? Hadn't he given his sanction to the code of self-damnation? Dagny—he thought—and the depth of their feeling for each other … the blackmail from which the depraved would be immune … hadn't he, too, once called it depravity? Hadn't he been first to throw at her all the insults which the human scum was now threatening to throw at her in public? Hadn't he accepted as guilt the highest happiness he had ever found?

"You who won't allow one per cent of impurity into an alloy of metal," the unforgotten voice was saying to him, "what have you allowed into your moral code?"


Posted by JohnGalt at 2:38 PM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2010

Anthropogenic Psychological Depression

Part II, Chapter 6 - Miracle Metal:

Such was the code that the world had accepted and such was the key to the code: that it hooked man's love of existence to a circuit of torture, so that only the man who had nothing to offer would have nothing to fear, so that the virtues which made life possible and the values which gave it meaning became the agents of its destruction, so that one's best became the tool of one's agony, and man's life on earth became impractical.
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:57 PM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2010

Man? Or Sheep.

No, I haven't given up the 'Atlas QOTD' franchise. I'd stopped listening during drive time due to a pressing need to keep up with developments in the CO governor's race on talk radio.

Today's quote comes from the meeting to discuss the implementation of Directive 10-289 on "the morning of May first" and resonates with our nascent liberty movement. Might society's intellectual luminaries protest their plan to make everything in the private sector "stand still?"

Part II, Chapter 6 - Miracle Metal:

Fred Kinnan, head of the Amalgamated Labor of America speaking:

Intellectuals? You might have to worry about any other breed of men, but not about the modern intellectuals: they'll swallow anything. I don't feel so safe about the lousiest wharf rat in the longshoremen's union: he's liable to remember suddenly that he is a man—and then I won't be able to keep him in line. But the intellectuals? That's the one thing they've forgotten along ago. I guess it's the one thing that all their education was aimed to make them forget. Do anything you please to the intellectuals. They'll take it."

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:36 PM | Comments (0)

July 21, 2010

Criminalized Production

Under stifling taxes and regulation, industry is in widespread collapse. Unemployment is the spirit of the day. Cold and hungry Americans are told that "privations strenghten a people's spirit." And yet, government only continues to pile on more of the poison that brought them here.

Fiction?

Part II, Chapter 5 - Account Overdrawn:

Rearden, that evening, his coat collar raised, his hat slanted low over his eyes, the snow drifts rising to his knees, was tramping through an abandoned open-pit coal mine, in a forsaken corner of Pennsylvania, supervising the loading of pirated coal upon the trucks which he had provided. Nobody owned the mine, nobody could afford the cost of working it. But a young man with a brusque voice and dark, angry eyes, who came from a starving settlement, had organized a gang of the unemployed and made a deal with Rearden to deliver the coal. They mined it at night, they stored it in hidden culverts, they were paid in cash, with no questions asked or answered. Guilty of a fierce desire to remain alive, they and Rearden traded like savages, without rights, titles, contracts or protection, with nothing but mutual understanding and a ruthlessly absolute observance of one's given word. Rearden did not even know the name of the young leader. Watching him at the job of loading the trucks, Rearden thought that this boy, if born a generation earlier, would have become a great industrialist; now, he would probably end his brief life as a plain criminal in a few more years.
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:15 PM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2010

COEXIST II

COEXIST%21bumper%20sticker.jpg

Better?

Posted by JohnGalt at 12:01 PM | Comments (5)
But jk thinks:

Awesome on stilts!

Posted by: jk at July 18, 2010 12:07 PM
But jk thinks:

Or how about: ESCHEW USUFRUCT!

Posted by: jk at July 18, 2010 12:11 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Is that German? ;)

Posted by: johngalt at July 19, 2010 2:28 PM
But jk thinks:

Nein. A legal term describing a situation wherein a person or company has a temporary right to use and derive income from someone else's property (provided that it isn't damaged).

My internal definition does not include the "not damnaged" clause.

Posted by: jk at July 19, 2010 2:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

I'm thinking of changing the exclaimation point to a question mark and changing "don't demand" to "stop demanding."

