Atlas Shrugged: Part I (2011) – IMDb

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It was great to be alive, once, but the world was perishing. Factories were shutting down, transportation was grinding to a halt, granaries were empty--and key people who had once kept it running were disappearing all over the country. As the lights winked out and the cities went cold, nothing was left to anyone but misery. No one knew how to stop it, no one understood why it was happening - except one woman, the operating executive of a once mighty transcontinental railroad, who suspects the answer may rest with a remarkable invention and the man who created it - a man who once said he would stop the motor of the world. Everything now depends on finding him and discovering the answer to the question on the lips of everyone as they whisper it in fear: Who *is* John Galt? Written byRobb

Taglines:Who is John Galt?

Budget:$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA: $1,677,000,17 April 2011

Gross USA: $4,627,375

Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $4,627,375

Runtime: 97 min

Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1

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Atlas Shrugged: Part I (2011) - IMDb

Atlas Shrugged: Rand, Ayn: 9780451191144: Amazon.com: Books

About the Author

Born February 2, 1905, Ayn Rand published her first novel, We the Living, in 1936. Anthem followed in 1938. It was with the publication of The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957) that she achieved her spectacular success. Rands unique philosophy, Objectivism, has gained a worldwide audience. The fundamentals of her philosophy are put forth in three nonfiction books, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, The Virtues of Selfishness, and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. They are all available in Signet editions, as is the magnificent statement of her artistic credo, The Romantic Manifesto.

INTRODUCTION: Ayn Rand held that art is a re-creation of reality according to an artist s metaphysical value judgments. By its nature, therefore, a novel (like a statue or a symphony) does not require or tolerate an explanatory preface; it is a self-contained universe, aloof from commentary, beckoning the reader to enter, perceive, respond. Ayn Rand would never have approved of a didactic (or laudatory) introduction to her book, and I have no intention of flouting her wishes. Instead, I am going to give her the floor. I am going to let you in on some of the thinking she did as she was preparing to write Atlas Shrugged. Before starting a novel, Ayn Rand wrote voluminously in her journals about its theme, plot, and characters. She wrote not for any audience, but strictly for herself that is, for the clarity of her own understanding. The journals dealing with Atlas Shrugged are powerful examples of her mind in action, confident even when groping, purposeful even when stymied, luminously eloquent even though wholly unedited. These journals are also a fascinating record of the step-by-step birth of an immortal work of art. In due course, all of Ayn Rand s writings will be published. For this 35th anniversary edition of Atlas Shrugged, however, I have selected, as a kind of advance bonus for her fans, four typical journal entries. Let me warn new readers that the passages reveal the plot and will spoil the book for anyone who reads them before knowing the story. As I recall, Atlas Shrugged did not become the novel s title until Miss Rand s husband made the suggestion in 1956. The working title throughout the writing was The Strike. The earliest of Miss Rand s notes for The Strike are dated January 1, 1945, about a year after the publication of The Fountainhead. Naturally enough, the subject on her mind was how to differentiate the present novel from its predecessor. Theme. What happens to the world when the Prime Movers go on strike. This means a picture of the world with its motor cut off. Show: what, how, why. The specific steps and incidents in terms of persons, their spirits, motives, psychology and actions and, secondarily, proceeding from persons, in terms of history, society and the world. The theme requires: to show who are the prime movers and why, how they function. Who are their enemies and why, what are the motives behind the hatred for and the enslavement of the prime movers; the nature of the obstacles placed in their way, and the reasons for it. This last paragraph is contained entirely in The Fountainhead. Roark and Toohey are the complete statement of it. Therefore, this is not the direct theme of The Strike but it is part of the theme and must be kept in mind, stated again (though briefly) to have the theme clear and complete. First question to decide is on whom the emphasis must be placed on the prime movers, the parasites or the world. The answer is: The world. The story must be primarily a picture of the whole. In this sense, The Strike is to be much more a social novel than The Fountainhead. The Fountainhead was about individualism and collectivism within man s soul ; it showed the nature and function of the creator and the second-hander. The primary concern there was with Roark and Toohey showing what they are. The rest of the characters were variations of the theme of the relation of the ego to others mixtures of the two extremes, the two poles: Roark and Toohey. The primary concern of the story was the characters, the people as such their natures. Their relations to each other which is society, men in relation to men were secondary, an unavoidable, direct consequence of Roark set against Toohey. But it was not the theme. Now, it is this relation that must be the theme. Therefore, the personal becomes secondary. That is, the personal is necessary only to the extent needed to make the relationships clear. In The Fountainhead I showed that Roark moves the world that the Keatings feed upon him and hate him for it, while the Tooheys are out consciously to destroy him. But the theme was Roark not Roark s relation to the world. Now it will be the relation. In other words, I must show in what concrete, specific way the world is moved by the creators. Exactly how do the second-handers live on the creators. Both in spiritual matters and (most particularly) in concrete, physical events. (Concentrate on the concrete, physical events but don t forget to keep in mind at all times how the physical proceeds from the spiritual.). However, for the purpose of this story, I do not start by showing how the second-handers live on the prime movers in actual, everyday reality nor do I start by showing a normal world. (That comes in only in necessary retrospect, or flashback, or by implication in the events themselves.) I start with the fantastic premise of the prime movers going on strike. This is the actual heart and center of the novel. A distinction carefully to be observed here: I do not set out to glorify the prime mover ( that was The Fountainhead ). I set out to show how desperately the world needs prime movers, and how viciously it treats them. And I show it on a hypothetical case what happens to the world without them. In The Fountainhead I did not show how desperately the world needed Roark except by implication. I did show how viciously the world treated him, and why. I showed mainly what he is. It was Roark s story. This must be the world s story in relation to its prime movers. (Almost the story of a body in relation to its heart a body dying of anemia.) I don t show directly what the prime movers do that s shown only by implication. I show what happens when they don t do it. (Through that, you see the picture of what they do, their place and their role.) (This is an important guide for the construction of the story.) In order to work out the story, Ayn Rand had to understand fully why the prime movers allowed the second-handers to live on them why the creators had not gone on strike throughout history what errors even the best of them made that kept them in thrall to the worst. Part of the answer is dramatized in the character of Dagny Taggart, the railroad heiress who declares war on the strikers. Here is a note on her psychology, dated April 18, 1946: Her error and the cause of her refusal to join the strike is over-optimism and over-confidence (particularly this last). Over-optimism in that she thinks men are better than they are, she doesn t really understand them and is generous about it. Over-confidence in that she thinks she can do more than an individual actually can. She thinks she can run a railroad (or the world) single-handed, she can make people do what she wants or needs, what is right, by the sheer force of her own talent; not by forcing them, of course, not by enslaving them and giving orders but by the sheer over-abundance of her own energy; she will show them how, she can teach them and persuade them, she is so able that they ll catch it from her. (This is still faith in their rationality, in the omnipotence of reason. The mistake? Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it. Do not count on them. Leave them alone.) On these two points, Dagny is committing an important (but excusable and understandable) error in thinking, the kind of error individualists and creators often make. It is an error proceeding from the best in their nature and from a proper principle, but this principle is misapplied. The error is this: it is proper for a creator to be optimistic, in the deepest, most basic sense, since the creator believes in a benevolent universe and functions on that premise. But it is an error to extend that optimism to other specific men. First, it s not necessary, the creator s life and the nature of the universe do not require it, his life does not depend on others. Second, man is a being with free will; therefore, each man is potentially good or evil, and it s up to him and only to him (through his reasoning mind) to decide which he wants to be. The decision will affect only him; it is not (and cannot and should not be) the primary concern of any other human being. Therefore, while a creator does and must worship Man (which means his own highest potentiality; which is his natural self-reverence), he must not make the mistake of thinking that this means the necessity to worship Mankind (as a collective). These are two entirely different conceptions, with entirely (immensely and diametrically opposed) different consequences. Man, at his highest potentiality, is realized and fulfilled within each creator himself. Whether the creator is alone, or finds only a handful of others like him, or is among the majority of mankind, is of no importance or consequence whatever; numbers have nothing to do with it. He alone or he and a few others like him are mankind, in the proper sense of being the proof of what man actually is, man at his best, the essential man, man at his highest possibility. (The rational being, who acts according to his nature.) It should not matter to a creator whether anyone or a million or all the men around him fall short of the ideal of Man; let him live up to that ideal himself; this is all the optimism about Man that he needs. But this is a hard and subtle thing to realize and it would be natural for Dagny always to make the mistake of believing others are better than they really are (or will become better, or she will teach them to become better or, actually, she so desperately wants them to be better) and to be tied to the world by that hope. It is proper for a creator to have an unlimited confidence in himself and his ability, to feel certain that he can get anything he wishes out of life, that he can accomplish anything he decides to accomplish, and that it s up to him to do it. (He feels it because he is a man of reason. But here is what he must keep clearly in mind: it is true that a creator can accomplish anything he wishes if he functions according to the nature of man, the universe and his own proper morality, that is, if he does not place his wish primarily within others and does not attempt or desire anything that is of a collective nature, anything that concerns others primarily or requires primarily the exercise of the will of others. (This would be an immoral desire or attempt, contrary to his nature as a creator.) If he attempts that, he is out of a creator s province and in that of the collectivist and the second-hander. Therefore, he must never feel confident that he can do anything whatever to, by or through others. (He can t and he shouldn t even wish to try it and the mere attempt is improper.) He must not think that he can. somehow transfer his energy and his intelligence to them and make them fit for his purposes in that way. He must face other men as they are, recognizing them as essentially independent entities, by nature, and beyond his primary influence; [he must] deal with them only on his own, independent terms, deal with such as he judges can fit his purpose or live up to his standards (by themselves and of their own will, independently of him) and expect nothing from the others. Now, in Dagny s case, her desperate desire is to run Taggart Transcontinental. She sees that there are no men suited to her purpose around her, no men of ability, independence and competence. She thinks she can run it with others, with the incompetent and the parasites, either by training them or merely by treating them as robots who will take her orders and function without personal initiative or responsibility; with herself, in effect, being the spark of initiative, the bearer of responsibility for a whole collective. This can t be done. This is her crucial error. This is where she fails. Ayn Rand s basic purpose as a novelist was to present not villains or even heroes with errors, but the ideal man the consistent, the fully integrated, the perfect. In Atlas Shrugged, this is John Galt, the towering figure who moves the world and the novel, yet does not appear onstage until Part III. By his nature (and that of the story) Galt is necessarily central to the lives of all the characters. In one note, Galt s relation to the others, dated June 27, 1946, Miss Rand defines succinctly what Galt represents to each of them: For Dagny the ideal. The answer to her two quests: the man of genius and the man she loves. The first quest is expressed in her search for the inventor of the engine. The second her growing conviction that she will never be in love For Rearden the friend. The kind of understanding and appreciation he has always wanted and did not know he wanted (or he thought he had it he tried to find it in those around him, to get it from his wife, his mother, brother and sister). For Francisco d Anconia the aristocrat. The only man who represents a challenge and a stimulant almost the proper kind of audience, worthy of stunning for the sheer joy and color of life. For Danneskjld the anchor. The only man who represents land and roots to a restless, reckless wanderer, like the goal of a struggle, the port at the end of a fierce sea-voyage the only man he can respect. For the Composer the inspiration and the perfect audience. For the Philosopher the embodiment of his abstractions. For Father Amadeus the source of his conflict. The uneasy realization that Galt is the end of his endeavors, the man of virtue, the perfect man and that his means do not fit this end (and that he is destroying this, his ideal, for the sake of those who are evil). To James Taggart the eternal threat. The secret dread. The reproach. The guilt (his own guilt). He has no specific tie-in with Galt but he has that constant, causeless, unnamed, hysterical fear. And he recognizes it when he hears Galt s broadcast and when he sees Galt in person for the first time. To the Professor his conscience. The reproach and reminder. The ghost that haunts him through everything he does, without a moment s peace. The thing that says: No to his whole life. Some notes on the above: Rearden s sister, Stacy, was a minor character later cut from the novel. Francisco was spelled Francesco in these early years, while Danneskld s first name at this point was Ivar, presumably after Ivar Kreuger, the Swedish match king, who was the real-life model of Bjorn Faulkner in Night of January 16th. Father Amadeus was Taggart s priest, to whom he confessed his sins. The priest was supposed to be a positive character, honestly devoted to the good but practicing consistently the morality of mercy. Miss Rand dropped him, she told me, when she found that it was impossible to make such a character convincing. The Professor is Robert Stadler. This brings me to a final excerpt. Because of her passion for ideas, Miss Rand was often asked whether she was primarily a philosopher or a novelist. In later years, she was impatient with this question, but she gave her own answer, to and for herself, in a note dated May 4, 1946. The broader context was a discussion of the nature of creativity. I seem to be both a theoretical philosopher and a fiction writer. But it is the last that interests me most; the first is only the means to the last; the absolutely necessary means, but only the means; the fiction story is the end. Without an understanding and statement of the right philosophical principle, I cannot create the right story; but the discovery of the principle interests me only as the discovery of the proper knowledge to be used for my life purpose; and my life purpose is the creation of the kind of world (people and events) that I like that is, that represents human perfection. Philosophical knowledge is necessary in order to define human perfection. But I do not care to stop at the definition. I want to use it, to apply it in my work (in my personal life, too but the core, center and purpose of my personal life, of my whole life, is my work). This is why, I think, the idea of writing a philosophical nonfiction book bored me. In such a book, the purpose would actually be to teach others, to present my idea to them. In a book of fiction the purpose is to create, for myself, the kind of world I want and to live in it while I am creating it; then, as a secondary consequence, to let others enjoy this world, if, and to the extent that they can. It may be said that the first purpose of a philosophical book is the clarification or statement of your new knowledge to and for yourself; and then, as a secondary step, the offering of your knowledge to others. But here is the difference, as far as I am concerned: I have to acquire and state to myself the new philosophical knowledge or principle I used in order to write a fiction story as its embodiment and illustration; I do not care to write a story on a theme or thesis of old knowledge, knowledge stated or discovered by someone else, that is, someone else s philosophy (because those philosophies are wrong). To this extent, I am an abstract philosopher (I want to present the perfect man and his perfect life and I must also discover my own philosophical statement and definition of this perfection). But when and if I have discovered such new knowledge, I am not interested in stating it in its abstract, general form, that is, as knowledge. I am interested in using it, in applying it that is, in stating it in the concrete form of men and events, in the form of a fiction story. This last is my final purpose, my end; the philosophical knowledge or discovery is only the means to it. For my purpose, the non-fiction form of abstract knowledge doesn t interest me; the final, applied form of fiction, of story, does. (I state the knowledge to myself, anyway; but I choose the final form of it, the expression, in the completed cycle that leads back to man.) I wonder to what extent I represent a peculiar phenomenon in this respect. I think I represent the proper integration of a complete human being. Anyway, this should be my lead for the character of John Galt. He, too , is a combination of an abstract philosopher and a practical inventor; the thinker and the man of action together In learning, we draw an abstraction from concrete objects and events. In creating, we make our own concrete objects and events out of the abstraction; we bring the abstraction down and back to its specific meaning, to the concrete; but the abstraction has helped us to make the kind of concrete we want the concrete to be. It has helped us to create to reshape the world as we wish it to be for our purposes. I cannot resist quoting one further paragraph. It comes a few pages later in the same discussion. Incidentally, as a sideline observation: if creative fiction writing is a process of translating an abstraction into the concrete, there are three possible grades of such writing: translating an old (known) abstraction (theme or thesis) through the medium of old fiction means (that is, characters, events or situations used before for that same purpose, that same translation) this is most of the popular trash; translating an old abstraction through new, original fiction means this is most of the good literature; creating a new, original abstraction and translating it through new, original means. This, as far as I know, is only me my kind of fiction writing. May God forgive me (Metaphor!) if this is mistaken conceit! As near as I can now see it, it isn t. (A fourth possibility translating a new abstraction through old means is impossible, by definition: if the abstraction is new, there can be no means used by anybody else before to translate it.) Is her conclusion mistaken conceit ? It is now forty-five years since she wrote this note, and you are holding Ayn Rand s master-work in your hands. You decide. Leonard Peikoff September 1991. Chapter 1: THE THEME Who is John Galt? The light was ebbing, and Eddie Willers could not distinguish the bum s face. The bum had said it simply, without expression. But from the sunset far at the end of the street, yellow glints caught his eyes, and the eyes looked straight at Eddie Willers, mocking and still as if the question had been addressed to the causeless uneasiness within him. Why did you say that? asked Eddie Willers, his voice tense. The bum leaned against the side of the doorway; a wedge of broken glass behind him reflected the metal yellow of the sky. Why does it bother you? he asked. It doesn t, snapped Eddie Willers. He reached hastily into his pocket. The bum had stopped him and asked for a dime, then had gone on talking, as if to kill that moment and postpone the problem of the next. Pleas for dimes were so frequent in the streets these days that it was not necessary to listen to explanations and he had no desire to hear the details of this bum s particular despair. Go get your cup of coffee, he said, handing the dime to the shadow that had no face. Thank you, sir, said the voice, without interest, and the face leaned forward for a moment. The face was wind-browned, cut by lines of weariness and cynical resignation; the eyes were intelligent. Eddie Willers walked on, wondering why he always felt it at this time of day, this sense of dread without reason. No, he thought, not dread, there s nothing to fear: just an immense, diffused apprehension, with no source or object. He had become accustomed to the feeling, but he could find no explanation for it; yet the bum had spoken as if he knew that Eddie felt it, as if he thought that one should feel it, and more: as if he knew the reason. Eddie Willers pulled his shoulders straight, in conscientious self-discipline. He had to stop this, he thought; he was beginning to imagine things. Had he always felt it? He was thirty-two years old. He tried to think back. No, he hadn t; but he could not remember when it had started. The feeling came to him suddenly, at random intervals, and now it was coming more often than ever. It s the twilight, he thought; I hate the twilight. The clouds and the shafts of skyscrapers against them were turning brown, like an old painting in oil, the color of a fading masterpiece. Long streaks of grime ran from under the pinnacles down the slender, soot-eaten walls. High on the side of a tower there was a crack in the shape of a motionless lightning, the length of ten stories. A jagged object cut the sky above the roofs; it was half a spire, still holding the glow of the sunset; the gold leaf had long since peeled off the other half. The glow was red and still, like the reflection of a fire: not an active fire, but a dying one which it is too late to stop. No, thought Eddie Willers, there was nothing disturbing in the sight of the city. It looked as it had always looked. He walked on, reminding himself that he was late in returning to the office. He did not like the task which he had to perform on his return, but it had to be done. So he did not attempt to delay it, but made himself walk faster. He turned a corner. In the narrow space between the dark silhouettes of two buildings, as in the crack of a door, he saw the page of a gigantic calendar suspended in the sky. It was the calendar that the mayor of New York had erected last year on the top of a building, so that citizens might tell the day of the month as they told the hours of the day, by glancing up at a public tower. A white rectangle hung over the city, imparting the date to the men in the streets below. In the rusty light of this evening s sunset, the rectangle said: September 2. Eddie Willers looked away. He had never liked the sight of that calendar. It disturbed him, in a manner he could not explain or define. The feeling seemed to blend with his sense of uneasiness; it had the same quality. He thought suddenly that there was some phrase, a kind of quotation, that expressed what the calendar seemed to suggest. But he could not recall it. He walked, groping for a sentence that hung in his mind as an empty shape. He could neither fill it nor dismiss it. He glanced back. The white rectangle stood above the roofs, saying in immovable finality: September 2. Eddie Willers shifted his glance down to the street, to a vegetable pushcart at the stoop of a brownstone house. He saw a pile of bright gold carrots and the fresh green of onions. He saw a clean white curtain blowing at an open window. He saw a bus turning a corner, expertly steered. He wondered why he felt reassured and then, why he felt the sudden, inexplicable wish that these things were not left in the open, unprotected against the empty space above. When he came to Fifth Avenue, he kept his eyes on the windows of the stores he passed. There was nothing he needed or wished to buy; but he liked to see the display of goods, any goods, objects made by men, to be used by men. He enjoyed the sight of a prosperous street; not more than every fourth one of the stores was out of business, its windows dark and empty. He did not know why he suddenly thought of the oak tree. Nothing had recalled it. But he thought of it and of his childhood summers on the Taggart estate. He had spent most of his childhood with the Taggart children, and now he worked for them, as his father and grandfather had worked for their father and grandfather. The great oak tree had stood on a hill over the Hudson, in a lonely spot on the Taggart estate. Eddie Willers, aged seven, liked to come and look at that tree. It had stood there for hundreds of years, and he thought it would always stand there. Its roots clutched the hill like a fist with fingers sunk into the soil, and he thought that if a giant were to seize it by the top, he would not be able to uproot it, but would swing the hill and the whole of the earth with it, like a ball at the end of a string. He felt safe in the oak tree s presence; it was a thing that nothing could change or threaten; it was his greatest symbol of strength. One night, lightning struck the oak tree. Eddie saw it the next morning. It lay broken in half, and he looked into its trunk as into the mouth of a black tunnel. The trunk was only an empty shell; its heart had rotted away long ago; there was nothing inside just a thin gray dust that was being dispersed by the whim of the faintest wind. The living power had gone, and the shape it left had not been able to stand without it. Years later, he heard it said that children should be protected from shock, from their first knowledge of death, pain or fear. But these had never scarred him; his shock came when he stood very quietly, looking into the black hole of the trunk. It was an immense betrayal the more terrible because he could not grasp what it was that had been betrayed. It was not himself, he knew, nor his trust; it was something else. He stood there for a while, making no sound, then he walked back to the house. He never spoke about it to anyone, then or since. Eddie Willers shook his head, as the screech of a rusty mechanism changing a traffic light stopped him on the edge of a curb. He felt anger at himself. There was no reason that he had to remember the oak tree tonight. It meant nothing to him any longer, only a faint tinge of sadness and somewhere within him, a drop of pain moving briefly and vanishing, like a raindrop on the glass of a window, its course in the shape of a question mark. He wanted no sadness attached to his childhood; he loved its memories: any day of it he remembered now seemed flooded by a still, brilliant sunlight. It seemed to him as if a few rays from it reached into his present: not rays, more like pinpoint spotlights that gave an occasional moment s glitter to his job, to his lonely apartment, to the quiet, scrupulous progression of his existence. He thought of a summer day when he was ten years old. That day, in a clearing of the woods, the one precious companion of his childhood told him what they would do when they grew up. The words were harsh and glowing, like the sunlight. He listened in admiration and in wonder. When he was asked what he would want to do, he answered at once, Whatever is right, and added, You ought to do something great. I mean, the two of us together. What? she asked. He said, I don t know. That s what we ought to find out. Not just what you said. Not just business and earning a living. Things like winning battles, or saving people out of fires, or climbing mountains. What for? she asked. He said, The minister said last Sunday that we must always reach for the best within us. What do you suppose is the best within us? I don t know. We ll have to find out. She did not answer; she was looking away, up the railroad track. Eddie Willers smiled. He had said, Whatever is right, twenty-two years ago. He had kept that statement unchallenged ever since; the other questions had faded in his mind; he had been too busy to ask them. But he still thought it self-evident that one had to do what was right; he had never learned how people could want to do otherwise; he had learned only that they did. It still seemed simple and incomprehensible to him: simple that things should be right, and incomprehensible that they weren t. He knew that they weren t. He thought of that, as he turned a corner and came to the great building of Taggart Transcontinental. The building stood over the street as its tallest and proudest structure. Eddie Willers always smiled at his first sight of it. Its long bands of windows were unbroken, in contrast to those of its neighbors. Its rising lines cut the sky, with no crumbling corners or worn edges. It seemed to stand above the years, untouched. It would always stand there, thought Eddie Willers. Whenever he entered the Taggart Building, he felt relief and a sense of security. This was a place of competence and power. The floors of its hallways were mirrors made of marble. The frosted rectangles of its electric fixtures were chips of solid light. Behind sheets of glass, rows of girls sat at typewriters,


