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Ayn Rand and America’s New Culture War
Christian Science Monitor ^ | December 11, 2009 | Jennifer Burns

Posted on 12/13/2009 11:18:44 AM PST by nickcarraway

From Rush Limbaugh to President Obama, Ayn Rand and her book 'Atlas Shrugged' are recalibrating America.

From Fox News to the passenger sitting next to you reading “Atlas Shrugged” on your commute to work, Ayn Rand seems to be everywhere.

Since the economic collapse of 2008, the controversial novelist and philosopher has emerged as a leading intellectual on the right – and she’s been dead for nearly 30 years.

Rush Limbaugh touts Rand as a prophet of sorts. “Ayn Rand, she wrote ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ ” he told his listeners. “The sequel, ‘Atlas Puked,’ we’re in the middle of it.” At the tea parties that swept the nation last spring, protesters waved signs claiming “Ayn Rand was right” and warning “Read ‘Atlas Shrugged’ before it happens.”

The fresh appeal of 'Atlas Shrugged'

Consider this: “Atlas Shrugged,” Rand’s most famous novel, is set in a dystopian future America, where a socialist government has brought the country to the brink of ruin. Fleeing punitive regulations and crushing taxation, the country’s top industrialists and executives have gone on strike, virtually shutting down the economy.

For American conservatives, the significance of Rand’s message is clear. “Atlas Shrugged” is prophetic, they say, and it warns us all of the coming collapse.

It wasn’t always so. In her day, leading conservatives denounced Rand for her atheism and immorality, and her economic ideas were scarcely mentioned.

Conservative author Whittaker Chambers attacked Rand as a godless authoritarian in his famously brutal review of “Atlas Shrugged,” printed in an early issue of William F. Buckley’s seminal conservative magazine, National Review. The book’s message, according to Chambers, was “to a gas chamber – go!” Anti-ERA crusader Phyllis Schlafly stopped reading Rand’s other novel,

(Excerpt) Read more at csmonitor.com ...


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Extended News; Political Humor/Cartoons
KEYWORDS: atlasshrugged; aynrand; aynrandlist; ayrandlist; culturewars; galt; johngalt; rand

1 posted on 12/13/2009 11:18:45 AM PST by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway
Atlas puked?

LOLOL

2 posted on 12/13/2009 11:23:02 AM PST by hennie pennie
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To: nickcarraway

The loss of personal responsibility, in a universal reality of personal and corporate consequences, is tantamount to pervasive catastrophe.


3 posted on 12/13/2009 11:25:20 AM PST by DBCJR (What would you expect?)
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To: nickcarraway

Jennifer Burns is a fraud.

http://tinyurl.com/yz8nyvg


4 posted on 12/13/2009 11:25:36 AM PST by Misterioso (The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. -- Ayn Rand)
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To: nickcarraway

“These aspects of Rand made her alien to an earlier generation of religious conservatives who gleefully launched a “culture war” against secular America.”
There was no “glee” involved. Religious conservatives were forced into the culture war by liberals who wouldn’t leave well enough alone.


5 posted on 12/13/2009 11:49:33 AM PST by Scotsman will be Free (11C - Indirect fire, infantry - High angle hell - We will bring you, FIRE)
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To: nickcarraway

bookmark


6 posted on 12/13/2009 11:53:11 AM PST by GOP Poet (Obama is an OLYMPIC failure.)
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To: nickcarraway

I am re-reading it right now and it is spine-chilling to see the parallels.


7 posted on 12/13/2009 12:13:30 PM PST by Redleg Duke ("Don't fire unless fired upon, but it they mean to have a war, let it begin here." J Parker, 1775)
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To: nickcarraway
For the Christians among us who have been both attracted to Ayn Rand and left with nagging concerns that something isn't quite right, John Piper has a critique entitled The Ethics of Ayn Rand that I found very helpful.
8 posted on 12/13/2009 12:19:41 PM PST by RochesterFan
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To: RochesterFan

Interesting.


9 posted on 12/13/2009 12:20:31 PM PST by Jane Austen (Boycott the Philadelphia Eagles!)
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To: hennie pennie

No go. Just some corporate liberals trying to figure out what corporate conservatives have for ideology. Ayn Rand, as an ideology, failed with Alan Greenspan.

