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The Divine Right of Plutocrats

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E.D. Lynnellen Does Ayn Rand replace God with Reason to replace The Divine Right of Kings with The Divine Right of Plutocrats? Would Aristotle pat her on the back, or kick her butt? Is there any compromise between Randian thought and Social Liberalism possible, or is that wishful thinking?


Ajay Well to your first question, plutocracy would be a form of government run by industrialists. But Rand specifically rejects the increased role of government in society. She asks for a liberal society with minimum government control.

Would Aristotle pat her on the back, or kick her butt? she has attributed a part of her philosophy to Aristotle but she has derived from many sources and her own to make her own philosophy. Regards to your question- I cannot answer.

Social Liberalism- the term itself is contradictory. Liberalism means "free" and social means "can't do without strong government control in every day life". Randian thought is liberalism- which has not existed anywhere in it's true entirety except some people state between late 18th century and early 19th century Europe and USA. Liberalism is more of an ideal which needs to be looked upto. So to your question- my answer would be "wishful thinking"


E.D. Lynnellen Hi Ajay,

Interesting viewpoint regarding plutocracy and government. One would expect a minimum of societal control desired by those advocating The Golden Rule ( as in he with the gold makes the rules).

Can a society rigged to support only the wealthy be honestly called "Liberal"?


message 4: by Renee E (last edited Jul 29, 2014 06:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Renee E Before it got hijacked and made an unwilling guest of honor at the Mad Fat Catters' Tea Party, one of the points in the book was that Galt & His Ilk followed a practice that is the stuff of fantasy in the world we're in now . . . they employed good people, paid them well and advanced them on the basis of quality of work, work ethic and initiative.

Rand's utopia wasn't solely aimed at the rich, if it had been she wouldn't have disdained James Taggart, et al, so virulently. Her utopia, and what the Fat Catters have erased from it — which is why theirs will never work — celebrated competence, imagination and unswervable ethics.

Are there flaws? Sure. There's a lot of bitterness woven into the idealism in Rand's works. She escaped from Stalin's Russia and her life experiences color her work.

Will it work? No. There are too many James Taggarts and Lillian Reardons and too many Entitled — from both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum.


Daniel Renee wrote: "There are too many James Taggarts and Lillian Reardons and too many Entitled"

To be fair, all of the industrialists were Entitled. Not just one or two bad apples. I'm not saying others aren't as well (they are), but it's a point worth making.


Daniel Ajay wrote: social means "can't do without strong government control in every day life""

That's not really what the word "social" means. Or even close really. Not sure where you got that.

From Merriam Webster (the relevant defintions when talking about society as a group):


3
: of or relating to human society, the interaction of the individual and the group, or the welfare of human beings as members of society
4
a : tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others


message 7: by Renee E (last edited Jul 29, 2014 07:01AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Renee E If you'll notice, in the books, the Good Guys were out working in the plants, earning what was produced, and they were nearly all (Francisco D'Anconia is an exception) self-made.

Sure, it's a flawed work and flawed philosophy, but now it's been twisted and warped by master propagandists. They couldn't do that if we didn't allow and accept it. But they are good at what they do. Better than Rand.

It's like what happened with Robin Hood. The whole "rob from the rich to give to the poor" thing was a construct of later social propagandists that stuck. He wasn't robbing from the rich, he was reclaiming what they had stolen from the peasants and returning it to those who had earned it. Not so far off from Rand's philosophy, but even she seemed to have fallen for the warping of the story, or perhaps she never read it for herself.


Daniel Renee wrote: "was a construct of later social propagandists that stuck"

Have you ever noticed how the other side always has "propaganda" and the side you're on always has "sharing information"?