Atlas Shrugged: Rand, Ayn: 9780451191144: Amazon.com: Books

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand – Goodreads

I was visiting an old friend for the past few days, and she showed me this cover of Atlas Shrugged I made for her when we lived in Ukraine:

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It was a necessary repair, but it pretty much proves I should be a cover designer._____________________________________________

Original review:

I think Francisco DAconia is absolutely a dream boat. This books like blah blah blah engineering, blah blah blah John Galt, blah blah blah no altruistic act, blah bla- HE-llo, Francisco DAconia, you growl and a half. Also, theres a pirate. So, whats everyone complaining about?

Okay, its not that I dont get what everyones complaining about. I get that Rand is kind of loony tunes of the Glenn Beck variety, and some people (maybe?) use her to justify being assholes, but I just dont like to throw the bathwater out with that baby. Warning: I think, to make my point, I have to refer to Dostoyevsky a lot, which I seem to always do because he really is some kind of touchstone to me. The point Im trying to make with all this blabbering is that the debate over Atlas Shrugged brings out something that I might hate more than anything else (more than weddings and kitty litter even). It makes people say that ideas are dangerous. People on all sides of the spectrum do this about different stuff, and whatever the argument, I dont like it. If an idea is wrong, say its wrong. But genocide doesnt happen because people put forward too many ideas. It happens because people put forward too few ideas.

Anyway, back to the book:

First, story. The third part of this book is super weird. Its definitely not the actual ending of the book, Ive decided, but more of a choose-your-own-adventure suggestion. Its kind of fun that way because any end that you, the reader, come up with will be better than the one Rand suggested. My favorite part of her ending is how John Galt gives the most boring speech possible, and it lasts for about a bazillion pages, and you have to skip it or die. Then, at the end, Rands like, The entire world was listening, ears glued to the radios, because Galts speech was the most brilliant thing they had ever heard. No. Nope. Nice try, liar. So, thats super lame, I agree, and you should just skip the third part.

But people dont get as mad about the epilogue in Crime and Punishment. Why? Thats the same situation, where it kills all fun, and you have to ignore that it happened. Is it just because its shorter, and its called Epilogue? Maybe thats enough. But, on the other hand, maybe people didnt read all the way to the end of Crime and Punishment. Maybe, because it was written by a crazy Russian man, not a crazy Russian woman, people think theyll sound deep if they say they like it.

Second, writing. People complain about Rands writing, and I always think, When was the last time you wrote a 1000 page book in a second language and pulled off a reasonably page-turning storyline? The woman spoke Russian for crying out loud! It most certainly would have been a better choice for her to have written the books in Russian and had them translated, but, I mean, most native English speakers couldnt be that entertaining. Its at least A for effort. Im not going to make excuses for the unpronounceable names she chooses for her characters, but Ill just say Dostoyevsky again and leave it at that.

I know it made a huge difference in my reading of this book that I was living in a Soviet bloc apartment in Lozovaya, Ukraine at the time and had forgotten a little bit how to speak English. Im sure a lot of weird phrasing didnt sound weird to me because it makes sense in Russian. But, also, I feel like Ive read a lot of translations of Dostoyevsky and other Russians that feel really weird in English. You know, everyones always having some kind of epileptic fit or whatever with Mr. D. But, we allow for the weirdness because we picture the stuff happening in Russia, where the weird stuff typically goes down anyway. Ill tell you right now, Atlas Shrugged takes place in Russia. No joke. She might tell you theyre flying over the Rocky Mountains, or whatever, but this book is a Russian if there ever was one. Just so its clear, I LOVE that about it. Thats no insult, only compliment.

Third, philosophy. Maybe I told you this story already, so skip it if you already know it. When I lived in Ukraine, I had the same conversation with three or four people of the older generation who grew up in the Soviet Union. They would tell me, Things were really wonderful in the Soviet Union, much better than they are now. We had free health care, free housing, and now we have nothing. I mean, every once in a while your neighbor would disappear, but it was completely worth it. This was really disturbing to me, because it gave me this picture of the people around me that they were the ones who ratted out the neighbors who wanted a different life. Sure, Rands vision is narrow and sometimes inhuman, but I think it is because she was really terrified of this equally narrow and, as far as Im concerned, inhuman vision. I want a public health care option real bad, and my neighbor has some really annoying Chihuahuas, but if forced to choose between them, Id probably still pick my neighbor.

Admittedly, the problem with this argument is that it sets up a dichotomy where our only choices are the prosperity gospel and Soilent Green. From what I know of Rand, though, she had seen her neighbors and family thrown out of Russia or killed for being rich. She was fighting something extreme by being extreme. Unfortunately, in America, this rhetoric turns into the idea that having public services = killing your neighbor. To me, this comes from people taking her arguments too seriously on both sides. Dostoyevsky has ghosts and devils coming out of every corner, and people take his stories for what theyre worth. We dont think that liking his books makes us mystics and hating them makes us inquisitors. Why is it different with Rand?

Fourth, women. Im not going to lie and tell you that there werent other badass female characters when Dagney Taggert came around. All I want to say about this is that the most valuable thing I got from this book was the idea that one person being unhappy doesnt, and shouldnt, make other people happy. I think, in this way, it was particularly important to me that the protagonist was a woman. I see a lot of women complain about their lives and families, but say its all worth it because theyve been able to devote their lives to making their husbands or children happy. Im paraphrasing, I guess. Anyway, that kind of hegemony really creeps me out.

When I read this book, I was just realizing that I had joined Peace Corps with a similarly misguided motivation. I wanted to go to the needy and unfortunate countries of the world and sacrifice myself to save them. It might sound more nasty than it really was when I say it like that, but I think it is a really arrogant attitude to have. We might have hot running water in America (for which I am forever grateful), but if somewhere doesnt have that, its probably not because of a problem a silly, 23-year-old English major is going to solve. Dont get me wrong, I loved Peace Corps, and it was maybe the best experience of my life so far. But I love it for the things that I got out of it, and if someone else benefited from my being in Ukraine, it was dumb luck.

I dont know about other women, but I was raised to believe that the more selfless (read: unhappy) I was, the better off everyone else would be. I think its a pretty typical way that women talk themselves into staying in abusive situations that their lives are worth less than the lives around them. This would be the Hank Rearden character in the novel. I love that Rand sets up characters who destroy this cycle of abuse. I love that her female protagonist lives completely outside of it.

So, not to undercut my noble feminist apologetics, but really Franciscos just hawt, and I think thats the reason I like this book. There are lots of other reasons to read Rand, but most of those get into the argument about her ideas being dangerous. I just dont think they are, or should be. I think ignorance is dangerous, but I think it should be pretty easy to fill in the gaping holes in Rands logic. Yes, she conveniently ignores the very old, very young, and disabled to make a specific and extreme point. I dont think her point is entirely without merit, though (in the sense that our lives are valuable, not in the sense of kill the weak!). I also think that if we give a danger label to every book that conveniently ignores significant portions of the population to make a point, we wouldnt be left with much.

Anyway, read, discuss, agree, disagree. Ill be making up some Team John, Team Hank, Team Francisco t-shirts later. I hear in the sequel there are werewolves.

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Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand - Goodreads

About Atlas Shrugged – CliffsNotes


Atlas Shrugged is Ayn Rand's masterpiece and the culmination of her career as a novelist. With its publication in 1957, the author accomplished everything she wanted to in the realm of fiction; the rest of her career as a writer was devoted to nonfiction. Rand was already a famous, best-selling author by the time she published Atlas Shrugged. With the success of The Fountainhead a decade earlier and its subsequent production as a Hollywood film starring Gary Cooper in 1949, her stature as an author was established. Publishers knew that her fiction would sell, and consequently they bid for the right to publish her next book.

Atlas Shrugged, although enormously controversial, had no difficulty finding a publisher. On the contrary, Rand conducted an intellectual auction among competing publishers, finally deciding on Random House because its editorial staff had the best understanding of the book. Bennett Cerf was a famous editor there. When Rand explained that, at one level, Atlas Shrugged was to provide a moral defense of capitalism, the editorial staff responded, "But that would mean challenging 3,000 years of Judeo-Christian tradition." Their depth of philosophical insight impressed Ayn Rand, and she decided that Random House was the company to publish her book.

Atlas Shrugged furthers the theme of individualism that Ayn Rand developed in The Fountainhead. In The Fountainhead, she shows by means of its hero, the innovative architect Howard Roark, that the independent mind is responsible for all human progress and prosperity. In Atlas Shrugged, she shows that without the independent mind, our society would collapse into primitive savagery. Atlas Shrugged is an impassioned defense of the freedom of man's mind. But to understand the author's sense of urgency, we must have an idea of the context in which the book was written. This includes both the post-World War II Cold War and the broader trends of modern intellectual culture.

The Cold War and Collectivism

Twentieth-century culture spawned the most oppressive dictatorships in human history. The Fascists in Italy, the National Socialists (Nazis) in Germany, and the Communists first in Russia and later in China and elsewhere seriously threatened individual freedom throughout the world. Ayn Rand lived through the heart of this terrifying historical period. In fact, when she started writing Atlas Shrugged in 1946, the West had just achieved victory over the Nazis. For years, the specter of national socialism had haunted the world, exterminating millions of innocent people, enslaving millions more, and threatening the freedom of the entire globe. The triumph of the free countries of the West over Naziism was achieved at an enormous cost in human life. However, it left the threat of communism unabated.

Ayn Rand was born in Russia in 1905 and witnessed firsthand the Bolshevik Revolution, the Communist conquest of Russia, and the political oppression that followed. Even after her escape from the Soviet Union and her safe arrival in the United States, she kept in close touch with family members who remained there. But when the murderous policies of Joseph Stalin swallowed the Soviet Union, she lost track of her family. From her own life experiences, Ayn Rand knew the brutal oppression of Communist tyranny.

During the last days of World War II and in the years immediately following, communism conquered large portions of the world. Soviet armies first rolled through the countries of Eastern Europe, setting up Russian "satellite" nations in East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and elsewhere. Communists then came to power in China and North Korea and launched an invasion of South Korea. Shortly thereafter, communism was also dominant in Cuba, on America's doorstep. In the 1940s and 1950s, communism was an expanding military power, threatening to engulf the free world.

This time period was the height of the Cold War the ideological battle between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union ruled its empire in Eastern Europe by means of terror, brutally suppressing an uprising by Hungarian freedom fighters in 1956. The Russians developed the atomic bomb and amassed huge armies in Eastern Europe, threatening the free nations of the West. Speaking at the United Nations, Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev vowed that communism would "bury" the West. Like the Nazis in the 1930s, communists stood for a collectivist political system: one in which an individual is morally obliged to sacrifice himself for the state. Intellectual freedom and individual rights, cherished in the United States and other Western countries, were in grave danger.

Foreign military power was not the only way in which communism threatened U.S. freedom. Collectivism was an increasingly popular political philosophy among American intellectuals and politicians. In the 1930s, both national socialism and communism had supporters among American thinkers, businessmen, politicians, and labor leaders. The full horror of Naziism was revealed during World War II, and support for national socialism dwindled in the United States as a result. But communism, in the form of Marxist political ideology, survived World War II in the United States. Many American professors, writers, journalists, and politicians continued to advocate Marxist principles. When Ayn Rand was writing Atlas Shrugged, many Americans strongly believed that the government should have the power to coercively redistribute income and to regulate private industry. The capitalist system of political and economic freedom was consistently attacked by socialists and welfare statists. The belief that an individual has a right to live his own life was replaced, to a significant extent, by the collectivist idea that individuals must work and live in service to other people. Individual rights and political freedom were threatened in American politics, education, and culture.

An Appeal for Freedom

Rand argues in Atlas Shrugged that the freedom of American society is responsible for its greatest achievements. For example, in the nineteenth century, inventors and entrepreneurs created an outpouring of innovations that raised the standard of living to unprecedented heights and changed forever the way people live. Rand, who thoroughly researched the history of capitalism, was well aware of the progress made during this period of economic freedom. Samuel Morse invented the telegraph a device later improved by Thomas Edison, who went on to invent the phonograph, the electric light, and the motion picture projector. John Roebling perfected the suspension bridge and, just before his death, designed his masterpiece, the Brooklyn Bridge. Henry Ford revolutionized the transportation industry by mass-producing automobiles, a revolution that the Wright Brothers carried to the next level with their invention of the airplane. Railroad builders like Cornelius Vanderbilt and James J. Hill established inexpensive modes of transportation and opened up the Pacific Northwest to economic development.

Likewise, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone during this era, Cyrus McCormick the reaper, and Elias Howe the sewing machine. Charles Goodyear discovered the vulcanization process that made rubber useful, and George Eastman revolutionized photography with the invention of a new type of camera the Kodak. George Washington Carver, among myriad agricultural accomplishments, developed peanuts and sweet potatoes into leading crops. Architects like Louis Sullivan and William LeBaron Jenney created the skyscraper, and George Westinghouse, the inventor of train airbrakes, developed a power system able to transmit electricity over great distances. The penniless Scottish immigrant Andrew Carnegie built a vast company manufacturing steel, and John D. Rockefeller did the same in the oil industry.

These are a few examples from an exhaustive list of advances in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Ayn Rand argues that economic freedom liberated these great creative thinkers, permitting them to put into practice new ideas and methods. But what would happen if economic freedom were lost?

Atlas Shrugged provides Ayn Rand's answer to this question. In the story, she projects the culmination of America's twentieth-century socialist trend. The U.S. government portrayed in the story has significant control over the domestic economy. The rest of the world has been swallowed up by communist "Peoples' States" and subsists in abject poverty. A limited degree of economic freedom still exists in America, but it is steadily declining, as is American prosperity. The successful are heavily taxed to support the poor, and the American poor are similarly levied to finance the even poorer people in foreign Peoples' States. The government subsidizes inefficient businesses at the expense of the more efficient. With the state controlling large portions of the economy, the result is the rise of corrupt businessmen who seek profit by manipulating crooked politicians rather than by doing productive work. The government forces inventors to give up their patents so that all manufacturers may benefit equally from new products. Similarly, the government breaks up productive companies, compelling them to share the market with weaker (less efficient) competitors. In short, the fictionalized universe of Atlas Shrugged presents a future in which the U.S. trend toward socialism has been accelerated. Twentieth-century realities such as heavy taxation, massive social welfare programs, tight governmental regulation of industry, and antitrust action against successful companies are heightened in the universe of this story. The government annuls the rights of American citizens, and freedom is steadily eroded. The United States of the novel the last bastion of liberty on earth rapidly becomes a fascist/communist dictatorship.

The result, in Rand's fictional universe, is a collapse of American prosperity. Great minds are shackled by government policies, and their innovations are either rejected or expropriated by the state. Thinkers lack the freedom necessary to create new products, to start their own companies, to compete openly, and to earn wealth. Under the increasing yoke of tyranny, the most independent minds in American society choose to defend their liberty in the most effective manner possible: They withdraw from society.

