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Life Imitates Atlas Shrugged...Again

Posted by rainman0720 4 months, 3 weeks ago to Politics
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The first time I read Atlas Shrugged, I almost thought I was reading a news report about current events. From that moment, continuing on long after I discovered Galt's Gulch, I have put forth the speculation that the modern dem/prog/lib movement has at least some of its roots in A.S. It almost seems like they're using it as their playbook, but in all of their elite arrogance they think they can produce a different outcome.

Liz Peek of foxnews.com presented one of many takes on last night's Dem debate, and one of the quotes from her comments really drove the point home for me:

'Few Democrats talk about growing the country’s wealth and income; rather, their focus is on how to carve up the wealth and income we already have. As de Blasio has so frequently said, “There’s plenty of money in the country, it’s just in the wrong hands.” '

As I read that, all I could hear is the part of Francisco D'Anconia's speech at James Taggart's wedding where he says this:

“If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose–because it contains all the others–the fact that they were the people who created the phrase ‘to make money.’

For me, Atlas Shrugged was a life-changing event. I could have been one of the people John Galt was talking to at the end of his speech, one of those who knows something is wrong but can't quite quantify it sufficiently. A.S. did for me what he hoped his speech would do for them.
SOURCE URL: https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/liz-peek-democratic-debate-reveals-wacky-things-required-of-liberal-candidates-this-is-how-to-defeat-trump


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  • Posted by  $  Solver 4 months, 3 weeks ago
    The Democratic plans sounded even worse than the looter’s plan in Atlas Shrugged. Wasn’t sure that was possible in what still is America.
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    • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
      I watched for a while to the second debate. I was amazed that apparently smart people would stand up there and propose such nonsensical ideas, but they did.
      Biden is an aging has been. The rest of them except for Sanders are dead in the water and will never get the nomination. I have a feeling its going to be Sanders vs Trump in 2020.
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      • Posted by DrZarkov99 4 months, 3 weeks ago
        Tulsi Gabbard was the most googled candidate. Part, I suspect was that she's a relative unknown; part was that she had one of the most well received statements when she made her strong antiwar pitch; and part was males who were thinking "Wow, she's hot!"
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        • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
          WE never know who will swoop in from unknown parts and steal the nomination. Obama certainly did it in 2008, and Trump did it in 2016. I kind of hope its sanders vs Trump, in that I think Trump would win easily.
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    • Posted by JuliBMe 4 months, 3 weeks ago
      They ARE worse because Atlas Shrugged cannot and does not factor in the abject HATE the left has for WE THE PEOPLE. Donald J. Trump is the vessel for the hate right now. But, it's EVERYONE who disagrees with them and who voted for him that they HATE with a PASSION. You can see it in every little thing they do and say.

