Whatever one thinks of the Atlas Shrugged Movie, Part I, one positive of its release is it’s effect on book sales of Ayn Rand’s epic novel.
Donald Luskin pens a tribute to Ayn Rand in the WSJ opinion column:
But it’s a misreading of “Atlas” to claim that it is simply an
antigovernment tract or an uncritical celebration of big business. In
fact, the real villain of “Atlas” is a big businessman, railroad CEO
James Taggart, whose crony capitalism does more to bring down the
economy than all of Mouch’s regulations. With Taggart, Rand was
anticipating figures like Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide
Financial, the subprime lender that proved to be a toxic mortgage
factory. Like Taggart, Mr. Mozilo engineered government subsidies for
his company in the name of noble-sounding virtues like home ownership
Still, most of the heroes of “Atlas” are big businessmen who are
unfairly persecuted by government. The struggle of Rand’s fictional
steel magnate Henry Rearden against confiscatory regulation is a perfect
anticipation of the antitrust travails of Microsoft CEO Bill Gates. In
both cases, the government’s depredations were inspired by
behind-the-scenes maneuverings of business rivals. And now Microsoft is
maneuvering against Google with an antitrust complaint in the European
Rand was not a conservative or a liberal: She was an individualist.
“Atlas Shrugged” is, at its heart, a plea for the most fundamental
American ideal—the inalienable rights of the individual. On tax day,
with our tax dollars going to big government and subsidies for big
business, let’s remember it’s the celebration of individualism that has
kept “Atlas Shrugged” among the best-selling novels of all time.
The culmination of the neoconservatives’ political philosophy is their call for a “national-greatness conservatism.” Following Irving Kristol and Leo Strauss, David Brooks, William Kristol, and a new generation of neocons proclaimed the “nation” as the fundamental unit of political reality, “nationalism” as the rallying cry for a new public morality, and the “national interest” as the moral standard of political decisionmaking. This new nationalism, according to Brooks, “marries community goodness with national greatness.”
The moral purpose of national-greatness conservatism, according to David Brooks, is to energize the American spirit; to fire the imagination with something majestic; to advance a “unifying American creed”; and to inspire Americans to look beyond their narrow self-interest to some larger national mission—to some mystically Hegelian “national destiny.” The new American citizen must be animated by “nationalist virtues” such as “duty, loyalty, honesty, discretion, and self-sacrifice.” The neocons’ basic moral-political principle is clear and simple: the subordination and sacrifice of the individual to the nation-state.
Politically, Brooks’s new nationalism would use the federal government to pursue great “nationalistic public projects” and to build grand monuments in order to unify the nation spiritually and to prevent America’s “slide” into what he calls “nihilistic mediocrity.” It is important that the American people conform, swear allegiance to, and obey some grand central purpose defined for them by the federal government. The ideal American man, he argues, should negate and forgo his individual values and interests and merge his “self” into some mystical union with the collective soul. This is precisely why Brooks has praised the virtues of Chinese collectivism over those of American-style individualism.
In the end, the neocons want to “remoralize” America by creating a new patriotic civil religion around the idea of “Americanism”—an Americanism that will essentially redefine the “American grain.” The neoconservative vision of a good America is one in which ordinary people work hard, read the Bible, go to church, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, practice homespun virtues, sacrifice themselves to the “common good,” obey the commands of the government, fight wars, and die for the state.
Neoconservatism is a systematic political philosophy. The neocons’ talk about moderation and prudence is really only meant to disarm intellectually their competitors in the conservative-libertarian movement who want to defend the Founders’ principles of individual rights and limited government. The neocons preach moderation as a virtue so that ordinary people will accept compromise as inevitable. But a political philosophy that advocates “moderation” and “prudence” as its defining principles is either dishonestly hiding its true principles, or it represents a transition stage on the way to some more authoritarian regime—or both.
My deepest fear is that the neoconservatives are preparing this nation philosophically for a soft, American-style fascism—a fascism purged of its ugliest features and gussied up for an American audience. This is a serious charge and not one I take lightly. The neocons are not fascists, but I do argue they share some common features with fascism. Consider the evidence… [Neoconservatism Unmasked]
Read the full article at Neoconservatism Unmasked.
From Ron Pisaturo:
This essay compares one scene, viewable on the Internet, of the movie Atlas Shrugged Part 1 to the corresponding scene in the source novel Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. In this essay, my secondary purpose is to judge this small part of the movie; my primary purpose is to highlight—through contrast—the Romantic style of Ayn Rand’s novel. I analyze this one scene instead of the whole artworks so that you, dear reader, can study for yourself the evidence for my conclusion: The scene in the movie is Naturalistic exposition; the scene in the novel is Romantic drama.
From Alex Epstein over at VOICES for REASON:
On Earth Day, we’re told that we should take stock of our impact on our environment. The assumption, of course, is that it’s bad—that we are, to use the common phrase “destroying the planet.”