The Mind on Strike

Atlas Shrugged is a novel about a strike. Ayn Rand sets out to show the fate that befalls the world when the thinkers and creators go on strike. The author raises an intriguing question: What would happen if the scientists, medical researchers, inventors, industrialists, writers, artists, and so on withheld their minds and their achievements from the world?

In this novel, Rand argues that all human progress and prosperity depend on rational thinking. For example, human beings have cured such diseases as malaria, polio, dysentery, cholera, diphtheria, and tuberculosis. Man has learned to fly, erect cities and skyscrapers, grow an abundant food supply, and create computers. Humans have been to the moon and back and have invented the telephone, radio, television, and a thousand other life-promoting technologies. All of these achievements result from the human application of a rational mind to practical questions of survival. If the intellectuals responsible for such advances abandon the world, regression to the primitive conditions of the Dark Ages would result. But what would motivate intellectuals to such an extreme act as going on strike? We are used to hearing about strikes that protest conditions considered oppressive or intolerable by workers. The thinkers go on strike in Atlas Shrugged to protest the oppression of their intellect and creativity.

The thinkers in Atlas Shrugged strike on behalf of individual rights and political freedom. They strike against an enforced moral code of self-sacrifice the creed that human life must be devoted to serving the needs of others. Above all, the thinkers strike to prove that reason is the only means by which man can understand reality and make proper decisions; emotions should not guide human behavior. In short, the creative minds are on strike in support of a person's right to think and live independently.

In the novel, the withdrawal of the great thinkers causes the collapse of the American economy and the end of dictatorship. The strike proves the role that the rational mind plays in the attainment of progress and prosperity. The emphasis on reason is the hallmark of Ayn Rand's fiction. All of her novels, in one form or another, glorify the life-giving power of the human mind.

For example, in The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand emphasizes the independent nature of the mind's functioning that rational individuals neither conform to society nor obey authority, but trust their own judgment. In her early novelette Anthem, Ayn Rand shows that under a collectivist dictatorship, the mind is stifled and society regresses to a condition of primitive ignorance. Anthem focuses on the mind's need for political freedom. The focus of Atlas Shrugged is the role that the human mind plays in human existence. Atlas Shrugged shows that rational thinking is mankind's survival instrument, just as the ability to fly is the survival tool for birds. In all of her major novels, Ayn Rand presents heroes and heroines who are brilliant thinkers opposed to either society's pressure to conform or a dictatorial government's commands to obey. The common denominator in all of her books is the life-and-death importance, for both the individual and society, of remaining true to the mind.

Objectivism in Action

In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand presents, for the first time and in a dramatized form, her original philosophy of Objectivism. She exemplifies this philosophy in the lives of the heroes and in the action of the story. Objectivism holds that reason not faith or emotionalism is man's sole means of gaining knowledge. Her theory states that an individual has a right to his or her own life and to the pursuit of his or her own happiness, which is counter to the view that man should sacrifice himself to God or society. Objectivism is individualistic, holding that the purpose of government is to protect the sovereign rights of an individual. This philosophy opposes the collectivist notion that society as a whole is superior to the individual, who must subordinate himself to its requirements. In the political/economic realm, Objectivism upholds full laissez-faire capitalism a system of free markets that legally prevent the government from restricting man's productive activities as the only philosophical system that protects the freedom of man's mind, the rights of the individual, and the prosperity of man's life on earth.

Because of Ayn Rand's uncompromising defense of the mind, of the individual, and of capitalism, Atlas Shrugged created great controversy on its publication in 1957. Denounced by critics and intellectuals, the book nevertheless reached a wide audience. The book has sold millions of copies and influenced the lives of countless readers. Since 1957, Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism has gradually taken hold in American society. Today, her books and ideas are becoming widely taught in high schools and universities.

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About Atlas Shrugged - CliffsNotes

Atlas Shrugged (film series) – Wikipedia

Trilogy of American science fiction drama films


The Strike Productions (Part I)

Release date

Running time

Atlas Shrugged is a trilogy of American science fiction drama films. The series, adaptations of Ayn Rand's 1957 novel of the same title, are subtitled Part I (2011), Part II (2012) and Part III (2014); the latter sometimes includes Who Is John Galt?.

The films take place in a dystopian United States, wherein many of society's most prominent and successful industrialists abandon their fortunes as the government shifts the nation towards socialism, making aggressive new regulations, taking control of industries, while picking winners and losers.

In Part I, railroad executive Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling) and steel mogul Henry Rearden (Grant Bowler) form an alliance to fight the increasingly authoritarian government of the United States. In Part II, Taggart (Samantha Mathis) and Rearden (Jason Beghe) search desperately for the inventor of a revolutionary motor as the U.S. government continues to spread its control over the national economy. In Part III, Taggart (Laura Regan) and Rearden (Rob Morrow) come into contact with the man responsible for the strike whose effects is the focus of much of the series.

See Part I's production, Part II's production, Part III's production

See Part I's plot, Part II's plot, Part III's plot

The trilogy received predominantly negative critic reviews and average audience reviews[2] and the aggregate USA box office is just under $9 million (revenues do not include video and television). The first film, directed by Paul Johansson, stars Taylor Schilling, Grant Bowler, Matthew Marsden, Johansson, Graham Beckel and Jsu Garcia was released in April 2011 and had a USA box office of $4.5 million on a budget of $20 million.[3] Most of the marketing was done online. The second film, directed by John Putch, stars Samantha Mathis, Jason Beghe, Patrick Fabian, D.B. Sweeney and Esai Morales, and had a USA box office of $3.3 million on a budget of $10 million.[4] The third film, directed by J. James Manera, stars Laura Regan, Rob Morrow, Greg Germann, Kristoffer Polaha, Lew Temple and Joaquim de Almeida, and had a USA box office of $1 million on a budget of under $5 million.[4]

Part I was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 8, 2011; Part II on February 19, 2013; and Part III on January 6, 2015.


Atlas Shrugged (film series) - Wikipedia

Atlas Shrugged – CliffsNotes

The story of Atlas Shrugged takes place in the United States at an unspecified future time. Dagny Taggart, vice president in charge of operations for Taggart Transcontinental Railroad, seeks to rebuild the crumbling track of the Rio Norte Line that serves Ellis Wyatt's oil fields and the booming industrial areas of Colorado. The country is in a downward economic spiral with businesses closing and men out of work. Other countries in the world have become socialist Peoples' States and are destitute. Colorado, based on Wyatt's innovative method of extracting oil from shale, is the last great industrial center on earth. Dagny intends to provide Colorado the train service it requires, but her brother James Taggart, president of Taggart Transcontinental, tries to block her from getting new rails from Rearden Steel, the last reliable steel manufacturer. James wants to do business with the inefficient Associated Steel, which is run by his friend Orren Boyle. Dagny wants the new rail to be made of Rearden Metal, a new alloy that Hank Rearden developed after ten years of experiment. Because the metal has never been tried and has been denounced by metallurgists, James won't accept responsibility for using it. Dagny, who studied engineering in college, has seen the results of Rearden's tests. She accepts the responsibility and orders the rails made of Rearden Metal.

Worsening the economic depression in the U.S. is the unexplained phenomenon of talented men retiring and disappearing. For example, Owen Kellogg, a bright young Taggart employee for whom Dagny had great hopes, tells her that he is leaving the railroad. McNamara, a contractor who was supposed to rebuild the Rio Norte Line, retires unexpectedly. As more great men disappear, the American people become increasingly pessimistic. Dagny dislikes the new phrase that has crept into the language and signifies people's sense of futility and despair. Nobody knows the origin or exact meaning of the question "Who is John Galt?," but people use the unanswerable question to express their sense of hopelessness. Dagny rejects the widespread pessimism and finds a new contractor for the Rio Norte Line.

The crisis for Taggart Transcontinental worsens when the railroad's San Sebastian Line proves to be worthless and is nationalized by the Mexican government. The line, which cost millions of dollars, was supposed to provide freight service for the San Sebastian Mines, a new venture by Francisco d'Anconia, the wealthiest copper industrialist in the world. Francisco was Dagny's childhood friend and her former lover, but she now regards him as a worthless playboy. In this latest venture, d'Anconia has steered investors completely wrong, causing huge financial losses and a general sense of unrest.

James Taggart, in an attempt to recover the railroad's losses on the San Sebastian Line, uses his political friendships to influence the vote of the National Alliance of Railroads. The Alliance passes what's known as the "Anti-dog-eat-dog rule," prohibiting "cutthroat" competition. The rule puts the superb Phoenix-Durango Railroad, Taggart Transcontinental's competitor for the Colorado freight traffic, out of business. With the Phoenix-Durango line gone, Dagny must rebuild the Rio Norte Line quickly.

Dagny asks Francisco, who is in New York, what his purpose was in building the worthless Mexican mines. He tells her that it was to damage d'Anconia Copper and Taggart Transcontinental, as well as to cause secondary destructive consequences. Dagny is dumbfounded, unable to reconcile such a destructive purpose from the brilliant, productive industrialist Francisco was just ten years earlier. Not long after this conversation, Francisco appears at a celebration for Hank Rearden's wedding anniversary. Rearden's wife Lillian, his mother, and his brother are nonproductive freeloaders who believe that the strong are morally obliged to support the weak. Rearden no longer loves and cannot respect them, but he pities their weakness and carries them on his back. Francisco meets Rearden for the first time and warns him that the freeloaders have a weapon that they are using against him. Rearden questions why Francisco has come to the party, but Francisco says that he merely wished to become acquainted with Rearden. He won't explain his presence any further.

Although public opinion and an incompetent contractor are working against them, Dagny and Rearden build the Rio Norte Line. Rearden designs an innovative bridge for the line that takes advantage of the properties that his new metal possesses. The State Science Institute, a government research organization, tries to bribe and threaten Rearden to keep his metal off the market, but he won't give in. The Institute then issues a statement devoid of factual evidence that alleges possible weaknesses in the structure of Rearden Metal. Taggart stock crashes, the contractor quits, and the railroad union forbids its employees to work on the Rio Norte Line. When Dr. Robert Stadler, a brilliant theoretical scientist in whose name the State Science Institute was founded, refuses to publicly defend Rearden Metal even though he knows its value, Dagny makes a decision. She tells her brother that she will take a leave of absence, form her own company, and build the Rio Norte Line on her own. She signs a contract saying that when the line is successfully completed, she'll turn it back over to Taggart Transcontinental. Dagny chooses to name it the John Galt Line in defiance of the general pessimism that surrounds her.

Rearden and the leading businessmen of Colorado invest in the John Galt Line. Rearden feels a strong sexual attraction to Dagny but, because he regards sex as a demeaning impulse, doesn't act on his attraction. The government passes the Equalization of Opportunity Bill that prevents an individual from owning companies in different fields. The bill prohibits Rearden from owning the mines that supply him with the raw materials he needs to make Rearden Metal. However, Rearden creates a new design for the John Galt Line's Rearden Metal Bridge, realizing that if he combines a truss with an arch, it will enable him to maximize the best qualities of the new metal.

Dagny completes construction of the Line ahead of schedule. She and Rearden ride in the engine cab on the Line's first train run, which is a resounding success. Rearden and Dagny have dinner at Ellis Wyatt's home to celebrate. After dinner, Dagny and Rearden make love for the first time. The next day, Rearden is contemptuous of them both for what he considers their low urges, but Dagny is radiantly happy. She rejects Rearden's estimate, knowing that their sexual attraction is based on mutual admiration for each other's noblest qualities.

Dagny and Rearden go on vacation together, driving around the country looking at abandoned factories. At the ruins of the Twentieth Century Motor Company's factory in Wisconsin, they find the remnant of a motor with the potential to change the world. The motor was able to draw static electricity from the atmosphere and convert it to usable energy, but now it is destroyed.

Realizing how much the motor would benefit the transportation industry, Dagny vows to find the inventor. At the same time, she must fight against new proposed legislation. Various economic pressure groups, seeking to cash in on the industrial success of Colorado, want the government to force the successful companies to share their profits. Dagny knows that the legislation would put Wyatt Oil and the other Colorado companies out of business, destroy the Rio Norte Line, and remove the profit she needs to rebuild the rest of the transcontinental rail system, but she's powerless to prevent the legislation.

Dagny continues her nationwide quest to find the inventor of the motor, and she finally finds the widow of the engineer who ran the automobile company's research department. The widow tells Dagny that a young scientist working for her husband invented the motor. She doesn't know his name, but she provides a clue that leads Dagny to a cook in an isolated Wyoming diner. The cook tells Dagny to forget the inventor of the motor because he won't be found until he chooses. Dagny is shocked to discover that the cook is Hugh Akston, the world's greatest living philosopher. She goes to Cheyenne and discovers that Wesley Mouch, the new economic coordinator of the country, has issued a series of directives that will result in the strangling of Colorado's industrial success. Dagny rushes to Colorado but arrives too late. Ellis Wyatt, in defiance of the government's edict, set fire to his oil wells and retired.

Months later, the situation in Colorado continues to deteriorate. With the Wyatt oil wells out of business, the economy struggles. Several of the other major industrialists have retired and disappeared; nobody knows where they've gone. Dagny is forced to cut trains on the Colorado schedule. The one bright spot of her work is her continued search for the inventor of the motor. She speaks to Robert Stadler who recommends a young scientist, Quentin Daniels of the Utah Institute of Technology, as a man capable of undertaking the motor's reconstruction.

The State Science Institute orders 10,000 tons of Rearden Metal for a top-secret project, but Rearden refuses to sell it to them. Rearden sells to Ken Danagger, the country's best producer of coal, an amount of Rearden Metal that the law deems illegal. Meanwhile, at the reception for James Taggart's wedding, Francisco d'Anconia publicly defends the morality of producing wealth. Rearden overhears what Francisco says and finds himself increasingly drawn to this supposedly worthless playboy. The day following the reception, Rearden's wife discovers that he's having an affair, but she doesn't know with whom. A manipulator who seeks control over her husband, Lillian uses guilt as a weapon against him.

Dr. Ferris of the State Science Institute tells Rearden that he knows of the illegal sale to Ken Danagger and will take Rearden to trial if he refuses to sell the Institute the metal it needs. Rearden refuses, and the government brings charges against himself and Danagger. Dagny, in the meantime, has become convinced that a destroyer is loose in the world some evil creature that is deliberately luring away the brains of the world for a purpose she cannot understand. Her diligent assistant, Eddie Willers, knows that Dagny's fears are justified. He eats his meals in the workers' cafeteria, where he has befriended a nameless worker. Eddie tells the worker about Dagny's fear that Danagger is next in line for the destroyer that he'll be the next to retire and disappear. Dagny races to Pittsburgh to meet with Danagger to convince him to stay, but she's too late. Someone has already met with Danagger and convinced him to retire. In a mood of joyous serenity, Danagger tells Dagny that nothing could convince him to remain. The next day, he disappears.

Francisco visits Rearden and empathizes with the pain he has endured because of the invention of Rearden Metal. Francisco begins to ask Rearden what could make such suffering worthwhile when an accident strikes one of Rearden's furnaces. Francisco and Rearden race to the scene and work arduously to make the necessary repairs. Afterward, when Rearden asks him to finish his question, Francisco says that he knows the answer and departs.

At his trial, Rearden states that he doesn't recognize his deal with Danagger as a criminal action and, consequently, doesn't recognize the court's right to try him. He says that a man has the right to own the product of his effort and to trade it voluntarily with others. The government has no moral basis for outlawing the voluntary exchange of goods and services. The government, he says, has the power to seize his metal by force, and they have the power to compel him at the point of a gun. But he won't cooperate with their demands, and he won't pretend that the process is civil. If the government wishes to deal with men by compulsion, it must do so openly. Rearden states that he won't help the government pretend that his trial is anything but the initiation of a forced seizure of his metal. He says that he's proud of his metal, he's proud of his mills, he's proud of every penny that he's earned by his own hard work, and he'll not cooperate by voluntarily yielding one cent that is his. Rearden says that the government will have to seize his money and products by force, just like the robber it is. At this point, the crowd bursts into applause. The judges recognize the truth of what Rearden says and refuse to stand before the American people as open thieves. In the end, they fine Rearden and suspend the sentence.

Because of the new economic restrictions, the major Colorado industrialists have all retired and disappeared. Freight traffic has dwindled, and Taggart Transcontinental has been forced to shut down the Rio Norte Line. The railroad is in terrible condition: It is losing money, the government has convinced James Taggart to grant wage raises, and there is ominous talk that the railroad will be forced to cut shipping rates. At the same time, Wesley Mouch is desperate for Rearden to cooperate with the increasingly dictatorial government. Because Rearden came to Taggart's wedding celebration, Mouch believes that Taggart can influence Rearden. Mouch implies that a trade is possible: If Taggart can convince Rearden to cooperate, Mouch will prevent the government from forcing a cut in shipping rates. Taggart appeals to Lillian for help, and Lillian discovers that Dagny Taggart is her husband's lover.

In response to devastating economic conditions, the government passes the radical Directive 10-289, which requires that all workers stay at their current jobs, all businesses remain open, and all patents and inventions be voluntarily turned over to the government. When she hears the news, Dagny resigns from the railroad. Rearden doesn't resign from Rearden Steel, however, because he has two weeks to sign the certificate turning his metal over to the government, and he wants to be there to refuse when the time is up. Dr. Floyd Ferris of the State Science Institute comes to Rearden and says that the government has evidence of his affair with Dagny Taggart and will make it public dragging Dagny's name through the gutter if he refuses to sign over his metal. Rearden now knows that his desire for Dagny is the highest virtue he possesses and is free of all guilt regarding it, but he's a man who pays his own way. He knows that he should have divorced Lillian long ago and openly declared his love for Dagny. His guilt and error gave his enemies this weapon. He must pay for his own error and not allow Dagny to suffer, so he signs.

Dagny has retreated to a hunting lodge in the mountains that she inherited from her father. She's trying to decide what to do with the rest of her life when word reaches her that a train wreck of enormous proportions has destroyed the famed Taggart Tunnel through the heart of the Rockies, making all transcontinental traffic impossible on the main track. She rushes back to New York to resume her duties, and she reroutes all transcontinental traffic. She receives a letter from Quentin Daniels telling her that, because of Directive 10-289, he's quitting. Dagny plans to go west to inspect the track and to talk to Daniels.

On the train ride west, Dagny rescues a hobo who is riding the rails. He used to work for the Twentieth Century Motor Company. He tells her that the company put into practice the communist slogan, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need," a scheme that resulted in enslaving the able to the unable. The first man to quit was a young engineer, who walked out of a mass meeting saying that he would put an end to this once and for all by "stopping the motor of the world." The bum tells her that as the years passed and they saw factories close, production drop, and great minds retire and disappear, they began to wonder if the young engineer, whose name was John Galt, succeeded.

On her trip west, Dagny's train is stalled when the crew abandons it. She finds an airplane and continues on to Utah to find Daniels, but she learns at the airport that Daniels left with a visitor in a beautiful plane. Realizing that the visitor is the "destroyer," she gives chase, flying among the most inaccessible peaks of the Rockies. Her plane crashes.

Dagny finds herself in Atlantis, the hidden valley to which the great minds have gone to escape the persecution of a dictatorial government. She finds that John Galt does exist and that he's the man she's been seeking in two ways: He is both the inventor of the motor and the "destroyer," the man draining the brains of the world. All the great men she admires are here inventors, industrialists, philosophers, scientists, and artists. Dagny learns that the brains are on strike. They refuse to think, create, and work in a world that forces them to sacrifice themselves to society. They're on strike against the creed of self-sacrifice, in favor of a man's right to his own life.