And if I could I'd add, at the bottom in small type, "(and practicing human sacrifice.)"

Posted by: johngalt at July 22, 2010 3:38 PM

July 16, 2010

Coexist

This, on the other hand, might fit on a bumper sticker:

"I hold that there is no clash of interests among men who do not demand the unearned and do not practice human sacrifices." -Hank Reardon

UPDATE (7/18): There's already a "COEXIST" bumper sticker. The world needs one of these too.

No%20Clash%20bumpersticker.jpg

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:23 PM | Comments (2)
But jk thinks:

...well, except immigration, drug legalization, abortion, World Cup soccer, the designated hitter, President Theodore Rooselvelt...

Posted by: jk at July 16, 2010 6:10 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Brother, the operative word is "clash" not "diversity."

Posted by: johngalt at July 16, 2010 8:30 PM

The "greatness" of sacrifice

I'm endeavoring to be more succinct. From Part II, Chapter 5 - 'Account Overdrawn':

"Privations strengthen a people's spirit," wrote Bertram Scudder, "and forge the fine steel of social discipline. Sacrifice is the cement which unites human bricks into the great edifice of society."

"The nation which had once held the creed that greatness is achieved by production, is now told that it is achieved by squalor," said Francisco d'Anconia in a press interview. But this was not printed.


Alas, it's probably still too long to print on a T-shirt.

This philosophical point, counter-point comes after a brief description of the results of central planning:

"Storms are an act of God," wrote Bertram Scudder, "and nobody can be held socially responsible for the weather." The rations of coal, established by Wesley Mouch, permitted the heating of homes for three hours a day. There was no wood to burn, no metal to make new stoves, no tools to pierce the walls of the houses for new installations. In makeshift contraptions of bricks and oil cans, professors were burning the books of their libraries, and fruit-growers were burning the trees of their orchards.
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:12 PM | Comments (0)

July 15, 2010

The crowd burst into applause.

In a recent article linked by JK Matt Kibbe said that TEA Party values represents the majority of Americans, and at the center of the political spectrum.

The Tea Party movement, if sustained, has the potential to take America back from an entrenched establishment of big spenders, political careerists, and rent-seeking corporations. The values that animate us all—lower taxes, less government, and more freedom—is a big philosophical tent set at the very center of American politics.

This reminded me of a sentiment I've expressed, though I couldn't find the instance on these pages, that individualism is Americanism. At the base of the moral code of most Americans is the idea that each of us is entitled to choose our own path, without permission from any master, and to dispose of our earnings as we see fit. All of this is segue to today's 'Atlas Shrugged' QOTD.

Part II, Chapter 4: The Sanction of the Victim- [Henry Reardon at his trial before the judges of the "Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources."]

It is not your particular policy that I challenge, but your moral premise. If it were true that men could achieve their good by means of turning some men into sacrificial animals, and I were asked to immolate myself for the sake of creatures who wanted to survive at the price of my blood, if I were asked to serve the interests of society apart from, above and against my own—I would refuse. I would reject it as the most contemptible evil, I would fight it with every power I possess, I would fight the whole of mankind, if one minute were all I could last before I were murdered, I would fight in the full confidence of the justice of my battle and of a living being's right to exist. Let there be no misunderstanding about me. If it is now the belief of my fellow men, who call themselves the public, that their good requires victims, then I say: The public good be damned, I will have no part of it!"

The crowd burst into applause.

Rearden whirled around, more startled than his judges. He saw faces that laughed in violent excitement, and faces that pleaded for help; he saw their silent despair breaking out into the open; he saw the same anger and indignation as his own, finding release in the wild defiance of their cheering; he saw the looks of admiration and the looks of hope. There were also the faces of loose-mouthed young men and maliciously unkempt females, the kind who led the booing in newsreel theaters at any appearance of a businessman on the screen; they did not attempt a counter-demonstration; they were silent.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:11 PM | Comments (0)

July 13, 2010

"The only man I ever loved"

Lest anyone think I had given up on regular quotations from my favorite tome ... note the new subcategory.