But, maybe I am wrong. I saw Eric Canter on this morning as the rep of the Republican party. Asked a question on imposing financial laws on Wall Street gamers he fumbled and changed the question. Looked damn serious about it too. The wall street money is just as green for the Repubs as the Dems. The Repubs could have made gains by pointing out the Dems reforms were near bogus, but then, they would have to offer something better, something that would shatter their anti-regulation cult ideology that offers them solace from have to face the fact they are only tools of their contributors.

For sure, Canter lost votes. He is the face of the Repub party? Looked like just another cog in the wheel.


10 posted on 12/13/2009 12:28:57 PM PST by Shermy
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To: Shermy
Ayn Rand's 'ANTHEM'
11 posted on 12/13/2009 12:45:57 PM PST by SantosLHalper (I am the World that hides the Universal secret of All time.)
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To: RochesterFan

I was not aware of this essay - thank you.

God has given us many wonderful gifts in this world. John Piper is one of them...


12 posted on 12/13/2009 12:54:55 PM PST by jonno (Having an opinion is not the same as having the answer...)
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To: Misterioso
Jennifer Burns is a fraud.

If true, that alone would qualify her to write about Ayn Rand.

She's also better looking than most Randians, and that gets her an audience.

13 posted on 12/13/2009 1:03:30 PM PST by x
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To: hennie pennie

I found that amusing too. The thing about Ayn Rand is throwing the baby out with the bath water. I think some people just dismiss the entirety because of some objectionable facts. The belief’s that she held about redistribution and capitalism were excellent they should have been widely promoted. I don’t see Greenspan’s action as a failure on her part that is guilt by association.


14 posted on 12/13/2009 1:04:45 PM PST by FromLori (FromLori)
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To: nickcarraway
In this current political world, even the hot-button issue of gay marriage has been sidelined for the new bogeyman of socialism.

Bogeyman:

an imaginary evil character of supernatural powers, esp. a mythical hobgoblin supposed to carry off naughty children.

15 posted on 12/13/2009 1:38:32 PM PST by Sawdring
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To: Redleg Duke

Same here. Read it for first time last year. The second read is slower but filled with personal aha’s.


16 posted on 12/13/2009 1:41:14 PM PST by CARTOUCHE (If they really believed their own research, wouldn't the CRU have moved to higher ground years ago?)
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To: Redleg Duke
FReeper Book Club: Introduction to Atlas Shrugged
Part I, Chapter I: The Theme
Part I, Chapter II: The Chain
Part I, Chapter III: The Top and the Bottom
Part I, Chapter IV: The Immovable Movers
Part I, Chapter V: The Climax of the d’Anconias
Part I, Chapter VI: The Non-Commercial
Part I, Chapter VII: The Exploiters and the Exploited
Part I, Chapter VIII: The John Galt Line
Part I, Chapter IX: The Sacred and the Profane
Part I, Chapter X: Wyatt’s Torch
Part II, Chapter I: The Man Who Belonged on Earth
Part II, Chapter II: The Aristocracy of Pull
Part II, Chapter III: White Blackmail
Part II, Chapter IV: The Sanction of the Victim
Part II, Chapter V: Account Overdrawn
Part II, Chapter VI: Miracle Metal
Part II, Chapter VII: The Moratorium on Brains
Part II, Chapter VIII: By Our Love
Part II, Chapter IX: The Face Without Pain or Fear or Guilt
Part II, Chapter X: The Sign of the Dollar
Part III, Chapter I: Atlantis
Part III, Chapter II: The Utopia of Greed
Part III, Chapter III: Anti-Greed
Part III, Chapter IV: Anti-Life
Part III, Chapter V: Their Brothers’ Keepers
Part III, Chapter VI: The Concerto of Deliverance
Part III, Chapter VII: “This is John Galt Speaking”
Part III, Chapter VIII: The Egoist
Part III, Chapter IX: The Generator
Part III, Chapter X: In the Name of the Best Within Us
Coda: Ten Years After
Afterword and Suggested Reading
17 posted on 12/13/2009 1:54:37 PM PST by Publius (Do you want the people who run Amtrak to take out your appendix?)
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To: ADemocratNoMore; Aggie Mama; alarm rider; alexander_busek; AlligatorEyes; AmericanGirlRising; ...
Interesting article on Atlas Shrugged.
18 posted on 12/13/2009 1:55:48 PM PST by Publius (Do you want the people who run Amtrak to take out your appendix?)
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To: Publius

What is, “The Freeper Book Club”?


19 posted on 12/13/2009 2:09:53 PM PST by hennie pennie
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To: hennie pennie

See Post #17 on this thread.


