Skip to comments.FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Top and the Bottom
Posted on 01/31/2009 11:38:31 AM PST by Publius
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I think its a landslide.
Can anyone say "Global Warming is real: we have a consensus"?
This comes close to one of the sub-themes and a key underlying thread in the book. Reflect that Ayn Rand nearly died of starvation in what has previously been a bread basket of the new Soviet Union. Ayn Rand, for all her faults, hated communism and hated Marxism. Therefore, this comment can be tied into her disgust for all things Communist.
No one needs a justification to own anything. I own what I own by the sweat of my brow, not because I plan on using it for the good of anyone. This insiduously creeping Socialism spreads its first tendrils here - with everyone at the table nodding in agreement - why? Because no one at this table is proud of their work. They have no belief in themselves and obviously need the affirmation of others to have 'permission' to own wealth.
However.....and this is where things get tricky and come to today..... it is for thee and not for me! YOU must give, I should not be expected to lose anything - but YOU, YOU are greedy, and vile, and a hoarder, so YOU need to give, whilst I sit back and direct how your money should be spent. Sound familiar? Yeah, you know it does!
This is the world begotten by procrustean socialism, and a misplaced sense of human empathy.
It is hypocrisy, but it is also willful self-delusion. Modern parallel: Al Gore is telling us how to "live green", yet has an energy-munching mansion, flies in private planes, etc.
Another parallel: that stupid Ashton Kuchner "I pledge" video. Those people are living a much more extravagant, selfish life than I am, yet deem it necessary to preach to me on how to live a good life in service of "the greater good".
I really think all of these people who are truly greedy (Al Gore making money on his crusade) have to convince themselves that they are working for good.
It isn't just self-delusion, it is rationalization.
Check on Obama’s missing birth certificate?
“We cannot thwart the will of the people.”
James Madison (essay #10 of the Federalist Papers):
“Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention, have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”
“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”
“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”
“We are a republican government. Real liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.”
“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself.”
Excellent! And how did Orren Boyle build his empire? And Jim get to the top? Let's connect that to rent seeking.
Good. Rand is fond of symbols and metaphors. Connect this to the rotted out tree in the first chapter.
Read the entire book. Let 3 months pass, then read it AGAIN. Read slowly, digest the words of principal characters and then sicken as you recognize the insipid words of many of today’s political big-wigs. Study the pronouncements of certain “teacher’s associations” and be upset..be very upset at the words coming from those who are charged today with the education of America’s children. Turn another page and watch as “those who cannot” work the angles to gain control over “those who can and do”. Does it appear familiar? It should, it is happening. Those in our society who commit the crime of SUCCESS are to be scorned as greedy..those who proudly proclaim their “failure” are to be cherished and held as proud examples.
You think that ATLAS would NOT shrug? He already has. Atlas is the doctor who practices medicine with both eyes on legal ramifications of any decisions. Atlas is the manufacturer who ceases production of a given product because its blatant MISUSE will leave him financially responsible for some else’s stupidity. Atlas is the business man who refuses to allow his business to grow, because one additional employee makes him a target for government operatives, armed with .45 caliber regulations. Atlas is the teacher who if AFRAID to give extra help to the young student who MAY accuse him of mis-deeds.
No, Atlas IS indeed shrugging, look around, you may see him lift a shoulder.
On the money. There are different laws for them than there are for us. They are the truly enlightened, far beyond the concerns of mere mortals like us.
Thank you. The goal of this effort is to read the book slowly and understand just what Rand accomplished. This book is thickly textured, and once you get the issue of her prose style, it’s highly rewarding.
This quote is suspect because it doesn't sound like Franklin. It's a bit too short and direct for the old master.
And the word "lunch" didn't come into common use until the 1920's. The word was always "luncheon" until then. Franklin, in his era, wold have used the word "supper".
Orren Boyle built his empire with help from the gov’t. Jim got to the top by winning life’s lottery - he was born into it. Jim especially has done nothing to earn his wealth, and is clueless how to maintain his wealth. Without the help of his sister Dagny, Taggett Transcontinental would have already been out of business.
Don’t you love how Rand creates characters you love to hate?
OK, I’m cheating. I read the book twice before, and then, the day after the election, started listening to it on CD. It took me until nearly Christmas to get through 47 CDs. I’m not actually reading along again. The Catholic in me had to admit it.
By the way, listening to it, you get different layers of meaning, as well.
I own what I own by the sweat of my brow, not because I plan on using it for the good of anyone
And, I was born with nothing - and I still have most of it left
Man, she came up with some weird character names.
Oh Jim earns his wealth all right! He peddles influence. He schmoozes. He "seeks rent", as Madison would have put it. He sits down at expensive bars and engages in deals that will destroy good people.
Jim knows on which side his bread is buttered.
