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Books by Title/Title=topic name > Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

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message 1: by Don (new)

Don (ddonofrio3) | 86 comments Anyone read this one lately?

In the age of government bailouts for the rich and the obvious advance of laziness as the accepted norm it just seems like the right time to read this classic.

What really would happen if the smartest people in the world just decided to stop producing one day? Would the motor of the world really stop?

message 2: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Jan 12, 2009 06:04PM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments I tried reading _Atlas Shrugged_ but couldn't get into it. Didn't hold my interest. However, I enjoyed _The Fountainhead_.

message 3: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6282 comments It's been a while, but I did skim through it a few months ago, Don. Rand has a vocabulary that I've always envied. I can't say I agree with her philosophy entirely, but at least she makes me think.

Her book was interesting, but hardly realistic. She saw men as heroic figures - the good guys were practically perfect, the bad guys almost completely vile & unless someone was a genius, they weren't worth saving. The infrastructure was simplistic & completely dependent on the genius of the good guys. She forgets about all the little people who aren't ambitious, super smart or influential, but do daily tasks that make it possible for society to grind on.

She also thought there was a safe place to retreat to on this planet & that a group of 'rational' people could live together harmoniously with a minimal contract. While she disavowed any ties with Libertarians, she shared many of their views & flaws. Her monochrome view point doesn't allow for more than one entity to be 'right'.

She never extended her theories of individual responsibility to cover society properly nor showed much understanding of the complexity of our society. For instance, she didn't believe in eminent domain nor show any understanding of how our infrastructure of public utilities really works. She tells about the lights going out, but not how the electric poles got there in the first place or what they really do.

I'd say the biggest departure from reality is her belief that mankind depends on individual genius, though. I guess she never met many of the farmers that I've met. Some don't seem much smarter than some of their livestock, but year after year they manage to maintain their farms & raise their crops. They're carpenters, plumbers, mechanics & vets on top of everything else. They might not be great at any task, but every day they keep making things work.

These types of workers are dismissed in her philosophy. Who was the guy that died on the train because he wasn't smart enough? He was a follower of Galt's, just not the brightest bulb in the pack. His treatment by her sums up her philosophy, IMO. "Be an all around genius or die."

I think her tale is a good, cautionary one. I hate the way our society is dumbing everyone down to the same level, such as 'The No Child Left Behind Act'. We've taken the idea that 'All men are created equal' to unrealistic lengths. But like most fictional works, she took it to an extreme to make her point. Man is too cantankerous, stubborn, curious & adaptable to make a 'Heaven on Earth', although I don't doubt we've made our share of Hells.

If you really like Ayn Rand & believe in her philosophy, you might look up Ilyn Ross, a GoodRead's author. She's writing her second book based on Rand's philosophy. She has a couple of groups; 'Philosophy in Everyday Life' which I used to belong to, but can't find right now & 'To the Glory of Man' There's another group that I just saw, but don't know anything about it, "I loath Ayn Rand but continue to reread her books"
Sounds a bit masochistic to me...

message 4: by Don (last edited Jan 13, 2009 03:29PM) (new)

Don (ddonofrio3) | 86 comments There was also a book called "A Lodging of Wayfaring Men" which was originally released anonymously but I believe the author has come forward now.

It's sort of a modern version of Atlas shrugged where computer programers create an anonymous online economy and people conduct business without government interference or taxes.

Ayn Rand did focus on the "genius" crowd but that's also the way Plato handled things in "The Republic". In Plato's Republic everyone had a task that they were bred to do but the only people who should be thinking and leading were the philosophers, like himself. Everyone else just played their role in society and did what they were supposed to do.

message 5: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6282 comments That book sounds interesting, Don. I'll look it up tomorrow. Thanks. (Like I need more to read!)

Rand greatly admired Plato & the men who founded the US. They also imagined a country where the ruling class were not mired by daily business, for the most part. I find the idea of ivory tower, philosopher kings to be very dated & disagree with it. It's incredibly demeaning & dangerous.

It's also what is happening in many ways. Instead of philosopher kings though, we have the anonomity of numbers & computers. They have less heart & understanding than a Solomon. They're unplanned, simply an outgrowth of our technology & current practices.

I just finished reading The Ethical Assassin: A Novel. While the book didn't do a lot for me, it was well worth reading for a couple of philosophical points made. One was an illustration about how the world works & who is in charge. The assassin likens us all to men being pushed downhill by a boulder. No one is really in charge, we're just trying to stay ahead of the boulder that we've created. He told it better. The other point was why we have jails. Wow. That's a spoiler, though.

message 6: by Don (new)

Don (ddonofrio3) | 86 comments Here's a link to Lodging. Paul Rosenberg is the listed author now. My copy was "anonymous".