20 posted on 12/13/2009 2:11:19 PM PST by Publius (Do you want the people who run Amtrak to take out your appendix?)
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To: Publius

How many other books have you also reviewed?


21 posted on 12/13/2009 2:12:12 PM PST by hennie pennie
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To: hennie pennie
This was our first FReeper Book Club, and it ran from January thru August.

Our second FReeper Book Club will open some time in January for recruitment, and open for business in February -- I hope. It will be dedicated to a combination of the Federalist Papers and certain Anti-Federalist Papers as a way of framing the debate over the Constitution.

22 posted on 12/13/2009 2:14:33 PM PST by Publius (Do you want the people who run Amtrak to take out your appendix?)
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To: Publius
Thank you for all your work on this, I checked for KEYWORD, 'freeperbookclub' -- I had no idea any such thing existed here.

I've been putting off re-reading Ayn Rand, as there is so much garbage written about her writing, LOL --- I think I'll read your essays BEFORE I make a decision whether to re-read any of her books.

Thanks again. I'd been doing quite a few searches at FR, looking for stuff like you Freeper Book Club, but obviously was using the wrong search terms, LOL

23 posted on 12/13/2009 2:17:08 PM PST by hennie pennie
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To: Publius

Thank YOU.


24 posted on 12/13/2009 2:18:04 PM PST by hennie pennie
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To: FromLori
The thing about Ayn Rand is throwing the baby out with the bath water. I think some people just dismiss the entirety because of some objectionable facts.

Your conclusion is correct, in my opinion.

From the article...

In her day, leading conservatives denounced Rand for her atheism and immorality, and her economic ideas were scarcely mentioned.

and...

That many of Rand’s fictional heroes were far from paragons of Christian virtue is beside the point in the current struggle. What matters is the ammunition she provides and the outrage she stokes against the dreaded looters.

... leads me to question the 'all or nothing' stance taken by Rand detractors.

Rands own personal conclusions derived from her philosophy most certainly are not intended to parroted by those who accept Objectivism. Indeed, She would be appalled that someone who thinks rationally would blindly accept her personal conclusions.

Those who are firm in their faith cannot feel that Rand's atheism is a threat. Their position must be that God created all atheists.

25 posted on 12/13/2009 2:38:50 PM PST by whodathunkit
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To: RochesterFan

” ... John Piper has a critique entitled The Ethics of Ayn Rand that I found very helpful.”

Thank you so much for posting that link. I’m a long time student of Rand, since the 50’s, and have read almost everything I could find related to Rand and her philosophy, and of course everything she has written, including her journals and correspondence. I have never read John Piper’s critique before, and very much appreciated it.

Most critics of Rand do not really understand her at all. I found Piper’s comments refreshingly astute. In fact, his exposition of Rand’s ethics is one of the most succinct and correct explanations I’ve ever read. He has totally captured the essence of her ethical philosophy, and for that I would highly recommend this paper to anyone who wants to understand Rand’s ethics and does not have the patience to read her, “The Virtue of Selfishness,” and “Capitalism: The Unknons Ideal.”

I am going to write a much longer response to this piece and will ping you to that when I have, if you like.

I have to warn you, I am not a theist, but I am not in any way “anti-religion,” and actually have a great deal of sympathy with sincere Christians. The Christian religion has also been a life-long study of mine.

Hank


26 posted on 12/13/2009 3:11:00 PM PST by Hank Kerchief
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To: Hank Kerchief

Thank you for your gracious comments. I would very much appreciate reading your response to John Piper’s response to Ayn Rand.


27 posted on 12/13/2009 3:33:17 PM PST by RochesterFan
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To: nickcarraway
But Rand did not have much patience for conservatives...

Exactly. She saw the modern conservative movement as just another party advancing the evolution towards socialism. And she was right.

It's true (to borrow from salon.com), in order for things to get better they must first get worse more slowly, but worse more slowly is all "conservatism" has ever brought. Even under Reagan.

Sad but true.

28 posted on 12/13/2009 3:40:21 PM PST by Clinging Bitterly (MMM MMM MM!)
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To: RochesterFan
For the Christians among us who have been both attracted to Ayn Rand and left with nagging concerns that something isn't quite right,

Her books are not about the ins and outs of religion - which is a good thing, for then everyone would be screaming 'but it's not what MY church teaches.' Her book is not filed in the library under 'religion.'

Her books are about the destroyers vs the builders in gov't and industry - the people who ultimately 'rule'.- that have been in every society. Her books are about what happens when the balance starts to fall in favor of the destroyers. "Atlas" is quite a tome as it is. How big would it need to be to also get into the religious aspects?