Dagny falls in love with Galt, who has loved and watched her for years. But Dagny is a scab, the most dangerous enemy of the strike, and Galt won't touch her yet. Dagny has the choice to join the strike and remain in the valley or go back to her railroad and the collapsing outside world. She is torn, but she refuses to give up the railroad and returns. Although Galt's friends don't want him to expose himself to the danger, he returns as well, so he can be near at hand when Dagny decides she's had enough.

When she returns, Dagny finds that the government has nationalized the railroad industry and controls it under a Railroad Unification Plan. Dagny can no longer make business decisions based on matters of production and profit; she is subject to the arbitrary whims of the dictators. The government wants Dagny to make a reassuring speech to the public on the radio and threatens her with the revelation of her affair with Rearden. On the air, Dagny proudly states that she was Rearden's lover and that he signed his metal over to the government only because of a blackmail threat. Before being cut off the air, Dagny succeeds in warning the American people about the ruthless dictatorship that the United States government is becoming.

Because of the government's socialist policies, the collapse of the U. S. economy is imminent. Francisco d'Anconia destroys his holdings and disappears because his properties worldwide are about to be nationalized. He leaves the "looters" the parasites who feed off the producers nothing, wiping out millions of dollars belonging to corrupt American investors like James Taggart. Meanwhile, politicians use their economic power to create their own personal empires. In one such scheme, the Taggart freight cars needed to haul the Minnesota wheat harvest to market are diverted to a project run by the relatives of powerful politicians. The wheat rots at the Taggart stations, the farmers riot, farms shut down (as do many of the companies providing them with equipment), people lose their jobs, and severe food shortages result.

During an emergency breakdown at the Taggart Terminal in New York City, Dagny finds that John Galt is one of the railroad's unskilled laborers. She sees him in the crowd of men ready to carry out her commands. After completing her task, Dagny walks into the abandoned tunnels, knowing that Galt will follow. They make love for the first time, and he then returns to his mindless labor.

The government smuggles its men into Rearden's mills, pretending that they're steelworkers. The union of steelworkers asks for a raise, but the government refuses, making it sound as if the refusal comes from Rearden. When Rearden rejects the Steel Unification Plan the government wants to spring on him, they use the thugs they've slipped into his mills to start a riot. The pretense of protecting Rearden is the government's excuse for taking over his mills. But Francisco d'Anconia, under an assumed name, has taken a job at Rearden's mills. He organizes the workers, and they successfully defend the mills against the government's thugs. Afterward, Francisco tells Rearden the rest of the things he wants him to know. Rearden retires, disappears, and joins the strike.

Mr. Thompson, the head of state, is set to address the nation regarding its dire economic conditions. But before he begins to speak, he is preempted, cut off the air by a motor of incalculable power. John Galt addresses the nation instead. Galt informs citizens that the men of the mind are on strike, that they require freedom of thought and action, and that they refuse to work under the dictatorship in power. The thinkers won't return, Galt says, until human society recognizes an individual's right to live his own life. Only when the moral code of self-sacrifice is rejected will the thinkers be free to create, and only then will they return.

The government rulers are desperate. Frantically, they seek John Galt. They want him to become economic dictator of the country so the men of the mind will come back and save the government, but Galt refuses. Realizing that Dagny thinks the same way that Galt does, the government has her followed. Mr. Thompson makes clear to Dagny that certain members of the government fear and hate Galt, and that if they find him first, they may kill him. Terrified, Dagny goes to Galt's apartment to see if he's still alive. The government's men follow her and take Galt into custody, and the rulers attempt to convince Galt to take charge of the country's economy. He refuses. They torture him, yet still he refuses. In the end, the strikers come to his rescue. Francisco and Rearden, joined now by Dagny, assault the grounds of the State Science Institute where Galt is held captive. They kill some guards and incapacitate others, release Galt, and return to the valley. Dagny and Galt are united. Shortly after, the final collapse of the looters' regime occurs, and the men of the mind are free to return to the world.

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Atlas Shrugged - CliffsNotes

What Ayn Rand’s "Atlas Shrugged" Teaches Us About the …

The search for the Great American Novel should have ended in 1957 when a Russian immigrant named Ayn Rand published Atlas Shrugged. Arresting in its breadth, depth, and style, Atlas Shrugged is a manifesto on politics, philosophy, and economics wrapped up in a compelling narrative featuring larger-than-life (and smaller-than-life) characters.

Atlas Shrugged has shaped the worldview of many devotees of liberty, and it surged in popularity in the wake of the recent financial crisis since it became clear that the government's response to crisis and recession would not be to learn from its mistakes and recede but to expand its reach.

I first read Atlas Shrugged during my fourth year of graduate school. On one hand, I wish I had read it much earlier. On the other, I feel like I appreciate it on a much deeper level than I would have had I read it in high school or college. Atlas Shrugged is my favorite novel for two reasons.

The first is its treatment of human potential. Atlas Shrugged is a brilliant exposition of the things that are made possible by the rational, thinking human mind. A lot of things that we take for granted are the product of free markets harnessing the power of free minds. Something as mundane as a hot cup of coffee, for example, embodies innumerable decisions by innumerable people, each with their own specialized knowledge. We see what happens throughout the book when people are unshackled and allowed to pursue their own goals. Production increases. Lives are saved. Life is meaningful.

The second reason is its exploration of how a society disintegrates when we deny human nature. The great tragedy I see throughout Atlas is the tragedy of what might have been. The producers are destroyed, and their destroyers continue to be oblivious to their destruction. One of the most important principles in economics is that we rarely if ever take account of the unseen, unintended consequences of policies and actions. In several places throughout the book, Rand explores how an "emergency directive" to help someone in one part of the country leads to the ruin or suicide of a bankrupt entrepreneur in another part of the country. The book is an extended lesson in what happens when we focus only on what we see.

Atlas Shrugged confronts its reader with a difficult and uncomfortable set of moral questions. Production is the outpouring of the human mind. The mind responds to the problems presented by the physical and material environment, but without the application of intelligence, no production is possible. Life, if one would call it that, would be nasty, brutish, and short.

The most interesting moral question occurring to me as I read it concerns the unintended consequences of supposedly good intentions. The idea that we should serve one another and that we should practice love and charity is appealing (as a Christian, I think them obligatory), but these principles are often applied in an almost strictly superficial sense.

Atlas traces the unseen, unintended consequences of so-called "good intentions." Henry Rearden, for example, points out that he cannot use his suppliers' good intentions to fuel his blast furnaces. When I board an airplane or get behind the wheel of a car, I like to think that the governing principles are not charity and sincerity but excellence and fidelity. If I have to have my brakes fixed, I care only about whether the person doing the work is honest and competent; I don't care a wit for whether he means well. His intelligence and his fidelity, not his intentions and his sincerity, are what will slow my car when I am hurtling down the freeway at sixty or seventy miles per hour. Well-meaning incompetence poses a danger to me and to those around me.

Recent eventsthe bizarro circus that is the 2016 election, the disintegration of Venezuela, and so on make me wonder if a lot of this could have been avoided had we taken Atlas Shruggeds message to heart. It is a book that is worth re-reading every few years. In this sense, it takes its place alongside books like 1984 as 20th-century cautionary tales that teach lessons we ignore at our peril.

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What Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" Teaches Us About the ...

10 (insane) things I learned about the world reading Ayn …

Over the past year,I've been reading and reviewing Ayn Rand's massive paean to capitalism,Atlas Shrugged. If you're not familiar with the novel, it depicts a world where corporate CEOs and one-percenters are the selfless heroes upon which our society depends, and basically everyone else journalists, legislators, government employees, the poor are the villains trying to drag the rich down out of spite, when we should be kissing their rings in gratitude that they allow us to exist.

Rand's protagonists are Dagny Taggart, heir to a transcontinental railroad empire, and Hank Rearden, the head of a steel company who's invented a revolutionary new alloy which he's modestly named Rearden Metal. Together, they battle against evil government bureaucrats and parasitic socialists to hold civilization together, while all the while powerful industrialists are mysteriously disappearing, leaving behind only the cryptic phrase "Who is John Galt?"

Atlas Shruggedis a work of fiction, but as far as many prominent conservatives are concerned, it's sacred scripture. Alan Greenspan was a member of Rand's inner circle, and opposed regulation of financial markets because he believed her dictum that the greed of businessmen was always the public's best protection. Paul Ryan said that he required his campaign staffers to read the book, while Glenn Beck has announced grandiose plans to build his own real-life "Galt's Gulch," the hidden refuge where the book's capitalist heroes go to watch civilization collapse without them.

ReadingAtlas Shruggedis like entering into a strange mirror universe where everything we thought we knew about economics and morality is turned upside down. I've already learned some valuable lessons from it.

1. All evil people are unattractive; all good and trustworthy people are handsome.


The first and most important we learn fromAtlas Shruggedis thatyou can tell good and bad people apart at a glance. All the villains the "looters," in Rand's terminology are rotund, fleshy and sweaty, with receding hairlines, sagging jowls and floppy limbs, while her millionaire industrialist heroes are portraits of steely determination, with sharp chins and angular features like people in a Cubist painting. Nearly all of them are conspicuously Aryan. Here's a typical example, the steel magnate Hank Rearden:

The glare cut a moment's wedge across his eyes, which had the color and quality of pale blue ice then across the black web of the metal column and the ash-blond strands of his hair then across the belt of his trenchcoat and the pockets where he held his hands. His body was tall and gaunt; he had always been too tall for those around him. His face was cut by prominent cheekbones and by a few sharp lines; they were not the lines of age, he had always had them; this had made him look old at twenty, and young now, at forty-five.

2. The mark of a great businessman is that he sneers at the idea of public safety.

When we meet Dagny Taggart, Rand's heroic railroad baron, she's traveling on a cross-country train which gets stuck at a stoplight that may or may not be broken. When the crew frets that they should wait until they're sure it's safe, Dagnypulls rank and orders them to drive through the red light. This, in Rand's world, is the mark of a heroic and decisive capitalist, rather than the kind of person who in the real world would soon be the subject of headlines like "22 Dead in Train Collision Caused by Executive Who Didn't Want to Be Late For Meeting."

Dagny makes the decision to rebuild a critical line of the railroad using a new alloy, the aforementioned Rearden Metal, which has never been used in a major industrial project. You might think that before committing to build hundreds of miles of track through mountainous terrain, you'd want to have, say, pilot projects, or feasibility studies. But Dagny brushes those concerns aside; she justknowsRearden Metal is goodbecause she feels it in her gut: "When I see things," she explains, "I see them."

And once that line is rebuilt, Dagny's plan for its maiden voyage involvesdriving the train at dangerously high speed through towns and populated areas:

"The first train will... run non-stop to Wyatt Junction, Colorado, traveling at an average speed of one hundred miles per hour." ...

"But shouldn't you cut the speed below normal rather than ... Miss Taggart, don't you have any consideration whatever for public opinion?"

"But Ido. If it weren't for public opinion, an average speed of sixty-five miles per hour would have been quite sufficient."

The book points out that mayors and safety regulators have to be bribed or threatened to allow this, which is perfectly OK in Rand's morality. When a reporter asks Dagny what protection people will have if the line is no good, she snaps: "Don't ride on it." (Ask the people of Lac-Megantic how much good that did them.)

3. Bad guys get their way through democracy; good guys get their way through violence.

The way the villains ofAtlas Shruggedaccomplish their evil plan is ... voting for it. One of the major plot elements of part I is a law called theEqualization of Opportunity Bill, which forces large companies to break themselves up, similarly to the wayAT&T was split into the Baby Bells. It's passed by a majority of Congress, and Rand never implies that there's anything improper in the vote or that any dirty tricks were pulled. But because it forces her wealthy capitalist heroes to spin off some of their businesses, it's self-evident that this is the worst thing in the world and could only have been conceived of by evil socialists who hate success.

Compare this to another of Rand's protagonists, Dagny Taggart's heroic ancestor Nathaniel Taggart. We're told that he built a transcontinental railroad system almost single-handedly, which is why Dagny all but venerates him. We're also told thathe murdered a state legislatorwho was going to pass a law that would have stopped him from completing his track, and threw a government official down three flights of stairs for offering him a loan. In the world ofAtlas Shrugged, these are noble and heroic acts.

Then there's another of Rand's heroes, the oil baron Ellis Wyatt. When the government passes new regulations on rail shipping that will harm his business, Wyatt retaliates byspitefully blowing up his oil fields, much like Saddam Hussein's retreating army did to Kuwait in the first Gulf War. In real life, that act of sabotage smothered much of the Middle East beneath clouds of choking, toxic black smoke for months, poisoning the air and water. But as far as Rand sees it, no vengeance is too harsh for people who commit the terrible crime of interfering with the right of the rich to make more money.

4. The government has never invented anything or done any good for anyone.

In Rand's world, all good things come from private industry. Everyone who works for the government or takes government money is either a bumbling incompetent or a leech who steals credit for the work of others. At one point, the villainous bureaucrats of the "State Science Institute" try to sabotage Rand's hero Hank Rearden by spreading malicious rumors about his new alloy:

"If you consider that for thirteen years this Institute has had a department of metallurgical research, which has cost over twenty million dollars and has produced nothing but a new silver polish and a new anti-corrosive preparation, which, I believe, is not so good as the old ones you can imagine what the public reaction will be if some private individual comes out with a product that revolutionizes the entire science of metallurgy and proves to be sensationally successful!"

Of course, in the real world, only minor trifles, like radar, space flight, nuclear power, GPS, computers, and the Internet were brought about by government research.

5. Violent jealousy and degradation are signs of true love.

Dagny's first lover, the mining heir Francisco d'Anconia,treats her like a possession: he drags her around by an arm, and once, when she makes a joke he doesn't like, he slaps her so hard it bloodies her lip. The first time they have sex, he doesn't ask for consent, but throws her down and does what he wants: "She knew that fear was useless, that he would do what he wished, that the decision was his."

Later on, Dagny has an affair with Hank Rearden (who's married to someone else at the time, but this is the sort of minor consideration that doesn't hold back Randian supermen). The first time they sleep together, it leaves Dagny bruised and bloody, and the morning after, Hankrants at her that he holds her in contempt and thinks of her as no better than a whore. Almost as soon as their relationship begins, he demands to know how many other men she's slept with and who they were. When she won't answer, he seizes her and twists her arm, trying to hurt her enough to force her to tell him.

Believe it or not, none of this is meant to make us judge these characters negatively, because in Rand's world, violent jealousy is romantic and abuse is sexy. She believed thatwomen were meant to be subservient to men in fact, she says that"the most feminine of all aspects" is "the look of being chained" and that a woman being the dominant partner in a relationship was "metaphysically inappropriate" and would warp and destroy her fragile lady-mind.

6. All natural resources are limitless.

If you pay close attention toAtlas Shrugged, you'll learn that there will always bemore land to homestead, more trees to cut, more coal to mine, more fossil fuels to drill. There's never a need for conservation, recycling, or that dreaded word, "sustainability." All environmental laws, just like all safety regulations, are invented by government bureaucrats explicitly for the purpose of punishing and destroying successful businessmen.

One of the heroes of part I is the tycoon Ellis Wyatt, who's invented an unspecified new technology that allows him to reopen oil wells thought to be tapped out, unlocking what Rand calls an "unlimited supply" of oil. Obviously, accepting that natural resources are finite would force Rand's followers to confront hard questions about equitable distribution, which is why she waves the problem away with a sweep of her hand.

This trend reaches its climax near the end of part I, when Dagny and Hank find, in the ruins of an abandoned factory, the prototype of a new kind of motor that runs on "atmospheric static electricity" and canproduce limitless energy for free. Rand sees nothing implausible about this, because in her philosophy, human ingenuity can overcome any problem, up to and including the laws of thermodynamics, if only the government would get out of the way and let them do it.

7. Pollution and advertisements are beautiful; pristine wilderness is ugly and useless.

Rand is enamored of fossil fuels, and at one point, she describes New York City as cradled in "sacred fires" from the smokestacks and heavy industrial plants that surround it. It never seems to occur to her that soot and smog cause anything other than pretty sunsets, and no one inAtlas Shruggedgets asthma, much less lung cancer.

By contrast, Rand informs us thatpristine natural habitat is worthless unless it's plastered with ads, as we see in a scene where Hank and Dagny go on a road trip together:

Uncoiling from among the curves of Wisconsin's hills, the highway was the only evidence of human labor, a precarious bridge stretched across a sea of brush, weeds and trees. The sea rolled softly, in sprays of yellow and orange, with a few red jets shooting up on the hillsides, with pools of remnant green in the hollows, under a pure blue sky.

... "What I'd like to see," said Rearden, "is a billboard."

8. Crime doesn't exist, even in areas of extreme poverty.

In the world ofAtlas Shrugged, the only kind of violence that anyone ever worries about is government thugs stealing the wealth of the heroic capitalists at gunpoint to redistribute it to the undeserving masses. There's no burglary, no muggings, no bread riots, no street crime of any kind. This is true even though the world is spiraling down a vortex of poverty and economic depression. And even though the wealthy, productive elite are mysteriously disappearing one by one,none of Rand's protagonists ever worry about their personal safety.

Apparently, in Rand's view, poor people will peacefully sit and starve when they lose their jobs. And that's a good thing for her, because accepting that crime exists might lead to dangerous, heretical ideas like that maybe the government should pay for education and job training, because this might be cheaper and more beneficial in the long run than spending ever more money on police and prisons.

9. The only thing that matters in life is how good you are at making money.

In a scene from part I, the copper baron Francisco d'Anconia explains to Dagnywhy rich people are more valuable than poor people:

"Dagny, there's nothing of any importance in life except how well you do your work. Nothing. Only that. Whatever else you are, will come from that. It's the only measure of human value. All the codes of ethics they'll try to ram down your throat are just so much paper money put out by swindlers to fleece people of their virtues. The code of competence is the only system of morality that's on a gold standard."

You'll note that this speech makes no exceptions for work whose product is actively harmful to others. If you burn coal that chokes neighboring cities in toxic smog, if you sell unhealthful food that increases obesity and diabetes, if you sell guns and fight every attempt to pass laws that would restrict who could buy them, if you paint houses with lead and insulate pipes in asbestos relax, you're off the hook! None of this matters in the slightest in Rand's eyes. Are yougoodat your job? Do you make money from it? That's the only thing anyone should ever care about.

10. Smoking is good for you.

Almost all of Rand's heroes smoke, and not just for pleasure. In one minor scene, a cigarette vendor tells Dagny thatsmoking is heroic, even rationally obligatory:

"I like cigarettes, Miss Taggart. I like to think of fire held in a man's hand. Fire, a dangerous force, tamed at his fingertips ... When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire alive in his mind and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a cigarette as his one expression."

It's no coincidence thatAtlas Shruggedexpresses these views. Ayn Rand herself was a heavy smoker, and she often asserted that she was the most rational person alive; therefore, she believed, her preferences were thecorrectpreferences which everyone else should emulate. Beginning from this premise, she worked backward to explain why everything she did was an inevitable consequence of her philosophy. As part of this, she decided that she smoked tobacco not because she'd become addicted to it, but because it'srightfor rational people to smoke while they think.

In case you were wondering, Rand did indeed contract lung cancer later in life, and had an operation to remove one lung. But even though she eventually came to accept the danger of smoking, she never communicated this to her followers or recanted her earlier support of it. As in other things, her attitude was that people deserve whatever they get.

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10 (insane) things I learned about the world reading Ayn ...