"The only man I ever loved." It came from Ken Danagger, who had never expressed anything more personal than "Look here, Rearden." He thought: Why had we let it go? Why had we both been condemned—in the hours away from our desks—to an exile among dreary strangers who had made us give up all desire for rest, for friendship, for the sound of human voices? Could I now reclaim a single hour spent listening to my brother Philip and give it to Ken Danagger? Who made it our duty to accept, as the only reward for our work, the gray torture of pretending love for those who roused us to nothing but contempt? We who were able to melt rock and metal for our purpose, why had we never sought that which we wanted from men?
Posted by JohnGalt at 2:54 PM | Comments (0)

July 1, 2010

"Who is destroying the world?"

Here's what comes after JK's quote from the first of the year. From Part 2, Chapter II: The Aristocracy of Pull

"Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion - when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing - when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors - when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed.

And here was a good answer for Sharron Angle to give the questioner about her reference to "Second Amendment remedies."

"When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, 'Who is destroying the world?' You are.

This was the sentiment she was describing, even if she couldn't have explained why.

It also explains why we're not seeing economic recovery anywhere on the horizon.

"Let me give you a tip on a clue to men's characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.
"Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper's bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with one another - their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.
"But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich - will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt - and of his life, as he deserves.
"Then you will see the rise of the men of the double standard - the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money - the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statutes are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law - men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims - then money becomes its creators' avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they've passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.
"Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money. Money is the barometer of a society's virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion - when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing - when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors - when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed. Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot.
"Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men's protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked: 'Account overdrawn.'
"When you have made evil the means of survival, do not expect men to remain good. Do not expect them to stay moral and lose their lives for the purpose of becoming the fodder of the immoral. Do not expect them to produce, when production is punished and looting rewarded. Do not ask, 'Who is destroying the world?' You are.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:21 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

The word "prescient" seems too weak. No wonder she is climbing the charts again.

Posted by: jk at July 1, 2010 4:17 PM

June 29, 2010

"Everything is Something"

The answer to the Dr. Pritchett post, from Part One, Chapter VI: "The Non-Commercial-

"Why, hello, Professor!" said Francisco, bowing to Dr. Pritchett.

There was no pleasure in Dr. Pritchett's face when he answered the greeting and performed a few introductions.

"We were just discussing a most interesting subject," said the earnest matron. "Dr. Pritchett was telling us that nothing is anything."

"He should, undoubtedly, know more than anyone else about that," Francisco answered gravely.

"I wouldn't have supposed that you knew Dr. Pritchett so well, Señor d'Anconia," she said, and wondered why the professor looked displeased by her remark.

"I am an alumnus of the great school that employs Dr. Pritchett at present, the Patrick Henry University. But I studied under one of his predecessors—Hugh Akston."

"Hugh Akston!" the attractive young woman gasped. "But you couldn't have, Señor d'Anconia! You're not old enough. I thought he was one of those great names of … of the last century."

"Perhaps in spirit, madame. Not in fact."

"But I thought he died years ago."

"Why, no. He's still alive."

"Then why don't we ever hear about him any more?"

"He retired, nine years ago."

"Isn't it odd? When a politician or a movie star retires, we read front page stories about it. But when a philosopher retires, people do not even notice it."

"They do, eventually."

A young man said, astonished, "I thought Hugh Akston was one of those classics that nobody studied any more, except in histories of philosophy. I read an article recently which referred to him as the last of the great advocates of reason."

"Just what did Hugh Akston teach?" asked the earnest matron.

Francisco answered, "He taught that everything is something."

Posted by JohnGalt at 4:22 PM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2010

Rust

One of the cool features of my electronic copy of Atlas Shrugged (and of virtually everything else Rand wrote) is the ability to search by keyword. Today's quote is inspired by this passage from the Merle Hazzard Monetary Policy song:

Investment banks make billions, While factories turn to rust.