Adolph Hitler greatly admired Plato's Republic as well so we have a real life example of what can happen if those ideas are taken to an extreme. Plato supported infanticide in the Republic for babies that were born with disabilities that made them unable to produce or a drain on the society. Nazi Germany was largely based on the Republic, with Hitler as the self-proclaimed philosopher leader.

Ayn Rand also considered herself to be the philosopher leader as well. She differed in that she didn't believe the public could survive on their own so there was no need to kill them. She didn't believe the "looters" would ever work enough to feed themselves if left to their own accord.

message 7: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6282 comments Don wrote: "Here's a link to Lodging. Paul Rosenberg is the listed author now. My copy was "anonymous"...."

I see Amazon has 2 editions, a 2002 by Anonymous & the 2007 by Rosenberg. Thanks. I've put it on my lists & hope to get it through a swap. It's $15 used. Ouch.

Extremists can screw up most anything. Look at religious wars. No accounting for people.

As I said, Rand generally had only extreme examples; looters & geniuses. She often spoke that way too. I recall she said something about the criminals being a small portion of any population. I guess it depends on how you define criminals & the circumstances. Everyone I know is a criminal today. There's too many laws not to be. Whether it's speeding or copying a favorite song, we all seem to have some laws to break.

message 8: by Don (new)

Don (ddonofrio3) | 86 comments When "Lodging" first came out it was available for free as pdf file online and you could order a printed copy that was printed just for you when you ordered it.

It was widely distributed for free until the credited version appeared.

I don't have the pdf file anymore. I never liked reading a pdf file on the computer so I just ordered the printed to order copy.

message 9: by Don (last edited Jan 18, 2009 04:08PM) (new)

Don (ddonofrio3) | 86 comments You gotta love the scene when John Galt is being tortured with electric shocks as the government bigwigs demand that he tell them what to do to save their economy.

Wow! There is so much in this novel that resembles today's world. It's scary that this was written some 60 years ago.

Lazy people who avoid having to make any decisions because if things go wrong they might be blamed? Yeah, nothing like that in today's world...

There are things in Ayn Rand's philosophies that you will disagree with but she sure did see what was coming in the business and government worlds.

message 10: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6282 comments The more history I read, the less I think she was terribly prescient. While our world has changed considerably, people are pretty much the same. She does present a scary, real view of our world today.

message 11: by Don (new)

Don (ddonofrio3) | 86 comments I think what makes Atlas Shrugged even more relevant today is the federal bailout of the banks, insurance companies, car companies, etc.

Yes, we've always had lazy people but we haven't had large companies asking the government to take them over.

The last thing any intelligent person would wish for is for the government to take over their company. That's the equivalent of asking someone to beat you up and take your money.

message 12: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) | 6282 comments Don, good point on the bailout. I'm surprised how stupid people are about 'government help'. I hear people constantly say, "The government should do xxx". My reply is, "No, they shouldn't. If they do, then they have control." People disagree, though.

I don't get it. I think this is one of the best messages that Rand sends. She makes people think about being independent & responsibility.

message 13: by Don (new)

Don (ddonofrio3) | 86 comments I'm 42 years old. It's been my experience that whenever the government takes anything over it gets screwed up even worse.

As much as people say they go into "public service" to do good, and they always claim they could make "much more money in the private sector." It's not really true.

Most government bureaucrats went into "public service" because they were lousy in the private sector and happened to have a connection that got them a "public service" job.

It's like when your relative wants you to hire their dumb kid. They know the kid's a flunky and that he can't keep a job. They want you to hire him because they think you'll be nice and won't fire him when he screws up again.

Why on Earth would anyone (without a golden parachute) want the government to take over anything?

You're right about Rand making people think about being independent & responsible. I wish we could make everyone read this book, or another like it, because it really paints the picture of what that kind of world it'd be like.

message 14: by Don (new)

Don (ddonofrio3) | 86 comments The Post-Star has a blog up about Atlas Shrugged;

message 15: by Joy H., Group Founder (last edited Feb 01, 2009 07:40AM) (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Thanks for telling us about this blog, Don.
Here are a couple of excerpts which I copied from the blog:
“ 'Atlas Shrugged' takes place in the U.S., sometime during the 1900s, I believe. Something strange is going on across the country: Innovators and industrialists are disappearing. The economy is falling apart under the control of a group of men – a mix of politicians, scientists and corporate leaders.
That’s all I can tell about the plot without giving away something important...
"Then there’s Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, which is told through certain characters in the book. Rand describes her philosophy as: '..the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.' "

Above from:

Don, am I right in thinking that the above was written by
Omar Ricardo Aquije of the Post-Star staff?

message 16: by Don (new)

Don (ddonofrio3) | 86 comments I believe so.

message 17: by Joy H., Group Founder (new)

Joy H. (joyofglensfalls) | 16697 comments Thanks, Don. Those blogs take getting used to. Every blog on the Internet is arranged differently. So we're destined to a life of constantly adapting to new formats.

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