Menter: Will Aspens reopening shrug off the virus? – Aspen Daily News

This week I am reprising a slightly modified version of a column I wrote in this paper almost eight years ago titled Aspen shrugged (Aspen Daily News, July 19, 2012). Its substance seems more appropriate now than ever. Socialism and free market economics intersect more acutely in Aspen than perhaps any other place on earth. Without adaptation, Aspens fragile balance of unparalleled governmental subsidies for locals, and an international tourism economy playing to the jet-setting, uber-wealthy capitalist class, may be in jeopardy. Can such a system, dependent on safe and efficient air travel, and relying almost entirely on the intangibles of experiential value, survive the emerging coronavirus-triggered economic disruption?

Ayn Rands self-proclaimed magnum opus Atlas Shrugged uses as background for her philosophy of objectivism a fictional world where capitalists are denigrated by ministers of a centrally controlled economy. In this dystopian domain individuals work for the benefit of the collective. As the capitalists disappear into hiding, the worlds economy collapses.

Atlas imperfectly references the titan from Greek mythology, who in modern interpretations is forced by Zeus to hold the world on his shoulders. Rands symbolism of a shrugging Atlas represents the worlds productive capitalists shrugging off responsibility for anyone but themselves by retreating to a mountain hideaway and refusing to help rebuild an economy they did not destroy.

Theorizing an opposing world view to Karl Marxs workers paradise, Rand envisioned a world where people act out of selfish rationality to achieve their individual interests, in contrast to Marx and Friedrich Engels, who openly promoted the Communist Manifesto to portend a stateless and classless worldwide communist society where the individual was subordinate to the collective. Rands world view was seared into her consciousness through personal experience with the failed Soviet interpretation of Marxs communism. Not unlike Marx, Rands belief in the superiority of her economic and political philosophy was the definitive sign of her narcissistic intellectualism.

If Marx and Rand are foundational polar extremes of modern political and economic thought, then Aspen is the modern petri dish for the interplay of their philosophies. While few Aspenites would identify as communists or objectivists, mostly placing themselves somewhere in between, it remains true that few communities are so geographically separate and also so economically and societally segmented as Aspen.

On the valley floor reside mostly workers. The workers mostly, but not exclusively, inhabit tidy government-subsidized, garage-less homes. On the elevated surroundings reside mostly the capitalists as Rand might refer to them. The capitalists mostly reside in exquisite privately owned homes, some with garages so big, theyre larger than an average workers entire home.

The workers of Aspen are united in the sense that their livelihood relies upon consumption, which like gravity, flows from the higher elevations to the valley floor. This activity generates the taxes needed to provide the subsidized housing, transportation, child care, and recreation that make Aspens idyllic working-class life possible in one of the nations most expensive zip codes (although according to Business Insider, as of 2019 Aspen no longer even cracks the nations top 25).

Conversely, as if defying gravity, political power rises from the workers on the valley floor who exact the taxes needed to support their idyllic (it isnt really, hence the quotation marks) working-class lifestyle from the capitalist class, so long as they continue enjoying the view. Rand might not consider these as examples of objectively selfish behavior, but given the system in place, thats what it looks like to me. More importantly, there is exactly nothing requiring this systems perpetuation.

Reflecting neither Marxs utopia, nor Rands dystopia, Aspens delicately balanced, capitalistically funded socialism relies on one commonly shared notion. While the people here are real, the place defies reality. In traditional economic terms, Aspen produces almost nothing of value yet retains some of the highest property values on the planet. This understanding of value is both notional and contrived.

Aspens notional economic value lies exclusively in its ability to deliver one product, the Aspen experience. Its contrived economic value flows from the government subsidies generated by the demand for that experience, which over the past many decades has far exceeded available supply. But will future demand remain so high? All economic systems have a half-life, and Aspens monied visitors and government-subsidized, private-sector workers cannot exist without each other. It is Aspens intertwined economic values, notional and contrived, capitalist and socialist, that make Aspens economy work, and the kicker is, its a system that produces nothing that any consumer cannot live without or get at a lower cost someplace else.

In a coronavirus world, will Rands capitalists continue to willingly pay any price to parachute into Aspen to ski, listen to beautiful music and annually conjure a festival of ideas, financing the resort communitys government-subsidized locals' lifestyle? The notion seems less objectively rational than ever.

Would Marx recoil at the sight of Aspens sell-out socialism, where service to and control over capitalism have heretofore simultaneously made possible his otherwise futilely pursued workers paradise? Or would he decide its demise was a painful but necessary step for the purity of the collectives cause? My guess is the latter.

Most importantly, will Aspens delicately balanced, capitalist-funded socialist paradise (by now you know the reason for the quotations) and tourism-based economy shrug off the coronavirus pandemic and return to some adaptation of normality? Or, like after the silver boom ended a century ago, will Aspen begin a return to quieter years? I hope its the former, but only time will tell.


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Menter: Will Aspens reopening shrug off the virus? - Aspen Daily News

Small Talk: Every First Quarter Earnings Call – The Real Deal

The Real Deals latest humor column sums up every earnings call in the coronavirus age.

Hi, everyone, and thank you for joining us on our first-quarter earnings call. Hopefully, youve all received our hastily revised presentation by now, and if you havent, just picture a collage of arrows pointing aggressively downward. If any of you would like to feel a burst of nostalgia, we would be happy to also send you the presentation we started putting together in the olden days late February. I like to look through that one late at night while sipping Scotch and alternating between hysterical laughter and uncontrollable sobs.

Lets get the bad news out of the way: The coronavirus pandemic has had an adverse effect on elements of our business strategy, which includes investing in hotels and theme parks and an assumption that people would never be terrified to leave their homes. The outbreak also reversed the benefit of our early March team-building exercise, where everyone was required to cough on each other. We estimate that this will reduce our annual revenue by a number that Im too scared to say out loud.

But there were positive signs this quarter as well! For instance, everything worked out pretty much exactly as we expected it to until around March 11, which we are attributing solely to our intelligence and foresight. And that coughing fit our CFO had last week turned out to just be Cheez-It dust that went down the wrong pipe. Also, I found a dollar in my sons room the other day that Im pretty sure he didnt know about, so thats going right into the company coffers!

The dollar was under his pillow. I know what youre thinking, and no, he isnt too old to still believe in the Tooth Fairy. But we all need to make sacrifices during this challenging time, including 6-year-olds. Especially 6-year-olds.

Now, if theres one thing everyone needs to keep in mind about the pandemic, its that it is far too early for us to tell you anything specific about the effect it will have on our results for the foreseeable future. Whenever you feel yourself wanting to ask that question, we recommend thinking of three comforting words or phrases and assuming our answer would somehow incorporate all of them. For me, its beach, cotton candy, and Atlas Shrugged.

Having said that, rest assured that we are confident our company is still well-positioned to survive and thrive. Some of you may be wondering how it is possible for me to be simultaneously confident about our companys future and unable to tell you anything about it, but to those folks, I would just say beach, cotton candy, Atlas Shrugged.

The other important point I want to make is how much we appreciate what our companys frontline workers have been doing during this crisis. I know we tend not to think about them very often, but they truly are heroes, and I am going to keep calling them that until they stop asking me for a raise.

Now, do we want to do the usual question-and-answer session, or are we all OK with assuming that I will respond to every inquiry with some variation of Good question, but were not quite ready to answer that one yet?

Great, thats what I thought. So, in that case, this concludes our first-quarter earnings call. Thanks again for listening, and I hope that many of you will also join us on our second-quarter earnings call, which will most likely just consist of me cursing for about 17 minutes straight. Have a nice day, everyone!

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Small Talk: Every First Quarter Earnings Call - The Real Deal

The Code and the Key – National Review

(Enisaksoy/Getty Images)Lessons from human nature about writing, politics, and Donald Trump

I worked one summer as a kitchen boy in a Wisconsin summer camp. It was one of those jobs from which you fall down at night near too tired to sleep. A previous occupant of my bunk had left behind a copy of Atlas Shrugged. So I spent the summer, between work and sleep, reading the perfect companion for my teenage summer.

I dont care for short stories. I prefer the heft of the doorstop book, reassuring me that I can immerse myself in the fantasy for a good long time. Yes, yes, I think. Thank you. Take me. Anywhere but here . . .

My companion for the lockdown is The Codebreakers: The Comprehensive History of Secret Communication from Ancient Times to the Internet, written by David Kahn in 1967 and updated by him in 1996. One thousand pages so interesting that my mind will not reject them even though they are informative.

My new novel, not yet released, is Forty Years at Anstett, a fictional account of one mans life at a New England prep school. In it, a young man returns from imprisonment in Japan during the RussoJapanese War. The fellow applies for the job of instructor of languages. He has no academic credentials, but a very practical one: He was forced, in prison, to learn Japanese, Russian, Chinese, and, more important, how to learn languages. He challenges the Head (my protagonist) to point out the dullest lad in the school, to name a language, to leave the applicant alone with the boy for an afternoon, and then to assess his progress in the new tongue.

Well, the Head says, Latin or Greek. Id say Latin; its simpler as it shares our alphabet. No, the applicant says, its simpler to teach Greek. A new alphabet is a code. What twelve-year-old boy has ever been able to resist a code?

Not I, certainly. It seems Ive spent my professional life fashioning them and solving them, and have found the process commutative, which is to say, the study of one is the study of the otherit works in both directions.

Heres what I mean. Raymond Chandler wrote, in his essay The Simple Art of Murder (1939), that it is near impossible to craft a good murder mystery, as it requires two otherwise unconnected skills: the ability to write beautifully and the ability to fashion a code.

He is near right in his observation. The two skillswhile not mutually exclusive per seare unlikely to be found fully developed in any practitioner, because to achieve excellence, he or she would have to devote all energy to one or the other. I know of no great contemporary instrumentalist who is also a great composer.

The intersection of cryptography and literary merit is discoverable, though, in one very particular craft, and it is my own: writing drama.

For the drama has much in common with the detective novel. The clues in each must, scene by scene, be displayed to the reader in such a way that their importance will become both clear and acceptable only when the protagonist (and, so, the reader) has finally arranged them, correctly, at the works conclusion. If a clue is omitted, the writer is cheating; if it is too apparent, he is a hack.

Oh, yes, it was there all the time is the revelation capping not only the story of Sam Spade and his Maltese falcon, but that of Oedipus.

Ive always understood my job as a playwright as crafting the code. I came to this understanding through watching the audience.

In the various storefront theaters of my youth, I was offered the opportunity to make a living superior to mine as a cabdriver, if and as I could please the audience: not the critics, not the universities, but the paying audience.

I could write sufficiently well to keep em in their seats, but I was not going to get out of the Yellow Cab Company, I saw, unless I could do something additionally, which was (and is) to lead the audience unconsciously, at the plays end, to a revelation, which is to say, to a thrill.

Most plays, and all dramas, conclude, Well, I suppose life is just like that. This is sufficient to get the audience back into their cars, but by half the drive home, the play is forgotten. It may have diverted, but it did not thrill. This is to say, it did not deliver anything that could not have been foreseen. One says of such plays, They came in humming the plot.

Well, I wanted to trade the delights of the Yellow Cab Company for those of Broadway. So I sat down to the study of a code, and the code was, and is, human behavior.

I now learn from David Kahn the same lesson I saw in the storefronts: The cipher cannot be resolved without possession of the key.

Human behavior is fairly clear. One did or did not do or say this or that; one keeps marrying the wrong guy, or forgetting ones car keys, Aunt Mae always arrives late, and so on.

The attempt to interpret these actions, to determine the underlying assumptions, and, so, possibly, arrange them for the understanding of the group, the family, or the individual, is a search for a unifying key.

Psychoanalysis is, essentially, cryptanalysis. It is the attempt to find the key that will render intelligible, that is, arranged into a cause-and-effect progression, a string of various otherwise puzzling actions. It is fairly useless as a clinical tool (for, finally, the solution is as moot as is, in most cases, the complaint). But it is a handy theoretical tool, for a dramatist/cryptanalyst. He may walk the cat both backward and forward, discovering, in his own, unconscious creative process, the hidden key, which resolves his disparate perceptions and creations (an event, a line, an interchange) into that whole that may at the plays end be revealed as a progressionthat is, as a surprise.

This key is called the plot.

The practical codebreaker differs from the psychoanalyst in this: It is not his job to evaluate and act on the decoded information, but only to strip away the code.

Applied to psychoanalysis: Rather than asking What was the repressed trauma to which cause I can assign these symptoms? we may ask What was the process that caused that particular trauma (plaintext) to be so encrypted; that is, what is the key?

For, even if the hidden trauma is correctly determined, this can mean nothing more than that it has been identified in a way sufficiently satisfying to doctor and patient as to be acceptable; and the very fact that the patient accepts a psychoanalytic solution (which, again, is merely suppositional) might argue for its falsity. Diagnostically, he leaves the analysis not having had his life changed by revelation but gratified in his assessment not only of his own reasoning but of his courage in being able to accept a (putatively) new idea.

Similarly, modern drama and entertainment, and the so-called news media that flog it, present as a cure for (inescapable) human anxiety various solutions that, in their inaccuracy and inconclusivity, induce the individual to commit to further, more-drastic (which is to say, more-macabre and more-bizarre) restatements of the original diagnosis: E.g., you are not anxious, you are legitimately appalled, and frightened, as who would not be, as the world is ending (burning up, poisoned, overpopulated, run by Monsters).

The committed liberal, leftist, or analysand is like the government establishments that have devoted so much time, energy, and treasure to the creation of a code that no evidence could convince them that it has been broken and so must be replaced.

Drama carries an acceptable, but not a transformative, solution. Only tragedy has the power to transform, its revelation shocking the hero/sufferer (who is only the representative of the audience) into an absolutely new life. This life, however different from or lesser than the previous one, has this great benefit: It can be led truthfully, without either shame or anxiety, as one no longer fears discovery. The neurotic individual or organization fears not that its code may be broken but the knowledge that it already has been.

A mass movement coalesces around previously unconnected forcesthose that, absent a catalyst, cannot combine to any effect. Its formation will be predated to account for a supernatural beginning, but this merely raises the question Why now?

Islam, Christianity, and, in the 20th century, Marxism and Fascism emerge and proliferate exponentially, creating a new polity, spreading first through the joy of novelty, then through the herd instinct, and, finally, through force directed at the unconvinced.

A doctrine that cannot be proved, and whose only benefit is membership in a herd of the similarly professing, must (like a neurosis) be vehemently defended, as its refutation would threaten the individual not only with expulsion but with shame at his complicity, which is to say, with self-knowledge. But this, again, just raises the question: Why does this or that belief or delusion emerge and metastasize at a particular time? What is the relationship between the individual and the mass movement?

Tolstoy asks the question in the epilogue to War and Peace. He observes that 5 million Frenchmen didnt march into Russia just because Napoleon told them to. There is some relationship between his and their folly, but the relationship is unclear. The question, he tells us, is What is power? For, if they did not march because of his orders (a proposition that is, on reflection, absurd), why did they march?

Why did the young of my post-war generation embrace the various doctrines of free love, anti-Americanism, dissent, and mass movement, which, here as everywhere in the West, have matured as leftism, its various doctrines as absurd and obviously destructive as Napoleons (or Hitlers) invasion of Russia: open borders, free health care and education, and a universal salary not only for our citizens but (given open borders) for the entire world.

Ive been puzzled for a while by the absence in this virulent movement not only of a handy name (for leftism defines the thing only in relation to its opposite) but of a leader.

In the upcoming election, the Left has proposed, and its adherents have accepted, no candidate onto whom can be grafted even the most basic and most provisional attributes of charisma, wisdom, or record (however factitious) of accomplishment.

Why has the Left, intent on destroying the West, put forth no leader, and why has no leader put himself forward to fill the vacuum of power? What does the Left have, in place of a Marx, a Hitler, a Lenin, or, indeed, a Roosevelt or a Churchill? One who could state and embody its principles and thereby unify a country or a party? Perhaps the Lefts inability to propose a leaderand, so, a coherent (even if loathsome) visionis not a problem but a solution.

The question, then, is: To what problem?

For four years Ive found the massteria (Professor Harold Hill, The Music Man, 1957) around Trump healthy, as energy directed thus was unavailable for the Lefts beatification of a new leader (a fhrer). How fortunate for the country, I thought.

The national emergency has given me some leisure to think and consider; it was awarded by a virus. My question of the Virus is Why now?

The virus could not have spread globally without universal air travel, the national wealth that created such travel, and the disposable incomes that allowed individuals to take trips.

The Black Death reached Europe through rats on merchant ships from the Orient, the Spanish flu was spread here largely by servicemen returning from Europe, and so on, and so on.

Each, perhaps, could be seen as occurring through, or spreading because of, some stage of progression or, say, maturity, in the economy, or, to flirt with eschatology, in the Progress of the World.

The individual lifespan lengthens, and now the elderly are faced with diseases unknown to or rare among grandparents who would have been dead at a similar age.

Traffic congestion, attendant pollution, anxiety, and so on are the result of urban success. The highways take the mass of the newly solvent to the suburbs, the commutes become intolerable, and the old cities die, or exist (all the old capitals of commerce) as tourist attractions, or amusement parks, with the super-wealthy maintaining their skyboxes above the entertainment, as in The Masque of the Red Death.

The liberal, elite cities and states raise taxes, because they must, as their tax base disappears. As the services disintegrate, the rich follow the middle class out and leave the cities to the homeless, their ranks engorged by the aliens attracted to the notion of something-for-nothing (as who is not?), which is to say the Garden of Eden before the Fall.

There it is, before our eyes, but those who call attention, like our friend Laocon, are swept back into the sea, and the wooden horse, inside which the voices of enemy soldiers are heard, is dragged inside the city.

The unabated loathing of Trump must be considered a delusion, for how could one man be responsible not only for treason, collusion, malversation, and other crimes that, though they might be practiced individually, would, in their conjoined execution, each cancel the efficacy of the other (e.g., armed robbery and embezzlement)? Consider that in addition to this endless litany of his human corruptions, he is, coincidentally, indicted as responsible for the weather and the spread (if not the inauguration) of a global pandemic.

A comparison of Trump Psychosis with adoration of Hitlerthough perhaps appropriate mechanically, that is, in terms of power exerted on the mobis inexact in terms of utility. For the apotheosis of Hitler united the Germans behind a shared vision; he personified, and gave voice to, a nationalist desire for revenge, pride, and power, in which vision, and through its supposed benefits, the individuals could participate.

But the revanchist Left is not opposed to Trump as the avatar of the Right, of capitalism, of Americanism (once called patriotism). They cannot object to his policies per se, because the policies, one by one, are demonstrably superior in practice to any the Left has employed and, in reason, to any they have suggested. Their objections are all ad hominem, alleging various isms, which epithet may be applied, given but little inventiveness, to any of his words or acts. (As they may to any of yours or mine.) To suggest it is his acts that enrage the Left would be as to understand the Islamist attacks of September 11 as architectural criticism.

The Trump resistance began in the first hours of his presidency and has continued unabated by either reason or fatigue. There are no dissentient voices on the left, for any suggesting consideration, let alone dissent, have been expelled, vilified, and canceledthey are thus no longer on the left. Perhaps in this the disease starts to proclaim itself.

Leo Marks was a British codebreaker at Bletchley Park, during the Second World War. In his book Between Silk and Cyanide (1998), he writes about the codebreakers disease: Engaged as they are in trying to break the code, it is their last thought at night, and their first on awakening. Many of them became illphysically or psychologicallyfrom the strain.