The quote that follows made an indelible impression upon my first reading of the book. I have recounted it personally to many, many friends. From Part One, Chapter IV: The Immovable Movers (keyword was "rust")

On her way through the plant, she had seen an enormous piece of machinery left abandoned in a corner of the yard. It had been a precision machine tool once, long ago, of a kind that could not be bought anywhere now. It had not been worn out; it had been rotted by neglect, eaten by rust and the black drippings of a dirty oil. She had turned her face away from it. A sight of that nature always blinded her for an instant by the burst of too violent an anger. She did not know why; she could not define her own feeling; she knew only that there was, in her feeling, a scream of protest against injustice, and that it was a response to something much beyond an old piece of machinery.
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:12 PM | Comments (6)
But jk thinks:

So you would object to any loss of profit to protect the living conditions of livestock. but we're going to get all weepy over a lathe?

Posted by: jk at June 28, 2010 4:49 PM
But johngalt thinks:

That's a very narrow reading of the QOTD. Not "weepy" but angry. Not at the condition of the machinery but at the neglect that caused it - and that this neglect was of a product of man's mind by the selfish greed of second-handers and their code of "equality" - equality by bringing down any man whose achievements exceed their own.

Living conditions of livestock? What makes you think the livestock cares? But a wise man cares because a well kept herd is healthier and more productive. 'Animal Husbandry' is a college course, not a crime.

Posted by: johngalt at June 29, 2010 3:41 PM
But jk thinks:

Well, I'm narrow minded.

I was struck by the juxtaposition. I read your curt dismissal of animal rights a minute before the QOTD.

I do not endow animals with Lockean birthright liberty but am uncomfortable saying that a living being does not enjoy "a right" to treatment better than that enjoyed by many critters in our food chain. It is not an issue that I devote much time or thought to, but one to which I am very sympathetic.

I don't claim the capacity to channel dead immigrant women, but I'd suggest that Rand might well have purposely meant the comparison against misplaced empathy for sub-Galtian creatures. Out of bounds?

Posted by: jk at June 29, 2010 4:04 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Not sure I understand...

Rand might have purposely meant "the comparision against misplaced empathy for sub-Galtian creatures."

What does this mean?

Posted by: johngalt at June 29, 2010 4:16 PM
But jk thinks:

I was suggesting that perhaps she was purposefully ridiculing the anger many would feel on seeing an ill-treated worker (or an ox), suggesting that one should be more concerned about ill-treatment to capital expenditures.

I thought it was a flyer when I wrote it, but rereading, I am pretty certain I am right. The reaction of Ms Taggart (the antecedent to "she?") would be considered quite normal upon finding a neglected person or animal.

Posted by: jk at June 29, 2010 4:34 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Yes, I think I see where you're going now. Answering you thoroughly on what Rand may have meant will require more thought, but I can tell you that my personal reaction was similar to when I find a well made and barely used tool rusting in damp grass. If I know it is there because of carelessness I am angry. Similarly, when I see tragedies befall animals or other people I am just as angry if I know they were the result of another's carelessness.

You say Rand may have intended to suggest a greater concern for ill-treatment of capital expenditures. I submit that the capital expenditure had nothing to do it. She was lamenting the ill-treatment of intellectual capital, as the tool was the product of the mind of man. And that the ill-treatment was at the hands of other men - men who lived by the same code as animals, i.e. survival of the fittest.

Posted by: johngalt at June 30, 2010 3:17 PM

June 25, 2010

Profit: A Moral Directive

In rebuttal to Josh Tickell's involuntary assumption that profit is not a moral directive I give you Miss Dagny Taggart addressing Eugene Lawson, past president of the failed Community National Bank of Madison, Wisconsin, the "banker with a heart" who then took a job in Washingon in the "Bureau of Economic Planning and National Resources." Part 1, Chapter X: Wyatt's Torch

"Good day," she said.

She had turned to go, when he said, his voice jerky and high, "You haven't any right to despise me."

She stopped to look at him. "I have expressed no opinion."

