Moore, a benefactor of the University of South Carolina, spoke of her debt to Rand in , when the business school at the university was named in Ms. View all New York Times newsletters. Some business leaders might be unsettled by the idea that the only thing members of the leadership class have in common is their success. James M. John P.
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He was chief executive of Springfield Remanufacturing Company, a retooler of tractor engines in Springfield, Mo. Having lost his sole customer in a struggling Rust Belt city, Mr. Stack says that he assigned every job a bottom line value and that every salary, including his own, was posted on a company ticker daily. Workplaces, he said, are notoriously undemocratic, emotionally charged and political.
Stack says his free market replaced all that with rational behavior. A machinist knew exactly what his working hour contributed to the bottom line, and therefore the cost of slacking off. This, Mr.
Stack said. The lawyers told me not to open the books and share equity. Stack said he was 19 and working in a factory when a manager gave him a copy of the book. Last year, bookstores sold , copies of the book. It continues to hold appeal, even to a younger generation. Mackey, the chief executive of Whole Foods, who was 3 when the book was published, have said they consider Rand crucial to their success. The subcontractor hired to demolish the former Deutsche Bank building , which was damaged when the World Trade Center towers fell, was the John Galt Corporation. It was removed from the job last month after a fire at the building killed two firefighters.
In Chicago, there is John Galt Solutions, a producer of software for supply chain companies like Tastykake. Using hyperbolic language, he lambastes the few figures who actually made a case for greater freedom in our times, like Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, and Alan Greenspan. Since these folks studied free-market theory, he claims, they should have known better than to compromise it. Well, too true. Even Block admits as much in the conclusion of his essay, so what was the point? The reader has learned little about Atlas and less about how its principles should be put into practice.
In the end, whom is this book for? Philosophers, I suspect, will find something to root around in, but again, they will have to be choosy. Still, I must admit that reading these essays got me thinking about Rand and Atlas. Did you enjoy this article? If so, please consider making a donation. Our digital channels garner over 1 million views per year. Your contribution will help us to achieve and maintain this impact. Sign up for our email newsletter to receive the most recent news and articles directly to your inbox. Commentary Commentary Archive. Details September 08, William Thomas.
A Companion for Whom? Of course, these are also issues in European countries, but they are not usually argued there in such a bombastic form. In other ways as well, the book is very American.
92 thoughts on “Atlas Shrugged Is A Ridiculous Book”
All else being equal, people would rather read about their own kind. Certainly individual freedom contributed to American economic success, and so did other factors such as business transparency and even simply economy of scale. For instance, the Wright Brothers certainly saw themselves as genius heroes. They were real John Galts. As a result, they sued every other American who built an airplane for patent infringement.
I could never take Rand seriously, for the simple reason that she is completely devoid of a sense of humor. The essay begins with a tribute to John Nash:. By the way, I am not designating Maj. My point is instead that there are people out there who are exploring—far more creatively, far more seriously, and far more practically than the Randians—some of the sobering realities of modern conflict resolution in relation to the enduring ideals of liberty.
She wants to have sex. Roark knows that she wants to have sex. The book I was thinking of — after I typed it — was immediately obvious. Greg, may I suggest that the thing that is going on in America that makes Rand appealing to so many is a diffuse, but very deep and abiding sense of resentment?
Think of it this way: if the Singularity is just the Rapture for the nerds, then the tenets of Objectivism are for the nerds what that sense of old-time persecution is for the fundamentalists. And that is why Rand is popular here in a way that she is not elsewhere. Under what circumstances can I profit from the selfish behavior of others?
There are surprisingly many such circumstances … selling ozone-destroying air-conditioning coolants … selling energy in the form of carbon fuels … selling Ponzi-scheme financial instruments to everyone. These actions rightly incur opprobrium.
But there are at many classes of people who are not much bothered by opprobrium, including teenagers, narcissists, free-market economists, extreme libertarians, and sociopaths. In medicine we are very concerned to diagnose empathic deficits, which occur both in patients and in medical students.
As for empathy, I find it rather portrayed in a silly manner and overexploited in the U. Stas Says: As for empathy, I find it rather portrayed in a silly manner and overexploited in the U.
That is absolutely true! And yet, there are mighty few subjects that are as deep, as fascinating, as relatively unexplored, and as thoroughly entangled with multiple mathematical, scientific and artistic enterprises, as human empathy.
In my view, the direct motivation is not resentment but axioms. Those axioms indeed seem to be more compelling in the United States than in Europe, and not just because Rand illustrated them in an American setting. It is true that the United States is largely run by businessmen, somewhat more so than Europe, and that private enterprise is a relatively axiomatic type of human activity.
I think that simple resentment is a universal human condition rather than especially American. So are self-serving world views, which is of course what Stephen Colbert had in mind. The subtexts of resentment and self-glorification of talent are icing on the cake. This idea troubled me at the time, but for reasons that did not become clear to me until much later.
Atlas Shrugged Is A Book About Pride In One's Work, And The Success That Results
But I think your 9th point is my biggest sticking point. It seems that the dominant features of our time involve people who are very efficient at making a profit with a complete disregard for law and ethics, which contrasts highly with her ethical industrialists. One other point of confusion, is this. She villianizes these looters, but at the same time, they are profitable. At times she implies that profit is the highest virtue or at least that the most despicable claim that one can make is to claim that you have never made a profit.
So I have a hard time condemning these profitable and law abiding looters by her standards. The highest goal is to produce wealth, to take what you have and by the action of your mind add value to it. This is, to her, genuine Profit. Ideally, money would symbolize this abstract Value that you have created, in that others would recognize and appreciate your achievement and give you money for it which is really a stand-in for the Value that they produce. This enables the villains to be rich as far as accountants are concerned, but their wealth is fake; they are morally bankrupt.
Nevertheless, I rather enjoyed Atlas Shrugged and have to admire what Rand accomplished in novelizing her grand philosophy of life. How many other works are half as successful at such an ambitious endeavor? At least she has the chutzpah to try. She is right about several things, wrong about many others, and the whole mix makes for an interesting playground.
I would want my kids to read it once they developed the critical thinking abilities to engage the arguments without blind acceptance or dismissal. I just knew the Feynman ratchet would revolutionize the transportation industry!
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Is that value-added minus value-subtracted? Value-net, if you will? Decoupling net-value from money almost makes it sound like utility theory. But perhaps I get labeled as a Looter regardless of net-value, because forcing a deal at a loss breaks some sort of Categorical Imperative, which would be squarely Kantian. Moreover, how do we decide to equate money and Rand Value without looking at the dollar value? I quite enjoyed it, but mostly as a rant against thing I mostly dislike, not as a serious thing, although I think she makes some good points at some parts of the book.
What she seems to understand as science is the the part of logic that is usually covered by people who do philosophy, and that in some way, all sort of cool things that make her able to show everyone how cool her philosophy is are derived from that. Science is also a good thing, as it allows her to tell everyone to shut up about their particular likings and listen to her. By the way, the part about scientific aesthetic principles seems to me to be something that she retained from her Soviet origins.
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