I'm not picking on you. Most people do this. I just wonder if people realize they are doing it.


message 9: by Renee E (last edited Jul 29, 2014 07:54AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Renee E I've noticed that. "I am discerning: she is a princess." :D

I am, by profession and inclination, a paralegal, heavy on the investigation and research end. I have to strip things down to bare facts for myself before I can do my job correctly, and that's how I have to present what I learn to the attorney, so I must be aware of what is *there* and what is my interpretation (which gets interesting, as most people, especially under stress, have a terrible time saying what they mean). I also have to read the black and white words of anything written that's pertinent to a case, but that's always been my propensity — something that got me into trouble a lot when I got stuck in a private school run by fundamental baptists, lol.

Having grown up in a House of NPD with all the lies, manipulations and gaslighting made me hypersensitive to misuse and warping of information, as well as nearly paranoid about how I transmit information and thoughts. So I do try to stay with what is. I consider it a matter of personal morality. I loathe conscious manipulation more than anything.

Literature, except for the actual words on the pages, is always subjective, but there's a vast difference between interpretation and intentional misuse to manipulate others.

Every read Goebbel's principles of propaganda? http://www.physics.smu.edu/pseudo/Pro... Or the transcript of Goering's remarks from the Nuremburg trials? http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects...

It is frightening, what we do to each other with words.

Of course, one of the best and handiest phrases I've ever stumbled across (and used liberally) is "you know, you're right; I was wrong."


Daniel Renee wrote: "I've noticed that. "I am discerning: she is a princess." :D

I am, by profession and inclination, a paralegal, heavy on the investigation and research end. I have to strip things down to bare facts..."


I think part of it boils down to the fact that in the strictest sense of the term, everyone is spreading propaganda since it really just means "spreading information (true or false) to either further your cause or harm another cause."

As people, we tend to judge ourselves by intent and others by action. Since we always judge ourselves to mean well and be basically honest people, the side we find ourselves on is considered the side just spreading the honest truth for the good of all and the other side, because it uses information for flawed purposes (i.e. has an opinion other than ours), is lumped in with the soviets or nazi germany to denigrate it's message before it even starts. Of course, the soviets and nazis said the same things about our messaging and they were right, too.


Daniel Renee wrote: they were nearly all (Francisco D'Anconia is an exception) self-made."

Actually Galt wasn't made at all (he hadn't released his engine though we are meant to assume it will be a big deal) and Dagney was not self-made either. Rearden is the only major character who was self-made in the classic sense. I do think it's a bit telling that she wrote a story about the importance of self-reliance and only included one character who was actually a self-made success. And, as she wrote it, he was the least interested in joining their cause.


Renee E Daniel wrote: "As people, we tend to judge ourselves by intent and others by action. Since we always judge ourselves to mean well and be basically honest people, the side we find ourselves on is considered the side just spreading the honest truth for the good of all and the other side..."

Exactly. I've noted that many times. Good to hear someone else say it! Usually people look at me uncomprehendingly, lol. I know that doing that made it possible to survive my family, to avoid being assimilated. I had to learn and understand how to step outside myself, which may not have been as difficult for me as it would have been for someone who wasn't raised like I was, constantly under the flail of being wrong no matter what I said or did. It also taught me to be very careful to be able to back myself up! And that it can get the snot slapped out of you, but it's worth it. ;-)

Probably also a big part of why and how I write . . .


message 13: by Daniel (last edited Jul 29, 2014 08:14AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Daniel Renee wrote: "It is frightening, what we do to each other with words."

I also think it's perhaps a bit sad that it always boils down to a sales pitch. It's almost never actually one set of ideas vs. another. It's one sales pitch vs another. Not that you need to be told that, working in a law firm. That's what lawyers do, they make sales pitches.

The really impressive thing is when/if you ever see a person present the opposing view with honesty, respect and in a positive light and then still makes a case that his/her ideas are better. That's about as close as we can get to ideas vs. ideas. Not that it ever really happens.


message 14: by Renee E (last edited Jul 29, 2014 08:20AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Renee E Some do, egregiously. That's a big part of why I have a difficult time working for typical lawyers. That and all the manipulative BS office politics. Oy. And the goldbricking.