"I am perfectly innocent, since I lost my money, since I lost all of my own money for a good cause. My motives were pure. I wanted nothing for myself. I've never sought anything for myself. Miss Taggart, I can proudly say that in all of my life I have never made a profit!"

Her voice was quiet, steady and solemn:

"Mr. Lawson, I think I should let you know that of all the statements a man can make, that is the one I consider most despicable."

* * *
Eugene Lawson sat at his desk as if it were the control panel of a bomber plane commanding a continent below. But he forgot it, at times, and slouched down, his muscles going slack inside his suit, as if he were pouting at the world. His mouth was the one part of him which he could not pull tight at any time; it was uncomfortably prominent in his lean face, attracting the eyes of any listener: when he spoke, the movement ran through his lower lip, twisting its moist flesh into extraneous contortions of its own.
"I am not ashamed of it," said Eugene Lawson. "Miss Taggart, I want you to know that I am not ashamed of my past career as president of the Community National Bank of Madison."
"I haven't made any reference to shame," said Dagny coldly.
"No moral guilt can be attached to me, inasmuch as I lost everything I possessed in the crash of that bank. It seems to me that I would have the right to feel proud of such a sacrifice."
"I merely wanted to ask you some questions about the Twentieth Century Motor Company which—"
"I shall be glad to answer any questions. I have nothing to hide. My conscience is clear. If you thought that the subject was embarrassing to me, you were mistaken."
"I wanted to inquire about the men who owned the factory at the time when you made a loan to—"
"They were perfectly good men. They were a perfectly sound risk—though, of course, I am speaking in human terms, not in the terms of cold cash, which you are accustomed to expect from bankers. I granted them the loan for the purchase of that factory, because they needed the money. If people needed money, that was enough for me. Need was my standard, Miss Taggart. Need not greed. My father and grandfather built up the Community National Bank just to amass a fortune for themselves. I placed their fortune in the service of a higher ideal. I did not sit on piles of money and demand collateral from poor people who needed loans. The heart was my collateral. Of course, I do not expect anyone in this materialistic country to understand me. The rewards I got were not of a kind that people of your class, Miss Taggart, would appreciate. The people who used to sit in front of my desk, at the bank, did not sit as you do, Miss Taggart. They were humble, uncertain, worn with care, afraid to speak. My rewards were the tears of gratitude in their eyes, the trembling voices, the blessings, the woman who kissed my hand when I granted her a loan she had begged for in vain everywhere else."
"Will you please tell me the names of the men who owned the motor factory?"
"That factory was essential to the region, absolutely essential. I was perfectly justified in granting that loan. It provided employment for thousands of workers who had no other means of livelihood."
"Did you know any of the people who worked in the factory?"
"Certainly. I knew them all. It was men that interested me, not machines. I was concerned with the human side of industry, not the cash-register side."
She leaned eagerly across the desk. "Did you know any of the engineers who worked there?"
"The engineers? No, no. I was much more democratic than that. It's the real workers that interested me. The common men. They all knew me by sight. I used to come into the shops and they would wave and shout, 'Hello, Gene.' That's what they called me—Gene. But I'm sure this is of no interest to you. It's past history. Now if you really came to Washington in order to talk to me about your railroad"—he straightened up briskly, the bomber-plane pose returning—"I don't know whether I can promise you any special consideration, inasmuch as I must hold the national welfare above any private privileges or interests which—"
"I didn't come to talk to you about my railroad," she said, looking at him in bewilderment. "I have no desire to talk to you about my railroad."
"No?" He sounded disappointed.
"No. I came for information about the motor factory. Could you possibly recall the names of any of the engineers who worked there?"
"I don't believe I ever inquired about their names. I wasn't concerned with the parasites of office and laboratory. I was concerned with the real workers—the men of callused hands who keep a factory going. They were my friends."
"Can you give me a few of their names? Any names, of anyone who worked there?"
"My dear Miss Taggart, it was so long ago, there were thousands of them, how can I remember?"
"Can't you recall one, any one?"
"I certainly cannot. So many people have always filled my life that I can't be expected to recall individual drops in the ocean."
"Were you familiar with the production of that factory? With the kind of work they were doing—or planning?"