On this month’s Power Hour—my podcast/Internet-radio-show on energy issues—I bring in philosopher Dr. Onkar Ghate, a senior colleague of mine at the Ayn Rand Center, to question this assumption, and many other assumptions about the relationship between human beings in our environment. Dr. Ghate discusses everything from the political, philosophical, and religious origins of modern environmentalists (the leaders of Earth Day) to the Japanese nuclear situation to how industrialization has positively impacted our environment to the danger of “moderate” environmentalist policies.
I’ve read a lot about environmentalism over the years, and I sincerely believe that Dr. Ghate’s explanations in this podcast are some of the best, clearest explanations of environmental issues available anywhere. Make sure you listen to this interview at least once before Earth Day.
For more information on Power Hour, as well as other commentary on energy issues subscribe to my newsletter “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Energy” by sending an email.
Richard Salsman has been busy as a bee writing illuminating editorials at Forbes, all worth reading…
“U.S. Arms Its Islamic Enemies – Again,” March 31, 2011
The enemy of America’s enemy is not her friend, but her enemy, contrary to what liberals and conservatives believe
“Libya Exposes Obama as Our Latest Neo-con President” March 23, 2011
He continues the obscene tradition of Democrat presidents – and Neo-Conservatives – who sacrifice American interests
“Obama’s ‘Stimulus’ Precluded a Robust Recovery,” March 15, 2011
Stock prices bottomed two years ago, but Washignton’s so-called “stimulus” spending has precluded a more robust recovery
“Bravo For George Buckley, A Righteous CEO,” March 2, 2011
CEOs are usually mealy-mouthed on public policy, but 3M’s CEO is right to name Obama as the ‘Robin Hood’ he really is
“Ochlocracy and the Menace of Government Unions,” February 23, 2011
The right to “collective bargaining” should not include coercion against payers – as it has since 1935
“Another Illiberal Democracy – in Egypt,” February 10, 2011
Democracy is no guarantor of genuine liberties or rights; indeed, far more often it brutally tramples them
“The Actual State of the Union,” February 1, 2011
Presidents no longer bother to give objective assessments of America’s current and future state
“Krugman, ‘Toxic Rhetoric’ and the Smear-Mongers,” January 20, 2011
Political programs – but not political “rhetoric” – can inflict violence; let’s start recognize the difference between the two.
“New Congress, Same Old Leviathan,” January 11, 2011
Neither GOP control of Congress nor the arrival of 50 or so Tea-publicans will reduce federal spending in 2011-2012
“A Golden Decade of Government Failure,” January 4, 2011
The best investment asset of the past decade was gold – because government policies were a complete failure
“A Well-Earned Capitalist Christmas,” December 23, 2010
The real meaning of Christmas – and all that we enjoy about it – is thoroughly pagan and capitalistic
“The Virtue of Lower Tax Rates on the Rich,” December 15, 2010
The rich have a right to their earnings and deserve huge tax-rate cuts; they have no duty to create jobs or reduce deficits.
“Where Have All the Capitalists Gone?” December 5, 2010
Almost everyone acknowledges that capitalism delivers the goods – but most people still claim it’s immoral
Richard Salsman holds nothing back in his gripping editorial The U.S. Arms Its Islamic Enemies–Again over at Forbes:
Evidence grows with each passing week that in Libya the U.S. government and its allies are providing air cover and arms directly to its avowed enemies–including thugs from al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, and Taliban–those who’ve devoted the past decade to slaughtering American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Worse, top U.S. and U.K. officials now acknowledge this and condone it.
[…] Who exactly are the “rebels” and why are the U.S. and its allies so eager to help them? In Iran in early 1979 the Carter administration couldn’t care less about the philosophy or aims of the Ayatollah Khomeini, but only that the pro-Western Shah of Iran be deposed; by March a “referendum” established an Islamic republic; by April scores of prominent Iranians were executed; by December the ruling mullahs declared Khomeini to be absolute ruler for life. Ever since, Iran has been a major sponsor of world-wide terrorism.
In Afghanistan in the 1980s the Reagan administration and a CIA (then led by today’s Pentagon chief, Robert Gates) helped finance and train al Qaeda, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden in their fight against the invading Soviets (who withdrew in 1989). The U.S. also backed Iraq in its eight-year war against Iran, which failed, yet emboldened Saddam Hussein, and the U.S. fought him later. In the 1990s Afghanistan became a haven for terrorism, which led to the devastation of Sept. 11. In the decade since the U.S. has spent thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars ensuring “regime change” in Iraq and Afghanistan, which now have Islamic constitutions and are far closer in theocracy and practice to Iran than ever before.
[…] Rebellion is applauded for its own sake. Western cheerleaders claim anything is better than the status quo. Hope! Change! Democracy! The voice of the People is the voice of … Allah! The grim facts become clearer after the dust settles and new leaders and rules take irreversible hold–more fundamentally Islamic than before, closer to Iran than before, more anti-American than before–with the help of the U.S. government.