Marks was in charge of decrypting the messages sent by Allied agents parachuted into Nazi-controlled Holland. He was, he writes, driven mad by the suspicion that the Allied agents had been captured and turnedthat is, that they, and so their codes, were being manipulated by the Nazis. He could find no error in the transmissions, but his suspicions would not go away. One morning he awoke and realized that the problem (that he could find no errors) was, of course, the solution: It would have been impossible for an Allied spy in Nazi Holland to transmitin haste and in hiding, risking deathwithout errors in the transmission. The agents had been captured or turned, he concluded.

There are no errors in the unity of the Left, which may be a key to the solution of their irrational, implacable loathing. Trump is hated as the most prominent example of one whos not afraid to employ reason. He has been canceled but ridicules their verdict.

It is not his plans (the Left doesnt hear of them) or his accomplishments (they are discounted, attributed to others, glossed over, or dismissed as nefarious) that are loathed, but the man himself, as he had the temerity to hold himself superior to the zeitgeist.

The zeitgeist is the Decline of the West, which had been sweeping the world since the American apogee, victory in World War II, and the advent of the most prosperous economy in history.

Things age, mature, and die. Fascism was a 20-year-long dictatorship, expanded through murder and terror. American exceptionalism and prosperity are the overwhelming story of the 20th century; it was not spread by the sword, and it will not die by the sword. Lincoln said that all the massed armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined could not take a drink from the Ohio, but American culture has been decaying throughout my lifetime, as must any organism. Mr. Trumps presidency has lengthened the American experience by some number of years. That number will be debated by the civilizations that succeed us, who will wonder at our fall, as the educated once did at that of Nineveh and Tyre.

Tragedy, to be compelling, must address a prerational experience or unity. A Hokusai painting of a wave makes us nod in recognition, as we do at a resolution of a Bach fugue. We cannot explain or dissect our experience of understanding, but it is undeniable. True art creates in us the same feeling of fulfillment, its possible description just beyond the rational mind.

The technician might explain it technically, the musician employing the cycle of fifths, or the painter some theory of color or proportion, but this merely puts the problem at one remove. For, after the technical reduction, even the expert cannot quite answer the question of why: Why, for example, is the eye so pleased by the golden mean? Like any great truth, our understanding of art must devolve into metaphysics or an assertion merely leading to an infinite regression.

The human mind will and must assemble phenomena into cause and effect. We will intuit or ascribe a causal relationship to two events that, to another, have no possible connection: Aunt Edna did not call on my birthday because shes furious I didnt sufficiently praise her new frock; Germany is troubled because of the Jews; we are suffering a pandemic because Trump did or did not act quickly enough, and an economic disaster because he did.

Psychoanalysis (and politics) attempts to address or capitalize on our human suggestibility, particularly on our frenzied willingness to assign our disquiets to another. Solutions offered thus flatter our ability to identify a problem, suggest its cure, and remind us to come back tomorrow for another dose.

Drama acts similarly, engaging us in the assurance that the cause of all problems is evident, and that our reason will suffice to cure them. The Bad Butler did it; Deaf People are People, Too; Love Is All There Is; and so on. If we enjoy the mixture, it must (and will) be taken regularly.

Tragedy provides not reassurance but calm through the completion of a mechanical progression. Its end is probative, for it is the disposition of all the variables (the code) stipulated at its beginningmathematically, there is no remainder.

The journey of Oedipus begins because there is a plague on Thebes; it is the kings job to conquer it. Without the initiating impulse (the stated problem), the play becomes merely a drama, it cannot be a tragedy, and we take away from it not that peace from recognizing the human condition but the lesson Do not sleep with your mother.

Can our current national emergency be viewed as perhaps a classical tragedy rather than as sordid drama? We see that the various factions are fighting over a disordered kingdom; each employs (to its own degree) the universal tools of indictment, incitement, appeal, reason, conspiracy, deception, and so on (assignment of these to taste). Considering ourselves as the dramatist, we can prognosticate an end: civil war, dissolution and chaos, conquest by a foreign power, return to a new and healthier polity actually based on the Constitution . . .

But such an end, to satisfy as tragedy, must be understood as the resolution of that specific problem absent the appearance of which we would not have a play. (Hamlets father dies.)

But in our case, what brought about the plague of Thebes?

The builders of the Tower of Babel suffered from hubris. They thought that they could aspire to heaven and raise themselves above human concerns, and that the various conflicting impulses of humanity would go away if we all spoke with one tongue. This tongue, of course, would be that of the builders, and I will leave comparisons with globalism to the reader. But it is no sin to be prosperous, and even the most committed Marxist wishes only to regularize (that is, reduce) the wealth and consumption of his neighbor.

What is the precipitating event or situation whose resolution would be one of those mooted above? We know our current pandemic came from China, and from trade with China. And every schoolchild knows that April showers bring May flowers, Mayflowers bring Pilgrims, and Pilgrims bring typhus.

The demagogues of the Left have discovered anew the ancient secrets of corruption, collusion, and decay, and, like all their predecessors, delight in their discovery: indicting their opponents for their own crimes.

We had, on April Fools Day 2020, two events warring for pride of place in our reconstruction of the tragic cryptogram: the pandemic, and the election of Donald Trump. But tragedy cannot have two precipitating events. (See the childs excuse I didnt do my homework because the dog ate it, and my mother has the flu.) Two explanations are none.

We must choose one, determine how the two are, if not identical, then conjoined (My mother has the flu, she usually feeds the dog, she could not, the dog became hungry and ate my homework), or discard them both and begin our work again, remembering Tolstoys admonition that the first or most apparent manifestation of an event is not necessarily the cause: The savage seeing the puffs of smoke first might conclude that they caused the locomotive.

The Left insists that our national disruption is caused by the election of President Trump, which affront would be resolved by his removal from office.

But if the successful results of their machinations brought us to civil war or economic collapse, then the effect would be out of adjustment with the supposed cause. (See the all too common explanation of spousal murder: You would have shot her too if you saw the way she looked at me.)

That message was fictionalized in Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand lived through the Russian Revolution, in St. Petersburg, and spent her working life, in fiction and nonfiction, writing about the horror.

Here is another report, by Alexander, Grand Duke of Russia, first cousin to the czar, from Once a Grand Duke (1931):

What was to be done about those princes and countesses who spent their lives going from door to door and spreading monstrous lies about the Czar and Czarina? What was to be done with that scion of the ancient family of Princes Dolgoruky who sided with enemies of the Empire? What was to be done with the president of Moscow University, Prince Troubetskoi, who turned that famous institution of learning into a radical campus? What was to be done with that brilliant Professor Milukoff, who felt it his duty to denounce the regime in foreign lands, undermining our credit abroad and gladdening the hearts of our foes? . . . What was to be done with our press who met with rousing cheers every news of our defeat on the Japanese front?

The message on Nebuchadnezzars wall was You have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Trump Mania is not a message, but a key, serving to obscure an underlying message.

The key (the accusations of the Left) disguises an underlying terroroperating here just as the near-psychotic, immobilized by a terrifying, free-floating anxiety, extemporizes specific phobias in an effort to gain some control.

It is not that I am losing my mind in unnameable panic, he thinks, but that Martians, or mice, food additives, or Jews are trying to destroy me.

The Lefts loathing of Trump differs from their other attempts at constructive phobia in this: He is not an event, a phenomenon, an attitude, or a group, but an actual human being.

He has supplanted previous attempted solutions to panic, but universal and vicious loathing comes close, in its virulence, to revealing the key, and thus the presence of an underlying code.

He is a mere human being who has the temerity to disregard the taboo.

In the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, some brave soul might speak up for one accused of witchcraft; but no one would have dared to say, and few to think, There is no such thing as witchcraft.

The Lefts hatred of Trump reveals their code. They here are like the ghoul Rumpelstiltskin, whose power disappeared when the victim said his name.

Trump is loathed because he is feared, and he is feared because he named the monster.

The Monster is the zeitgeist, that is to say, the Left.

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The Code and the Key - National Review

The Science Fiction Writer John Scalzi Readily Quits Reading – The New York Times

The author, whose new novel is The Last Emperox, says, Life is short and there are many other books.

What books are on your nightstand?

I made a New Years resolution to spend more time reading than I do staring at Twitter, so as a result the turnover on the nightstand (including the books on my phone, which has a nightstand charging cradle) is pretty rapid right now. Currently there: All This Could Be Yours, by Jami Attenberg; Docile, by K. M. Szpara; Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson (reread); and, on the phone, Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel (Im sooo late); Uncommon Type, by Tom Hanks; and the upcoming The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking), by Katie Mack, which Im reading in PDF galley form because the end of the universe is professionally relevant to me.

Whats the last great book you read?

In terms of books already generally acknowledged as great, that would be The Face of Battle, by John Keegan, which was one of the first serious books of military history to take on the history of battle from a grunts-eye view of things. The book was incredibly useful when I wrote Old Mans War, and I come back to it whenever I start researching for a military-oriented work. Im very bad at guessing which contemporary works will be seen as great books, and often I am deeply surprised which ones get the label over time.

Are there any classic novels that you only recently read for the first time?

I bounced hard off Jane Austen growing up, but so many friends are so deeply in love with her writing and I have enjoyed her filmed adaptations enough that I thought Id give her another try. So I picked up Pride and Prejudice, and soon enough set it back down again. The problem is not her, its me: The rhythms of writing and speaking and even just how commas are used have changed enough that for me reading most pre-20th-century work feels like sitting on a lurching train, getting knocked about. Shes a great writer, without doubt, and also, not for me. I love her films, though (and much prefer the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice over the 1995 BBC mini-series, which is heresy).

Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how).

In my office, on my chaise longue, with one of my cats on me, on a spring or fall day where the temperature is nice enough to have the windows open, and there is a nice breeze (and also Ive taken my Claritin for the day; I live in rural Ohio and we have all of the pollen). But honestly I can read just about anywhere, and have, and will again, just watch me.

Whats your favorite book no one else has heard of?

In science fiction: Raising the Stones, by Sheri S. Tepper, a quasi-sequel to her novel Grass (also exceptional, with Dune-level worldbuilding), which has very interesting things to say about masculinity and society, and is very sadly out of print. Grass, however, is in print. Get it.

What book should everybody read before the age of 21?

There is no single book everyone should read before age 21; there is, I suspect, the one right book for each person which, if they read it at a young age, makes them fall in love with reading for life. I endorse doing what we can to find that one book for each person, rather than stuffing the same book down everyones throat. With books, one size does not fit all.

What book should nobody read until the age of 40?

I mean, I grew up in a house where the rule for books was if you can reach it, you can read it, and used that same rule for my kid, so, meh, theres not one? There are books you bounce off of at 15 that speak to you at 40, and vice versa. The only way youre going to find them is to try them. Im not in love with segregating out books by age. Let books speak to readers.

Which writers novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets working today do you admire most?

Today? N. K. Jemisin (novelist), Alexandra Petri (journalist), Daniel Lavery (memoirist), Pamela Ribon (screenwriter/novelist), Roxane Gay (essayist/editor). Ask me again in a year. There are so many writers to admire, for their work and for who they are in the world.

Sci-fi writers are often writing about the present even when their books are set in the future. Who do you think gets the present (or the future!) particularly right?

Oy. Well, William Gibson seems to be doing a depressingly good job of calling out where the world is and is going; Charlie Stross gets the future of today so right that sometimes he has to rewrite his work-in-production because current events overtake his fiction; Mira Grants Newsflesh trilogy seems to be on point right about now, too, in terms of the politics and culture of this exact moment.

What do you read when youre working on a book? And what kind of reading do you avoid while writing?

When I write fiction, I read nonfiction and generally avoid other fiction, for the simple reason that my brain will attempt to absorb the voice of the author and then output it through my typing fingers. This is not great for anyone. Several years ago I read a book of China Mivilles and then sat down to write a new chapter; what came out was dreadful, and not the good sort of dreadful that Mr. Miville is so adept at. I had to write about 3,000 words just to get back to me.

Do you count any books as guilty pleasures?

No. If theyre not hurting anyone, why feel guilty about ones pleasures? Why condescend to your own desires and belittle yourself that way? I write in a genre that for decades people felt like they had to make excuses for reading who benefits from that? Read what you like; like what you read. If someone tries to give you crap for it, its their problem, not yours.

Any comfort reads?

I reread James Clavells Shogun a lot when I travel; I tend to think of it as epic fantasy as I am unsure of its historical and cultural accuracy. Speaking of epic fantasy, Katherine Addisons The Goblin Emperor is always a joy to reread; I leaned on it a lot when creating my own unready imperial ruler for the Interdependency series, the last book of which is out very soon now. And I always have at least one Susan Orlean book on my phone for when Im stuck in the airport and in the mood for nonfiction; the current one I have at the ready is The Library Book. She writes books that are comforting and fascinating at the same time. Thats a good skill to have.

Has a book ever brought you closer to another person, or come between you?

When I was younger I would give Mark Helprins Winters Tale to people I wanted to be better friends with (and/or I had a crush on); its a book so lovely on a sentence level that it took me six reads to focus on the story. Im still friends with most of the people I gave the book to, and married one of them, so thank you, Mr. Helprin?

Whats the most interesting thing you learned from a book recently?

That Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was the original nice guy (used in the internet sense of the phrase, which means emphatically not), falling in love with women who werent interested in him, then turning into a creepy abusive jerk when rebuffed. (See: Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love, by Andrew Shaffer.)

Which books got you hooked on speculative fiction? Are there any science fiction books you would elevate to the canon?

As a kid the three authors who served as my entryway to the genre were Madeleine LEngle (A Wrinkle in Time), Susan Cooper (The Dark Is Rising) and Robert A. Heinlein (Citizen of the Galaxy), who were writing books aimed at younger readers. Authors writing for younger readers, and the books that captivate those readers, often get dismissed as being part of the science fiction canon, which I find problematic for all sorts of reasons (the canon of speculative fiction is itself currently in for massive revision). If I were nominating for canon, Id look at Y.A.: J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter), Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games) and Scott Westerfeld (Uglies) are obvious candidates from the last couple of decades. Mind you, my vote wont count; the future of the specific canon will be decided by people younger than me.

Do you distinguish between commercial and literary fiction? Wheres that line, for you?

Theres no line between commercial and literary fiction; its a Venn diagram with considerable overlap. The best approximation I can make for literary fiction is simply fiction written (intentionally or not) for other writers, who will be paying attention to fiddly nuances other readers might not care about. But you can do that and still be massively commercial (and likewise intentionally write for a wide audience and still sell nothing). Ultimately no one knows anything and some books hit and no one can tell you why. Luck matters more than we like to admit.

How do you organize your books?


What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?

I would be surprised that anyone would be surprised at any book I have on my shelf. I read widely and also publicly and frequently endorse reading as many different things as one can, so it shouldnt be surprising to find lots of different books in my home. Maybe people might look at me askance for Atlas Shrugged, since Ive written about how Ayn Rand valorizes a genocidal sociopath in John Galt, and I think its a really bad sign when ostensible adults take her philosophy seriously (and even worse when theyre elected to office). But Ill tell you what, Rand could make a pot boil; theres a reason her brand of nonsense sells.

What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

Voracious. Would, could and did read anything I could get my hands on, which set the tone for the rest of my life. Aside from previously mentioned writers and books, probably the most important book for me growing up was The Peoples Almanac, by David Wallechinsky and Irving Wallace, which I consumed when I was 6 and sparked a love of knowing a little about a lot of things. Learning how to find out more came later.

If you were to write something besides speculative fiction, what would you write?

When I sat down to write my first novel, I couldnt decide between writing a science fiction novel and writing a crime/mystery novel, la Gregory Mcdonald (Fletch) and Carl Hiaasen. So I flipped a coin, and it came up heads, which was the side I chose for science fiction. I frequently wonder what my life would be like now if it had landed on tails. The good news (for me, anyway) is that I like my life and the people in it. And anyway, I write science fiction crime novels now my Lock In series so I get to have my literary cake and eat it too.

Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel as if you were supposed to like, and didnt? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?

When I was a teenager, friends swore I would identify with Holden Caulfield, so I read The Catcher in the Rye and was furious my so-called friends thought I had anything in common with that entitled jerk. And I absolutely remember the last book I put down without finishing; it was last week. I frequently put down books Im not enjoying. Life is short and there are many other books. I dont publicly say which books they are; thats rude and someone else may love that same book.

Youre organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

See above, regarding the writers I admire. With that said, I am sorely sad I did not meet and converse with Molly Ivins, Roger Ebert and Nora Ephron when they were alive. I imagine a dinner party with all three at their respective heights would be delightful in every sense of the word.

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The Science Fiction Writer John Scalzi Readily Quits Reading - The New York Times

Betsy DeVos Prevents Future Larry Nassars By Nixing Obligation To Report Sexual Assault – Above the Law

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The NCAA isnot impressed with the Department of Educations new rules to better protect students from sexual harassment and assault under Title IX. Apparently, the organization is not convinced that limiting the number of mandatory reporters will magically make student athletes safer from sexual violence. And if the billion dollar non-profit that hoovers up cash selling athletes images while excommunicating them if they accept a free pair of sneakers is recoiling in horror, chances are the DOEs new rule is pretty bad.

As ESPNs Paula Lavigne notes, the changes finalized last week relieve coaches and athletic staff of the pesky obligation to report allegations of sexual abuse or assault the schools Title IX coordinator. Last year the Department fined Michigan State $4.5 million for systemic failure to address horrific abuse of gymnasts by Dr. Larry Nassar, and yet the new regulations seem to have been designed to create more people who can look the other way with impunity.

But Secretary DeVos has a perfectly good explanation for a rule that would have allowed Jim Jordan to (allegedly) chortle about wrestlers being molested by the Ohio State Universitys team doctor with no obligation to do anything about it, and it is AUTONOMY.

Every situation is unique, and individuals react to sexual harassment differently. Therefore, the Final Rule gives complainants control over the school-level response best meeting their needs. It respects complainants wishes and autonomy by giving them the clear choice to file a formal complaint, separate from the right to supportive measures. The Final Rule also provides a fair and impartial grievance process for complainants, and protects complainants from being coerced or threatened into participating in a grievance process.

Perish the thought that an athlete whose scholarship and athletic career are dependent on staying in the good graces of the coaching staff be coerced or threatened into participating in the grievance process by mandatory reporting requirements!

The new regs only impose the reporting obligation on staff who have authority to institute corrective measures, a power which schools can optionally confer on athletic staff. Clearly the Departments curriculum includes fantasy novels where organizations voluntarily increase the pool of staff members who can incur millions of dollars in federal fines and civil damages. Nevertheless, NCAA rules will still impose a reporting requirement on all collegiate athletic staff.

The campuses will retain the responsible employee mandatory reporter standard that they have because thats the better practice, W. Scott Lewis, co-founder of the Association of Title IX Administrators told ESPN.

The department is not under an obligation to conform these final regulations with NCAA compliance guidelines and declines to do so, sniffed the Department in its response. And then it went back to discussing a plan to protect students from sexual assault by passing out millions of copies of Atlas Shrugged, useful as a weapon to fend off an attackerand a paean to the vaunted autonomy Secretary DeVos values above all else.

New Title IX regulations change how colleges must respond to sexual misconduct complaints [ESPN] New Title IX regulations no longer require coaches to report sexual misconduct [Yahoo]

Elizabeth Dye (@5DollarFeminist) lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.

