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FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, White Blackmail
A Publius Essay | 11 April 2009 | Publius

Posted on 04/11/2009 7:40:36 AM PDT by Publius

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To: Publius

Please add me to list. Thanks!


51 posted on 04/12/2009 8:18:54 AM PDT by kayemmbee
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To: Billthedrill

I guess I shouldn’t have said “demonstrate”. From another perspective, how about the fact the the very existence and beauty of logic leave imply an awesome God, just like a beautiful field of flowers or a starry night sky? Not persuasive, I know, to someone who doesn’t want to be persuaded, but it was another slightly related facet of our discussion that occurred to me.


52 posted on 04/12/2009 8:44:12 AM PDT by Still Thinking (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)
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To: Still Thinking
beauty of logic leave imply an awesome God

Erps. I are a typerist.

53 posted on 04/12/2009 8:45:47 AM PDT by Still Thinking (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)
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To: Still Thinking
Oh, no, your meaning was beautifully clear. And I do think we agree.

It gets back to the theme I'm working on concerning Rand running into what appear to be more or less universal problems in philosophy. Rand is attempting something bold and ambitious (some would say arrogant as well) by literally rewriting philosophy from first principles. None of what she says or does is unprecedented but it does seem to be largely original. And the difficulty with the refusal to "stand on the shoulders of giants" is that you end up having to climb up all that way by yourself, avoiding false paths that have already been identified, wasting time and effort re-inventing the philosophical wheel.

I think that she finds the arguments for the existence of God unsatisfying because they do not seem to follow those laws of the universe - nothing palpable, falsifiable, no experimental situation one might set up that will break one way if God exists and the other if He does not. It's a perfectly legitimate objection. Aristotle's conclusion was that those laws are necessarily subordinate to their source; Rand's was that those laws cannot be incompatible with their source and that compatibility must be proven for the source to be considered legitimate. Philosophy has been here before, many times.

You can certainly work an agnostic position out of it. Not an atheistic one, however, for exactly the same reason you can't work out a theistic one. This is precisely the reason that an atheistic position is essentially a matter of faith. If you can't prove that God is compatible with the laws of the universe, neither can you prove that He isn't. It's a false path.

A thing I'll be thinking about on this beautiful Easter Sunday. My best to all here!

54 posted on 04/12/2009 9:46:11 AM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Publius
She is going to make his life hell by being the judge of his morality.

Lillian has accomplished her goal, that of being a victim of an unfaithful husband. A comeuppance for both but having different values for each. Lillian now has a pile of bargaining chips ( or so she thinks ) and Hank begins to understand what medium of exchange Lillian uses.

it’s time for Rearden to become a team player.

It's an interesting take since Rearden has been a team player all along. He successfully runs his business after all. What is really being asked of him is to change his goal, not his ability to lead his team.

Some of our representatives in Washington (and elsewhere) seem to have the problem of wishing to be known as 'team players' but not understanding that when you join a team, you are committed to accomplishing their goals which may be detrimental to your constituents.

“There’s no way to rule innocent men."

In my own observation, this strategy is also effectively employed by the powers that be through the _implied threat_ that one will be prosecuted for an action. Slap suits come to mind as well as unenforceable regulations. Both are designed to coerce the victim through intimidation and the possibility of large legal expenses. How many times have you heard someone say that 'you can't fight city hall?' Thus the ruling of innocent men can occur at even lower levels than Rand implies. This distinction may be splitting hairs but I see a much larger net cast with my interepretation than Rands. Consider the difference if every instance of coercion is considered a vote won or lost !

55 posted on 04/12/2009 10:04:18 AM PDT by whodathunkit (Shrugging as I leave for the Gulch)
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To: MayflowerMadam
showing a movie, “The Passion Of Ayn Rand”. If the story line was true....

Click Here For Barbara Branden interview

I saw the movie as well and the above site will help to clarify what was going on at the time with the people around her. I'm sure there are others but I found this one interesting.

56 posted on 04/12/2009 10:57:13 AM PDT by whodathunkit (Shrugging as I leave for the Gulch)
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To: whodathunkit
What is really being asked of him is to change his goal, not his ability to lead his team.

Good point. I should have phrased it something like, "Dr. Ferris asks Hank to change teams and join the winning side."