Thanks solely to the U.S., Iraq’s constitution ensures a “democratic, federal, representative, parliamentary republic” where “Islam is the state religion and a basic foundation for the country’s laws” and “no law may contradict the established provisions of Islam.” Is this why Americans must go to war in the Middle East? The official name of Afghanistan, where the U.S. has fought for a decade, like the failed Soviets, and Obama has boosted U.S. troops to 130,000, is” “the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.” Is this why Americans must fight in the region? [The U.S. Arms Its Islamic Enemies–Again – Richard M. Salsman – The Capitalist – Forbes]
Scott Holleran on the Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 movie adaption:
The mystery of the movie is why the mind is going on strike (if and when it is), and what lies at the root of what destroys, and moves, the world. And, in depicting a novel which brilliantly deconstructs and dramatizes altruism, the idea that one has a moral obligation to help others, Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 reduces her radical rejection of this idea to a line about “stupid altruistic urges” which doesn’t come close to Ayn Rand’s philosophy, let alone express her bold, exalted alternative: the virtue of selfishness.
So, the first movie adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is lacking; the script appears to have many fingerprints and some serious problems, the production apparently faced enormous challenges of rights, budget, and schedule and libertarians appear to have held more sway over the movie than Objectivists, leaving the world’s foremost authority on Ayn Rand’s ideas and work, Leonard Peikoff, out of the loop. But A is A and the fact that this movie was made, is, in today’s tragically disintegrating culture, an achievement. Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 ultimately does not have reverence for the 1957 novel, but it’s as though it doesn’t know how, or why, and it tries. If we lived in a society in which Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged was understood, accepted, and applied to everyday lives, we wouldn’t be stuck in the sludge that surrounds us, and a mangled movie adaptation would not feel like an accomplishment. But we are and it does, and that’s that, so see the independent, low-budget film version known as Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 for what it is, and know that you are catching a mere glimpse of something deeper, more mysterious and meaningful, which portrays man at his best. See the movie, but only if you read the book.
From The Undercurrent:
AYN RAND’S MESSAGE TO TODAY’S WORLD
A LIVE LECTURE BROADCAST TO UNIVERSITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY
THURSDAY, MAR 31 – 6:00 PM PACIFIC, 9:00 PM EASTERN
Today’s young people face an uncertain world. Unemployment among recent college graduates is at a record high, the United States is still bogged down in two foreign wars, and the wobbling American economy is in danger of deteriorating further once the Baby Boomers retire.
Voters choose between Democrats in one landslide election and Republicans in another, expressing their discontent with each party, and seemingly, their own uncertainty about how America should move forward. Many people wonder: where are we headed? Will America continue to be the land of opportunity, or are our best days behind us?
Dr. Yaron Brook, President of the Ayn Rand Institute, will argue that the answer to that question depends on what ideas young people accept and fight for. Join Dr. Brook as he goes beyond the headlines, examining the basic ideas that have shaped today’s events. And learn why the solution to today’s problems lies in rethinking not just our political system, but in abandoning the worship of selflessness.
To watch visit the website at: ideas.theundercurrent.info
Writes Patrick Michaels over at Forbes on the Chevy Volt:
The Chevrolet Volt is beginning to look like it was manufactured by Atlas Shrugged Motors, where the government mandates everything politically correct, rewards its cronies and produces junk steel.
This is the car that subsidies built. General Motors lobbied for a $7,500 tax refund for all buyers, under the shaky (if not false) promise that it was producing the first all-electric mass-production vehicle. [“Chevy Volt: The Car From Atlas Shrugged Motors“]
Unfortunately, the car is NOT an electric car, but a hybrid.
It turns out that the premium-fuel fired engine does drive the wheels–when the battery is very low or when the vehicle is at most freeway speeds. So the Volt really isn’t a pure electric car after all. I’m sure that the people who designed the car knew how it ran, and so did their managers.
So what’s the catch?
[…] It’s doubtful that GM would have gotten such a subsidy if it had been revealed that the car would do much of its freeway cruising with a gas engine powering the wheels. While the Volt is more complicated than the Prius, and has a longer battery-only range, a hybrid is a hybrid, and the Prius no longer qualifies for a tax credit.
So should we expect to see the Chevy Volt losing it’s tax credit status anytime soon?
Recently, President Obama selected General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to chair his Economic Advisory Board. GE is awash in windmills waiting to be subsidized so they can provide unreliable, expensive power. [..] Immelt announced that GE will buy 50,000 Volts in the next two years, or half the total produced. Assuming the corporation qualifies for the same tax credit, we (you and me) just shelled out $375,000,000 to a company to buy cars that no one else wants so that GM will not tank and produce even more cars that no one wants. And this guy is the chair of Obama’s Economic Advisory Board?
Here’s a link to the broadcast of Amy Peikoff’s Don’t Let It Go Unheard
— webcast to talk on politics and politics from an Objectivist
perspective. This is the best podcast on politics from an Objective
perspective so it is definitely worth a listen if you could not attend
the live broadcast.
Topics discussed: The latest on Libya and what Obama’s supporters (and we) can learn from
it. Two different stories involving freedom of association issues — can
they be reconciled? Israel’s new missile defense system. A judge’s
rejection of Google’s settlement offer in the Google Books case. And,
Duran Duran’s Simon LeBon and his disappointing tweets.
Not only does Amy have a great voice,
she also has a clear mind. Enjoy!