"Certainly. I took a personal interest in all my investments. I went to inspect that factory very often. They were doing exceedingly well. They were accomplishing wonders. The workers' housing conditions were the best in the country. I saw lace curtains at every window and flowers on the window sills. Every home had a plot of ground for a garden. They had built a new schoolhouse for the children."
"Did you know anything about the work of the factory's research laboratory?"
"Yes, yes, they had a wonderful research laboratory, very advanced, very dynamic, with forward vision and great plans."
"Do you … remember hearing anything about … any plans to produce a new type of motor?"
"Motor? What motor, Miss Taggart? I had no time for details. My objective was social progress, universal prosperity, human brotherhood and love. Love, Miss Taggart. That is the key to everything. If men learned to love one another, it would solve all their problems." She turned away, not to see the damp movements of his mouth. A chunk of stone with Egyptian hieroglyphs lay on a pedestal in a corner of the office—the statue of a Hindu goddess with six spider arms stood in a niche—and a huge graph of bewildering mathematical detail, like the sales chart of a mail-order house, hung on the wall.
"Therefore, if you're thinking of your railroad, Miss Taggart—as, of course, you are, in view of certain possible developments—I must point out to you that although the welfare of the country is my first consideration, to which I would not hesitate to sacrifice anyone's profits, still, I have never closed my ears to a plea for mercy and—"
She looked at him and understood what it was that he wanted from her, what sort of motive kept him going.
"I don't wish to discuss my railroad," she said, fighting to keep her voice monotonously flat, while she wanted to scream in revulsion. "Anything you have to say on the subject, you will please say it to my brother, Mr. James Taggart."
"I'd think that at a time like this you wouldn't want to pass up a rare opportunity to plead your case before—"
"Have you preserved any records pertaining to the motor factory?" She sat straight, her hands clasped tight together.
"What records? I believe I told you that I lost everything I owned when the bank collapsed." His body had gone slack once more, his interest had vanished. "But I do not mind it. What I lost was mere material wealth. I am not the first man in history to suffer for an ideal. I was defeated by the selfish greed of those around me. I couldn't establish a system of brotherhood and love in just one small state, amidst a nation of profit-seekers and dollar-grubbers. It was not my fault. But I won't let them beat me. I am not to be stopped. I am fighting—on a wider scale—for the privilege of serving my fellow men. Records, Miss Taggart? The record I left, when I departed from Madison is inscribed in the hearts of the poor, who had never had a chance before."
She did not want to utter a single unnecessary word; but she could not stop herself: she kept seeing the figure of the old charwoman scrubbing the steps. "Have you seen that section of the country since?" she asked.
"It's not my fault!" he yelled. "It's the fault of the rich who still had money, but wouldn't sacrifice it to save my bank and the people of Wisconsin! You can't blame me! I lost everything!"
"Mr. Lawson," she said with effort, "do you perhaps recall the name of the man who headed the corporation that owned the factory? The corporation to which you lent the money. It was called Amalgamated Service, wasn't it? Who was its president?"
"Oh, him? Yes, I remember him. His name was Lee Hunsacker. A very worthwhile young man, who's taken a terrible beating."
"Where is he now? Do you know his address?"
"Why—I believe he's somewhere in Oregon. Grangeville, Oregon. My secretary can give you his address. But I don't see of what interest… Miss Taggart, if what you have in mind is to try to see Mr. Wesley Mouch, let me tell you that Mr. Mouch attaches a great deal of weight to my opinion in matters affecting such issues as railroads and other—"
"I have no desire to see Mr. Mouch," she said, rising.
"But then, I can't understand … What, really, was your purpose in coming here?"
"I am trying to find a certain man who used to work for the Twentieth Century Motor Company."
"Why do you wish to find him?"
"I want him to work for my railroad."
He spread his arms wide, looking incredulous and slightly indignant. "At such a moment, when crucial issues hang in the balance, you choose to waste your time on looking for some one employee? Believe me, the fate of your railroad depends on Mr. Mouch much more than on any employee you ever find."
"Good day," she said.
She had turned to go, when he said, his voice jerky and high, "You haven't any right to despise me."
She stopped to look at him. "I have expressed no opinion."
"I am perfectly innocent, since I lost my money, since I lost all of my own money for a good cause. My motives were pure. I wanted nothing for myself. I've never sought anything for myself. Miss Taggart, I can proudly say that in all of my life I have never made a profit!"
Her voice was quiet, steady and solemn:
"Mr. Lawson, I think I should let you know that of all the statements a man can make, that is the one I consider most despicable."