57 posted on 04/12/2009 11:14:56 AM PDT by Publius
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To: whodathunkit

Great website! Thanks so much for passing on the info.


58 posted on 04/12/2009 4:44:23 PM PDT by MayflowerMadam
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To: Publius
Dr. Ferris asks Hank to change teams and join the winning side.

That's true! Ferris is of the opinion that he is on the winning side. Does Dr. Ferris understand that he is a destroyer ? Do any of the looters understand where they are headed ? At this point it seems to Ferris that he is on the winning side, given his myopic view.

Quoting Sun Tzu ( The Art of War )...

So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will fight without danger in battles. If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose. If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.

59 posted on 04/13/2009 8:09:50 AM PDT by whodathunkit (Shrugging as I leave for the Gulch)
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To: Sundog; Publius

I know it is difficult, but please try not to be a spoiler.
To this point I have read nothing about gold and nothing about Galt’s Gulch.

Now I can guess way more than I wanted to.


60 posted on 04/13/2009 8:29:30 AM PDT by NonLinear ( If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.)
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To: NonLinear

See the videos at this thread; I found them very enlightening. They constitute an interview with Ayn, and what is so surprising is that the interview takes on a surreal form as if the interviewer, Mike Wallace, were a character straight from Atlas Shrugged interviewing Dagny.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/2172674/posts

Rest assured, the twists in the plot ahead will quite eclipse any thought of a particular currency used in a particular place.


61 posted on 04/13/2009 10:42:31 AM PDT by Sundog (The founding fathers understood what would happen when all three branches of government failed.)
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To: Billthedrill
That is a really tough question. I'll speculate but it isn't much more than that. The difficulty is that Rand tends to make the same point several different ways, each of which is pretty good. From the point of view of the author, for whom each of the different ways might be the only one that turns a light bulb on for the reader, there is a resistance to cutting any of them. For the editor, who has to sell the thing in a package that book stores will buy, it simply has to be smaller. In fact, AS almost didn't get published for that very reason - the editor who finally bought it had to threaten to quit in order to convince his superiors to go through with it. And for the reader contemplating an 1100-page brick it's pretty intimidating. What I'd cut at this point might be some of the unneccessarily (IMHO) repetitive descriptions of Hank and Lillian's married life and perhaps the irritatingly theoretical explanations for why Dagny and Hank wind up sharing a bed. And some of the speeches seem artificially long - did Francisco really need upwards of five pages to make his Root Of Money point? And does anyone really think that a crowd at a wedding party would listen to it? The real problem, I think, is that Rand was trying to balance a flow of logic with a flow of narrative and the two aren't always compatible. What the heck, I might change my mind a few chapters hence...

Bill, you have brought so much valuable insight to this discussion that I look forward most of all each week to your essays. And while I can certainly understand objectively (thanks, Ayn;-)) the criticisms of so many of her writing style, for myself, I wouldn't cut a word. Not even the somehow tawdry sex scenes.

You see, I look on this book as a novel first, which surely conveys hugely important moral, economic and political ideas, but is first and foremost an entertainment. Otherwise it would consist of carefully terse statements of each of her points, with lots of boring footnotes to back her up. But it's a novel, meant to be enjoyed for the reading of it, and as such I can't get enough. Perhaps that is why I've read it so many times, even though I know what she has to say, know how it turns out. The very fact that she finds so many different ways to say what she says, that sometimes she says things which seem at first to be contradictory (Francisco as a character, for instance), provides me with a huge measurement of plain entertainment. I find myself sub-vocalizing Francisco's Money speech each time I read it, as if rehearsing it to present to other people as an explanation for what they don't understand. So if others would like it cut, or edited, I say fine, but leave me my copy of the original!

Kirk

62 posted on 04/13/2009 11:25:41 AM PDT by woodnboats
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To: Sundog

In watching those old tapes, I saw Mike Wallace as Bertram Scudder.


63 posted on 04/13/2009 1:12:28 PM PDT by Publius
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To: woodnboats; Billthedrill
Bill, you have brought so much valuable insight to this discussion that I look forward most of all each week to your essays.

Well gosh and golly, Boats. Now you're making me jealous.