      My advice to all liberty-loving people is to be sure you do what you can to LEARN self-defense moves along with how to care for and shoot a gun. We WILL need it if they EVER come to power again. Especially if it's sooner rather than later. They WILL punish us for voting against them.
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      • Posted by  $  Solver 4 months, 3 weeks ago
        In Atlas shrugged the socialists and the people who openly denied objective reality were two different groups. Ayn Rand did not predict that these two groups would combine to form a new even more dangerous philosophy.
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        • Posted by  $  Solver 4 months, 3 weeks ago
          Yes and no. The socialists didn’t tend to openly deny reality. They felt people such as Dagny and Ragnar were the ones denying the way things are. Although some later learned that they actually were denying reality.
          Other characters, like the doctor who wrote “ The Metaphysical Contradictions of the Universe“ did openly deny reality and talked a lot about how objective reality did not exist.
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          • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
            The society in Atlas Shrugged collapsed because they denied reality. Ayn Rand did not make the separation into "two groups" that don't combine.
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        • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
          Ayn Rand made no such separation. The 'socialists' in Atlas Shrugged did deny reality. Ayn Rand advocated an integrated philosophy of reason, egoism and individualism with a political system of capitalism. She opposed mysticism, altruism and collectivism.
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  • Posted by DrZarkov99 4 months, 3 weeks ago
    The problem with these people is that they can't seem to understand the idea that wealth can be created. I had a discussion with a liberal once where I asked him if he understood that human society first created the representation of wealth and how to exchange some of it for items of perceived value probably more than 5,000 years ago. He then asked what my point was, and I responded that if wealth could not be created, why is human society so much wealthier than, e.g., ancient Egyptian society, even though there are many more of us today? He just shook his head and walked away, ending the conversation.
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    • Posted by lrshultis 4 months, 3 weeks ago
      Wealth requires life to create it. It does not exist naturally and must be created by some conscious being through mental or physical effort.
      Yes, wealth "can be created", but must only be created by effort, else it is not wealth and either not exist or remain a natural resource.
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    • Posted by 4 months, 3 weeks ago
      Nice to know I'm not the only one having these conversations. When he asked you what your point was, it was obvious he wasn't gonna get--ever--where you wanted him to be.
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  • Posted by CaptainKirk 4 months, 3 weeks ago
    There is a reason I made my daughter read AS at 12! She is very advanced, and immediately got it.

    What really gets me: These people think you can STEAL prosperity from others and have it yourself!

    No! You can only steal the "useless" portion. The Result. Because the "useful" portion (the character that created it) is what we should cherish... And it is what will be destroyed...

    Because once they take from you, enough flesh, your will to go on is simply diminished.

    And that is the beginning of the Strike! When the good people simply go away and leave you to vote for someone elses belongings!
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    • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
      I think that AS was telling us that the only way to change enough people to actually have an effect in a democracy is for the producers to go on strike and stop helping the looters to stay in power.

      I am afraid today, that means stopping paying tzxes on a mass scale. Impeach Trump and that might actually happen.
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      • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
        You know that Ayn Rand was not telling us "to go on strike". Every time you feel frustrated you return to that despite it's utter hopelessness as a means for improvement. In particular she said not to stop paying taxes. She wrote that she paid more taxes than she might have to because she knew that given her views she knew what they would do to her. She did write a lot about what must be done by understanding and spreading the right ideas.
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        • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
          Yet she seemed approve of ragnar’s reaction to collectivism in AS.

          I understand the impracticality of directly resisting collectivism, and the power of ideas. I do think that ,by and large , humans are basicallyanimals in that they try to get whatever they can. Being ruled by emotions seems to be learned at a VERY early age
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          • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
            Ayn Rand did not approve of becoming a pirate as a way to change the country and did not share your cynicism that people are "basically animals". That is not what built this country.
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            • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
              I would say what built this country is a desire to rise above the animal nature and use reason. America is losing that pretty rapidly these days

              AR did see some acceptance of her character Ragnar in the book. Personally I didn’t see much usefulness in what he did, except perhaps to prevent the looters from actually benefiting from their looting
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              • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
                Our nature is the requirement to use reason in order to live. Doing that is a choice. We have the choice by nature; behaving like a sub-reason animal is not a built in nature. If people were "basically animals" the country would not have thrived. And when reason is abandoned it will not thrive.

                Ragnar was controversial among the heroes. The looters hated him for beating them at their own game; the heroes disapproved because they didn't think it was worth the risk to him. In the plot his accomplishment was to accelerate the decline, which was the aim of the whole fictional "strike", but his actions and success at them were among the least plausible of the romanticized story.
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                • Posted by term2 4 months, 2 weeks ago
                  I think you are minimalizing AS as a "story" and not acknowledging how it accurately portrays human nature in all its glory. Today, its a very accurate and factual account of the path a country will take based on essentially the percentage of "reason" employed by the participants.