Posted by JohnGalt at 2:58 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

Actually, I thought of another statement men often make that is almost equally as despicable:

"There ought to be a law...:

Posted by: johngalt at June 25, 2010 9:04 PM

June 24, 2010

"We must control men in order to force them to be free"

I've been recommending to people who aren't sure whether they're prepared to read such a "huge" book (still less than half as long as the healthcare bill and far more engaging) that they begin with chapter 6 and see if that inspires them to read more. Today's excerpt is from that chapter.

From Part 1, Chapter VI: The Non-Commercial

A young man asked hesitantly, "But if we haven't any good concepts, how do we know that the ones we've got are ugly? I mean, by what standard?"

"There aren't any standards."

This silenced his audience.

"The philosophers of the past were superficial," Dr. Pritchett went on. "It remained for our century to redefine the purpose of philosophy. The purpose of philosophy is not to help men find the meaning of life, but to prove to them that there isn't any."

And a bonus:

A businessman said uneasily, "What I asked you about, Professor, was what you thought about the Equalization of Opportunity Bill."

"Oh, that?" said Dr. Pritchett. "But I believe I made it clear that I am in favor of it, because I am in favor of a free economy. A free economy cannot exist without competition. Therefore, men must be forced to compete. Therefore, we must control men in order to force them to be free."

Click continue reading to see both quotes in context.

UPDATE: Read Francisco D'Anconia's rebuttal to Dr. Pritchett here.

"Man? What is man? He's just a collection of chemicals with delusions of grandeur," said Dr. Pritchett to a group of guests across the room.
Dr. Pritchett picked a canapé off a crystal dish, held it speared between two straight fingers and deposited it whole into his mouth.
"Man's metaphysical pretensions," he said, "are preposterous. A miserable bit of protoplasm, full of ugly little concepts and mean little emotions—and it imagines itself important! Really, you know, that is the root of all the troubles in the world."
"But which concepts are not ugly or mean, Professor?" asked an earnest matron whose husband owned an automobile factory.
"None," said Dr. Pritchett. "None within the range of man's capacity."
A young man asked hesitantly, "But if we haven't any good concepts, how do we know that the ones we've got are ugly? I mean, by what standard?"
"There aren't any standards."
This silenced his audience.
"The philosophers of the past were superficial," Dr. Pritchett went on. "It remained for our century to redefine the purpose of philosophy. The purpose of philosophy is not to help men find the meaning of life, but to prove to them that there isn't any."
An attractive young woman, whose father owned a coal mine, asked indignantly, "Who can tell us that?"
"I am trying to," said Dr. Pritchett. For the last three years, he had been head of the Department of Philosophy at the Patrick Henry University.
Lillian Rearden approached, her jewels glittering under the lights. The expression on her face was held to the soft hint of a smile, set and faintly suggested, like the waves of her hair.
"It is this insistence of man upon meaning that makes him so difficult," said Dr. Pritchett. "Once he realizes that he is of no importance whatever in the vast scheme of the universe, that no possible significance can be attached to his activities, that it does not matter whether he lives or dies, he will become much more … tractable."
He shrugged and reached for another canapé. A businessman said uneasily, "What I asked you about, Professor, was what you thought about the Equalization of Opportunity Bill."
"Oh, that?" said Dr. Pritchett. "But I believe I made it clear that I am in favor of it, because I am in favor of a free economy. A free economy cannot exist without competition. Therefore, men must be forced to compete. Therefore, we must control men in order to force them to be free."
"But, look … isn't that sort of a contradiction?"
"Not in the higher philosophical sense. You must learn to see beyond the static definitions of old-fashioned thinking. Nothing is static in the universe. Everything is fluid."
"But it stands to reason that if—"
"Reason, my dear fellow, is the most naive of all superstitions. That, at least, has been generally conceded in our age."
"But I don't quite understand how we can—"
"You suffer from the popular delusion of believing that things can be understood. You do not grasp the fact that the universe is a solid contradiction."
"A contradiction of what?" asked the matron.
"Of itself."
"How … how's that?"
"My dear madam, the duty of thinkers is not to explain, but to demonstrate that nothing can be explained."
"Yes, of course … only …"
"The purpose of philosophy is not to seek knowledge, but to prove that knowledge is impossible to man."
"But when we prove it," asked the young woman, "what's going to be left?"
"Instinct," said Dr. Pritchett reverently.