My sister's a corporate whor. . . err, I mean attorney. I don't speak to her unless I can't avoid it :D

"It's one sales pitch vs another. . ."

It wasn't supposed to work that way, but you're right, that's what it's become. What was meant to be a justice system has become nothing more than a legal system and sadly it's getting more polluted all the time as the bench becomes more and more politicized and polarized and the public gets lazier and less willing — and able to think for themselves.

That was a big part of Rand's rants, but it's gotten buried in all the brouhaha. Her protege, Nathaniel Brandon, was probably more coherent and had a better grasp of reality and human nature, but he didn't write fiction.


Daniel Renee wrote: "Usually people look at me uncomprehendingly"

Oddly enough, I almost didn't point it out because usually people are so convinced of their own moral superiority that they don't even leave room to consider anything that doesn't put all those against them in the harshest possible light could actually not be evil and just be disagreeing.


Daniel Renee wrote: "Her protege, Nathaniel Brandon, was probably more coherent and had a better grasp of reality and human nature, but he didn't write fiction."

No, but he did basically invent Objectivism, contrary to popular opinion. He took The Fountainhead and followed the ideas to their logical conclusion and called it Objectivism. His seminars and classes were so popular that she began taking his material and writing her philosophical books on the subject. Galt is not only based on him, but the original editions of the book were dedicated to him as well.

He's also the father of the modern concept of Self Esteem and with the exception of Alan Greenspan, the only member of her inner circle to accomplish anything outside of riding on her ideas. Not that her fans like to be associated with Greenspan anymore, but for decades they went on and on about it.

Of course, eventually Brandon refused to have sex with Rand and so she destroyed him.


Renee E Daniel wrote: "Oddly enough, I almost didn't point it out because usually people are so convinced of their own moral superiority that they don't even le..."

:D One of my mother's catchphrases is "I don't like it; it's no good."

I've had the snarp knocked out of me more than once for pointing out that "it's not good" is only her opinion and has no bearing on whether something has inherent value to anyone else or not.

Yeah. Worth it. Definitely.


message 18: by Daniel (last edited Jul 29, 2014 08:42AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Daniel Renee wrote: "What was meant to be a justice system has become nothing more than a legal system"

It's pretty much inevitable in any field. At a certain point, everyone is on roughly the same level and distinguishing between them comes down to small advantages. Think about weight class sports like boxing or mma. The point of weight classes was to have people who were approximately the same size fighting each other so it wouldn't be about size, but skill. But before long (and nearly every fighter does this now), it became about being as big as you can be and still qualify as a certain lower size. So a fighter walks around in his life at 205, but dehydrates to 180 before a fight and then re-hydrates after the weigh in so he's fighting at 205 in the 180 class.

25 pounds is a huge advantage in a fight, so once one guy does that, everyone else kind of has to and before very long, the whole sport has changed.

It's part of why fighters like Fedor Emelianenko were so impressive and rare. He fought at his real weight and destroyed much larger guys. Contrast to someone like Anderson Silva who walked around at about Fedor's weight but fought two weight classes lower because he was really good at dehyrdrating for a weigh in.

Eventually, with enough competition for the top spots, everything boils down to tiny advantages gained from loopholes.


message 19: by Daniel (last edited Jul 29, 2014 08:46AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Daniel Renee wrote: "I don't like it; it's no good."

"You don't agree with me, therefor you have sinister intentions and want bad things to happen for everyone everywhere." = the subconscious life mentality of far too large a percentage of the population.


message 20: by Renee E (last edited Jul 29, 2014 08:50AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Renee E Alas, a lot of it has degenerated to proving Mark Twain's observation: "never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience."

And really, that was one of the themes in Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead for that matter, not allowing that to happen, no matter what.

