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Meaning of Gulch Strike for the World of the 50s and for Today

Posted by CircuitGuy 5 months, 3 weeks ago to Books
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Was Ayn Rand suggesting with the Hugh Akston character and with other producers on strike that it is a virtue in our world today, and/or in the world of the late 50s, for talented people to refrain from using their talents?


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  • Posted by  $  MikeMarotta 5 months, 1 week ago
    Atlas Shrugged was a stunt written on a dare. It was and remains brilliant, incisive, and insightful. Galt's Speech is the best concise description of philosophy ever written. It is one thing to recognize the importance to your own flourishing that you adhere to reason and reality without compromise. It is another thing entirely to abandon civilization, becoming a pirate or a hog farmer, never buying gasoline from anyone whom you suspect of being a Hindu, Muslim, or Christian. You can admire the sculpture of ancient Greece without devoting your life to body-building and walking around town naked.

    In Jerome Tucille's It Usually Begins with Ayn Rand he tells of being at a YAF convention in 1965 (maybe 1967) with some admirers of Ayn Rand, one of whom was dressed like a superhero in a black leotard and tights with a cape with a gold dollar sign. It might be okay if you want to be amusing at a party, but it is not the best way to practice the virtue of selfishness.

    In Who is Ayn Rand? and other biographies, it is told that Ayn Rand was on the telephone with "an admirer." (That was likely Isabel Paterson, author of The of the Machine. Paterson, Rand, and Rose Wilder Lane were an informal triumvirate that carried individualism through the dark times of the 1930s. Paterson and Rand had a unreconciled falling out, possibly over this very conversation.) The caller said that they were waiting for Rand's next book. (Indeed, I have a Fortune magazine from about the same time with the same plea. The Fountainhead shook the world and the business community was hungry for more.) Rand demurred. "But you owe it to your readers," the caller said. It all came to Rand in a flash: Do I? What if I chose not to write? What if every creator chose to go on strike? From that came Atlas Shrugged.

    The meaning of the strike was that you not grant a moral sanction to your destroyers. It is pretty common here for people to excoriate Hillary Clinton and less so Donald Trump. But if you read Atlas Shrugged as it was written, Hank Rearden's problems with the State Science Institute are only secondary consequences to his life at home. That was the point of Francisco d'Anconia's open question to him when they first met at the anniversary party.

    In contrast to her estrangement from Isabel Paterson, Ayn Rand maintained a close friendship with her publisher, Bennett Cerf. It would be easy for some Rand Fans who do not know the personal history to condemn him as a Bertrand Scudder, but she certainly did not. Objectivism identifies certain very specific truths; and with the truth, there is no compromise. But being an objectivist is more complicated than mimicking the behaviors of the good guys in Atlas Shrugged.

    In the essay, "How Does One Lead a Rational Life in an Irrational Society?" Rand goes into some detail on the tensions and conflicts of being around people who do not understand what you do. That essay puts much of the practical advice from Atlas Shrugged into context.
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  • Posted by  $  Abaco 1 month ago
    Interesting question, CircuitGuy. I don't think she was suggesting that. I am seriously contemplating doing it...how "semi" do I want to be semi-retired. I could go out and really contribute and make good money doing it. But, I might just coach kids golf instead, or pour beers in a pub. I'm really on the fence. In my family, what Akston did would be referred to as "saying f*&k it!"
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    • Posted by 3 weeks, 4 days ago
      "I don't think she was suggesting that."
      Yes. I don't either. People are free to choose to retire or change jobs (would go w/o saying in a free society), and I'm "biased" in favor of change rather than doing something because that's how I've always done it. I get what you're saying about calling it chucking it all, but I think that's a negative way to say it. Suppose someone's working in a middle management job at a large-cap company. He quits and works for a startup in a different industry, or maybe he does IT work at a foreign university. People say he's throwing his "career" away. I think "career" is an artifice that encourages people to work for something other than money or what they want. In reality, if that person three years later really badly wanted to get back to mid level job at another large cap company in that same industry, he probably could do it after a decent amount of searching. The idea that one current "career" is someone's only chance is usually an illusion.
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