Posted by JohnGalt at 3:13 PM | Comments (1)
But johngalt thinks:

I shared this one with a few people via email. There were several reactions. One thought it was actually making a case that "there isn't any" meaning of life. Another asked, "With what evidence do you support that the dominant position in most institutions of 'higher learning' is don't bother trying to explain or understand ... anything?" And then wrote, "There is no one universal Meaning of Life ... it is for each to decide his own meaning of life."

This may refer to one's "bliss" or other such preferences, but the book passage referred to "standards" by which concepts can be judged as "ugly" or otherwise. It is such objectivity that gives life meaning. Without it we might find ourselves making statements like:

"Personally, I pity anyone who thinks there is no meaning, and I may disagree with what some think is the meaning, but him thinking there is none does not make him wrong."

So in this view, the good Dr. Pritchett is pitiable but not "wrong." Would there also be pity for one who thinks there is a meaning of life and it is opposite of yours? If so, are you then not also pitiable? The answer is that by the moral code being practiced with these statements there is, indeed, no answer. Under the philosophy of Relativism being taught "in most institutions of 'higher learning'" it is useless "trying to explain or understand ... anything."

Posted by: johngalt at June 28, 2010 3:41 PM

June 23, 2010

The symbolic meaning of "Robin Hood"

Okay, maybe there won't be one every day, but I'll try...

We've been discussing the new Robin Hood movie here and here. This is what Rand had to say on the subject in Part 2, Chapter VII: 'The Moratorium on Brains'

This is the horror which Robin Hood immortalized as an ideal of righteousness. It is said that he fought against the looting rulers and returned the loot to those who had been robbed, but that is not the meaning of the legend which has survived. He is remembered, not as a champion of property, but as a champion of need, not as a defender of the robbed, but as a provider of the poor. He is held to be the first man who assumed a halo of virtue by practicing charity with wealth which he did not own, by giving away goods which he had not produced, by making others pay for the luxury of his pity. He is the man who became the symbol of the idea that need, not achievement, is the source of rights, that we don't have to produce, only to want, that the earned does not belong to us, but the unearned does. He became a justification for every mediocrity who, unable to make his own living, had demanded the power to dispose of the property of his betters, by proclaiming his willingness to devote his life to his inferiors at the price of robbing his superiors. It is this foulest of creatures—the double-parasite who lives on the sores of the poor and the blood of the rich—whom men have come to regard as a moral ideal. And this has brought us to a world where the more a man produces, the closer he comes to the loss of all his rights, until, if his ability is great enough, he becomes a rightless creature delivered as prey to any claimant—while in order to be placed above rights, above principles, above morality, placed 'where anything is permitted to him, even plunder and murder, all a man has to do is to be in need. Do you wonder why the world is collapsing around us? That is what I am fighting. Mr. Rearden. Until men learn that of all human symbols, Robin Hood is the most immoral and the most contemptible, there will be no justice on earth and no way for mankind to survive."
Posted by JohnGalt at 3:26 PM | Comments (1)
But jk thinks:

Awesome!

Posted by: jk at June 24, 2010 11:11 AM