One of my biggest sources of dissatisfaction while I worked in a toothbrush factory was that the practice of being awarded raises and bonuses based on performance has been abandoned, now it's all based on how long you've managed to stay there and it's automatic. That doesn't give most people any reason to excel or care about their work. All that's left is personal gratification, knowing you've done a good job, and that gets soured when you see people screwing around and making as much or more than you do. And getting promotions because they're next in line. That was another theme in her works, another one that's been obfuscated by Faux-ites.


Daniel Renee wrote: "One of my biggest sources of dissatisfaction while I worked in a toothbrush factory was that the practice of being awarded raises and bonuses based on performance has been abandoned, now it's all based on how long you've managed to stay there and it's automatic."

Unfortunately, these types of changes are usually based on math. The cost of training new people (or a series of them over a decade or two) is so high, that many companies find it more cost effective to incentivize the most profitable behavior.

I actually think it's one of the most important flaws of Rand's ideas actually and one that doesn't get talked about much. She praises competence and hard work (good things to praise), but just assumes that achievement always follows that. Competence and achievement are not the same thing and only sometimes overlap.

As in your example, the best people aren't paid the most because it's cheaper to pay the people who have done it the longest. In your story, competence and achievement almost never interact. Even not counting any government involvement at all, the ones at the top are almost never the most competent. They are the ones with the best connections, the most important friends, or even the beneficiaries of dumb luck.

But then, studies show that most CEOs have no real impact on how well their company does. And modern pay structures actually create a disincentive to do what is in the interest of the company.


message 22: by E.D. (last edited Jul 30, 2014 12:40AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

E.D. Lynnellen I like the flow of this conversation. The fact that Rand's conclusions rely on her "convictions" that reality will conform to her moral virtue declarations are at the root of the co-option of her philosophy, I think. Aristotle originally put forward the same ideals of ethics, morals, and metaphysics but recognized that economics and politics dealt with a real human society...what Greenspan eventually admitted before Congress regarding the "magical ability" of the Free Market to force Man to act ethically. He said he "was shocked". I wonder how much the influence of Rand's "convictions" clouded his judgement.

Does Rand's rigidity, compared to Aristotle's understanding of human nature, make it possible to turn "her" philosophy into a political religion?


message 23: by Ajay (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ajay Daniel wrote: "Ajay wrote: social means "can't do without strong government control in every day life""

That's not really what the word "social" means. Or even close really. Not sure where you got that.

Fro..."

Hi Daniel,
Regarding "social"- I just meant "social policy" which cannot be followed without government coercing a society.


message 24: by Ajay (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ajay E.D. wrote: "Hi Ajay,

Interesting viewpoint regarding plutocracy and government. One would expect a minimum of societal control desired by those advocating The Golden Rule ( as in he with the gold makes the ru..."


Can a society rigged to support only the wealthy be honestly called "Liberal"?

Starting with the statement above..( I seriously don't know why I do this- but it helps me in arriving at an an answer better)

"Can a society rigged to" presumes that " there are means to rigging society"- considering humans are part of society, it's very hard to happen without outside control. Thus rigging a society itself isn't liberal.

So the answer to your question is not possible.

"wealthy" I presume as wealth generated by one's own effort and not inherited since the value of money is not understood by those who inherit. And we consider only those who conform to the above definition.

Liberalism- I believe is respect for private property, individual liberty and the natural exchange of goods or exchange based on value for value. The rich can get rich only be servicing their customers in the best possible way. So the rich (my def.) are ultimately under the control of the customers. So in this situation one can't make a monopoly for long because there is competition also trying to get into the market at the same time. And yes, the monopoly should not try to avoid competition by buying out competition. In this case there will always be high level of competition in the market and we could call it liberal.

In the real world according to me.. It's when companies decide that- "yes! we have had enough and let's rest on our laurels / we don't want to loose our position in the market and let's freeze things for a bit" which leads to problems.


message 25: by Ajay (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ajay Renee wrote: "If you'll notice, in the books, the Good Guys were out working in the plants, earning what was produced, and they were nearly all (Francisco D'Anconia is an exception) self-made.