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Betsy DeVos Prevents Future Larry Nassars By Nixing Obligation To Report Sexual Assault - Above the Law

Treat others well, and other things learned while on lockdown – Las Cruces Sun-News

Randy Lynch, Your view Published 1:27 a.m. MT May 10, 2020

Randy Lynch, Sun-News editorial columnist(Photo: Robin Zielinski)

Heres some of what Ive learned during this pandemic lockdown. In no particular order:

To expand on that latter point, our political leaders using crises like this pandemic as just another tool to beat down their opposition while building themselves up. One side paints the other as selfish, money-hungry bullies who dont care if people die as long as they get to go back to work, get a haircut and do what they want with no concern for others. The other side paints that first side as cowards and "sheeple"who want to strip away our freedoms, create a totalitarian state and who are showing their allegiance to big government simply by putting on a mask when going out in public.

Governors treat us like children, deciding which businesses are essential and which ones dont matter enough to be allowed to operate, no matter how safely they are being run. They tell us where we can and cant go, how many people we can be around and what were allowed to do while never once considering any higher standard than the use of their debatable power.

Meanwhile, the president does the same sort of thing by forcing businesses he deems essential to remain open, no matter how those companies wish to proceed. Its like something out of "Atlas Shrugged." (Wheres John Galt when you need him?!)

Pro-business advocates go to county commission meetingsdemanding that businesses be allowed to reopen claiming they can do so responsibly and safely while they themselves refuse to act with any level of responsibility; refusing to wear masks and, not only failing to keep any distance between them and others, but posing for pictures huddled in close with others showing the same disregard for any precautions. Leading by example has been replaced with, "Do what I say, not as I do."

Meanwhile, the majority of us are living somewhere in the middle; trying to take care of ourselves and our families and others who we see in need while trying to behave responsibly and not take needless chances just to make some point. We try to act like adults while those on the two polarized sides still play the same tired old partisan games.

Once last thing I hope we learn before this is all over: that we dont have to pick sides and behave in an either/or fashion. We can make the choice to behave like adults and treat others, no matter what side theyre on, like actual human beings.

Randy Lynch writes/hosts The Midnight Ride blog (midnightride.com) and internet radio show on Radio New Mexico (myradionm.com). Contact him at midnightridenm@gmail.com.

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Treat others well, and other things learned while on lockdown - Las Cruces Sun-News

COVID-19 and the Future of Educational Freedom – The Objective Standard

Editors note: TOS does not endorse the authors views on unschooling. For an enlightening exchange on that subject, see Lisa VanDammes reply to a letter in the Spring 2008 issue of The Objective Standard.

It is an odd juxtaposition that at a time when families are isolated in their homes, lacking the freedom to go about the ordinary routines of life, many are experiencing greater educational freedom. As cities shelve compulsory attendance mandates, curriculum directives, and annual testing requirements, parents are catching a glimpse of education without forced schooling.1 They are leveraging a multitude of online learning resources and spotting the ways in which their childs creativity and curiosity rebound when allowed to explore more individualized curricula.2 Many parents are seeing that their children are happier, more focused, and more imaginative when not required to spend their days attending traditional school, and some of these parents may want to continue supporting their childs learning at home post-pandemic.3 In this period of confinement and social distancing, families are discovering the expansive education opportunities outside of conventional classrooms.

Because of COVID-19-related lockdowns, hundreds of millions of young people have been discharged from traditional school settings.4 Some are following the same curriculum and attendance requirements that they otherwise would, but others have been unleashed from such strictures. Some families are using this unusual circumstance to withdraw their children permanently from local school districts, opting for independent homeschooling instead of the remote schooling that many municipalities are offering. One such parent shared with me the e-mail he sent to his school districts superintendent officially withdrawing his son. His mood and vitality flipped like a switch when we told him this remote schooling was over, he wrote. It also uncovered his apathy toward [traditional] schooling in general.

The modern homeschooling movement began in earnest in the 1970s, first among countercultural leftists who were dissatisfied with government-controlled schools and chose not to send their children to them. The homeschooling population swelled during the 1980s and 90s, particularly as religious conservatives began to educate their children at home and pushed for legal recognition of their right to do so. Over the past four decades, homeschooling numbers have soared to nearly two million students in the United States, moving from the sidelines to a mainstream education option.5 Todays homeschoolers are more demographically and ideologically diverse than they were even a decade ago, and the homeschooling population is increasingly reflective of American society more generally.6 Although religion still plays a role in many families decision to homeschool their children, much of the recent growth in the practice comes from urban, secular families who value a more individualized approach to learning.7 According to the most recent federal data, more parents are choosing homeschooling out of concern about the school environmentspecifically in regard to safety, drugs, and negative peer pressure.8

And then theres the often dismal academic performance of students in government schools. The most recent results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often called the Nations Report Card, reveal that two-thirds of American students are not proficient in reading, and U.S. history and geography scores have declined as well.9 Although current research on homeschooling has its limitations, given its reliance on surveys and a lack of control studies, most peer-reviewed studies show that homeschoolers outperform their peers and have more positive life experiences, including greater career satisfaction and personal fulfillment.10 Another recent study shows that todays homeschoolers take greater advantage of the resources in their communities and thereby cultivate more useful knowledge and valuable relationships than many of their traditionally schooled peers.11 On average, they more often visit local libraries and museums, and they attend more cultural activities, such as musical, theatrical, and athletic events.

As many are learning, homeschooling no longer requires a two-parent household in which one parent stays home to teach. Today, homeschoolers increasingly take advantage of hybrid homeschooling models; low-cost, in-home micro-schools; self-directed learning centers; virtual learning; community classes; and apprenticeship programs.12 These and other innovations make homeschooling a viable option for more families than ever. Education-choice mechanisms such as education savings accounts and tax-credit programs also help more families to choose alternatives to conventional schooling by defraying costs of learning materials, classes, books, tutors, and more.

The government response to the COVID-19 pandemic clearly is accelerating the shift away from conventional schooling and toward homeschooling. A recent survey by EdChoice found that 52 percent of respondents have a more favorable view of homeschooling than they did before the outbreak.13 And with greater freedom to explore their interests, many children are learning to cultivate their passions and purpose like never before.

Although homeschooling has been legal throughout the United States for about thirty years, opponents of homeschooling continue to push for greater government oversight and even presumptive bans on the practice.14 If parents and policymakers wish to protect and promote liberty, they must push back against efforts to regulate or ban this educational approach. Given the impact of a good education on a childs life trajectory, those concerned with freedom and progress will be hard-pressed to find an issue more important than defending the rights of parents and children to decide how best to pursue this value.

In Ayn Rands Atlas Shrugged, protagonist Dagny Taggart witnesses children in a valley who learn outside of educational systems devised to stunt a childs brain, noting that they had the eager curiosity that would venture anywhere with the certainty that life held nothing unworthy of or closed to discovery.15 Although, during a lockdown, we cant venture far, parents nonetheless have an opportunity to help rekindle such eager curiosity in their children, giving them the setting, resources, and confidence to make the discoveries that will enrich their lives and ours.

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COVID-19 and the Future of Educational Freedom - The Objective Standard

May Day! May Day! Is Government Out of Control? What It Means to Investors – Stock Investor

It seems monstrously wrong to surrender the world to the looters, and monstrously wrong to live under their rule. Francisco dAnconia(Atlas Shrugged, byAyn Rand)

Everything will end badly. Bill Henry(Maxims of Wall Street, p. 111)

The Four Horsemen of Free Enterprise Meet Up!

Yesterday, I co-moderated a unique two-hour MoneyShow webinar, an Economic Summit.Steve Moore, Art Laffer, Steve Forbesand I labeled the Four Horsemen of Free Enterprise discussed and debated the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in Wuhan, China, on the markets and our liberties.The webinar was hosted byKim Githler.

We debated at least five vital subjects on the minds of every investor: economic recovery vs. stagnation; inflation vs. deflation; gold vs. stocks; liberty vs. safety; and the November elections.You canwatch the video here.

I highly recommend it. The two hours whizzed by for me as a panelist.

Art Lafferwas the most optimistic, predicting a V-shaped recovery.Hes even more upbeat about the coronavirus.It is not as dangerous as we thought, even for him, an 80-year-old.In late February, he told Fox News he was not getting on an airplane to California to speak.

Now he says hes willing to fly again.

Art, along with the two Steves, are thought leaders in the newly appointedWhite House Committee to Restart America.He said that both Moore and Forbes addressed the audience of 200 members of the Committee, including many business leaders, encouraging them to open their businesses as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, they are hamstrung by government officials who are severely limiting the recovery.

Dangers Ahead

Yesterday, it was announced that gross domestic product (GDP) fell an incredible 4.8%.Two months ago, economists expected a 3.1% increase!

When the economic top-line, gross output (GO), is released for the first quarter, it should be even worse. Now economists are predicting a $4.6 trillion deficit for 2020-21.

The Fed is pumping trillions of dollars into the economy.Money has never been easier.

And where is that money going?Not the economy, which is still reeling from the lockdown.We could see more than 30 million Americans go without work and 30% of all small businesses collapse.Pension funds will go bankrupt.

Why Is the Stock Market Moving Higher?

Rather, the new money is going into the stock market.Stocks are always forward looking, and that means investors are upbeat about the possibility of a turnaround.

Even oil stocks are moving back up!

Thus, we remain fully invested in the market, especially tech stocks, health care, financials and gold.

In yesterdays MoneyShow webinar, Steve Moore and I discussed the possibility of an L- or U-shaped recovery rather than a V-shaped recovery.Unless the government loosens its stranglehold on the economy, I see an inflationary recession/depression coming on.

The Greatest Danger Ahead:Loss of Our Liberties

My greatest fear is excessive government power.AsTuto Quirago, former president of Bolivia, once said, More and more, everything is either prohibited or mandated.

Without any legislative approval, governors and presidents are signing executive orders requiring us to wear masks, prohibiting us from walking down the beach or telling us we cant play golf or street basketball. Its crazy.

I askedSteve Forbesif he envisions a time when the next virus vaccines will be mandated, or, asBill Gateswants, forcing us to provide a health certificate to get on an airplane.He says no, but Im not so sure.

There is growing censorship in social media, where Facebook and YouTube, among others, are shutting down people who dont follow the established line of thinking.It is a serious problem.

Forbes is more bullish on stocks than gold.Gold is a good hedge in a crisis, but once the crisis is over, stocks are better, he said.

Im recommending both.The crisis is far from over.

Robert Wolf, Economic Advisor to Obama, Eyes the November Elections

Robert Wolf,former chairman of USB Americas, and an economic advisor to President Obama, was on the program.I asked him why the Democrats have chosen such a weak candidate as Joe Biden rather than a young, vibrant leader likeMark Cuban(who is considering running as a third-party candidate).

Wolf acknowledged that the Democrats have had their best results with younger presidents, such as John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, but he said that Biden was a good choice because Trump is too divisive and the country needs a healer like Biden.

May Day!May Day!Early Bird Discount Ends Today!

We will continue this debate at FreedomFest.We are calling an Emergency Meeting at FreedomFest 2020, July 13-16, Paris Resort, Las Vegas,and TODAY is the final day to take advantage of the early-bird discount.See below for details.

It is absolutely vital for you to attend this meeting in July.We are seeingpermanentchanges in the United States, and not all for the good you will need to make important changes in your life, your business and your investment portfolio.That is what our emergency meeting is all about, and will be led by top authorities includingSteve Moore, Dr. Jordan Peterson, Steve Forbes, John Fund, Matt Ridley, Tom Woods, Grover Norquistand financial advisorsAlex Green, Louis Navellier, Rob Arnott, Jim WoodsandHilary Kramer.

We even have confirmedHillsdale Collegeas a sponsor, as well as theClub for Growthfor the first time.

Ten Bagger Penny Stock Opportunity!

Good news for myForecasts & Strategiessubscribers:I have come across a potential ten bagger in the mining business, and its selling for under a buck!

It is literally a penny stock that trades on the over-the-counter market, but with gold in a major upward trend, it could be selling for dollars very quickly.It is selling for pennies because the mining company will be producing gold starting in 2021.Fortunately, they already know how much gold there is (6.6 million ounces, which could make it the sixth-largest gold mine in the United States). This is not an exploratory mine, but a mine in the development stage.

It owns a world-class, multi-million ounce, low cost, open-pit mine in a historic district that has been held back from development because of environmental issues.That is all about to change.The feasibility studies have been made, the permitting is moving forward and production is expected to start late next year.The project is located in the western United States and has quietly attracted some major players, including Franco-Nevada and Barrick Gold, the second largest mining company in the United States.Moreover, recently abillionaire hedge fund investorwas invited to check out the property and bought an entire new funding valued at over $30 million.The whole amount!

But because its a micro-cap penny stock, I cant recommend it in my newsletter, trading services orSkousen CAFE.It can only be made available to a small number of investors.

So, Im offering to give you the name, symbol and background story of the mining company to the FIRST 200 SUBSCRIBERS ofForecasts & Strategiesto sign up for my 40thanniversary celebration at this years FreedomFest, July 13-16, 2020, at the Paris Resort in Las Vegas.(Yes, the hotel plans to be open, and we are also offering for the first time live streaming, so if you cant make it, you can still see the show.)

Now is the hour of decision!The longer you wait, the higher the penny stock is likely to move, given the positive outlook for gold.And over 70 subscribers have already signed up.

Note: If you have already signed up for this years FreedomFest, you automatically qualify to receive the name and symbol of this penny stock.Just email me atmskousen@chapman.edu, and Ill email you back.

I enjoyed stacking silver coins on myMaxims book.

Three Special Offers to All Subscribers Who Attend FreedomFest

In addition, when you come to FreedomFest, you will receive (1) a 2020 uncirculated American Eagle silver dollar, and (2) an autographed and numbered copy of the 7thedition of The Maxims of Wall Street.All three gifts a silver dollar, a copy of the Maxims, and the name of the penny stock are yours as a big thank you for joining me and celebrating the 40thanniversary ofForecasts & Strategies.We will have a special reception for all my subscribers, a chance to meet and have a picture taken with me,Steve Forbes,Alex Greenand other celebrities in attendance.Again, the attendance is limited to 200 subscribers.Plus, of course, youll also enjoy three glorious days of great investment advice and how to survive and prosper in 2020 and beyond. For details about all the speakers, panels and debates, go towww.freedomfest.com.TO REGISTER:To sign up for this years FreedomFest,click here now, or call toll-free 1-855-850-3733 ext. 202.Be sure to use code FF2020EAGLE to receive all your exclusive benefits.

And if you are not a subscriber to my newsletter, go towww.markskousen.com, and sign up for only $99.95, an introductory offer for one-year only.

May Day!May Day!May Day!

Note:The early-bird discount ends TODAY!! The full price at the door is $599 per person, butyou pay only $399 per person/$299 for spouse/partner.Rates go up on May Day.

P.S.I was pleasantly surprised and honored by thefollowing announcementby the Center for Individualism.

You Blew it!Dr. Anthony Fauci Says No Sports until 2021

The alarmists are still among us, even as the evidence is growing every day that they are wrong and the novel coronavirus is far less fatal than previously thought.

For example, this report fromDr. Scott W. Atlas, a highly respected Stanford University medical doctor and professor (named one of the Best Doctors in America) has been writing and speaking out under the title: The Data Are In.Stop the Panic and End the Total Isolation.Click hereto read about his findings.

Dr. Atlas admits that Stanford and other universities made a mistake shutting down schools and sending their kids home.According to him, the fatality rate among students is almost nonexistent.

Or read my son Toddssummary of the evidence, which has gone viral recently.

Yet, people likeDr. Anthony Fauci,who theNew York Timescalls the countrys top infectious disease expert, are acting as if nothing has changed in the science.

Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything, Fauci said. If you cant guarantee safety, then unfortunately youre going to have to bite the bullet and say, We may have to go without this sport for this season.

Earlier, he said that professional sports leagues could return to play, but with no fans in the stands.

I would love to be able to have all sports back, Fauci said. But as a health official and a physician and a scientist, I have to say, right now, when you look at the country, were not ready for that yet.

We need to get back to where individuals, businesses and organizations make their own decisions about the safety and well-being of their employees, customers and suppliers not overweening government officials who think they know it all.Thats the American way of freedom that we are sadly losing very quickly in this once great country.

Lets play ball!

Update: Today, we witnessed another example of abuse of power.California Gov.Gavin Newsom,a power-hungry bully, has just closed all beaches in the state after witnessing thousands last Saturday leaving their homes and enjoying a fun day at the beaches while ignoring social distancing guidelines.But we only have our representatives to blame for giving elected leaders excessive emergency power through executive orders.You can say goodbye to the land of the free in 2020.

Originally posted here:

May Day! May Day! Is Government Out of Control? What It Means to Investors - Stock Investor

The Discovery of Heaven: A real Dutch Dutch classic – DutchNews.nl

When I told Dutch friends of mine that I was going to tackle the Dutch classic The Discovery of Heaven (De ontdekking van de hemel) by Harry Mulisch they were not supportive. It was the worst book I read in high school, one told me. You should make an appointment with your therapist, youll need it, said another.

Published in 1992, IT was voted the Best Dutch Language Book Ever in 2007 by readers of the NRC newspaper. When Mulisch died in 2010, prime minister Mark Rutte described his death as a loss for Dutch literature and the Netherlands. The film adaptation starred no-one less than Stephen Fry and was directed by Jeroen Krabb, so the odds for a good read were high.

The Discovery of Heaven opens with two angels having a conversation about getting the 10 Commandments back. It turns out, for reasons not explained, the angel ordered to fetch them cant go to earth so must resort to a Rube Goldberg-esque series of events to ensure the tablets are returned, including both World Wars.

In essence, the story follows the lives of two men, Onno and Max, whose friendship ultimately leads to a son, Quinten, who, at the end of the book, ascends to heaven to take back the tablets having taken 905 pages to do so.

The main female character, Quintens mother Ada, spends 75% of the novel in a coma, which seems to be par for the course in terms of how classic Dutch literature treats women. Its unclear who the father of our Jesus-like hero is, as Ada has slept with both Onno and Max on the same day at, where else, a conference of revolutionaries in Cuba.


The book is also set in 1968, so when Ada is critically injured in a car accident that leaves Onno and Max unscathed, it is decided that Onno couldnt possibly raise the baby alone. Rather, Max couples up with Adas mother, Sophie, who Ada hated, to raise Quinten.

It is, in all, a complicated, and messy family history, but strangely gripping. And if you skip over the angel bits, the book feels authentic in a way that other classics such as Turkish Delight or The Evenings or even The Dinner does not in this foreigners limited experience at least.

The discussion Onno has with his family over who will raise Quinten is frank and direct in the typically Dutch way which everyone who has sat in on a difficult Dutch family discussion will relate to. The apartments they live in are small and cramped and short distances are depicted as insurmountable.


Mulisch is impressively good at creating dynamic characters with complications and quirks who genuinely interact with one another. His dialogue, in particular, feels so realistic you think you might just be sitting in a cafe, next to those two men, as they argue over philosophy and politics.

At the same time, bring in the angels and The Discovery of Heavenreminds me somewhat of Ayn Rands Atlas Shrugged, which clocks in at 1,163 pages, and spends so much of the book trying to shove philosophy down your throat that the story is utterly lost.

And yet, when it comes to The Discovery of Heaven, I did mostly enjoy it.

A major caveat to the English version is the questionable translation at times. Paul Vincent translated the work into English in 1996 and manages to bungle a critically important line in the book, when Max tells Ana to bring yourself off (Dutch: maak je jezelf klaar) after leaving her unsatisfied during a sexual encounter.