64 posted on 04/13/2009 1:15:06 PM PDT by Publius
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To: woodnboats
Many thanks for the kind words - and thanks too for telling me that I'm not the only one who subvocalizes this stuff. :-)

One difficult thing about this is separating fictional events from formal propositions in philosophy, of which there are an abundance, and about which Rand was very serious indeed. Even at this late date her *close* acquaintance Nathaniel Branden, who is in his late 70's, finds Rand's ethics well-founded. He's had half a century to look them over and he's a pretty bright guy. It's just a little jarring, though, to be following a character through the dramatic narrative and suddenly have him or her step in front of a podium, where the rules of criticism change. I'm going to get caught time and again for not being agile enough to change with them.

Great stuff. Next week d'Artagnan takes the Holy Grail to the very crack of Mount Doom...if I'm reading the right book. Publius? Throw me a bone here...

65 posted on 04/13/2009 4:32:34 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Publius
Now you're making me jealous.

Is that why you took me off the ping list? ;-)

I didn't get this week's notice. :-(

Kirk

66 posted on 04/13/2009 5:01:23 PM PDT by woodnboats
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To: woodnboats

I just checked the ping list, and you’re on it. I wonder what’s going on.


67 posted on 04/13/2009 5:04:38 PM PDT by Publius
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To: Billthedrill
Next week d'Artagnan takes the Holy Grail to the very crack of Mount Doom...

I thought that Parsifal took the Ring of Power to Versailles.

68 posted on 04/13/2009 5:06:21 PM PDT by Publius
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To: Publius; parsifal

Parsi’s a FReeper. LOL!


69 posted on 04/13/2009 6:01:12 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Publius
I just checked the ping list, and you’re on it. I wonder what’s going on.

Dunno...but no prob. "We know where you live."

Kirk

70 posted on 04/13/2009 8:00:15 PM PDT by woodnboats
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To: Billthedrill

“Rand is attempting something bold and ambitious (some would say arrogant as well) by literally rewriting philosophy from first principles. “

How many maths exist, that do not depend on I Euclid 5?

(Parallel lines never meet)

Ain’t philosophy fun?


71 posted on 04/13/2009 8:08:37 PM PDT by patton (I hope that they fight to the death and both sides win.)
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To: DownwardSpiral

>>”This is John Galt Speaking”

I finished the book, except for that chapter.

Too dense, I’d start nodding off every other page. I’m going to force myself to sit with a couple cups of coffee and get through it.


72 posted on 04/14/2009 12:08:41 PM PDT by Betis70 (Keep working serf, Zero's in charge)
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To: Betis70

Or, you could just read it 3 or 4 pages at a sitting. That way you can really digest it, and not just start reading “words”.


73 posted on 04/14/2009 3:31:06 PM PDT by Explorer89 (Could you direct me to the Coachella Valley, and the carrot festival, therein?)
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To: Betis70; Explorer89
In the chapter preceding Galt's speech, I'll be posting advice on how to read it. One recommendation is to read it a few pages at a time out loud. This will force you to work within the syntax of the speech, take it slowly and work on comprehension.

Considering the speech's size, this is something that could be spread out over a week.

74 posted on 04/14/2009 3:38:31 PM PDT by Publius
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To: Publius

“I am John Galt, and I’m VERY long winded.”

I just started the speech, about four pages in, and if you want to FreepMail me those suggestions, I’d be obliged.


75 posted on 04/15/2009 8:46:51 AM PDT by Still Thinking (Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)
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To: Billthedrill
That and selective enforcement compose an exercise of power that is the basis for every police state ever devised. It is the ability of those in power arbitrarily to designate a non-cooperative citizen a criminal, to silence, to imprison. It is raw, sanctioned coercion.

Or worse, an insane person, in need of "re-education" in a gulag somewhere, until he sees the light. Might not even need the gulag; constant haranguing for political correctness and raising of consciousness might do the trick.

Thanks again Bill and Pub.

Kirk

76 posted on 05/09/2009 7:06:19 AM PDT by woodnboats (Help stimulate the economy: Buy guns NOW, while you still can!)
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To: r-q-tek86
Part II, Chapter IV: The Sanction of the Victim
77 posted on 08/14/2009 6:08:18 PM PDT by r-q-tek86 ("A building has integrity just like a man. And just as seldom." - Ayn Rand)
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