THAT is what her 'novels' are about - a blueprint for us to understand the who, what and how our society can/will be destroyed. THAT is the message - to wake up before it's too late.

For stiff necked people to refuse to read the books because it doesn't also cover one's religious beliefs is to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Also, your freedom to exercise your religious freedoms will be null and void if we don't stop this Socialist takeover.

If you want a religiously pure book - go read books of religion.

(Note: I totally disagree with Rand's personal life. I believe she was pitifully devoid of any faith in a higher being. That is a frightful place to be. As a result, her personal life - and of those around her - was a mess.

That does NOT negate her message in "Atlas")

I suspicion that a lot of what doomed her personal life to failure was that, inward, she perceived herself a tall, stunning, blond heroine - i.e. a Dagney - but the mirror reflected a short, dumpy, not attractive, dark haired woman. She was Dagney trapped in an alien body.

29 posted on 12/13/2009 3:45:09 PM PST by maine-iac7 ("He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help" Lincoln)
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To: Shermy
Ayn Rand, as an ideology, failed with Alan Greenspan.

Absolute baloney. In the sixties, Greenspan was, indeed, a follower of Rand; even to the point that he wrote what is still considered a classic defense of the gold standard. But, by the nineties, in his capacity as Chairman of the Fed, he'd already abandoned his Objectivist views.

His career from then on was marked by printing money to keep the large banks afloat and thereby manipulate the economy. To associate that with Rand is ignorant and facile.

30 posted on 12/13/2009 3:51:54 PM PST by BfloGuy (It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect . . .)
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To: FromLori
agreed -

Her “Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal” is still in print.

That is NOT a novel so people don't have to get wee-weed up about the characters lack of morals as they see them.

I recommend reading it after “Atlas.”

But Rand was right to write it all into a great novel - she knew more people would read it. She was right about that. How many of you have read “Capitalism...”

http://www.amazon.com/Capitalism-Ideal-Ayn-Rand/dp/0451147952/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260748157&sr=1-1

31 posted on 12/13/2009 3:53:34 PM PST by maine-iac7 ("He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help" Lincoln)
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To: BfloGuy

YOu are right - Greenspan even wrote 3 of the 15 chapters in “Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal”

http://www.amazon.com/Capitalism-Ideal-Ayn-Rand/dp/0451147952/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260748157&sr=1-1


32 posted on 12/13/2009 4:06:12 PM PST by maine-iac7 ("He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help" Lincoln)
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To: Publius

Did you check out the link I posted?


33 posted on 12/13/2009 4:27:24 PM PST by Misterioso (The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. -- Ayn Rand)
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To: maine-iac7
I did read Atlas Shrugged from cover to cover and found parts enticing and other parts disturbing. Did you even read Piper's critique? Others did and also found Piper's analysis helpful. If you don't want to consider others' insights on Rand, there is no point in discussion.
34 posted on 12/13/2009 4:28:48 PM PST by RochesterFan
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To: hennie pennie
There are a few other “book clubs” on FR.com. The one that Publius initiated on “Atlas” was excellent but was actually specific to the one book.

Most of the “book clubs” that I have seen on FR.com are typically persons just recommending books and occasionally talking about the different works.

The Atlas Shrugged review was simply a marvelous series.

35 posted on 12/13/2009 5:03:02 PM PST by Radix (Obama represents CHAINS for posterity.)
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To: Radix

I have been lookingfor a list of books that I posted to the site a couple of years ago. A long reading list of about a hundred conservative books. It is I think on a book thread.


36 posted on 12/13/2009 5:06:53 PM PST by Chickensoup (We have the government we deserve.)
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To: Misterioso

If it’s the link you posted a week or so ago, yes.


37 posted on 12/13/2009 5:15:01 PM PST by Publius (Do you want the people who run Amtrak to take out your appendix?)
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To: Radix
Thank you. And to think that no one named me their favorite FReeper at that other thread.

What does a guy have to do to get a vote around here?! (LOL)

38 posted on 12/13/2009 5:17:12 PM PST by Publius (Do you want the people who run Amtrak to take out your appendix?)
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To: Publius

Thanks for the ping.


39 posted on 12/13/2009 6:17:07 PM PST by SpaceBar
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To: BfloGuy

I don’t think Rand had anything to do with Fed ideas, but they had a lot to do about his “deregulation” ideas. He cited them when approving the 2000 act that forbade regulation of dervitives.
The market and businessman as superman stuff, regulation is religiously abhored.