The moment is pivotal. Ana leaves Max after this incident, which results in her ultimately marrying Onno and becoming pregnant. A much better translation would be get yourself off and this isnt the only instance in the book where, after referring to the Dutch version, I felt better words could have been chosen.

Despite these few niggles, The Discovery of Heaven is much more enjoyable than many of the other Dutch classics I have tackled and, most importantly, it feels quintessentially Dutch. Just skim the parts where the angels are talking.

You can buy The Discovery of Heaven at the American Book Center.

Review by Molly Quell

The DutchNews.nl team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments.

DutchNews.nl has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

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The Discovery of Heaven: A real Dutch Dutch classic - DutchNews.nl

Amash Running as an Independent Presidential Candidate? Okay, Should We Care? The Answer is "Maybe." – PolitiZoom

US Representative Justin Amash (I-MI) is considering a run as a third-party independent.

Youd be forgiven by asking, Who? Youd also be forgiven for adding, Why should I care? Well, the answer to the second question is, Maybe you shouldnt, but

Amash is a former Tea Party darlingwho entered Congress as part of the sewage tsunami that overran Congress in 2010. Hes more libertarian than most of the right-wing bottom feeders, and in his own way, he has some integrity about him. Position-wise, hes hard to pin down. Hes 100% against abortion in any form, but is also against the death penalty in federal prisons. Then, in February 2020, he was one of the four Congressional members to vote against a landmark anti-lynching bill. He opposes the EPA, doesnt believe the government should take any actions to mitigate climate change, and even voted against providing funding for water provisioning to Flint, Michigan. Theres more, but you get the idea. He encapsulates the ideal of the far-right libertarian, actually better than libertarian darling Rand Paul (R-Thug), who is just a white supremacist who has Atlas Shrugged downloaded to his Kindle app.

At any rate, we dont want him in government at all, even if he does have a sense of integrity that most of his (former) GOP colleagues totally lack. His ideology and policy stances are 175.2 degrees away from ours (that figure is a rough estimate, of course). But he did win some fans when, in mid-2019, he began telling anyone who would listen that he believed Trump had committed impeachable acts. No one in the GOP was surprised: Amash was always a Never Trumper,and has been targeted as one of Trumps innumerable enemies since at least 2017.Amash supported the conclusions of the Mueller Report, and left the Republican Party shortly thereafter. He was the only non-Democrat in the House to vote for impeachment.

At least five Republicans are running to unseat Amash,so its no surprise that he may want to do something to either revitalize his House campaign or step away from Congress altogether.

On April 13, he tweeted that he was considering a run for the White House because Americans who believe in limited government deserve another option.

Well, Americans deserve better than Trump, thats certain. But they also deserve better than Amash.

Regardless. Its pointless to analyze Amashs potential for good or bad as president, because he wont win. He may not choose to run. Certainly the Never Trumpers at The Bulwark (the conservative site headed by William Kristol and Charlie Sykes, among others) dont want him to.

They are very clear on their reasoning: they love everything about Amash and would wet themselves in glee if by some electoral miracle he could gain the White House, but since that wont happen, his run could help reelect Donald Trump. Yup. Authors Sarah Longwell and Tim Miller are very clear:

This isnt an easy call. On one hand, we want to be for him to have the joy and satisfaction of getting behind the constitutional superhero of our dreams. But on the other hand, there is a downside risk to his running and the price of a second Trump term is too great for anyone to be playing dice with it. Trump is not just a Bad Orange Man or guy with suboptimal policy preferences. He is a threat to pluralism, the Constitution, Americans health and safety, and the rule of law. Hes a threat to the very heart of our liberal democracy. We know all of this deep in our bones. And we know Justin Amash knows it, too. Its the reason his moral clarity has been so refreshing the past three years. So the real question about his possible candidacy is a political one: Could we be certain that a third-party campaign from a Constitutional conservative would not help Trump get reelected? The answer, unfortunately, is no.

Remember, Liberty Project board member Reed Galen told a reporter in Februarythat their resistance to Trump would only need to peel 1% of the Republican vote away from Trump for the Democratic candidate to stomp a mudhole in him.

I agree with that. I also think that Amashs quixotic, ideology-driven campaign would more than likely sink without much of a trace.

But I also remember Jill Steinand Gary Johnson,the Green and Libertarian Party candidates in 2016. Stein got just over 1% of the votes cast in 2016, mostly from leftist hothouse flowers too pure and pristine to vote for Hillary Clinton. Johnson took 3.27% of the vote, largely from young conservatives who didnt care for either Trump or Clinton.

The Johnson candidacy in particular worries me. Amash will not run as the candidate for the Libertarian Party (that honor is going to go to either some nameless stooge from a libertarian foundation or our favorite politician who wears a boot on his head, Vermin Supreme), so thats something of a relief (though its possible the Libertarians will toss Vermin and Stooge over the side and nominate Amash by acclaim to head their ticket if Amash decides to run). If he remains an independent, Im honestly not sure how many state ballots Amash could legitimately be included on if he entered the race at this late date.

But Johnsons candidacy gives me pause. Amash is a lot more savvy than Johnson, who famously couldnt remember where or even what was Aleppo, Syria, and prompted speculation that if he won, hed be the first president to take bong hits while sitting at the Resolute Desk. If Amash gets some traction among the disaffected Never Trumper right and that is a big fat blinking if he could peel that 1% of votes Galen was talking about away from Trump, but also away from Biden.

I worry about things like this after the 2016 catastrophe.

Granted, I dont worry that much about Amash. I didnt run for the Maalox after reading the headlines about Amashs contemplated run. But Longwell and Miller may be stocking up on the Pepto-Bismol. Theyre looking at a poll that shows Biden with a 12% popular vote lead in Michigan, Amashs home state, over Trump a lead that shrinks to 6% when Amash is added to the list. Richard Czuba, who conducted the poll, told a Detroit reporter:

He will not take away Republican votes from Trump. What he will do is give independent voters who dont want to support President Trump an outlet to not vote for the Democrat. And if you look at who or what would be moving toward Amash, it is particularly independent men.

The Bulwark authors build on Czubas findings:

In the end, [third-party candidates such as Amash] tend to give those people who werent going to vote for Trump anyway an excuse to vote for someone else, while not pulling many voters from the Trump column.

Yes, its one poll, and only in Michigan, where Amash would get an outsized percentage of the vote as compared to the other states and territories.

Still. This worries me. The authors agree that Amash should not take the chance of giving wobbly voters a third option. Theyre all for Amash 2024, but for this year, theyre encouraging him to decline the opportunity.

Until Amash decides to help oust the Orange Nazi by not running, maybe Ill just mask up and head out to the grocery store for some Tums. Just a roll or two. Just in case.

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Amash Running as an Independent Presidential Candidate? Okay, Should We Care? The Answer is "Maybe." - PolitiZoom

Your Next MD Will Be From HR! – BW Businessworld

Why just your next MD or CEO, it is plausible that the next wave of corporate leadership and those occupying the seat at the head of the table in boardrooms across the world, real or virtual, could be from the People Function. For far too long this function has played a support role and has been dutifully performing its task on the leadership fringe. But all that is set to change in the Industry 4.0 milieu.

Much is being discussed, written and spoken about Industry 4.0, its sectoral impact, opportunities it will create, skills that will be required and much more, but I find a conspicuous absence of any discussion on how 4.0 will impact the leadership construct.

Even if we do not go as far back as the steam engine or the Spinning Jenny and begin to trace evolution of industry from Industry 2.0 through to 4.0, we see that functional origins of leadership in corporations was predictable and more or less mirrored the evolution of the industry itself.

Industry 2.0 & The Manufacturing Boss"The pre and post World-War II era, which roughly translates to this period, beginning in early 1920s and ending in late 1960s, was characterized by hegemony of manufacturing and production. Across the globe from Motown majors in US to engineering behemoths in France & Germany to Industries out of post war nationalist Japan, the world was setting a frenetic pace of manufacturing, producing and excavating. Post-depression consumerism which was boosted multiple times by the heightened public spend that followed the end of war time command economy devoured everything that could be produced. Fortune 500 data of only American companies at the mid and end of that era makes for interesting observation. Most corporations are from this sector.

Typically, the people leading these corporations were the tough, gruffy, hard-nosed, cigar smoking, down to earth engineers, inventors and technocrats. From opportunist Robber barons to the absent-minded inventor, hurried and impatient as they were, each wanted to get on with the job. And fast. Money was to be made and time was short, and nothing mattered but the end. And many times, not even the means to the end! Pop culture reflected this. Chaplins Modern Times offers a brilliant view from the bottom of the pyramid while Ayn Rands seminal essays on capitalism; Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, give a view from the top about this era. Hank Rearden and Howard Roark typify the industry 2.0 boss!

This was the context in which the People Function or shall we say the Industrial Relations (IR) function emerged in that era. Human Relations (HR) was yet to come. Men and later women and their physical power became essential and important in the composite ingredient mix along with material and money to keep the mass-producing assembly lines moving. And this manpower needed to be managed even if only to the extent of achieving zero machine downtime. Priority was machine and material first, money second and manpower last. The IR function dutifully managed this resource with a primary intent of not unruffling the maverick boss. Sure, the leftists were not sitting idle, and they did introduce some complexities such as trade unions and wage negotiation which kept the IR function on its feet, and they coped.

Industry 3.0 & The Marketing BossAs we reach the mid-point of Industry 3.0, around mid-80s, and look at the list of leading corporations, we can see competition picking up. Number of oil and auto companies in the fortune 500 list itself begin to increase and by the time we are at the end of that era we find strange new and alien sounding entrants like Amazon and Apple creep into the lists. Even names from far corners of the world like Philips and Samsung find a mention. The Japanese are seen to be warming up in the sidelines with Toyota and the Chinese are surging with a military like Comintern intent with their banks and petroleum companies. Even Walgreens is wedged in between crude, steel and auto. but that which perhaps typifies an epochmaking change of this era is a retailer sitting at the top; Wal-Mart!

This perhaps is hint enough of what was happening in the world of business. Competition was increasing, supply had begun to outstrip demand, need creation became important as basic needs were in any case few and were satisfied. The boob tube had hit the drawing room, media and communication had matured and the mother of everything, the internet era had dawned. This era saw the baton passing from a no-nonsense manufacturing boss who retracted into his walnut paneled club to the glib talking, master communicator who could make the consumer follow him like the proverbial Pied Piper. The Marketing Boss! Management books deified Sculley, Iacocca and Steve Jobs and Philip Kotler attained demigod status. Jerry Maguire and Devil Wears Prada brought marketing and branding out into pop culture! India though was a few years behind in that era still straddling 2.0 & 3.0, best reflected by Amitabh Bachchan in the era of angry young man of Kala Patthar, Deewar and Trishul. The people function was busy adapting and reskilling during this time. IR transitioned to HR and learnt new skills. Gen-X was tolerable and manageable but then the millennial arrived with strange and alien seeming and exasperating expectations and had to be dealt with differently. Gig economy had started, and technology was throwing up ever newer challenges. But the HR head coped with all that while dutifully adapting to keep the wheels of industry moving many times even in the face of brash decision making by the Marketing Boss. But this was era when the HR head matured

In the meanwhile: The Finance Boss and the Technology BossIt did seem, albeit for a short while in 3.0 era that the leadership role will be taken over by the finance and technology function. Particularly during the Y2K era in India and a little before that elsewhere in the world. But both, finance and technology, transitioned from being of mere business support functions to leviathan industry sectors on their own and began charting their own leadership roadmaps.Industry 4.0 & The HR BossFrom every angle it seems that industry 4.0 is going to be an era of the HR Boss or at least a boss who is adept at handling the human element. As the world of business continues its deep dive towards new and epoch-making integration of technology and manufacturing in its quest to find that next spike of growth and productivity it seems to be strangely blindsided about its impact on leadership.

An army of technologist is getting ready and is obsessed and even perhaps possessed with dealing with agile manufacturing, smart factories, data driven and computing prowess aided machine learning to standardize thought pattern and develop artificial intelligence. It sure looks like machines will be taken care of or perhaps will even evolve to take care of themselves. But who will take care of that other critical element humans? That perhaps is the reason the HR Boss will now take charge.

The new order will on one side throw up new opportunities, new challenges and new jobs but on the other, time at hand and frequency of skill obsolescence cycles will increase. Interestingly the top 10 skills required to succeed as per the oft quoted World Economic Forum (WEF) survey done as a part of their Future of Jobs report points out to no particular functional or operational skill but more towards attitudinal skills. Human touch will gain prominence and how this resource will be managed will make the difference between winners and the also rans.

Of course, all this may be a conjecture at this point and we still dont know how things will evolve but the top 10 skills sure do point at a many which have traditionally been in the domain of HR and Learning & Development.

But before the HR fraternity revels at the thought of smelling leather of that boardroom chair they will need some introspection and reskilling of their own. Unlike in the past, during the transition from 2.0 to 3.0 or from HR to IR, when it happened due to forces or evolutionary change or even if forced by the then bosses in manufacturing and marketing, this time it will require some effort.For beginners, since leadership role does not operate in a silo and demands deft modulation of multi-functional interplay, the HR Boss will have to learn and be aware of other functional skills. He will have to transition from being an enabler to a driver of goals and the function will have to move from being reactive to being proactive. Complexity and difficulty index for him will now increase as the ultimate goal will not just be people but value creation through people. The buck will now stop at him.

Sure Industry 4.0 will throw up many uncertainties but those in the HR function must know -Your time for that leadership role has come. And your time start now.

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Your Next MD Will Be From HR! - BW Businessworld

So Who Is John Galt, Anyway? by Robert Tracinski – The Objective Standard

Independently Published, 2019306 pp. $16.99 (paperback)

Authors note: This review assumes knowledge of Ayn Rands Atlas Shrugged and contains spoilers.

In So Who Is John Galt, Anyway?, Robert Tracinski provides a wide-ranging examination of Ayn Rands magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged. For those who have read the novel and wish to dig deeper, this collection of twenty essays is an excellent companion.

In a chapter titled Whydunit?, Tracinski examines the role of philosophic speeches in the novel. In a conventional whodunit, the reader receives the same clues as the investigator and has a chance to identify the perpetrator before the big reveal at the storys climax. Tracinski points out that the big question in Atlas Shrugged is not who done itafter all, the prime mover is revealed when one-third of the story still remainsbut why he and his fellow conspirators do what they do. As Tracinski points out, by the end of part two, Dagny Taggart has solved many of the books mysteries: Shes found the inventor of the motor; shes discovered that he is the destroyer, the man facilitating the worlds brain drain; and she has located the creators hes siphoned from society. Yet, writes Tracinski, this is not the resolution of the plot, because the real mystery isnt the who or the what. Its the why (177).

Tracinski highlights the fact that the philosophic speeches in Atlas are crucial to answering the why at the core of the book: They drive the plot forward while revealing the ideas that motivate the storys heroes and villains. For example, in the books longest speech, John Galt not only asks creators of all types to join his strike, but he explains the philosophic system that led him to initiate it. And by this point, readers are eager to know what argument could be so potent that it persuaded towering creators in every field to abandon their lifes work. Given those whom its won over, such an argument could not have relied on vague slogans or appeals to tradition or emotion (178). The only thing that could have convinced such heroes as Francisco DAnconia, Ken Danagger, and Midas Mulligan to leave society and the businesses theyve built is a thorough, rational, philosophic argument.

Someincluding fans and critics alikeargue that Galts speech is too long, and Tracinski agrees, contending that its length is a proven impediment to the forward movement of the plot (182). In his evaluation, Galts Speech contains a bit too much abstract philosophy, ideas that are necessary for the philosophical deep thinker, but not for the general audience to which the novel is directed (183).

Whether or not Galts speech could be profitably truncated, Tracinskis main point in this chapter is correct: Atlas is a whydunit. And near the end of the books long plot development, a philosophy-driven mystery, the hero must explain why the creators have gone and what are the conditions of their return. In so doing, Galts speech integrates the books plot and theme.

In another fascinating chapter, The First of Their Return, Tracinski shows that Rand was not merely a philosopher of the Enlightenment traditioncelebrating reason, self-interest, and individual rightsbut that she corrected many of the philosophic errors and omissions of the period. She fulfilled the Enlightenments promise by formulating the axiom that existence exists independent of consciousness and by providing an objective basis for morality. Perhaps Tracinskis most insightful point in this regard is that Rand fixed and completed the Enlightenments philosophy of reason in her capacity as a novelist by integrating reason and emotion in her characters.

As he argues, few (if any) Enlightenment-era literary works match the impassioned poetry, fiction, and drama of the subsequent Romantic periodthe poetry of Byron, Keats, Shelley; the drama of Goethe, Schiller, Ibsen, Rostand; the novels of Hugo and Dostoyevsky. It is generally conceded that the backlash to the Enlightenment, the fiery emotionalism of the Romantic era, produced a more stirring artistic vision (242).

Many hold that reason and emotion are opposedthat reason is the calm pursuit of truth vividly dramatized by Sir Arthur Conan Doyles brilliant detective, Sherlock Holmes, and that emotion is the frenzied, out-of-control passion exhibited by many of Dostoyevskys characters, Dmitri Karamazov being one striking example. On the premise of this conventional dichotomy, it is understandable why some might think that the champions of emotion could produce greater literary art than the champions of reason, for the essence of great fiction and drama is conflict. Men of passionately held values struggle to achieve opposing purposes. They need not be thinkers to do so: Ivan Karamazov, for instanceDostoyevskys example of an Enlightenment intellectualplays a lesser role in driving the conflict of The Brothers Karamazov than do his frenzied family members.

But Rand, Tracinski shows, rejects the traditional dichotomy, instead dramatizing the integration of reason and emotion. John Galt, in passionate commitment to philosophic principles, leads a strike of thinkers to topple a burgeoning dictatorship and resuscitate libertygoals so dear that he would sooner suffer torture and death than renounce them.

Atlas Shrugged transcends the contest between the Enlightenment and Romanticism, providing all the excitement and appeal of the latter but in service to the ideals of the former. . . . [Rand] shows how reason leads to and supports all of the appealing qualities of the Romanticslove, passion, struggle, self-assertion, a sense of heroism. . . . She could not have done it without new philosophic ideas. . . . But when it comes to promoting the best of Enlightenment ideals as a living cultural force . . . her literary style is at least as important a contribution. (245)

In another chapter, No Evil Thoughts but One, Tracinski answers a left-wing commentator who once asked why Atlas Shrugged has no collectivist equivalent. He points out that the lefts class-war ideology construes society in terms of oppressor and oppressedand the latter, these helpless victims of a repressive capitalist system, as the good. But if the good is represented by hapless victimswho, by their nature, are incapable of triumphthen the lefts intellectual spokesmen will be incapable of projecting heroes or worlds in which good conquers evil. Instead, they enshrine antiheroes. As Tracinski concludes, The lefts embrace of a collectivist ideology committed it to the anti-intellectualism of the race, class, and gender school in politics, and to the bleak tedium of the Naturalist school in literature (274).

Tracinskis collection of essays provides numerous other important insights. Similar to the book about which he is writing, his ideas are bolstered by his own writing stylecolloquial, nontechnical, and clear.

This book is a valuable addition to the growing corpus of work analyzing Ayn Rands literary accomplishments. It will expand a readers appreciation of the momentous story about a man who vowed to stop the motor of the worldand then did.


So Who Is John Galt, Anyway? by Robert Tracinski - The Objective Standard