                  Reason takes work; the lack of reason is easy.
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      • Posted by  $  25n56il4 4 months, 3 weeks ago
        Explain please. I don't understand your statement 'Impeach Trump and that might actually happen.'
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        • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
          sorry. I was a little rushed when I wrote that. What I was getting at is that some wild action taken by leftists, such as impeaching Trump after he was duly elected, might get the deplorables to unite and actually stop paying taxes.
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      • Posted by  $  Solver 4 months, 3 weeks ago
        I suspect even John Galt would be paying taxes unless his pay was so low that the government was giving him money because he seemed to be less productive.
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        • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
          I dont think there was withholding tax back when AS was written. Today, he would be paying payroll taxes and sales taxes, and his landlord would be paying property taxes.
          But once the producers went on strike, the tax revenues from them (like Rearden, etc), would drop a LOT.

          I think the best we can do today is to fight like hell against ANY increase in taxes, and try to reduce them as a first priority. What money the leftists dont get is less money they can use to enslave us further.
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          • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
            Withholding for Federal income taxes started in 1943. Ayn Rand knew very well what the taxes were. She did not advocate a tax strike.

            People do oppose tax increases. If they didn't the taxes would be much higher.
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            • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
              I started work in 1962 and I don’t remember withholding then. I think it started after that
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              • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
                The law was imposed in 1943 and progressively increased the amount of withholding, increasing the number of people significantly impacted.
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                • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
                  What bothers me more and more is the idea that the more money the looters get, the tighter the noose around my neck. It’s self defeating to give thieves your money. A line by Oren Boyle comes to mind about “their success gives us the tools to bring them down”- referring to hank rearden as I remember
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                  • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
                    You aren't giving them anything. That would be self-defeating. They are taking it, and given that context you have to decide if the degree of their "take" from your production is worth your continuing.

                    That was the conflict among the heroes of the novel -- those who sought to bring down the whole system versus those who did not want to surrender what they had in the conviction that they could still succeed while carrying the miserable parasites. At some point it is not worth it.

                    Part of the resolution of the heroes' conflict was the recognition and acceptance of the moral principle -- Dagny, and especially Hank Rearden, had been willing on principle to be beasts of burden when they should not have been, well beyond the point at which it was "practical". That was the "self-defeating" you saw.

                    But the purpose of the plot was not to advocate quitting, let alone striking, in a still semi-capitalist mixed economy of the US, but to show in fiction the role of the mind in human life and society -- and what happens when it is withdrawn. It shows how reason and individualism make success possible, and what happens when they are prohibited. The "strike" was a fictional, artificial acceleration of a natural reaction to the looters punishment, and was formulated the way it was in the novel to explicitly show the role of the mind.
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                    • Posted by term2 4 months, 2 weeks ago
                      That might have been her intention. What it did in practice I think is to embolden the collectivists to continue on while the producers fund their game. Thats why the novel had little or no positive effect like she had hoped.

                      I didnt take it the way you are portraying. I could see full well that I was just feeding the beast that was consuming me. I was left with getting what I could out of the system until the point where I dont need to work anymore and can let the system crash on its own. I voted for Trump to gain a few more years before the collecivists finally take over and bring on the final sinking of the ship- just as portrayed quite accurately in AS. Democracy is a terrible thing, right up there with dictatorship.
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                      • Posted by 4 months, 2 weeks ago
                        It amazes me that so many people really think we live in a democracy (defined by Miriam-Webster as "a government by the people, especially the rule of the majority"). We don't; we live in a Constitutional Republic.

                        In a true democracy, if majority really rules, then if 55% of the people believe that murder should not be illegal, then we could all--literally--get away with murder. If 55% of the people believed we should be required to eat broccoli every night, then it would be illegal to eat green beans instead of broccoli on Sundays.