Sure, it's a fl..."


Yes Renee.. I also noted Ayn Rand's point of view regarding Robin hood which isn't necessarily the way of looking at it. Daneksjold was essentially the Robin Hood for Galt's Gulch. Pity that Rand didn't notice it.


message 26: by Ajay (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ajay Renee wrote: "If you'll notice, in the books, the Good Guys were out working in the plants, earning what was produced, and they were nearly all (Francisco D'Anconia is an exception) self-made.

Sure, it's a fl..."


Fransisco D'Anconia in my opinion was also self made. He worked his way up and bought an old foundry in his college days. He did not want to just inherit his parent's wealth as it would hurt his pride.


Daniel Ajay wrote: "I just meant "social policy""

It sounds like you mean "government policy". Which, I guess is true. You can't have government without government.


Renee E Ajay wrote: "Fransisco D'Anconia in my opinion was also self made. He worked his way up and bought an old foundry in his college days. He did not want to just inherit his parent's wealth as it would hurt his pride. ..."

You're right. It's been a long time since I read the book.

I always considered Dagny to be essentially self-made, as she went to work in the ranks and came up that way, then continued to build on the foundations of the railroad, in contrast to James.


Daniel Renee wrote: "I always considered Dagny to be essentially self-made, as she went to work in the ranks and came up that way, then continued to build on the foundations of the railroad, in contrast to James."

Yes, but she would have not been able to do that without the family connection. She inherited that. I'm not saying she didn't work hard, but that's not the same thing. She and D'Anconia both won the genetic lottery. They just both also happen to be good at what they do.

I'm not against inheritances, obviously, I'm just saying it's hard to count a person as self-made when they benefited so much from things they got by being born.


message 30: by Ajay (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ajay Daniel wrote: "Renee wrote: "I always considered Dagny to be essentially self-made, as she went to work in the ranks and came up that way, then continued to build on the foundations of the railroad, in contrast t..."

Which you- Daniel rightly mentioned in your comment "in the classical sense". True.


message 31: by E.D. (new) - rated it 2 stars

E.D. Lynnellen I saw an interesting experiment using students playing Monopoly. Four players..., one started the game with four times as much cash--rolled double each turn--collected twice as much cash when passing Go...and held a permanent Get Out of Jail Free card. In almost every game, the player with those advantages believed they were doing so well primarily because they were "better" at playing the game...not because of their advantages. They recognized the advantages they had.., but credited their personal skills with making them work for them. The other players always disagreed, and many dropped out before the game ended.


message 32: by Ajay (new) - rated it 3 stars

Ajay Here's how I started out on this comment..

"I would resign the moment I saw that a guy was having these advantages in a game of Monopoly. Why would the other kids even play with the guy?"

But then I realised.. Hang on.. This is exactly the kind of hand we are dealt with in real life. Some have advantages over others at the time of birth. And I am pretty sure that one would like to credit their success to personal skills rather than their obvious advantages.

I also guess in order to continue playing / continue winning the biased game with 3 other players- the player would have to especially enforce some type of fair play like emphasizing on their skills.

What's your point E.D.?


message 33: by E.D. (new) - rated it 2 stars

E.D. Lynnellen Well, Ajay...let me expand a little.

These were college students from relatively similar socioeconomic backgrounds. Middle-class, but not upper middle-class.

What would you infer the purpose of the experiment was?


message 34: by Emre (new)

Emre Poyraz Ajay wrote: "Well to your first question, plutocracy would be a form of government run by industrialists. But Rand specifically rejects the increased role of government in society. She asks for a liberal societ..."

Being run by industrialists and being limited are two different things. Ayn Rand defends capitalism, not democracy and there is good reason to think that her ideas would bring a society ruled by the rich (as has happened in the US) and Rand would have no objection to that.


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