Bless you, my son. For your penance, say 20 Our Fathers, 47 Hail Marys, read John Galt’s speech again, and make a good Act of Contrition.
Nothing but a play on reputation.
All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him.
If it be aristocratic in organization, then it seeks to protect the man who is superior only in law against the man who is superior in fact; if it be democratic, then it seeks to protect the man who is inferior in every way against both.
One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible . . . to search out and combat originality among them.
All it can see in an original idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerogatives.
The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos.
Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it.
And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are. . . .
The ideal government of all reflective men, from Aristotle onward, is one which lets the individual aloneone which barely escapes being no government at all.
This ideal, I believe, will be realized in the world twenty or thirty centuries after I have taken up my public duties in Hell.
- H.L. Mencken,
Wait until you meet Balph, Cuffy and Tinky.
When I read this book the first time more than 30 years ago it crystalized my budding political views.
Rereading it now, it seems prophetic.
And have you noticed that Bernie is in the pocess of taking down liberal foundations, universities and left-wing celebrities? It reminds me of Dickens' Mr. Merdle, whose railroad funding collapse took down the City and great fortunes.
It's almost as if it were planned.
Sorry. I was making assumptions.
Daschele and the other grifter in the cabinet not paying their taxes.
In my work I am in constant contact with the public.
I had a client the other day with the name of ABCDE pronounced ab ci dy.
Cross my heart , hope to die and spit..It’s the truth.
There is a huge amount of humor in the Maddoff ponzi scheme.
Like a huge enema to the system he has flushed out a lot of parasites.
The others all said it in resignation of hopelessness and loss of spirit. The old cig guy is the first to show a spark of defiance.
Just finished reading Atlas Shrugged...what a great book...I feel like Dagny...
The bar at the top of the skyscraper but designed to look like a cellar seems to be typical of the self-delusion these people carry - they are sitting in a setting that looks like that of the common man so they can feel good about themselves. Yet a common man would not have access to that particular bar at the top of the skyscraper. Like celebrities that brag about giving up plastic shopping bags. I remember reading about some actress who bragged that she didn’t even own a car - of course she hired a driving service so the limo wasn’t technically hers.
It is Keats’ “widening gyre” — all symbol and no substance. The center does not hold. This is obviously a society in the last stages of terminal decadence, where “mere chaos” is loosed and mediocrity has become the new aspiration.
Brings to mind news reports the other day about "stealth wealth". Wealthy people dressing "down" or sneaking new luxury purchases out of shops on Rodeo Drive in plain unlabeled bags so as not to look ostentatious in a time of recession.
Maybe it won't be long before NBA players start driving Honda Civics and not wearing $25K bling for the same reasons.
Wait!.... Hell will freeze over before that happens. They are part of a downtrodden disenfranchised class.
I may be way off base, but I believed that Rand makes the statement that when one uses logic one can’t use feelings. That’s why I thought she makes the heroes characterized as unfeeling or “ruthless” and the jagoffs so into the feelings and guilt. It just seems illogical that people could continually tick off the producers for the sake of the looters and not expect them to take their businesses and go home, eventually. When doing business and making decisions, the feelings should not be the determining factor.
It is impossible to make everyone happy, but in business you can do what is right for the company. Buying a new machine may replace a couple of guys, but it could also make it more efficient so that the business could take on more work which could pay different benefits, give raises or buy more machines which could lead to more hires.
Totally off topic, I read that Atlas Shrugged was the only great novel that wasn’t made into a movie. As I read it again, I was wondering who could play the characters. John Lithgow was who I pictured as Jim Taggert. Unfortunatly, I could never get past thinking that Paul Newman would have made a great Hank.
It does appear as if the source is undocumented but it is a worthy observation!
Here is some interesting information related to searches for the source:
As to the length of the quote, here are some very short Franklinisms in Bartleby:
Thanks for the post.
This is a critical observation.
During the Great Depression, those who still had some money left and lived among ordinary Americans observed the same rule. It was unwise to show signs of wealth when your neighbors were scraping just to get by. You'd lose friends that way. People might look the other way if something bad happened to you. It was an era when kidnapping became commonplace.
Look at this as a defense mechanism.
Up until the late 1960's, that might have been a good casting choice. But God (apologies to Rand) help us had they made the movie back then.
In later chapters, you’ll see what happens when people base all their decisions on feelings. The farther into the book you go, the more perverse it becomes.
“Jim got to the top by winning lifes lottery - he was born into it.”
This reminds me of a snide comment someone (I don’t remember who) made about George W. Bush: “He was born on third base, yet he thinks he hit a triple.” I think this fits Jim Taggart perfectly.
“YOU need to give, whilst I sit back and direct how your money should be spent. Sound familiar?”
Paying more taxes is patriotic.- V.P. Plugs
Maybe someone can post the actual quote.
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