                        Ignorance isn't bliss; it's damn dangerous.
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                        • Posted by term2 4 months, 2 weeks ago
                          We live in a country started as a republic with a constitution outlining to a large degree individual rights (although not calling out the right to property). But slowly its changing to a democracy more and more every day. One could argue about when its murder and when its just abortion, but its being decided by majority rule.
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      • Posted by 4 months, 3 weeks ago
        Unless you're an independent contractor, I'm not sure how you would go about not paying your taxes. I love the idea, but since I work for a company, that all happens long before I have access to even one cent of my paycheck.
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        • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
          It is indeed very difficult to avoid taxation theft. Very difficult. They have figured out how to take it even before you actually are due to pay it.
          I have two ways to reduce the amount I "contirbute" to my own destruction, however.

          1) Reduce my expenses and buy as little as possible. That means I dont need to MAKE as much money, and have that taxed. Americans buy way too much "stuff" anyway.

          2) Avoid purchases that have sales taxes

          3) To the extent possible, go on STRIKE as in AS.

          4) Move the hell out of the USA
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          • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
            You can try to legally minimize tax payments, but decreasing your own standard of living is self-defeating. Going on "strike" or leaving the country for the jungles is self-nihilism.
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            • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
              As I said 10-20% reduction in expenses is do-able without seriously affecting standard of living. Most countries have different advantages and disadvantages and one doesn’t have to live in a jungle to get a better mix of adv/disadvantage than in the USA now- esp if trump is defeated in 3020
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              • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
                Foreign countries are mostly disadvantages.
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                • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
                  I would agree in general withbthat
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                  • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
                    Then where do you propose to go to get a "better mix of advantages/disadvantages" just to pay less in taxes? If in the future it is much worse here, it may be possible, but it would be worse than what we have here now.
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                    • Posted by term2 4 months, 2 weeks ago
                      There are social constraints to be considered also. For example- In the USA one has to have prescriptions to buy drugs. Not all cultures have those restrictions. Some cultures force you to go to government medical providers- like in Canada. In the USA you cant practice medicine without a government license- not all places have those restrictions. I am a little too old to really plan on moving at this point, but if I were younger I would investigate and most likely find places more suitable than the current USA- particularly if the democrats take over in 2020.
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            • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
              I think 10%_20% reduction in living expenses can be done without seriously affecting standard of living. After that, I agree with you

              Once one has amassed enough to live on for the rest of your life, it’s time to go on strike and move to a more desirable place.
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              • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
                Retiring is not a "strike". In the face of punishment people have always cut back, changed what they do for work, or quit. That is not an organized means of changing the trend in government policy.
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                • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
                  What would you consider “stopping work” because you no longer want to contribute to the collectivists ability to oppress you?
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                  • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
                    Avoiding punishment. A "strike" is organized to pressure for change. When we stopped renting our property to vacationers because it was no longer worth it with new taxes and bureaucratic harassment and threats we had no illusion that it would change state policies. It simply wasn't worth it. Stopping meant everyone lost and that was it. Continuing would have been worse for us. We weren't the only ones to quit, but there was no organized movement and no intent to cause change or even lash out at the state, it was just a naturally expected result.
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                    • Posted by term2 4 months, 2 weeks ago
                      I understand. The exact reason I stopped making medical devices in the face of FDA regulations. It wasnt worth the hassle to me. The FDA is doing fine without my work and they probably didnt even notice what happened.

                      In the case of systemwide collectivism, there really is no escape. Basically a person cannot live under a system where more and more of what they are allowed to produce is simply taken away. One has to hope that the system will collapse quickly and just go away, and about the only way I can see that happening today is a straight up collapse. Without changing basic philosophical ideas, another version of collectivism would simply spring up again.

                      This whole process will take way longer than I will live, given that the collectivists will just use their powers to stretch the rubber band ...

                      That said, I think that it is very self defeating to feed the beast. I try any way I can to reduce the amount of money that flows to the collectivist system without directly meeting the wrath of the powers that be.