Guys like Greenspan are just useful libertarian idiots for the big money.


40 posted on 12/13/2009 6:41:01 PM PST by Shermy
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To: Publius

http://tinyurl.com/yz8nyvg


41 posted on 12/13/2009 6:49:44 PM PST by Misterioso (The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. -- Ayn Rand)
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To: Misterioso

Good article!


42 posted on 12/13/2009 6:53:25 PM PST by Publius (Do you want the people who run Amtrak to take out your appendix?)
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To: Hank Kerchief; RochesterFan

Hank - I would very much like to be copied on your expanded critique of Piper’s essay.

Thanks!


43 posted on 12/13/2009 7:12:19 PM PST by jonno (Having an opinion is not the same as having the answer...)
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To: SantosLHalper
Anthem

44 posted on 12/13/2009 11:15:18 PM PST by higgmeister ( From the Shadow of The Big Chicken!)
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To: maine-iac7
I suspicion that a lot of what doomed her personal life to failure was that, inward, she perceived herself a tall, stunning, blond heroine - i.e. a Dagney - but the mirror reflected a short, dumpy, not attractive, dark haired woman. She was Dagney trapped in an alien body.

I think that's true for the most part. But more importantly, she saw what could be accomplished when a person with dreams and goals puts serious, dedicated effort into their passions and pursuits.

Rand was, for much her life, physically as you describe her. Yet she managed to work as an extra in Hollywood films, wrote a couple screenplays; married a minor Hollywood star in Frank O'Connor; wrote a couple bestselling novels and several widely influential manifestos and treatises on her philosophy; and surrounded herself with educated and erudite people. It's no small feat that a "disciple" like Alan Greenspan was able to hold a long tenure at the Federal Reserve.

If she limited herself to the dumpy, unattractive woman with the thick Russian accent she saw in the mirror, or allowed others to convince her that her looks were all she were...Well, would we ever imagine to have even heard of such a person?

45 posted on 12/13/2009 11:20:15 PM PST by BradyLS (DO NOT FEED THE BEARS!)
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To: jonno

“I would very much like to be copied on your expanded critique of Piper’s essay.”

Shall do!

Hank


46 posted on 12/14/2009 5:08:18 AM PST by Hank Kerchief
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To: BradyLS
more importantly, she saw what could be accomplished when a person with dreams and goals puts serious, dedicated effort into their passions and pursuits.

In a nutshell.

And this is the 'selfishness' that builds a free society that ALL are the beneficiaries of.

As a writer/artist, her book - first "Fountainhead" and then "Atlas" resonated LOUD.

As a writer/artist, I can only do my best work, fulfill my best potential, if left unfettered. I long ago stopped commission work - I am, primarily, a portrait artist - because people don't want portraits so much as plastic surgury via the paint brush...

I certainly would never make it in a world where I was told my talents belonged to the state 'for the good of...'. A fettered mind produces little of worth. Who, then, profits?

When people are free to use their talents according to their own 'inspirations' their best work is produced and 'society' benefits in the outcome as a byproduct - not because the creator gave a thought to them.


47 posted on 12/14/2009 9:31:22 AM PST by maine-iac7 ("He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help" Lincoln)
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To: BradyLS
more importantly, she saw what could be accomplished when a person with dreams and goals puts serious, dedicated effort into their passions and pursuits.

In a nutshell.

And this is the 'selfishness' that builds a free society that ALL are the beneficiaries of.

As a writer/artist, her books - first "Fountainhead" and then "Atlas" resonated LOUD.

As a writer/artist, I can only do my best work, fulfill my best potential, if left unfettered. I long ago stopped commission work - I am, primarily, a portrait artist - because people don't want portraits so much as plastic surgery via the paint brush...

I certainly would never make it in a world where I was told my talents belonged to the state 'for the good of...'. A fettered mind produces little of worth. Who, then, profits?

When people are free to use their talents according to their own 'inspirations' their best work is produced and 'society' benefits in the outcome as a byproduct - not because the creator gave a thought to them.

And for my writing, I gave up most of it but my column - 20 years - because the editor couldn't change a comma.

48 posted on 12/14/2009 9:45:45 AM PST by maine-iac7 ("He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help" Lincoln)
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To: RochesterFan

I liked that one. Thanks for the link.


49 posted on 12/14/2009 9:52:09 AM PST by tarawa
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