Friday, March 25, 2011

Open thread.

A large number of other blogs use open threads, so perhaps I should try one.

Bring up your own points, ask questions, propose discussion threads, lurkers make yourselves known, etc.

21 comments:

Mark Plus said...

Re: Atlas Shrugged movie.

Objectivists might have blundered by exposing their foundation myth to a population not indoctrinated in advance to interpret it in the "right" way. Assuming that the rest of this film get made, and that it adheres closely enough to the novel, I wonder how American audiences, representing demographic reality, will react to the message that they deserve to die because they don't measure up to the movie's fictional heroes.

An accurate movie would also have the problem of handling Galt's implied adult virginity, love-obsessional stalking of Dagny and his underemployment. He sounds like the sort of "unsub" character who terrorizes an innocent woman in an episode of Criminal Minds.

Joanna Liberation said...

Mark, no one will care about minor misinterpretations by people who simply can never get Rand's genius. Most important thing is, Rand is no longer there to cast the protagonist according to her sexual preferences. 50 year old Gary Cooper as a young architect in The Fountainhead? I can't watch that travesty.

YhuntressE said...
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YhuntressE said...

There's something that I've wondered with the idea of Galt's Gulch. One of them is that all those entrepreneurs aren't going to like it when they realize that their empires are going to be a lot smaller.

Let's take Dagny's trains. Given that the rest of society fell, there are no other cities to do business with; there is limited room on Galt's Gulch and she'll have to compete with other train companies. In the long run, she's not going to like the idea of her business being so heavily cut down to size. (And I'm sure there'd be many other businessmen who'd feel the same way.)

One could argue they'd build more cities, but that would take a long time to have a population that's big enough and Dagny will probably be dead before she could take advantage of it.

Mark Plus said...

@YhuntressE:

And where do these new people come from, any way - Roger Marsh's cabbage patch? Rand has this weird blind spot about human reproduction. Even if the heroes could rebuild, the three industrial dynasties represented by Dagny, Hank and Francisco would disappear in a few years because they don't have children as heirs, even though Dagny and Francisco inherited their respective businesses.

The heroes' economic terrorism also should receive more notice than it does. Galt didn't just passively let the economy of the U.S. crash by withdrawing key individuals; he complicitly watched his buddies Ragnar and Francisco as they destroyed a lot of industrial capital out of spite. If environmentalists or Muslims went around blowing up factories, mines, ships and dockyards, Objectivists would call for their arrest and execution. These two engaged in a lot of gratuitous "window breaking" with the goal of improving their economy in the long run!

I also have a problem with the part about Hank Rearden's patent. Didn't Rand know that U.S. patents expire after a number of years any way? Companies with valuable patents have them expire all the time without causing economic catastrophes. In fact, we get cheaper generic pharmaceuticals after drug patents expire, and yet the drug companies still produce the drugs at the lower prices and still make a profit.

YhuntressE said...

Unless Dagny is menopausal/infertile, she could still have kids or have a younger associate as heir.

As you said, Galt's people pretty much shot them selves in the foot with all their sabotage because they're now stuck in their own little vacuum. There's no one else to trade or do business with that they better hope they have all the materials they need to keep their utopia running. Things wear out due to use and outside elements.

When you think about it, there would still groups that wouldn't collapse like the Amish and could survive without the "elites".

Chris said...

I hope the movie producers use this as a coda for Atlas Shrugged:

http://www.angryflower.com/atlass.gif

Mark Plus said...

The Angry Flower comic strip shows how Atlas Shrugged shares characteristics with survivalist porn. The fact that nobody escaped the Bolsheviks by setting up similar doomsteads in the Urals, the Caucasus or other mountain ranges in the Soviet Union indicates that the idea probably wouldn't work any way.

YhuntressE said...

Which reminds me, how would they handle food production? They could hunt for meat, but mountain ranges aren't good for farming.

YhuntressE said...

Say, has anyone ever read one of the most disturbing yet badly written politician, religious erotic fantasy, "Billy's Reward?" (http://billysreward.tomalciere.com/title.html) Written by a far-out politician that even the anarch-capitalist branch of the libertarian party (who are some of the more extreme members) wants nothing to do with him. And just gives them a bad name in general.

And here's the semi-revision he wrote: http://larrysreward.tomalciere.com/ read it if you dare.

Mark Plus said...