                      Thats why I say that the default position of human is NOT to think, and it takes work and discipline TO use ones mind. Thats why AS failed in its attempt to change the world, and I think that the only way that people can be made to wake up and even consider thinking as a way to live more effectively is to let them see that NOT thinking produces plain disaster- and they have to feel it personally as described in AS in what you would call fictional form.

                      But Americans are indeed going to experience the collapse noted in AS, just as Venezuelans are experiencing it now.
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          • Posted by fivedollargold 4 months, 3 weeks ago
            To where?
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            • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
              This is the 64k question. I would say that AR was aware of a few necessities:

              1) The Gulch was hidden from infiltration and attacks from outsiders.
              2) Gulchers were by and large financially independent.
              3) The Gulch grew slowly as it could entice people who had specific skills, and allow them time to offer services that the other gulchers needed.
              4) Isolation from collectivist military forces was key.
              5) Immigration was totally controlled

              In todays world, its definitely harder to get something started. It would need to be relatively isolated and away from people who would interfere with it. That eliminates essentially anywhere in the USA. For gulches of like 50 people or less, I am sure there are a lot of isolated places in south america that could qualify, for example.
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              • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
                Ayn Rand was not "aware" of such "necessities" for an irrational response and did not advocate any of it.
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                • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
                  But her depiction of The gulch actually took the elements I noted into account. It was hidden, it started small, it took account of things that a small society needed to get started, etc
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                  • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
                    You left out the role of ideas in John Galt's motives and strategy, and the whole point of the novel and her philosophy. What she wrote in fiction to make a romanticized plot seem plausible is not being aware of "necessities" for an irrational fantasy strategy.
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                    • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
                      If we actually wanted to start a gulch today, we better consider those practical “necessities’ or it would fail. The ideas would be critical, or why bother with it all
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                      • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
                        There isn't going to be a "gulch today". It is a utopian fantasy. There are no "practical necessities" to consider beyond that.
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                        • Posted by term2 4 months, 2 weeks ago
                          I agree that there wont be one today, but the reason is that it cant be protected from collectivists, even if it were started by strict indiviuaists. At the point where it could be defended, I think there are enough strict individualists even now to make it work.
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        • Posted by  $  25n56il4 4 months, 3 weeks ago
          Our income is reported by our employer and taxes are paid. Then we get to file a tax return and pay more taxes. Seems like a strange arrangement to me. Payroll taxes got paid by the employer and we got a 1099, so why must we file and reveal our whole lives to the government!
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  • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
    rainman9720: "I could have been one of the people John Galt was talking to at the end of his speech, one of those who knows something is wrong but can't quite quantify it sufficiently.".

    You were one of the people he was talking to, i.e., who Ayn Rand was talking to when she wrote the novel. That is why she wrote it that way.
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    • Posted by 4 months, 2 weeks ago
      You're right. My statement was badly worded. Everything came into focus for me during that first reading, just like Galt hoped it would for everyone like me listening to his speech.
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  • Posted by bsmith51 4 months, 3 weeks ago
    The threat to Rand was looters. I wonder what her reaction would be to the large number of those who think that man's proper condition is to live as hunter-gatherers on the plains - no borders - as the Indians lived.
    From what I've heard, that has created a schism within the Sierra Club, about half believing that. Talk about being anti-mind....
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    • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
      Ayn Rand wrote that the biggest threat is irrational philosophy. She did write about the primitives, for example in Return of the Primitive..