I can just imagine what a script doctor would say about trying to bring Atlas Shrugged to the screen. "Look, you'll have to film it like a zombie apocalypse or a 'Mad Max' movie. You just can't have all those Americans die, and all that infrastruture fall to ruins, and then expect the heroes to come out of their hiding place in the mountains and go back to work like nothing out of the ordinary has happened."

Mark Plus said...

Rand's ingratitude also strikes me. The American people took her in as a refugee from communism, offered her work and bought enough of her novels to make her financially comfortable. Yet she repaid them by calling most of them in Atlas Shrugged derogatory names, portraying them as physically repulsive (writes the dumpy woman who chain-smoked and seldom bathed), questioning their human status and showing that they don't deserve to live because they don't meet her standards.

YhuntressE said...

Then again, she hated anyone that didn't kiss her ass and even then they were kinda iffy.

Mark Plus said...

I wonder why more people don't notice the similar behavior of Francisco D'Anconia and Jim Taggart. Both men inherited thriving businesses, then each went about depleting his respective business's value, though for different reasons. If Francisco and Jim had changed places, you would have seen similar outcomes after a few years. Yet Francisco's destruction of his business makes him a hero, while Jim's destruction of his business makes him a bad guy. This seems like another example of Rand's antinomianism.

Kevin said...
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Kevin Wayne said...

Ralph Nader has authored a book he calls the answer to Atlas Shrugged. It's called Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!. You might want to look into it.

http://www.amazon.com/Only-Super-Rich-Can-Save-Us/dp/1583229035

Daptatron said...

[NEW FAN COMMENT]
I really can't believe I'm just stumbling on this blog / related site / Mike's wiki. I've been fairly stumped for years on why Libertarianism and Neoliberalism are just *so* adored by as many people as it seems to be.

Showed up here trolling for comments on Michael Shermer's* book (The Mind of the Market: ...) but found a lot more to spend time with.

* I have always been a fan of Shermer... except in this area

Mike Huben said...

Welcome! We don't have daily action at this site, but it is the place to start to understand the problems of libertarianism.

I too like Michael Shermer except for his libertarianism. He seems to throw out all skeptical cautions for it.

Joanna Liberation said...

Daptatron - a typical complacent "skeptic":

Wow, I'm not like one of those stupid guys who believe in God and creationism! It is evident mthical creatures do not exist and science clearly tells us evolution is the way to go. Wow, I'm so brainy, everything that is true is so evident to me, and at first sight. Hence, everything that is true MUST be evident to me, otherwise it's false. It's that easy, cause I'm so brainy, not like all those rednecks. Now, yeah, I've read some snippets about libertarianism and Austrian School here and there and it is evident they are utterly false. No need to dig any deeper, after all, I'm so brainy, I'm a skeptic. What? Michael Shermer a libertarian? Hey, that guy can't be a skeptic cause his views are not evident to me! And I'm so brainy, so it means Michael must be wrong! Let me cancel my Skeptic subscription!

Now, Mike Huben at least tries to dig deeper:

http://critiquesofcollectivism.blogspot.com/2011/02/summary-of-mike-hubens-critiques-of.html

Chris said...

In the interests of proposing topics, what about discussing some lesser-known but important writers of the libertarian persuasion.

I was thinking of Isabel Paterson as one example. I was taken aback when I first learned about her -- she was a friend of Ayn Rand's for a while, and Rand apparently drew quite a lot out of Paterson's writings (with little credit given). She didn't have the reach Rand had as a writer or public figure, but she was quite a bit more well-read than Rand.

Another one is Rose Wilder Lane, who I haven't learned too much about yet.

Any good commentary or critiques on these people?

Mike Huben said...

What I note as interesting is that Rand, Paterson, and Lane all had fallings out over their views. That has presaged the entire history of modern libertarianism. The only centripetal force which has held it together successfully has been the enormous funds of the Koch brothers.

I haven't looked beyond wikipedia lately about them, but I doubt they say much which hasn't been coopted by modern libertarians. They were impressive cranks for their times.

The basic recipe in most religions and philosophies is "we want peace and justice except when we want to aggressively conquer, rob, and enslave our neighbors." There are blatant examples in the OT, Islam and probably most other religions and their writings. Such opportunism is as normal and adaptive as picking up money off the ground. If a religion or philosophy does not mention this aggressive aspect, then either they are concealing it or are sheltered within a society that performs this function for them.

Those three were sheltered. That's what allowed them to pretend to their followers that their romantic idealisms could work.