      The Sierra Club is one of the wealthiest pressure group lobbies in the country. Yes they argue internally about primitivism as an ideal -- along with the Wilderness Society and may others. To see what these organizations have been doing, read Ron Arnold's Trashing the Economy, 2nd ed. It was written in the 1990s, but captures the essence of what these organizations are doing.
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    • Posted by  $  Solver 4 months, 3 weeks ago
      I can just see the future. Millions seemingly abandoned wigwams covering the plains. No living humans in site. It is been a really bad winter and no one had been “greedy” enough to plan ahead.
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  • Posted by  $  Stormi 4 months, 3 weeks ago
    The first time I read AS, I said, "Yes, this is how it should be." I was elated someone actually got it. Politicians, who live in million dollar homes behind gates, vote to spend billions of dollar off the backs of the working producers. They manage to find loopholes for themselves. So, they vote for give aways that keep them in power and buy votes. They do not operate under equal trade or what the actual taxpayer wants. The most horrid is how they have used taxpayer funded schools to turn students against capitalism, and into little socialist, that is just obscene.
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  • Posted by GaryL 4 months, 3 weeks ago
    Truer words have never been spoken, "Those who deny history are doomed to repeat it".
    Reading AS in my early 20s went right over my head for the most part and has been becoming more and more relevant the longer I live. As Rianman states, AS needs to be digested and comprehended in a much deeper forum just to keep the meaning out of the weeds at first reading.
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  • Posted by  $  edweaver 4 months, 3 weeks ago
    My experience reading AS was very similar to yours. Wish I had read it 40 years earlier and had the wisdom to understand it.
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    • Posted by 4 months, 3 weeks ago
      Agreed. I also wish I'd read it earlier.

      And if I ever got into a position of enough power to determine school curricula, the one and only non-negotiable requirement for graduating high school would be an entire semester of Atlas Shrugged.

      I would treat the class as a book club; the entire class would read it, and there would be discussions about characters and events. Students would be told that they must argue a character's position, even if they believed the complete opposite. I would do everything I could to force the snowflakes to think about the actions of the characters, and the reactions of others, of society, of the government, etc.

      Alas, that's just another of my pipe dreams.
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      • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
        People either run their lives with emotions or reason, and I think that decision is made when very young, and is very rarely changed after that. By the time they get into schools, its pretty much useless to argue reason when the upbringing results in all arguments being decided on emotion.
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        • Posted by 4 months, 3 weeks ago
          Even though you may occasionally hear about someone having a change in philosophy, it probably is the exception rather than the rule. I think you're probably correct in that getting someone to think (argue reason) rather than feel (argue emotion) would probably be a huge exercise in futility. Like I said, it's a pipe dream.
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          • Posted by ewv 4 months, 3 weeks ago
            Changing a philosophy requires understanding it and why it is required. Very important is proper education of the youngest before they adopt bad thinking habbits. Even many in high school are now hopeless. But appealing to more mature people is not hopeless. If everyone were primarily irrational the country would have collapsed long ago.

            Ayn Rand argued that the American sense of life was much better than the intellectuals. Intellectual influence depends on appealing to the best in people with rational explanations, not trying to convert the worst to rationality. But a better sense of life cannot last indefinitely when it only undermined by the professional intellectuals who do most of the writing,speaking and teaching.
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          • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
            I have postulated this theory to help me understand why there seems to be a constant and unending pressure to adopt collectivism in one form or another.

            I am amazed at Sanders. I do think he is an evil person at his core, and its aurprising he could get as much traction as he has. I think if they put Sanders up against Trump, Sanders will go down in flames, but eventually we WILL have socialism here, just like Venezuela. I will be dead and buried before that happens, however.
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            • Posted by bsmith51 4 months, 3 weeks ago
              Understanding collectivism is easy; just think of Santa Claus. Normal kids got over the fact that it was all a gag. But others were traumatized, embittered, angered, confused and so emotionally stuck that they carry their child emotions into adulthood. Reality is loathsome to them.
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              • Posted by term2 4 months, 3 weeks ago
                I can point out that families are basically socialist and somehow the kids have to outgrow and move on from that

                I love cats and I note that the mother cat completely takes care of the kittens from birth Until one day she just stops and pushes the kitten away and forces it grow up and take care of itself

                Today’s leftists just tried to recreate family socialism- and they are getting away with it. The only solution I see is fir the producers to just STOP letting them get away with it. It may just take a strike as AR OUTLINED IN AS to stop this leftist nonsense
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